Archive for the ‘ANPW’ Category


ANPW Day 4 – Time to Say Goodbye (almost)…

October 2, 2008

Wow, it’s finally the last day of the workshop.  We (Martin, Steve, Cathy and I) decided to sleep late and have a final breakfast together at a nice place in town.  Ahhh, sleeping in!!!  The great part of today is that I’m not heading home!  In fact, Martin, Cathy and I are taking a late-morning run up to Yellowstone to have another full day of shooting.  Martin was staying for another workshop the following week and Cathy and I were flying out on Sunday.  Sweet.

ROAD TRIP!!! After stocking up on gas and junk food, we headed out towards Yellowstone.  The plan was to drive for half the time and head back to the Tetons for sunset images.  That was the plan…

Our first stop  Oxbow Bend where I took my winning picture.  I wanted to show how many people are there to shoot Oxbow, but in the middle of the day, there aren’t many.  Oxbow is a morning spot with upwards of 100 people crowding around to get the shot.

As we progressed, we came upon a number of vehicles on the side of the road and people with cameras standing looking down in to the woods.  Wildlife.  In this case it was a mother moose and calf:

Heading further into the park we ran across a crow that really wanted to pose for a photograph.  Using the 300mm f2.8, I shot this:

While not a huge fan of the composition, I was blown away by the sharpness of this lens.  This was shot wide open at f2.8  Hmmm, where did I put my lottery ticket?!?!

Our next stop was the Artist Paint Pots.  This is an area of thermal activity where the mud in one location bubbles or shots into the air.  It’s actually very interesting to watch.  Simply set up your tripod and start shooting until you get something interesting:

Watching the bubbles

Watching the bubbles

One highlight of Yellowstone is the animals.  They’re so used to people that you can often get too close.  People tend to forget that they’re still wild animals and a number of folks each year are gored, trampled or otherwise hurt.  Of course, everyone blames the animal.  I was amazed how close we were able to get to a mother and calf elk in a parking lot by the side of the road. I waited until I could improve the background to a stream instead of a parking lot and shot this:

I was also able to capture this:

Mother elk looking for her calf

Mother elk looking for her calf

Our final stop of the day was at Grand Prismatic.  This is a huge hot spring with amazing colors of red and blue from the bacteria growing in the water.  I was surprised at the amount of color this year.  It was much less than what I saw last year at this time (although still quite striking).  I’m hoping this isn’t a forecast of what’s to come, but a natural cycle of the springs:

As the sun went down, I shot into the sun for this unique shot:

As the sun went down, we ended the road trip and the last day of the trip with this image.  The colors were outstanding, the company fantastic and the location amazing:


ANPW Day 3

September 30, 2008

This morning we met at 5:30. To start, the entire group went to shoot the sunrise over the valley.  I hopped in Scott Stulberg’s Jeep along with Richard, another ANPW winner.  When we reached the shooting location the whole group set up and waited for sunrise.  Now, sunrise isn’t a “flip-the-switch” type of activity.  You see this coming.  Common sense would have kept me in a warm car until the light of day was coming over the eastern hills.  But, no…  We all stood out in the 20-something degree weather, in the dark and waited.  And waited. 🙂  No complaints, but I certainly learned something.  It’s better to be warm and on time than early and cold!  I attempted my first HDR panoramic.  It still needs some clean up, but here are the results:

Panoramic of the Tetons Range

Panoramic of the Tetons Range

Next, the group headed towards Mormon Row.  This was one of my favorite places in the Tetons and the location of two of my favorite images from last year – Moulton Barn and Moulton House).  As is typical of this location in the morning, it was packed full of photographers.  I shot this HDR of a small barn:

This was a good time to chat with the others and we soon were in a small lighting technique lesson by Scott Stulberg.  He showed us how to properly use reflectors and natural light to light the side of a model – in this case Lisa Bettany.  I wish I had pictures, but I was the guy holding the reflector.  I’m hoping Lisa or someone else posts the images.  It was interesting.  After a failed attempt to find some animals to photograph, it was off to lunch and our last day in the classroom.

In class we learned additional ways to create in Aperture and looked at some of the new plug-in technology.  Martin reviewed books, cards, slide shows and more.  I’m even more impressed and excited by the things I’ll be able to do with Aperture.  I’ve wanted to find a way to show pictures to family and friends without sitting around a laptop or viewing a typical photo album.  I love the book feature and the amount of options you  have with them.  This is something I’ll definitely look in to for sharing my pictures going forward.

Lastly, we were given a taste of some of Steve Simon’s photography in the form of Aperture presentations.  Set to music, we sat in awe as we viewed the solemn aftermath of 9/11 to the funny, but thought-provoking Big Cow to the captivating images from the Republican and Democratic conventions.  Steve is one of the best photojournalists around.  Visit Steve’s site to get a sampling of his talent.

As Scott Bourne brought in more “gifts” for us to see (one year subscriptions to training site and a certificate for Lensbaby equipment) we learned that the evening shoot was wildlife.  I have to say, when Scott gets prizes, he doesn’t mess around.  Everything was the top-of-the-line including the Drobo (Firewire, not the USB model), subscription to (premium all-access for one year), the certificate to Lensbaby (so we could get the latest Lensbaby creation), the ThinkTank 360 Backpack (their latest creation) and the PeachPress books (all photography related books).  Plus a copy of Aperture and a lifetime subscription to  It’s amazing that he put this all together and I’m extremely grateful.

Teaming up again with Martin, with Brian in the car, we took off for the place we found elk the day before.  Unknown to us, it was also private property.  While we did manage to see another herd of elk, property management also found us and escorted us off the property.  Hey, sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness then permission! 🙂  Caravan in tow, Martin took off looking for more wildlife.

We drove for a while heading towards the place were we had seen the bison the evening before.  As we did, light was fading fast.  We noticed that Scott Stulberg had dropped from the caravan.  Still we searched for wildlife.  Scott Bourne dropped off as well.  It was just Martin’s car with Martin, Brian and I inside.  Around the next courner and BINGO!  A large heard of bison.  Fantastic.

This again proves that you have to keep going to find what you’re looking for and to MAKE YOUR SHOTS.  Also, shooting in dim light isn’t a bad option.  Sometimes you need to get the shots the clients looking for and you can’t wait for perfect light or anything else.  Make your shots.  Sometimes they don’t always come during the “golden hours”.

Heading back towards the hotel, we were in contact with Scott Stulberg’s car.  They had pulled on to Mormon Row and were looking to make some astro shots.  We joined them and I captured one of my favorite pictures from the trip – Big Dipper over Grand Teton

This one also:

You can see a very thin line towards the bottom of the picture.  This isn’t a plane or shooting star – it’s a satellite.  Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either, but you can see satellites with your naked eye provided there isn’t any light pollution.  It was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen.

As we were getting ready to leave another group approached.  It was David Black a legend in the Nikon world.  He was shooting with a National Geographic team in the surrounding mountains.

One last picture before I turn in.  This one is Jupiter (the large point of light), the Milky Way and the light from Jackson Hole.  Oh… and a stop sign!  Enjoy!


ANPW Day 2 – PM

September 27, 2008

I have to admit, after getting up early, shooting like a fiend and having a large, late breakfast, I thought my attention span in Martin’s first Aperture class was in jeopardy.  I was tired!  But my tired feeling quickly took the backseat to Martin’s fantastic hands-on demonstration of Aperture.  Simply put, Martin’s reputation as the premier Aperture instructor is firmly in place!  As for Aperture, this application is fantastic and a huge step up from my current work flow.  While I really like Nikon’s Capture NX software, the elegance and depth of Aperture will greatly improve my time to edit images.  I’m a believer and moving to Aperture as soon as I get home.  Check it out at

I teamed up with Martin again for the afternoon/sunset shoot.  On the way out the light was really flat and dark clouds adorned the sky.  It didn’t look like a night to be out shooting pictures.  Ha!  One lesson I’ve learned is that regardless of the situation you’re put in, there are times when you need to make pictures.  Your clients aren’t going to listen to, “there wasn’t good light”, “I didn’t find anything to shoot”.  You must make the shots and “Never give up, never surrender!”.

Following this motto, we continued into the park when the sun broke through the clouds and bathed the valley in a glowing light:

The clouds behind the Grand Tetons opens and the sun shines down on the valley

The clouds behind the Grand Tetons opens and the sun shines down on the valley

Continuing on we drove north through the park looking for animals.  We were able to shoot a number of horses, some distant antelope and a lone bison.  I’m processing images, but it’s taking quite some time and there isn’t a lot of it on the trip.  It’s shoot, learn, shoot, shoot, sleep!  It doesn’t make it easy to post.

On the way back it was getting dark and the clouds were preventing us staying out for astro photography.  We did stop to shoot a well lit statue on the way into Jackson:

Statue on the way into Jackson, WY

Statue on the way into Jackson, WY

In the evening, Martin and I decided to take a walk around town.  Honestly, I wasn’t feeling well, but didn’t want to give up on shooting for the day.  Remember the motto – “Never give up, never surrender!”  the town of Jackson is very beautiful and shooting at night was interesting.  Again, not a lot processed, but I thought this was interesting:

Of the way back to the hotel, we noticed the sky had cleared.  Against my body’s wishes, we loaded up the car and took off for the park.  Our goal – to get far enough out of town to escape the light pollution so we could shoot astro photography.  I’d never shot astro and was very interested in learning the technique.

When we finally pulled over and hopped out, there were more stars in the sky then I had ever seen.

The haze in the sky is actually the bands of our Milky Way galaxy.

The haze in the sky is actually the bands of our Milky Way galaxy.

The haze in the sky isn’t from clouds, it’s the bands of the Milky Way.  It was awesome.

Enough for now.  I need some sleep.


ANPW Day 2 – AM…

September 25, 2008

Wow.  It’s been a busy day!  This morning, Martin Gisborne and I headed out to shoot Schwabacher Landing at sunrise.  Martin is one of two Product Managers for Aperture and an accomplished photographer.  His style, get in, get the shot and get out to MAKE more pictures.  As I believed, the best part of the trip is understanding the way a true photo pro thinks about the assignment.  It really separates the professional from the amateur.  Alas, I’m in the latter group, but learning

After Schwabacher Landing, we decided to blow-off Moulton Row (too many people already there) and hunt for photos.  We scouted a place for this evening’s astral photos before driving after a couple hot air balloons.  We never did catch them, but ended up finding a bunch of Elk.  Hand-holding a 300mm f2.8 with a 1.7 tele isn’t the easiest thing, but I did manage to capture this image:

Off to grab a bite to eat before heading out for more wildlife, sunset and astral shots.  We’ll see!


ANPW Day 1…

September 24, 2008

What a day.  After traveling from Philadelphia to Denver to Jackson Hole, WY for 8 hours, meeting the crew and getting to see a fantastic presentation of some of the pros’ photos, I’m back in the room and ready to sleep for a week.

But before I do, I wanted to share a picture of my little LowePro MiniTrekker completely filled with lenses.  I’ve labeled each lens:

My little LowePro MiniTrekker

My little LowePro MiniTrekker

My D300 and D200 were in my laptop case with the two SB-800s I brought and a 50mm f1.8.

Tonight, I’m keeping the post short (as most will be on this trip).  I’m up at 4:45 to head out with Martin Gisborne to shoot Schwabacher Landing and Molton Row.  I’ll post some images as soon as I’m able.

Stay up to date with this blog and over at where Lisa Bettany of is blogging as well.  Now, I’m off to bed!  4:45 comes fast!


A photographic theme…

September 20, 2008

Hmmm.  I’ve got a few days before the big trip and I’ve yet to pick a theme.  What is a theme, you say?  Isn’t the Grand Teton National Park a theme?  Well, yes, technically, but I’ve heard over and over again that it needs to be more specific.  Let’s back up a bit.

Whenever you go out to shoot, you should pick a theme.  Picking a theme helps focus your eye and your mind on, well, the theme!  This causes you to see things differently and with more detail since you’re looking for aspects of the theme in everything around you.  It’s not to say, “I’m not going to photograph the grizzly charging the elk for dinner because my theme is water’s effect on the landscape”.  Heck, shoot anything you’d like, BUT keep your theme in mind.  Look for the theme in everything you see and photograph.  It’ll get you more involved with the environment and, ultimately, improve your eye and your photography.

So, what’s my theme?  Truth be told, I’ve never chosen a theme before!  Hey, I’m learning too!  This is mostly a learning experience while doing landscape photography.  Should I focus on that?  It’s autumn in the Tetons.  Hmmm, I like autumn.  Autumn in the Tetons?  My photos should reflect the color and beauty of the autumn season in the Grand Teton National Park.  I can shoot wildlife, but each photo should show that it’s autumn.  I’m going to think on this a while.  I’m not sure if it’s specific enough.  Thoughts?  Use the comment box below!


The Aperture Nature Photography Workshops (ANPW)…

September 16, 2008

If you haven’t listened to the podcast or read the blog This Week in Photography you’re missing out on great photography information.  Scott Bourne, Alex Lindsay, Steve Simon, Ron Brinkmann, Fred Johnson, et al produce this fantastic photography podcast each week.  In between podcasts, there are articles, contests and polls galore to keep you coming back to the site day after day.

It was during one episode of TWIP that I first heard of the Aperture Nature Photography Workshops (ANPW for short) contests.  Simply, four pros would team up with four amateur contest winners to shoot in one of four national parks.  The first contest was for a trip to Grand Tetons National Park.  The next three are Yosemite, Yellowstone and Olympic.  To enter you post a picture showing nature in all her glory – landscapes, wildlife, macro, anything that represented nature.  Judges would pick the top four pictures and, if selected, the photogs were off to the Tetons!  Oh, yeah, there are a lot of great prizes too!

Seeing that I’d been in the Tetons the year before I selected the only photo that is selling on my iStockPhoto page:

Reflection of Mt. Moran in the Snake River at Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons National Park

Reflection of Mt. Moran in the Snake River at Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons National Park

Whether talent or luck (I’m betting luck!) my photo was selected as one of the four winners.  Needless to say, I’m honored to have been picked out of so many fantastic entries.  Seriously, go look through some of these shots.  They’re fantastic.

So, I’m getting ready to head to Jackson Hole, WY on the 24th.  Words can’t describe how much I’m looking forward to this trip and meeting some of the people I read about or listen to each week.  I have the pleasure of meeting Scott Bourne, Martin Gisborne, Steve Simon and Scott Stulberg.  If you don’t know the names, look at their work (sorry, Martin!  I’m looking for a link!).  It’s truly inspirational photography.  Also, Lisa Bettany a stunningly beautiful blogger, photographer, writer, actress and model will be documenting the trip.  I am truly excited about this upcoming adventure.  Stay tuned… there’s more of this to come!