Ducks and Tree Scarves

•August 21, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I went for a walk.

I have a wedding to photograph coming up soon. This is the first one since restarting my photography business. So I have been retesting equipment.

When I photograph a wedding I carry backups for the backups. For the one coming up, I will have 3 Nikon cameras, four lenses, 3 flash units. I checked out the Nikon stuff yesterday, especially my old reliable SB-800 and the much less expensive but equally impressive Yongnuo YN685.

I used to shoot with the Vivitar 283. I miss them. They were simple, light, consistent and reliable. Seems in many reviews, the Yongnuo 685 has replaced them. My opinion of them so far is they are good to excellent. I have trouble with their menu screen and selections. They are not intuitive in my opinon, but they are very inexpensive and they work on manual settings with an umbrella very well for casual portraits. Disclaimer so you won’t consider me some gear curmudgeon: I am still learning about the flash.

My backup backup that I will take, and the one for the party shots will be a Sony A6000 with the 16-50 f3.5, kit lens, and the 19mm f2.8 Sigma DN “Art” lens. The Art lens is Sigma’s best glass. Sigma competes with Canon L and other quality lenses, but for a whole lot less money, especially if you buy used from the good folks at KEH Camera Brokers right here in my hometown. I have not been paid by KEH for the plug (maybe they will). It’s that I have been dealing with them since they opened their first location on Spring Street, in Atlanta 40 something years ago. I have never had a problem with them. I understand business is business, things happen, and your opinion may be different.

There are much better, more complete reviews on All I am showing here are some images I got in testing/retesting equipment. I will say the camera is a joy to use. Eventually, I will tire of even the weight of the Nikon. Travel light and fast. The Sony A6000 (and others in their line) might be a good switch.

I love my town, Smyrna, Georgia. It is known as one of the top 50 cities in the country, according to Money Magazine. It is a suburb of Atlanta, provides excellent services for the taxes they collect from us, it has good schools, and it is “incoveniently” located close to top destinations in metro Atlanta. It is home of the Smyrna Braves, also known as the Atlanta Braves too. Traffic is horrific in Atlanta. We’re full now, so don’t move here until someone dies or otherwise moves out.

I tested equipment in the park around the Smyrna Community Center. I saw these scarves on the trees… I am not sure why you put scarves on trees, but the sign says it was a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of trees. Cool. I love trees. Here we have a Firey Skipper butterfly, a grand duck with flaming red face, the tree scarves, and an old piano that they keep on the front porch of the community center for folks to play. There is another one inside a gazebo around the corner as well. Tell me, where else can you find a town with even one piano available for folks to bang on. We have two! Love this place.


The Need for Less

•August 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

When I started photographing, it was all about friends and fun. My gear was a Kodak Instamatic 126. Photography was all about friends and fun. It was about the moment, what we were doing. It was about girls I liked, too.

I remember a cold wet November Saturday. We were all students. Us guys were all Georgia Tech students, except my younger brother who I invited along, and girls were from Georgia Baptist School of Nursing (now part of Mercer University), and from Georgia State. We all hung out together almost every weekend.

So Tech was playing football out of town, getting slaughtered by Southern Cal, or UCLA, I cannot recall. It was a dismal day, so someone had an epiphany: ROAD TRIP! We grabbed some food and drinks, and my younger brother, we all piled into someone’s car, and off to north Georgia we drove.

We stopped along the side of the road several times. I took pictures. We ate under the cover of a an abandoned drive through. The food was cold, everyone was cold, but it was great. I took pictures. Then we explored other abandoned buildings nearby. I took pictures.

I don’t recall what town it was or used to be, but the buildings were old, abandoned, wooden, weathered from elemental decay, and almost fully consumed by kudzu.

Kudzu originated in Japan as arrowroot. It was brought to the States during the Depression to stop erosion. No one knows if that worked or not, because no one has seen the ground since, says Lewis Grizzard. I cannot find the citation for this quote. I just know he said it.

In Japan it is a fine looking ivy. In Georgia, kudzu has no natural enemies except goats. It is edible and it actually has a sweet smelling flower that blooms in September. Do not bend too closely to smell it. Kudzu will grab you, and you will not be found until many centuries distant, when some archeologist ponders your remains entangled in petrified vines.

Kudzu can be used to treat alcoholism with its accompanying hangovers. This is a great blessing. If you happen to be from places where kudzu grows – hard to imagine a place where it does not, you can distill your moonshine, with your factory all hidden away within the same kudzu patch from which you gather your healing tonic for the next morning, after a bender in the woods. Keep it handy.

Kudzu can relieve the symptoms of menopause. You can make clothing, lotions, and paper from it, and cook it like greens! With cornbread. Slap ya mama! Yum. …They say.

They also say it is disappearing from Georgia. Hard to tell, and sad if it is. I cannot imagine a Georgia landscape or an abandoned lot without it.

Back to the road trip. We made our last stop of the day at Etowah, where the Native American ceremonial mounds are located. A couple of us pulled out our guitars. Being true to the customs of college students in the late 60s and early 70s, and to their social gatherings and rituals, yes, we played and sang folk songs! I took pictures of that, too. Today, take a vid on your smart phone.

Those were simple fun times. What I have determined after years of photography and carrying pounds of camera gear, keep it simple and light. I used to spend all my time photographing what was going on. Oh, I was such a serious artist! That is not the same as making memories. I was an observer and not a participant in the event. That is not to say take lousy photos, but that equipment and technique should not interfere with life. Be aware of what you are there for. Reduce your fiddle time. Set the darn gadget on auto if needed and enjoy the moment.

I’ve gone too far now talking about kudzu and long lost memories. I’ll shorten the technical discussions.

Today, I usually carry no more than one quality point and shoot camera, unless I am trying to earn some money. I aim my creativity, the objects of my love and attention, toward my family and friends. Time is short, and I have realized time has become the only currency I really have left. I think David Crosby said that or something similar. I think it is true regardless who gets credit for the quote.

I spent intentional time with my granddaughter the other day. I took several informal portraits and snapshots, which I then sent to my wife, my daughter her mom, and to my other kids.

She tilts her head when photographed. My daughters did the same thing when they were this age. I do not know where head tilting comes from. It may have been poorly posed on my part. Actually I did not pose her at all. I did not intend to pose her more than she would tolerate.

Of course, I could not resist photographing what was going on, and I managed a decent shot of the musicians, below. I liked the other world looks on their faces as they played. I put some money in his open mandolin case, also. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t grab a photograph without paying due respect.

Musicians in the park

Here are the technical details: I took one small, quality point and shoot camera, a Canon G7x Mark II. I set the camera to aperture priority, ISO to 250, and f-stop to f8. In aperture priority mode, the camera sets the shutter speed for you. In sunlight I usually don’t worry about a slow shutter speed introducing motion blur. I wish I had shot it about f2.8 or f4 to have less depth of focus. I captured the images in RAW (Canon CR), as well as in jpeg for a quick post. I processed several of the RAW images in Photoshop Elements.

Let me discuss a tool in Photoshop RAW processing, both in Elements and in regular Photoshop; the luminance noise reduction tool.

If you sharpen an image at all, you’ll introduce “noise”, or what I like to call “digital grain”. It is not grain like silver based film had, but more like static. As you bump up the ISO, you increase “gain” and your images will appear grainy. Perhaps use this as a cute reminder: The higher the ISO, the higher the Gain, the greater the Grain. “Grain” is another anachronism, a throw back to simpler times and silver based processes.

Use the magnify tool and enlarge the image over an area of skin. Apply sharpening and notice the “grain” appear. Go to the luminance noise reduction tool and slide it from zero toward the right just enough to clear the skin tones of the noise, or digital grain as I call it. No need to apply more than you see in the preview. You will see the skin get more smooth.

Here are examples from the photograph of my granddaughter. Check the difference between skin smoothness in the first and second images.

In the first image, I had set overall sharpness to around 50, and the luminance noise reduction is set at zero. Can you see the skin looks bumpy. That is the noise that sharpening introduces to the image. The area shown is probably no more than a couple percentage points of the entire photograph.

Next take a look at the second image. I took the luminance noise reduction slider, moved it to the right to around 40, and the skin smoothed out.

Couple of things here. First, the skin is noticeably smoother than at the zero setting. Check the eyelashes in both images. The smoothing also reduced detail in the eyelashes. So we have a trade-off to consider. For me personally, especially in portraits of children and women, I opt for smoother skin over sharpness. For a man, I usually opt for sharpness and maybe a bit more micro-contrast. There are other considerations, but I think our conditioning and visual expectations lead us there. You may disagree. Go for it.

The effects of adjustment are more noticeable, given the same settings, in images with less pixel information than with more pixel information. To say it simply, your sharpness and noise reduction settings for your 20mp camera will be higher than for your 10mp camera, to get the same result. Check the preview closely and you should see the difference.

A digital Leica would be grand for such images as this. I could channel Cartier-Bresson and others. However in my opinion, Leica M ceased to be professional tools of almost decent prices years ago. Photographic wonders, built like an anvil, outlast most of us, but sadly more like a big chunk of bling. You may want that. A digital Leica M-E (entry to the club) with a standard lens, built in Wetzlar, new, will be nine or ten grand.

A Leica M. Ten grand. Really. I need it. No. What I really, really need is contentment. I need less.

The Canon does exceptionally well. I dropped it onto the sidewalk. No damage.

I Went for a Walk in Black and White

•July 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Just another summer day on Cheatham Hill. The split-rail fence guides you down a different path. Next time, maybe.

Part of my program to keep myself fit for the next decade, if God is so gracious to give me time, is to enjoy a strenuous walk in the woods up and down hills.

When I go, I take one of my cameras, usually a Canon point and shoot variety, the G11 which has an optical viewfinder or the G7X. The G7X is newer and records a whopping 20mb image. Images from both are excellent. The Canon G11 is a better street camera than the Canon G7X in my opinion because of the optical viewfinder. If the lens is set wide to “normal”, the optical viewfinder allows me to bring it quickly to my eye and shoot without having to pull out the screen.

Back to the walk. I have had black and white on my mind lately, thus these monochrome images. Used to be, in ancient days, monochrome was the only game in town. Color negative film from the 60’s was okay, but the photographs faded pretty quickly and got that yellowish-orange tone. Photoshop can take it out. Kodachrome color slide film was great for retaining color and detail, but the film speed was slow, like 25 and 64. Late in life, Kodak released Kodachrome 200, but I did not like it much. I have a lot of Kodachrome slides that are still near perfect today. Ektachrome dyes were not as stable as Kodachrome, and eventually they would get a bluish color cast. Fuji, Agfa, and others had similar products.

All in all, digital color is superior to color film in fidelity and detail, and it will last as long as you periodically re-save images in the latest digital media standard. Black and white film (silver halide) is still a good archival choice.

There I go; I geeked out again. Returning to the images of the walk. I think I ran into the same doe I photographed a week earlier. She was in about the same location, same trail, same reaction to me. She has not yet learned to be afraid of Man.

I saw more runners this time than last. Mostly teens, both boys and girls. At one time I could have easily kept up with them. Not my job.

Walking dogs, sky, clouds, natural rock gardens, pine needles, and grassy details. Take a simple point and shoot camera to the woods. If it is capable of photographing in black and white in the camera that is preferred for an exercise I’m suggesting for you.

Set your camera to monochrome. Don’t set it to color and then later covert the image to black and white. Setting the camera to photograph the original image in black and white, with no other option, forces you to think differently. You then are concerned with details, contrasts, patterns. You see that blues and greens and grays, even Georgia red clay, all sort of look the same. You figure out how to differentiate them in the image. The mind interprets the “color” because we have experienced the reality. Now color is in abstract, saturation is at zero. But if the shades of gray are not distinct, the the photograph looks unnatural.

Observe. Pay close attention. Practice patience. Work with the breeze or wait until it is still. Either way – the grass’ sharp detail or blurred by the wind; is it a good photograph? Follow the butterfly. (Sounds a little funny… “Follow the butterfly, young apprentice.”) You’ll learn the best time of day to photograph them.

Edward Weston said, “Good composition is merely the strongest way of seeing.” Think about composition. Try to take the photo so you do not have to crop it later while printing. However, cropping an image later seems smart if you get a stronger composition. Why impose an arbitrary constraint upon an image, by keeping it full frame, as some schools of thought espouse, and then lose the point of the photograph? Crop during printing with the cropping tool, or crop it during creation with a lens.

Here’s an exercise. Take a photo. When you process the image, crop it. Save it. Copy it. Re-open the copy. Crop it some more. Save another copy. Repeat. So what if you are only using 5% of your digital file. Get the image to the point where you cannot crop it anymore or you will have nothing. Is it finished? You tell me. Enlarge it and repeat until you only have shades and patterns.

Practice the Zone System – think Ansel Adams. In my opinion getting 10 shades of gray in a print are much easier to accomplish in digital than with film, especially if you shoot in RAW mode; Nikon NEF, Canon CR, etc. Learn to use Photoshop Color Curves. See this brief article from Alan Ross, one of Adams students regarding the Digital Zone System. (I have a print of his. ) I wasn’t trying to demonstrate the Zone System here, but I took off down this path.

On the other hand, DON’T practice the Zone System; that is, don’t try to get smooth gradations from pure black to white, with detail in at least 8 out of 10 zones. Shoot nature in high contrast, as high as you like.

Print big. Print small. What happens to shadow detail and highlights in your clouds from one size to another. Viewing it on your phone is not the same as viewing a 20×24 inch print.

Just play and enjoy. You will hit on something that grabs you.

Dead wood detail
Woman walking her dog
Fuzzy grasses
Black-eyed Susans
Rock Garden

Decisive Moments

•July 25, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Revisiting a photographic concept called “the decisive moment” an idea put forth by Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Take a look and a listen.  

Essentially, all elements of composition and timing come together in one moment. If you miss it, the image is gone.  That is the essential idea I got from him.  

I took the lesson seriously.  It applies to a lot of things in life I think. We live in decisive moments even if our lives seem to us pretty mundane. I think it originates in an idea I have about God, the concept of Imago Dei, and it comes from Jesus, all things I’ve learned in almost 70 years. If “God so loved the world…“, the Bible verse announces, then there are implications.  Life becomes a string of decisive moments for one, strings of decisions that integrate to a life.  I also infer there are moments that are not decisive.  But I digress.

Cartier-Bresson used one small camera and one lens his entire career, famously the Leica 35mm and a 50mm lens. Not a zoom lens. Not a motor drive.  He said the 50mm lens was most like his eye, and the Leica camera and lens were an extension of himself.  Consider for a moment the pounds on pounds of equipment a typical photographer carries about today.  Discipline yourself.  If you have a “standard” single focal length lens, go out for a day and photograph with it alone.

To me the photograph below is an example of how I practice the “decisive moment”.  Coincidentally it was taken with a Leica M4-2 and a 35mm lens.  It could just as easily been taken with my little Canon G11, which is smaller and quieter than the old Leica film cameras.  I still miss the Leica.  Selling it was one of my worst decisions.  I say I could have used a Canon G11.  Maybe not. 

Kids at weddings. They could not care less about the ceremony. They are there for the food. They are lost in a crowd of adults, who are just as unmindful of them. The kid closest to the camera swills down the punch. The second kid behind him is in a predicament. He does not have enough hands. He has not yet learned how to successfully manage a plate with snacks and a drink at the same time. (Has anyone learned how?). I saw them and watched. The image came.

Point being, with “the decisive moment” in mind, if any part of the image changed – the woman’s hands, the man cutting the cheese, the first boy having put down his cup and wandered off… If one tiny element changed, the moment would no longer exist and the photograph would vaporize. If you are like me at all, you probably have a long list of mental images and regret the ones that got away.

C’est la vie. Life and love: The indecisive moments go unnoticed. But the ones where everything perfectly comes together and we just miss it, and worst of all, we realize it. Ah. Regrets of life pile up.

Happy Accidents

•July 21, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Such a simple error to make. There I am concentrating on one thing, and I think my hand is on the correct action, but it is not. I make a quick adjustment and I have something, not at all what I wanted, and I am not sure how I got it. I start to delete it. Then I take a closer look. Maybe this could lead somewhere. Or maybe it is better left a mistake and removed from further consideration.

I don’t know. It’s not really a photograph although Photoshop Elements was involved. It’s graphic. It’s derived from a photograph. I have to think about this some more to see if it leads anywhere else.

I’m old, old school. I prefer photo-realism and more natural renderings. My influences are Adams, the Westons, the Group f.64, the mid-1900s photojournalism of people like Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, and Dorothea Lange. Some of these folks were real butts personally, they probably would not be my friends, but when I was studying photographs, I was studying theirs.

The image is not at all like any of theirs. It is not like any of mine. Anyway, stop talking and present it. I know now how I did it. Repeatable.

Negative Blue Butterfly


I Went for a Walk: A Different Trail

•July 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I’m about to head to Cheatham Hill again to walk the trail. I have to get exercise in several times a week. The gym bores the heck out of me. During the week the trail is very quiet, with just enough people around that maybe it keeps the bad guys away. Usually, the only sound I hear are my footsteps and breath, and the occasional pounding and panting of a passing runner. Horses can use the trail, too, but I don’t see them often, only the occasional patty.

The trail passes through meadows, crosses streams, and crisscrosses the battlefields that make up Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. If you happen to be in the minority, and you are actually from Atlanta, then you understand well the Civil War is never more than a mile or two away from you. There are placards, memorials, canons, earthworks, trenches, and other artifacts of the war all still very visible. There were trenches in the woods behind my best friend’s house, in the neighborhood where I grew up. We were about a mile from the Chattahoochee River, Atlanta just beyond, and I imagine 150 years ago the barefoot Rebel boys were sent especially to Kenwood subdivision. They dug the trenches, and set up there most likely to protect against a flanking maneuver by them “damn Yankees.” God and General Sherman made other plans.

If you live anywhere from Pennsylvania south, through Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia, and you live near the expressways, then you probably have a battlefield close by.

One section of the Cheatham Hill trail shows trenches dug closely together with the signage showing the Confederate brigade which was here and the Union brigade which was there, ten or twenty yards away. Even I can hit something that close. The fighting was bloody.

So I walk silently and photograph. I share some of the photographs here.

The other day I went for a walk and I decided to take a different path. It is such a cliche but I thought of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Well dang if that ain’t true.

I picked a different path this time, one not as worn nor as wide as my usual path, and I saw different things. Pretty trite, huh? But the grander scheme of things is composed of infinitesimally small schemes of things that may hand us a clue if we’re alert to them. Maybe I don’t want to stay with the crowd so much.

Looking toward Cheatham Hill Road

The wildflowers exhibit Southern reticence, charming but reserved, and not much for grand display, except for a few gaudy cousins who show up at the family reunions. Oh, how they put on such airs, like the native tiger lilies who dress in in orange and red, or the Maypops – the passion flower, which is edible. The Cherokee Indians called them ocoee, we think, and in deference, the white settlers named the Ocoee river after them. It is also the Tennesee state flower. They were not out today at Cheatham Hill, but the butterfly pea and petunias, tiny daisy fleabane and a dandelion cousin could be found among the chest high grasses.

The paths diverge and join again, taking you up and down. It is a good place for runners, those who in my opinion are intelligent enough to stay off the roads and away from aggressive Atlanta drivers who fear not the laws of Man or God.

Below my baby, and the point of the story besides me meandering around in a field with temperatures in the 90s just for the sweat of it. I suppose the particular path I was on really is the road less traveled. Even though deer are a very common sight, especially with the never ending bulldozing for more and more houses, I did not expect to see one, and she probably did not expect to see me.

As I rounded the corner this doe was feeding. I stopped immediately, she looked up. I said quietly, as friendly as I could, “Hey little buddy,” and I guess she figured I was no threat even though I was only a few feet from her, because she went back to feeding. I had time to get my camera out and take four or five images. I won’t bore you with them all.

It is too hot for deer season. I don’t think there is any hunting on this land, either. I am not opposed to hunting at all. It keeps the deer healthier to thin the herds with planned hunting seasons. People around here eat what they kill. They might even eat what you ran over. I am sure my brother-in-law would say, “That thar is good eatin'”. I agree, but today this deer and I met and continued on in peace.


Bee Technical

•July 11, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been photographing a long time, since I was ten or eleven years old. I became “serious” in my late twenties. “Serious” usually means you are making carefully considered photographs.

This is a “serious” photograph of mine. I took it for fun and profit. I think it has commercial value. I hope it is profitable. I’ll post it, but I am not sure where yet.

I present it here with a few general details. I have my own way of working developed over decades photographing. Maybe it will be instructive and help you in some way by learning what I did to make this photograph.

I don’t recall how long I watched the bee fly among the mums. Insects don’t wait on you. This worker was constantly moving. So the Number 1 photographic technique I apply is patience. It may look odd to people who happen to see me just standing there, camera to eye, finger on the shutter release, not doing anything. However, I am doing something. I am waiting and watching.

I usually take the camera off automatic when photographing nature. I do not fire away like a machine gun, hoping that I hit something. Think about it. To me there is little creativity in the machine gun approach?

My nature photography method is different from my wedding and portrait photography, and from my sports photography. If I am photographing a wedding, especially when making a group photograph of the family, there’s always someone with eyes closed or with some odd look. There is nothing more fleeting than human expressions. So once I have the lighting and composition set, I take several images in a burst, and pick one with the best expressions. If I photograph a basketball game, I will use active focus, follow the action or lead the action to where I think it will be, and fire a burst.

Back to the bee.

In order to take the camera off automatic you must understand the relationship of aperture, shutter speed, and the ISO. One setting impacts the others. I won’t go into a tedious description of it here.

ISO first. I set it to 400. I do not let the camera set it. I have to be aware of what effect the ISO will have on quality, shutter speed. Do I want the image “grainy” (digital signal noise)? Do I want blur or not. The lower the ISO, the less digital noise you introduce to the image (higher quality), but the more the image is affected by motion and blurring if you have a fairly small aperture like f8. If the available light is low, then you try to compensate with a higher shutter speed, but the camera may not try to set that. Just be aware of it. Your photos will let you know.

Next, I set the camera to aperture priority and the lens to f8. I allow the camera to set the shutter speed. I don’t want it trying to average things out to the algorithm determined by collecting images from a million happy consumers.

The camera I used is a Nikon D3400. It is a very capable, consumer oriented camera, and very inexpensive compared to others. I don’t think it matters too much whether you use Canon, Nikon, Sony, Leica, or whatever. My opinion after having photographed with many, many different brands is… OPINION ALERT… Nikon makes the best reasonably priced professional equipment and Canon makes the best consumer cameras. I have use both brands for 30 or 40 years. I won’t argue about it. Use what you like.

The lens was one of Nikon’s consumer zooms, a 55-200mm G, not a macro. It is very light, and inexpensive. Nikon puts them in their D3400 and D3500 kits. This image was taken with the zoom set at almost 200mm. I back off the maximum settings because you’ll usually find the best performance and image quality if you shoot somewhere in the middle. That goes for zoom range and f-stop.

I had the D3400 and lens set to manual focus. Again, manual focus, not on automatic, which is way too slow for a moving insect. Here is where a little more expensive camera body might help, but I would still shoot nature manually focused. It’s a bit of a pain, because the lens has a tiny focusing ring. But get your thumb and finger on it and let it rest there. At f5.6-f8 and 200mm, you have only a tiny bit of depth of field. A soft background sets the subject apart and draws the eye to it.

I photographed this hand-held. No tripod. That probably breaks one of the cardinal rules about nature photography. I will often use a monopod which also works as a hiking stick. I will sometimes use a tripod. But most often I shoot hand held. My hands are still steady, even with a SLR, down to about 1/10 to 1/15 second. I can move around a lot more quickly with just a camera.

Is there luck involved? Was there luck with this shot? I don’t much believe in luck anymore. I believe in practice, preparation and experience. I believe in GOD at work. I cannot count the number of times times I felt Him very close by. When I “get that shot” or whatever you call it, in that instant, that is when I feel Him closest. It’s a deep feeling in my soul. I don’t apologize for it. I read about Henri Cartier-Bresson, the famous French photographer. He made those wonderful, iconic, sometimes surreal black and white street images. He was an atheist, part of the Humanist Photography movement. Believer or Atheist, it is my firm belief that you can’t get away from the Imago Dei.

Now the Big Secret, which is not secret, I photographed in RAW (NEF) format, not jpeg. Almost all the adjustments in exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, noise reduction and sharpness were done in Photoshop Elements RAW image processor which is part of both Elements and the much more expensive Adobe Lightroom. (Get Elements on sale for $69 a couple times a year).

If you want really good photographs with detail in the highlights and shadows and nuanced color, learn how to work with a digital “negative” to control everything.

I brought up the image in Elements Editor. It recognized the NEF format and started the RAW processor. I cropped the image, then I adjusted exposure, contrast, blacks, shadows, clarity. I adjusted sharpness and luminance noise. You must adjust exposure in the RAW processor in order to bring the highlights under control and not lose detail in a big, honkin’ color blob. (BTW that happens a lot in automatic mode shooting jpeg format.) Then I opened the image into the regular Elements editor. I set the image to 8 bit color depth, then I adjusted lighting and contrast. I added selective sharpness here and there. You don’t have to add any more general sharpness, but only to select areas to set them apart.

Posted here is the “Web” version, which isn’t the highest quality. But you don’t need much for presentation on the internet.

Nikon’s original professional digital SLR, the D1 was released in 1999, and the D100 followed closely behind. The owner of the studio I worked at then told me, quote: “Hey we are going all digital, just to let you know.” So I paid $2000 for the D100, and I continued working. Today, you don’t really have to get a $1500-2000 camera body or a $1000 lens to capture great photographs. Not only are cameras obviously expensive, the designated pro models weigh a ton. Some people need them. I also have a D7500 and an older D90. I have to think about return on investment.

I heard there’s no cost justification for a hobby. If there were, there would be no bass boats.

If you are interested in learning more from me, I offer reasonably priced, private and small group classes.