Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bald Eagle Trip is Just Around the Corner

Wow - how time flies - and, so are those Bald Eagles!  Eagle migration should be under way, as temperatures have been falling over the past month.  Several club members will be making the 2010 trip to LeClaire, Iowa.  This post will explain a little more about what to expect.

The first thing to understand is the weather.  While it will most likely be very cold there during the first week of January, we are not going to try to be heroes by staying out in it for extended periods of time.  Last year, I made the trip in February.  I recall my first thoughts, upon arriving at the site (Corps of Engineers Lock #14 on the Mississippi River), as something like "Holy cow, there isn't this much camera gear in the end zone at the Super Bowl!"  There were more 500mm and 600mm lenses there at one time than I had seen collectively in a life time.  One guy I met there had flown in the night before from Maryland.

But, I digress...back to the topic of weather.  I recommend that you bring along a comfortable winter coat with a hood, if possible.  That way, even if we have some wind, you will stay warm longer.  I also like to put one of those little disposable heat packs in each glove and each shoe or boot.  A head sock is also recommended.  I'm not a real cold-weather endurance person - so, my average stay at the site was about 45 minutes to an hour.  That's enough time to capture 400-500 shots of the raptors swooping down for a fish, frequently followed by an aerial dogfight and sometimes even a mugging in the trees by a jealous female (those are the really biiiiig ones).

As far as preparations are concerned, the eagle trip is just like most photo shoot outings.  Bring every data card you own, a back-up hard drive, and your post-processing laptop.  If you have a strong flash unit and "better beamer" bring those along also.  A flash unit is not absolutely necessary, but those really impressive eagle shots you see in magazines are almost all shot with a flash + better beamer combination.  Bring the longest lens you own and your teleconverters, too.  We will be closer to the birds than most have ever been, but nonetheless, size does matter when shooting birds.  I will have my 500 f4 and my 200-400 f4, and you Nikon shooters are welcome to put your camera bodies on them and see if you can track an eagle in flight with a long lens - it's a hoot when you first start out.  I have lots of shots with nothing but sky.

Feel free to post your questions as responses to this post.  I'll check back every couple of days and answer what I can.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Utah Trip Daily Photos are on my Apogee Site

Hi everyone, from sunny Utah! Actually, it has been a bit overcast so far, but very pleasant. Because of the issue I referenced in my prior post (faded colors in photos posted to this site), please check out my Apogee Imaging webiste for a Photo-of-the-day from the trip.  When you mouse over a photo, note the flyout menu with options to view the image at a larger size.

To view the gallery, click here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Utah Trip - Day 1: Valley of Fire

The outbound trip began today at 5:30 EDT with a wake-up call. A quick shower, a drive to the airport, and we were in the air. We arrived at Las Vegas McCarran Airport on schedule at around 9 am local time, picked up the rental car (a Ford Escape 4WD), and then drove about 40 miles northeast, to one of the most interesting, most ancient sites I have ever photographed.

The Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada contains artifacts from civilizations dating back to 2,000 AD. In fact, visitors who are very lucky may find sites there with petroglyphs, pictograms, and even footprints from civilations as much as 1,000 years apart - all in the same space. Let me explain one site (not the site pictured). I have one photo in which you will see an ancient footprint from around 2,000 AD along with carved petroglyphs from around 900 AD. I have to ask myself, what would bring people to an area, over such a long period of time.

We are told the answer is that hunting was (at one time) good in the area where Valley of Fire is located. As you can see in photo above, there is also ample shelter from weather in the many rock formations, overhangs, and cave-like structures in the sandstone. I wish web publishing did not wash out the colors in photos so badly - the posted photo simply does not do justice to the site. Valley of Fire is composed of fiery red sandstone cliffs and outcroppings in an otherwise bland landscape of gray sandstone. Driving in the from the highway, you will come up over a rise, and all at once - wow!

Tomorrow, Escalante, Utah, where I am writing this summary from today. Escalante is the region of southern Utah where you will find Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase National Monument, and many natural slot canyons. Time permitting, I will try to post a photo-a-day from the trip.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Flickr is OPEN for business

OK, the Flickr photo group is open.
I've posted one picture to get us started. Not sure if it will be my final entry in the contest for November.
If you have any questions about using Flickr, I'm no expert, but I can sure get you started.
It's a beautiful day here in Ohio, wonder how Larry's doing on his photo shoot out in Utah??
Regards, Karl

Friday, October 23, 2009

Photo Club pictures

Today I set up an account on FLICKR and sent invites to Larry and Ken. Based upon their response we will complete the FLICKR site and publish more info for all.

October Meeting Highlights (22 October 2009)

Welcome New Members

We are pleased to welcome Earl King, Rob Dreyer, and Dennis McGrath to the club. Earl is an avid photographer recently converted to digital; Rob is an artist and photographer, currently shooting with a point-n-shoot but thinking about moving into a digital SLR camera; Dennis just recently moved from a Nikon D70 to D700 full-frame digital SLR. Welcome guys!

We had a really great session, with some great ideas about re-formatting the club by engaging members via contests, outings, and guest speakers. A full set of meeting notes will be sent to members soon.

November Challenge

The first of our photo contests will be on the theme of "Fall Colors." A valid entry will be any photo that you take with a digital camera, between now and November 16th, that meets the criteria of "fall colors." In order to have your photo reviewed and voted upon, please post it to the club's new photo sharing site on Flickr. The name of the sharing site on Flickr is "the-photography-club." If you do not already have a free Flickr account, please click here to register and obtain access. There is no requirement to make a print of your entry, but we encourage you to bring a print to the November meeting. We will vote on the entries at the meeting, and the winning photo will be featured here in the blog. Good Luck, everyone!

November Meeting Topic: Low Light Photography - basic settings to get you started

Several members shared experiences, mostly bad, with situations where the lighting was too low to get good focus and proper exposure. The discussion next month will feature the experience of Karl Monk and other members who have developed effective techniques in challening lighting situations. The objective of the discussion is to provide members with some of the basic settings for point-n-shoot as well as digital SLR cameras, to start out with when encountering this situation.

Sponsorship Drive

We are actively seeking sponsors for our club meetings. We would like to be able to offer a light dinner prior to the meeting in the Max Training lunch room - pizza or sandwiches, and a drink. Also, we would like to be able to offer a door prize to attending members at each meeting. In exchange, we will feature the sponsor's business prominently in our Blog, meetings, brochures or any materials that we distribute. Please let a member know of anyone who may be interested.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Photography Club Joins the Max Family

We are pleased to announce that we have joined the Max Technical Training family! Max, a premier provider of on-site instructor-led technical training, will begin hosting our monthly meetings in Mason, Ohio, on Thursday evening, October 22, 2009. Our first meeting at Max will begin at 6:00 pm, at 4900 Parkway Dr Suite 160, Mason OH 45040-8429.

For more information about the location, including driving instructions from just about any direction, please click here.

Max has a wonderful setup for club meetings. I'll start with their convenient location, which is less than one mile north of I-275 at the Fields-Ertel exit. Max has a break room with drink machines and snacks, and classrooms with high resolution overhead projection. We'll be able to share tips and tricks in Lightroom, Photoshop, and all of your personal favorite photo processing software.

The October meeting will be a formation meeting, in the sense that our partnership with Max opens up new opportunities for the group. We will talk about what our members most want to do in the coming months - field trips, contests, workshops, street walks - every idea is a good one. We look forward to seeing you at our first Max meeting, on Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 6:00 pm. We will continue to meet monthly, on the fourth Thursday of each month. See you there!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nikon Announces New Products for Fall 2009

Several long-expected and at least one long-awaited product announcements came out today. Posted with thanks to Thom Hogan,
  • D3000. This new entry level DSLR basically is an updated D60, not a cut-down D5000 (it uses the D60's 10mp sensor). It does get the D5000's focus system, though, but not the video or Live View. Available August 28th, US$599 with kit lens.
  • D300s. A modest update to the venerable D300, adding video, 7 fps, and an SD slot (in addition to the CompactFlash slot) to the mix. Available August 28th, US$1799 (but dealer margins were cut!).
  • 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR AF-S II. This revised version of the popular Nikon superzoom gets a fix for zoom creep and a zoom lock switch and improved coating. Available September 4th for US$849 ($60 increase).
  • 70-200mm f/2.8G VR AF-S II. The long-expected update to the mainstay pro telephoto zoom. Surprisingly slightly heavier, yet slightly shorter and simpler in optic design, we get Nano coating and better FX edge performance. Available in November for US$2399 (also an increase).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Capture Cincinnati 09

In case you haven't seen it yet, Capture Cincinnati 09 has a web site where you can post your photos of local subjects and potentially make it into the book that is published each year. I have a couple from the zoo that I have posted already.

Here is the link to get started

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Understanding Histograms

Just when I thought I knew a thing or two about histograms, along comes a post on dpreview that opens my eyes to new possibilities. To read the post, click here. I think I will print this out and put a copy in my bag for future reference.

What is a histogram? It's that graph thing that is overlaid on your photo in playback mode (depending on your playback settings). On the Nikon system, the histogram is one of several options in the playback menu. On my D3, I can display a single histogram, or separate red-green-blue channel histograms. Before reading this post, I knew it was good to avoid hitting either end of the spectrum, to avoid loss of detail in the blacks (left end) and highlights (right end), but that was about it. Now, when I look at a histogram, I see much more information. Check it out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June Meeting Summary and July Meeting Date

Thanks to everyone who attended the June meeting at Barnes & Noble on June 17th. We had a good discussion about support systems - monopods, tripods, ball heads, connection systems such as the Arca-Swiss standard, and techniques for connecting to a monopod.

I also demonstrated the blog to those who had not seen it yet.

The July meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 15, at 7:30 pm. The location is Barnes & Noble on Union Center Blvd in Butler County. I need a volunteer to stand in for me on that night, as I am scheduled to be on call for a work-related project event that evening, and I may not make it there on time. Please post a reply if you can do that for me.


Before You Take a Camera to a Reds Game - What you Need to Know

It seemed like such a great idea at the time - let's take out the toys and see an inter-league game at Great American Ball Park (GABP). So, let's check the Reds website in advance to learn about any potential issues with a camera in the ballpark. Click here to go there now. My problem was that I read the policies, but I forgot one small part - camera support systems are not allowed - no tripods, no monopods, no support systems of any kind. As far as the camera itself, as long as it is within these dimensional restrictions, it should be allowed inside: 16x16x8 inches.

Now, here comes the fun part. Eric Curby and I bring the toys to the game. Eric has his D80 with 70-200 mm zoom (well within the size limts), and bring my D300 with 200-400 mm zoom, which is, let's say, subject to interpretation at best. If I were to disassemble it, the component parts would fall within those size limits. Also, I am bringing in my monopod, which I had forgotten was against the policy. But, hey, we got in and no one at the ticket or admission area said anything.

We get to our seats in the Blue section. I am sitting in an aisle seat, and there is no one in front of me or behind me. There were some people next to Eric, who was seated to my left, but they were illegal, and we knew this because we had to ask them to move when we arrived (they were sitting in our seats). After about twenty minutes, a security guy approaches. "Sir, you cannot use that camera. It is against the regulations," he tells me. "Which regulation?" I ask. "Tripods are not allowed," he tells me. So, now that I have re-read the policy, I know that he was technically correct, but he didn't explain it correctly to me. He motions to one of the other security guys to come over. He tells the second guy, "The customer here tells me this gear is allowed according to the web site." To which his buddy replies, "Yes, monopods are allowed." He very graciously tells me he is sorry for the inconvenience, and goes back to protecting the public from terrorists with cameras.

I guess it was about ten minutes later (the game had not started yet), when he came back. "Sir, the Chief of Security just informed me that you cannot use that camera. A customer has complained." So, I ask, "What was the complaint? No one has complained to me," "I think someone complained that the guy next to you bumped into them," he said. The guy next to me is Club member Eric Curby. "You can take your camera up to the "top deck" if you want to use it," he continued. So, I look back to see what he means and I notice the last 10 rows or so of the Blue section are empty. "How about we move back a few rows in this section?" I asked. "Yeah, OK, do that and I think that will be fine," he said.

My point in writing this post is that, even when an organization such as the Reds posts a policy about cameras, it is not certain that their security staff will have a consistent understanding of that policy. Next time, I will do two things differently. First, I won't take my monopod, which means I also won't take my 200-400 zoom. Second, I will print out the policy statement from the Reds web site and have that with me. This is also a good idea for any public event. Good luck and good shooting!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ottawa NWR Trip?

I was wondering if we should start thinking about a trip up to Ottawa NWR this summer? I spent a couple of hours there back in the spring during a family trip to Sandusky and got some of the best juvenile eagles pictures I have even taken.

Since the best time seems to be early morning and late afternoon, I was thinking of a drive up in the evening, staying over at a local Hampton Inn or something, and then spending the next day chasing birds. Maybe coming back that evening.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Art of Art

For those of us that are into nature/wildlife/outdoor photography, there are a couple of resource that I have been using that are targeted right at us. I could spend a large portion of the day reading posts, looking at photos, and trying to understand how these experts got "the shot", but since I have to work too I target the most informative and useful sites to return to on a regular basis. I would like to share a couple with you.

My first recommendation is to look through Arthur Morris' web site Birds as Art and his new blog This guy tells it like it is and gives you so much information about how he did what he did that you really start to understand the process. He sells some guides for Photoshop, books on bird photography that are excellent, and location guides for some pretty great locations. I find his advise to be first rate and his willingness to share the amount of information that he does amazing!

He also supports a web site that I have been going back to again and again. It is which is a forum based site for Bird and other types of photography. The posts are typically very good and there is a lot of good information for those beginning to post-process their photos. I have been doing this for a little while now and still have learned a ton from this site. Arthur and others give critiques that are fair and honest, and I have yet to see anyone provide any "abusive" comments. They also have an e-zine with good articles on a variety of nature photography topics.

Finally, I wanted to mention which is a forum/store/information site on nature photography. The person who runs the site is a former student of Arthur's and has collected a great set of articles on topics from night photography to printing at home. I am planning to take a trip with these guys in early December to Bosque del Apache. I can't wait for that!

These are just a couple of the resources that I have been using to enhance my skills in wildlife photography. I hope you find these sites as useful as I have and can use them to get the most out of your photography. The "other" way to do this is to get out and shoot, which is why we are planning these club trips and events!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Post-processing (or, why don't I like my digital RAW photos?)

If you are new to digital (huh?? new to digital?? it has been around for ten years or longer now!!), meaning new to DSLR photography you may be less than thrilled with some of those shots coming out of that beast.  I find that many Club members either resist, or have no current intention, getting involved in post-processing.

Well, friends, you will get involved in post-processing one of these days.  How do I know this?  That was me, about five years ago.  I made the transition from film to an early Nikon digital compact camera - one of those that shoots only jpegs with in-camera settings that amp up the saturation and sharpening so everything coming out of it "pops."  I thought I was happy.  That is, until I read up on "raw" photography and used all that new knowledge to study up on the best equipment out there which led me to the purchase of my first DSLR.

Let's just say that my first experience with raw photos left me with that nauseated, "What the .... !!" feeling. Those shots just plain sucked...I thought.  So, I went right back to that article which had sent me into the store to purchase my first DSLR in the first place, and there it was - the techie talk near the end - and it went something like this...  "Every digital SLR raw photograph requires post-processing."  What the heck?  I read on.  "RAW photos are akin to what we called "negatives" in film photography." Then, it struck me - many of my film shots went into the waste basket.  Why was that? Because the lab just printed what I sent in...bad as it might have been.  The lab could have dodged and burned my shots, making them much better, but they didn't.  If I had wanted every shot to best the best it could be, I would have had to purchase darkroom equipment and chemicals - and even then, I probably would not have been good at it.

It's much the same in the digital world.  Only now, the darkroom is called "Photoshop," or "Capture NX2," or a host of other hot post-processing titles.  If (when) you decide you want to get the most out of your photography, you will take the plunge into RAW and then, by definition, you will have plunged into the world of post-processing.  I have yet to take a RAW photo that did not require some degree of post-processing (PP) work. The good news, unlike the darkroom and chemical days of film, computers present us with many opportunities to set up repeatable processes, or "shortcuts" that were simply not possible with film.

We'll dive much deeper into this topic at our meetings, I'm quite sure.

Would You Like Some Training on Adobe Products?

If you are at all like me, Adobe products can be intimidating...all those controls and buttons!  What do they all mean?

I have two recommendations.  The first one is a recommendation based purely on training curriculum and my perception of "value" - -  I was first introduced to when I purchased the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection.  Adobe offered me a "free gift" of my choice...and one of the options was a free month of access to  I thought, "Why not?"  I was amazed at the volumes of content in their library of flash movies, and when I actually watched the first one (I chose the introduction to Adobe LightRoom 2) I was blown away at the presentation. guessed it, I purchased a subscription for $25 per month, which gives me full access to the entire library of training. has not only Adobe titles, but pretty much anything I could ever imagine wanting to know more about.  They have additional subscription levels, too.  Check them out!

My second recommendation is really a no-brainer for any photographer - - membership in the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, or "NAPP."  Membership costs $99 per year, and also grants members to full access to a plethora of reference materials.  But, here is the best part about NAPP - free shipping on all orders from B&H Photo-Video (my personal favorite supplier of everything photographic and computer related).  Those of you who know me best will know that I recouped my NAPP membership fee in about three months.  Check NAPP out by clicking here

Those are my two hottest tips for training, tips and tricks, and more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

June Model Shoot in planning stage

Ken Crites reports that the young lady who attended one of our early B&N meetings has confirmed that she is interested in working with us.  Ken is planning on the weekend of June 6, but still needs to confirm with her (Zarina).  If you are interested in participating, please fill out a "comment" below.  Note that you must be a registered user of the blog to post comments.  Registration is easy and free.

Working with Zarina may not be free - Ken will let us know.  She will most likely require an electronic copy of all photos, however.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dayton Air Show Dates and Sign-up List

The Dayton Air Show will happen on the weekend of July 18-19, 2009, at the Dayton International Airport.  We are planning to car pool to the event.  If you are interested in joining us, please add a "comment" to this post, indicating how many in your party and which day you prefer.

Ticket prices range from $12 (senior) to $16 (regular adult) at local area Kroger stores.  At the gate, prices ranges from $15-$19.  See the web site for additional pricing options for photographers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lord Canon - Luminous Landscape

Luminous Landscape has gone through several stages of transition over the years.  At one time entirely dedicated to Canon, the site is currently more of a generalist.  I have found it to be a great resource for most things digital, especially so for Canon afficionados.  To go to Luminous Landscape, click here.  Please let us know what you think of this site.

Lord Nikon - Thom Hogan

The Nikon community has annointed Thom Hogan as its resident expert, for the Americas, at least. Thom writes the best technical reference manuals available anywhere.  Nikon no doubt recognizes Thom's contributions, too, because Thom will have his technical manuals available shortly after a new DSLR comes to market.  I'm sure Nikon is making their new gear available to Thom waaaaay before the rest of us.  To go to Thom's web site, click here.

I have purchased Thom's e-books since the D-200 came to market.  With his e-book, you will receive a CD in the mail (no downloads), which you can load onto your computer or have printed at your local Kinko's.  Personally, I like loading the pdf file onto my field laptop computer.  The pdf is searchable, which makes it truly a quick-reference for the field, where you need information fast, in most cases. Thom also includes a printed quick-reference guide that is just slightly larger than pocket-size.

Lastly, Thom's blog on the front page of his website is a good place to learn what is going on in the digital imaging world at any given time.  Check it out!

Action Central - For Photoshop Actions

This is one of my personal favorite resources for Photoshop actions.  For those new to Photoshop, an "action" is a third-party plug-in that must be installed on your computer. Actions work like macros in other applications - think of them as "recordings" of steps that have been created by other Photoshop users for a given effect.

Open Topic Thread

Until I figure out how to set up everyone so you can start new threads, please use this topic to suggest new topics.

January 2010 Bald Eagle Trip

The bald eagle trip is now being planned for January 2010.  We will stay at the Super 8 motel in LeClaire, Iowa.  LeClaire is the location of Corps of Engineers lock number 14 on the Mississippi River. Migratory bald eagles gather near the locks during the coldest part of the winter, because undercurrent flows in the river break up the ice covering and make for good fishing for the eagles Here is a link to some of my photos from my 2009 trip

Please post a comment here if you are interested in the January 8-10, 2010, bald eagle photography trip.  In your post, please indicate the number of rooms you will need.  I will assume one room per poster if you do not indicate otherwise.  Last year, I paid about $60 per night. Once I have an approximate number of rooms needed, I will try to get a special rate for the club.

I will drive up to LeClaire on the morning of Friday, January 8th.  I like to set up and shoot for about an hour at a time, then return to the room to look at my photos on the computer and warm up for an hour or two, then repeat the process until dark.  I'm looking forward to the trip and I hope many of you can join us!

Dust Bunnies? Arctic Butterfly Available to Members

This is to let everyone know that I have purchased the Arctic Butterfly Professional sensor cleaning kit from Visible Dust Technology.  The Arctic Butterfly is generally considered to be the best product in the industry for dry cleaning of digital camera image sensors.

For those of you who are new to digital photography, you may have noticed those irritating little "smudges" on your photos.  They usually show up in the "sky" portion of outside photos, and you know if these are dust bunnies when they are always in exactly the same place on your photos.

Personally, I recommend removing them first by blowing air into the chamber - be sure to follow your manufacturer's recommendations for locking the mirror out of the way. The best air blower is the "Rocket Blower" by Giotto's ($12.95 from B&H).  Only if that doesn't work, move to step 2 - dry cleaning - with the Arctic Butterfly.  The Arctic Butterfly basic set is available directly from Visible Dust for around $150 (Canadian).  Link to Visible Dust website.  In the event that dry cleaning does not solve the problem, wet cleaning is the last resort.  I recommend sending your camera in to the manufacturer's maintenance facility, or using a reputable local shop, for wet cleaning.

For anyone who would like to try dry cleaning, please let me know and I will bring the Arctic Butterfly to our next meeting.  If you are not confident about trying it yourself - I will clean your sensor for you in return for a small contribution to The Photography Club in the amount of $10 per sensor cleaned.  Please contact me in advance to set it up.

Links to Capture NX2 Video

While browsing dpreview today, I discovered a discussion about Nikon Capture NX2 that contained a video showing some of the cool features.  The two links below represent a combined total of 12-13 minutes of tutorials on great features, most of which were not known to me until I watched it.  Check it out.

A Link to DP Review - one of the best resources for photography tips

I discovered (Digital Photography Review) several years ago, as I was just converting from film to digital.  I have found this site to be my "go to" source when I have a question and I need a reliable answer.  The site has thousands if not millions of regular participants, and many of those are earning a living from photography.  I encourage you to check it out, and even set up a membership account there.  It does not cost anything to join.

DP Review was an independently-owned enterprise until about a year ago, when it was purchased by  Despite the fact that it is now owned by a large enterprise, I continue to find it to be one of the better resources for honest, independent exchange of ideas.  If you decide to post a photo there for comment, be advised that you may receive "honest" comments!  Don't have thin skin!

Here is the link:

Be sure to check out their "Discussion Forums"

The Photography Club blog is Open!

A big "Hello" to our members!  I have been searching for a better way to share ideas, tips and tricks on photography between meetings.  I hope this blog meets our needs in that area.  Please feel free to begin posting here, and let's see how this works out.