Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter's first bite

Winter has arrived. Tettegouche State Park was blessed with some heavy wet snow that clung to the trees. Unfortunately I was heading to Duluth without my camera. I missed a truly picture postcard day all of the trees frosted like flocked Christmas trees! I did go back Thursday to scout the location. Took a few quick shots (in not so good light) of Lake Superior's shore line in the park.
Everyday presents a new photo keeping looking and shoot!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall along the Superior Hiking Trail

Well I am just now finding my way back to the blog. Had a busy fall hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, working mostly between the Ski Hill back to the Caribou Trail. Fall color was the best ever in my 11 years in Lutsen. Here are some of the shots I captured this fall. I concentrated on using a graduated neutral density filter. The shots on the Popular River overlook had the sun high in the sky and using the filter helped balance out this high contrast scene. 
A graduated filter slowly tapers off from dark to clear. I can easily lose the transition in the tree line allowing me to darken the sky to a greater degree. I also could have used a hard line filter. I would then have placed the hard edge in a dark area making it unnoticed. In retrospect a hard line split neutral density filter may have been a better choice. I used a Cokin filter. The Cokin system uses a ring which screws into your lens. Then you mount a filter holder. The last step is to slide a square filter into place. I can slide this filter up and down to position the transition to where I need to darken the scene. This way I do not have to reposition my camera on the tripod. With the Cokin system you will not be able to use your lens hood. I did have to consider lens flare on each shot.  You may also buy circular filters which screw into your lens. A better choice for controlling lens flare. Each filter allows you to rotate so you can get creative and use the filter at any angle. Both will get the job done.

Below are two shots of Lake Agnes from the east campsite and a little farther east before the campsite. 

Here are two shots from the Popular River overlook to the west past Lake Agnes.

Lutsen is pretty dull now that the leaves have fallen. I am looking forward to some snow to liven up the landscapes I hope to shoot. The northern lights (aurora borealis) were out last night. I am hoping to get out to capture some night time beauty soon.

Everyday presents a new photo keeping looking and shoot!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rainy Days

Ever have a plan to go out and capture that image you've been thinking about only to have it rain? It has been a strange summer here in Lutsen. June was cold and wet. Then we had a few weeks of beautiful weather and now we are in a cool and  rainy season again. Yesterday I checked the weather radar as saw the rain coming. I decided to not let that get in the way of my shooting. I am trying to work on a more disciplined approach to my shooting days. Attempting to take advantage of each day. My idea was to try to get some stock shots of traffic in the rain along highway 61.  I drove into the coming rain. And rain it did…in sheets. So heavy at times that as I sat along side the road other cars pulled off behind me to wait it out, no doubt thinking I had the same intent. Here is one of the shots. Not quite what I was hoping for but fun anyway. I did not focus on the cars but on the rain drops hitting my windshield. This softened the whole scene producing a surreal feeling. I especially like the blurred headlights and their reflection. 

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity… so keep looking and shoot!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Micro stock vs Traditional stock

I decided to explore the Micro stock business. As most of you know I sell images through Alamy. Alamy is a traditional stock photography business. Photo editors search for images they need to accompany articles in magazines, illustrate text books, for novel covers and corporate reports. The images are licensed as I designate. Use is one time, if used again another fee is paid. The fees earned are based on size, placement and usage. 
Micro stock is quite different. The images are royalty free. This means they are paid for once and the buyer is free to use again and again. The fees paid are drastically less. Fees paid are as low as $.20 to a few dollars per download. Some may sell in the $30 range. The more images you upload the more potential sales you generate. Buyers are encouraged to download more images or purchase a CD of images even if they do not use them right away. In both cases you retain your ownership rights. You are licensing the use of your image.

I see very good images on the Micro sites. These images could sell for higher fees on traditional stock sites. Micro stock images are not snap shots. Micro stock sites have very strict standards and reject images readily. I recently opened an account at Dreamstime. They allow you to upload right away, your images are placed in line to be reviewed. I submitted 7 images. 5 were rejected. Rejections reasons were quality, not the type of image the site sells, or technical editing problems. You need to submit high quality photographs. It takes hard work. Some sites require you to submit examples before they accept your work for upload. What sells? Just about Everything!
Here is one of my micro stock shots: pink erasers.....

So who uses micro stock? Designers, advertisers, and trendy venues all buy from micro sites. I believe most of the images you see in web advertisements come from micro stock sites. I do not believe that magazines have moved this way yet.  Traditional stock is by no means means dead. Micro stock is a growing market and should be explored.

As professional photographers we need to get paid for our work. I believe very few truly earn a living through micro stock sales. I will be very careful about what I submit in the Micro field. My best shots will remain at Alamy to earn higher income. However the internet is changing everything. So I will learn the Micro side of the business and submit to add to my income.
Is Micro stock for you? Only you can answer that question. Use your search engine. Type in Micro stock and you will get a plethora of results. Take the time to view the images. Ask yourself if you can make images like you see. Consider your time spent on shooting stock. Do you have high quality shots in your files? If you decide to try it make sure to read the submission requirements and follow them exactly. You may find micro stock is for you!

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity… so keep looking and shoot!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Metering Light

Do you struggle with exposure? We all do at times. Have you ever tried to find the correct exposure by interpreting histograms only to find none of your adjustments worked? Isn’t it better to get the exposure correct the first time?

I have been way to trusting of my “in” camera light meter. I shoot with a Nikon D700. The D700’s light meter has a very advanced computer which has programmed thousands of possible exposure settings. The meter averages the light based on how you set aperture, shutter, exposure compensation and ISO. Then it selects the exposure from the data base. Does it cover all situations? Well no, we have all seen bad exposures from the "in" camera reading.The “in” camera light meter is an incident or reflected light meter. It measures light being reflected off your subject. Many times a difficult exposure requires that you measure ambient or available light.

Using an external light meter is the answer. You select your ISO and shutter speed, press the button and you have the correct aperture. Once you know the ambient light measurement it is easy to set corresponding exposures to achieve your desired image.
For portrait work a light meter is a must. Studio shooting requires various lighting setups. You will need to know both incident and ambient light. Both modes are available on your light meter. Knowing the light enables you to create stunning portraits.
So dust off your light meter and practice both indoors and outdoors and discover what a difference external metering makes.
Everyday presents a new photo opportunity… so keep looking and shoot!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Appaloosa Deer

March is my favorite time to slip into Cascade State Park where there are plenty of deer to photograph. Warmer temperatures and strong sunshine exposes the dead grass. The park fills with whitetails. You also see deer stand up to feed on the lower cedar branches. I hunted for a good shot when I saw a deer covered with snow. She had a great polka dot pattern. But I soon remembered it was 40 degrees! That was not snow. 

The deer is a piebald deer. Piebald is a genetic trait that happens in one of about one thousand deer. The trait is not passed on to offspring. The park ranger told me the deer had been around for a couple of years. The rangers had nicknamed her the Appaloosa deer after the common coloring of Appaloosa horses.

I often use my truck as a blind. The deer are not alarmed but they are alert.  Remember to turn off your engine. This reduces camera shake, especially if you use the window for support.

If you are near the park, ride through and you too may see the Appaloosa deer.

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity… so keep looking and shoot!

Friday, April 1, 2011


It was cold out on Devil’s Track Lake while we waited. We rose early to catch sunrise and the sled dog teams competing in the 2011 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Four photographers gathered around a steaming pot of boiling water making coffee and sharing our love of photography. Between the constant ribbing, my friend Chris, a very creative guy, started playing around with his aperture set at F22. The sun was bright against the blue sky; the far shore was studded with pine trees just waiting for a team to pass by.

So why F22 you ask? Using F22 produces magnificent “starred” sun shots. (see photos below) This simple creative technique adds something special to your landscape photography.  The sun “pops” making a distinctive image. For the shot below I used my Tokina 10-17mm, F3.5-4.5 Fisheye lens at F22. I laid down on the snowmobile trail as the team raced past. The sun was in the perfect position, the shadows long and the sky bright blue. A special memory created for my 2011 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Okontoe Fellowship. We were blessed to have stayed overnight with our friends Andrea and Jake who made our early morning on Devils Track possible. Okontoe is Christian Ministry located twenty-six miles up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Mararis, Minnesota. During the winter months they host Sleigh rides. (
The trail winds through 120 acres. It is an amazing ride into the night behind two huge Belgian horses with the shining above!

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity… so keep looking and shoot!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How Clean are you?

Ever notice those little dark circles on your photo files? We all get them but how do you get rid of them? You clean your sensor! Those spots usually appear due to condensation inside your camera. After shooting all day in cold weather you set the camera down to warm up…viola spots appear. One way to minimize the problem is to place your camera in a plastic bag or camera bag while it warms up. Of course the opposite is also true. While shooting in Vietnam’s heat and humidity I forget about air conditioning. All my shots after this gaff produced spots which added a lot of time to post production. Big mistake! Now I carry cleaning products on every shoot. 
I recently ran out of fluid so I checked for a refill at To my surprise I found the Sensor Swab Digital Survival kit. The portable pouch neatly holds the swabs, fluid, and cleaning pads all in one place. No more searching for the swabs and bottle of fluid! You may view the kit via the “Stuff I use” link.

Disclaimer: Always read the instructions first. Camera manufacturers will warn you not to clean your sensor by yourself. Manufacturers will request you to send it to them for cleaning. 

This is how I clean my sensor
I use sensor swab for cleaning my sensor. Actually you just clean the glass cover not the sensor itself. To clean I set my camera shutter to “bulb”. Following the directions I add a few drops of Eclipse cleaning fluid to the swab, press and hold down  the shutter, then swipe across the sensor. I Remove the swab stick from the camera and release the shutter. I Take a shot of the sky or a white background to check my sensor. Repeat if necessary. I have had stubborn spots that required additional cleaning. Always follow the instructions!
The full frame sensor size swabs came with the kit. At first the full frame swabs seemed too large. I previously had used only the smaller size swab.  I soon became comfortable with the larger size. The large swab allows one pass cleaning. I have read about streaking but I have never had that problem. The only minor problem I have had is some occasional fiber debris left after cleaning. A dust brush or blower easily takes care of that.  

What is your experience cleaning your sensor? Post a comment to share your thoughts and opinions. 

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity…so keep looking and shoot!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Winter is Back!

March has taken one last (I hope) shot at us in the North land. Lake Superior was kickin' and rolling yesterday. Thankfully the predicted blizzard failed to show. We only received a dusting of the white stuff! Sunshine and cold today...spring will arrive...I hope!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome to the NEW Gary Meinz Photography Blog

We are excited to begin a new chapter in our photography pursuits. Our new blog will share our travels and photos. We will use the blog to teach photography techniques to help you become a better photographer.
We strive to honor God and show HIS creation through our blog.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts and answering your questions.