Favorite Photographs

Everyone has a select number of photos which they prefer over others. This is one of mine. I love it so much that I had it enlarged, matted and framed. It’s now hanging over the head of my bed. While at Alaska’s Katmai National Park in 2007, we saw a large number of brown bears while slowly riding and drifting in a Zodiac inflatable boat, with six of us on board plus our guide. As we rounded a portion of a small cove, we spotted this bear taking a nap on some large rock outcrops. After we returned home and I processed the image, he became my “sleeping bear” and thus his position of honor now framed above my bed. I absolutely love the scenery in this image—the large boulders, the flowers and the greenery, with the far background slightly out of focus. To say I was lucky to get this shot would be an understatement. At the time, I was so excited I could hardly think straight. Thankfully, I remembered how to work my Nikon camera!

Black & White

One nice thing about digital cameras is you can easily change from color to black and white, either in camera of afterwards during post processing. When you have a situation such as this one, taken at the Oak Island, NC Coast Guard Station lighthouse, with a summer storm on the back horizon, and dune vegetation in the foreground, going to black and white makes everything really stand out, especially the lighthouse against a darkened sky, which in color was a very dark blue. I need to post more “summertime” photos to make me think warm this winter!

Blue Grass Music

I love Blue Grass music, and when I have an opportunity to attend a music fest specializing in that sort of entertainment, I jump at it. Locally, each year, we have the Charlie Poole Music Festival. A year ago I spent the entire day there, listening to music and taking as many photos as I could. This one was taken away from the main stage, where several “old timers” had gathered just to jam it up spontaneously. This sort of thing was happening all around the stage, where people who were not featured performers just wanted to play and have fun. I probably enjoyed this more than I did the actual stage performances.

Wild Horses

Wild horses. There’s a song about them—by the Rolling Stones, circa 1971. The one I photographed here was in the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, and was grazing alongside the road as we slowly passed by. I stopped on the far side of the road, and took my LX3 Panasonic pocket size camera out and took several images. I liked this one the best. We saw many more wild horses throughout the reservation, and they pretty much wander wherever they want. So, you have to drive carefully.

Bright Colors

I discovered a few years ago, after I started using digital versus film cameras, that wherever I went, I started to look at my surroundings differently—in effect, I was “composing” a digital picture in my mind. Besides looking at landscapes differently, I started to view colors the same way, especially bright colors like these on this flower box sitting on red and white painted steps to an old school house in Michigan.

Michigan Lighthouses

If you enjoy lighthouses, then Michigan is a great place to visit. Given the State is almost surrounded by the Great Lakes, there are a large number of lighthouses throughout the region. The one I enjoy better than most is located at Eagle Harbor in the Upper Peninsula (UP) Lake Superior region. I went to college up there (Michigan Tech) and since I graduated I always enjoy going back with camera in hand. Wild, rugged, and beautiful best describes the UP, especially in Fall and Winter. I waited for the red beam light to position itself before I snapped the shutter. That, coupled with the bright red roof makes for a nice image. I processed this as an HDR (high dynamic range) image, using Photomatix Pro.

Kodiak Brown Bears

My wife and I were fortunate to have been able to be guided along the shoreline of Alaska in Katmai National Park, riding in a small Zodiac rubber inflatable boat, looking for wildlife in the summer of 2007. Were we lucky or what? We came upon this big guy as we slowly and silently drifted by where he was searching the inter-tidal zone for food. We were a fair distance away, so I had to use my 300mm lens to capture this image. But, what you see here was cropped afterwards, because it was on this trip that I forgot something I’d learned before. That was to crop “in camera” and not afterwards. What happened to me as we drifted by the bear, was that I was so excited to be seeing my first Kodiak, that I fired off shot after shot, always with the bear right smack in the middle of the camera frame. Thus, I wound up with something I did not like later on. Lesson I learned then, and have remembered ever since, is to crop in camera, and give the main subject some “breathing room” in the frame, NEVER placing the central focus dead center. The “rule of thirds”, well “RULES”.

Bering Sea Native People

When the opportunity presents itself, I like to capture an image of people who are out of the ordinary. On a recent trip to the Bering Sea, we went ashore in Zodiac rubber boats at Nunavik Island. Greeting us was a small family of Yupik native people living there. Most were young, but this lady who was 90 immediately caught my eye. She was most happy to let us take photographs of her and others in her family. After I returned home and processed her photo, I began to wonder about all the things this lady had seen in her lifetime. She and others living there are subsistence hunters, and have relatively few modern conveniences compared to most other places we visited on our exploration journey throughout the Bering Sea and Eastern Siberia. Regardless, I’m sure this lady has little desire for what we’d call “modern conveniences”.

Harpers Ferry WV

Another tip I picked up by reading the photo blogs of whom I consider to be some of the best photographers around, such as Moose Peterson, is to try to find a different perspective from which to view what you want to photograph. In this case, I was above the town of Harpers Ferry, looking down at the famous railroad bridge crossing the Potomac River, which was to be my main subject. Just behind where I was standing, I noticed the ruins of an old stone-walled church. I walked inside the ruins and looked through what remained of a window. That gave me a nice frame for my main subject, plus offered some perspective of distance, so “click” I went.

Monument Valley

Northern Arizona is a terrific place to visit—especially if you are a photographer. One of the most photographed areas there is Monument Valley. One tip I picked up from photographer Rick Sammon’s Blog is to look for a photo composition that is different from the one most people see in print somewhere. In other words, when visiting a popular tourist location like Monument Valley, Arizona, don’t shoot the typical “post-card” image. This was my intent when I captured this view with my Panasonic LX3 pocket camera last Fall. The weather Gods smiled on us that day, because there were nice puffy clouds present early in the morning when we arrived. Also, after we finished viewing all we wanted to there, a dust storm of epic proportions arrived. Had we gotten there a few hours later than we did, it would have been tough to get any sort of decent image. Given that we’d come from so far away to be there, disappointment would have been written all over that portion of our 2-week journey to Arizona.