Who and what inspires you to take photos or capture a moment?  Today we are flooded with images on TV, the web, in print, or as we travel at 65mph on the highway.  If you are like me, you see a lot, but have little time to reflect on it.  Yesterday a nice gent asked me where I get my passion for shooting.  All those thousands of images I see each day came flooding back and I had to think hard to come up with an answer.

Growing up my first visual artist I connected with was Norman Rockwell.  Whatever he made and I saw resonated with me.  It was what I visualized life is like, and should be in America.  I am very proud to say my wife got me a special Boy Scout collection of his work, and I’ve read it back and forth a few times now. Whenever I do photojournalism stories I try to see the Rockwell moment and capture it in frame.  Check out some of his work here: 

When I get my camera going I am always most attracted to people who use light and paint with it.  I love artists who make such a dynamic contrast between darkness and beautiful light.  It is really hard for me to think back and say who inspired me first or lately…at the risk of offending someone. I get inspired all the time!  However I will give you three names of people who I do like for light painting, and who I heard about as I started getting serious about learning this craft.  David Ziser (who shows some of his work at (, Jerry Ghionis who is available at, and Joe McNally who you can find at  Each one creates something special.  You cannot go wrong by studying any of them.

One more lesson on inspiration I picked up was when I read the book Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer.  (You can get a copy here Going Pro @ Amazon)  Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen wrote and provided great ideas on building a photography business.  Just as important though are the inspirational photographs throughout the book.  It is one stop shopping for inspiration.

One important sidebar comment.  I kept hearing Scott Bourne was a great photographer, but I could not find anything of his “good stuff” on the web since he usually worked special commission jobs.  Then I saw this book and his photos.  I was floored with his images powerful composition and art.  Thankfully he now is devoting a little more time to showing off his work at Scott  After creating three of my best images ever last week I may understand his position a bit better.  I cannot share those great images because they were for work and limited distribution.  Maybe he felt the same way for a long time, I don’t know.

The final place I want to point you to is  This is a great site where enthusiasts like myself share photos, vote on the best ones and get them posted by Pentax.  Ordinary people, professionals and artists all post and share.  Some incredible images…and if they can do it I can learn how too!
Long post but some great places to go and absorb the art of photography!

Flash in Landscape Photography

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When I visited my parents farm in Northern Virginia last week i did what I always do…roam the fields looking for something fun to shoot.   On one end of the farm the trees help frame up objects, and make a shot a little more interesting.  One thing I knew though was that when I took the photo I would have too much dynamic range in the photograph.  In this case, the trees provided framing around a trailer and my parents home.  The foreground item I wanted to include in both shots fell in the shadows and would not provide any anchor if they were too dark.  Why you ask?  Eyes are attracted to light, and in any scene you look at your eye always goes to the brightest part of the scene.  That is just the way our bodies work.

So I pulled out my little flash and set it up for wireless shooting, aimed it at the foreground item of interest, and shot away!  I made several exposures to see if I was getting the thought process down and to share them with my blog post for the week.

I the first shot of the trailer you’ll see the first in sequence has flash hitting the woodpile.  The pile is lit enough to tell you something is there, and puts the scene into context.  In the second slide the slash does not fire.  The woodpile becomes a dark mass of nothing important.  It adds nothing to the photo.  In the final shot of the house you’ll see the woodpile illuminated low in frame, underexposed leaves framing the house and a really “hot” house that pushes the other end of the dynamic range.  The flash again provides context as well as helps the camera keep everything just about inside its capabilities.  In both sequences I hope you can see that a flash or reflector can be a very powerful asset in landscape photography.  It is a subject and technique that is explored by the masters, and should be by us as well!


Take me out to the ballgame!

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Going to a ballgame?  Here are a two tips I’ve picked up over the years that apply to little league and major leagues.

1) When photographing a play it means little without the ball.  Make sure you can see the ball in motion or in the possession of a player who can make or break the play.  A blurry ball often works better than a frozen ball because it gives you a sense of the motion.

2) Get photos of the elements of the entire environment at the sporting event.  We often go for the main event, but there are so many stories told at a game that can be told!  Take a look at the kids helping with the field work for one example.

I can go on and on…but I’ll save that for future posts.  Got a five month old girl crying  who needs Daddy to hold her tonight so she can sleep!


Tint in B&W

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I took these two photos specifically to be processed as B&W.  I knew I would have to experiment with different B&W tints and processing to bring out the clouds.  I wanted to do this get some understanding of what tinting can do to influence one’s perception of a photograph.

In both photos I hoped to bring out the interesting cloud formations to create a foreboding mood.  (I did think I was going to get dumped on the entire time I was on walk about in Savannah.)  In one photo you’ll notice a sepia or golden tint.  It lightens the color, and helped increase the visible contrast.  As a result I got the dramatic sky I wanted.  However it does not give one a sense of danger that I wanted in the photo.  The second photo of the returning tour boat, used a heavy contrast with a non-tinted B&W color set.  As a result it generated a very serious mood.  I hoped it would look like the little boat was running from the storm…which in real life certainly was how it looked as the boat moved quickly to discharge its passengers at the pier.