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How To Photograph Stunning Autumn Color


You should look to use a short telephoto lens (70-200mm or even 100-400mm) to isolate patterns of autumn color, interconnected shapes, and textures within the larger landscape. A forest of trees, colorful or not, can be a confusing maze of visual chaos. But by isolating smaller vignettes with a telephoto lens, you can help bring some order to that chaos.

Telephoto isolation in landscape photography is the fine art of exclusion, stripping away any extraneous visual elements to reveal only the most essential and important parts of the scene. This is particularly true when shooting autumn color.

In the example above with a focal length of 85mm, I reveal to the viewer only a small section of a larger waterfall and scene, splitting the image into three equal sections: the autumn color, the falling water, and the distinctive glacial blue of the river.

Some short telephoto lenses to consider (links to Amazon):

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens

The Ultimate Guide To Prism Photography


Photography is an art that requires getting in touch with our creativity. It requires trying new things so you can step up your game.

The use of prisms as accessories to add color and effects to your photos could elevate the artistic dimension of your photographs to a whole new level.

Moving with different angles and wavelengths will give each capture its uniqueness and individuality.

Photography could be a way to bring out the artist in you. Photographers express themselves through their photographs.

Image Source: Canva Images

It also requires your creative mind and imagination, but it should also include your heart. It is not just about how you point the front of your camera to a subject, but it should also convey a message that you want to send.

May it be a piece of broken glass, clear water, or anything transparent as long as it can bend a ray of light and disperse rainbows on your subject.

Using prisms is a fun way to add that dreamy, magical touch to your portraits without the use of Photoshop and other photo editing apps.

Image Source: Canva Images

What Is Prism Photography? 

A photography prism is a geometric object with two congruent faces, and the sides are parallelograms. It separates the light that passes through it into different colorful spectrums. Together with fairy lights and crystal balls, prism is another fun addition to a photographer’s toolbelt. 

Prism Photography uses rainbow effects on photographs using a source of light and a prism or anything that refracts light. The prism acts as a filter and can wield light before it reaches the lens of the camera that will result in a psychedelic abstract flair of the photo.

The best part of this kind of photography is that you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to produce prism results. You can use a simple digital camera or smartphone plus your creativity and imagination to achieve photography prism effects.

Image Source: Canva Images

Ways to Use Prism Photography

There are a lot of ways where you can use a prism for your photoshoot. But this will only work with the proper camera setup. Setting it to aperture priority will give you more controlled and predictable results. 

Try a wider aperture, then remove your lens hood so the prism could be closer to the lens and out of focus to give more attention to the subject. Go on and twist or turn the prism while playing with the camera setting and have fun with the shots. 

Using a shadow depth of field kind of lens is advisable in photography prisms. It lets a more significant amount of light enters the camera and can blur out the background and the foreground of the image and enhance the prism effect.

Find a good light source and attempt several angles to capture it with the prism and allow your creative juices to flow. Find a solid main point or a focal point and find a way to enhance it by adjusting the lighting or blurring the background using the prism tool.

Image Source: Canva Images

Follow the rule of thirds to keep your subject in focus and get a better balance between the effect, the subject, and the background. Try using a 50mm focal lens or longer for portraits as it reflects the prism off and highlights the features of the subject.

Then you can easily manipulate the distance of your lens with the prism, the subject, and the light source. Building a solid composition by preparing the correct lenses to use is essential in prism photography. 

How To Use a Prism For Creative Photography

Creative photography is only one of the categories of photography. It includes photo editing to create a specific mood or cater to a theme. A photographer becomes a true artist by throwing in ideas and techniques that separate his work from the ordinary. Finding a different approach to how each photo is taken is important for personal branding and originality.

How do you use a prism for creative photography?

Example of a natural prism or rainbow droplet

Some photographic artistry is shown through shadow play. It is a contrasting use of the light and shadow elements to convey a story through silhouettes. 

Others use an old photography technique called double exposure that is easily accomplished by using a digital camera. Force perspective is another typical style of photography that uses illusions altering view perspectives creating more extensive and smaller scales of the subjects. 

You can never go wrong with prism photography. Whether you are an artist or a non-artist, you can improve your prism photography techniques through constant practice and patience. Do not be discouraged if you did not achieve your desired effect the first time. Do more trial and error and learn along the way.

Among these styles, prism photography has made its way on the list of most used techniques to add depth and structure to photography. Placing rainbows and splashes of color on images became a trend on social media. 

You don’t have to buy those expensive fractal filters to have this effect; you can try a glass prism. Broken colored glass or a piece of crystal from a chandelier that you have lying around will do the job!

Image Source: Canva Images

How is it done:


The gear used for prism photography could be any camera, but ideally, those with interchangeable lenses on manual mode are the best ones to use. 

Prism in Front of the Lens

Hold your preferred light bending objects or prisms in front of the lens and move it to achieve your desired outcome or how you want it on the frame. Catch creative effects through the process of trial and error using a different prism in front of your lens with the same background. 


The positions of the prism matter; whether you use the edges or the flat side of the optics create different lighting on the image. Discover how you can do a reflection for the prism effect. You can double image, distortions, or light leaks just by moving or twisting it around. 

Image Source: Canva Images

Use Tripod

Using one hand to hold the camera and another to position the prism could be difficult and tiring. A tripod could come in handy to keep the camera fixed, freeing both your hands to easily manipulate the prism to more movements. 

Camera Settings Used in Prism Photography (The Lens, Shutter Speed, And More)

To capture the best effect of the photo, using a wide aperture prime lens, preferably 50 to 80 mm, will give you that blended transition from the prism to the rest of the image.

Set your camera to a smaller aperture at around f/1.8 to f/3.5 to achieve a smoother prism effect

Never use prism autofocus with multiple points; instead, use autofocus with a single point to prevent the camera’s confusion and keep the subject clear and sharp. 

Decrease ISO settings, especially outdoor shots, to prevent the noise or the grainy veil and random pixels in your photographs. Adjusting the ISO could save your image from unwanted over-exposure with dull areas and ugly discolorations. 

Set your shutter speed to 1/250 of a second or faster to prevent blurring caused by moving subjects in the frame.

When using a crop-sensor camera, always be mindful of the crop factor and set your camera to 1/(2x focal length) to get the additional reach gain from the sensor multiplier. 

Start by using the simplest triangle-shaped prism and experiment with the camera setting and positioning to learn how prism effects work. 

Image Source: Canva Images

Different Ways to Achieve Prism For Photography

After setting up your camera, keep a lens cloth nearby and try to wipe down your prisms once in a while if you don’t want your finger marks to ruin the shots. Using the most basic triangular prisms for photography will give you a grasp of how prism is done. 


Focusing on your subject through autofocus then quickly switching it to manual mode will keep the subject sharp and prevent the camera from lashing around and focusing on the prism. Monitor the effect on the camera screen, change the prism position, adjust with the light source, and hit the snap button when you’re happy with the result. 

Rainbow Effect

To get the rainbow effect on your photographs, try angling the prism’s edges towards the camera. Spin the prism around to accomplish distortions and wait until it casts a rainbow on the subject. 

Image Source: Canva Images

Place The Prism In The Corner

Placing the prism at the corner of the lens or off-center and twisting it will give more light into the frame to highlight the subject. Make sure the prism does not cover most parts of the screen. This effect requires more control over the prism since overdoing it can either burn the subject or can result in overexposure. 

In Case The Background Is Not Pretty

When the subject is beautiful, but the background is dull and uninviting, you could use the rainbow or the blurring effect of the prism to hide it. Brighten it out with the extra lighting or reflection to bring the focus upon the main subject. Best played with portraits. 

Image from u/shotbygc in Reddit

The Kaleidoscope Effect

Achieving the kaleidoscope effect is the most challenging. It will require a tripod to fix the camera steadily and easily manipulate the prism. Let one of the prisms flat bases face the lens covering most of it as much as possible and find something interesting to shoot. Move the prism ever so slightly and slowly to see the illusion you want. 

How To Use A Prism To Make Creative Photo Effects

We are always looking for that wow factor with the images that we took. We can not usually achieve this by just pointing to the camera and taking a picture. Here are some insane photography tips on how to use a prism:

Create interesting light trails with your prism using the extended exposure technique. Stabilize your camera with the prism lens using a tripod and slow the shutter speed depending on the availability of light and the effect you want. Use a prism with light trails to create bokeh light trails and fading effects.

Image Source: Canva Images

Try a motion blur with a prism. The result may be abstractly unpredictable but creative. Choose a landscape subject with vertical objects such as trees, flagpoles, and the like. Take a photo of the image and hit the shutter release while moving the camera repeatedly. 

Use your camera’s burst mode to capture moments in motion with a rainbow prism effect. Set the camera to a continuous frame and take a photo but do not release the shutter button. 

The bokeh technique doesn’t always have to be little circles. Cut out the desired shape from cardboard and trim around it to the size of your lens. Then set it to a wide aperture and take a photo of an area with lots of lights. 

Take a shot of a levitation portrait with rainbow flairs in the background. Have your subject jump and take a photo when he/she is mid-air. You could also use the burst mode to capture the perfect moment.

Image Source: Canva Images

What is Fractal Prism For Photography?

Fractal filters are creative tools in photography sold in sets of 3 made of glass and could mimic prism distortions. Each filter has three holes where you can put your finger in for easier grip and is designed with unique properties that create regular prism effects.

These filters are a bit pricey when bought online, but they are more convenient to use than holding a prism in front of the lens. These camera filters are hand-held prism glasses used as camera accessories for wedding photos, portraits, or creative shoots.

It is another innovation in the photo industry after prism photography was discovered. Well-known photographers, as well as videographers, use Fractal lenses to heighten their creativity during photoshoots. 

The fractal lens kit has three different filters: Pascal, Penrose, and the Julia Filter. These filters are responsible for the kaleidoscope, bokeh, and double exposure effect of your prism photos. 

Image Source: Canva Images

Kaleidoscope Effect Prism For Photography

It creates an optical illusion that multiplies an image repetitively by reflecting surfaces from mirrors placed at equal angles. The patterns created are regularly symmetrical and could be easily achievable when using fractal filters. Best used with a wide-angle lens to cancel out the outer edges of the image.

Image Source: Canva Images

The Bokeh Effect Using A Prism

It is another unique technique in photography prism that is also achievable by using fractal lenses. It is the blurring of the background to make the main subject pop out. Blurring out the background with colored lights will give you that magical photo with colorful circles floating around.

Image Source: Canva Images

Double Exposure Effect Using A Prism

Fractal filters could also give you this effect where the image’s corners are lighted up. It is the combination of two exposures that shows in one image. 

How to Use The Fractal Filters in Photography Prism

Choosing the right camera and lens to use is essential to obtain perfect shots when using fractal lenses in photography. A 40mm to 100mm focal camera lens is the best choice; setting the aperture to f4 compliments these filters’ effect well. 

The next step is choosing amongst the three filters which suit best to your desired theme. This depends on the effect that you want to see on your final image. It can be the kaleidoscope, the rainbow, overexposure, or bokeh. 

Image Source: Canva Images

Every photo will come out unique. Repeating an effect on an image can be really challenging, so make every shot count. Try adjusting your focus so the main subject should be at the center of the filter and not the background, 

Framing your photo correctly and not including the edges of the fractal filters to have a smooth transition from the filter effect to the main subject.

Decide on the subject you want to take a photograph of. Position the camera and the filter on your desired angle to that subject. May it be a portrait or a landscape, try looking into both lenses and make sure both are lined up properly. Or not! Depending on your artistic preferences. 

The reason why these lenses are not designed to be attached to the camera lens is to give the user the freedom to be able to move it to different angles. Changing the angles dramatically affects the image of the shot. 

Finally, preview the images you took and try to manipulate the filters more to get better results and enjoy the process while you’re at it!

Image Source: Canva Images

Final Thoughts 

Experienced or inexperienced, taking a photograph could be pretty straightforward. But it takes practice and continuous learning to get the best quality photographs and captured moments. From deciding on what subject to shoot to or adjusting the camera setting, every element is essential in taking the best picture. 

The world of photography is a very competitive field that you have to step up your game to add style and identity to your photographs. Prism photography is a smart way to incorporate creativity into your images. It allows you to create distortions and dreamy rainbow reflections to add flare and upgrade your prism photos to another level. 

It would take a while to master the technique with a bit of trial and error, but the process is worth a try, and the results are unimaginable. Prism photography is an opportunity to bring out the artist in you with your creativity and imagination as the limit.

Lightroom Bundle Presets

Photographing the Patterns of Nature


When you’re out in the wild world photographing nature, you’re going to see some rather extraordinary things. Whether it’s witnessing polar bears sparring on the tundra or a tiger slowly slinking out of a waterway, the big stuff tends to get us to drop everything and focus on the spectacle at hand.

But then there are other times that we, as nature photographers, must retrain our brains to see photographic opportunities a little differently.

Today, I’d like to key you into the many patterns of nature that surround us no matter where in the world we’re photographing nature.

The trick is that these photo opportunities are often rather unassuming, and they may not pop out to you due to size, location, or just being generally “unimpressive” as you saunter by on a trail or become distracted by a more majestic view elsewhere.

I often refer to these as “desktop background” style photos, as they remind me of the options you have to use on your computer of phone screen background.  They are usually rather simple, yet intriguing…ornate, yet structured.

Let me start off by giving a few examples, and then we’ll get into my go-to settings for how to capture scenes like these.

Urchin spines and tiny sea shells make up the sand on a galapagos beach

Beaches around the world provide a fantastic canvas for photographing the patterns of nature. They are often filled with numerous, small subjects that when put together form a very intriguing mosaic.  Above, the “sand” of a beach in the Galapagos Islands showcases how very different sand can be around the world.  Small, yet perfectly formed sea shells and urchin spines fill the frame and provide a unique pattern and texture.

a highly textured mountain fills the frame from a range in Antarctica

Sometimes bigger is better.  In the above example, I’m using the rocky face of a mountain in Antarctica to showcase textures and patterns of nature.  The unique thing here is that it’s always VERY tempting to compose your shot using the whole scene—especially if in front of a spectacular mountain in Antarctica.  However, a classic technique is to break the scene into smaller components.  This is an extreme example of this, and I’m just using the lines of the rocks, snow, and shadows to create a bit of an impressionist scene.

Photo opportunities like these often arise in mountainous landscapes, forests, with individual trees, and even canyons and deserts like below.

bright angel canyon cuts across the image

Perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, I’m tempted to take in the entire scene for every photo.  After all, it is the Grand Canyon, and it’s spectacular!  However, I’m using lots of telephoto power here to zoom way into the scene and really focus on just a small, small fraction.  Here I’m using the patterns of repetitive side canyons, the layers of sedimentary rock, and the strong bisector going diagonally down the middle (bright angle canyon) to create a patterned photo that is simple and complex all at the same time.

raindrops cover a large leaf from a rain forest in costa rica

Getting back to “the small stuff” here, water droplets can provide for another example where the simple pattern exhibited can be rather fascinating when they fill the frame in this edge-to-edge composition.  The uniform pattern and color of the leaf underlies the uniform pattern and texture of the water droplets.  This is a great thing to keep an eye out for when photographing in rain forests of the world.

a highly textured and colorful photo of chameleon skin

In a similar “droplet” style, the patterned texture of reptile skin can be extraordinary to photograph in this edge-to-edge style of composition. While here a harmless chameleon lets me get up close, it goes without saying that some reptiles aren’t as cooperative, and some of the serpent variety shouldn’t be approached at close range unless with a guide.

Nevertheless, this illustrates the point perfectly that we often get distracted by the full spectacle at hand, in this case a stunning male panther chameleon, that we must train our brain to think outside the box and seek such edge-to-edge patterns to really increase the depth of our photographic range and portfolio.

a forest of space trees fill the frame from edge to edge

And as a final example, trees and forests are an exquisite place to practice finding and capitalizing on repetitive patterns in nature.  Here the tree trunks provide the lion’s share of such texture and patterns, but the ferns and other undergrowth below could easily have taken that role had I chosen to compose the photo differently.  The choice is yours, and now you know what to look out for!

What camera settings work best?

This is obviously subjective, as most photography can be.  However, my personal favorite “go-to” settings are those that maximize for a very wide depth of field.  That is, I’m trying to get as much in tack sharp focus as possible…most of the time (a notable example of the contrary with the above water droplet shot).

Thus, I’m getting my camera set up at an f/8 or f/11 for starters.  This usually means that I will need a slower shutter speed and/or a higher ISO to balance out the small aperture opening an f/11 equates to.  But the great thing about most patterns and textures is that when photographed, noise or grain from a high ISO seems to be only a minimal issue.  Noise and grain tend to be most visible and obvious when there is a lot of negative space, like dark skies and such.

In addition to a camera setting that will ensure a wide depth of field, you can position yourself and your camera in a way that most elements of the scene are perpendicular to your camera.  That is, trying to ensure that most of the scene is located at equal distances to your lens will give your depth of field an extra kick.  This isn’t always possible in nature, but for general travel photography, I’m often able to orient myself and my camera to do just this—especially in one of my favorite travel pasttimes…market photography!

durian fruit is layered in a market in borneo

By squaring myself up so that I am very centered on my subject (or subjects), I maximize focus for as much of my scene as possible.

In some cases, I will aim to do the opposite, where I will purposefully shoot at a shallow depth of field, like an f/4 or f/2.8, and orient myself at an angle so that I am taking just “a slice” of focus.  Again, this is very situational, and as you’re learning these techniques it’s valuable to try all techniques until you find your vibe.

Composition is King

A cornerstone to the success of these photos, in my opinion, is being very deliberate about composition.  What I believe packs the most punch and gives these pattern-style shots their “desktop background” look is to compose your photos with a fill-the-frame or edge-to-edge mentality.  That is, you are having the scene really extend beyond the borders of your frame, making that which is in the frame all the more grandiose.

Take a look at the above examples and you’ll notice that none have open space on the sides or blank margins.  They all extend edge to edge with the patterns at hand.

the colors of trees in the right light makes for a beautiful late fall winter scene

As with most photography, starting with basic rules of composition is a great idea.  Think about how you can use the rule-of-thirds or the phi grid or the fibonacci spiral in your composition.  Or see if there are any leading lines you can incorporate.

However, what you’ll quickly notice, is that with the big patterns you’re capturing, composition is actually a tad less important than with photos which have lots of negative space, or big wildlife where you need to pay attention to multiple components of the scene.  The beauty of patterns is that it really is just one big component, repeated over and over.  Thus, composition can be much more subtle and less rigid.

And there you have it!  Maybe not a revolutionary type of photography, but nevertheless one that is rewarding and captivating.  Perhaps the biggest benefit is encouraging you, the photographer, to always look a little deeper to see what others may be missing.


Court Whelan Signature


Nevada Desert


March 12th, I head to Nevada for photograph the desert environments.  I am greatly looking forward to this adventure.  I have never been to the place I am going so I am challenging myself!  A good two weeks I will be gone so check back in early April!

Well, I am back and had a wonderful trip with a friend!.  Lots of great images and several more will be coming soon.  It was a great adventure and more adventures are planned.  Stay tuned…..

Get better landscapes with LandscapePro – and save big


Improve your landscape shots with the LandscapePro Summer Sale, and get an extra 15% discount!

In partnership with Anthropics Software

Here’s a great chance to save big on the multi-award winning LandscapePro, now powered by AI.

Fast and easy to use, LandscapePro gives you enhanced pro style-finished landscapes in just a few clicks.

Starting from £30, you can already get 50% off downloaded version in the summer sale, and thanks to our special offer you can save an extra 15% on all versions and upgrades with the code APJL – click here to find out more about LandscapePro and get your discount.

This discount code also works for PortraitPro v21.

LandscapePro in action – landscape photographer David Kilpatrick explains how to get the most from this invaluable tool

Stock photographers have been combining shots to get a more dramatic sky ever since there was a demand for attractive images.

The rock pinnacle and stone boat landing in the image below are in a small bay called Pettico Wick at the National Trust for Scotland’s St Abb’s Head Nature Reserve on the Berwickshire coast. The stone boat jetty points almost at the rock, and the two align with the setting sun at different heights from mid-May to the end of July.

Pettico Wick ISO 500

Sunset prediction and tide tables helped decide the timing of this shot. You can see from the unedited version above (no post-processing) that there is indeed a sunset behind the rock, but it’s behind the clouds and without any real colour. The jetty looks better after it’s been got wet by the tide, but was dry with tide coming in not going out.

Adding in a different sky from the LandscapePro built-in library made the scene look like it might have been without the clouds covering the sun. The water enhancement in the program (used as a plug-in to Photoshop and perfectly able to handle a 60Mp image) created an effect which would be difficult to achieve, though the effects on rocks and jetty would have been easy.

The result took half an hour with previewing different sky choices and levels of effect, but the actual processes only took a few minutes.

Pettico Wick image in LandscapePro

The screen shot below shows the different coloured multiple masks which LandscapePro uses after you define the elements of the image. This state can not be saved and returned to – it’s a process you must start and complete in one session. It can also be done standalone, without Photoshop.

Masked image

The final LandscapePro image of Pettico Wick

The second example below shows the Waverley Line train from Tweedbank to Edinburgh with the Eildon Hills beyond. Although it was bright, the sun didn’t match the train’s arrival in shot, and the sky over the hills was too white with poor clouds.

Trainscape before

In this case, another picture taken at the same time with better sky and clouds was used, while the trees were also enhanced. The end result (below) is ideal for stock image sales. It’s important to match the sky colour to the scene and raw processing or camera profiles can have a big effect on this (compare Adobe Neutral to Adobe Landscape to see how great).

Trainscape after

To find out more about Landscape Pro and use the code APJL to get your exclusive discount, click here.

Further reading

Creative Landscape Composition

Tips for winning landscape photography

Used Gear For Sale — A CREATIVE ADVENTURE photography by denise ippolito


Selling Your Used Photo Gear On My Site

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through my site. I am offering this service free of charge to my clients and blog followers. Please put the words USED GEAR in the subject line.

Send only (in the order below) and include the following information in your email–Do not include pictures in your email. Please do not send a PDF file or Word file, just place the text directly in an email, thank you. Email me HERE.

Make & Model # of Item you would like to sell

Items included with the sale

Price you are asking

Condition of gear, please rate your gear as follows. (poor, fair, good, excellent or mint)

Your name

Your phone number & email address

*If you unfairly rate your gear or mislead any buyers in any way you will not be allowed to list anymore gear on my site, so please be as truthful as possible, thank you.

* I am not in a position to post images of your gear for sale on my site. All prospective buyers are encouraged to request photos of the gear from the seller via email.  This will help avoid any misunderstandings as to the condition of the gear.

* A Creative Adventure assumes no responsibility for misleading, inaccurate or damaged items that may occur during the sale process. As always you are buying items on the internet and I cannot vouch for anyone or their used gear.


Canon EF500/4L IS II USM
Included: Lens, lens hood, sturdy case 500B, keys for case, padded strap on case, 2 footers, strap for lens itself, original registration card, and original rear lens cap. Pictures available.
Price: $7000 (including insured shipping)
Condition is excellent. Used 1-2 times a year.
Sharon Gray [email protected] 267-312-6300

Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 Lens

In Excellent Condition

Sale includes: Fabric Case and Lens Hood, UV and Circular Polarizer filters, LensCoat Travel Coat Lens Cover (Realtree Max4), Wimberly P50 Quick Release Plate 

Asking $3990.

Contact: Dee Langevin (302) 376-7654 [email protected]

Canon EF 800mm F/5.6L IS USM Lens
$8400 shipped and insured
Brand new condition, Mint. Less than 500 shutter count. Original case and shipping box.
Pete Weigley
732 232-9952 cell, text
[email protected]

Canon EOS 1D-X Body

OEM Canon battery, Battery Charger, Canon manuals, US Warranty card, software, neck strap, and cables, and all original packaging, Really Right Stuff L-Bracket, 2 SanDisk Extreme CF Cards

EXCELLENT/MINT Condition and well maintained. It has been regularly cleaned & calibrated at CPS.

Rich LaBella
631-942-2113, [email protected]

Canon 1DX

1 battery, charger, strap instruction book, original box, warranty card, all cables and ( 2) 32 gig cards

Mint condition w/4000 actuations

Asking Price $2100usd
John Nelson -call 516 477 3784 or email [email protected]

Canon 1d mark4

asking $1000

original box, 1 battery, 1 charger, book, all software discs & cords warranty card, 4 – 32 gig cards in mint cond.( less than 10,000 shutter activation).

John Nelson 5164773784

email – [email protected] aol.com

Canon EF 600 mm f/4 IS II USM
Includes: original case and all original components of the purchase, Wimberly P50 mounting bracket, Camouflage LensCoat
Asking price $8500
Excellent condition (small scratch on the lens hood, otherwise like new)
Sam Rozenberg 248-514-1600
email [email protected]

Induro BHD2 Ball Head

Original box, Soft pouch

$145 (brand new cost: $199 +tax)

Excellent 9+ shows little to no signs of wear. 

Insured shipping via Fed-Ex or UPS ground in the continental US included after check clears

Dan Ion- 516 581-1186   [email protected] (preferred)

Nikon TC-14EII AF-S Teleconverter

Compatible with AF-S and AF-I NIKKOR lenses except AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED, 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED, VR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED and DX NIKKOR lenses.

included in the sale: original box, manual, front and rear cap

Asking price: $250

Mint condition

Mary Louise Ravese

(919) 307-9054 [email protected]

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark 11
Mint condition, hardly used.
Body only with caps, electronic flash, cable clip, lithium-ion battery and charger, strap and box included.

Barbara Vietzke (email) [email protected]
203 745-5275- asking $700.00

Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens USA
Excellent condition.
Includes: lens hood, front and back lens caps, tripod collar, case and original box.
Asking Price: $699
Contact: Dave Eckmann 651-315-1838 e-mail

Canon EF 600 mm f/4 IS II USM
Sale includes: Hard case, lens hood, front and rear lens caps, Really Right Stuff LCF 53 Lens Foot, Canon PL-C 52WII 52 mm drop-in circular polarizing filter (new), Canon 52 mm drop-in filter holder with a B+W 52 mm 0.9 MRC nano ND filter (new), and Think Tank Hydrophobia Rain Cover 300-600 V2 (black) with eyepiece for Canon 5D MK IV
Asking Price: $9,600.00
Excellent Condition – used less than 5 times in the field
Jason Weingart- 330-327-3231 e-mail(preferred)
Insured shipping via Fed-Ex or UPS ground in the continental US included after check clears

Canon EF 85 mm f1.2L II USM
Sale includes: Front and rear lens caps, lens hood, Canon soft case, original box
Asking Price: $1400.00
Mint condition – used once
Jason Weingart- 330-327-3231
Insured shipping via Fed-Ex or UPS ground in the continental US included after check clears

Canon 16-35 mm f2.8L III USM
Sale includes: Front and rear lens caps, lens hood, Canon soft case, original box
Asking Price: $1400.00
Excellent Condition
Jason Weingart- 330-327-3231
Insured shipping via Fed-Ex or UPS ground in the continental US included after check clears

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4 L IS USM
Sale includes: Front and rear lens caps, lens hood, original box
Asking Price: $750.00
Excellent Condition
Jason Weingart- 330-327-3231
Insured shipping via Fed-Ex or UPS ground in the continental US included after check clears

Canon EF 100 mm f2.8L MACRO IS
Sale includes: Front and rear lens caps, lens hood, original box
Asking Price: $650.00
Excellent Condition
Jason Weingart- 330-327-3231
Insured shipping via Fed-Ex or UPS ground in the continental US included after check clears

Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera Body
Sale includes: Really Right Stuff L-bracket, original box, camera strap, battery, battery charger, Front cap
Asking Price: $925.00
Excellent Condition – low shutter count
Jason Weingart- 330-327-3231
Insured shipping via Fed-Ex or UPS ground in the continental US included after check clears

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM telephoto lens. USA.
Includes original box, front and rear lens caps, Lens Case LZ1324 and Lens Hood ET-83C, Tripod Mount Ring B (W).
Asking price: $899.
Excellent condition. Lens has always been protected by a UV filter. Maintained regularly at Canon service facility. Very clean and sharp.
Insured shipping within continental U.S. included after check clears.
Joanne Collins

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Mint-condition
Comes with the hard case, both caps, lens hood, and the black lens hood
cover — plus the Lenscoat cover (~$99 value) that has been on the lens
since we got it.
Mint-condition. The lens hood does have a piece of tape on the inside, it keeps the lens hood from sliding, does not affect functionality. Contact me for more info if interested.
$3000 includes ground shipping within continental US
Tom Cuchara

Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 II
Items included – Original box, front & rear caps.
Asking 310.00
Condition is excellent – never used
Contact: Diana Rao

Tamron SP 70-300 F/4-5.6 Di VC USD
Items included – original box, front & rear caps
Asking 150.00
Contact: Diana Rao
Canon EOS 7D Mark ii DSLR Camera Body with Canon Battery Grip BG-E16
Includes camera strap, body cap, battery, battery charger, all software disks & manuals
Price $950
Excellent condition, not used since Canon performed clean and check on it. 21k shutter count
Canon EOS 7D Mark ii DSLR Camera Body with Kirk BL-7DII L Bracket
Includes camera strap, body cap, battery, battery charger, all software disks & manuals
Price $925
Excellent condition, not used since Canon performed clean and check on it. 9k shutter count
Ron Horn

Tamron A011 150-600mm f/5-6.3 for Nikon
Front and rear caps, original box and LensCoat type covering (camo)
Small white mark on the hood, lens and glass in excellent condition.
Asking $650 Payment by check, PayPal or Chase QuickPay
Lens will ship when check clears or EFT is confirmed
Contact: Robert Kaplan

Nikon D3s Camera Package
All Items offered for sale as a “Package Deal only, no items will be sold separately.”

1) Nikon D3s Camera – with original D3s Box. Camera is in excellent
condition with a total shutter count of less than 33,500.
2) Really Right Stuff L Bracket designed strictly for this camera.
(This bracket sells for $190.00 on the RRS website.)
3) Nikon Original Dual Battery Charger, capable of charging two
batteries simultaneously.
4) Single Battery Charger – for use when travelling
5) Two (2) Nikon D3s Batteries and One (1) Sony D3s Battery.
6) Original unused D3s Camera strap
7) Five Compact Flash Memory cards; three (3) 32 gigabyte and (2) 16
gigabyte capacity.
8) David Busch’s Book for the Nikon D3s/D3x cameras
Price: Asking $1600.00 for the complete package.
Photos of all items are available for viewing by interested parties.
Haig Hachadoorian
Home Tel: 516-829-8391
Cell Phone: 516-850-9000

Nikon D600 Body only
Sell $750.00
In the original box with front cap,battery charger,extra battery ,Nikon strap,manual.USN+B cable
Excellent. Nikon recalled the camera to fix the color cast problem.

Nikon D300 Body only
Sell $240.00 In the original box with front cap,nikon strap,battery charger,extra batteries,manual.
Fair condition.
Will furnish photos if requested.

Canon 7D Mark II
Sale includes: Front cap, strap and all booklets, Original box, battery and charger
Price: $925 excellent condition (lightly used) – low shutter count
Insured shipping after your check clears
Contact: Andrae Acerra

Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera USA
Like New Condition. Low shutter count. Original box, one battery, charger, body cap, cables, strap, manuals.
Asking price: $975.00
Contact: Pat Finelli
The sale includes insured shipping via either USPS or Fed Ex Ground in the Continental US
The camera will not ship until your check clears.

Tamron SP AF 180mm F/3.5 Di LD(IF) MACRO 1:1 (for Canon AF). 72mm filter, bayonet type
Like New Condition. Original box, front and rear caps, hood, case, strap, tripod collar
Asking price: $499
Contact: Pat Finelli
The sale includes insured shipping via either USPS or Fed Ex Ground in the Continental US
The lens will not ship until your check clears.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR Camera USA
Very good condition. Original box, 1 battery, charger, body cap, camera strap, cables, manual
Asking price: $1450
Contact: Pat Finelli
The sale includes insured shipping via either USPS or Fed Ex Ground in the Continental US
The camera will not ship until your check clears.

Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens USA
Very good condition. Original box, case, rear cap, front 77mm cap, tripod collar, lens hood ET-83C
Asking price: $899
Contact: Pat Finelli
The sale includes insured shipping via either USPS or Fed Ex Ground in the Continental US
The camera will not ship until your check clears.

Canon 1D Mark IV
Sale includes: manual, camera strap, one battery and charger
Condition: good condition
Asking: $1199.00
My phuong Nguyen

Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens
Sale Includes: case, rear cap, front 77mm cap, tripod collar, lens hood ET-83C
original box(not in the greatest condition)
Asking $800.00
Condition is good/excellent. Some very minor signs of use, but very clean
Contact: Glenn Wagner-732-814-7505

Canon 7D DSLR camera
front cap
battery and charger
Asking: $500 Canadian dollars
shutter count 66 441
great condition
Ilana Block

Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM
Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Front & Rear Caps, Lens Hood, TS-31 Tripod Collar
Case, Strap
like new, excellent condition
asking: $750 Canadian Dollars
Ilana Block

GoPro Hero4 Black
Never used, brand new condition
Included with the GoPro are the following:
— Wasabi Power USB LCH-DC-Head
— 2 Extra Batteries
— SanDisk Extreme Plus 64GB micro SD
— Tripod Mounts
Two new condition paperback books:
— “My GoPro Hero Camera” by Jason Rich
— GoPro Cameras for Dummies in full color by John Carucci
I would like $375
Jean Farnum
603-772-3212 – please leave message

Getting the Most Out of a Regional Field Event – NANPA®


Participants at NANPA's Regional Field Event in Michigan's Upper Peninsula line up to photograph fall foliage. © Tom Haxby
Participants at a previous NANPA Regional Field Event in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. © Tom Haxby

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

One of the top-rated NANPA member benefits is the opportunity to participate in NANPA Regional Field Events. Each year, professional nature photographers, workshop leaders, and educators plan, organize, and lead field workshops in beautiful places at very modest costs. But what are Regional Field Events like? What should you expect? Why are they so popular? We asked several of the pros leading upcoming trips for their thoughts.

What makes a Regional Field Event unique?

Ron Gaskins, who is co-leading the Outer Banks Regional Field Event with Amanda Haddox, April 7-10, 2022, says they are unique “because they allow photographers to come and explore new and unfamiliar locations, whether it is on the coast, in the mountains, or in the desert, with professional guides who are familiar with the area and can lead them to where great photographic opportunities await. The work of scouting, mapping, finding the best locations, and times of day to visit have all been done for you.”

Cameras and camaraderie

“What makes our event a once-in-a-lifetime experience is that the people who attend our outings usually have similar photographic interests,” says Ron. “Through these commonalities and group interactions we foster an atmosphere that encourages photographers not only to explore the area but to challenge themselves, technically and creatively by knowledge sharing, trying new techniques, using different settings to create impact, and sharing each other’s unique perspective on a location and its subject matter. Tips, tricks, ideas are only a few things you will take away from this trip, but we’ve been told the best thing about our outings are the lasting friendships that have developed between photographers while out in the field.”

Cathy Illg, co-leader of the the Bosque del Apache Regional Field Event, December 5-8, 2021, agrees. “What makes it unique or special, well, it’s usually the people who do that. The camaraderie and being able to share info and techniques can be invaluable.”

Sandhill cranes landing at sunset. Bosque Del Apache NWR, New Mexico © Cathy Illg
Sandhill cranes landing at sunset. Bosque Del Apache NWR, New Mexico © Cathy Illg

Astonishing sights

Take Bosque del Apache, for example. If you’re a wildlife photographer, you’re sure to have heard of this National Wildlife Refuge, known for the thousands of sandhill cranes and other birds that overwinter there. Cathy Illg says that she and her husband, Gordon, “have had more images from Bosque awarded in major photo contests than from any other destination, including three in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.” As Maresa Pryor-Luzier, the other co-leader puts it, “Witnessing thousands of waterfowl and cranes flying and feeding is an astonishing sight.”

In the Tucson Regional Field Event, March 30-April 2, 2022, you’ll be seeing “a diverse and unique combination of habitats, vegetation, and animal life that cannot be found elsewhere in the United States,” as co-leader Dan Weisz describes it. “Where else can you find the iconic saguaro cactus and the combination of the character of the Sonoran Desert nestled among “Sky Island” mountains that rise up to 9,000 feet in elevation. This Regional Field Event will explore the area where the subtropical Sierra Madres of Mexico meet the temperate Rocky Mountains of the US creating a very unique biological mix. We are eager to find out what participants wish to know and learn about our area and look forward to sharing its beauty with everyone.”

Another “astonishing sight” is grebes rushing. Even if you don’t know what that term means, you’ve probably seen photos. It’s a stunning sight that happens when a pair of grebes “lunge forward with their bodies completely out of the water, as they rush across the water, side by side, with their necks curved gracefully forward. It’s thrilling to watch, and even more thrilling to photograph,” says “Grebe Whisperer” Krisztina Scheeff, co-leader of the Southern California Regional Field Event, February 3-6, 2022. You’ll also see brown pelicans, sea lions and pups, landscapes, and seascapes as you explore the San Diego area. And who wouldn’t want to be in Southern California in the middle of winter?

Western and Clark's Grebes Rushing © Krisztina Scheeff
Western and Clark’s Grebes Rushing © Krisztina Scheeff

Experience and expertise

Scheeff is well known for her knowledge and photographs of rushing grebes. Known as “the Grebe Whisperer,” she really knows the area and the behavior of the animals there. Check out her interview on NANPA’s The Nature Photographer on the Wild and Exposed podcast. She’s joined by David Hekel, (aka Ranger Dave), Senior Park Ranger for the San Dieguito River Park, nature photographer, tour guide, and an expert on grebes.

Steve Vaughan is an experienced naturalist and professional photographer who has been visiting southern Arizona for more than 30 years. Dan Weisz, a native of Tucson with years of experience with the natural history in the area is also an accomplished photographer. Then are both intimately familiar with the current conditions and how to best utilize them for the photography.

Now a resident of New Mexico, Maresa Pryor-Luzier is a pro with many years of experience who leads private tours photographing birds. Cathy Illg has been a full-time pro since 2000 and has been photographing at Bosque for more than three decades.

Ron Gaskins and Amanda Haddox each own their own photography businesses in West Virginia. They’re both experienced workshop leaders. Haddox enjoys photographing lighthouses along the coasts and Great Lakes. Gaskins has documented events, but is known for his wildlife photography.

Photo of a momma black bear standing in a field, looking down at her two cubs. Mom and two cubs © Amanda Haddox
Mom and two cubs © Amanda Haddox

What you bring and what you get

What do you need to do, as an attendee, to get the most out of your experience?

Regional Field Event leaders are experienced photographers and tour guides, but they’re not clairvoyant. It helps them and you if you know what you hope to get out of the experience. So, come with some clear goals in mind and some questions you want answered.

Cathy Illg says that “it helps to be familiar with your gear, and always bring your manual. The things that will help attendees get the most from the Regional Field Event tend to be different for each individual. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions, and let us know what you’re hoping to get out of this experience. We’re happy to critique participants’ work after the event if that is something they’re interested in. Be prepared to see old friends, make new ones and have fun!”

“Come with comfortable clothing and hiking boots,” says Steve Vaughan. It is the desert, so “bring water bottles and snacks for each outing. Be as familiar as possible with your gear and bring your equipment manuals so we can trouble shoot any problems. Bring all your questions, but feel free to email us ahead of time with any specific questions you might have so we can be prepared to answer them. If we don’t have the answers, we will find them for you.”

When you’re there, “prepare the night before for the following days activities so you don’t have to rush the day of photography. Be sure your equipment is functioning properly and batteries are charged before you arrive. Most importantly arrive on time!! Be prepared to make some outstanding photographs and more importantly be prepared to have an exceptional experience.”  

Ron Gatkins advises spending some time with your gear before heading to the workshop. Go out shooting near home to make sure everything works and you are “familiar with your camera and how to change its settings (mode, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) to avoid being frustrated when you are out in the field. If you plan on renting or buying a new camera for this trip, if you have found yourself to be ‘settings challenged,’ or have questions regarding your gear, please bring the instruction manual for your equipment.

“Most importantly,” he continues, “bring your curiosity, a sense of adventure, an open mind and leave all your preconceived notions behind! Be flexible. In the Outer Banks, for example, it is common to get quick moving weather fronts and other unexpected opportunities might arise that may require a quick change in the schedule. Embrace the change and be prepared to make the most of those moments and you can come away with some once in a lifetime images. Look for opportunities to try new things.”

What you get out of one of NANPA’s Regional Field Events is proportional to what you put in.  Gaskins gets the last word. “Share your knowledge and your insight with your fellow photographers. Join us for round table meals, this is an excellent opportunity to socialize, ask questions, find solutions to problems encountered or just discuss the day’s experiences. Never be afraid to grab one of the instructors if you have a question, need equipment help, or ideas for compositions. We are there to help YOU make the most of your time with us!”

The first and most important step, though, is to sign up and secure your spot. NANPA’s Regional Field Events have a tendency to fill up quickly, so don’t put it off!

Two female members in the field looking at images

Landscape Photography Tips for capturing Dramatic Sunbeams


Sunbeams captured with landscape photography makes for dramatic photos. I’m guessing that we’ve all had those moments when we’ve been awe-struck by sunbeams shining just perfectly through trees, clouds, or other diffracting objects onto a desire photography composition. But… successfully capturing these sunbeams in our landscape photos is not an easy task. The phenomenon is rare, and the conditions must be just right in order to effectively pull in the beams in such a way that enhances our stunning landscape photos.


Master non-destructive workflow and special techniques used by pro photographers to create jaw dropping nature photos.

Maybe it’ll help to first understand how these sunbeams are created. They appear when sunlight passes through – and is scattered by – particles in the air. These particles can materialize from moisture, dust, sand, or even smoke. In addition, for a stunning effect, they are concentrated and backlit (front lit particles do not produce sunbeams). For example, a passing storm can be a perfect background for visible sunbeams due to its dark clouds. And, of course, storms are typically accompanied by moisture. A thick fog in forest is another ideal possibility for photogenic sunbeams.

To guide you with the challenge of capturing dramatic sunbeams and create awe-inspiring, sunbeam-laced photos, here are some landscape photography tips:

  • Learn to use exposure bracketing for landscape photography
  • Look for dark back drops to illuminate sun beams
  • Look for sunbeams in intimate landscape photography scene
  • Use reflections in landscape photography to enhance sunbeams
  • Always practice safety first when photographing sunbeams  in nature

Lets take a look at each of these landscape photography tip in more detail:

Learn to Use Exposure Bracketing

Because sunbeams occur when light passes through particles, almost all sunbeam images are backlit. Because of this, the scene you are trying to capture tends to have extreme dynamic range. In other words, very bright highlights and very dark shadows.

To capture the details in all parts of your subject’s dynamic extremes, you need to use multiple photos with different camera exposures. To accomplish this, we typically use our histogram to determine how much exposure bracketing is required. We then use the camera’s high speed bracketing mode to successfully capture the sunbeams.

Landscape photo captured using exposure bracketing at Ouzoud Falls - Azilal, Morocco by Varina Patel

Landscape photo captured using exposure bracketing at Ouzoud Falls – Azilal, Morocco

To capture the photo above, I set up my tripod overlooking Ouzoud Falls in Morocco. I then waited for the sun to creep over the horizon. The falls produced a fine, vaporous spray that scattered the morning sunlight, and the shadowed walls of the canyon provided a subtle backdrop. I used a narrow aperture (f/22) to produce a sun star for a little extra drama. I also used the camera’s high-speed bracketing mode and to capture multiple camera exposure 1.67 fstops apart.

Finally, I then combined these bracketed photos using Photoshop Layers & Masks to produce the dramatic photo of Ouzoud Falls that you see above.

Use a Dark Backdrop to Illuminate Sunbeams

Keep an eye out for bright beams that stand out against a darker background. Dark rocks, storm clouds, or mountains make perfect backdrops for these beautiful rays of sunlight.

Dark landscape photography backdrop illuminated the sunbeams in Glacier National Park, Montana by Varina Patel

Dark landscape photography backdrop illuminated the sunbeams in Glacier National Park – Montana

In the landscape photo above from Glacier National Park, the sunlight scattered as it passed through smoke from nearby fires and the humidity that had settled in the valley. This heavy, humid air created a perfect medium for sunbeams. Also, because it was late in the day, the light took on a gorgeous golden tone.

I used a wide-angle lens to capture the entire scene. To capture the broad range of light in the scene, I also needed to high speed exposure bracketing. I used a tripod to keep my camera in place between my camera exposures and a remote release to avoid shifting my camera or introducing camera shake.

Look for Sunbeams in Intimate Landscape Photography Scenes

Intimate landscape photography scenes are ideal when confined to small, enclosed natural environments. Some likely (and intimate) spots to capture sunbeams include both slot canyons and caves where you can often find dust particles floating in the air. If there’s no dust, feel free to toss up some sand or dirt instead to create your own floating particles.

Intimate landscape photography scene from Antelope Canyon, Arizona with sunbeams by Varina Patel

Intimate landscape photography scene from Antelope Canyon, Arizona with sunbeams

Antelope Canyon in Arizona is famous for landscape photography with its spectacular sunbeams. Unfortunately, these beams of light only show up when conditions are just right. The sun must be high in the sky to allow it to stream down through the overhanging canyon walls. This only occurs during the summer months and only in the middle of the day. So… no “golden hour” landscape photography here if you want to capture these beams!

Keep in mind, the air is very dry in the desert. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll have any available water vapor when trying to capture sunbeams. However, the floor of the canyon is covered with fine sand. For the photo above, I tossed handfuls of the sand into the air, and photographed the resulting sunbeams against the brilliant orange walls of the slot canyon. I angled my camera upward for a more abstract composition. This is certainly a great place to play with intimate landscape photography abstracts.

For landscape photos in this type of environment, exposure bracketing may not be necessary because it’s an enclosed area with an even tonal range. I suggest that you always check the histogram on back of your camera to ensure there are no blow highlights or clipped shadows.


Master non-destructive workflow and special techniques used by pro photographers to create jaw dropping nature photos.

Use Reflections in Landscape Photography to Enhance Sunbeams

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate a dramatic reflection to enhance landscape images. Smooth water and the reflections we can capture with it are certainly sought-after landscape photography elements. On a trip to Beauty Creek in Canada several years ago, we were treated to some perfect conditions for these sought-after elements.

Using reflections to enhance sunbeams at Beauty Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada by Jay Patel

Using reflections to enhance sunbeams at Beauty Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Throughout the day, storm clouds rolled through. With these conditions – the humidity and the heavy storm clouds – we hoped to get some vibrant sunbeams at sunset. Ideally, the scattered clouds allowed the sun to peek through just before it set.

We set up our tripods low to the ground at the edge of a little pond and waited. Sure enough, we got the sunbeams we were hoping for. On this particular day, there was no wind which resulted in perfectly still water. Not only were we able to capture landscape photos with the sunbeams, but the reflection on the still water greatly enhanced the overall appeal of this landscape photo.

Practice Safety First

When we’re out shooting, we try to remain fully aware of our surroundings at all times. We are always paying attention to the angle of the sun, the humidity in the air, and storm clouds that might produce interesting skies.

Remember that storms can roll in quickly, putting you and your equipment at risk. Make sure to follow all safety protocols when trying to capture sunbeams in stormy weather. No photo, no matter how spectacular, is worth risking your life.

Also keep in mind that rainbows sometimes appear in conditions that produce sunbeams. So, if you see a rainbow, be sure to turn around and look for sunbeams – along with other dramatic colors that many appear in the sky!

  • Rainbow during stormy weather in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    Rainbow during stormy weather in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

  • Landscape photography during passing storms, Beauty Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta by Varina Patel

    Landscape photography during passing storms, Beauty Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta

It is not easy to find sunbeams in nature. And when you do, it’s also not easy to successfully capture them. That’s what makes landscape photography with dramatic sunbeams so compelling – and so challenging!

To catch the sunbeams, look for passing storms, mist created by waterfalls, or foggy areas in the forest. Once you find yourself staring at a breathtaking scene with sunbeams, be sure to capture the entire dynamic range using exposure bracketing. And… keep an eye on the weather at all times.

A little awareness of what’s happening with the weather can help you put yourself in the right place at the right time to capture something inspiring. Good luck and have fun!

About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.

More Monsoon Magic | Eloquent Images by Gary Hart


Gary Hart Photography: Lightning V, Grand Canyon

Lightning V, Grand Canyon
Sony a7RIV
Sony 24-105 G
1/10 second
ISO 160

Greetings from the Grand Canyon. It’s pretty hard to post a blog in the middle of a workshop, and downright near impossible when the Internet is down and your cellular carrier has capped your roaming data at 200 megabytes (which I ripped through in 3 days, with only 12 days to go—thank you very much, T-Mobile). But here I am, a day late, with some thoughts on improving your lightning photography and an update on the Grand Canyon monsoon activity so far.

Subtracting one year lost to COVID, this is my eighth year doing at least two monsoon workshops at the Grand Canyon—this year it’s three. In previous years I’ve done these workshops in partnership with my friend and fellow Sony Artisan Don Smith; this year I’m flying solo, grateful for the assistance of my friend (photographer, sensor cleaning guru, and essential lightning tracker) Curt Fargo.

Being solely responsible for the success and wellbeing of a dozen photographers isn’t without its stress. Despite the always breathtaking beauty that comes with the Grand Canyon monsoon, make no mistake about it: people sign up for these workshops for the lightning. And while I make it very clear that enrollment comes with no guarantees, and do my absolute best to prepare everyone well in advance, I still stress until each person in my group has captured at least one bolt.

Many factors contribute to lightning success, but when you measure success by the results of a dozen other people, things get even more complicated. And since we’re in the midst of lightning season for most of the Northern Hemisphere, I thought I’d share my thoughts on maximizing lightning success. In no particular order, here are my essential lightning preparation tips:

  • The right equipment
    • Mirrorless or DSLR camera with minimal shutter lag: Sony is the fastest, followed closely by Nikon; Canon is fast enough. I don’t have enough experience with the other brands to know which work well and which don’t. And new cameras come out so fast, my information isn’t necessarily current, so the other manufacturers could have upped their shutter-lag game (or not). One more thing: it helps to have a camera that goes down to ISO 50 (this often needs to be turned on in the menu).
    • 24-105 (ideal) or 24-70 lens: Since you don’t know exactly where the lighting will land, it’s best to compose a little loose and crop in post, making long telephotos of limited use. And if you find yourself needing to go wider than 24mm, you’re too close (trust me).
    • Lightning sensor: No one is fast enough to consistently capture lighting without a device that detects lightning and triggers the shutter. Period. There are a lot of lightning sensor options, but the only one I’ve seen work reliably, at a range of up to 40 miles, is the Lightning Trigger. (FYI, this name is trademarked, so it’s the only lightning sensor that can legally be called Lightning Trigger.) I recommend Lightning Trigger to all of my workshop students, and always hold my breath when someone shows up with something different. (I get no kick-back or other benefit from this recommendation—it just makes my life much easier when workshop participants use something I know works.)
    • Polarizer or (even better) a 3- to 6-stop neutral density filter: For lightning, sometimes you need a little help getting to a slow enough shutter speed. I use a 6-stop Dark Polarizer from Breakthrough Filters.
    • Sturdy tripod: You’ll be shooting at shutter speeds no faster than 1/15 second. Not only that, there’s a lot of waiting in lightning photography, and your camera must be primed for action at all times, making hand-holding impractical (and downright uncomfortable).
    • Wet weather gear: I rarely get wet photographing lightning because I try not to be in the storm I’m photographing (which is one thing that makes the Grand Canyon, with its distant views, such a great lighting location), but sometimes  I get caught out in the rain.
      • Waterproof hat, parka, pants, shoes
      • Umbrella
      • I haven’t found a rain cover for my camera gear that isn’t more trouble than it’s worth, a problem compounded by having my Lightning Trigger mounted atop my camera. In the rare situation that I decide to stay out in the rain and shoot, I just use my umbrella (AKA, portable lightning rod).
  • Equipment knowledge: When photographing something as fickle and ephemeral as lightning, all the equipment in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it without conscious thought.
  • Exposure knowledge: Lightning photography requires very specific shutter speeds that vary with conditions. Not only do you need to get the exposure right, you have to know how to do it in a very specific shutter speed range.
  • Weather/lightning knowledge
    • Learn how to identify the cells will deliver lightning.
    • Recognize the direction the lightning is moving.
    • The faster you can recognize and respond to potential lightning, the better your results will be. If you wait until a strike hits before heading in that direction, you’re asking for disappointment.
  • Weather/lightning resources
    • National Weather Service: There may be other reliable sources, but most use the NWS data. The NWS is far from perfect (like all weather forecasting entities), but it’s more consistently reliable than any other source.
    • Real-time lightning reporting app: This is a huge benefit that allows me to monitor storm and lightning activity, on a scale ranging from macro (national) to micro (local). Many apps offer this service, but the one I use and consider absolutely essential is My Lightning Tracker Pro. (I’m not a tester, so like all of my recommendations, this endorsement is based on personal experience and comparison to other apps I’ve used and observed, not any systematic tests.)
  • Location knowledge
    • Know when the lightning tends to start.
    • Know where the lightning is most likely to strike.
    • Know the best/safest vantage points and how to get to them quickly.
    • Escape routes: Don’t photograph a location without knowing where to retreat when lightning gets too close.

I do my best to fill my groups with all this knowledge and more, before we start. Even though we’ve been been shut out a few times, I’ll take a little credit for the overall success rate—so far my workshop lightning batting average (everyone in the workshop gets at least one strike) is probably somewhere around .700, and in a few workshops some, or even most, had a success.

But really, regardless of the preparation, the biggest factor in capturing lightning in a workshop that was scheduled more than a year in advance, comes down to just plain luck, and like all weather phenomena, lighting is random. But preparation does give you the best possible chance of success if you’re lucky enough to get a chance. And honestly, it’s the unknown that makes chasing lightning so much fun.

Read my complete lightning photography how-to guide in my Photo Tips Lightning article. 

Back to the present

So anyway…

This morning I wrapped up the first of three consecutive Grand Canyon monsoon workshops. To say that we started with a bang would be an understatement. For just the second time since I started doing this, we postponed our 1 p.m. orientation because the lightning started around noon. Fortunately, a couple of days before our start I’d sent an e-mail letting everyone know this was possible, and to show up at the orientation with gear and prepared to hit the ground running. And that’s what we did.

For the workshop’s first two hours, we photographed a very active electrical storm across the canyon from our North Rim perch at Grand Canyon Lodge. By the time we were done, I’d captured 35 frames with lightning, only one person in the group didn’t have at least one lightning strike (most had many more)—the person who showed up with a lightning sensor that wasn’t a Lightning Trigger.

The next day we got our morning shoot and training session in, but the afternoon training session was almost immediately preempted by another crazy lightning storm. This storm started fairly mild, then intensified as it moved much closer and eventually chased us inside. This time everyone captured multiple lightning strikes, which makes me think that one of the things that distinguishes the Lightning Trigger from the other brands is its range. But whatever the reason, I could finally relax.

Of course throughout the workshop we photographed a lot of nice stuff that wasn’t lightning, so by our last night I think everyone was pretty satisfied with their bounty. Which of course didn’t prevent us from being greedy. Departing for our final sunset with low expectations, we were instead treated to maybe the best show of the workshop. This storm wasn’t as prolific as the earlier two, and the lightning was more than 20 miles away, but it happened above some of my favorite Grand Canyon scenery, and was accompanied by a towering thunderhead, beautiful sunset color, and a massive rain curtain to catch the sunset color and light.

I wish I could tell you that I have photographic proof of all this drama to share right now, but I’ve been just a little busy. So I’m sharing the only image from the workshop that I’ve processed so far. This V-shaped pair came toward the end of the first afternoon’s storm, and while I’m always happy to get multiple lighting bolts in one frame, I’m pretty sure I ended up with captures I like even better. But we’ll just have to wait…

Grand Canyon Monsoon Lightning Success

Click an image for a closer look, and to view a slide show.

How to Use Foregrounds & Backgrounds in Macro Photography


Foregrounds and backgrounds are important visual components in all types of photography. In landscape photography it’s more natural to think about these elements and how to incorporate them, because you are capturing an entire scene. They can be a bit less obvious, and even forgotten, in portrait and macro photography, because you’re so focused on the subject.

The foreground is whatever is closest to the camera or in front of the subject. The background is whatever is furthest from the camera or behind the subject. Used correctly, foregrounds and backgrounds can add more depth to your image and make it feel more composed.

Bee on flower

In this article, I’ll share my tips about why, when, what, and how to use foregrounds and backgrounds in macro and close-up photography.

Hopefully you can use these tips to spark some new creativity within yourself, and inspire some compositional ideas that both you and your viewers will be excited about.

Why and when to use foregrounds and backgrounds

1. Getting lost in the details

Macrophotography is primarily about magnifying and capturing very small subjects, which makes it easy to get caught up showing off the incredible details that are not easily visible to the naked eye. Because of this, it’s easy to forget other aspects of the composition, including foregrounds and backgrounds.

Dragon fly on branch

2. Make a deliberate composition 

You may want to isolate the subject with clean, minimal surroundings and, if it’s a deliberate choice, it’s perfectly fine to do so. However, including foreground and background elements can help better frame the subject and make for a more interesting or compelling image for the viewer.

Ask yourself if you are making a deliberate choice about the composition, or simply trying to capture the subject in focus. It’s important to know the answer to this if you want to create artistic images, rather than simply document something.

Read more: How to Create a Frame Within a Frame

Damselfly on reed

3. Complement the subject

Good foregrounds and backgrounds in macrophotography can, and should, frame and complement the subject, balance the total image, and lead the eyes of the viewer to the subject. Including these compositional elements can also broaden the audience whilst telling a story about the subject and its environment.

As a wildlife photographer, I like to capture a beautiful scene that also lets the viewer see where my subjects like to feed, nest, and rest.

Spider on an orange flower

4. Tell a story 

Imagine that, as a portrait photographer, your subject is a baker. If you capture just a simple headshot with a plain background, you will still need to somehow explain that this person is a baker. However, if you photograph them in front of an oven, or behind a kitchen counter with some baking products or a few baked goods on display, the viewer sees a more complete story about the subject and what they do.

Apply this baker portrait principle to macro photography, and you can quickly see when and why it might make good sense to include foreground or background elements.

Bee close up with pollen on face

5. Breaking out of a rut 

Making a deliberate composition, complementing the subject, and telling a story are all great reasons to use foreground and background elements. Sometimes they can be used just to get out of a creative rut and spark ideas. Whatever the reason, giving your composition some thought is always a wise idea and makes your photograph more unique to you.

What and how to use foregrounds and backgrounds 

Now that you’ve learned when and why to incorporate foregrounds and backgrounds in macro photography, let’s move on to what and how. I primarily photograph insects and nature so, for me, the what and how typically come from the natural environment.

I try to capture things as they are as much as possible, but changing your angle, moving an intruding branch or blade of grass, or positioning something colourful behind the subject are creative ways to ‘stage’ the natural environment.

Dragonfly macros shot with a green background

1. Floral arrangements

Using flowers is one of my favourite ways to frame a subject. Flowers are a great choice because they introduce colour, texture, and beauty to the image.

Also, as someone who likes to sell artistic prints, I am keenly aware that when people think about purchasing art for their walls, they typically think very strongly about these elements.

Read more: Ideas for Photographing Wildflowers

Black spider on pink flower

Flowers can also tell a story about your subject. It’s commonly known that flowers attract pollinators, but have you ever thought about the fact that they also attract insects that prey on pollinators? Photographing a spider with a floral background can not only create a beautiful composition, but also tell a story about where it hunts for food.

2. Leading lines

I also love to find natural leading lines in nature. Leading lines ‘lead’ the eye of the viewer straight to the focal point or main subject. The lines of a leaf can do this very effectively, creating almost a runway or arrow effect.

Look for natural leading lines by changing your point of view. Move from side to side and up and down, looking through the viewfinder for them to appear. As long as you respect and do not harm the subject, don’t be afraid to ‘prearrange’ the composition by tilting something in or out of frame to create those lines.

Lady bird on leaf

3. Uniform or complementary colours 

Another great way to frame the subject is by using uniform or complementary colours in the foreground or background. Complementary colours are opposites on the colour wheel and can really make a subject pop. Uniform colours can give a more minimal look or add emphasis to the colours of the subject. Vibrant colours quickly catch a viewer’s attention and can make an otherwise boring subject appear exciting.

Bee macro on yellow flower

4. Bokeh blur

Having a creamy bokeh blur in the foreground or background is also a wonderful way to add visual interest while letting the subject stand out. Shooting with a macro lens can actually make it easier to achieve a really nice bokeh, because the increased magnification gives you a very narrow depth of field, even at a high f-stop.

Items that are just a few inches in front of or behind your subject will readily fade into a bokeh dreamscape. Take advantage of this while framing your subject. Colours, patterns, and light can really make for a visual treat when blurred by bokeh.

Read more: Create Beautiful Bokeh

Damselfly on a petal

5. Rule of thirds 

Earlier, I mentioned using foreground and background to move your viewer’s eye from one side of the image to the other. Using the rule of thirds, you can create a natural progression from foreground in the bottom third, to subject in the middle third, to background in the top third.

You can also arrange these elements so that it draws the viewer’s eye from one side of the image to the other. A blurred foreground to the left, a blurred background to the right, and the subject in the centre-right is one example of how to achieve that.

Insect on a leaf with a yellow daisy behind it

6. Don’t compete with yourself 

However you use the foreground or background, make sure it doesn’t compete too much with the subject. Bright areas draw the eye, and clutter can also compete for the viewer’s attention.

A trick I often use to help me decide if something is competing with the subject is to cover that portion of the image with my hand. If the subject then stands out more, it means that the hidden area is likely competing with the subject.

Dragonfly on leaf

If you are still actively shooting, try clearing some of the competing clutter, or adjusting your angle to avoid the distracting area. If you are already in post-processing, use photoshop tools to remove or tone down items that might draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject.

In conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and have gained some insights into what, when, why, and how to utilise foregrounds and backgrounds in macro photography.

Ultimately, your photos are your art, and you should always make choices that make you happy as an artist, whilst not forgetting your intended audience. Just make sure that you are making creative choices and not simply snapping mindlessly.