Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things, they are changin'....

After a solid run on Blogger, I have decided to move things over to a wordpress account that will share the same domain as my website. You can find future posts at

This content will remain in place, just not updated any longer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shoving off...

Tomorrow I'm flying out to rendezvous with the NOAA research vessel Ronald Brown for a two week deep sea coral mission. I'll be assisting with the research efforts and photo documenting the various life encountered during the trip.

I won't be able to update this blog or post any photos due to security issues. However, one of my work colleagues will be updating the mission's blog for the NC Museum of Natural Sciences,which you can follow here:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chasing the light...

Every time you trek out to capture an image you hope that it may land on the cover of the next hot issue of a local magazine or orders will flock in hand over fist. But the unfortunate fact is that many times the weather just doesn't come together as you want it to.

I've been fighting for good light over the past year and I've only had a few occasions in which it has actually worked in my favor. Not to say that those images are immediately destined for the computer trashcan, but more so that it becomes a personal learning tool.

Below are two examples from this past fall that have failed to come together as I imagined. First off is my trek with fellow photographer Scott Hotaling of Light of the Wild Photography to the top of Chimney Tops on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The skies were almost completely overcast and it was beginning to thunder on our way up and the trail. As we climbed tot he top, it looked as if the cloud bank to the west would begin to break up.

Shortly before sunset, the clouds hadn't changed much and we noticed a fog beginning to roll through the valley and heading our way. As the light began to dwindle, we were overcome by the fog racing up the hillside and significantly decreasing our visibility. Within a few minutes of packing up our gear the skies opened up we navigated down the rock face and walked the entire trail in the rain.

The next situation was on our way into GSMNP for sunrise when we noticed the cloud breaks in and around the Newfound Gap area. We made a quick decision and headed up to Clingman's Dome, a popular and iconic spot within the park. We drove as fast as we could up the 8 mile winding road to the parking lot. As soon as we arrived, we made a few quick arrangements and made a dash up the hill to the observation tower.

The mixed cloud cover helped create a scene and things were looking promising as civil twilight began. As I searched for compositions along the horizon, the side light was mediocre and things from straight on were tough to compose given our location.

Here are two good shots taken from this location, but they are not what I would call 'the next level.' Creating images of the next level is what every photographer should be seeking to accomplish.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Canon EOS 7D

I'd long ditched crop sensor cameras. My first Canon DSLR was a 40D and it was great, especially since I was shooting a whole lot of macro. Then, I made the move to a 5D and even though owning a 50D for a short period, I've been exclusively shooting the 5D for over a year now.

I decided that with the advent of HD video, advanced AF features and weather-sealing that I'd bite the bullet and pick up a 7D. My first impression is that it fits in your hand as well as a 5D, and its roughly the same weight. Of course the big and clear LCD is something that will spoil you when you've been using a much older version.

The AF is really grand (although I've never thoroughly tested a 1-D series camera) and you cant go wrong with 8fps in good light with a high percentage of keeper shots. I do think that the 18mp is a bit much, but it seems the megapixel war is never ending.

The ISO performance of the 7D is nice, a bit better than my old 50D and quite usable up to around ISO 1600. This is no low light monster, and from the results I see from the 5D mark II, I long to try one out

The video option is very cool and just through my hand-held adventures I like the added feature. One thing I've recently found out through discussion is that the 7D has a full time auto-gain feature, meaning it will hone in on the loudest thing in the vicinity. This can be a pain if you're trying to focus on something specific or use it for dedicated HD video purposes. You can offset this by recording sound separately, but that gets pricey. This is not an issue with the other HD DSLRs , the 5D Mark II and the 1D Mark IV.

In the end, I really like having this camera in my bag, I think mainly because I was missing a second body. However, I think what is likely to happen is that I'll be trading the 7D in towards a purchase of a 5D mark II for the better image quality, larger sensor and slightly more tuned video functions.

I strongly believe it is true what they say - once you go full frame, you'll never want to go back!


Its nice to dabble with new ideas and techniques. One thing I stumbled some nature and landscape photographers doing was using the zoom out motion on their lenses during a long exposure to create some dramatic effects. It almost appears to be warping time and space, as if you expect a wormhole or some other astronomical anomaly to occur as you look at the image.

Fall color presents a great time to play around with this technique, and here is just one of the images I captured while experimenting in the Smokies. This one is aptly titled Autumn Impressions.

Next time you're out and about and are looking for something different, break out your zoom lens (it works best with a 70-200 or something similar) and twist away.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn in the Smokies

I've been traveling in my days off back to western North Carolina to photograph fall color in the Smokies and the surrounding areas. This year's weather conditions led to a rapid change in color and less than superb color in many areas. However, I was able to get out and find some interesting compositions and begin formulating a plan for next year.

Stay tuned for various images from the trip, I'll be posting more with details behind the shots.

This image titled Tree of Life is from the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fog filled the valley, and elk roamed through the grassy fields. Its the rut for them, and males are competing for females. Although the elk weren't very cooperative for photo ops, I enjoyed capturing this star-burst through this very charismatic tree.

Canon 5D, 70-200 f/4L IS, @70mm, f/22 1/40 sec, ISO 200 Tripod

I've had a chance to try out the Canon 7D, and I'll be posting a small review of this camera. So far, i've been impressed, but I will say once you've used a full frame camera, its hard to go back to anything else.

Stay tuned for more!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Still playing catchup...

I never thought I'd get this far behind on photography related items, but oh wow things have been very busy as of late.

The website is up, but I forsee some significant changes coming in the future. But for now, its a basic source for some sample work regarding my nature/landscape photography. Check it out at

I have just signed on as an independent contractor with the company F-Stop Gear, makers of adventure photography packs and accessories. I've had my F-Stop Tilopa for 6 months or so, and love it more and more each opportunity I'm out in the field. They've recently released a new pack called the Loka, which I'll likely be picking up as well.

I'm currently flirting with the idea of adding in a Canon 7D to my bag since I'm getting more interested in capturing outdoor recreation to broaden my portfolio and shooting experiences.

Here are a few recent shots from outings in the Pacific Northwest, hopefully I'll be doing some live updates as I venture out for fall color in North Carolina.