One of the problems with photographing sunsets is that the foreground is normally just a black mass of under-exposed landscape.

The way to get over this is to take the sunset picture with water in the foreground. This has the effect of doubling the size of the sunset in addition to giving you a worthwhile foreground.

(One of my weaknesses is that I am a succor for photographing water in the landscape wherever I see it. If the photography of water intrigues you as well, why not have a look at The Ultimate Guide to Photographing Water – a well-received eBook. Just click on the image below and that will take you straight to it.)


Do you like people in your landscape photographs?


Place your finger over the figure at the entrance to Antelope Canyon.
Now take your finger away.
Do you prefer the image with or without a person in the scene?
Is it all a matter of personal taste?




Black and white images have an appeal that it is hard to define, and yet very real.

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in creating black and white images.

Frequently this is achieved by converting a colour image using digital image processing software.

At times this has generated rubbish, at others it has resulted in some remarkably powerful images.

My own experience has been that a B&W image can be more powerful than its colour starting point.

However, it is ALWAYS the case that if the starting point is inadequate then no amount of digital manipulation will generate a good B&W image.

I now take images with a view to creating a black and white print. This affects not only the potential that I see in a subject, but also the techniques that I use to arrive at a satisfactory end-point.

If you are interested in creating good monochromatic images you may want to study the methods described in one of two books (see under the image).

There are lots of worked examples in these two books, but for now I leave you with this image of the setting sun over Ladybower Reservoir (Derbyshire, UK).

used ACROSS-LADYBOWER-AND-MOORS-TO-FALLING-SUN-4-full-dynamic-harsh-modified

The first of these eBooks is written for those of you who use Adobe Elements (- have a look here). and a different book for those who use Photoshop CS software (- have a look here).

Singing Sands

Lovely tones, and mysterious sense of movement. Photographic artistry.

draw and shoot

A September road trip, Part 1 ~ PartoftheLandscape2


TakingOff_Ring-billedGullIt’s hard to think of a more beguiling name for a place than Singing Sands. Who could resist going when you find those words on a map? It’s here where the great Lake Huron breathes its cool water in and out, over the sands and the expansive fen, pushing and pulling like a small tide. Taking and leaving. Creating a landscape of rich and diverse flora and great beauty and peacefulness.

[Multiple exposures – some with camera movement – and layers of the landscape. Images made at Singing Sands (Dorcas Bay) in Bruce Peninsula National Park]

© Karen McRae, 2014

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Cathedrals of Industry

Lovely light, good composition, super title.

Mark Simms Photography

If you’ve seen my previous posts, here and here, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from with these shots. The Birkenhead Tunnel Ventilation Station does have a Cathedral like quality and stands opposite Liverpool’s two Cathedrals, one Catholic and one Anglican, which you can just see on the other side of the Mersey on the horizon:

Mersey Tunnel, Ventilation Station, Birkenhead, Wirral, England

Mersey Tunnel, Ventilation Station, Birkenhead, Wirral, England

Mersey Tunnel, Ventilation Station, Birkenhead, Wirral, England

© Mark Simms Photography (2014)

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In Praise of Place: Joining the Crowd at Bryce Canyon

Nicely caught.

Arthouse Photography

On the way from our humble and charmingly cheesy motel accommodations (the Cowboy Country Inn) in Escalante to Bryce Canyon Natl. Park, we were treated to a rare blanket of fog covering the landscape. It provided thrilling views of the unnamed butte w. of Henrieville (locally referred to as Wildcat Butte, from what I can garner) — it also promised some spectacular image opportunities in nearby Kodachrome Basin St. Park, so we quickly hopped off the hwy. onto the access road to that reserve with foggy stars in our eyes.

Wildcat Butte Wildcat Butte

Unfortunately, the heavy rains of the previous evening — which were probably in large part responsible for the foggy conditions — had resulted in a washout of the bridge over the Paria River, making Kodachrome inaccessible. I can only imagine the kind of spooky, atmospheric images that might have resulted had we been able to continue down that…

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The (frequently) forgotten parameter.


One of the parameters of an image that we cannot change in the computer is depth of field (i.e. the distance into the image over which sharpness is acceptable).
I gave a lecture this morning in which I showed the above image of mineral terraces in Yellowstone National Park.
I had to admit that the depth of field was inadequate. The foreground was out-of-focus. I had not used an f-stop that would give me sufficient depth of field. (That is to say I was at f/5.6 and I should have been at f/16 or 22.)
The reason was that I did not have a tripod with me – DESPITE MY OWN ADVICE.
This was back in the days of film cameras, and I was using film with an ISO of 100. The light was too poor to allow me to use a slower shutter speed, so I could not go for a smaller aperture.
With my current digital camera it would have been easy to increase the ISO and use a smaller aperture. This would have gone a long way towards improving the depth of field.
In any event, I should also have remembered that to get maximum depth of field the trick is to focus on a spot about 1/3rd of the way into the image.
Better still, I should have bought a tilt-shift lens. This would have allowed me to get sharp focus throughout the image. But then I would have needed a tripod in order to set it up properly (as this is necessary for best use of a tilt-shift lens).
This photography lark is not always easy, is it?




On a recent journey we had to stop in a roadside pull-in.

With some time on my hands the instinctive thing to do was to take out the camera and go in search of photographs. My initial impression was that it would be futile. This was an unpretentious location, at the side of a busy road, the sky was bland (i.e. grey/gray) and at first glance it did not seem promising.

However, my eye was caught by the shape of a lone tree set against a uniform light sky. A perfect candidate for a monochromatic treatment. Care was taken to include some of the ground around the tree so that its setting could be seen. A little time in the computer, and this was the result:


At this point I fell into my normal practice of looking for smaller and smaller images within the area. The next object to catch my attention was this one:

I was careful to frame it against a sympathetic background, and to use a moderate aperture value (f/8) so that most of the plant was in focus but the background was not.

Moving in slightly closer my eye was attracted to these rose hips:

I looked for a near circular arrangement of red berries, but the best composition I could get was this triangular arrangement of the berries in sharpest focus.

Finally, with my eye trained to look for detail I found the image that I enjoyed taking most:

This cobweb was still covered in early morning dew. Each water droplet sparkled like a diamond that had beeb caught up in the grasses and the cobweb.

A completely unpromising location had yielded four half-decent images.
I got back into the car content.

There really may be an image waiting for us to photograph – (almost) everywhere.

AMAZING APPEAL OF NEW eBOOK: Photographing Water

Instant interest in the new eBook: “Photographing Water” ( has led to more than 500 downloads in the first week of publication.

I am delighted, not least with the praise from (most of) those who have reviewed it “clear text, pleasant to read..”  “illustrated with beautiful photographs ..”  “good reference”  “5 stars”.

Go to and have a look for yourself.