Sunday, November 29, 2015


And I am going to include all types of photography, from using your cell phone, small
digital camera, to the serious DSLR user.

Now I speak a lot about how to make your pictures better a lot on this blog.  I think if I can help you enjoy your pictures more, then you will take more pictures, you will become a famous photographer, and I will be happy to have helped someone become what they want to be.  Sounds great!   So, anyway, I am going to say that I get a lot of my ideas from other great photographers and other writers who also write on this subject.  I think that we all have that passion to help people enjoy this hobby, and hopefully they will enjoy it enough to help other people enjoy it as well.  My goal, of course is that you will constantly use this blog as a source for increasing your knowledge of how to take better photos, and then with the "Photos of the Week", you will see how it is done, and you will be inspired by what comes from this blog.

So, with that, here are some tips that I have learned from my fellow photographers of how to make your photography even better.

Tip #1-   Keep it simple.  Or as we jokingly say:  KISS (Keep it simple, silly).  Don't clutter your photo with too much stuff.  Even in professional portrait studios, the portraits that are the most stunning are the ones where one or two lights are used.  But, also in landscapes and still life, keep it so that you can focus on just one subject, instead of the things around you.

Photo credit:  Donna Ramos
 I was really taken back the other day, by this beautiful flower:  Look at how beautiful the flower is.  Look at how you are not distracted by anything else.  In this photo there is
 nothing in the background.  All you see is the beautiful flower.  If
you can, get the subject isolated so that you are focused on just the subject.  Your photo is much more dynamic and exciting.  I used to know a photographer who specialized in close-up photography of flowers etc. and he carried in his camera bag a black velvet cloth so that he could make his background dark and plain like this.  I don't know if Donna did this, but, I can say that the lighting and background she used is phenomenal.  Simple photos are the key.

Tip #2-    Check all the details.  Yes, the killer of a good photo.  What is in the background?  What is on the person's face?  What is that dirty shirt?  Is the jewelry crooked?  Is there telephone lines ruining your perfect landscape?  Is there creases in the background?  Is the room a messy room?  Is the closet door open?  Is there a tree growing out of the person's head?  How is the girl's makeup?  Where is your camera bag (I love that one)?  Is there a car in the distance that is ruining your landscape photo?  A fence that you don't want?  So many things you can check.

Tip #3-   Wait for the light to be right.  Patience can make the difference between a good shot and a mediocre shot.
Photo Credit:  Steve Luck Photography

If you wait for the right time, the right place, then  you will capture the right photo.  Sometimes, you will have to create that time by getting up early as well.  I hate to get up early from my bed, sometimes, but, sometimes I know that the clouds will be just right, the sun will shine just right through those clouds, and that the timing of the "perfect photo" will depend on if I get my carcass out of bed.  I often tell myself that if I want to be a good photographer, I will get up early, and get that right light, or wait one more hour for the perfect photo.  

Tip #4-   Get closer.  Yes, that's a tough one sometimes.  The subject is too far away?  Don't get too close to wildlife, obviously.  Use a big lens to get you closer.  But, let's look at scenery for example.  I like to put something in the foreground when I take my photos, simply to give it framing, and to give the viewer something to look at in the foreground.  
Photo Credit:  Lanny Cottrell

Ha!  You probably didn't think I took pictures, huh?  Here is one of my own, but, really, interesting color hues in the sky, with a trees in the background, but, trees in the foreground to give you something to focus on so that you feel part of the whole scenery.  Scenery sometimes seems too far away.  It's not a bad idea to put something in the foreground if you can add dimension to your photo.  

Tip #5 -   Think before you shoot.  That is a tough one.  Sometimes  photos happen fast, but, where possible, give your shot some thought.  Think about the most important elements of the scene and decide if you are at the right angle, if you should be taking the photo with a different exposure, different shutter speeds.  What is it you want to say about your photo?  
When you go out to take photos to seriously take photos, then every photo should have some thought behind it.  If you have the larger DSLR, do you have a lens that would create something even more spectacular?  If you can add filters to create special effects, what would you use?   In the cell phone cameras, you have Instagram or PicsArt that you can use to alter the photo (or other apps).  So many choices to use today that will make your photography more expressive.  What can you do with the shot that you are about to take, that will make it better?  That is when you start to have some real fun.

Tip #6-    And the final one:   Take lots of photos.  There is no better way to learn about photography and improve your photos than taking lots of photos.  I love taking pictures today that back when we had film.  If you mess up with today's cameras, and you just don't like it, delete the photo from your memory of you card, and try again, if it's that bad.  Then take more.  Imagine coming home with only good photos.  It is so great to be a photographer today.  Plus, you learn from taking a lot.  Take a lot, bring them back where you can see the photos big, on your computer screen, and then see which ones really look good.  Sometimes I don't really judge a photo when I am looking on a small screen on my camera, as good as the screen is.  But, bring it home, get it big, and learn from it that way.  I picture every picture worth enlarging and hanging on the wall.  

Photo Credit:  Lanny Cottrell


Thanks for joining with me this week for this special subject.  Hope this helps in taking better photos.  Don't miss this weeks "Photos of the Week".  And, I will see you next Monday for another great topic of how to take better photos.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Special Edition:  Winter Photos
November 27th, 2015

With winter starting in many parts of the world, I thought it would be a good time to show some great photos of winter.  Winter is a tough time of year for many, driving, keeping warm, but, there is some beauty about winter that is hard to pass up.  So, with this special edition of 
Winter Photos
It was time to post some special photos of just WINTER.

Hope you enjoy them.

Photo Credit:  ABC.NET. AU

Photo Credit:  Travel

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:


That is a bit of winter, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Hope you enjoyed this special edition of Winter Photos.  For those of you who love winter,  you enjoyed these photos for sure.  For those of you who hate winter, you enjoyed these photos, too?

Thanks for your support.

For personal correspondence:  contact me at




Just love this week's  Photos of the Week.  Different, exciting and worth talking about.  Photos from all over the world, and it's always fun to see what other photographers are taking pictures of.  Hope you enjoy this week's "Photos of the Week".  For those in the United States of America, this is coming out on a very special holiday.  So, I want to wish everyone here:  HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Photo Credit:  Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Photo Credit:  Jonathan Chua

Photo Credit:  Yan Masadaki

Photo Credit:  Ryan McGinnis

Photo Credit:  Rambabu Ch

Photo Credit:  Quang Duc Tran


There you have it.  I think the one thing about this week's "Photos of the Week"  is that these all tell a story.  Very unique and very exciting to see what is happening all over the world.  


Stay tuned tomorrow as another special edition of "WINTER PHOTOS OF THE WEEK"  to celebrate the beginning of the winter season.  We are putting out another round of photos that show only great winter photos.  

See you tomorrow for another Special edition of "photos of the week"



Sunday, November 22, 2015


Photo Credit:  Larry


Winter is hitting many parts of the world now and I get a bit frustrated when I see certain common problems with some of the winter photos I see.  I have been waiting until the first major storm of the season is about to hit our area before covering this topic.  I realize that a percentage of my readership has never even seen snow.  So, I hope that you can take some thing from this week's topic, as I can see this topic apply to say, white sands on the beach, or other areas where there is a lot of white in your subject or even the background.  So, I am going to go through, however, as if we are approaching a winter storm.  First of all, winter can be the most photographically beautiful, yet challenging time to take pictures.  So, don't be afraid to take pictures in the winter.  Here are the guidelines that I think you should use:

  1. Dress appropriately for this type of weather.  What is the temperature when it snows?  Yes, it's freezing outside.  Sometimes, you may miss the best pictures of your life because you had to go in out of the cold.  But, if you could dress so you could stay out long enough to capture the great photos, then, do it.  But, also, don't overdress.  I don't want to think of now sweating out in the cold because you put on too much clothes and now you are miserable.  So, just be smart about how much clothes to put on.  It's much more challenging to know how to dress in winter than summer, for sure. And bring gloves that you can keep your hands from freezing up.  My father used to say: " the only thing you can do best with gloves on is wet your pants".  But, if you don't wear the right kinds of gloves, you won't even be able to move your fingers to take pictures either.  So, wear gloves.
  2. Keep your camera cold.  Really?  Yes, really.  So, if you have a warm camera, and now here is the perfect shot, so, you take out your warm camera into the cold, and what happens?  Condensation on everything.  Your lens, your body, and I mean inside your body that you can't see.  So, get the camera cold before you take pictures to avoid condensation.  But, number 3:
  3. Keep your batteries warm.  Your battery compartment is usually isolated.  But, it is not a bad idea to keep an extra set of batteries in your pocket, so that your camera keeps working.  Electronics don't work when the power is cold.
4.  Keep your photo gear easily accessible.  The equipment you use will need to be readily available.  It is cold enough that fumbling for the right equipment will be hard enough, make sure you can get to it easy enough.  Have your equipment well protected as well as have it accessible.  Make sure if you have your camera equipment in a bag that the bag is weatherproof.  So many times as you take pictures in the snow, you will want to place this bag down on the ground.  If you are taking pictures out in the snow, you can bet that the bag is going to get wet.  So, make sure your bag is ready for this type of weather.

5.  Watch out for Footprints in the snow:
You just got set up to take the most beautiful winter picture, and you look at the frame and you notice that it has all these footprints in the snow, and then you realize, that the footprints are yours.  OOOh, how could you?  Well, that happens, so, be aware that the number one enemy to good pictures in winter sometimes is YOU.  

6-  Snow is bright and can be overpowering for your camera’s internal light meter. Using your camera in AUTO, or even APERTURE/SHUTTER PRIORITYmode will undoubtedly result in dark images since the camera is reading all of the bright light reflected from the snow and compensating accordingly. The best way to overcome this is by shooting in MANUAL and compensating accordingly.  Let me see if I can help you understand this a bit better.  If you take all the colors that the camera sees in a viewfinder, and average them out, they are calibrated with your meter at 18% grey.  Have you ever heard of the 18% grey card?  

An 18% Gray card is something you can usually buy at a good camera shop.  Your light meter in your camera is calibrated to this color.  If you could get a card like this, take a light meter reading of the 18% gray card, and lock the exposure of what that camera says to do, such as the shutter speed and the aperture,  and then re-compose your camera to whatever you want with the lighting of what the gray card says you should use, your colors will be so perfect, it will amaze you.  And this is so critical in snow pictures.  Because now your snow will be WHITE, not GRAY.  Have you ever taken a picture of a winter scene and wondered why they are all kind of gray or dingy looking? It's because the camera still thinks that everything it sees is GRAY, not WHITE.  

So, what do you do if you have a camera that you can't set manually?  Can you take a look at your camera and see if you can set the "exposure compensation" switch?  Or EV value?  See if you have that on your camera.  If you do, you are in luck.  With that you are trying to override the automation by forcing the exposure value (EV) to increase a certain amount.  So, if you are taking pictures in the winter, you would set it at +1.5 to increase the exposure of your photo.  And, if it's a snowy picture, and you also have bright sun with it, I would even go to +2 on the exposure value setting.  It will make all the difference in the world for you to truly get white snow instead of gray snow.

7-  Back home:  Warm up the camera slowly.  I think if I remember a professional photographer say, once he got back home from shooting in the cold weather, he would give it at least 2 hours indoors before he would use his camera again indoors.  Give it time to "acclimate" to room temperature.  This again is only good for your equipment.  

So, hopefully this will help you take some great pictures in the winter.  Or, white beaches, or just understand some more about extreme photography.  


Don't miss the "Photos of the Week"  this coming Thursday ! Those living in the United States, that means, you can just sit down while enjoying Thanksgiving, and look at some great photos.  The photos have already been picked, I am just trying to stay on schedule.  So, see you then.


For correspondence:  Please contact: 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015




Here is this weeks photos from all over the world, only worthy of becoming this week's "Photos of the Week"  to inspire us photographers to look at how we too, can become great photographers.  Hope you enjoy these photos:

Photo Credit:  Dikye Darling / Worldwide Photography group

Photo Credit:  Veronika Pinker

Photo Credit: Saravut Whanset

Photo Credit:  Josep Sumalla

Photo Credit:  Carolyn Pitluk

Photo Credit:  Dheny Patungka


There you have this week's "Photos of the week".  Spectacular, and all different in their own way.  Hope you enjoy them all.  And by the way, we will feature another "Special Edition Photos of the Week"  tomorrow with the theme:  Blue Ocean.  

So many good photos throughout the world, we want you to see some of the best photos out there.  So, I hope you enjoy the greatest art out there.

See you tomorrow and then again Monday, when we cover the subject:  How to take good photos in the winter. 

See you soon.




There is a special photographic group out there that is totally dedicated to taking photos of the ocean and nothing else.  The earth is almost 2/3 water, and to find that the ocean is so beautiful has been captured by some great photographers.  When you go to the ocean, you feel something peaceful about the ocean, and something that makes you feel calm, and something you wish you could just capture and bring home with you.  So, with this collection of photos by some incredible photographers, here is some amazing photos of the OCEAN.  Hope you enjoy this special edition of "Photos of the Week".


 Photo Credit:  Matt Hutton

 Photo credit: Pedro J. Rodrigues

Photo credit: Maurizio Grasso

Photo credit:  Raquel de Castro

Photo credit: Marco Milanesi

Photo credit:  Unknown 

Photo credit:  Aaron Lynton Production 

Photo Credit:  Dan Grennwood

Photo Credit:  Daniel Paravisini

Photo Credit:  Daniel Herr Photography


Another great "Special Edition Photos of the Week"  

There just are too many great photos out there to just limit it to once a week, don't you think.  So, 
we will take a few weeks to take advantage of some of these special interest groups of photographers. 
If you have special interest in having your photos be a part of this program, please contact me at:

Sunday, November 15, 2015



Now, there are things that you should do in photography that are written rules.  We have gone over them in one of these blogs before ( see:
But, there are things we also realize that rules are basic guidelines.  I have mentioned before that one time I was asked to be a judge for a County fair, and was given the assignment to judge not only photos taken by amateurs, but, photos taken by Professionals.  As I was looking at some of the professional photos submitted, I was torn with the lack of composition rules used by the professionals.  So, I had to ask in my mind: "rules are made to be broken sometimes, is this photo better because the rule was broken?".  So, let's go over some rules that we need to add to the list of rules that should exist, but don't exist.  

  1. The first one is that the rule of thirds is one that sometimes can be broken if the picture can be better if the subject can be placed somewhere else.  Take a look at the composition of the photo and see if is best served to have the subject in the center, or the horizon in the middle, or something like that.  Check those things out.  It can be done. 

2.  Buy only the camera equipment that you need.  Oh, this is one of my favorites.  I used to work in a camera store, and I used to see this all the time.  Some people would buy camera equipment that far exceeded their talent, OR, exceeded what they were taking pictures of.  So, they would purchase these big lenses, that would be used for wildlife photography, and they cost a lot of money, but, they would never go  out in the wilderness to use them.  DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY!  Decide what type of photos you will take, and then get the right equipment.  Take classes, look through the magazines of the different photos, and decide what type of photos you want to take, and then get the right equipment.  

3.  Don't pack up your camera until you are on your way home.  It only takes a second for the light to change.  I see so many photos that often I say:  That took great patience to get that photo, or that they were just there at the right place at the right time.  Or, how about they just had their camera not put away yet.  I don't think a serious photographer would ever put their camera away until they were on their way home, or even better, HOME.  In a similar vein, don't leave a location until you have exhausted every opportunity of light opportunities that might happen. When everyone is heading home for dinner, is when you will get the best photo.

4.  Don't pack more gear than you need:  How many times have you gone packing with every lens, and camera gear that you have, and then only use just one lens all day.  Decide what you can live with and leave the rest home.  One other idea, can you get by with a multi-purpose all-in-one camera that has a good lens, that can be banged around?  I have often decided that I am just not taking my DSLR backpacking, but, I will take my waterproof, 16megapixel, dustproof, damageproof camera on a hike with me.  That camera turns out to take some great shots.  And it sure is a lot lighter.

5.  Have your camera ready all the time in a default mode.  Always have your camera ready between different shooting opportunities, and that is to probably have it set on some automatic mode, or the camera default mode.  If something happens fast, and you need to grab and get a quick shot, you don't have time to set a camera setting, it is nice that it will take a good auto shot. Just have it ready at all times.  That is the key.

6.  The rule of standing in the right place.  You can be in a dream location, but, if you are not standing in the right place, you will miss the best picture.  Case in point, a concert or a place where there is a lot of people.  The best place is not back with all the tourists, usually, because, you just don't want them in the picture.  Move around and stand in the place that gets the subject better without the clutter (did I really call people clutter?  Yup!  They are clutter)

7.  Two legs can be better than 3.  That statement is loose.  Because most of the time we know that a tripod is going to make most of your photos better.  But, here is the rule to be broken:  You can't use your tripod for all situations.
 Try getting a nice framed photo when you are in the bushes, or a tree is in the way.  Your two legs may be better than the three legs the tripod may provide. 

8.  3-2-1 back-up rule for photographers.  We live in a world of digital photos.  We need to protect how we save our photos.  Professionals have this undefined rule of how to save the photos:
3 - Make 3 copies of your digital photos ( One primary collection and two back ups)
2 - keep two copies on different formats (one on a hard drive, and one online or optical media)
1- Store one of the copies Offsite

That is a magic number for those, like me, who put together a blog like this.  It's a magic number that means I have reached 1500 pageviews in just 3 1/2 months.  Outstanding as this blog continues to grow.  And thank you for your support.  I hope this blog grows, and it is your views that makes it all happen.  Please pass this on, and I will do my part to make it more informative, and more exciting for you.  I will find more exciting information and more exciting "Photos of the Week" as well.  Thank you.  And if you have any suggestions or ideas, I will be glad to take your comments by contacting me at:


Next Monday's subject:  Ok, the time has come, I think.  Winter has arrived in many parts of the world.  And I have had requests on this, so, let's do it now so we are prepared.  Next Monday we will take on the subject of :  How to take good photos in Winter or How to make sure your snow pictures come out with White snow.

See you Thursday for "Photos of the Week"


Thursday, November 12, 2015


Professional picks from other sources:


Every week on Thursday, I post some beautiful photos I find through Facebook and the internet of some serious photographers, some professionals, and some just good amateur photographers.  At the same time, of course, there are other people, and magazines posting and doing there own "Photos of the Day" or "Photos of the Week", and I thought it would be fun for you to see some of those photos.  I am totally giving credit to the photo magazine, their subject if stated, and the photographer, so you can see what is going on with this photo and their assignment.  I try to keep track and see if the photos I collect on a weekly basis compare with those in the magazines.  Here a few, and now you can compare.  See what you think:







So, these photos are spectacular, aren't they?  I hope you enjoyed them.  I want to give thanks to the professionals who took these.  I hope you get some good publicity from this exposure (no pun intended).  But, continue to stay in touch with this blog as I continue to look for more amazing photos I find throughout the world.  And don't be surprised if you find an occasional "special edition" blog like this one.