Sunday, December 21, 2014

Looking Back on 2014

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.

While watching an annual slide program populated with photos by members of the Traverse Area Camera Club, it made me think back to this past year in photos for me. There have been a few trips and a few local photos that were memorable. Here are some of the images:

The epic winter of 2013-14 was memorable for the trip to the shoreline of Lake Superior. This is Madeline Island, Big Bay State Park, which in years when Lake Superior freezes, can be reached by driving over the frozen lake. It was a balmy 3 degrees that morning.

 The ice formations along the Lake Superior Shore at the Apostle Islands National Park were impressive. This formation is known as the keyhole. This photo was a finalist with the North American Nature Photography Association.   Amazing experience along the frozen shore of Lake Superior.
Back in Michigan, Lake Michigan was frozen into April. A truly historic winter.

The next trip was to the Great Smoky Mountains in late April. The bears seemed to be quite active at that time. This mother and her yearling cub (not pictured)  were chomping on plants. Bears draw quite the crowd in Cades Cove, hence the term "Bear Jams".

Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of my favorite places in the spring and fall. This photo was two days in the making. I spotted this the previous day when the clouds refused to yield.

Being surrounded by Elk in Cataloochee Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains is quite an experience. It was my intention to keep a safe distance, but they were coming out of the surrounding forest behind me. This young bull elk was nice enough to let me photograph him.

 Along the North Country Trail at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore the first week of June. The mosquitoes were horrendous. So, it was click, slap, click, slap. Beautiful sunlight through the trees near Miner's Castle.

This wood lily was a perfect specimen and is actually a composite of two images to increase the focus distance. Though the mosquitoes were out in force, my preparations allowed me to ignore the bites. 

Back home until the next journey, this delightful scene presented itself to me at the Sleeping Bear Dunes. It is so rare to find a dune sans footprints and to get great light and clouds too is even better.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Watkins Glen State Park in upstate New York, bring your camera. There are at least 19 waterfalls in the gorge, plus bridges and tunnels along the route. Truly one of the more spectacular places I have visited. 

The days were already starting to be quite chilly in September. On one of those chilly evenings I was fortunate to find this scene looking west from the Old Mission Peninsula. It actually reminds me of the Smoky Mountains because of the layering.

 One last day of sailing on Grand Traverse Bay before the cooler weather.


Great reflection on a beautiful fall morning. The reflections seemed to last for a long-long time that morning. If you are standing in the lake, the slightest movement causes ripples all the way across the lake.  Given time, the reflection reappears.


One of those intimate scenes that sometimes just grabs you. Especially if you have to make a "U" turn to go back to get it. Was that a good opportunity for a photo?  Well, go back and check it out, and yes, it was a fantastic scene.

Yes, the fall of 2014 presented many photo opportunities. This was a pre-visualized photo that actually worked as planned. The gold color was really accentuated by the late-day light coming through the leaves.


Believe it or not, this is actually a winter image. Taken in a thick fog, these pines give a real sense of the mystery in the woods. 

Finally, winter scenes like this one taken at night on the Boardman River in downtown Traverse City.

If you have made it through my year in pictures, thank you. It has been a pretty darn good year for photos and I really appreciate the support from everyone. I am truly blessed to be able to capture and share some of the beauty of this world. 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thanks for Business Support

Yesterday, after meeting with several of the businesses in Traverse City that have supported me over the years, I realize that I have been fortunate to have lots of support for my photography. So, I wanted to highlight those that have been helped in one way or another to promote my photography.  Here they are in no particular order:

The Camera Shop of Traverse City
Excellent technical assistance, photography equipment and printing

Bulls-I, Inc. of Traverse City
Outstanding Framing and sales support

The Dish Cafe 
Great food and sales support

The Garvey Family Wedding Barn
Beautiful wedding setting and sales support

Michigan Blue Magazine
Publication Support

The Traverse Area Camera Club
Technical support and fellowship

The City Opera House
Beautiful restored Opera House and Sales Support

The Watershed Center
Environmental Education and Sales Support

Total Electronics
Computer Support

And, because no photography blog would be complete without a couple of photos, here are two from the past two weekends:

Leaf on Ice

Foggy Pines

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Focus Stacking

Focus Stacking or Extended Depth-of-Field

Here is a trick for digital shooters that will increase depth-of-field. The technique is called focus stacking or extended depth-of-field and this is an easy software solution to a common issue in photography. This is not to say that it is always necessary to have nearly unlimited depth-of-field. Sometimes a nice soft out-of-focus background is essential such as in portraits or wildlife photography. There are other times when it is more aesthetically pleasing to have a photo where nearly everything is in focus. 

Start by taking a series of photos with the center of focus beginning in the foreground and extending through the picture. It is necessary to overlap the areas of focus so that areas between sharp points of focus are not out of focus. 

Here I have a bed of tulips and I have taken 6 photos and each photo has a different focus point until I have enough images so that there are no areas that are out-of-focus.You may want to use a system that indicates that these are sequential photos for a focus stack.  I use a photo of my fingers at the end of the shots that indicates the number of shots in the sequence. You may also want to work fairly quickly in case there is something that may move in the image.

It may be difficult to discern the center of focus in these low-resolution images, but believe me, there are different focus points throughout the image.  Once the normal processing for exposure, saturation, and contrast, etc. are done you can save these files for stacking. I save as a .psd file if I am going to print later. 

Using Photoshop CS6 I can now begin the process of stacking the images. In Photoshop go to File>Scripts>Load Files Into Stack. A dialogue box will open and you can either choose to load open files or browse to the images.  You will then see each image added as a layer. Click and Shift+Click so that all layers are selected. Now go to Edit>Auto-Align Layers. A dialogue box will open and you can just select Auto. Then select Edit>Auto Blend Layers and choose Stack and check Seamless Tones and Colors and Photoshop does the rest. When Photoshop finishes the stacking you can now flatten the layers and finish processing by sharpening and any cleanup or cropping as needed. 

There are other software programs such as Helicon Focus© that will do the same thing and you can even get into layers and masks to do this manually in Photoshop. However, it has been my experience that the latest version of Photoshop does a wonderful job and this is a great skill to have in your digital toolbox. 

Try it out. In the digital world what do you have to lose?


Sunday, March 3, 2013

My February Newsletter was published earlier at

This edition focused on photos captured this winter along with a presention to the Grayling Photographic Society and tips for photographers.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Article in Northern Express

I was the featured artist in the Northern Express Weekly on October 8, 2012.  Here is the article.
From Northernexpress

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Magee Marsh Birding

Thursday, May 3, 2012 - After a short work week I headed to Magee Marsh near Oregon, Ohio for the annual warbler migration.  This is my second trip here and I think I got a few good photos. That is at the end of the visit as I write this, but the journey was memorable. I departed Cadillac, Michigan at about 4:45 in the afternoon. I knew that there would be storms that I would pass through because the storms had moved through Cadillac at about 2:00 that afternoon and the sky was looking quite dark to the south as I headed in that direction. I caught up with the storms in Clare, Michigan and stopped a short while later for dinner. Although I had outrun the storms, they caught up to me as I was getting a bite to eat. Back on the road, I again rain into heavy rain, lightning ,  some gusty winds and even a little hail on the east side of Lansing, Michigan.  It was a warm and sultry night in Toledo, Ohio as I stopped at a hotel for the night.

Prothonotary Warbler

Friday, May 4, 2012 - After a quick breakfast, I headed to Magee Marsh at about 7:00. In the past I have found it difficult to find the correct turn into the Marsh. I remember one year wandering the levees and dikes with my heavy 500 mm lens and gear. That was not productive. This time it was easy to find. Just follow all of the other warbler watchers. My guess is that this would be a good time for the birds because of the warm southerly breezes all during the previous week. There were quite a few. Yellow warblers,
Great Egret
Palm warblers, and a Pronthonotary warbler. I will be the first to admit, I am not very good at bird identification. So, I listen to what others are seeing.  Here is the Prothonotary warbler. Very, very difficult to get this photograph as there was a group of photographers following this bird as it moved through the trees.  Wanting a break from trying to focus on warblers darting through the trees, I saw a great egret, standing motionless in the marsh. What a pleasure to have a bird sitting still.

Yellow Warbler
Black and White Warbler
In the middle of the day, a large thunderstorm moved in. Fortunately, I checked the radar on the smartphone, and headed for cover, just before huge drops of rain started to pelt down. After a half hour the rain stopped and it was back to the warblers with a few other birds thrown in. There were quite a few Black and White warblers and this is one of my better captures. Then,  the Yellow warbler as the variety was at Magee Marsh is just amazing. To finish off the day, it was a bird of a different feather. This time a grackle. These are actually very photogenic with the green head and the bright eye.  This again was a pleasure to photograph as it was not nearly as active as a warbler.  Well there were a few other birds, such as this one which I do not really recognize, perhaps a red-winged blackbird? After a lunch of a few crackers with peanut butter I was famished. So, I headed a restaurant called Cinco de Mayo - on the 4th of May! The food was great and the beer was cold. I was wondering what birds would surprise me the next day. 
Red-Wing Blackbird?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

To Be Continued ..................................