Depth of Field….Taking Control

Non photographers, and new photographers just beginning their journey to photography fortune and fame, will often hear us talk about depth of field. Of course we’re not talking about the size of your backyard. Simply stated, depth of field refers to just how much we choose to have in focus or out of focus in our images. These techniques are used to set a mood, or possibly force the viewers eye into a certain area of the image.

Depth of field is basically controlled by the aperture opening of the lens. The wider you open a lens, the less depth of field (area of the image in focus)  you will have. That’s stating it at its very basic form. Other factors can be included. The problem that most new photographers encounter is that the smallest numbers. F /1.4, f /2.8 etc., are the largest lens openings and the least depth of field. The largest numbers F /16, f /32 etc., are the smallest openings and the most depth of field. Confusing to be sure.

Let’s look at some basic examples. The following images were all shot with a 100mm macro lens on a tripod. The aperture was changed for each shot, but nothing was moved. I’m sorry I don’t have an f /8 example, that file has been lost to the cyber universe somewhere.






You can scroll up and down to see the difference in how much is in focus for each aperture setting. Each has its own mood or feel. Starting with the largest lens opening, F /2.8 we see a bit more in focus with each following decrease in lens opening down to the final F /32 image. This is a very basic demonstration of depth of field. I’ll encourage you to gather more information on the subject to take control of those wonderful creative images that you’ll soon be capturing.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share, and/or comment. Take care and I hope I’ve helped out in some small way.

Take care and be creative.


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Yes, I do love my geared head!


I don’t often write about the equipment I’m using but I have found that, in the case of a geared head, many new photographers are not familiar with this tool. When those new photographers begin to get serious about their images, and the equipment used to capture them, they will immediately turn to a tripod and ball head. A very good combination indeed.

A ball head seems to be today’s accepted standard for mounting your camera. It offers quick and easy adjustments for composing your image. I have a nice ball head and still use it on occasion. I have nothing against ball heads, but let me share some thoughts with you.

A number of years back, as I was working on some macro shots, I was struggling to get those precise, minute adjustments to my composition. I had a nice ball head but as hard as I tried I just struggled. As I set the composition and tightened things down there was always a very slight dip or movement of the camera when I let go. I know there are better ball heads than what I have, but they are quite pricey. I decided to give a geared head a try.

How did that work out? Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy. I know that’s a bit over the top, but it was truly a different world. Simply turn the knobs for super fine adjustments in any axis without touching the camera body. Be still my heart. Long story, short, I was soon using the head for macros, and still-life’s. Then it began to travel into the field with me for landscapes.

When I mentioned this to other photogs, I always got the comment “It’ll just slow you down, a ball head is faster”. Say What? I’m the one who, in my photo talks and presentations, is always saying slow down, take your time, get the shot you want. To be truthful, I have never seen where the geared head has slowed down my composing time at all. It’s all personal preference, but I’m a happy camper.

At any rate, I love my geared head. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for a sports shooter or wildlife action shooter, but for the more immobile subject, in my opinion, it’s the cats meow. If you ever get the opportunity to work with one give it a try. I think you’ll be amazed at how precise you can be with little to no effort at all.

Feel free to share this post, leave a comment, and also follow the blog via the link in the right column. Take care and watch for a new post next week. As always, I’ll encourage you to be creative.


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“RT 47″….A lesson in patience


“RT 47”

The Above image, titled “RT 47” is a real lesson in patience. Let me explain.

RT 47 is a highway that we use when traveling between our home town and the Wildwoods, and Cape May shore points here in Southern New Jersey. At several points along the route you pass along the wetlands, or as we often refer to them, the salt marsh. In one of those areas there is a stand of dead and decaying tree stumps that has always fascinated me. I always thought that there was a great composition in there somewhere.

Now, those that know me are aware that I often talk about concepts and pre-visualization for images. In other words I like to have a plan of attack when I go to capture an image. This does not mean that I will never grab a shot here and there that I have not developed a concept. Something in front of me, or that I have seen often will just say “Hey, this has potential”.

A number of years ago I had captured quite a few files of this area. Since then I have tried several times, using several filters and techniques to draw something out of those files. Nik software, Topaz software, Redfield Plugins, HDR, They all left me without satisfaction. Zilch, nada, nothing.

The other day the idea hit me of a high key abstract approach. I don’t know what prompted that thought but figured I’d run with it for a bit. I set out using one of the overexposed files from an HDR set. I moved it to Photoshop and created a duplicate layer. On that layer I simply used Nik Silver Efex to covert to B&W. I then created a layer mask on the B&W layer and very subtly masked out a few of the foreground trees to reveal the slightest hint of color. I kept contrast and clarity down to keep a soft feel to the image. There was certainly not a lot of work done to the file.

So after hanging onto those files for all these years, I may have found a version that may have some potential. I’ll continue to study this new file to see if there might be a presentation method that will work well to show the image. At this point I can say that I’m glad I hung onto those files.

Thanks for reading. Maybe this will give you some thoughts on a file you might be saving. Feel free to share the post. Sign up in the right column to receive an email when I post new thoughts. The more we get here, the merrier. Leave your thoughts below.

Take care till next time and be creative


Advice From A Friend……

Batsto Latch final

As a photographer with a number of photographer friends I’m often given advice, or suggestions for my work. Don’t we all get those thoughts? The majority are well meaning tidbits that we are often already aware of. They all are appreciated because we know they are offered as a sincere attempt to help us grow.

Then there are the ones that have stuck with us through the years. One, in particular stands out from many years ago. A good friend and excellent photographer, Tom Holding, once said to me “look for the picture within the picture”. Harmless words that have made a large impact on my work.

I recently had a session with some photo friends and the image above came up on my screen. It brought back some memories that I felt would be good for this weeks post.

The image above was shot in the mid 80’s and has a story to it. It was shot as a film transparency and later digitized. As I was composing it, camera on a tripod, quite close to the building at Batsto Village in New Jersey, A couple strolling by said “What are you taking a picture of?” Rather than trying to explain, I offered for them to look through the viewfinder. As they looked they got quite excited and spouted comments about a magazine picture and such. It was a really cool moment.

Here’s the lesson part. I hope it doesn’t sound too aggrandizing . I had shot the building, and it was nice. I then looked within that shot. I shot the side of the building and it was nice. I then studied that composition and shot the door and it was nice. Finally, the picture within that picture revealed itself as “The Latch”.

I hope you can see the progression here. I’ll now pass along the tip to you. Slow down, take your time, and “Look for the picture within the picture”.

Thanks once again Tom

Take care till next week


When Is It Art ?


When is it art? This question has been asked a million times. It’s one of the most difficult questions to answer. Art is different things to different people. It is highly subjective. It’s even more of a question when it comes to photography. There are those who still look at photography more as a craft than art. Thankfully those numbers are growing smaller.

So, when does a photograph rise from being a snapshot to art? Here are some thoughts. Some feel it’s a combination of composition, technical skills, subject mater, mood, etc. A common quote on the subject is “When it elicits an emotional response” You may love it, you may hate it, it could bring back memories of a past experience. At any rate, the image has in some way made you stop for a moment to experience the image, and give thought.

This, of course is a very broad definition of what is an artful photograph. I’m sure you can add many more of your own thoughts, and I’d love to hear them. One thought in particular comes to my mind. This thought is the reason I chose the above image for this post. To me, this image asks more questions than it answers. Just what is around that corner? Who has been through here in the past? What was this structure used for, what is its purpose? Is it art? To me, labeling it is not as important as having you stop for a moment just to reflect, react, or even question the image.

I hope I’ve given you some thoughts to ponder this week. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Till next post, take care and be creative.



Anatomy Of A Creative Image

with texture

I had promised to share the steps taken in creating my latest series of floral images, so this will be an overview (not detailed) account of the process. I had been wanting to create a new look for my flowers and the image above is a representation of the result.


The process begins on a 4 foot light table. The subject is composed on the table and a series of 7-8 images are captured (HDR style) favoring the right side of the histogram. I want to keep the background as blown as possible. The resulting images are processed in an HDR program. In this case I used Photomatix as I have some personally created presets that I thought would work well with floral images.

straight hdr

The above image is the straight HDR image with no presets, or further processing.

presets str

This images shows the HDR file after adding my Photomatix preset and also adjustments using the Topaz program “Glow”. I should mention that each of the steps in this post are done using their own layer in Photoshop, so that I can control each phase separately and adjust each individually.

with texture

The final step in the process is to choose and add a texture overlay to the image. I feel the choice of the texture is equally important as any other step. The wrong texture can ruin the feel of the image. Of course the right texture is a matter of personal taste. After applying the texture, the choice of blending mode, and any masking and cleanup is also a critical personal choice.

If all this lacks the detail that you wanted, I apologize. I had promised to keep these posts as short as I can. The details involved in each step will be a matter of personal choices in creating your look, feel, and vision.

Thanks a ton, as always, for reading the post. I am always willing to answer questions of you contact me. Don’t forget to visit the website, share this post, and generally boost my ego 🙂 Stay safe, and always be creative.





A Triumphant Return…


Well, to be honest, I don’t know how triumphant it is. I’ve been away from the blog for quite some time. I’ve been struggling with where my focus will be in the photo world. I’ve shut down my main business, focused more on my own vision and developed a new, and I hope accepted, processing technique for some floral shots.

I’ve been honored to be one of two photographers featured in a new video documentary  on the demise and decay of a local glass factory. The images are haunting and stunning. It’s set to premier in the fall. It’s being produced by ArtC.

Enough about me. Here’s what I hope to accomplish as we continue. I’d like this blog to feature new images and share information on the concept and techniques used to create them. I’ll try to keep posts short and informative. Watch for a post on this floral technique.

I could use your help in growing my reach. Please feel free to share these posts (Facebook, twitter, or a simple link) or tell friends who are photographers, or folks who just enjoy seeing some nice images. Also feel free to comment and leave your thoughts. If you’d like to see a certain subject, just mention it in a comment. Let’s grow this thing together.

For now, thanks for reading. If you are not currently following, you can do so in the right column.

Take care and be creative