Shooting a creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National ParkShooting a creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Random Thoughts and Observations...

Mostly educational and sometimes just something that inspires me. Let the adventure begin.

Entry - 027

Balloon Festival - Howell Michigan

I've always wanted to shoot at a Balloon Festival - I just so happen to live fairly closely to Howell Michigan that has an annual Balloon Fest in late June. I finally made it to one!
The colors and opportunites are simply amazing. I always wondered how they inflated the ballooons as it seemed to be a fire hazard to get them inflated with the burner.

Here is the answer! A HUGE fan gets it started.

Getting closer...

Fire up - the burner once it starts was wickedly awesome.

Seeing the colors all lined up made me smile.

Off and away.

And then one just lined up perfectly through the trees. All in all they were all inflated and up and off to their destination in about 45 minutes. I was impressed with the teamwork displayed by the crews. I look forward to the next opportunity.

Entry - 026

More Michigan Marching Band

My Matthew joined the Michigan Marching Band of which my first year was in 1972. I have really enjoyed watching him have his own glorious experience. Although I am not part of the Photography Team (They are Awesome!) I have had the opportunity to bring along my camera on occaision and get my own shots.

The percussion step show prior to heading to Michigan Stadium - aka The Big House.

Marching to the Big House.

And I must admit that the color palette just makes this amazing, along with Awesome smiles.

Entry - 025

The Michigan Marching Band

My first year in the Michigan Marching Band was in 1972. I was able to enjoy again in 1973 and 1974 (without a doubt it was my greatest college experience). I happen to work as part of the EMS team in the stadium for a few years after that. Eventually I was able to particiapte in the Alumni Band at Homecoming each year. In 2019 my Matthew joined the Drumline with the MMB and that Homecoming was extra special - I marched with my own son on the field for Homecoming. My wife Janie found an old photo from when Matthew was little at the 2003 Homecoming 'Blast from the Past'. Below is a composite of two images to commemorate the experience. I wish I could say we planned this - well we did for the recreation. If I could impart a suggestion, when you take a family involved photo at an event that reoccurs or a specific location... think about future opportunities - it might become something very special.

From the 2003 Homecoming and then 16 years later in 2019.

Matthew certainly loves being in the Marching Band and the family that results.

Entry - 024

The Band

It has been my pleasure to be the band photographer for the High School Marching Band where my two youngest have been members. These kids work hard, play well and are just plain fun to be around.
If you have not had the chance to photograph a marching band on the field... you should - it is awesome!

From the Pink Out Game supporting breast cancer awareness and fundraising.

Entry - 023

Always Be Prepared

As a Scouter I do believe in being prepared. In the case of a recent walk in the woods I discovered that I had a little stalker following me. I would hear this sound every now and then and I caught this squirrel looking at me. After the fifth or sixth time I caught him looking at me I slipped my camera out of my backpack and started taking shots. When I got the one below I said something and the squirrel continued to look at me for a few more seconds and then took off. If I could have heard him speak I think it would have been something like thanks for the portrait! He had been following me along for more than fifteen minutes and it felt like he was actually posing for me - amazing. If I hadn't had my camera with me I would have missed this.

My little buddy

Entry - 022

Things you see on the street

Since I have been spending more time downtown I keep seeing street scenes and locations that I find interesting. This shot is right in front of Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit. Mercedes-Benz is using the hotel as their HQ during the auto show. They really dress up the place to bring their guests in and entertain them.

Auto Show Week in downtown

As I walk around downtown I will discover some interesting little shops and places that are unusual in their configuration. Here is a nice coffee shop right next to a parking garage just a couple blocks away from the center of the resurgence of downtown Detroit. They have a little loft up on the second floor and the staff is friendly and talented. The barista made a design in the foam on my latte and I must admit I was impressed.

The Urban Bean Co. - Detroit

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 021

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

I wanted to take a moment is this glorious holiday and the end of the year to thank all those that have continued to encourage and inspire me to keep raising the bar. I have learned a great deal this year and have more to thank than I can list here. I always endeavor to thank someone as soon as I recognize the event and hopefully you know and heard my repeated thank you.

As I look back at my various projects over the past couple years I am proud to say that I see a huge improvement in the resulting images that I have captured. I know I have lots of room for improvement and will always be looking for that next chance to improve.

I look forward to next year and what awesome things are yet to be. I wish all of you all the best and always have your camera at the ready.

Me with my #1 inspiration, Jane

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 020

Christmas Lights

I must admit that I enjoy driving around looking at all the Christmas decorations and lights at night. Since my commute is much longer than it used to be I have been having fun using various routes home just to mix it up. A couple nights ago I drove by a street that really caught my eye. Almost every house and tree was all decked out. The further I got into the subdivision I discovered the entire sub was in the spirit.

This is the view from the main road that caught my eye

On another night in a different subdivision I caught this one. While I was looking at it wished there had been a lot of snow but after I got home I realized the very wet and rain soaked road might have made it even better.

Leaving a friend's home late at night I looked left and found this one

Every year a local business really shows their spirit by decorating their business early in November. This year I was hoping for snow fall that would accentuate the scene, but I must admit the night I was driving past in the rain it was more than acceptable.

Trijicon in Wixom

I liked how the street light showed up more like the Star of Bethlehem.

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 019

Latest Project

I find myself a little shocked that is almost a year since I last put something up here... Oh my!

The project I am working on has left little else to do once the day is done and family duites call. This is certainly an extra and not worth bumping a family experience. Although I have not worked on the blog I probably have taken more photos this year than ever before. Shooting the High School Marching Band has been daunting and thrilling at the same time.

Lighting at night on a football field is an experience. The day time practices push the limits when the skies are clear a blue. Harsh shadows and blown out color abound.

What I find amazing is the dedication of these kids. They start practicing for the fall at the end of July. During one entire week the whole band goes to band camp and they practice marching drills and music from early in the morning until the light is gone.

Still practicing at sunset

The chance to catch interesting views of the instruments is something to keep an eye out for. Once they caught on to my search for cool looking photo opportunities they started arranging instruments for me. Way cool!


A special thrill was the result of the poster style photo I made during the post season concert for the band director. As a result of the Musical Theater presentation coming up made the stage a special opportunity. The parents seemed to really like the poster and as a result became a fund raising opportunity. Over $300 has been raised by selling these 20x30 posters for $20 each. And we are still getting orders every week, how cool is that!

Marching Band Concert Poster

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 018

365 Project

I find myself a little behind this fall with my updates here as I have been busy, busy, busy. One thing I have not skipped on is my 365 Project. I am nearing the end of my second year and I am really considering going another year.

Now you might wonder; "what is a 365 Project?" For me, it is taking at least one photo every day and post/publish it along with some commentary. Some that do this project get very detailed where they set a theme for the year, month, week and sometimes for each day. And if that is your personality style... go for it. There are thousands of pages you can find via Google to help you with ideas. Although that would be a fun challenge I chose to make it reflect something from each day of my life. That way I could look back and see all the things that happened, witnessed, or wanted to capture. A key motivation was to have it become my visual diary. I can look back on everything I've done, new places, things, new people and awesome nights out with family and friends! I did want to make it fun and not a chore as well, so my rules were pretty simple... I had to take the photo or under very special circumstances direct the photo when a tripod was not available or feasible to use.

There are those photographers out there that somewhat poopoo the idea of a 365 project. I was, at first, reluctant to try it but as I watched a friends album grow and grow and found it very interesting. I also discovered it inspired me. So for the year of 2012, which was a leap year (actually 366 days), I started out looking for things of interest or events that I was a part of or witnessed.

The first thing I noticed was I needed to have my camera along with me where ever I went so I invested in a backpack for my laptop and camera and used it for work. Then something amazing happened, after a couple weeks I found myself looking at things very differently. Almost like anything I looked at I measured if it would make a good photo of the day. In making sure I didn't repeat myself I always looked at things from various perspectives. Once in a meeting I got down on the floor and took photos of the chair legs and shoes on the floor.

The next thing I noticed is I 'felt' like I became a better photographer. I started thinking more of what story or image do I want to convey. Composition and framing also became a critical part of my view through the lens - how can I make this image better, reflect my creativity and be as spectacular as I could make it? This didn't always happen, but it became more my normal. My wife and friends started commenting that my photos were better. At first I didn't think much about it as friends and family will usually tell you everything looks great. I am very self-critical but I did notice I liked many more than not. After about six months when I looked at the thumbnail view of what I had done to that point it was a beautiful site to see.

A thumbnail view of a partion of my 365 Project

The next thing I noticed is that I enjoyed taking more portraits. Typically landscapes is my thing, flowers too, but skylines, trees, waterfalls, especially waterfalls. I felt my portraits improved greatly and people started asking me to take their portraits. Most importantly... I really enjoyed taking them, in particular children and families. I have started watching webcasts and reading blogs and books on 'Taking a great portrait'. I even went so far as to attend a couple workshops on lighting and shooting techniques and I loved every minute of them.

So... if you are interested, I strongly encourage you to tackle your own project. I do have some suggestions to make it more fun, and you can start at any time, it does not need to be January 1.

  • Always carry a camera (it does not need to be a fancy one, you are the photographer not the camera).
  • Don't stress. If it is late and you missed the light, take a photo of family or something in your house or an object that is of some interest to you. You will see coffee cups and items from my refrigerator in mine. In my case I purposely shot those because it was part of my story, but I share that thought with you because you can make it part of yours.
  • Don't wait to post your images, get them uploaded within a day or two so you don't fall too far behind. And... do upload or publish. It makes no sense to keep them in your camera.
  • Think and keep focused and make it fun... that is what it is all about.
  • Every now and then take a look at your collection and don't stop. I can almost guarantee that if you are paying attention you will see your skill improve. Any skill you practice everyday will improve if you work at it.
  • Don't take a photo just to have a photo for the day. Think about it and look around you... you will find something.
  • And... don't have it be a chore and as far as rules go... they are your rules.

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 017

Catching Fall Color

I really do love the fall. That crisp cool air, especially in the morning, the views and the color that surrounds you. Being able to go out in the woods and enjoy the sights and sounds is something that really puts me in a calm and peaceful place. Sort of a re-centering if that is an approriate term to use here.

I recently took a walk in the woods looking for some fall color to shoot. Here are a few shots I caught that I think emphasizes one of the points I like to make when going out looking for photo opportunities - look at the small details as well as the big picture. It was a dreary day as far as the sky goes, but the colors were just spectacular. (I am truly blessed to be so close to so much 'green' and other protected wilderness areas.)

Small but colorful apples on a tree

Lone red leaf in the midst of red tinged yellow

Staghorn Sumac is always good for a brilliant red

Bittersweet is always good for rich colors - especially with dew drops

So... I encourage you to take a walk in the woods or along a tree lined road and look not only at the big things... but the little ones too. You never know what little beauties you will find. The bittersweet above is a great example. I didn't see it at first, just after I looked closely amongst the leaves between the trees. Little berries and fall wildflowers are always good for colorful images. Don't forget to take your kids with you and catch them playing in the colorful leaves laying about you.

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 016

Getting Down Low with Children

I really love to get right down on the ground with children when taking their photos. Usually I not only get some great shots at a their level, but they often have a lot of fun chasing you. I make all kinds of goofy sounds, weird faces and crawl backwards which usually results in big smiles or laughs. The photo below is my niece at my sister's cottage. Other than the sky blown out in the background I really love everything else about the photo. My sister got her to look up at her as I crawled backwards.

Laying down low to get a shot at her level - I love it!

One more item... With older children share the image on the back of the camera. It helps them 'get it' and it becomes more fun for them. Do make sure to set expectations about showing them the photos like '"Hey, let me take 10 photos and then I will bring the camera to you and let you see them" - it will save you from having them run back forth after each shot. I also like to tease them with let's take 5 shots with a smile or seriuos look to make your mom happy and then make some really goofy looking face for fun. I have yet to meet a little one that didn't love to do that.

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 015

Why I take photos in RAW mode

Once I fully understood the power of taking photos in RAW mode (vs. JPG) I have never gone back. On a recent trip my Mark took my older Nikon with him to take photos of his experience. I thought about it before he left and decided to leave it in RAW mode and just send an additional memory card along with him just in case he filled it up.

When he came home I loaded the photos into Lightroom 4 and showed him how to flag and develop his photos. Once he was done (he did an excellent job) I decided to look at his discarded photos. I have found it sometimes useful to look at what people throw away and analyze them and then compare to what they keep. This is especially helpful on the occaision where I have been mentoring someone in photography.

In his discards I came across this photo:

Straight out of the camera - Sunset at Camp

I really liked his composition and it frankly looked salvagable to me. So I went to work on making some adjustments. I took the highlights to -80, lowered the exposure to -1.65. Pushed the shadows a little along with the clarity and vibrance a little bit (I like vibrance if you haven't noticed). I also made sure the blacks and white set points were correct.

The result was this:

Lightroom adjustments applied - Sunset at Camp

This is what Mark saw in person when he took the photo. If this had been a JPG file I would have never been able to come anywhere close to the resulting photo shown here. Personally, I think it is his best shot of the bunch. What he did wrong, so to speak, is not adjust for the facing into the sun at the horizon and the camera overexposed the photo. By keeping all the data in the RAW file we were able to compensate after the fact. It is not always 100% successful, but if the basics of the photo are there and it isn't too far gone you can rescue what might be your best shot of the day/event. It also serves to be helpful in figuring out what you did wrong. Mark and I reviewed the camera settings and he knows what to do next time.

Mark is going to frame this and hang it in his room. Excellent!

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 014

Walking in the woods

It can really be exciting to discover a new place to walk in the woods - and that just happened to me just a couple weeks ago. While speaking with a friend about the Trillium flowers that I love to shoot she shared with me a local park where there were huge plots of Trillium. Well this I just had to check out. The interesting thing about Trillium is that many times they are elusive and hide from you if you are not really looking for them. Often I find the flowers are pointing away from where I am standing making it a little more difficult to see them. Once you find them they appear to be everywhere you look.

Trillium in the woods

They tend to be in a more wet (think damp) environment and seem to shy away from direct sunlight. Once you start seeing the plants that tend to be in the same area - voila!

Trillium in the woods

Get down low...

Pink Trillium - up close

Unfortunately, the Trillium is short lived only being in bloom for a couple weeks or so. Every year I try to find that perfect patch of Trillium... I'm almost there.

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 013

Getting Ready for Spring

Spring is one of my favorite times of year! Actually now that I think about it... every season transition is my favorite. Spring is special though since there is this transition from all white to dull and gray followed by an explosion of color. Being ready to capture that requires a little planning in advance. Make sure you gear is ready and configured. Many times filters and extra batteries are not in your pack or at the ready. Rechecking your camera settings is always something you should do before each time you head out into the woods with your camera.

I say you must be ready as I have found some of the wildflowers that appear only in the spring are there for a short time. Trillium are one of my favorites and near my home they only look good for maybe a week tops. If I have a chance to travel to northern Michigan the time is a bit longer as I find them a tad more hardy up there. The challenge is being ready and knowing where to find them.

I like to go and take a walk almost every day lookign for the signs that something is getting ready. The Pussy Willow for example show evidence that spring is here about a week before things start to happen.

The Pussy Willow in the woods

Even though things have not started to show... landscapes can look interesting if you pay attention.

Trail in Proud Lake

What I like to do when I am out for a walk with my camera is pay attention and look at other perspectives... you never know what you may find.

Until next time... -SJF

Entry - 012

Winter frost

I love to get creative with winter shots. Ice, snow, frost all provide great opportunities. This week I noticed there was like a frost fog eary in the morning. When driving down a rural road near my home I could literally see the frost hanging in the air like a fog. Along the side of the road were these weeds left from summer. When I stopped the car on the shoulder of the road I could see the ice crystals had formed all over everything like a delicate veil.

Frosty Fog close up

Frosty Fog on Milk Weed

Frosty Fog on a Thistle

I didn't really do anything special here; I got down low so the perspective was up close and personal. I didn't have a macro lens so this is shot with my 50mm as close as the focus will allow. F/11 at 1/200 since the sun was coming up but it was still a little on the dark side of dawn. Not twenty minutes later this was all gone. As soon as the sun started hitting the plants the frost melted away. These were shot over a span of two days because I was a little late the first morning but could tell more could be done in the right conditions. Note, since I took these, the opportunity has not presented itself again. Glad I was prepared.

Until next time... -SJF

Entry - 011

Opportunities for something all around you.

During the Christmas Eve service at my Church I got an idea while the candle lighting portion of the service was in progress. As I lit my candle and returned via the side aisle I made a little detour to the control area in the back of the Church. With my little candle in had I set it up on the desk and pulled outmy camera. Checked a few settings and fired off a few shots. This is my favorite.

Christmas Eve Service

Another example of being ready, having an open mind and always looking and thinking 'what could we do?' The ISO was pushed as high as I could with my model camera (ISO3200), with the focal length being 60mm I carefully held the shutter speed to 1/50th and at F4.8 resulting in the bokeh effect I was wanting in the background. Most importantly I liked it.

Until next time... -SJF

Entry - 010

When the opportunity presents itself - Take action!

One of the most commented on photo I have taken this year is most likely the most devoid of content.

Fisherman in the fog

The funny thing about this photo is when I went to my car to travel to another office the fog was thick. The first thing I thought of was taking a landscape photo in the fog. I imagined a pine or evergreen on the left with some sort of land jutting out into a body of water. I headed off to the other office and detoured through Kensington Metro Park (it wasn't too far away). I drove around for a few minutes and spotted this scene. While I set-up my tripod I noticed a guy walking down to the water and at first I thought oh darn... then when I saw him cast a line I was thrilled. I would have to say it was one of the rare times I imagined what the scene I wanted would be and then found it almost exactly the way I wanted it. I suppose that is one of the reasons I love to look at photographs, read photography magazines and visit various photography oriented websites. It gives me lots of ideas and when the opportunity presents itself to get out there I take action.

I'm not sure what that all means... hopefully that I am getting closer to my goal of being a real photographer.

Until next time... SJF

Entry - 009

Frame it!
I have yet to see a photo that didn't just pop for me when I put it in the right frame. Something about that matte and wood or metal frame around it that just makes the photo sing.

I had a commission request for a photo from my Bond Falls collection. It needed to be in, as my wife says it, a classy frame. I don't really have the tools or supplies to make one so I knew I was going to have to get one made. The desired size was to include a 20x30 print so taking it to a frame place was not an option cost-wise. I remember hearing good things about Frame Destination out of Texas.

After checking their website and watching a few of their how to videos I felt it was worth the chance. the order experience was really good. First positive! I ordered a 28x38 frame with everything included, precut matte, glass and boards. This made it easy for me as the final assembly I expect to be pretty simple as long as I am careful about dust and dirt getting into the project as I work on it.

I placed the order on a Sunday and it arrived in perfect condition on that Friday afternoon. Second positive! I opened the package and was impressed on how well and carefully it was packaged. It's condition was perfect:

bubble wrapped, cushioned and more! third positive!

I don't want to take too much time here but it was well designed and organized. I did a quick review of the on-line assembly recommendations (short video) and I got started.

It's beautiful! fourth positive!

The frame is exactly what I wanted and was represented well in the photos on the website.

WhooHoo! (note how it was sealed in plastic - dust free)

I carefully finished the assembly making sure to use all the right supplies so the photo will last a very long time - linen tape and acid free supplies.

It was pretty easy! fifth positive!

Finally the reveal happens and Ed was really enthusiastic about it. He said it was exaclty what he wanted and thought the photo and frame was perfect. You can't beat that - sixth positive!
Here it is:

He is happy!

I have to say my experience with Frame Destination exceeded expectations and they will be my first go to spot for all my future work. I highly recommend them!

Until next time... regards SJF

Entry - 008

Why not go?
One of the things I really LOVE about photography is that you never know it all; there is always something new to learn.

In reviewing some photographs tonight I realized I never said anything about the class I took in October. It was the 'One Light... Two Light Tour' with Joe McNally. I have really admired Joe McNally from afar by reading some of his books, reviewing many of his photos and watching some of his videos. Not only is he very talented, but he seems to be a really nice and fun guy. In one 'The Grid' session with Scott Kelby I was really cracking up.

Well... when I read that he was going to be in East Lansing with his most recent tour I was tempted. My wife Jane simply said "Why don't you go?" It seemed affordable, was close enough to allow an early morning departure and easily come home that night. So... as they say I registered for the event.

As I headed off to East Lansing, Michigan, at O'Dark thirty that morning I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. One thing I knew for sure was that I would be around a lot of like-minded people and I was going to make it fun no matter what. About an hour after I left the house, as I drove down the expressway, I viewed a spectacular sunrise in the rearview mirror; I knew it was going to be a stellar day.

I guess I was somewhat excited as I arrived about an hour early and was literally… the fourth person there. I made some new friends, looked at some new hardware and struck up a conversation with a very talented photographer whose day job is a deputy prosecuting attorney. I looked at some of his stuff on-line… he is good.

Right before the doors opened here comes Joe McNally himself… shaking hands as he walked down the now very long line of folks waiting to get in. Cool, calm and relaxed telling jokes and thanking everyone for coming! Here I am saying “thank you for coming to Michigan!’ all I can say is that Joe is an awesome guy.

I was able to grab a seat right in the middle right up front and soak it all in. The coolest part was Joe would walk out in the audience, pick someone out and bring them up on the stage and use them to demonstrate the technique he wished to present. He was so effective that it almost felt like it was just me and him in a studio and he was letting me in on the stuff he has learned over the years. I can’t emphasize how awesome the whole program was.

One of his first demonstrations was with a guy a couple rows behind me. He brought this guy up and set him up with just one light and showed all of us how to make some amazing images in just a few minutes with just that one light. The ‘guy’ was at first very nervous… and in a jiffy Joe made him feel comfortable and relaxed.

This is Joe getting the set up ready…

And the first image - spectacular!

With the camera (a Nikon D4 by the way) on a tether, we were able to view the photo seconds after he took it. Almost every photo was, in my opinion, awesome straight out of the camera and thinking that with a minute or two of post processing they would be even more amazing.

This was his simple setup mid-morning.

Every person he took on stage looked pretty good and interesting and when he set it up and took the shot it was a WOW! Joe was very concise and to the point frequently checking with his audience to make sure we were all together and on the same page.

Me and Joe right after the seminar…

Joe is a really gracious guy. He patiently met with everyone that wanted to greet him, never making anyone feel like he was in a hurry or that they needed to speed it up. Meeting Joe McNally in person, seeing him in action, being able to ask questions exceeded expectations... realizing he was exactly the way I expected him to be was priceless and beyond description. To top it all off I realized that I could easily take my portraiture skills up a notch (or two) with a little bit of money and I am really looking forward to improving my lighting skills.

If you ever get a chance to go meet Joe, or even better go to one of his seminars… you just have to do it!

Regards... SJF

Entry - 007

Fall Fog...
As you can probably tell from many of my photos... I love fall. The colors of the leaves and coolness in the air I find thrilling. Another neat thing that happens is fog. When the ground ends up warmer than the air, especially in the early morning, many photo opportunites present themselves. Now driving in it isn't too much fun, but if you are already there it can be fun.

While on a campout this past weekend I got up rather early and the fog was thick... so thick I could not even see more than maybe 50 feet. I was thinking the opportunity was pretty low so I went for a walk. I took a path through the woods and crossed a bridge, but nothing struck me as worthy of a stop. I walked about a half mile or so firther and went across a field heading up a hill (or small rise for those of you that live near mountains). The sun was just starting to come up and when I got to the top of the hill the view was thrilling to say the least.

Early sunrise in the fog.

The neat thing was that when I turned around I saw this view (which ended up being my photo of the day):

Early sunrise in the fog.

So... the take away for me from this past weekend... get up early and even if the fog looks too thick to see anything... you may still find something that thrills you.
Until next time - sjf

Entry - 006

Thinking 'get down'...
While at my youngest granddaughter's first birthday party I noticed the son of one of Stephanie's friends sort of laying on the floor... Being me, I thought 'Photo Op!'. Now I could have just stood there and taken the photograph, but instead I got right down on the floor with him. He turned and looked at me and I asked if it was OK to take his photo?. He smiled and I composed, focused and took the shot. He kept smiling and then he quietly got up and walked over to the other kids. Just like that... maybe five seconds and the opportunity was over. When I got home and looked at the photo on the larger computer screen I was really happy I had gotten down on the floor; what's a little dirt, eh? I have found most of the children photos I get where I have gotten down on the floor are my best. Try it yourself and see what you think.

Little guy on the floor

This shot was not processed heavily, the only thing I did to it in Lightroom was to use Matt Kloskowski's "Focal Point with Blur" preset to put the emphasis on this cute little guy.

Entry - 005

Always Ready...
Today I was reminded as to why I started carrying my camera with me all the time. I had already selected what I had figured would be my photo for my 365 project earlier in the day and not really looking for anything to shoot. While I was on my way to pick up my youngest son from soccer practice, I passed by a break in the trees along the road I was on and I saw this:

Sunset on Benstein Road

I must admit, I do not recall seeing this particular location in the past. It is very close to a really neat looking home that in the past is probably what I look at along that spot. Needless to say, I immediately stopped after a 1 - 2 second delay while I processed did I have time? is it safe to stop here? am I ready to go? Well I was a little ahead of time to pick up my lad, there was a wide shoulder there and my camera was actually laying on the floor in the front of my van. My tripod was in the far rear and I figured I had maybe two minutes before the sun would be a little too low to get the bright orange glow I like. I pulled over and parked safely, jumped out and took about 5 or 6 shots plus a bracketed set. I then checked the preview panel and was happy with what I saw. I think I scared the nearby home owner and she came out and talked with me. Normally I would always ask the homeowner permission, but this was one of those times I didn't really have enough time to do so and I was not actually on her property. It worked out OK and she also mentioned that the other side of the road gets a great sunrise... so I will be back.

Entry - 004

Feel - Felt - Found
Ahhh... vacation. A great opportunity to take photos to preserve the moment and memories. My wonderful wife Jane is an avid and fantastic scrapbooker. Her books are literally works of art. So much so that I am constantly inspired by her work. As a result I feel that my photography work has improved as well. Many times during family events and our most recent vacation on the Disney Dream, I felt myself thinking in terms of how this could help her with her scrapbooks. The composition of the photograph and capturing things and places we visited. Jane has shared that she really likes it when I take pictures of signs and little things we don't normally get to see.

Animator's Palate on the Disney Dream.

Don't forget to capture crazy moments too!

Evacutaion Drill - I love Mark's expression!

Last, and maybe most important, take photos for yourself that maybe hanging on a wall give you that opportunity to relive a moment of peacefulness.

Ahhh... Castaway Cay, a wonderful place to be!

Calm waters in the Caribbean islands!

For me, my photography is a creative outlet that results in a good sense of well-being and something I encourage every one to try... and if not photography, find that thing to do that calms you too. I found that if I get a little stress going... take a walk and take my camera, sometimes something magical happens.

Regards Stephen Foster

Entry - 003

While camping this past week I tried something I have thought about... but never tried - night shots. I was walking a hiking trail at the Ed Cole Rifle River Canoe Base and went out by the Rifle River. There was a small opening in the tree line that gave full access to the river. Many flat rocks are strewn about in this area so I was able to carefully navigate to about ten feet out into the river without getting myself wet (and keep the gear dry). I set up my tripod across three different rocks and leveled it out. When I took some light readings I was pretty confident that the moon light was enough to get something special.

My settings were 27mm, F9 at ISO400 and my shutter speed to 30 seconds - any longer and I was sure it would blur the moon too much - as it is the stars are a slight line. I did adjust the exposure bias to -1.3 as the moon blew out too much above that. This is the result:

Rifle River under moonlight

Blown up to an 8x10 and larger this photo is pretty specatular if I don't say so myself. This has inspired me to try more night shots. I also was able to get the big dipper over the little lake that is here in camp. Here is that one:

Big Dipper over Bosco Lake

Regards Stephen Foster

Entry - 002

I love to see the intricate structures and details in plants and flowers. The closer you look the more amazing it is. A macro lens, can open an amazing world if you just stop and look for it.

While on a walk in a local park I came across a field of dandelions that were just perfect in shape. Although we do not want any of these in our lawns… they are amazing flower when you look close.

I didn't have a macro lens with me so I ran my 18-200mm zoom all the way out to 200mm. I then moved in as close as I could until I was too close to focus… then backed up just a little so it was in focus again. I didn’t want everything else in focus – rather having everything in the background out of focus in what is called 'bokeh'. With the lens aperture open as far as it would go the depth of field is narrow. Depending on the lens this blurred area can be as beautiful as the focus part of the image. In this particular photo I then cropped even closer using a photo editor... the result I find pleasing.

And... don't be afraid to lay down right on the ground to get a new perspective.

Have a good week and get out and enjoy yourself and your surroundings!

Regards... Stephen Foster

Entry - 001

This morning I visited the Proud Lake Recreational Area (State Park) and specifically the little dam near the lodge. I particularly like this spot. Not too many people seem to know it is here and in the early morning it is very tranquil. Watching the sun come up here is rather spectacular when the fall colors are out.

As the sun rose the light was perfect for the shot I had in mind. I did make a slight tactical error forgetting the little plastic block that came with my camera to block the light coming through the view finder (I put it on while on the tripod using a remote). As I reviewed the shots... I looked and said 'what the heck?' I see what I think is lens flare but on closer inspection I see it is my nose!

Well that somewhat ruined it. I finally figured out what was happening is that my face was coming through and being reflected by the backside of my polarizer. I looked for something I could use to block the light... my hand didn't work either as it was either worse - by filling the whole frame with a flesh color cast... or I inadvertently touched the camera that resulted in a blurry image since it was set to a long exposure.

Then I noted my little SD card blank. Not sure why I kept it... maybe to put it back when I get rid of the laptop. I discovered it fits perfectly against the eyepiece and in fact is held tightly by the rubber edge surrounding the eyepiece. This is what I came up with:

and the resulting photo:

As you can tell I love waterscapes... I have the most fun creating these images. One last thought... wear a hat and have some bug spray along with you. At this site the black flies were merciless. And... don't forget DEET will melt plastic so wash your hands after applying and before you touch your camera.

Regards... Stephen Foster