Monthly Archives: January 2013

Some Place WARM!

It’s been a very cold week in central Ohio with temperatures in the teens during the day and single digits at night so I couldn’t help thinking about being some place warm like a nice beach!  As I write this, it’s 16 degrees and snowing outside.


Sanibel Island Florida sunset with a Fisherman – Click image to enlarge


My thoughts drifted to the warmest place I’ve been recently which was Sanibel Island in Florida when Lisa and I were there on vacation back in October 2012.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we had a great time in Sanibel.  We were walking along the beach one evening and were treated to the beautiful sunset you see above.  As we watched the sun sink below the horizon with some nice clouds hanging above the horizon we could tell that it would be a very colorful sunset.  Of course, I had my camera with me just in case there was anything interesting to photograph.   Fortunately, just ahead of us was a fisherman standing in the surf and beyond him two other people throwing out nets so I was able to include them in my composition.  The next image was taken a few minutes later and is very similar but in this shot a very cooperative seagull landed not too far in front of me and positioned itself nicely so I could include it.  Believe it or not, both of these images were taken hand held!!  Without today’s low noise, high ISO capable camera sensors and image stabilized lens technology it would not have been possible to capture sharp images like these, hand held in such low light.  Both images were captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS (image stabilized) L lens.  Camera settings for the first image were 1/80 sec at f/11, focal length 75mm, ISO 1600, and 1/50 sec at f/11, focal length 75mm, ISO 1600 for the second image.


Sanibel Island Sunset with seagull – Click image to enlarge


Just looking at these images again make me feel nice and warm… doubt the cup of hot tea I’m drinking right now probably helps too!


You can see more of my photography of Sanibel Island in my Sanibel Captiva Island gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Posted in General Photography, Weekly Column Tagged , |

Spruce Flat Falls

Spruce Flat Falls is a beautiful waterfall tucked away in the quiet Tremont area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Although it’s certainly not an unknown waterfall, Spruce Flat Falls is not one of the most popular waterfalls in the park.  Getting to the falls requires about a 2 mile hike that is moderately strenuous at the beginning since the trail is uphill for the first ¼ mile.  Then the trail is fairly level for the rest of the way going slightly downhill as you get close to the falls.  My first hike to the falls was in late July 2011 on a day with high humidity and temperatures in the mid-90’s…the pool at the base of the falls felt really refreshing that day!


A side view – Click image to enlarge


As you can see from my images, autumn is a beautiful time to visit Spruce Flat Falls, and in my opinion it’s the best time to photograph them.  Many different compositions are possible, so be sure to move around to find the best ones.  The image above is a side view, and below is a low angle shot a little downstream.  Don’t forget a close up shot isolating just part of the falls.  For some of the best compositions you may have to stand in the water so use caution if you get in the water!


Downstream from the falls – Click image to enlarge


About 100 yards west of the “Townsend Y” you’ll see a sign for the Smoky Mountain Institute.  Turn left at the sign and after 2 miles, you’ll come to a left turn that will take you to the Institute.  It’s well marked so you can’t miss it.  Go to the visitor’s center and get a map to guide you to Spruce Flat Falls.

You can see more of my photography of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in my Great Smoky Mountains National Park gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Posted in National Parks, Photographic Technique Tagged , , |

Mirror Lake – Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake and reflection of Mt. Watkins – Click image to enlarge


Mirror Lake, named for its clear reflections is located in Yosemite Valley directly below Half Dome.  This isn’t a very good place to photograph Half Dome since the immense rock appears very distorted from this angle, but there are several nice subjects that can be photographed like a reflection of Mt. Watkins.  The image above was taken in May 2008.  Although not photographed at the most ideal time (1:45 PM) I was at least able to position the sun behind the trees in the upper right of the frame.


Over the years Mirror Lake has been slowly filling with sediment brought by Tenaya Creek, but it still nicely reflects Mt. Watkins in the spring and early summer.  By autumn, the lake is almost completely dry and this image isn’t possible unless the valley has gotten a fair amount of rain.  In 1935 Ansel Adams photographed this same scene.  At that time there was a lot of water in the lake and the rocks you see on the left side weren’t visible at all in Ansel’s image.  The trees weren’t nearly as tall either so more of Mt. Watkins was visible.  If you’re in Yosemite Valley, be sure to take the time to visit Mirror Lake.  It’s a very peaceful place and you’ll be glad you went.


I reprocessed the image recently and created a black and white version that you see below.


A Black and White version of Mirror Lake reflecting Mt. Watkins – Click image to enlarge

You can see more of my photography of Yosemite National Park in my Yosemite National Park gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Posted in National Parks Tagged |

Lower Falls Bridge

Since my previous post, central Ohio has continued to experience winter weather, and for the month of December 2012 we received 13.2 inches of snow, which is more than we got for the entire winter last year!  A lot of people around here don’t like winter, but personally I love it.  When it snows, an otherwise drab and barren landscape is turned into something special with all kinds of photographic possibilities, so I get the camera out and hit the trails!


Lower Falls Bridge – Click image to enlarge

The image above was taken last Saturday (12/29/2012) and is of the footbridge over Old Man’s Creek by Lower Falls at the very southern end of Old Man’s Cave gorge in Hocking Hills State Park.  Most of Ohio received at least 3 inches of snow the previous day so I planned to take advantage of the snow cover and photograph in the gorge.  I arrived at the gorge parking lot just after sunrise and was excited to find that I had the whole place to myself.  It was cold, but quiet and peaceful and there were no other footprints in the snow…a rare occurrence in a popular place like Old Man’s Cave Gorge.  The new fallen snow clung to all the trees, rocks and plants, making the gorge an even more beautiful place.  As I passed through the gorge, icicles were forming everywhere from the slow constant trickle of snowmelt.  In a few weeks, the icicles will be several feet long so I’ll be returning soon for yet another winter nature show.


Lower Falls – Click image to enlarge

For the image of Lower Falls above, I used a polarizing filter to eliminate reflections from the surface of the water revealing the rocks underneath so I could include them in my composition.  The polarizing filter also helped to saturate the color of the rocks and green foliage around the falls.

Winter photography can definitely be a challenge due to the cold temperatures, snow and ice so be prepared with the right clothing and equipment.  Some winter photography tips to keep in mind:

  • This may seem obvious, but dress warmly with layers and wear waterproof boots.  Also buy “shooting gloves” which double as mittens and fingerless gloves, and don’t forget a hat!
  • Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged, and carry a spare battery in an inside pocket to keep it warm.  Batteries will lose their charge more quickly in cold temperatures.
  • When taking your equipment from the cold into a warm car or house, it is very important to keep condensation from forming on your equipment, especially on (and inside) the camera body, lenses and filters.  If it isn’t possible to let your equipment gradually warm up to room temperature, put your equipment in a plastic bag.  Doing this will allow condensation to form on the inside of the plastic bag, and not on or inside your equipment.
  • Your camera’s metering system is designed to make everything it sees mid-toned, and this can cause problems when shooting scenes with a lot of snow.  Without some exposure compensation the snow will look gray.  The easiest thing to do is to spot meter the snow and add about 1 to 1 ½ stops of exposure.  This over exposure will ensure that the snow looks white, but it won’t over expose other objects in the scene.  Use the camera’s histogram to help you determine if any more or less compensation is needed.
  • Use a polarizing filter to help control/reduce reflections especially if a stream, lake, or waterfall is included in the scene.
  • If possible, plan your photography for the so called “magic hour” of light around sunrise and sunset.  The warm golden light at sunrise and sunset combined with the cold blue tones of snow and ice can produce magical effects.
  • Think creatively:
    • Look for interesting color contrasts.  For example, red objects against white snow always look very strong.  Frame your shot carefully.
    • Less is often more so keep your composition clean and simple.  Look for interesting trees, buildings, and other objects.  Simple, clean objects like these framed against a white background of snow make very strong images.
    • Think black and white – stark gray skies and snow covered objects can look very eerie and mysterious in a black and white image.

Winter is a great time for photography so be sure to get out there and take advantage of it!


You can see more of my photography of the Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave gorge in my Hocking Hills State Park gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Posted in Ohio State Park Tagged , , , |