Fireworks Fun!


In the spirit of 4th of July I thought I would make a little movie showing you how to composite fireworks images against new backgrounds. That way if you get some good fireworks images this holiday, you can then go photograph some good night scenes in which to place the fireworks. So watch the movie to learn about Blend Modes, Free Transform and Layer Masks for compositing fireworks images!
Happy Holiday!
Here is the video. I recommend you click on the words YouTube in the lower right to view this on YouTube

and when on YouTube click on the middle icon to make it larger

and when on YouTube also click on the Change Quality setting go to 720p.


All training DVDs updated to current versions!

If you want to learn the new features in Lightroom and Photoshop, now is the time! I have finally finished updating all my Lightroom and Photoshop training DVDs to the latest version of Adobe products, making it easier for you to master the ins and out os the new verions. Lightroom is current to version 4 and the all the Photoshop discs are CS6. 
Most of the new features in Photoshop are found on the second set of discs including Video Editing, Content Aware Move, the changes to the Patch Tool, Oil Paint, Adaptive Wide Angle, Blur Gallery, and more. The interface changes, new Preferences and changes to Adobe Camera Raw are covered in the first set, disc one. For more information go to:
In celebration of completing the discs I am offering a 20% discount through June 30th! The coupon code is: cs6intro
Take care,


Venus Transit


I photographed the transit of Venus yesterday as the planet passed before the sun. The next transit will not happen for another 115 years! While it was not as visually exciting as the annular eclipse, it was still exciting to witness!
Technical data: Canon Rebel T2i; Canon 500mm f/4 lens with a 2x converter, Feisol CT-3372 tripod, Baader Solar Filter, 1/500 sec, f/10 at ISO 200, Lexar 16GB SD card

























Artistic License


When I go around the country giving my lectures, as a Canon Explorer of Light, one of my topics is Light, Color and Composition. During the talk I mention how your light meter is just a guide, and that you, the photographer, is in control over how your image should look. I show examples of what happens when you purposely under and over expose your images to achieve certain results. And now with the digital darkroom we have even more lead way for controlling that exposure after the fact. So as I was preparing some images for my first ever wildlife image gallery exhibit, I took my own advice. I was working with an image I took of an arctic wolf this past winter, while I was leading a Canon Live Learning workshop to the Triple D Game Farm to photograph captive wildlife.
While I was processing the image of the white wolf against the white snow, I wanted to push the exposure and blow out all the detail in the snow and most of the detail in the wolf. When I got the exposure to + 4 stops I turned my arctic wolf into of a high key line drawing of the wolf that just accented the eyes and nose of the animal and used the shadows and whiskers as accents and forms that sculpted the shape of the head. (See screen shot of settings used) To me this image held more of the “essence” of the wolf then the “normal” conveyed. It just reminded me to heed my own advice and remember that I get to be the one that decides how my images will look. I hope you follow that advice as well!
On another topic, I am almost finished updating all my Photoshop training DVDs to CS6. I have finished 6 of 8 discs and hope to finish the rest next week! I’ll keep you posted.
Tech info on picture: Canon 1DM4, Canon 100-400mm L lens @360mm, 1/250 at f/9, ISO 400, Cotton Carrier Steady Shot, Lexar CF card.
Here are the processing settings:
 Take care,


Annular Eclipse May 20, 2012


I had a great experience this weekend photographing the annular eclipse of the sun. For those of you who don’t know what that is, an annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes before the sun but is not close enough to earth to cover the full disc of the sun, so there is still a ring of sun the shines around the moon. I have been a bit of an eclipse chaser for 40 years. In 1972 I went with my best friend to the Gaspé Peninsula to meet our high school science teachers to see the total eclipse. Unfortunately we got clouded out and ended up watching the eclipse on television. I then went with a group of friends to the 1991 total eclipse in Baja, Mexico. That was great and we had over 7 minutes of totality! So when Sunday’s eclipse was passing just hours from my home I had to go.
I hooked up with a photographer friend, Dave Henry, who shoots for the local paper here, The Sacramento Bee. We originally planned to go to Mt. Lassen National Park to view, but the day before we heard some weather forecasts predicting clouds for that area, so we changed plans and headed for Fallon, Nevada. We scouted around for a few hours before the start of the eclipse and chose a site located on a hill at the edge of town that hosts some microwave towers. Dave was working 2 cameras and I had 3 going. I was shooting a wide angle shot (which I messed up!), one camera with a 100-400mm lens and one with a 500mm lens with a 2x teleconverter. I put my full frame 5DM3 on the 100-400, I used my 1DM4 with a 1.3 crop on my 24-105mm for the wide angle shot and I used my son’s Rebel T2i on the 500mm to give me a combined 1600mm with the crop factor and the converter. All the lenses had solar filters made from Baader Solar Film.
The image of the eclipse with the mountains is made up of 21 exposures taken with the 500mm lens of the eclipse and one exposure of the landscape made with the 5DM3, all composited in Photoshop. The image above is just the 21 exposures taken with the 500mm. (click on the images to see them bigger)
It was worth the trip, and now I look forward to 2017 when we have a total solar eclipse going right through the middle of the US! 
Maybe I'll see you there!


Fun at home!


I am as guilty as the next photographer; I too like to travel to various locations to take images, whether they are landscapes or wildlife. But sometimes you don’t have to stray very far.
The day after I received my Canon 5DM3 camera a once a year ritual took place in my backyard. I have a very large pyracantha bush just outside my office door and every year a flock of Cedar Waxwings comes and strips the bush of all its berries. Unfortunately they never announce when they are coming so it is hit or miss whether I get to witness the feeding frenzy! But fortunately I was here and more than willing to test out the new camera. I needed to shoot a fast shutter speed (1/640 sec) and I wanted to maintain some depth of field (f/11) so I needed to shoot at ISO 4000. It was a great test for the new camera! As you can see the camera preformed quite well!

Canon 5DM3, Canon 500mm f/4 L lens, Feisol CT-3372 tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Wimberley Sidekick, Lexar CF cards
Sunday I awoke at 3 AM to drive with some friends to photograph the “super moon”. We picked an area near Birds Landing, CA to get the wind turbines in the background.
Well that wasn’t the most successful photo shoot I ever went on, but when I stumbled home at 9 AM I pulled in my driveway to see one of the newborn bluebirds poking it’s head out of my bluebird box and the parents were busy feeding. I parked at the end of the driveway and lined up my angle. I quickly ran in the house to get my Vacu-pod ( and mounted the Canon 500mm f/4 L lens on my Canon 1DM4, on the Vacu-pod stuck to the driver’s side window, with the Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head. I needed even faster shutter speeds (1/1000 – 1/2000) so I was shooting at ISO 400 (it was very sunny) at f/8- f/11. I took the best pictures of the day 30 feet from my front door. I could have slept in! And I even got to listen to the radio as I photographed!
To see more of both bird shoots click here to view my bird images on my website - the Cedar Waxwings are on the first page and the Western Bluebirds the second page

It just goes to show you, you don’t always have to travel far to make great pictures!


Have a great day,








Bird Adventure in Florida

 I had a great time photographing in Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, FL last week. It is a small wetlands that has a great concentration of birds, turtles, and alligators! I also took a run down to Brian Piccalo Park in Pembroke Pines to photograph Burrowing Owls. There is so much to see in this region of Florida! I took most of my pictures with my Canon 1DM4 but I sure wished it had the focusing system of my new 5DM3. Too bad they didn’t make the new 1Dx so it would auto-focus at f/8 like all the other 1 series cameras. If they had I sure would like that camera, but for now I’ll stick to my 1DM4 for my wildlife camera so I can use my teleconverters on my 100-400mm and my 500mm. I used the 1.4x and the 2x TCs on a lot of my bird images.

To see some of my bird images click here.
Next week I am speaking in Dunn Loring, VA (near Fairfax). For info click here.
I just had 2 cancellations for my bear trip to Alaska in July so there is now room for 3 more! If you want to experience a great trip click here.
My first set of Photoshop DVDs “The Photographer’s Toolbox for Photoshop: Exposure and Color” have been updated to CS6 and will be available for shipping on May 4th. Place your order here and use the coupon code of DVD2012 and save 12.5%. (even though it says CS5 on the page!)


Take care,


First Impressions of my new Canon 5D Mark 3

I have only had my new Canon 5D Mark 3 for a few days, but so far I am impressed! I haven’t really taken it out in the field for any extensive shooting yet, but I have done several backyard tests. So here are some examples of images that I have taken with and without noise reduction applied in ACR/Lightroom. I will label all the images so you can tell what happened and let you decide what you think. I think I’m going to be quite happy with this camera!

The horizontal images have been resized to fit the website. The vertical images are all full frame. As you can see shooting at 1600 ISO is no problem with this camera! And at 5000 it looks great too.


















1:1 crop of image shot at ISO 1600 with a little noise reduction in Lightroom


To see all the tests click here.


Lightroom 4 DVD complete!!!!!


The marathon is over!! I have been working 15 hour days since the release of Lightroom 4 to complete my training DVD and I am now finished!
The new “Photographer’s Toolbox for Lightroom” is now complete with over seven hours of video training on all aspects of the program including the new features found in the Develop, Map and Book modules. Learn how to set up your preferences, create a Develop Preset, Import, Export, keyword, search, map, build a book, create a slideshow, build a custom print layout, and create a custom web gallery and much more!
I am having an introductory sale from now through March 31st, 2012. Get 20% off with the coupon code LR4INTRO (Case sensitive) on my website. Click here to order.


Lightroom 4 and recent news!

As you may be aware Lightroom 4 was released this week. And the biggest and most exciting changes come to the Develop module. I am busy working on updating my Lightroom training DVD and hope to have it out in April. I will keep you posted as to the release.

I have heard it said many times before, that being in the right place at the right time, is the most important factor in nature photography. I would have to add that it’s being in the right place at the right time, with the right equipment and knowledge of how to use it that is most important. I was lucky enough to meet all those requirements this past week when photographing at Green Cay in Boynton Beach, Florida. Just as I was getting ready to leave I saw this great blue heron catch a snake. Fortunately I already had my 500 mm lens with the 2X tele-converter mounted on my Canon 1D Mark 4. And the camera was mounted on my Feisol 3372 tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, and a Wimberley Sidekick, so I just had to open the legs, aim the camera and shoot! Here is a sequence of images from that moment.
Click on any image below to see the larger versions.
The images were taken at 1000 ISO 1/250 sec at f/10
You too can have some wonderful wildlife moments, if you care to join me in Alaska this July photographing the coastal brown bears in Lake Clark National Park. I still have a few spaces left so click here to get more information.
Take care,


Syndicate content