Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Review: Mike Moats Macro Photography

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Don’t ignore macro photography just because it’s winter!

Springtime is usually the most popular time of year for macro work – everything blooming and coming to life and all – but don’t ignore the winter months, it’s my favorite time to shoot macro.

A nice winter morning (after a fresh snow fall or especially after an over night refreeze) can yield great opportunities.  Keep your eyes open for some of these subjects:

  • Snow or ice settled on top of branches, winter berries or left over shells – like the opening image in this post
  • Puddles on the trail or along the banks of small streams and rivers that have frozen over night – look for trapped leaves, air bubbles and unique patterns (this is my personal favorite)
  • Mother Nature’s overnight composition work in the leaves and pine needles that were blowing around.  It’s a special delight to find a contrasting light colored leaf that landed or bent in a unique way around a darker one

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Are you new to macro and looking to give it a try?  Then check out Mike Moat’s Website.  Mike is a self taught, outstanding photographer who specializes in macro education.  In addition to his blog and clinics around the country, Mike does a really good down to earth instructional series in his books.

I can highly recommend his Creating Art with Macro – ebook, it’s what I turned to as my first instructional tool into the macro world.  The first couple of chapters rehash some of the typical camera basics, but after that it’s all macro.  Mike’s writings are down to earth and easy to read in a nice simple format.

Check Mike’s stuff out, if only to subscribe to his blog – I’m sure you’ll find it worth your time!

Stay in focus,



Friday Funnies: December 28th

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Caffeine?  What’s caffeine? I don’t eat human food – but I do love their drinks!

Don’t forget to look for the pictures inside the pictures.  While reviewing my shots of a civil war reenactment, I noticed the crazed expression of this one horse.  I cropped in tight and did some focused processing and came up with a unique image.

“Crazy Horse” has been a strong seller in the online gallery.

Stay in focus,


Make Notes – Tip 2

MCT 01 2012 01 16 2012 2070 Make sure you remember to plan those “memorable” images to come

How often do you pass by an object or a certain location and say to yourself “wow, this would be a great picture if only ______” !  Fill in the blank: “good light”, “cloudy day”, “it was wet”, “it was dry” . . . . and so on.  Well, here’s an opportunity to make some of your own luck.  Create a “shooters to do list” and add your new found opportunity.

When you find that special something, follow these steps:

  • Snap a cell phone shot of the scene or object:
    • If you’re using a relatively new phone, not only will you have a reference image (like the opening shot in this post) but you’ll have the GPS info embedded, enabling you to find the location in the future.
  • Use a voice recorder app on your phone (or make paper or mental notes) to note the best shooting direction, lens you’ll want to use and what unique elements you’d like to have for the image.  In the above tractor image, it was already late fall with some snow on the ground.  I visualized an overcast day just after a fresh snowfall so that’s the conditions I figured would look the best for this shot.  Here are a few examples of elements you may desire for your future plan:
    • A certain time of the year, like fall – or maybe the dead of winter when everything is barren?
    • Would the shot be better in early morning or late evening?
    • Could it be a nice “rainy day” shot?
    • Should you wait for a foggy morning?
    • Are you looking for a bright day with shadows just so – or would a totally overcast day be better?
  • When you return home, build a quick record of your planned “shoot”.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, even just placing the info on a single sheet in a word processor will do.  Save it electronically along with a calendar reminder or just print it out and keep your planning file the old fashioned way.
Tractor planning

With a little bit of advance planning when you find something of interest, you’ll be able to return at the right time and capture a great photo.  The tractor shot below is what I ended up with about four weeks after I took the original cell phone picture and envisioned the “perfect” shot.  I also had a ball in the process!

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So the next time you see potential – make your own luck!

Stay in focus,


Friday Funnies – February 1st

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Don’t you YELL at ME, Sonny . . . . I’ll Snatch Ya BALD!

That’s a juvenile Sandhill Crane on the right, getting some “training” from a parent.  The beginning of the fall migration season is a good time observe unique behavior as the adults are finishing up some final lessons with the kids before the big trip.  Some species will stay with their parents throughout the first year while most begin to go their separate ways.

Stay in focus,


NOTE: my place on the web is moving, including this blog.  Please join us at

Friday Funnies – December 21st

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Yea, I studied Ballet . . . WHAT OF IT?

One of the advantages to shooting at a high frame rate, you’ll tend to grab a unique pose or element that you would have otherwise missed.  In the next frame, the eagle’s second foot was back parallel to its body.  This split second shot imitates a perfect toe-nail pirouette worthy of the best ballet dancer!

Stay in focus,


Friday Funnies – December 14th


Popeye?  I’m Not Popeye . . . . They Call Me “Crusty”!

He really did look like a crusty kinda fellow – crusty but cute!  Thanks to the Stillman Nature Center for caring for these injured birds.  Do a search and find out if there are any rehabilitation centers around your area – They’re worthy of your support.

Stay in Focus,