Nature Light Photo

The Journey Thru a Photographic Life

You are currently browsing the archives for November, 2010.

Creative White Balance

Most of the time, I try very hard to capture the scene in front of me just as my eyes see it, but sometimes, an image looks better when tweaked to produce a look that enhances the viewer’s experience. This is one of those times.

This hoar frost was shot on a cold morning during one of Bodie’s photographer days. Believe me, it was cold. The actual frost was white, but in post production, I wanted to convay the feeling of the cold, so I added some coolness to the white balance by starting with the incandesent setting and then warming it up just a bit from there.

The end result is the cold look you see here. White balance can be used to bring across a feeling of the setting that the image was captured in by changing it in post production. Take some time to play with it and find out what it can do to your photos.

Hoar frost on a board in Bodie State Park/Historical Site in California

Hoar Frost on a Board

The image was captured with a Nikon D300 and a Nikkor 19-70mm lens at 70mm and f9 at 1/160 sec at ISO200.

Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 11:26 am.

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Photo of the Week – Valley of Fire

Taken in the Eastern Sierra near South Lake near Bishop.

Captured with a Nikon D300 and a 50mm/f1.4 lens at f8, 1/800, and an ISO 200.

A valley of fall color in the eastern sierra nevada near Bishop, CA.

Valley of Fire

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 10:44 pm.


5/5 Posts and Sites You Should Read for 11/12/10

Here are the posts and sites that I found that I think you as a photographer should read. Not all of them are always related to photography, but take a look at them.


Top 5 iPad Applications for Photographers – From PDN, some applications that look real good on your iPad. I don’t have one yet, but in the future…

Happy Meals Don’t Go Bad – Ok, not really photo related, but kinda interesting.

7 Tips for Better Insect Macro Photography – From, a really good list of things to think about as you shoot insects.

Asteroid Impact Calculator – Here is how to calculate the impact that an asteroid would have on the planet. It’s pretty cool.

Top 10 Destinations for Photographers – I don’t agree with them all, but they will make you think.


Kern National Wildlife Refuge – I posted an image on Monday from here. This is more information about the refuge.

PDN – Photo District News: Everything you should know about the current state of professional photography.

My Life at f22 – Chris Detrick’s blog. It has some GREAT images.

a Photo Editor – This is another good site to stay in touch with the photo industry.

Daylight Calculator – This is a cool interactive site to determine the number of daylight hours at a given latitude and time of year.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 8:28 am.

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Once in a while you might hear a photographer refer to “working a subject”. What exactly does that mean? Well, they are referring to trying to find new way to capture a different image of their subject. Every photographer should learn to work a subject, but sometimes it is hard to find new ways to do so. That is where E.D.F.F.A.T. can help out.

E.D.F.F.A.T. is the acronym for Everything, Details, Frame, Focus, Angle, and Time. Most photographers refer to it as EDFAT, and include the Frame and Focus in the same idea, but I like to include both as separate ideas for images. When trying to capture a subject, these are the five ideas that you should keep in mind to tell the whole story.

For instance, on one of  my trips to the Eastern Sierra to shoot the fall colors, I wanted to document what it was like to be in the area during fall when the colors were at their peak.

E- Everything
I documented the area.

This was shot at South Lake near Bishop. It shows the colors and the grandeur of the mountains and the clouds at the same time.

The fall colors of the Sierra Nevada.


D – Details
I tried to show the details.

Here is a close-up of some of the aspen leaves as they change color.

Close-up of aspens turning color near South Lake in the Eastern Sierra Nevada


F – Frame
I tried to get a shot that framed the scene differently than in the original Everything image.

In this image, I wanted to get the pattern of the granite in the mountains and the pattern of the fall colors as they wound their way up the slope.

Close-up of the Sierra Nevada with the fall colors of Convict Lake in the foreground.


F – Focus
I tried to change the focus point or depth of field.

In another image I tried to get just the leaves in the front in focus and let the view put the rest of the image together in their mind.

Aspen leaves in the foregroud with the trunks and color in the background.


A – Angle
I worked to show the scene from a different angle.

In this image I used a pole to get the camera high and bring the trees, the fisherman, and the color in the background into the scene.

A pole areial photography shot showing a Convict Lake fisherman.


T – Time
I found a way to show how time passes.

By lowering the shutter speed, I was able to blur the water in the stream and show it’s movement over time.

Fall colors and rushing water in a stream near South Lake in the Eastern Sierra Nevada during the fall.


Everything, Details, Frame, Focus, Angle,  and Time
I was able to show an entire trip’s experience with just six images.

Give it a try next time you are shooting a subject. By using those six ideas, you should be able to capture the story of your subject.

You can view more of my Eastern Sierra fall color images here.

Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 9:44 am.

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Shooting Water Drops

The other night, bored, I decided to try something I have wanted to do for sometime. Shoot water drops.

I have seen quite a few images on Flickr and other photo sites that have water drops (or other liquid) hitting a pool of fluid and the capturing the resulting splash with a very high shutter speed or flash.

I decided that I would break out my R1 flash system and use that to capture the drops hitting the water. Plus, I could gel the strobes to bring some interesting color into the photo. I will post something about my set-up next week, but until then, here are some of the results.

A water drop hitting water with two gelled flashes lighting the scene.

Crown Splash

A water drop caught in mid-air.

Crystal Clear

A water drop with an infinity symbol in the water below it.

Drop to Infinity

You can view more of my water drop images here.

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 9:03 am.

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Markins M-20 Ballhead Review

Even the best tripod in the world is worthless if you use a cheap ballhead to secure the camera. I choose the Markins M-20 for a variety of reasons.

I looked at several other brands. I considered the Really Right Stuff BH-55, the Arca-Swiss Monoball-Z1, and the Kirk BH-1. On the Nikonians, most of the regulars liked the Markins M-20 and they have a great article comparing the most popular ballheads on the market at the time. You can read it here.

There is a great table that shows all of the weights, heights, load capacitys, and costs of the different ballheads. Markins was the obvious choice. It was the lightest by about a 1/2 pound. The Markins holds 88 lbs. of gear on the ballhead, which is second behind the Arca-Swiss by 2 pounds. I have no plans on putting more than 88 pounds of gear on my tripod. It is second lowest in height, only 5mm higher than the Really Right Stuff and it is the lowest priced ballhead by $15.

The performance of the Markins is great. Once you have set the basic tension for the ball so that it is adjusted to your specific camera weight, you tighten the small indented dial that is on the front of the main tension knob. After that is done, your tension can’t loosen up any more than than you set it at. That prevents your equipment from flopping around when it is at it’s loosest tension. You can tighten it down more, but not loosen it until you undo the dial.

It takes a little practice to be able to ge the tension just right to the point that the camera is easy to move but still stays in the position you leave it. When you find that sweet spot, the ballhead is a joy to use.

The camera is secured to the ballhead using a Arca-Swiss type of groove and rail system and there are two ways of securing it. One has a lever that tightens the clamp and the other a knob. I wanted the lever system, but now I’m glad that I got the knob because I feel that it is more secure than the lever method. I have read posts where the lever gets caught on something and opens by accident and the causes the camera to fall off.

There is also knob that tightens down the panning of the ball head. It is a great way to quickly move from side to side while the camera is still locked down.

Are there problems with the ballhead? Yes, but none that are really significant or cause me to want to replace it. The biggest problem is that when it is moist or misty outside, the ball can stick a little. A little WD-40 took care of the problem. Also, it took some time to figure out the best position for the knobs so they were easy to reach, find, and work with while in the heat of shooting. I found that having the clamping knob point to the rear of the camera is the best idea because if you put it under the lens, it can be difficult to get your fingers in and get a grip to loosen the knob. One time I had to use a pair of pliers to get the camera off of the tripod. The only other problem that I have encountered is that the panning knob can be hard to tighten once in a while.

Would I recommend the Markins M-20? Yes. Without reservation.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 11:05 am.

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Photo of the Week – Reed Reflections

This was taken at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge.

I liked the symmetry of the the reeds and the reflection on the water.

The shot was taken with my Nikon D300 and Tameron 70-300 at f3.5 with a shutter speed of 1/4000 and an ISO of 800.

Reflections of reed in a pond at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge

Reed Reflections

You can view more of my images by clicking here.

Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 10:28 am.

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5/5 Posts and Sites You Should Read for 11/5/10

Here are the posts and sites that I found that I think you as a photographer should read. Not all of them are always related to photography, but take a look at them.


Photofocus Nik HDR Efex Pro Review – This is an HDR plug-in that I keep hearing about from quite a few good photographers.

A History of Nikon SLR Lenses – Nikon’s 44 tales of their important lenses.

21 Wedding Tips for Amateur Photographers – This is a pretty good list of what to do and think about if you are new to the wedding industry.

20 Strange Sex Laws – Ok, not photographic, but some of them will make you think: What the…?

10 Tips for Photo Composition – Like the title says from


f164 – This is Gavin Seim’s travel and fine art photography website. Gavin is host of The Pro Photo Show podcast and has some sick HDR images. Also, he is more than willing to share his ideas, experiments, and thoughts on photography.

PPA – Professional Photographers of America. This is the organization I will be joining at the first of the year. They have some serious benefits for professional photographers.

Pickup Specialties – Ok, not photo related, but if you are looking for an accessory for your truck or SUV, this is the place to look.

Henri Cartier Bresson – Photo history. I personally don’t like or get his work, but he did have a huge influence on the photo industry. Or at least how we take pictures.

Monterey Bay Aquarium – This is a must see if you are in the area.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 2:35 pm.

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Small Thistle

Sometimes, to make a good image, you have to look at the world in a different way.

Below is an image of a typical thistle plant in bloom that I took in WA. If I hadn’t of looked close, I would never have seen the little white flowers that are on the tips of the thistle flower.

By looking at the details, I was able to capture what most people don’t even see.

The image was taken with a Nikon D300 and a Nikkor 105 f2.8 VR Macro lens. The camera was set at 1/250 of a second at f5.0 and an ISO of 200.

Macro close-up of a thistle flower in WA

Thistle Macro

You can see more of my images at my Nature Light Photo Gallery.

Please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 4:03 pm.

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Pre-Sunrise South Tufa Panorama at Mono Lake

Honestly, I have not discovered a better place to be at sunrise than the south tufas at Mono Lake, CA. The light is magical. The formations are inspiring. And the location is remote, yet accessible. I am sure that there are places that are better, but I haven’t discovered them yet.

Because of the situation, it is easy to get a good shot, but difficult to get one that brings you the whole scene. This shot does that. It isn’t a true panorama in the sense that it was taken with a wide angle lens and cropped, but it is still in the panorama format and it shows the birds, both in flight and on the ground.

I took this before the sun was over the horizon, but the birds were still active. I was trying to give a sense of the movement of the birds and used a long shutter speed to blur their movement. Those wispy blurs above the tufas are the birds in flight. By using a long shutter speed and my tripod, the moving birds are blurred, but the rest of the scene is still sharp.  In Lightroom, I tried to bring out the details of the tufas, but leave the dark atmosphere of the time of day present by using fill light to lighten up the tufas just a bit.

The shot was taken with my Nikon D300 and a 18-70 3.5-4.5 lens at 31mm. The camera was set at and ISO of 200 and a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/5 of a second to blur the birds, but the aperture was small (f11) in order to increase the depth of field as much as possible.

Pre-sunrise at the south tufa at Mono Lake, CA

Tufa Panorama

You can see more images from Mono Lake by visiting my Mono Lake gallery.

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 11:27 am.

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