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!