Monthly Archives: October 2013

Nature Visions – November 8-10, 2013

Nature Visions Expo is right around the corner!! Nov 8-10th.

This is a great event that features speakers from around the country presenting lectures and running workshop on a myriad of photographic topics and techniques.

This year features renowned photographer Bryan Peterson! Bryan has been a successful commercial photographer for over 30 years and is the well-known author of a number of best-selling photography books, including: Understanding Exposure, Learning to See Creatively, and Beyond Portraits.

This year also features a number of free presentations, such as:

  • More Time Behind a Lens and Less Time in front of a Computer
  • Through the Eyes of Julieanne Kost
  • How You Can Get Great Pictures with Your Phone
  • Applied Camera Basics
  • Getting Started with Your New Point and Shoot or DSLR Camera.

In addition to the educational opportunities, you will also have the opportunity to meet professional photographers from around the country, visit the juried exhibit of nature imagery, as well as the open exhibit, and treat yourself to an array of photography related vendors, offering all sorts of event discounts! Admission to the exhibit and vendor arena is free!

Don and I have a table on the main floor, so please come by and see us. We will be running some event specials, including a raffle and a great discount on our 2014 Tours!!

We look forward to seeing friends and meeting new ones, so stop on by!!

For more information on and to register for the event, follow this link:

West Virginia Wrap Up


A couple of weeks ago we wrapped up a fantastic 3 day photo tour of West Virginia.  West Virginia is a wonderful location that is an easy destination from the Mid-Atlantic area, usually a few hours travel by car.  The Canaan Valley area is always the first spot to turn color and it’s a great way to kick off your fall color photography.   We had a great group of people and photographic conditions were quite nice.  One surprise for me was the number of people at Bear Rocks even on the weekday mornings.  It seems each year this spot grows in popularity.   Luckily I know the area well and was able to take the group to several other places that are not as well-known and as a result I think allowed for a more relaxed time with nature.

 Click here for a few additional images from West Virginia!


Our next tour is Cape May, NJ on November 1-3, spots are still available and it’s not too late to register.   Early November is a wonderful time to visit the beach, the crowds have gone home and conditions are still nice.


Topaz Labs – DeNoise 5

Always looking to explore my options, I tried a different technique for removing noise from my images. I have often used NIK Dfine 2 to remove noise and have generally been pleased with the results. For the first image below, I noticed significant banding in the sky. The banding is a result of all the light flares coming from the street lights directly across from where I was standing. I did not see the banding in camera, so was a bit unhappy to see them when scanning images to process. I recalled hearing that Topaz Labs DeNoise 5 does a great job of removing banding. Since I have never used the program before, I decided if it can improve this image… I am in. Here are the before and after images. I must say, I was impressed by how well DeNoise 5 did. I will admit, I ran it 3 times, each time adjusting for remaining banding, in the various channels. It took time and a few passes, but I am amazed at how DeNoise 5 cleaned up the image.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 10.58.18 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 10.58.25 PM

After my banding experiment, I decided to use DeNoise 5 on an image with noise, but no banding, to see how well DeNoise would perform. This image was taken inside the U.S. Capitol, in low light, with fairly high ISO. Again, I must say, DeNoise 5 does a really good job and did not overly soften the image. Here are the before and after images.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 10.25.49 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 10.26.08 PM

DeNoise 5 has made a convert out of me. If you are interested in exploring DeNoise 5 and other Topaz Labs plugins, click here or on the link in the blog Sidebar.

Happy Processing!





Do you crop?  Personally I hate to crop.  Hate might be a little strong so let’s just say that I have a serious aversion to cropping.  This is because I have an inherited trait, I’m a “perfectionist”.   While sometimes this creates friction in the day to day world,  I consider this a gift in my case because it is what pushes me to always strive to be a better photographer.   But at the same time I am not suggesting this is a necessary trait for a good  photographer, just one that works to my advantage.


Back to the idea of cropping.  It all starts with the decision to take the picture.  When you hit the shutter button were you taken with the picture in your viewfinder,  or did you just snap the picture and hope it looks better on your computer monitor?   When I started studying photography again several years ago after a 20 year break, one of the things I found helpful was the idea of getting it right in camera.  This means a good composition and a good exposure.  The advanced electronics in our cameras make getting a good exposure pretty easy these days, but so far no one has invented a composition finder.  That part is up to you.  Truthfully, I don’t think photography would be much fun if our cameras could pick or evaluate the artistic quality of the shot.


I remember sitting at a camera club competition a few years ago and hearing the judge suggest that a particular image would be better cropped as a vertical instead of a horizontal.  A vertical crop in this case would throw away about 60 percent of the original image.   While this might have made for a more pleasing composition to this particular judge, it obviously was  not the vision of the photographer.  Only the photographer whose work was being critiqued knows if this was good advice.


I’m suggesting that cropping should be a decision that is made before the shutter is pressed, not after the shutter is pressed.  Speaking strictly for myself I would consider it a failure if I took a picture, only later to be told to harvest a small section or perhaps see a picture in the picture that was better than the one I took.  That means I did not see the better shot.   I could go ahead and crop and share with the world, but I would know it was not my original vision.


In the case of the picture above, I envisioned a square format when the picture was taken.  My camera shoots in a rectangular format so except for cropping, there was no effective way to achieve this vision prior to pressing the shutter.  Just my opinion, but I believe that cropping should be a conscious decision and not a way to save a bad picture.