Using the Back Button Focus

Have you ever heard of using the back button to focus on your DSLR?  It seemed very odd and foreign to me when I first heard of this.  With my finger already depressing the shutter ½ way down to focus it was easy to actuate the shutter.  The thought of adding an extra step in how I shoot make very little sense to me.  Still, I kept hearing about this back button focus thing.  So I decided to give it a try.  Here is what I discovered:

Pros

  • Continuous Focus:  You can leave your camera in continuous focus mode in all shooting situations.  So long as you keep the back button focus pressed it will continue to focus.  While it is possible to set your focus to Continuous Focus without using just your back button it was not practical in most shooting situations.  When using just the main shutter button to focus each and every time you press the shutter in continuous mode the focus will shift.  With back button once you have established your focus you can remove your thumb and the focus will remain locked.  This means you can leave the focus mode in Continuous all the time so there is never a need to switch.
  • Focus Lock:  Once you have established where you want your focus you can release the back button.  The camera will maintain that focus point.  This makes it a little easier to focus and recompose the image and you can do this even while in Continuous Focus (See above).

Cons

  • Multitasking:  At the very first your brain will hurt when you pull your camera up to start focusing.  The added extra step will fill very strange in the beginning and this can take some getting used to. 
  • Confusion:  The confusion isn’t for you.  The confusion happens when you hand off your camera to someone else.  They will not have a clue how to focus if they are not used to this aspect.

Bottom Line

I will not go back to using the shutter release to focus.  This is the best and easiest method to focus that I have found and by allowing me to leave the camera in Continuous Focus it’s always ready whenever needed.

Check your owners manual for instructions on how to make this happen. Chances are once you do it and get used to it you will wonder how you made photographs before finding this. 

***A word of Caution*** 

Do NOT make the change to the back button focus before an important shoot.  This is something you need to do and practice long before you have a gig.

 

Great Smoky Mountains 2017 Workshop

Great Smoky Mountains, Clingman's Dome

Date:  May 16th-20th, 2017

Location:  Townsend, Tennessee

Number of Participants:  Limited to 5 photographers (4 Spots Remaining)

Cost:  $945 per person (Call for deposit and payment options)

The Great Smoky Mountains contain sweeping panoramic views of the ancient mountains, rushing streams, cascading waterfalls, and old growth hardwood forests.  These are each wonderful sites to behold and represent just a hint of the photographic opportunities that await.  Come join me as we explore this unique ecosystem with cameras in hand.   I will be right there beside you to provide photographic recommendations and instruction.

Great Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, Black Bear

Wednesday night, May 16th, we will all meet at the Trail Head Steakhouse in Townsend, TN for an orientation and to go over the itinerary for the following three days as well as get a sense of what each of you is looking for out of the workshop.  The May 16th welcome dinner is on us. 

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will be filled, sunrise to sunset, with photographic opportunities as we explore Cades Cove, Greenbriar, Clingman's Dome and more.  Finally, we will finish with a recap of the workshop and have breakfast Saturday morning, May 20th, as everyone leaves on their own.  This meal will be on us as well.  There could be an additional after workshop trip back into Cades Cove for those interested.

Important Note: We have the permits required to lead photography workshops in every national park that we guide in.

Included
•    Water and snacks during the day will be available at no charge.
•    Sun screen and Bug repellent will be provided as needed

Great Smoky Mountains, Greenbrier

Not Included
•    Food (other than the first night and the last breakfast)
•    Lodging (suggestions will be made)
•    Transportation

We have set aside a block of rooms at the Best Western in Townsend, TN with a check in on May 15th and the check out on May 21st with an average cost of approximately $101.00+tax per night.  We recommend everyone stay at the same hotel for convenience.  You may book a room for the listed dates or any variation thereof.  When you decide what times you wish to stay at please contact us and we will arrange the rooms.  You can settle up with the hotel once you arrive. 

If you are interested in rooming with another individual please contact us and we will help put you in contact with other interested participants. 

Image Deconstruction #2

Here is another look at image deconstruction.  This will help you see what and how I see when presented with an image.  Some of these decisions are made at the time of capture and some are made after.  Remember, capturing an image and finishing it are two sides of the same coin and should be treated as a whole and not individually.  

Image Deconstruction #1

This is a new series to help people understand what I see when I look at an image.  This could be at the time of capture or during post processing.  I do not consider the capture or the post processing to be separate but rather all part of the same overall process.  Click on each image above to see larger representations.

The Be Attitudes of Photography

Great Smoky Mountains, Cade's Cove

Great Smoky Mountains, Cade's Cove

Over the past year several posts were made on this blog talking about what you should be as a photographer.  Below is a compilation of all those posts.  Read through them and apply them to your photography as needed.  Enjoy!

Be Educated

Photography is a broad subject.  From food, nature, portraiture, weddings, all the way through sports and action.  If you are new to this art you can quickly become overwhelmed by this.  My suggestion is find what aspects of photograph interest you the most and become educated.

While there is an option to become traditionally educated through college it isn't the only avenue available to you and those are the ones mentioned here.  

Books

There are countless books written on the subject.  If you do a bit of research in whatever aspect has gained your interest you can find great books to help you get started.  If you aren't sure there are some general photography books available which cover many different areas.

Online

You can find an almost limitless supply of photographic information online and never have to pick up a book.  However, do your research as not all online photography sites are equal.  There are a few popular ones where poor advice is the norm.

Workshops

Workshops are perhaps the best way to further your photography education through instruction and hands on learning.  There is a theme within all of the this which you may begin to notice.  Do your research as not all workshops are equal.  Some photographers use workshops as ways to pay for their trips to exotic locations where their own images are the most important part and the participants are left in the cold.  Read the reviews to ensure you are getting quality instructors who are focused on you.

Photography Clubs

I am the president of a club here in Homestead, FL called the South Florida National Parks Camera Club (SFNPCC) and we are focused on helping educate our members.  Photo clubs can be a great tool to help new and experienced photographers learn and expand their craft.  If nothing else it will put you in contact with local people who share a common interest.

Practice

There is only so much you can learn from books, the internet, and workshops and clubs.  You have to get out and practice on your own.  This way you can put to use all the time spent reading and learning from other photographers.  

Lastly

Whatever route you choose (and I recommend all the ones listed above) it is important to Be Educated.  It is through knowledge we photographers grow our craft. 

 

Be Prepared

Summertime in the Everglades National Park is, in a word, brutal.  It is not a hospitable environment for those of us who spend most of their day in air conditioned buildings.  I didn't realize this when my wife and I first moved down back in 2005 and so I put on my shorts and my short sleeve T-Shirt one morning and headed out for sunrise to see what photographic opportunities awaited (no bug spray either).  I drove and drove until I found the place I wanted.  This place had the potential to yield beautiful sunrise reflections in the water and the small mangroves growing there.  So, I got out of my car and started setting everything up and just as the sun started to rise I realized my mistake.  It only took a few moments for every inch of my exposed skin to be covered in biting flies and mosquitoes.  I screamed (a high pitch shrill of a scream), threw all of my stuff in the car, left the Everglades, and didn't return for two years.  Why did this have such a negative effect on me?  Because I wasn't prepared.

You might be asking why I just don't go in the winter?  Well, I do go in the winter but the Everglades truly come alive in the summer time.  The water is up, the skies are filled with dramatic clouds, and storms roll in and out daily.  I often say the best time to be in the Everglades is also the worst time.  You may also be asking why in the world would I keep going back?  That's an easy answer; because I want great photos.  The more I go the more I learn and the more I learn the more I want to go back and the more I go back the greater photo opportunities present themselves.

After my initial experience I started piecing together what I needed to survive the Everglades in the Summer.  Each time I would venture out I would come back with some "thing" that I needed to make it through the next time.

This is not just applicable to the Everglades.  This applies to any location you are planning to photography.  Research the area and the average climate in order to properly Be Prepared.

 

Be Deliberate

There are well known photographers out there that preach the spray and pray method of photography.  If you aren't familiar with this concept is is where you take gobs of photos in rapid succession in the HOPE of getting a good photograph.  I would encourage you to first take a different approach to your work.    

When you get to an area take the time to survey the scene before you extend your tripod legs and plop the camera right on top.  It is a good idea to leave the camera off the tripod so that you can easily look at different compositions.  Once you find what you are looking for then set your tripod up to reflect your vision for the photograph.

Try and envision the end result before you ever snap that first photograph and Be deliberate!  

 

Be Flexible

Okay, you have spent a good bit of time and money getting to the location of your dreams.  You have pictured this moment in your mind so many times and educated yourself on what to do and what photos you want to take.  Then, you get to the top of the mountain and you are completely socked in with fog.  Not the good kind of fog but the fog you can cut with a knife.  What do you do?

The above scenario has happened to me on more than a few occasions.  The weather and I always seem to be at odds with one another.  Admittedly the first few times this happened it ruined my day.  I would spend the rest of the time driving back and complaining about what just happened.  Hmmm...  I wonder how many photos I missed because I wasn't willing to look?

Be Flexible.  The day doesn't have to be ruined because the scene or area failed to meet your expectations.  If you look hard enough you can find other things to photograph.  Being flexible is the mark of a good photographer.  Being able to consistently produce quality images regardless of the situation is what you must strive for.

The two images above were shot on a day much like the one I described above and the capture only took place because I refused to let the situation end my day.

Granted, there are times when the weather is so against you the day has to be called but honestly, those days are rare.  Learn your craft and learn to Be Flexible.

 

Be Healthy

On one particular trip to the Everglades  I decided not to go where I thought the best image would be.  Why did I do this?  Because I was so out of shape the general idea of walking through waist high grass and ankle deep water was an exhausting one.  You see most of my life I have struggled with my weight and general lack of exercise.  I am certain I missed the shot I should have gotten.  There were other days too where staying on the couch seemed like a much better option than getting to the glades because it was a struggle physically to traipse around in the wetlands.  How many shots have I missed because I just didn't feel like going?  What opportunities passed me by because of my health?

Sometime in October of 2015 I started hitting the gym on a 4 to 5 times a week basis.  Since then I have been able to spend a great deal more time in the Everglades going places I never figured I would go.  Getting off the couch didn't seem like such a burden any more.  My energy levels have dramatically increased as well.  But something else happens when you are healthy I hadn't considered.  Creativity.  Because I was no longer concerned about the heat, the bugs, how high the grass was, or how far out I had to walk I could think about the image I wanted to make.  I could explore a subject and only think about the subject.  

I have a long road ahead to be really healthy but the benefits are more than worth the efforts.  So, to help improve your photography and overall quality of life...  Be Healthy. 

 

Be Respectful

Sometimes we photographers focus on the image we are trying to create and we forget about others.  The others can be our families, tourists, workshop participants, other photographers, or even the wildlife.  

With all of the negative press we photographers get we are starting in the hole already and you would be amazed at how a little courtesy goes a long way.

One day I was out at the Anhinga Trail looking to take some bird photos and came across and individual who had a nice 500mm lens on a gimbal head and he was all set up at a popular point.  This point has enough room for two, maybe three people to stand and observe the scene/wildlife.  He was plopped right in the middle with a large bag on his left and another camera on his right.  He was taking up the entire area.  I attempted to make general conversation but was completely ignored.   Worse than that are the tourists who had come to enjoy the park would stand way back and try to peer from a distance for a glimpse of the wildlife.  

Being a photographer and the president of a photography club I have had the pleasure of knowing many photographers and I can tell you that this guy is NOT the norm.  But what do you think all of those tourists think?  There is a large chance they will transfer what happened to them to other photographers they come across.  Thus, damaging our image further.
Lastly, we should not just be thoughtful and kind to other folks because we don't want our image tarnished...  We should do it because it is the right thing to do!

 

Be Better

Recently I was at my son's orchestra rehearsal and the conductor said something that resonated with me.  He was talking to the kids about what to strive for.  He said you should never strive to be good or to be excellent.  He said you should always strive to be better.  "Don't be good, be better.  Don't be excellent, be better.  Don't be great....  be better".

This has real application in photography.  There are times when you might think you have seen everything, that there is nothing else to learn.  Believe me, I have met several photographers that are convinced they have "arrived".  But as photographers we should always be learning and trying to grow.

We should be seeking ways to "Be Better" not only in photography but in life. 

 

The Nikon 80-400 AFS

The Nikon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 AF-S is supposed to be an update of their older model.  However, this lens is much more than an update.  It is seemingly a full redesign on the inside with only minor tweaks to the outside.  If you are looking for a reasonably priced telephoto lens that will allow you to reach 400mm then this is the way to go.

Pros

  • Fast focus system - not as fast as my 70-200 f/2.8 but faster than initially expected.
  • Sharp - especially at f/6.3 or smaller aperture.
  • Vibration Reduction is a must when hand-holding zoomed out to 400.  It does its job well.
  • Much lighter than the Nikon 200-400 f/4 and 1/3rd the cost.
  • Size is not much different than the 70-200mm f/2.8

Cons

  • The tripod collar is just awful.  It is flimsy and not up to the production value of the rest of the lens. 
  • Sharper at f/6.3 than it is at f/5.6 - sometimes that 1/3 of a stop can make a big difference when shooting in very low light.  

How to Take Better Landscape Photos (Part 2 of 4)

The Composition

Part of our job as photographers is to create order from chaos.  This statement really does say it all with regards to creating images.  When you get to a location you see everything which can appear chaotic and as an artist you must choose what you want to include in your photograph.  Once you decide what you want to include in the scene you must then compose the image to make it compelling.  

There are certain rules of composition that you can use to enhance your work.  Actually, I hate the use of the word rule here because art should not be bound by a set of rules.  That is part of what makes artistic expression cool.  They really should be called guidelines but everyone else refers to them as rules so I will bend to the will of the people.  You may be asking why we should be concerned with the rules and not just running around willy-nilly doing whatever we want.  Visual art has been around for thousands of years and over this time these rules have been developed and studied in order to make fascinating and compelling work.  You will be a better photographer for learning them.  The good news is you can break them and no one will send you to jail but if you know the rules and how they function you can break them for very specific reasons to make your images more interesting.  

I am going to detail perhaps the most easily employed rule and one which will change the way you see as well as your photography.  The Rule of Thirds.

Rule of Thirds

Consider your camera's view finder (live view works great too).  Now, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid overlaid in front of the image.  Each line is in a third of the scene and each point  the lines connect is what I refer to as a nexus point (there are 4).  If you can place the main subject of the photograph in one of these points you will create a more compelling image.  But why?

What art tells us is the eye is drawn to the center of an image because it is comfortable there.  So, if you put your main subject smack dab in the middle you limit what the viewer will see and it can become boring.  However, if you place the subject at one of these 4 points then the viewers eye is forced to look at more of the photograph leading their eye away from the center.

Take the image of the frog.  This critter is placed in nexus point 3 with the eye very close to the intersecting lines.  Your eye wants to explore all of the photograph because there is nothing dead center for it to rest on.

Now consider a landscape.  The last place you want to put the horizon line is smack dab in the center of the image.  For the horizon consider one of the two horizontal lines as a placement for the horizon.  If the sky is what you are promoting then use the bottom if the ground is the more interesting use the top.  If you also have a foreground or distant object as the primary subject try and place it within one of the nexus points mentioned.  

If you learn the rule of thirds you will start seeing the world in a different way, a stronger way.  

 

 

Post Expedition Great Smoky Mountains Workshop

The Expedition Great Smoky Mountains Workshop is over but it was an incredible time.  Thank you to Robert Chaplin for his assistance and to all the participants of the workshop.  We were blessed with perfect weather for the three full days of shooting.  Take a look below to see some of my favorites from the workshop.    

We are already looking forward to next year and we hope you'll join in on the fun!!!

Great Smoky Mountains Photo Workshop

Join me and master photographer Robert Chaplin for a 3 full day photography workshop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park May 25th - May 29th.  Look here for additional details.

You may be asking yourself 'how is a 3 full day workshop spread out over five days.'  Well, we offer 3 full days with a complimentary dinner the first night as an introduction to the following three days.  The last day there will be a complimentary breakfast followed by bonus trip to Cade's Cove for any who are interested.

The time is growing short but there are still spots available and we have rooms set aside just for our group.  Come join us for an amazing photographic adventure through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

*We are licensed and insured to operate within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

How to take Better Landscape Photos (Part 1 of 4)

Landscape photography is one of the most popular forms of this art because so many want to show the beauty or power of Creation.  There is a problem here however and it isn't what you think.  The issue is NOT that many new photographers get their expensive camera gear and jump right into it creating so-so images.  The problem is that so many photographers stay there because the results are "okay" enough.  This is the first in a four part series to help you take your landscape photography to the next level.

The Fluff

The fluff can be among the most important aspects to becoming a better landscape photographer.  What do I mean by fluff?  Fluff is the emotions or thought process you have while viewing the scene.

THIS HERE SURE IS "PURDY"

Moving past the thought of 'this scene is beautiful or powerful' can be difficult.  You have to start thinking about why you see it as you do.  Examine the scene and narrow down what grabbed your attention.  Keep in mind the people looking at your work were not with you when the image was captured (well, most likely anyway).  They cannot feel what you were feeling unless you show them.

Ansel Adams said"A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed."

The photograph must stand on its own.

I chose the FLUFF as the first part of this series because I think it gets overlooked way to often.  People talk about gear, composition, post processing, and just about anything else before they get to this topic.  

Remember, the next time you are out try thinking in this manner.  Try to convey to your potential audience what and how you see.

Expedition Great Smoky Mountains

Overlook just past Morton's Overlook, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Robert Chaplin and I have worked with one another through the South Florida National Parks Camera Club (SFNPCC). Robert is an artistically focused, fantastic, passionate nature photographer. He leads workshops in the Florida Everglades and recently returned from hosting a workshop in Alaska with a Northern Lights theme. I encourage you to check out his website at www.rlchaplinphotography.com  

Over the last few months, Robert and I have been working together to create and co-host a Great Smoky Mountain National Parks Photography Workshop. Guess what? This is us, making the official announcement that you may…  

Join us for Expedition Great Smoky Mountains!


Date:  May 25th-29th, 2016 (3 full days of activities)

Small cascade near Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains

Location:  Townsend, Tennessee

Number of Participants:  Limited to 10 photographers

Cost:  $780.00 per person (Call for deposit and payment options)

The Great Smoky Mountains contain sweeping panoramic views of the ancient mountains, rushing streams, cascading waterfalls, and old growth hardwood forests.  These are each wonderful sites to behold and represent just a hint of the photographic opportunities that await.  Come join us as we explore this unique ecosystem with cameras in hand.   This workshop will be led by Jason Eldridge and Robert Chaplin.  We will be right there beside you to provide photographic recommendations and instruction.

John Oliver's Cabin, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains

Wednesday night, May 25th, we will all meet at the Trail Head Steakhouse in Townsend, TN for an orientation and to go over the itinerary for the following three days as well as get a sense of what each of you is looking for out of the workshop.  The May 25th welcome dinner is on us. 

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will be filled, sunrise to sunset, with photographic opportunities as we explore Cades Cove, Greenbriar, Clingman's Dome and more.  Finally, we will finish with a recap of the workshop and have breakfast Sunday morning, May 29th, as everyone leaves on their own.  This meal will be on us as well.

As a bonus; anyone interested can join me and Robert as we venture back into Cades Cove before heading home, for a little more photography. 

Morton's Overlook, Great Smoky Mountains

Included
•    Water and snacks during the day will be available at no charge.
•    Sun screen and Bug repellent will be provided as needed

Not Included
•    Food (other than the first night and the last breakfast)
•    Lodging (suggestions will be made)
•    Transportation

Small Stream, Greenbriar, Tennessee

We have set aside a block of rooms at the Best Western in Townsend, TN with a check in on May 24th and the check out on May 30th with an average cost of $101.00+tax per night.  We recommend everyone stay at the same hotel for convenience.  You may book a room for the listed dates or any variation thereof.  Reminder, each individual is responsible for booking their own room.   

If you are interested in rooming with another individual please contact us and we will help put you in contact with other interested participants. 

Be Educated

Great Egret, Everglades National Park

Photography is a broad subject.  From food, nature, portraiture, weddings, all the way through sports and action.  If you are new to this art you can quickly become overwhelmed.  My suggestion is find what aspects of photograph interest you the most and become educated.

While there is an option to become traditionally educated through college it isn't the only avenue available to you and those are the ones mentioned here.  

Books

There are countless books written on the subject.  If you do a bit of research in whatever aspect has gained your interest you can find great books to help you get started.  If you aren't sure there are some general photography books available which cover many different areas.

Online

You can find an almost limitless supply of photographic information online and never have to pick up a book.  However, do your research as not all online photography sites are equal.  There are a few popular ones where poor advice is the norm.

Workshops

Workshops are perhaps the best way to further your photography education through instruction and hands on learning.  There is a theme within all of the this which you may begin to notice.  Do your research as not all workshops are equal.  Some photographers use workshops as ways to pay for their trips to exotic locations where their own images are the most important part and the participants are left in the cold.  Read the reviews to ensure you are getting quality instructors who are focused on you.

Photography Clubs

I am the president of a club here in Homestead, FL called the South Florida National Parks Camera Club (SFNPCC) and we are focused on helping educate our members.  Photo clubs can be a great tool to help new and experienced photographers learn and expand their craft.  If nothing else it will put you in contact with local people who share a common interest.

Practice

There is only so much you can learn from books, the internet, and workshops and clubs.  You have to get out and practice on your own.  This way you can put to use all the time spent reading and learning from other photographers.  

Lastly

Whatever route you choose (and I recommend all the ones listed above) it is important to Be Educated.  It is through knowledge we photographers grow our craft. 

 

Be Healthy

Everglades National Park, Near Mahogany Hammock

On one particular trip to the Everglades  I decided not to go where I thought the best image would be.  Why did I do this?  Because I was so out of shape the general idea of walking through waste high grass and ankle deep water was an exhausting one.  You see most of my life I have struggled with my weight and general lack of exercise.  I am certain I missed the shot I should have gotten.  There were other days too where staying on the couch seemed like a much better option than getting to the glades because it was a struggle physically to traipse around in the wetlands.  How many shots have I missed because I just didn't feel like going?  What opportunities passed me by because of my health?

Sometime in October of 2015 I started hitting the gym on a 4 to 5 times a week basis.  Since then I have been able to spend a great deal more time in the Everglades going places I never figured I would go.  Getting off the couch didn't seem like such a burden any more.  My energy levels have dramatically increased as well.  But something else happens when you are healthy I hadn't considered.  Creativity.  Because I was no longer concerned about the heat, the bugs, how high the grass was, or how far out I had to walk I could think about the image I wanted to make.  I could explore a subject and only think about the subject.  

I have a long road ahead to be really healthy but the benefits are more than worth the efforts.  So, to help improve your photography and overall quality of life...  Be Healthy. 

Photography Workflow

For years now my post processing workflow has been the same.  After a shoot I would import the files into Adobe Lightroom and use the letter “P” for picks and “X” for rejects.  Then I would go back and further cull the images before jumping into photo finishing.  Over the past couple of years I have started shooting more often as well as adding sports photography into my line up.  With sports (and weddings) you end up taking hundreds or even thousands of images and Lightroom can take 5 to 10 seconds to load an image at full resolution.  So, if you have 1000 images and you do some basic math figuring a 5 second load time you are looking almost an 1hr and 40min of time spent simply loading the images.  This was driving insane. 

Several years ago while attending a sports photography workshop there was talk of a program called Photo Mechanic and at the time I had downloaded the trial version but never really put it to use and I certainly didn’t want to take the time to learn yet another program.  After doing some research into sports photography workflow it was apparent that Photo Mechanic is used by nearly all sports photographers.  They use it because you can scroll through your images at 100% as fast as you can press the button.  Going out on a limb I made the purchase.

Photo Mechanic…  holy cow what have I been waiting on???

Turns out if you flag the images in photo Mechanic, Adobe Lightroom will recognize the flag (or star rating as it were).  This means I can use Photo Mechanic to run through all the images flagging the ones I want to look at further before I add them to Lightroom.  This saves me hours of work…  Sure, it takes a few seconds to “add” them to the Lightroom catalog but the hours of time saved is more than worth the added extra step…

If you do lots of shooting or you are just tired of waiting on Adobe Lightroom then pick up Photo Mechanic.  You will not be sorry.  You can pick up your copy here:  www.camerabits.com

Dear Adobe, please, for the love of Pete, speed up the viewing capability of Lightroom…  It is unbearable.

Everglades National Park Photo Workshops 2016

If you are considering an Everglades National Park photography workshop this year I have several posted for 2016 already and space is limited.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me via e-mail:  jason@eldridgephoto.com or by phone 305-989-3279.  You can also find out more information by visiting Everglades Photo Workshop Page here.


Everglades National Park
 

Expedition Everglades, 1 Day Photography Workshop
Date:  02/27/2016, 03/12/2016, 05/21/2016  

Location:  Homestead, Florida

Number of Participants:  Limited to 6 photographers

Cost:  $99.00 per person

Explore a landscape of subtleties.  The Everglades National Park is a unique eco system that offers a variety of photographic opportunities.  In addition to sunrise and sunset landscapes you will have the chance to photograph a variety of wildlife from birds in flight to the protected Everglades Tree Snail.  I will be right there beside you to provide photographic recommendations and instruction.

Included
•    Water and snacks during the day will be available at no charge.
•    Sun screen and Bug repellent will be provided as needed

Not Included
•    Food
•    Lodging
•    Transportation

Be Flexible

Clingman's Dome Great Smoky Mountains

Clingman's Dome Road Overlook

Okay, you have spent a good bit of time and money getting to the location of your dreams.  You have pictured this moment in your mind so many times and educated yourself on what to do and what photos you want to take.  Then, you get to the top of the mountain and you are completely socked in with fog.  Not the good kind of fog but the fog you can cut with a knife.  What do you do?

The above scenario has happened to me on more than a few occasions.  The weather and I always seem to be at odds with one another.  Admittedly the first few times this happened it ruined my day.  I would spend the rest of the time driving back and complaining about what just happened.  Hmmm...  I wonder how many photos I missed because I wasn't willing to look?

Be Flexible.  The day doesn't have to be ruined because the scene or area failed to meet your expectations.  If you look hard enough you can find other things to photograph.  Being flexible is the mark of a good photographer.  Being able to consistently produce quality images regardless of the situation is what you must strive for.

The two images above were shot on a day much like the one I described above and the capture only took place because I refused to let the situation end my day.

Granted, there are times when the weather is so against you the day has to be called but honestly, those days are rare.  Learn your craft and learn to Be Flexible.

Be Respectful

Everglades National Park - N Tree

Sometimes we photographers focus on the image we are trying to create and we forget about others.  The others can be our families, tourists, workshop participants, other photographers, or even the wildlife.  

With all of the negative press we photographers get we are starting in the hole already and you would be amazed at how a little courtesy goes a long way.

One day I was out at the Anhinga Trail looking to take some bird photos and came across and individual who had a nice 500mm lens on a gimbal head and he was all set up at a popular point.  This point has enough room for two, maybe three people to stand and observe the scene/wildlife.  He was plopped right in the middle with a large bag on his left and another camera on his right.  He was taking up the entire area.  I attempted to make general conversation but was completely ignored.   Worse than that are the tourists who had come to enjoy the park would stand way back and try to peer from a distance for a glimpse of the wildlife.  

Being a photographer and the president of a photography club I have had the pleasure of knowing many photographers and I can tell you that this guy is NOT the norm.  But what do you think all of those tourists think?  There is a large chance they will transfer what happened to them to other photographers they come across.  Thus, damaging our image further.

Lastly, we should not just be thoughtful and kind to other folks because we don't want our image tarnished...  We should do it because it is the right thing to do!  

Be kind to one another.

Rick Sammon's Creative Visualization for Photographers

I believe Rick Sammon is one of the best photo educators out there.  On top of that he is an amazing photographer and a hound of a nice guy.  I had pre-ordered this book and after I read through it I wrote the following review on Amazon (and I rarely write reviews  for anything):

Rick Sammon never disappoints whether it is in person or in a printed book. I have been following him for years and his energy and passion for photography is evident in everything he chooses to do (workshops, seminars, books, blog, podcasts, apps, etc). This book is no different. It is filled with great advice and stunning photos.  


So, if you are looking for another photo book that is very much unlike all the rest pick one up from Amazon here.  It would make a great Christmas Gift!!!

You can also find out more about Rick here:  www.ricksammon.com

 

John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography

John Shaw is one of the greats when it comes to nature and wildlife photography.  His name is right up there with Art Wolfe.  He has deep roots in film photography and was just as popular in those days.  Many years back (2001) he wrote a book called John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide.  It was this book that set me on my way and helped me understand not only the technical/gear side of photography but also the composition.  It instilled a need to always Be Better.  It is a book that I have read more than a few times and recommended it over and over again.  But, I no longer recommend that book because he just came out with a new one called John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography

The new book is every bit as good as the original but it has been rewritten for the digital age.  It is packed full of stunning photographs along with information that will help photographers of any level.  If you are just getting into photography and you are looking for a good book.  This is it!

 

Lightroom Presentation

Adobe Lightroom Presentation

Adobe Lightroom Presentation

Through the South Florida National Parks Camera Club (SFNPCC) I will be giving a "Basics of Adobe's Lightroom" presentation tonight 12/03/2015.  

During the presentation I will be taking several of my own images from start to finish to show folks some of Lightroom's abilities.  If you have not been to one of these meetings and you are interested in Lightroom tonight is the night to join us.  You can find out more about the SFNPCC on their website at www.sfnpcc.com.

If you do decide to join us for the first time please come as my guest.  Just drop me a quick e-mail to let me know you are coming.