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Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 West Virginia fall workshop report

Every outdoor/nature photography workshop leader stresses about the conditions that the group will be presented with during the workshop. In the end, we take what we get and make the best of it. Although, it's always nice to have good conditions to start with. The last 2 years I have lead a fall workshop in West Virginia there has been nothing but clear skies. While it is nice weather to be out and about in, it doesn't make for the most interesting landscape photo opportunities. Last year was tough but this year was better. Even though we had clear skies yet again the first 2 mornings we were treated to some spectacular foggy conditions. I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts and ideas on how to take advantage of foggy conditions with the group. Since there were only 4 workshop participants it gave me the opportunity to make sure that everyone was making lots of quality images.

In previous workshop reports I have shared some of my images. This time I decided to show you images the workshop participants came away with and share some of their thoughts on the workshop itself. I hope you enjoy their images.

Thanks to Judy, Gale, Ni and Dick for making it a successful workshop.

Judy MacArthur's comments about her workshop experience:
I can't recommend Nikhil's workshop highly enough.  He is low key and knowledgeable and articulate in his explanations...quick thinking when conditions change and generous with his expertise...always making suggestions, constantly circulating among the group, encouraging us to try unfamiliar techniques and offering help.  The experience far exceeded my expectations, which were high to begin with!

Gale Smith's comments about his workshop experience:
The trip to West Virginia, Blackwater Falls Park and Dolly Sods could not have been better; great small group, excellent weather with wonderful colors and magical early morning fog, and Nikhil who seemed to know where and when to be for the best images.  Nikhil is not just a superb nature photographer but he is willing to share what he knows and taking time with each of us to help us see and capture images that for me are some of my very best photographs. In fact, some of my best images in over 30 years of photography came from the WV workshop; Nikhil is excellent in combining both technical and creative ideas to learn from. He sees and communicates to us not just good composition and what he called "organic" images, but finds elements that balance photographs. 

Wang Ni's comments about her workshop experience:
You have left me a good impression during this trip, which is unforgetable in my life. I do appreciate your professional instruction. 

Dick Pelroy's comments about his workshop experience:
  • Great selection of venues.
  • Excellent field instruction (superior).
  • Invaluable information of time of day and location for my photography to this area in future personal trips.
  • Overall, probably the best photography workshop I’ve attended (14 and counting).

2012 workshop schedule (JUST POSTED!)

April 14, 6:30 - 9:30am
Flowers & Close-ups Field Session
Brookside Gardens (Wheaton, MD)

April 21, 12pm - April 22, 7pm
Macro Boot Camp
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (Vienna, VA)

May 6, 6pm - May 11, 11am
Florida Avian Photography Workshop (Titusville & St. Augustine, FL)

July 21, 6:30 - 9:30am
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Field Session (Washington D.C.)

September 8, sunrise - sunset
Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague Island, VA)

October 20, sunrise - October 21, sunset
Great Falls Digital Worflow workshop (Great Falls, VA)

November 16, 1pm - November 18, 1pm
Chincoteague Island Workshop (VA)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Canon 1DX and the Nikon D800...exciting times?

Last week Canon announced their new pro camera called the 1Dx. It’s an 18MP camera that gives Canon shooters "the best of the EOS-1D Series of digital cameras" in one model. This has got the Nikon shooters chomping at the bits for a new camera from Nikon.  While Nikon was scheduled to make an announcement about the D800 this week it has likely been postponed due to the flooding in Nikon’s Thailand factory. There have been a lot of rumors about the Nikon D800 but it is almost certain that it is going to be Nikon’s next major announcement. In fact, some dealers were talking about taking pre-orders for the camera. So what are the specs of the D800? We can’t be 100% sure but a high res sensor (36mp) and a larger than 3 inch LCD screen seems to be the two most likely specs. Will the megapixel war ever end?

The Nikon D4 is likely to be announced in a few months (rumored to be an 18MP camera). Followed by the Nikon D400 (the upgrade to the D300s) which is rumored to be a 24MP camera. It will likely have the same sensor as Sony’s SLT-A77 maybe with some Nikon modifications.

It’s interesting to see the two big manufacturers restructure their product specs. With the merging of the EOS-1D models there will now be direct competition between the Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4 models. And if the rumors of the D800 are true then it will directly compete against Canon’s 5D series. That also means that the D800 will not be a mini D4 (like the D700 was to the D3).

While I generally don’t get very excited about new gear (at least not before it is announced), it’s different this time. I have been waiting for the new generation of cameras because my belief is they might be the answer to my prayers :) The Nikon D300 and D300s cameras are almost perfect for what I do. Just a stop or two better in terms of ISO performance (without losing the reach of the crop body), a little better autofocus, a bigger/brighter viewfinder and I’m good. Improvements in other features would obviously be welcome. I wonder if the Nikon D800’s ISO performance be better than the D3/D700? If it is, I might be getting a full frame camera.

These are exciting times for photographers!

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Assateague beach sandstorm

Last weekend I visited Chincoteague Island to scout for my workshop coming up this weekend. Not only did I find a lot of changes due to hurricane Irene but I also encountered some unique conditions. Check out the following video to see what I mean.

I was out on the beach at sunrise showing a friend around. As we walked the beach the wind picked up (30-40mph) and it started to rain a little. While there was the obvious concern of using my camera in these conditions I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I found a conch to anchor my image and chose not to include the drab sky. The image was converted to black and white to add to the abstract feel. I made a few compositions but liked this one the best.

As two people passed me I made another photo including them as elements in the photograph.

In case you were wondering the camera and lens were unharmed in the making of these photographs.

If anyone is interested there were cancellations and there are now two spaces available for the Chincoteague workshop on Saturday, September 24. More info at

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The gift of life

Great Egret chicks playing, St. Augustine, Florida

When I wrote my last post, little did I know that a week later our area would be affected by a hurricane. While the earthquake only unnerved people hurricane Irene left a path of destruction. Many areas along the East coast of the United States were affected and lives were lost. While I can't help but feel lucky that the Washington D.C. area was not affected severely my heart goes out to the people who lives have been turned upside down by this event.

Don't take things for granted. Enjoy the gift of life!

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An earthquake and a thought

This afternoon there was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in the DC area. The epicenter was in central Virginia but it was felt up and down the east coast of the United States. In fact, there are reports it was felt as far North as Canada. I was at home waiting for the cable technician when I started to feel some vibrations which quickly gained in power and soon my house was shaking. I rushed to the doorway of my bedroom and watched things fall around me...looked out to see parked cars rocking side to side. My heart was beating fast and my body was tense. The only thought I had was "is this going to get any worse?". Thankfully, the earthquake subsided leaving me (and I'm sure many others) a little unnerved. Only minor damage has been reported so far.

What if the earthquake was stronger? Just a reminder of the power of nature and how mortal we are. Life is short; don't take it too seriously!

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mac users can use my image as their desktop on the new OS - Lion

Click on image to view the full size.

With the release of Apple's new operating system (Lion) mac users can now use one of my photographs as their desktop. Apple has called the image "forest in mist". It can be found under desktop pictures in the desktop and screensaver dialog box. Isn't that cool?! :)

Related post :

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

July 30 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague IslandVA)
September 24 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague IslandVA)
October 6-9 - West Virginia Fall Workshop (DavisWV)
October 22-23 - Autumn at Great Falls Workshop (VA/MD)
November 18-20 - Chincoteague Island Workshop (VA)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Take the photo now and focus later!!!

My auto focus misfired causing the birds to be rendered out of focus.
It would be nice to bring them back into focus.

No, that's not a typo. It's just a new technology! The new Lytro camera let's you take the photograph without worrying about where you have focused. Once the image is downloaded to the computer you can then pick the part of the image you want in focus. Unbelievable, isn't it? This technology should be available to us very soon. Apparently it will be available at a consumer (not professional) price point.

If you thought software had changed everything, think again.  This will makes it so much easier to capture the fleeting moment. Not to mention the boon it would be for macro photographers. On workshops, you won't believe how many people ask me where they should focus. To think that I might not get asked that question again simply blows my mind.

The purists will beat this technology down but with technology the choice is simple; embrace it now or embrace it later. One thing is for sure, this will get the Nikon's and the Canon's thinking.

To read more about this technology and the Lytro camera follow this link -
Make sure you click on the flower image on the left (page 2), follow the instructions and watch the magic.
I would love to hear what you think of this new technology.

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

July 23 - Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Field Session (Washington D.C.)
July 30 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague IslandVA)
September 24 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague IslandVA)
October 6-9 - West Virginia Fall Workshop (DavisWV)
October 22-23 - Autumn at Great Falls Workshop (VA/MD)
November 18-20 - Chincoteague Island Workshop (VA)

Monday, June 6, 2011

New images from Lower Antelope Canyon

A new portfolio of images from Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona has been posted on my website.
My last 2 visits to the Southwest have been memorable. I expect to have more images to share from the Southwest and my 2 recent trips to Florida. Stay tuned!

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

July 23 - Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Field Session (Washington D.C.)
July 30 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague IslandVA)
September 24 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague IslandVA)
October 6-9 - West Virginia Fall Workshop (DavisWV)
October 22-23 - Autumn at Great Falls Workshop (VA/MD)
November 18-20 - Chincoteague Island Workshop (VA)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chincoteague Workshop Report

Last week I lead 4 day workshop at Chincoteague Island. We had had great weather after an overcast evening shoot the first day. Even though it was overcast the group enjoyed getting within touching distance of the Chincoteague ponies. A couple of quick passing showers later we decided to go for a group dinner. After that every field trip we made over the next 3 days was filled with good opportunities. 

Great Egret Landing

This was one of those opportunities. Generally Great Egrets use a stealthy approach to get to their prey. However, this egret really performed for us. It pranced and jumped around for almost 45 minutes. I made sure everyone photographed it for a little while. Some moved to photograph other birds. That's when I pulled out my camera for about 5 minutes and let off a few bursts to capture the action. I was quite pleased to get this image from a 5 minute shoot. Several of the participants came away with gorgeous photos that I saw in the feedback sessions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Apple, Lion and I

Autumn Tree Tops, Shenandoah National Park, VA. 

Last November I was contacted by a photo producer from Apple. They were interested in 6 of my images for possible use as a desktop and/or screensaver for their new OS called Lion. My first thought was that this could be another internet scam that would somehow involve me giving some money. Then I read the email again. It seemed genuine. It so happened that one of my clients husband works for Apple and he was able to confirm that the person contacting me was actually an employee. Now I was excited! While I have licensed images before, this was a high profile client. I provided JPG's of all the images they had requested to see. A couple of months later I heard back. They were interested in seeing large version of one of my images. So I provided another JPG. A couple of months later they wanted to see the largest size JPG. Seems like they were really interested in this image. I provided the full size JPG. And a couple of weeks ago they contacted me to purchase the image for a desktop and/or screensaver option. The paperwork was done last week and the sale is complete.

When you upgrade to Lion this fall or buy a new mac once the new OS is released, look for my image (the one above) and make it your background :)

Upcoming Workshops and classes:

April 23 - Spring Flowers Workshop (VA)
April 28-May 1 - Chincoteague Island Workshop (VA)
July 16 - Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Field Session (Washington D.C.)
July 30 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague Island, VA)
September 24 - Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague Island, VA)
October 6-9 - West Virginia Fall Workshop (Davis, WV)
October 22-23 - Autumn at Great Falls Workshop (VA/MD)
November 18-20 - Chincoteague Island Workshop (VA)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lower Antelope Canyon

One of the hardest things to do in photography is to come away with an unusual photograph from locations that have been photographed to death. While the unusual photograph may be hard to find, with a little effort and creativity you can try and come away with something that is (at least) different.

Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona is a classic example. We see so many images from there. The one thing I have found people consistently do, is oversaturate their images from this location. Don't get me wrong, that may be their interpretation and that is the way they choose to present their artwork. I respect that. The point I am making is this gives the wrong impression to people who have not visited the location. The colors are pretty amazing and depending on the angle of the sun and how bright it is, the reflected light in the canyon can be unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cormorants in the fog

Last week I was in Florida doing some bird photography. I made over 6,000 photographs of various species of birds and a few landscapes. Don't be taken aback by the number. When photographing wildlife it is quite common to come away with a large number of photographs. Between anticipating the action and shooting in burst mode the number climbs rather quickly.

When presented with a foggy morning I have a tendency to go into landscape mode. This is generally a good idea as birds don't let you get too close. Thus, may not be visible through the fog. But not it Florida! This is because the birds are more habituated to humans and allow us to approach a lot closer.