Butterflies - Nature Flying Flowers

June 29, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Butterflies – Nature’s Flying Flowers

Nature’s most exquisite winged creature of delicate beauty, the butterfly has become a metaphor for transformation and hope. For many cultures it is a symbol of rebirth and resurrection and for us nature photographers, shooting butterflies represents one of the great joys and challenges of our beloved pastime. 

Because butterflies only live for a few weeks, one needs to be ready to pursue and capture these beautiful creatures in early summer when they are most abundant. With such a short window of opportunity you’ll need to have your camera equipment specifically set up and at the ready.

To maximize your chances, you might investigate the nearest butterfly habitats which are often botanical gardens, arboretums, large flower gardens and even nurseries as they may provide you with the best opportunities to set up for this pleasurable experience. Of course patience is the key so give yourself some time and be ready to take plenty of clicks!

Tips for Shooting Butterflies 


My first choice for lens would be a macro lens 1:1 ratio which is ideal for up close shots.  Alternately  you can use a diopter or an extension tube to create a macro effect.  Another good option is to use a telephoto lens to zoom in and isolate your subject without disturbing it. Using a wider angle lens would help show context. You have many choices depending on budget and what artist vision you have. 

Use a tripod if you have one but keep the head loose. Your tripod is still going to help you achieve the added stability you need in order to prevent camera shake and to maintain your focus point. When in a crowded place with lots of people a monopod can be a great choice as it will give you some stability. 

Butterfly on a flower/leaf  - Use a shallow Depth of Field ( f2, f4, f6 ) to create a blur background, be on burst mode, prefocus. Try shooting the butterfly so its wing is parallel to your lens—keeping all that fine detail on the same plane will guarantee that it is all tack sharp in the final image at these shallow depth of field. If not and its wings are spread out you might need a higher f-stop (f/8 or f11).

Set your Focus on the eyes of the butterfly if all possible, sharp eyes is a key element for a outstanding image. I find I get best results when I focus on a flower and wait for the butterfly to arrive, instead of changing them around.  

Phone Camera

Use portrait mode for the background to be blur, a low f stop if  you have that option. Try shooting the butterfly so its wing is parallel to your lens—keeping all that fine detail on the same plane will guarantee that it is all tack sharp in the final image at these shallow depth of field.

Hold down on your shoot button  to get multiple  pictures a few seconds apart. This is also know as "burst" in the photography world. 

Focus by taping on  subject or an flower and wait for the butterfly to arrive. 


Tips for Shooting in a Slot Canyon

February 03, 2021  •  1 Comment

Slot Canyons can be the most challenging of environments for landscape photography so preparation is very important. For upper Antelope Canyon you will need to book a photographer tour which requires the use a tripod.

Dust is everywhere and it is dark inside. The light from the sun peeking inside the slot moves fast so be prepared to work quickly.  I recommend not changing lens inside the canyon and shoot with a widest-angle lens that you have.  I didn’t use filters due to the dust, working in the dark and the lack of time to set up for a shot.

Be ready to adjust your setting in the dark.  Preset as many settings as possible. I recommend starting with ISO 100, F8, mirror lock up, evaluative metering and white balance set at 6500k-7500k for warmer tones (orange & reds) or 4500k to 5500k for cooler tones (purple & blues).  I used Auto white balance so that in post production I can determine image by image if I want it to warm it up or cool in down.  Expect a longer shutter speed (1-8 sec) so use a sturdy tripod and cable release.

It’s also important to use your RGB histograms red channels are easily over exposed and set highlight warning to “on” to verify that your highlights are not over exposed. 
For those HDR photographers there’s just not enough time for too many exposures at each location so I shot most images with a wide range of light, underexposed, shooting for the highlights and pulling out the shadows in postproduction.  
Smartphone Photographers
You can go on the general tour.  Set your phone on HDR mode and turn off your flash then your phone camera will capture much of the same the magic!

Have fun shooting!


Photography Tips on Shooting Vertical Panorama DSLR and Phone Photography

January 28, 2021  •  1 Comment
Tips for shooting Vertical Panoramas 

DSLR Photographers.
 Photograph your shots using the same method as you would a panorama, except you pan vertically. 
Tips for shooting Vertical and Horizontal Panoramas

DSLR Photographers.
Photograph your shots using the same method as you would a panorama, except you pan vertically.
Tips for shooting Vertical and Horizontal Panoramas
1. Lens Selection
Use a standard lens 35mm-80mm as there is minimal lens distortion
2. Use A Tripod
You will get much better results using a tripod, your photos will be aligned on one axis. 
3. Shoot RAW
Raw images are not compressed nor have any adjustments been made to the image from the camera. Additionally Raw gives you far more options in post editing. You can stitch an image together in Lightroom
4. Shoot in Manual Mode
The importance of shooting in Manual Mode is to insure your values don't change between shots.  Set you camera to the brightest part of your scene to avoid any blow outs in your highlights. (refer to your histogram). 
Note: If your exposure is over 6 stops apart from my brightest to shadow area of the scene, your might want to shoot HDR. I would keep the HDR to only images and 2 stops apart
5. Set Your Focal Distance
Set your focal distance on manual to ensure your focal distance doesn't change between shoots. A typical guide is to focus one-third of the distance from were you are shooting.  On vertical typically you have a narrow subject like a tree, if that is the case focus on it
6. Set Your White Balance
You will want to set your White Balance and not have it on Automatic where it can change between your shots
7. Position Your Camera Horizontal
For Vertical Panorama shots you want to position your camera horizontal to give you a bit more wiggle room.  For Horizontal panorama you want to position your camera vertically 
8. Take Multiple Shots with an Overlap
You will need at least 30% overlap between shots you software can to match and align.  I personally take anywhere from 3 to 5 shots to keep from distortion and I have found better results with less 
Tip: I always start from right to left or bottom to top, so when I look at my hundreds of images in a shoot it is easier for me to identify my photo series
9. Merge Your Photos Together... this is the magic! 
There are many different softwares out there that can photo merge to panorama. I use Lightroom CC. 
Important: DO NOT edit your images before you merge them
    a. Select your images in Lightroom that you want to merge
    b. Main Menu: go to Photo> Photo Merge> Panorama 
    c. I leave it on auto projection but I recommend uncheck to auto crop, this will give you more image to work with in cropping 
    d. Merge your image then edit it in your regular edit flow
HDR images: You'll want to merge your HDR images with the different exposure values and using no other adjustments first. Then Photo Merge your HDR images for Panorama.  
e. If your Photo Merge is having a difficult time aligning a vertical panorama try rotating your images horizontal for the Photo Merge.
The more you panoramas you do the easier they become!

Phone Photographers
iphone users
1. Swipe right to "PANO" mode
2. Hold your phone horizontally
3. Press the camera button
4. Follow the arrow to shoot the image
5. Tap "Done" when complete
Android users
1. Under the menu, go to "Panorama"
2. Tap "Vertical"
3. Move the camera to the next gray dot and repeat until there are no more gray dots
4. Tap "Done" when complete

Couple of extra phone tips

a. Stand close to your subject so there’s less foreground to make tall subjects, like buildings, look extra heightened
b. Capture things both in front of you and behind you by starting with your arms outstretched and the camera in front of you, then reach your arms over and behind your head as you shoot.


Magnificent Redwood LE -Redwood National ParkMagnificent Redwood LE -Redwood National Park

Chasing Rainbows & Waterfalls

January 14, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Photo tips on shooting Rainbows & Waterfalls

Rainbows and Waterfalls are two of my favorite subjects to shoot, both take a bit of patience and sometimes a bit of luck!

For Rainbows:
Keeping your camera as still as possible is important in all landscape shots – but it’s particularly important for rainbow shots as they often appear in darker conditions (like before a storm or squall) - so that means use a tripod if possible. I recommend using a polarizing filter in order to get more of detail in your clouds and to blue-up the sky.  Using a small aperture will get you more detail in both the foreground and background. 

For Waterfalls: 
Using a tripod is even more important for shooting waterfalls.  Varying your shutter speed setting is the most important technique for achieving different effects.  To show slow water movement, your shutter speed needs to be at minimum 1/8 second; I have shot as slow as 20 seconds!  Also, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to pay attention to your surroundings. For example, if you have wind and observe that leaves or plants are moving, you will need to shoot at a faster speed or they will end up being blurry. Be sure to take shots with a variety of shutter speeds, believe me you'll be happy you did.  Also for more advanced post production you can overlay two images; one using a fast shutter speed with the tree leaves sharp and one slow shutter speed for waterfalls to appear in slow motion.   If you have the sky in your composition, you most likely will need a ND Filter (covered in my last mail newsletter) in order to bring down the exposure of the sky.  A polarized filter also works well with a waterfalls in order to reduce any hot spots from the sun on the water.  Finally, bring a lens cloth to wipe off your lens and filters as shooting as waterfalls are notorious for putting water spots on your images.

Most importantly, enjoy the fun and challenge of achieving photographic excellence in different situations and conditions! 


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