Snow Fields

Sometimes photography is hard. Not from a technical standpoint, but from a motivational stand point. It’s tough, as in whether to have another cup of tea and binge a little more Netflix, or grab a hat, go out into the snow and see what there is to photograph. I was in the process of making that second cup of tea the other morning after an overnight snow blanketed us in white. I had thought about grabbing some pictures, but the sky was grey and it was cold, but then the sun came out and added a little something that was screaming to be photographed. Having already resigned myself to the tea, this was not a change in plans that came easily, but like so many things in life, once you get going you wonder what all the fuss was about. At any rate, I’m glad I got out there.

Have you ever been torn about going out for a few shots. Lured away from your craft by the lack of motivation. Remember these pictures don’t take themselves. Grab your camera and get going!! You’ll be glad you did.

Here is a photo of a local barn and it’s surrounding fields.  I loved how the hay bales in the upper field were catching the light and forming a deep contrast with the still dark skies behind them. The light coat of snow certainly adds a nice element to the image.  I hope you like it!!

The Last of the Fall Season


I was fortunate enough to get out one last time a few weeks ago, as the last of the fall leaves were turning and passing their peak colors.  It was a great little hike along the shoreline.  I purposely chose the shady side of the lake so I could shoot across and capture the last of the golden hour rays falling on the opposite shore.  This means I missed the sun as it sunk below the horizon because I was on the wrong side of the lake, but those are the choices we make as photographers. When we go out, we should have a plan, especially if time is short.  On this day, I got out of work at 4, and was on the trail by 4:45, but the sun was going down in about 20 minutes.  There are plenty of Apps out there that tell you where the sun will be and even how the shadows will fall, but if you’re fortunate to have lived in the same place for 20 plus years, you don’t need your phone to tell you where to go.  Have a great week all!!

A Lesson in Composition

As I was out a few days ago in this amazing fall season, I came across these beautiful trees in all their fall color splendor.  I couldn’t resist grabbing a shot, but there was the road.  I really didn’t want the road in the shot, but there was no denying where I was.  That being, along the road.  So I tried a few different compositions without the road in the shot and it simply wasn’t working.  Not only were the trees roadside, but they were on a hill and the light was coming in the uphill to downhill direction.  I walked up and down, got high and low, trying to get  the evergreen on the left, and it’s colorful neighbors too.  Other angles without the road cut off the bottoms of the trees because of the hill.   So ultimately, I just decided to go with it, and include the road. Cropping and cloning in photoshop also disrupted what I wanted in the image so again, in post, I embraced the road and left it in.  The old adage in composition is that it’s not what you include, but what you exclude from the shot.  I guess in this case I broke a rule, but happy I did in the long run.  Have a great day!!

A Ray of Light

Wow, it’s been along time. I can’t believe I haven’t posted in over a year. It’s amazing how so many things creep in and steal your attention. This time of year always brings me back to the blog however, because it is nearing the anniversary of when I started this endeavor. I’m a bit sentimental, plus I’m reminded of this because of the bill WordPress sends me for my automatic renewal, which arrived a few days ago. Not only that, but this is easily my favorite time of year to get out there and photograph the world. The trees are turning, and an early morning hike through the woods takes on a magical tone. I was out the other day and managed to grab this shot of a singular light shaft as it made its way through the trees. This time of year, the trees not only change color, but the sun is at nice low angles in the sky as well. With the leaves falling, the sun makes its way deep into the woods, under the canopy. It’s an amazing time to be a photographer. Make sure you find a moment to take it all in; you won’t regret it.

Setting Sail

As the leaves begin to think about changing, and the nights grow colder, the sunny days of the summer are slipping into memory.  I had the good fortune of taking the family to Florida this past July.  It was a crazy summer as my son graduated from High School and prepared to head off to college.  I was thankful to put together a few days where we could spend some time together as a family.  We  visited an extremely popular mouse in Orlando and then spent some time with our toes in the sand in Clearwater.  It’s creating memories like this that I hope my kids will take with them throughout life to use as armor against all the craziness they will undoubtedly encounter.

The gatherings on the beach at sunset were always amazing.   These were some of the most breathtaking sunsets I can recall.  On this particular evening, the sail boat you see above added a nice element to the scene.  I hope you like it.

Rainy Day Off Experimentation

Well, today is my day off and its pouring rain outside.  So, I thought I’d put on Spotify, and goof around in Photoshop for a while.  This is another image of Oak Leaves which are just starting to shoot.  I photographed them with my 105 Macro mounted on a tripod, and I put a white sheet of paper behind for a clear background.  I posted a high key shot the other day, and for today, I thought I would try an over the top effect complete with a texture.  I love textures, but have not really been pleased with my past results.  Todays attempt seems a bit more to my liking.  Interestingly enough, it is also my most blatant use of a texture and I like it more than when I try to be more subtle.  Who would have guessed.  I guess it just goes to show you a little experimentation yields some interesting results.  Have a great day and all the best to you!!

Springtime Reminder


We are well into Spring here in the northeast and we have gone from cold and wet to just plain wet.  It has rained part or all of every day for nearly 2 weeks.  So with that in mind, I thought I’d throw up a quick post to remind anyone who has been in my shoes, that the sun is just above the clouds.  Here’s a picture of some 8 foot sunflowers from last year that I took while out enjoying that big glowing orb in the sky.  See ya soon!!!

Spring Leaves

I’m so happy that Spring is finally arriving here in the Northeast. March was our snowiest month of the Winter, and April was no bargain either. Finally however, May has brought Spring like weather. Even though today’s high was a meager 48F and the house’s heat actually kicked on a few times today, Spring is here…this is how I know.

Earlier this week, I made my first journey to the yard and began the dreaded spring clean up. Dead leaves that fell after I was done raking for the season, a host of limbs and branches and all sorts of entropy laden factors made my yard a serious mess. But any trip to my yard usually provides and opportunity for photographic inspiration as well, and so we have today’s picture.

While out raking, mowing and blowing, I couldn’t help but notice the tiny leaves that had emerged from their buds in the last few days. Their colors and details were so beautiful. Like mini, concentrated versions of their full grown selves, they took on a unique quality. I knew I had to capture them somehow. So, when I was finally done with my real work, I ran into the house, and grabbed my camera and Macro lens. I also got a clip board and taped some plain white paper to it to use as a background. I’d seen this done with flowers and though I’d give it a try with these tiny leaves. Well, despite all the peril inherent in Macro photography, my consistent banging of the background into the stem as I fired the shutter, and the wind, I managed a few shots I am pleased to say are keepers. Here’s one of those shots today for you to see. I hope you like it and Happy Spring to those of you in the northern hemisphere. All the best!!

DSLR vs Mirrorless – Part III The Sum up

So where is this all going? A fair question for sure. Will mirrorless replace the DSLR? Once upon a time many thought film and digital could coexist. From a practical standpoint, I think we know how that turned out. Here’s what I think. For what its worth…

I think mirrorless is beginning to prove itself a worthy contender in the photography landscape. Sony has led the way so far, and the A9 has landed right in the middle of the DSLR party. The truth is that at some point, DSLRs will go away. No one will be using a DSLR 100 years from now. But will they be using one 25 years from now? 10 years? 5 years? At some point, something will come along and change the photography landscape, and mirrorless appears to be the first contender to try to be that technology.

Along the way however, some things will change, and that may remove one of the primary benefits of mirrorless technology. This is size and weight. It seems as though pros are especially committed to a full frame sensor. As a matter of geometry, this will increase the size and weight of both the camera and the lens you attach to it. Bigger sensor means a bigger (and heavier) camera. Bigger sensor also means a bigger square surface to cover with light from the lens. This means the lens must also be bigger (and heavier) to make an image circle large enough to cover that sensor completely with light. It appeared to me that many mirrorless manufacturers tried to sell pros on smaller sensors which results in smaller lighter cameras. Some pros may have jumped at this, but the internet seems loaded with “pros” and “joes” just waiting for a full frame mirrorless sensor. Sony did it, and has won awards (and sales) aplenty for the effort. Now everyone is sitting back waiting for Nikon and Canon to do the same. The rumor sites seem to point to a release within the year.

Another problem that may stall mirrorless is the lens conversion issue. If you own DSLR lenses, you can’t use them on mirrorless without an adapter. Here’s where the physics of light gets in the way. Basically DSLRs have a big flapping mirror in them that swings up and down. The lens needs to get out of its way, so there is a big space between the back end of the lens and the sensor. The lens is designed to assure that the light passing through the lens falls into focus on the sensor after passing through this open space. This open space is called flange distance, and because mirrorless cameras don’t have mirrors (hence the name) the flange distance is significantly smaller. This smaller flange distance allows a mirrorless camera to be thinner and more compact, but it also means you cant put a DSLR lens on it without an adapter. That’s because with the shorter flange distance, the light hasn’t come into focus yet when it reaches the sensor of a mirrorless camera using a DSLR lens. Therefore you need an adapter or new lenses. That’s bad news and ultimately expensive news for a potential Mirrorless owner with $1000’s invested in DSLR lenses, because say what you will about lens adapters, most agree, they are nobody’s friend.

Well, this post went way long and I’m sorry about that. I hope these last few posts have helped increase your understanding on mirrorless vs DSLR. If you’re planning a purchase, I hope this will help you make a better, more informed decision. After all, none of these cameras are cheap. Looking down the road for the long haul, there are more questions than answers on how to best spend your money right now. I’ll admit to being a gear monger wanna be, but I’m also pretty cheap, with a kid in college and mortgage to pay. I want to make good informed decisions, and not break the bank at the end of the day. So I’ll wait a bit before I buy my next camera and see where the dust settles on this one.

Please enjoy another image I’ve taken with my mirrorless camera. These two Ponderosa Pines rose above all their surroundings at Black Horse Canyon in New Mexico. It had been a long day of hiking, and these trees made an incredible sound as the breeze blew through them. I was sleeping in a matter of minutes listening to them, even with that bright full moon. All the best to you.

DSLR vs Mirrorless Part II: My Experience

When mirrorless cameras came out there were some photographers who jumped right on board and sang it’s praises incessantly.  To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled.  I don’t know why exactly.  I guess it was because I didn’t like people dissing my beloved DSLR, and the thought of “upgrading” was not one I was very fond of.  I’m not stubborn, but change was not in my wheel house this time around; especially with some of the notable short comings with the early models that I mentioned in part one of this blog.

Then something happened.  I had committed to a two week hike with my son as part of a Boy Scout experience at a place called Philmont.  It promised a two week trek through the back woods of New Mexico, waking with the rising sun, hiking several miles over mountains and through canyons to the next camp site; day after day for two weeks.  A total of 89 miles, 2 summits, and a host of other cool stuff (like a fossilized T-Rex track).  All stuff photographers drool to be a part of.  The only problem is you take everything you need for those two weeks and carry it on your back.  While tents, rain gear, and sleeping bags are part of the necessary equipment, 10 pounds worth of camera gear is highly discouraged. It was time to shop for another camera.

I poured over the potential alternatives and mirrorless kept coming up as the natural answer. I wanted the ability to shoot RAW, a fully manual camera so I could choose, ISO, shutter speed and f stop, and interchangeable lenses in a small, lightweight form.  That eliminated DSLRs and most point and shoots.  Either too heavy or not functional enough.  I scoured reviews of all the usual suspects and settled on a Nikon J5.  In short, it had all the functionality of a DSLR, and the whole thing including camera, lens and battery weighed less than the walk around lens I attach to my D810.  I wasn’t cheap but I got one.

Overall, I had a great experience with the camera.  It was super convenient to keep out at all times, held in place by a carabineer that I could undo in less than 2 seconds to grab a shot when I wanted.  I took close to 1000 pictures and went through  2 and 1/2 batteries in the process.  Not bad.  My pictures looked great, and I can honestly say there is no way I would have taken so many pictures with my DSLR because it would have been stowed most of the time.   Many of the advantages of mirrorless besides weight and size were also appreciated.  Such as super fast focus, high frame rate, and an articulating screen, something more DSLRs are starting to have, but not at the time of this hike.  My biggest complaint was the low light performance which left me hoping for more.  At the end of the day however, I was pleased with my choice and still use the camera today when I’m doing stuff with the family, and don’t want to be weighed down by my big D810.

I have one more post to do on this and I promise to get it out soon.  I just want to talk about the current state of mirrorless and where I think this is all going.  I’ll also discuss why mirrorless isn’t necessarily lightweight or compact anymore.  In the mean time, I’ve included another shot with my mirrorless  J5 that I took while on my Philmont hike.  This is the Maxwell trail camp at Sunset.  I hope you enjoy it.  Until then…All the Best.