Nature and Photography Blog


Acadia Waterfall

The key to getting great waterfall pictures is timing. During the beginning of my Acadia Photo Tour it was raining hard so the next day we photographed a vernal waterfall. The next morning we went by the same waterfall and it was barely a trickle of water.

Photo Workshop Tip: 360 Degrees

Acadia Photo Tour

Cadillac Mountain Sunset

Here is a photo taken of Cadillac Mountain from my Acadia National Park Instructional Photo Tour.

Whenever you are photographing constantly look around 360 Degrees.

Sometimes you may be anticipanting a photo but the best shot is behind you.

Understanding Shutter Speed


This Osprey photo was taken at 1/1000 of a sec

Shutter speed is the amount of time a shutter is open. It is measure in seconds usually fractions of seconds.

Common shutter speeds include

1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8. ¼, ½, 1 second, 2 seconds etc

Each one is approximately double the other.


When considering shutter speed consider whether your subject is moving. Do you want the subject to be blurred or sharply focused?

In most cases I hope to stop the motion. There are a few exceptions

a.) Water: If taking a photo of a waterfall and want to show how fast the water is flowing.

b.) If you want to see a feeling of speed like a running Elk or photos of stars where you are trying to show how the stars move over a longer period of time..

Here as some common shutter speeds and their applications.

  • 1/2000 s and 1/1000 s: Used to take sharp photographs of moderately fast subjects under normal lighting conditions. A good example  would be photographing birds in flight and moving subjects.     
  • 1/500 s and 1/250 s: Used to take sharp photographs of people in motion in everyday situations. 1/250 s is the fastest speed useful for panning. I use this shutter speeds for mammals and other wildlife that is not moving fast.
  • 1/125 s and 1/60: This speed, and slower ones, are no longer useful for freezing motion. I use this speed for subjects that are not moving.
  • 1/30 s: Used for panning subjects moving slower than 30 miles per hour and for available-light photography. Images taken at this and slower speeds normally require a tripod or other camera support to be sharp.
  • 1/15 s and 1/8 s: This and slower speeds are useful for  photographs other than panning shots where motion blur is employed for deliberate effect, or for taking sharp photographs of immobile subjects under bad lighting conditions with a tripod-supported camera. I like this shutter speed for waterfalls and moving water. This speed will blur the water and give it a cotton candy like effect. This speed requires a tripod.
  • 1/4 s, 1/2 s and 1 sec: Also mainly used for motion blur effects and/or low-light photography, but only practical with a tripod-supported camera.
  • B (bulb mode) (1 minute to several hours): Used with a mechanically fixed camera in night and astrophotography and for certain special effects.

If you are using a shutter speed slower than 1/60 of a second you will need additional camera or lens support like a tripod. Actually I recommend a tripod for almost every picture anyway.

Relationship with Aperture:

Remember as discussed in a earlier Blog post on Aperture.

Shutter speed and Aperture have an inverse relationship.

Faster shutter speed = less the depth of field.

Slower shutter speed = more depth of field

As you change shutter speed you may need to change the Aperture or ISO or both to compensate for it.

For example if you speed up your shutter speed one stop (for example from 1/125th to 1/250th) you’re effectively letting half as much light into your camera. To compensate for this you’ll probably need to increase your aperture one stop (for example from f16 to f11). The other alternative would be to choose a faster ISO rating (you might want to move from ISO 100 to ISO 400 for example).

Please consider joining us on a photo tour or workshop.

Using Depth of Field and Aperature Examples

bald eagle headshot


Following up on last weeks tips.

For the above Bald Eagle Photo I opened up the lens using F4.

This allowed me to put the background out of focus. The simple blue sky allows you to concentrate on the eagle minus distractions.

So when you take a photo ask yourself how important is the background? Sometimes simple is the best for strong compositions.

Other times you may want a dramatic foreground to background all in focus.



For this photo of Katahdin in Maine I used F16.

This allowed me to keep the branches in the foreground all the way to the Mountain in the Background in sharp focus.

Please consider joining us on a photo tour or workshop.


Understanding Aperture, Fstops and Depth of Field

Alaska Sunset

Alaska Sunset

Learning Depth of Field is critical to great photography. Depth of field is the area in front of and behind your point of focus. Roughly 2/3 of depth of field extends behind the focus point and one third extends in front of it.

Most photographers use the program mode where the camera will select the depth of field for you. My goal on my instructional photo tours and workshops is to get people off program mode. How does the camera know how much of an area you want in focus? Don’t allow you camera to make this decision for you.

Magnification and aperture determine depth of field.

Magnification: Regardless of the aperture you select moving closer to your subject increases magnification and reduces the depth of field. Moving away from you subject increases depth of field since it reduces the magnification. Macro and close up photography for example requires more depth of field vs a wide angle landscape shot where you are standing farther away.

Aperture: is the size of the opening in the lens. When you press the shutter button a hole opens up which allows light to come in and hit your camera’s sensor. What aperture you set impacts the amount of light. The bigger the hole the more light comes in.

Shutter speed and aperture have an inverse relationship they work against each other.

Smaller hole = less light = more depth of field = less shutter speed.

Larger hole = More light = less depth of field = higher shutter speed.

Aperture is measured in F Stops. A photographer sets the F Stop to control the shutter speed and the depth of field.

The Common F Stops include

F 2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, F11, F16, F22 etc

I you change from one F stop to another it double of cuts in half the size of the opening in your lens. Keep in mind that a change in shutter speed from one stop to the next doubles or halves the amount of light that gets in also – this means if you increase one and decrease the other you let the same amount of light in.

Now you know where you hear the term opening up and closing down. It is referring to a change in the F stops which increases or decreases light.


One thing that causes a lot of new photographers’ confusion is that large apertures (where lots of light gets through) are given f/stop smaller numbers and smaller apertures (where less light gets through) have larger f-stop numbers. So f/2.8 is in fact a much larger aperture than f/22. It seems the wrong way around when you first hear it..

The higher the number the more area is in focus. So F16 would have a lot more in focus than F4. This is the opposite of what you would think. The reason why is it is really fractions F4 is Really F ¼ and F16 is really F 1/16

Selecting an aperture is often based on two variables.

a.) what area you want in focus?

b.) Conditions in the field: low light and wind etc.

Sometimes you may want more area in focus but the more depth of field the less shutter speed you can get. So you may have to compromise. Lets say you are photographing a flower and want to use F16 which would keep a large area in focus. If the light is low or it is windy you can’t afford to lose to much shutter speed or you will lose sharpness and the photo will be blurred.

I plan on writing about shutter speed soon.

Please consider joining us on a photo tour or workshop.

Weekly Photo Tips


Grizzly Bears and Cubs

Grizzly Bear and Cubs

Every week will be adding some new photography tips to our blog. I am going to target Wednesdays.

Please bookmark this page and check back often.

If you see this on the Facebook page please chick the LIKE button.

Lightroom 4 Officially Released

Lightroom 4 Now Available!

March 5, 2012 9:00 PM By: Cari Gushiken

Lightroom 4 is now feature complete and final. Starting today

Lightroom 4 is available for just US$149 for the full version and US$79 for the upgrade.

If you’ve had a chance to check out Lightroom 4 Beta, you probably have played with the enhanced Develop module and all of its powerful new tools, like:

  • Adjustment controls that maximize dynamic range from cameras, recover exceptional shadow details and highlights.
  • Improved auto adjustments to dynamically set values for exposure and contrast
  • Additional local adjustment controls including Noise Reduction, Moire and White Balance
  • Presets that take advantage of new processing technology for speedy results
  • Soft proofing that helps photographers tune images in a destination color space to ensure content looks its best.
  • Ability to email images directly from Lightroom using an email account of your choice

After editing and adjusting images, the next step is to find a way to showcase them.  A professionally bound book with high quality paper is a great way to highlight your photographic work. Lightroom 4 has built in tools to create them with text controls and a variety of easy-to-use templates, as well as a direct link for publishing your photo book with Blurb.

The intuitive Map module lets you pin photos to locations and easily import your geotagged photos. Seeing your photos on a Map can sometimes help you evoke memories of incredible vacations and favorite photo shoots.  At the very least, the new Map module will make organizing your photos more easy and fun.

Now, native video support allows you to play, trim and extract frames from video clips shot on DSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones. Video-specific presets and many standard Lightroom image adjustment controls can be applied to video clips, and adjusted videos can be exported as a H.264 file or published directly to Facebook or Flickr.

Florida Photo Tour Wildlife List Feb 2012

Alligator Photo Workshop Florida

American Alligator


REPTILES:  American Alligator, American Crocodile, Anole, Red Bellied Turtle

MAMMALS: West Indian Manatee,  Raccoon, Eastern Gray Squirrel, White Tailed Deer, Dolphin,Doberman Pinscher

 DUCKS: Whistling-Duck, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, 

PODICIPEDIDAE — GREBES:  Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe




 PELECANIDAE — PELICANS: American White Pelican, Brown Pelican 

 ARDEIDAE — HERONS, BITTERNS & ALLIES: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, □ Tricolored Heron,  Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret,  Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, 

THRESKIORNITHIDAE — IBISES & SPOONBILLS: White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill 

 CATHARTIDAE — NEW WORLD VULTURES: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture 


 ACCIPITRIDAE — HAWKS, KITES, & EAGLES: Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk 

 RALLIDAE — RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS: Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, American Coot 


 GRUIDAE — CRANES: Sandhill Crane 

 CHARADRIIDAE — LAPWINGS & PLOVERS:  Wilson’s Plover, Killdeer 


 SCOLOPACIDAE — SANDPIPERS, PHALAROPES & ALLIES: Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Sanderling,  Semipalmated Sandpiper

 LARIDAE— GULLS, TERNS & SKIMMERS: Bonaparte’s Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Least Tern, □ Caspian Tern   

COLUMBIDAE — PIGEONS & DOVES: White-winged Dove  

STRIGIDAE —OWLS: Great Horned Owl,  Burrowing Owl, Barred Owl  

PICIDAE — WOODPECKERS:  Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker  


 LANIIDAE — SHRIKES: Loggerhead Shrike  

 CORVIDAE — CROWS & JAYS: Blue Jay, American Crow  

 MIMIDAE — MOCKINGBIRDS & THRASHERS:  Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird  

 PARULIDAE — WOOD-WARBLERS: Ovenbird,  Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler

 CARDINALIDAE — CARDINALS & ALLIES: Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting,  Painted Bunting   

ICTERIDAE — BLACKBIRDS: Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle 


Wild Florida Photo Tour Results

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill in Florida

Wild Florida Photo Tour Results 2011.  

I just got back from Florida last week. It was a long but exciting trip. It started out on a bad note when the Patriots lost the Superbowl. Thankfully each day got better. 

I spent many weeks preparing for this trip even though I have photographed Florida for almost 20 years. It is important to keep up with the recent wildlife reports. I check the internet, call and email other photographers, birders, biologist etc. I also monitor the water levels and tide charts. 

I drove down a week early to scout out the area. I checked on some eagle, osprey and owl nests.  Some of my most photogenic nests were vacant this year but I had other ones planned out. 

The tip started off in Fort Myers. Participants flew into the Fort Myers Airport and took a shuttle to the hotel. This group was a lot of fun. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time.  

The wildlife on this trip put on quite the show.  

Some of the highlights were 

  • Roseate Spoonbills (multiple locations)
  • Manatees (Everglades National Park and Big Cypress Preserve) one 10 feet away
  • Alligators (multiple locations) including Baby Alligators
  • American Crocodile
  • Some of the herons, egrets, anhingas, wood stocks, vultures, and cormorants were so close they were able to get head shots.
  • Pelicans: Both White and Brown Pelican were photographed. Some nesting, perched, and diving for fish.
  • Bald eagles: (multiple locations)
  • Nesting Burrowing, Great Horned and Barred Owls.
  • Purple Gallinule (Multiple locations Everglades)
  • Limpkin: (multiple days and locations)
  • Osprey: perched, in flight, nesting (multiple locations)
  • Red Shoulder Hawk (multiple locations)
  • Black necked Stilt (multiple locations)
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Painted Bunting
  • Watching hundreds of birds return to their rookery at night
  • The beauty of the Everglades, Sanibel Island, Big Cypress Preserve
  • Burrowing Owls (multiple nests)
  • Great Horned Owls (two locations)
  • A great sunset in the Everglades
  • Reddish Egrets
  • Ospreys nest building at Sanibel Island
  • The vultures at Myakka
  • Robert was Here: Tropical Drinks


It was sad to drop people off at the airport after the tour was over. 

Thank you all for the memories and laughs. 

 You never know what you are going to see in Florida everyday is an adventure. 

 I can’t wait for next year.