Category Archives: Beginner

Depth of Field Revisited – Again

One of the first principals of photography that must be learned is, Depth of Field (DoF). You may say, no the Exposure Triangle is, but Depth of Field  is so entrenched in that, that we can’t separate the two. People say they understand it and in the most basic way most photographers do. ” It’s when your subject is In-Focus and the background isn’t”. Sounds simple enough, but unfortunately it isn’t.

I see it all the time, especially in portrait work where many proudly exclaim ” I always shoot wide open” and then I know…they don’t really get it.

In most instances, we can get away with having a rudimentary understanding and it won’t hurt our images. But when the camera get’s close, when the magnification increases, that’s when that rudimentary knowledge falls all apart. Macro enthusiast know it far too well, how trying DoF becomes and how much beyond a basic understanding of DoF it takes to produce good work. I’m not going to get into pure Macro work here because it is an article all to itself and I’m not trying to reach those people. Instead I just want to concentrate on the Close up, shooting at or near your lens Minimum Focus distance.

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Breaking the Rules -Why you are not the Rebel you think you are

The following is a repost from my Business and Portfolio Website and blog. Posting it here in the hopes of farther reach

Breaking the Rules

Why you are NOT the Rebel you think you are

The Rules

Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a fellow photographer proclaim: “I know the rules so I can break them” then they also add in “I’m a Rebel”. I mean, I see this so often it’s actually become an annoyance and it’s really turned into just group speak. Someone said it and then everyone just repeats it without actually thinking about what it means. Well, I have. So lets take a little trip and see, what what with this.

But first a note. This article assumes you make photographs as art. The “rules” don’t apply to other photographic genres. Photojournalism is about telling a story, Sports, about capturing the moment, Commercial, about selling the product. While they may possibly contain art, it’s not a necessity. Continue reading »

The Recipe

The Recipe 

Pastry Crust 

1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
½ tsp. Salt
½ Cup Shortening
3 Tbs. Cold Water 

My two favorite things to do are Photography and cooking, so I always find parallels between them. So go with me on this lesson  Continue reading »

LOOK FOR added interest in your Landscape Photograph

or any photograph really.

Here we have a scene that is in itself beautiful. The magnificent sandstone cliffs above the beach and ocean at Torrey Pines State Beach – La Jolla California

Just on it’s own it’s a beautiful scene to photograph and makes for a nice shot

But simply by stepping 30 feet to my right ( and getting my sneakers VERY wet, I was able to add a ton of interest to the scene by adding the reflection off of the wet beach sand and also some of the movement of the water itself

So don’t get caught up in a scene before you and just fire away, move around look for different perspectives, things of interest, foreground subject all the little things that add up to a more complete and pleasing image for the viewer.

Sometimes we get so excited by the beauty we see we forget to look for more…LOOK


Finding the Light. Hurry up and wait

 With  natural light photography here is the typical scenario…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go…

Go home

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Shooting in Aperture Priority Mode

So of course I recommend that people serious to photography learn to shoot in manual mode. It helps them to better understand the Exposure Triangle, the workings of their camera and locks the exposure giving you full control over everything. But once you fully know and understand all of that, the truth is 80% of the time I shoot; I am using one of the Semi-Auto modes; Aperture priority or Shutter priority. Today we’ll talk about shooting in Aperture Priority or AV mode in Canon and Pentax, A mode in Nikon, Sony andO lympus  Continue reading »

Shooting in Manual Mode

Shooting in Manual Mode 

In order to get the most out of this tutorial, you should first read and know our tutorial on Exposure: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.Reading and understanding that tutorial will help to make much more sense of this tutorial on Manual Mode 

I hear a lot of photographers proudly proclaim, “I shoot only in Manual Mode” Which I suppose is good. You certainly should know how to even though I will confess I use one or another Semi-auto modes (AV/A – TV/S) about 50% of the time. But I do think that an essential part of knowing photography is to know how to shoot in Manual Mode. 

But it surprised me while assisting teaching a Photography class that had the requirement of knowing how to shoot in manual mode. That a good number that said they did, did not really when it came time to. Yes they shot in manual mode but they really didn’t understand what to do and the biggest part they didn’t know was how to meter. In fact a good many didn’t know where their meter even was on their camera. 

And that’s okay, that’s why we’re here. 

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The Basics of Exposure – Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO

The Basics of Exposure

Have your camera handy so you can follow along and look at the settings on your camera as we talk about each of them. 

Exposure, exposure is getting the perfect amount of light onto your digital sensor or film. We want to have as good exposure as possible so that we have detail in both shadow and bright areas; there is contrast (The range from dark to light) and good color. We’ll talk about the 3 things that control exposure and then how to use each of those to make every photograph you take artistically interesting and also how to balance the 3 for a perfect exposure.

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Not a Cloud in the Sky

How many times have you heard, “Oh what a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky”? Those are the days my camera and I stay home and watch TV. (My camera likes to watch; Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe, he gets to see his cousins) Being a landscape photographer I can’t think of anything more boring than a cloudless sky. Clouds add so much interest to almost any scene it really isn’t worth venturing out when they aren’t there. 

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Composition – What Brings Order to a Photograph


Composition is one of the aspects of a photograph that makes it appear better to the eye. It’s a “Reason” not a “Rule as some may lead you to believe.  

 Nothing in composition was man made. Man only quantified why something was attractive or pleasing to the eye. It wasn’t like the rule of thirds was invented when the first man wrote it down, it was merely that he quantified why something looked better that occurs, quite naturally
So let’s look at a few things to looks for in composition that can help us achieve a better photograph. Nothing is etched in stone as some may lead you to believe and if you break one rule you may actually have just fallen into another one without knowing it and if the end result is something visually pleasing and adds to the image and captures an audience, then do it.

From the Ground Up – Composition

From the ground up.

Living where I do with all the sights to see and photograph, I see a lot of photographers around and I love watching them shoot. But nothing bugs me more than watching a photographer set up their tripod, eye level, and shoot and that’s it. They may  pick it up and move it down the beach. But they set it up again, eye level, click, done, go home.
Years ago when my photos first started getting noticed, I got noticed for my style, for the type of shots I took. My shoe shots. What? you shoot shoes? No, My shoe shots. I would set my camera to a tight aperture, focus at hyperfocal distance. Place the camera on top of my shoe (so it wouldn’t get dirty or wet) and take a shot, usually with a object in the foreground.
I never looked through the viewfinder,so I really didn’t know what I got till I got home. Sometimes I got nothing, sometimes I got pure magic and a lot of times I got some very crooked horizons. My most notable shot and probably still my best selling shot was this one of a Starfish I took on the beach in Oregon. It’s a view from the ground up and it became a part of my style. So much so my first blog was named groundUp photography.
Now not all the shots I do today are done that way but more likely than not you will find me laying down on the job, looking for a new perspective on the shot. You’d be surprised how the look of a photo can change just by getting down low and shooting up. This is really true when we have foreground objects in our scenes. Getting down on the same level as a field of poppies or  even  a stupid tennis ball on beach. If you are trying to find me in a field of photographers, just look for the one covered in dirt and stickers in his shirt.
I was reminded of it again as I shot on the beach in Oceanside California. As all the other photographers set up their tripods, 5 foot high. Mine was set-up legs splayed as low as they would go and my camera was a foot off the ground. I would have laid on the sand but it was cold and getting soaked would not have made for a good time so I settled for 1 foot high and just a wet knee.
(All three images, shot 3 exposures +-2EV, Tonemapped in Photomatix)
So next time you go out, don’t be afraid to get down (just don’t boogie) and find a new perspective for your shots. I think you may be pleasantly surprised
Hope that helps