FotoMentum: Blog en-us (C) FotoMentum (FotoMentum) Thu, 23 Sep 2021 03:00:00 GMT Thu, 23 Sep 2021 03:00:00 GMT FotoMentum: Blog 120 93 Why Use Shutter Priority I have been having a great learning experience creating this blog and videos for my YouTube channel.  Like some of my recent blogs, I blogging with the same topic for the video this week.  So, be sure to check it out as well.  You can find it here:  Why Use Shutter Priority

Did you watch the video?  If you did I hope you hit the like button and even the subscribe.  I am hoping to grow my YouTube following and I getting many readers on my blog.

On with the topic at hand.


Why Use Shutter Priority

Shutter priority is a good mode to use when you want to control the shutter speed for different effects.  I have mentioned in the past that our eyes are so much more powerful than the most expensive camera.  But with that limitation on the cameras, we get some effects that can provide interesting results.  For the beginner photographer, I would like to focus on some of the easier concepts and that is to stop motion or capture more light.  These are probably the two easiest concepts for us.  So in the five photos, I share I am either stopping motion, allowing a little bit of motion to smooth part of the photo, or using a longer exposure to let colors pop more or to let lights move through the scene.

To give you some perspective or idea on what shutter speeds to use here are some examples:

  • For fast-moving children, start around 1/500th of a second
  • For portraits, you can go as low as 1/30th of a second
  • For sunsets and fireworks, I like to start at 5 seconds
  • For light trails or light painting anywhere from 5 seconds to several minutes
    • But take some practice shots in shorter intervals first to make sure you are getting what want.

Of these photos, only the first one was on shutter priority, but the others were shot in manual with using the shutter as my priority to get the effect I was after.

1/1000 Sec  F5.6   ISO 100

3.2 Sec    F11  ISO 100


5 sec   F14    ISO 100


5 sec    F8.0    ISO 200

Light TrailsLight Trails

5 sec    F14    ISO 100


(FotoMentum) beginner beginning camera canon club creative learning photo photography priority shutter tips Thu, 23 Sep 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 40 This tip is for an advanced photographer.  When shooting in manual try over and under exposing using both shutter and aperture and compare the differences in your favorite photo editor.  Write notes on what you like and dislike.

(FotoMentum) advance advanced camera canon club creative photo photographer photography tips Mon, 20 Sep 2021 14:36:35 GMT
Real Photographers Only Use Manual Mode I have asked and spoke with several professional photographers and to debunk the title right away let's set it straight.  Four out of four professional photographers I asked the answer was very similar.   The answer was clear that they do use manual a lot, but they also use other modes as well.

The line for a professional photographer has really blurred in recent years due to ease of entry.  There are many influencers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. making a comfortable full-time wage.  Many of them are just using their cell phones or simple DLSRs or point-and-shoot cameras.  If you haven't noticed technology has advanced and many of the inexpensive options are in the game.

In the past month, I have been writing posts and creating YouTube videos on how to get in manual mode with your camera.  During this time I have been staying in aperture priority because that is the step I have been recommending.  What I found interesting is that I learned some new things.  It wasn't something on aperture priority mode that I was not aware of.  What I learned was totally unexpected.  Different enough to put it off to the next paragraph.  But first, I must share a photo from my aperture priority mode.  You can see this and the rest of the photoshoot on my YouTube video that was released at the same time as this blog.

Yorkie PhotoshootYorkie PhotoshootYorkie Photoshoot

What I learned was that I felt very limited during this time while I was forcing myself to stay in aperture priority mode.  So, I want to make a couple of points from what I learned.  First, get out of your comfort zone and try things you have not tried before.  And secondly, put some restrictions on your photography and see how you adjust.  

Getting out of your comfort zone is trying new settings such as aperture priority mode.  No matter if it is to learn settings to get you off of automatic, or you a photographer that only uses (mostly uses) manual mode.  Doing things differently will help you learn and also help you discover some things about yourself that you did not know.

Putting restrictions on your photography is a technique/game you can implement to increase creativity.  One of the more common of these I have seen on several blogs, forums, social media locations, etc is to put a single prime lens on your camera for a day and that is the only lens you can use.  I had not thought of doing that with settings as well.

So, let's end this blog with some challenges for you to try.

  1. Only use aperture priority mode
  2. Only use shutter priority mode
  3. Only use manual mode
  4. Use only one focal length
  5. Only use manual focus
  6. Every photo must have a specific color (the same color must be in all photos)
  7. Shoot only in a vertical orientation
  8. Shoot only in landscape orientation

Those are some ideas I like and would love to hear back from you on some ideas.  Leave me a comment below on your thoughts on this blog post.  I went in two directions but like them both.  I started with the assumption that "Real Photographers Only Use Manual Mode" and ended with some challenges for you to think about trying.  So, I am looking forward to both topics.

  • Do you shoot in a single mode all the time?
  • What ideas can you add to my challenge list?



(FotoMentum) aperture automatic best camera canon club creative easy exposure fun games learn light manual mode photo photography professional project tips Thu, 16 Sep 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 39 This tip is a repeat from Thursday's longer post on the same topic, but worth repeating.  If you are wanting to get to full manual mode, start with the small step of learning either aperture or shutter priority mode.  They are easier to learn and will help you learn the exposure triangle

(FotoMentum) aperture camera canon club creative learn lesson light manual photo photography priority tip tips Mon, 13 Sep 2021 12:30:00 GMT
5 Tips when Using Aperture Priority Mode Aperture Priority was my first step in getting to manual mode.  Some photographers only shoot in manual mode and there are times where I predominantly shoot in manual mode.  But before getting to full manual mode you need to have a good understanding of the exposure triangle.  I have a short tutorial on my youtube channel that will help you understand the exposure triangle.

Let's break down one leg of the exposure triangle and understand when to use Aperture Priority.  Aperture Priority is a semi-automatic mode with one manual control.  To be in full manual mode all of the settings need to be in manual.

Manual Chart
Triangle Leg Setting


Shutter Speed*




With some cameras, there is an option to set a minimum and a maximum shutter speed to force the camera to stay within a specified range. However, I didn't see that option until I purchased a high-end camera.  It was not a feature on my canon rebel xTi or 5Ti.

  1. Use aperture priority when first learning to get off of automatic.  Going straight from automatic to manual will be difficult at best and frustrating at worst with a disappointing result from the photoshoot.
  2. Use aperture priority when the light changes frequently.  For example, if you are walking in the city streets you will likely be walking in and out of shade and sunshine.  Even once you mastered manual mode this is a common setting to rely on to help achieve great results.
  3. Use aperture priority for portrait photos.   Many portraits are taken at a low aperture (F1.8 -  F2.4).  This provides the bokeh for the photo.  Bokeh is the term used to define creating the blurry background behind the subject.
  4. Aperture priority allows you to make quick adjustments to compensate for light changes without having to worry about the other legs of the triangle.
  5. Put your camera back in automatic after your photoshoot in aperture priority mode.  I have been a proponent of setting it back to automatic so that the camera is ready for a snapshot if you were to pick it up for an unexpected opportunity.

When is aperture priority the way to go?

  • You want some control over the exposure triangle
  • Light is going to be frequently changing
  • Portraits
  • Street Photography
  • Flowers
  • Landscape

I encourage you to try aperture priority as a stepping stone to getting to full manual mode.  And once you have mastered aperture and shutter priority modes don't be afraid to use them in the right conditions.  If you don't have time to think through all the settings for full manual mode, aperture priority is a good choice when you want to control the aperture.

You will find that only practice will make you better.  Reading this blog or watching videos is good, but make sure you take what you learned and practice in the field.

(FotoMentum) aperture camera canon club creative photo photography priority tips Thu, 09 Sep 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 38 Are you shooting a very fast animal or bird?   If you are not comfortable with manual mode, then shutter priority is your friend.   Set your shutter speed to at least 1/1000 and at least 3x your focal length.   So, if you have a 600mm lens then start at 1/1800 or 1/2000.  If you have a nifty-fifty, the use 1/1000 as your base starting point.

(FotoMentum) camera canon club creative freeze photo photography shutter shutter priority shutter speed tips Mon, 06 Sep 2021 15:47:31 GMT
How To Create Amazing Silhouette Photos Follow my steps in this blog post for a simple silhouette project for the home.

First, let's talk about the theory of how to get a silhouette in a photo.  The basic concept is to have a very bright background such as sunrise, sunset, bright window, and a subject in front of that bright light source.  Then when taking the photo adjust your camera settings for the bright light in the background.  The subject should then be a silhouette.

In this project, I will also be creating a parallel YouTube video on my YouTube channel.  But not today.  I did not get this video ready yet.  It may be a few weeks, but leave me a comment below if you are interested in a video version for this blog.

Silhouettes of people are probably the most common subject used.  I am going to do that here and I will share some tips on posing for a silhouette.


  • Create Gaps
    • Do this with the limbs of the body.  If you have a full-body shot, then make sure there is separation in the legs and with at least one arm.  
    • If you don't create gaps it may not look much different than this:
Stick people are not good for photos, so make sure you create or wait for the gap(s)
  • Side views
    • For full-body and more importantly for the partial body oise (shoulders and head), get a side view.  This will help with the gaps and if it is not the full-body shot you need the side view to get the curves of the face.  Otherwise, we are making stick figures again.
  • Action
    • Get some action such as someone walking or running.  Since you will be exposing to a bright background it is likely you will have a fast shutter speed.  This will probably be fast enough to freeze any human action.
  • Use props
    • In this project I am doing I will be using a window.  So here is a list of some household props to think about.
      • Drinking a cup of coffee
      • Eating a piece of fruit
      • Peaking through blinds
      • Reading a book

Let's Do This

In this section let's get the technical details and steps of how to set this up.  If you have help you can have someone be your model while you take your shots.  However, I tend to do these projects solo, so that is what I will be explaining here.

You will want a sharp silhouette, so starting with an aperture setting of about 5.6.  This will give you some depth of field to have a more forgiving focus point.  Set your ISO to 100 or 200 and your shutter speed to about 1/500 to 1/1000 of a second.  Remember we will be wanting to expose for the background.

Do not use auto, aperture priority, or shutter priority because the camera will try to expose for both and will do a poor job at that.  Your camera is not as good as your eyes and has a much smaller dynamic range for exposure.  The camera can adjust for the subject or the background in this setup, but not both.

Are you in manual mode?  That is where we need to be.  Also, if you have been reading my tips on Mondays, are you shooting RAW, JPEG, or both?  This is a good photoshoot to be in RAW mode to all for post-processing touchups.

The settings I am suggesting are just a starting point not a one setting for all silhouettes.  In some cases, my suggestions won't be close.  What ever settings you end up on, take a few test shots until you are seeing the silhouette you want.


(FotoMentum) aperture camera canon club creative exposure focus ISO photo photography shuttespeed silhouette stick figure stickman tips Thu, 02 Sep 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 36 Okay, I can't count.  Last week I posted PTT37 and skipped 36, so...... here is 36.

If you are using a DLSR or Mirrorless camera and have the RAW option for photo format, turn it on.  If you have one of these high-end cameras as you progress you will make that change.  My tip here is to not wait for that aha moment, but instead, turn it on today.  If you want the JPGs out of the camera then most of these cameras give you the option to do both.  This is one setting I wished I had done much earlier than I did.

(FotoMentum) camera canon club creative format jpeg jpg photo photography post post-processing processing raw tips Mon, 30 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Put Your Camera Down Do you want to get some of your best photos?  Do you want to tell a story with your photos?  Do you want people to wonder why your photos look so good?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then put your camera down for a few minutes.  Yes! Put your camera down.  Leave it in the backpack or set it on the ground.  Hear me out this really works.

I have listened to podcasts and watched YouTube videos from successful photographers that have a common thread.  The common thread is to not take photos right away.  There may be times when you will need to take a photo right away, but for the most part, follow this process and you will get better photos - I promise.

As I said in the previous paragraph, it is okay to break the rules.  This method is not a rule like the rule of thirds or leading lines or even framing.  If you don't follow this, no one will know.  But if you are looking to improve your photos then this is for you.   Do this!   

When you first arrive on the scene leave your camera in the backpack.  Actually, take off your backpack and set it on the ground so you can walk around freely.  Of course, don't leave your bag unattended where it could be stolen.  In those cases, leave the backpack on but don't open it.  Keep the camera in the bag.

If you read my tip from earlier this week you have an example of what I am talking about.  I didn't plan to leave my camera in my bag - and actually, I didn't.  But, I did follow the spirit of the method/rule not to concentrate on that one photo I was after.   All too often, I have a photo concept in my mind that I am wanting to capture and it causes me to miss other photos if I don't take my time.

So, far I have talking philosophy. So, let's talk about how to do this in specific situations.

  • Going on a hike to a specific spot for the epic shot at an overlook (or any landscape location).
    • When you arrive at your prized location.  Leave your camera in your backpack and sit down for five or ten minutes and pay attention to the environment around you.  Notice the birds or wildlife in the area if they are visible.  Look at the plants, flowers, and trees.  What looks interesting to that makes a good subject.
    • After your break, get up to walk around.  Leave your camera bag on the ground if you are able and feel comfortable leaving it there.  If you need to carry it, leave your camera in the backpack.  We are not ready to take photos yet.  Walk around and pay attention to how things change as walk around.  Try to get low and high to get different angles.  This reflection of the yellow lily was not visible until I laid on the ground.  You will be surprised at what you find by taking your time to try different angles and perspectives.  How long this takes depends on a lot of things, such as how much room do you have to move around or how busy the scene is.
    • Yellow Flower LIlyYellow Flower LIlyYellow Flower LIly
    • Is there something in the scene that you don't want in your photo?  Is trash in the scene that you can pick up?  If you see a water bottle or soda can or other trash, do your duty and pick it up and dispose of it.  That will remove it from your photo while also helping the environment.
  • Portrait Shoot
    • Similar to a landscape photo above you want to scout your area.  But do this without a client. If you have a location to do a portrait shoot, go there without your client and pay attention to the scene again for options that you may not have thought of trying.
    • Light is critical for portraits, so pay attention to the sun and where it hits the scene.  Is it better in the morning or the evening?

In summary, take in the area before you jump in and taking snapshots because if you just jump in and start clicking your camera's shutter button, you will get just that: snapshots.  We all can get those.  However, if you take in the scene and give it some time you will walk away with great photos.

(FotoMentum) camera canon club composition creative photo photography tips Thu, 26 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 37 The picture you go after is sometimes not the picture you get.  Today I was on a photo trip to capture the umbrella project in Batesville, IN.  I was wanting to get a great photo with the shadows and the umbrellas.  The sun was out for a few minutes and I got a couple.  But then the clouds came and I was waiting for the sun to come back.  So, for the next 20 minutes, I waited and walked around getting different pictures.  The sun never came back out, and I am glad it didn't.  

I created a gallery for you to check out my ten favorites.

(FotoMentum) art batesville camera creative in indiana photo project umbrella Mon, 23 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Pic 7 of 7 Pic 7 of 7

Went back to some history from my grandparents. My Grandma Taylor used to make these doilies. We would put them under lamps on end tables and under flower pots for decoration. I have several of these and had a hard time deciding which to include. These are not small. The two square ones are about 10x10 inches and the long one is 7x24 inches.


Grandma hand-crocheted each of these. I took the photo straight down on these on a black background so you can appreciate the detail.


(FotoMentum) crochet decorative doilies lamp pic pic-a-day plants white Fri, 20 Aug 2021 01:29:12 GMT
Seven Things a Photography Club Can Do For You Seven things a Photography Club Can Do for You?

My name is Doug Gabbard and Welcome to Practicing Photography where I try to get better one photograph at a time.

I currently run a photography club, a YouTube Channel, a personal photography website with a blog, and a website and mailing list for my photography club.

If you just got your first digital camera or are just beginning to learn, this video and blog are for you.  I am going to tell you seven things a photography club can do for you.

Do You Want to Join a Club? (Yes, you do, that was rhetorical)

Now that you have decided to join a club, you need to ask yourself why you want to join a club.   This will help you when you are looking for the right club.  Do you want to join to make friends and improve your skills?  Or are you the competitive type and want to improve your chances in competitions?  Answers to these questions will help you decide if you have found the right club.

I am going to assume you are looking for a non-competitive club and want to meet new people after similar goals of improving your photos and learn how to use your camera better.

In this type of club, you will meet people with similar interests and will likely form some new friendships.  This type of club allows you to learn at your own pace and have fun while doing it.  These fun clubs are less intimidating and encourage you to ask even the most basic questions.

Fun clubs will also be less costly.  My club for instance is a zero-cost club.  No joining fees, no membership fees, and no fund-raising events.  We have a zero-budget ledger.  The only cost in my club will be for a location we visit that has an entry fee and any camera gear you choose to purchase.

Any type of photography club should offer a mix of activities and opportunities for learning. Here are some things to look for that I do in my club.

#1 Meetings

Probably the most important (besides getting out there and taking pictures), is holding regular meetings.    My club meets twice a month.  One is for a standard meeting and the other meeting is really a photo trip that I will expand on more in a bit.  Our standard meetings are in an open discussion with a screen show of photos from members.  This brings us to

#2 Training:

We provide instruction and training, regardless of the camera you are using. Bring anything from smartphones to advanced DLSR, and mirrorless cameras. Great photos come from taking “one photo at a time”, not from expensive gear.  Here are some sample topics from my club:


  • What are all those knobs, buttons, and dials on my camera?
  • What are aperture, shutter, and ISO?
  • How do I shoot fireworks?
  • How to shoot for black and white photos.
  • Photo composition techniques.
  • Understanding various kinds of light.
  • Portrait shooting practice.
  • How to use features on your smartphone.

If you are in a club, what training topics you have seen?  If you are not in a club yet, what training would you like to see?  Either way, leave me a comment below.

#3 Photo Trips

We also do photo trips and tours together to learn and socialize.  Photo trips range in length from one to several hours or a day trip as we explore various close locations.  On these trips, we apply what we have learned and shared in meetings.  Photo trips are a way to get us out there and just shoot.  Here are some of the cool locations we have already visited:


  • We started with a local garden shop because it was close and full of color and great photo opportunities.
  • We went to Rhoebling Bridge when it was shut down to vehicular traffic – but we could walk on it.
  • We went to a farm that had animals such as swans, goats, horses, exotic chickens.
  • We had an adventure to the Oxbow and will be returning.
  • We met for the lineup of the planets (Jupiter and Saturn).
  • We have been at Local Parks.
  • We have met for sunrises and sunsets.

For those that cannot travel or attend photo trips we have

#4 Sharing and Games

We share our photos on Facebook and during our meetings.   On Facebook, we play a game where we post a photo, and the next person posts a photo that includes something from the previous photo.  This can go on for as long as you like.  If you search my blog posts, I have several different games to try.  I will have a link to my blog in the description below.

We do frequent challenges and tasks to complete to get you taking pictures and trying things you may not otherwise.  Our favorite so far is something called “List of Seven” where you take a photo a day for seven days.  This was created as an easier task than a well-known project 365 or project 52 where it is a photo a day or week.  Committing to taking a picture a day for seven days is much easier than these longer projects.

There is a lot more to these games and too long to discuss, but hopefully, you are getting the idea - we have fun.

Do you know of any games for photographers?  Leave me a comment below for the games you have played.

By now you are probably feeling confident and ready for

#5 Photo Contests

While we are a fun club, we do encourage members to submit photos to contests.  We have a local contest that is much smaller than online contests where there are thousands of entries to get lost in.  Small local contests are much easier to get recognition with a smaller entry base.  And with the help of the club, we can guide members on what photo to submit and get feedback.

#6 Community Events

We have been known to show up for events to capture some of the happenings around our neighborhood.  We have been at Hayrides, Halloween Walks, Polar Bear Dip, Cruise-Ins, Labor Day Bash, and more.  These events are good times to practice various skills and there can be challenges with different techniques needed for each event


#7 Publish articles in the community publications.          

We have a semi-regular article called “Where in the Town”  in our community newspaper that includes an obvious or not so obvious photo of some amenity, structure, feature, work of art, or about anything related to the town to show the residence parts of the town they may not be aware of.


What can a photography club do for you?

I hope you learned the answer to that.  I gave seven things a photography club can do to help you improve your photography skills.  Are you in a club?  If not, why not?   If there isn’t one close, do what I did:  Start your own club.

Thank you for your time and I will see you again next week.


(FotoMentum) 365 52 7 blog camera canon club competitive contest contests creative fun games landscape learn light photo photography photography club portrait project seven skill tips wildlife youtube Thu, 19 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Pic 6 of 7 Pic 6 of 7. This is an old puzzle I found at a yard sale. It is still sealed, but a search on Bing and I found it does not have much value, but I like that it looks really old. I don't have the heart to break the seal yet.
coke puzzlecoke puzzlecoke puzzle

(FotoMentum) Thu, 19 Aug 2021 02:09:59 GMT
Pic 5 of 7 Pic 5 of 7. I am enjoying sharing some memorabilia, so no different here. But this time is a challenge for you. What is this tool? Some hints. It is made of wood and it has a thumbscrew on the block. The block slides up and down and there is a piece missing at the end of the shaft (probably a nail or just a sharp point).

(FotoMentum) Wed, 18 Aug 2021 03:19:02 GMT
Pic 4 of 7 I didn't miss yesterday...really I didn't.  I am posting on Facebook as well and missed my blog post.

Pic 4 of 7 and back to some Grandpa memorabilia. This photo is of a cast iron of a flintlock pistol that my Grandpa made at Stedmans located in Aurora, Indiana.



(FotoMentum) Wed, 18 Aug 2021 03:18:10 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 35 Give your photos names.  If you post or share your photos with names like "IMG-2388" it is losing some of its value. Instead, give it a name that supports the story you are trying to tell.  This seems trivial, but people will notice.  So give your photos some attention with some creative names.

(FotoMentum) camera canon club creative filename name photo photography story tips Mon, 16 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
One Pic a Day (3 of 7) This is day 3 of 7 of my pic a day for a "List of Seven" project.

I have some sunflowers for the first time in my yard and the Yellow Finch are enjoying the seeds in the flowers.  Taking a photo a day is more about taking the photo, it is getting you to think more about photography as you go through your day.  Everything becomes a potential for a photo - have you caught yourself doing that yet?

Thanks for reading and now for pick number 3.

Yellow Finch And SunflowersYellow Finch And SunflowersYellow Finch And Sunflowers

(FotoMentum) bird camera canon club creative finch photo photography tips wildlife yellow Mon, 16 Aug 2021 01:09:22 GMT
One Pic a Day (2 of 7) Day 2 of 7 for my "List of Seven."  Today was a busy day with an early round of golf and mowing multiple yards, so I was not sure I was going to get this photo done.  But with my setup still in place from last night's photo of the Westclox pocket watch, I stayed with the theme of things from the past.  This item is also from my grandfather and is and an old AM/FM transistor radio that played a few Cincinnati Red's games in its time as well as some newscasts.  It no longer works, but it is something that I cannot part with.

Transistor Radio from the PastTransistor Radio from the PastTransistor Radio from the Past

(FotoMentum) AM AM/FM camera canon classic club creative FM grandfather grandpa old photo photography radio Solid State tips transistor Sun, 15 Aug 2021 01:49:59 GMT
One Pic a Day (1 of 7) Here is my first photo/pic for my list of seven.  If you didn't read my previous post for instructions click this link.

My first pic is of a Westclox pocket watch owned by my grandfather.  I searched on Bing and Google extensively but could not find a match.  I have a few emails out to some watch repair shops that specialize in vintage watches.  So I am hoping for some feedback.  In the meantime enjoy photo 1 of 7.


Update from a watch repair shop:

This watch is called the Man-Time and was made from 1966 to 1968. The model number is 40058 and it retailed for $9.98 when it was new. There were three models:

40056 Chrome and Gray

40058 Chrome and Black

40060 Chrome and Charcoal

There was also a vertical model.

Here’s a picture of it in the 1966 catalog


(FotoMentum) 40058 Man-time pocket pocketwatch time watch westclox Sat, 14 Aug 2021 02:03:36 GMT
Inspiring Photography Project What is the "List of Seven"?  Much like project 365 (pic a day) or project 52 (pick a week), "List of Seven" is a pic-a-day project, but only seven days long.  In our busy lives, this is much more achievable than the 365 or 52 projects.  Plus, if you do this 5 to 10 times a year you will land somewhere close to project 52 for the number of photos.

I have written about the "List of Seven" in the past, but this time it is going to be linked to my photography club to follow.  I will do my best to share each day on this blog, so make sure to come back to see my photos.  This will be a live event starting 8/13/2019 to take one picture a day for seven days.  Don't worry if you missed the start time.  The best time to start is today.  Besides, my suggestion is that you do this many times throughout the year.

In the past, I have also created a theme for the "List of Seven".  However, this time it is all about you and what you want to photograph.  If you want to pick a single subject and photograph it every day, that is fine.  If you want to follow a theme for all seven photos, great, go for it.   Just don't make it too difficult. Get the idea?

Here is the challenge for you:

  1. Take at least one photo a day and share it by whatever means you have (social media, website, email, printing, etc.)
    If you don't use social media, choose a few friends to email them every day with the photo of the day.  Since it is only seven days, I am sure they won't mind.   In the first email, let them know what you are doing.  I bet they will enjoy them and may ask for more photos.
  2. Don't miss any days (no make-ups)
  3. Each photo has to be from that day (no pulling from your library)
  4. Any camera will do.  Use your smartphone, point-and-shoot, or high-end digital camera.

That's it.  Keep it simple.  The start date is the day you take the first photo.  That can be today, tomorrow, or the next.  But don't delay too long.

One last thing - let me know what you think about this assignment.  Love it?  I would enjoy seeing your photos, so feel free to email me your shots.  Comments are also welcome.

(FotoMentum) 365 52 club creative day list of photo photography pic pick project seven tips week Thu, 12 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 34 Trying new things can be scary and take you to uncharted adventures.  Every once in a while, try something totally new.  And bold and don't be afraid to fail.  This will bring you new challenges that will help you improve.  Need an example?  Try using a prime lens for a week or if you don't have a prime lens to stay at a single focal length for the week.

(FotoMentum) bold camera canon challenge club creative new photo photography tips Mon, 09 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
The Secret to Not Have Sucky Photos Do my photos suck?  Maybe, maybe not.  If I look at previous photos I find mistakes or ways I could have done it better.   It is so easy to look back in any skill you may hold dear and see your early mistakes.

I continually try to take better photos so that my photos suck less and I have realized a way to make that happen.  This blog is my way of sharing how I am learning to improve.  If you have been following me on YouTube you can see this in real-time, because I have a lot to learn.  On my youtube channel, I am working to improve 1% with every video.

That's it.  That's the secret.  No matter what skill you are trying to improve, set your vision to be 1% better with every event (video, photo, job, relationship, etc).  It really does work in anything you want to apply this to.

If you want to be as good as "fill in the blank here" ____________.  You cannot get there without trying.  If you follow any other photographers you will hear similar guidance in the form of "now get out there and shoot", "practice every day", "don't be afraid to start", etc.  And I agree with all of those statements and others in the same line.

But if you take the 1% better approach, it isn't just a phrase.  It isn't an actual measurement as much as a way to help you understand that you should take it slow.  I could make a list of over 100 things for you to try if you are new to photography but you would be lucky to try 2 of those things, plus you also are not likely to read the whole list.  But if I give you one thing to do and challenge you to use that in your next photoshoot, chances are better for you to give that a try.

This is also the basis of my Monday posts "Photography Tips and Tricks" to only provide a single action or tip for you to consume.

Another way I accomplish this with my club is with something we like to call "List of Seven."  In this task, I assign six specific tasks for photos and 1 wild card to do as you wish for a total of seven.   The list can be a theme around a technique or it could be totally random.

I challenge you not to wait for a photography club to challenge you.  Instead, choose one thing that is different from your current photography habits.  Yes, you have photography habits.  We all do.  The one thing that you choose can be something you already know, but you want to do it better.  Or it could be something you didn't know about.

Here is a rather elaborate "one" thing I did over a year ago.  I was in the streets of Cincinnati when the sun lines up with the East and West streets.  However, the "one" thing that can be applied here is how to photograph a silhouette.  Taking a silhouette may be too much for "one" thing.  If it is, watch some youtube videos on how to do it to understand it better.  But, don't just watch the video, actually, try it yourself.

Here is my silhouette on the streets of Cincinnati.

Silhouette on 4th Street.Ready for rain on 4thSilhouette on 4th Street.

If you want to see the entire series from this trip you can find it here.

Another "one" thing you can do is learn how to get off of 100% automatic for all the camera settings.  You will find many giving advice on how to get to manual mode.  But just like my example above, there are a lot of steps to get to that photo.  You don't jump from step zero to step 10, it just doesn't work.

Okay....... one more analogy.  I am a runner of 5Ks, 10Ks, and 1/2 marathons.  I didn't get off my couch one day and run a 1/2 marathon.  Nor did I get off my couch and go run a 5K.  It all started with very short runs and small improvements with each run.   So don't expect to go from "My Photos Suck" to the cover of a magazine.

If you watch my Youtube Channel I have started using this in my intro "Welcome to Practicing Photography where I try to get better one photo at a time."

So what's the secret?  I told you above, but in case you missed it is to get 1% better with each photo you take.  Or as I said above ".... where I try to get better one photo at a time."

Now get out there and shoot and think what is it that you are going to do better.

(FotoMentum) better camera canon club creative improve photo photography secret skill suck sucky tips Thu, 05 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 33 Rule of thirds is one tip I think most of us have heard of, but here is something you may not think about when framing that perfect shot.   Edges and protrusions can really turn a great photo into a poor photo.  So when framing that shot look for two things:

1.  What is on the edges of the frame that can be distracting.

2.  Look for poles or other items that line up with your subject.  I have seen many photos where a tree or pole looks like it is coming out of a person's head.

(FotoMentum) camera edge edges of photo photography protrusion protrusions rule thirds tip tips Mon, 02 Aug 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Two Must-Know Features on Most Cameras Use what you have and learn what your equipment can do.   Before I upgraded to my current camera I tasked myself to learn what every button, switch, and menu option on my previous camera had.  My first revelation was there were some buttons that I had never seen before.  It was as if someone put them on my camera right before I had declared my quest to learn about all the buttons.

I learned there were a lot of features and capabilities in the camera I had but did not know existed or how to use them.  As I inspected and watched Youtube videos I began using them.  Some features I found it was obvious I may never use so decided not to learn them. 

This blog post will be about two features that exist on my Canon t5i and also on my Canon 5D Mark IV.

1.  Back button focus

This by far was the most useful feature I discovered and was the first thing I set up on my 5D Mark IV when I got it.  Back button focus allows me to combine two focus modes into one.  To understand this better here are some excerpts from Canon DSLR Focusing Basics – How to choose the right AF mode – LensProToGo Blog

In AI Focus AF, the camera is left to make all the decisions about subject movement and when to stop or start focus. The computer inside your camera isn’t smart enough to make these decisions, so we’ll pretend this mode doesn’t exist. Trust me, your photos will be better for it!

In One-Shot mode, the camera stops focusing once it achieves focus until you release the shutter button. This is a great mode for people who like to focus and then recompose their shot. You also get a visual (or auditory) confirmation that the camera has achieved focus. The other behavior by default is that your camera won’t take a photo unless the camera thinks it's achieved focused on something. As long as you and your subject are not moving, it works great. If either of you is, then you want AI Servo.

AI Servo AF is designed to continue focusing as long as you’re half-pressing the shutter button. This means that if you or your subject is moving, the camera will continually try to keep it in focus. Unlike One-Shot mode, AI Servo mode prioritizes the release of the shutter, so you never miss a moment, but it still will take a photo of whether your subject is in focus or not.

Like I said above back button combines the best of the two:  One-Shot Mode and AI Servo AF Mode.   With back-button focus it is will take a photo of whether the subject is in focus or not so that is the feature from the AI Servo AF Mode.  However, if I don't want to track a subject and want to focus and recompose, the back-button focus mode works there as well.

2.  AEB - Automatic Exposure Bracketing

This is another feature that I also like, but don't use every time.  It is great for landscapes or when the dynamic range of light cannot be captured in a single shot.   The human eye and brain are so much more powerful than our cameras and I can demonstrate that for you right now.  The next time you are in your home or a building with windows on a bright day look out the window and notice that you can clearly see what is outside and inside without much effort.  The camera, however, will only be able to see what is inside or outside.  Not both.  But with exposure bracketing, you can take multiple photos and stack them in a program like Photoshop to make the inside and the outside visible in the final output.  Most bracketing shots are done with at least three photos, but in some cases, 4 or 5 photos may be needed.

What is really cool, is even my t5i can do this automatically for you.  Below is an example of what AEB looks like.  The first three photos are combined to make the final photo with a high dynamic range.  If you have heard of HDR photos, this is what it is all about.  Unfortunately, some overdue the HDR and really make the photo look fake.  What I am after is a better representation of what the human eye would have seen if they were with me on the photoshoot.

In this grid, you see four photos.  The top left photo is under-exposed just a little.  The top right is what the camera believes is the correct exposure.  The bottom left is slightly over-exposed.  The bottom right is a blending of the three photos using Lightroom HDR blending.  It is a subtle difference in this photo because I didn't have any deep shadows or overly bright sky to deal with.  But notice the final image has a much better color.

Automatic Exposure BracketingAutomatic Exposure BracketingAutomatic Exposure Bracketing



(FotoMentum) automatic camera canon club creative exposure features focus learn light mode photo photography stack tips Thu, 29 Jul 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Inspiration For Beginners This week I am writing to encourage you to keep trying and to keep growing.  To do that my first step is to stop comparing my work to a professional that has been in the art for many years.  If you are just starting compare your work to your own work.  Are you improving? Are you growing? Are you challenging yourself?  Don't stop because you have one bad photoshoot.

Sometimes I go out and don't get that aha photo.  It is interesting, that no matter what I post on Facebook, my friends hit the like button.   I recently went to one of my favorite locations to try to capture a photo with contrast and is on public lands.  I got the idea from the Latitude Podcast episode titled: 122 Theodore Roosevelt National Park with Chuck Haney.  In the Podcast, they suggest the theme to take a photo in a public land with a theme of contrast.  My favorite photo location, the Oxbow, is public land in Lawrenceburg, IN.  However, the opportunity for contrast is very limited, but I went with that mindset anyway.  Here is the photo that I got from that trip.

Oxbow LakeOxbow LakeOxbow Lake

In my humble opinion, I did not find a strong contrast that I was after.   This does not discourage me from trying.  This was a tough challenge, but I would not have done that on my own without an outside influence.  I mean really! Who creates a challenge to look for contrast in a wooded area with a lake in the heat of summer - there is nothing with good contrast.  But, I tried anyway.  It caused me to think differently about what and how I was going to get my photo.

So, back to the topic at hand and the title of this blog post.  How can a beginner photographer get inspired?  I say it is easy if you have the passion to get the best photo you can get.  If you have the passion it is just a matter of being inspired to get out there and just shoot photos.

I have a lot to learn and I am learning a lot writing this blog and most recently with the start of my YouTube Channel.  I have kept my inspiration going by constantly trying new things.  Here are a few:

  • Photo projects
  • Started a photography club
  • Created a web page on Zenfolio
  • Write two blog posts every week
  • Posting one video every week
  • Networking with local professional photographers
  • Take training on the Internet with known successful (influencers)
  • Look up projects on YouTube
  • Create my own challenges for me and my club
  • I am a member of and occasionally look for challenges there

Get the idea?  If not, let me say it this way.  It is okay to fail as long as you are learning and try again.   I am most inspired when I try something new and knock it out of the park or fail but learn something I would not have learned if I hadn't tried.  Finding a photography friend can help as well because they will encourage you and share experiences.

So, get inspired by shooting more often.  I hope this helps you and would I would love to hear from you in the comments below about what inspires you to keep going.

(FotoMentum) camera canon challenges club creative inspiration inspire inspired internet network networking photo photography professional project shoot tips training video website youtube zenfolio Thu, 22 Jul 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 32 Make a change in your routine.  I recently listened to a Podcast that has a monthly theme.   So, I went out with the purpose of getting a photo to match that theme.  I go out often to the same place with no goal in mind.  So this week's tip (late, but here), is to add a reason to your trip and then evaluate if you achieved the purpose of your trip.

(FotoMentum) camera canon change club creative goal photo photography purpose reason tips Wed, 21 Jul 2021 17:01:48 GMT
Life Happens This week will be short as I share a photoshoot over a couple of weeks of a Hummingbird and nest with eggs to the babies hatching.   As life begins in one place, life ends in another.  The main reason my post is short is that we lost a young man too early (14 years old) and an uncle that lived a full life.   Both are sad, but it took a toll on me and I was not out shooting as much.  I will be back next week with a longer post.

So sorry for the short post and I hope you enjoy my celebration of life with these four photos of the hummingbird starting a new family.

HummingbirdsHummingbirdsHummingbirds HummingbirdsHummingbirdsHummingbirds HummingbirdsHummingbirdsHummingbirds HummingbirdsHummingbirdsHummingbirds

(FotoMentum) camera club creative easy exposure hummingbird learn life manual photo photography tips Thu, 15 Jul 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 31 When taking night-time photos, use manual focus.  The camera's auto-focus will hunt for what to focus on and likely never decide.  So, put focus on manual and learn how to focus in the night/darker environment.  If you know you have some night shots coming up, practice at home before going out on your adventure.

(FotoMentum) automatic camera canon club creative focus manual nighttime photo photography tips Mon, 12 Jul 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Creative Firework Photography Results Whoops!  I accidentally published an incomplete draft of this blog post that was empty other than the title.  I had two visitors, so sorry if you were one of them.  So, here is the post with descriptions and photos.

I went to two fireworks displays and tried to do a few things.

1.  Was looking to get some foreground in my photos.

2.  Some Intentional Camera Movement as I described in my previous posts.

3.  Create an edited photo using photoshop.

Foreground Photo

The goal of this first firework display was to capture church steeples in front of the fireworks.  However, we were unable to get in a position to be with the fireworks behind the churches.  These two were the ones I liked the most.

The first photo was a 25-second exposure waiting for a local to set off a firework because the town's fireworks were off to the right and not in the photo.  In the second photo of the main firework display, I used Bulb-Mode and held it open for 9.4 seconds with some movement.  You can see some movement in the lights on the house better than in the firework. However, I am still counting this for a "foreground" image.

Aurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworks Aurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworks

Intentional Camera Movement and Zoom Movement

These are also still part of the Aurora, Indiana firework display.  In the first photo, I am panning with my camera mounted on my tripod.  In the photo on the right, I am zooming while still on my tripod.  I like both of these.  The first one looks like two speeding fireworks flying to the right and the second one makes me think of a science fiction space novel where the ship just jumped in leaving streaks upon entry.

Aurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworks Aurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworksAurora, Indiana fireworks

Edited with photoshop

I am only sharing one photo from the firework display in my local neighborhood (Hidden Valley Lake) located in Lawrenceburg, In.  Using photoshop I filled the sky with additional fireworks.  With help from a photographer friend, I was able to do a lot more than I could have done on my own.

FireWorks HVLFireWorks HVLFireWorks HVL

(FotoMentum) camera canon church club creative learn light movement photo photography steeple Sat, 10 Jul 2021 01:26:10 GMT
Secrets to Understanding Exposure Triangle Sorry - this is a short post but I was able to get my Youtube version out.  So I am asking that you watch this week's video and I will get back on track for my next blog post.

I had some life events this week that are very impactful for me and I was unable to commit more time.  So forgive me that I am not ready to share my fireworks and check out the video where I share my secret to understanding the exposure triangle.  I will return to my fireworks soon and share my experience.

The PDF described in the YouTube video can be found here:

I use Backblaze and would appreciate it if you use this link if you decide to use Backblaze (it gives me 2 free months).  I get no kickbacks other than the free months from the referral

You can find me here:
YouTube Channel:Practicing Photography - YouTube Channel


(FotoMentum) camera canon club creative easy exposure learn light manual photo photography project tips Thu, 08 Jul 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 30 If you are going to do a photoshoot that you have not done before, set up a short practice session before you leave for the trip.  For example, if you are going to be using your mobile phone to control your camera for the first time, try to practice at home before you get on-site and discover it doesn't work as you expected.

(FotoMentum) camera canon club conditions creative master photo photography practice real tips Mon, 05 Jul 2021 20:14:28 GMT
How to Practice before Firework Photo Shoot Thanks for reading this series on firework photography.   I would love to see some photos from your firework photo project.  You can share links to your photos in the comments below.

On with the topic for this week.

To prepare for your firework photo project, practice night photography with a simple setup.  You can accomplish this in your home or outside with simple like street lights or your porch light.  If you want try using the stars.  However, I would not recommend trying stars if you are working to learn your settings for fireworks.

Fireworks are relatively close in comparison to the stars, so go with something closer.  This blog post is being posted just a few days before the 4th of July when the US is lighting up the skies with fireworks to celebrate our independence.  A quick practice may surprise you how easy this project is.  So, grab your camera and try this out.


Get your camera and tripod or skip your tripod if you are going to try one of the movement methods.  You only need to practice a little to reinforce the settings so you will have some confidence in the results.  If you haven't read my previous blogs or watched my instructions on YouTube here are the links (again):

Links to all four blog posts and YouTube versions of the same.

Blogs YouTube
Part 1: How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos Part 1
Part 2: How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks part 2
Part 3: How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks Part 3
Part 4: How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks Part 4

For this test/experiment set your ISO to 100 or 200, set your aperture to F8.0, and set your shutter speed to 2 seconds.   Use manual focus because cameras have difficulty focusing in the dark.   If you do this in a room in your home, use a small flashlight or some small light source.  Another option would be a glow stick if you have one.  Whatever the light source, make sure it is not super bright.  You don't want it to light the whole room up, instead, you want it to still be relatively dark.  If you are doing this outside, find a street light or a porch light that will work.  But even better would be a sparkler which would be more like the fireworks in the sky.

For a full sheet on all my settings for all my methods click this link for a PDF.

Don't forget to share your firework photos.  I would love to see them.

(FotoMentum) best camera canon club creative easy exposure firework fireworks learn light manual photo photography prepare project tips Thu, 01 Jul 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 29 The more I use my camera and explain how I do things the more I discover little nuances in my processes.   For example, I tend to just use the same two SD cards over and over (my camera holds two cards).   I am going to have to make a mental note to cycle through them more often to extend the life or at least have consistent wear on my stash of memory cards.

(FotoMentum) camera card club data failure loss memory organize photo photography tips Mon, 28 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Fireworks Summary and Prep Nailing the best firework shot is up to you.  I have provided four different ways to capture the firework photos.  However, I have not touched on composition at all.   My focus, for now, was just getting good shots of fireworks in the sky and what are the basic settings for the four different methods.  You can find a PDF file with a summary of equipment and settings.  As a bonus, I created an image of exposure sliders to help understand the relationship between all the settings.  More to come on this in the form of blog posts and youtube videos.

Now you have some starting points to nail your first firework photoshoot.  Don't be afraid to try different things than what I have suggested.  I am sure you can come up with some cool shots.  The only cost is time if you are using digital cameras.

I hope you have read each of the blogs or watched my videos on youtube.  If not I will put a table below for links to both.  Remember one of my early points that this is not as difficult as it looks.  So, what can you do to stand out from others?  The answer is composition.

Tell a story

A foreground with the fireworks can add a lot to the photo and tell more of a story.  If you are in a crowd, set your camera low to the ground and let the people sitting/standing in front of you create a silhouette.  Your tripod may not go that low, so a good way to accomplish this is to bring a couple of books and set your camera on your blanket and use the book(s) to prop the lens up to point to the sky.  This will show a connection to people watching the fireworks show.

If you have access to a high point such as a house or public location that overlooks a city, the foreground of the city will show life below the fireworks.  In this situation, you don't have to wait for the big firework show if the locals are using self-purchased fireworks.   You can capture a wide number of fireworks all over the city with a long exposure (30 seconds). Or if you are comfortable with stacking photos in photoshop, you can create a panorama of many fireworks in different areas of the city.

Links to all four blog posts and YouTube versions of the same.

Blogs YouTube
Part 1: How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos Part 1
Part 2: How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks part 2
Part 3: How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks Part 3
Part 4: How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks Part 4


Exposure Slider from PDF file.  Good enough to see it twice.  :)

Exposure Slider for FireworksExposure Slider for FireworksExposure Slider for Fireworks

(FotoMentum) fireworks light methods photography story Thu, 24 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 28 A tip I provide in my latest Youtube video is to always carry a lint-free cloth to wipe off the lens when there is moisture (rain), fog, or high humidity.  Great for removing dust as well - so just carry it in each camera bag you may use.

(FotoMentum) clean cloth dirt dust free humid lint lint-free moisture photography tips Mon, 21 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks Part 4 of 4

I saved zooming while taking long exposures because it is probably the hardest one of this series.  Let's start with the settings and sticking with modifying only the shutter speed the same we did on ICM and ECM to 5 seconds.  The amount of time depends on how smoothly you can move your zoom without adding too much additional shake.

The idea on this one is to move your zoom from its longest to its shortest, shortest to longest, or some amount that you desire.  An 18-35mm works great, but I love using my 24-70 and 70-200 mm lenses.

There is one option I have not mentioned until now and that is using bulb mode.  Bulb mode is used when you want to control how long to keep the shutter open and be able to close it when you are ready.  I highly recommend a tethered remote trigger or an electronic switch.  With the remote trigger and bulb mode, you control when the "end" of the exposure is.  You will also want to shut off the shutter timer if you had it on for the standard firework shots.

Update on 6/17:
Once I made my Youtube version of this blog post I realized that none of my zooming photos use a remote trigger and also stuck to bulb mode.  Writing how I do these fireworks photos made me think hard about how to do these shots.  I will ve writing a review/summary of these four posts and provide a "cheat" sheet to help have successful firework photos.

Part 1: How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos

Part 2: How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks

Part 3: How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks

Part 4: How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks

Zooming FireworksZooming FireworksZooming Fireworks
Zooming FireworksZooming FireworksZooming Fireworks
Zooming FireworksZooming FireworksZooming Fireworks Zooming FireworksZooming FireworksZooming Fireworks
Zooming FireworksZooming FireworksZooming Fireworks Zooming FireworksZooming FireworksZooming Fireworks



(FotoMentum) camera creative fireworks movement photo photography tips zoom Thu, 17 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 27 Print some of your favorite photos for use on your desk or in your home.  Digital photos are shared on social media and eventually disappear from view and images on hard disks are seldom viewed.  So, there is nothing much better than looking at some of your artwork every day.

(FotoMentum) camera creative desk favorite photo photography print tips wall Mon, 14 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks Part 3 of 4.

Last week's post was based on a near disaster when I forgot my tripod for my fireworks shoot.  This week is what I developed after I had time to think about intentional camera movement (ICM).  I thought I was a pioneer and discovered a new technique, but I was wrong others have done this long before me.  But I was proud, nonetheless, to discover this on my own before reading about others.

ICM is similar to Erratic Camera Movement, but with control.  So, we are back with a tripod but with movement.  Erratic is just that, it is erratic and can be any shape you desire.  ICM on the other hand is camera movement on a single axis.  This axis can be back and forth, up and down, or any angle you can conjure up with your camera on a tripod or maybe a monopod.

While the erratic camera movement calls for very small movements, ICM will be a long sweeping motion.

The settings for ICM will be the same for the erratic camera movement.  Stick with 5 seconds for your first couple of pictures in this mode if you use manual mode with a slow shutter speed.  But I recommend using "Bulb Mode" so you have total control of how long the shutter is open.  My photos below are mostly under 5 seconds  To get a bigger range to move with the fireworks, try the wider focal length on your camera.  With an 18-35mm lens, start at 18mm.  You will also want to shut off the shutter timer if you had it on for the standard firework shots.

Links to the other parts of this series.

Part 1: How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos
Part 1 on YouTube

Part 2: How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 2 on YouTube

Part 3: How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 3 on YouTube

Part 4: How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks
Part 4 on YouTube coming June 17



(FotoMentum) camera creative fireworks light long exposure photo photography tips Thu, 10 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 26 The best part of these weekly tips is they are not tied to any series and I can write anything that happens to pop in my head.  So, for this week's random tip:

I tend to leave photos on my camera's SD card until I am about to go on a photoshoot that may exceed the number of pictures left.  For example, if I look at my camera and only have 100 photos left before it is full, I will most likely format it.  This lines up with my backup process to ensure I have many options for recovery.  Especially if I am slow to back up to my extra drives on my desk.


(FotoMentum) space camera format memory memory cards photo photography tips Mon, 07 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots of Fireworks Part 2 of 4 of my Fireworks Blog/Youtube Series

Can I be honest with you? I hope the answer is yes, and why would I lie anyway.  I may be wrong from time to time, but I will not intentionally lie to you.  But what I am about to share with you is how I went from a failed fireworks photoshoot to a successful fireworks photoshoot all by mistake. So, here's the story.

It was fireworks show time and like many years in the past, I packed my photography gear for the fireworks and headed out with the family for the show.  However, upon arrival, I realized I forgot my tripod.  ARGHHHHH!  I almost just packed my camera back in the bag and called it a lesson learned.  But, instead, I decided to try something different.  I got my camera out and set up the same settings as described in part 1 of this series.  Without a tripod, I was challenged on how to hold the camera steady enough to get the same photos I have gotten in the past.

Hand-holding my camera and expecting the same result was not likely.  Instead, I chose to intentionally move my camera around during the shoot.  I did not have much time to think this through - remember I was expecting to be using my tripod.  So, with this short notice of change in technique, I moved my camera but did it with the understanding I didn't need to move it much.  But I tried many things such as the obvious circular motion and then a square.  But I also drew hearts and after reviewing my photos found I had drawn a question mark. 

This one takes some practice, but if you have an LCD on the back of your camera to preview, I am sure you will do fine.  But I will give you some hints anyway.  You will also want to shut off the shutter timer if you had it on for the standard firework shots.  Also, instead of Manual Mode, use Bulb Mode so you can control precisely how long the shutter is open.  Check out my Youtube video where I explain this technique.

The movements need to be very small because the fireworks are far away.  I am only talking a few inches at the most.  Think of shooting a target a couple of hundred yards away and if you aim just a fraction of an inch away in any direction you will likely miss your target (if it is a small bulls-eye target).  So you will have some room to experiment, but start off small before you try any large sweeping motions.

The number 1 rule here, is to not limit yourself in your experimentation.

ErraticErratic ErraticErratic
ErraticErratic ErraticErratic


Links to the other parts of this series.

Part 1: How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos
Part 1 on YouTube

Part 2: How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 2 on YouTube

Part 3: How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 3 on YouTube

Part 4: How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks
Part 4 on YouTube coming on June 17



(FotoMentum) disaster fireworks forgot light long exposure mistake photo Thu, 03 Jun 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 25 Follow on from last week's tip.  Do you remember I said to take the tip as far as you like?  Well here is a next-level tip when looking at other images that you did not take.

Tip:  Try to understand how the photo was lighted.   Learn how to notice highlights that help you recognize specific types of lighting.

(FotoMentum) camera creative learn lighting photo photography tips Mon, 31 May 2021 12:30:00 GMT
How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos Part 1: Best Camera Settings for Firework Setup Photo Shoot

I have taken photos of fireworks for many years.  My early years were on film and slides and I had to wait a week to 10 days to see the results.  Eventually, there was same-day film processing and that helped, but did not reduce the cost.  What savings we have with digital where we can instantly see the outcome on the back of our cameras and the cost savings and time savings for not having to send the film out for processing.

With that in mind, don't worry if some of what you try does not work out.  However, this series of blog posts will be mirroring my YouTube releases so you can read this blog and also hear my explanations, and if you follow my suggestions your chances of getting some cool fireworks photos will be good.

This post is going to go over the settings I use for my camera when taking photographs of fireworks (which will also work on capturing moving lights in traffic or similar situations.  Also, this is part 1 of a 4-part series, so make sure to read all 4 posts to get more.

The first thing to understand is that in this situation manual mode is the best way to take night photos.  The camera technology is unable to properly expose the light you are trying to capture due to the constant change in light and color.  We will also be doing longer exposures and will make adjustments during the shoot.  If anything is automatic, it will be trying to compensate for any effect we attempt.  So, 100% manual mode including ISO and focus.

You can practice prior to the big show with night street photography to capture moving tail lights or headlights or even a light in a dark room in your house.  This will help you set up your camera beforehand as well.

I have used a variety of settings and techniques and this first in a series of four blog posts is covering the standard fireworks shot that you see most often.  This post will also be the supporting base for posts 2, 3, and 4.  If you only read part 1 that is fine, but you will have more fun if you make it through all four. 

Equipment needed:

  • Camera with a long shutter speed option 5 seconds or longer.  Most DLSRs have up to 30 seconds and a "BULB" option to allow you to hold the shutter open as long as you like.
  • Wide lens 18-24 is a common kit lens and works well.
  • Tripod.  With the long shutter speeds, we need a tripod to stabilize the shot.
  • Bug spray (at least where I live - the insects can make for an unpleasant event.
  • Lint-free cloth to wipe your lens if condensation settles on the lens (I live in a high humidity area and the cloth can save the day).
  • Remote shutter release (optional)

Settings for the photos.  I highly recommend you test and try many settings and make your own adjustments.

  • ISO at 100.  I generally do not change the ISO off of 100 for any of my fireworks or other night light photography.
  • Aperture - let's just say high.  I am generally in the F8.0 to F11 (or higher) for almost all my firework photos.
    My reasoning is for a more forgiving depth of field.
  • Shutter speed is the one I vary the most.  I go anywhere from about 5 seconds to 30 seconds and sometimes even longer.
  • Focus set to manual.  For the photoshoot move the focus ring to infinity and back of about 1/8 of an inch for the best focus.
  • Small lens.  Most kit lens ranges work great (18-35 mm)
  • Camera timer set at 2 seconds if you have that option.  This minimizes camera movement from the push on the shutter button.


  • Bring a blanket to sit on and also give you some space.  Just be kind to those around you.
  • What I found interesting is that it is okay to be amongst the crowd with some low-level light pollution.  You are shooting into the sky and the small amount of light will not be a big impact on the photos if at all.
  • In contrast to the previous comment if you prefer to not disturb others some isolation can be helpful.
  • Get to the location early enough to pick out your spot so you aren't stuck behind a building that will be in all your photos.
  • If your wide lens has a range, start wide enough to find where the fireworks will be in the sky.

Most fireworks displays on July 4th are last about 20 minutes, so you have plenty of time to take many photos.  As I mentioned above, I adjust the shutter speed more than any other setting.  I recommend you start at 10-second shutter speeds while you are adjusting.  Ten seconds is short enough if you need to adjust your tripod it won't waste a lot of time.  Once you have your camera aimed and settled on the tripod then try setting for longer or shorter shutter speeds.  Once you are getting some decent shots try to frame the fireworks by zooming in on the lens for tighter shots to fill the frame more.

There you go, now you have all the information needed to set up for basic fireworks or night light photoshoots.

FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks
FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks

Links to the other parts of this series.

Part 1: How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos
Part 1 on YouTube

Part 2: How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 2 on YouTube

Part 3: How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 3 on YouTube

Part 4: How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks
Part 4 on YouTube coming on June 17


(FotoMentum) aperture automatic best dope fireworks iso manual nail shutter shutterspeed tripod Thu, 27 May 2021 19:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 24 Need ideas of what to shoot and you are tired of looking through social media for inspiration?  Well try this tip out and take it as far as you like.  Pick up a magazine while at the doctor's office and look at various photos in the publication and try to understand why they chose the photo for a particular article.  Or look at the cover and try to see the story behind it and how it supports that edition of the magazine.

(FotoMentum) creative ideas inspiration photo photography tips Mon, 24 May 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Understanding Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) This week is just a short post and just a little more than one of my tip posts.   I am working on a series for the next four weeks, so I did not give this week's post as much attention.   I may return to this topic after my series to give more instructions on how to use this feature and give some sample photos.

Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) is a setting on many DLSR cameras and it a good way to get 3, 5, or 7 bracketed photos depending on your camera model.  Some cameras do not have the setting and some will only have an option of 3 photos.

So, why would you use AEB?  AEB is a good way to automate getting multiple photos to stack to get a wider dynamic range.  As good as cameras are today, they are no match for the dynamic range we have with our eyes.  An easy way to demonstrate this is to look out a window in your house on a bright day.  Your eyes will be able to clearly see both inside the house and outside the window but your camera can only do one or the other.  So, the method to fix this is to take multiple photos at different exposures and stack them in photoshop and edit them so the end product can see out the window and the interior of the home.  Without AEB you have to do this on your own.

More to come at a later date.

(FotoMentum) AEB automatic bracketing dynamic exposure photo range stacking Thu, 20 May 2021 14:25:36 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 23 A natural follow-up to last week's tip is to look for shadows.   The first tip is to notice shadows like you notice light.  Is the shadow harsh with defined lines or is it a subtle diffused shadow?  Another aspect of shadows that has caused me issues is how the shadows are hitting my subject.  I have taken several photos that have unwanted shadows across my subject that I didn't notice until I got home.

What I have learned here is that shadows need to be observed and understand how they will be interacting with my photo.

(FotoMentum) camera canon club creative diffused light photo photography shadow sharp soft subtle tips Mon, 17 May 2021 12:30:00 GMT
How to take long exposures One of my favorite photoshoots is night photography with lights.  That can be with traffic, street lights, fireworks, or any other light source you can come up with.   This technique is not near as hard as you might think if you have never done this.  For this blog post, I am going to show you a "not so obvious use" for long exposure.

Have you ever wanted to get a photo of a scene, but people were walking in the scene?  This technique with long exposures is used when you want a photo of some object or scene with people moving through the scene.  Probably the only item you may not have in your bag of gear would be a neutral density filter.  With a neutral density (ND) filter you can get this photo with people moving through.  If you decide to purchase one, I would recommend an 82 mm for size and purchase step-down rings for any smaller lenses.  Lens Filters are not cheap and you can avoid having to purchase duplicate lens filters.

So stick with me and I will give you some tips when taking a long exposure when people are in the scene using an ND filter.


ISO 100 (but flexible)
Shutter Speed 15 to 30 seconds
Aperture: up to you but a low aperture helps blur moving object in backgrounds
Focal length: Whatever you want
ND 6-10

For the photo below I added an ND filter to get the shot even though people were walking through my scene.  For this, I took many photos before landing on the settings described below. A tripod is a must for this to be successful.


Long Exposure with ND Filter
ISO 400
Shutter Speed 30 seconds
Aperture F6.3
Focal Length 24mm
Sample Gates at Indiana UniversitySample Gates at Indiana UniversitySample Gates at Indiana University

Give this a shot.  Pun intended.  You can practice in your own backyard.

(FotoMentum) 30sec camera canon creative exposure Filter long manual manual mode ND photography tips Thu, 13 May 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 22 Let's get right to it.  Study light when you are out and about by noticing different kinds of light.  I will give you a few types here to look for while you are out and about and will follow up with more on a future blog.

Harsh light - usually from direct sun or a strong flash directly on the subject

Reflective light - light bouncing off a surface before hitting your subject. 

Diffused light - light through a softbox or a cloudy day.

So the tip is when not out with your camera, practice with your eye for different kinds of light important to photography.

(FotoMentum) club diffused direct harsh learn light photo reflective shadows study tips Mon, 10 May 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Best Wildlife Photography Tips Summary I have been taking photos of wildlife with moderate success.  I have watched others, studied, and learned.  This blog is about my journey so far and sharing some tips that I have learned.

  • Finding the wildlife
  • Which lens to use
  • Settings to use
  • Getting sharp photos
  • Getting action shots

Finding Wildlife

Finding wildlife can be as simple as looking in your backyard or it could be hours going to a spot to catch wildlife in remote locations.  Whichever it is there are things you can do to help to find the wildlife you are seeking.  In my backyard, several different birds and animals are frequently visiting or passing through. 

You can increase your chances to see certain species, create an environment that will attract them.  For example, make sure you put out birdhouses and bird feed for the birds you want to attract.  Don't just put out the cheapest seed you can find.  Butterflies and hummingbirds like flowers.  Make sure you are planting flowers that appeal to them to attract them.

I am lucky enough to attract several types of hawks, fox, and deer.  While I really don't want the deer they seem to like to eat the bird food on the ground, but there are other food items to attract them.  As for the fox and hawks, they need nesting and food sources as well.  If you have a wooded area around your property, do not disturb their environment.  Hawks will feed on rodents, moles, squirrels, chipmunks, and snakes, while Fox will eat rabbits, rodents, and birds.  (that was not all-inclusive, so do a little more research).  However, the point is to maintain that environment to attract those animals.

I cannot, nor would I want to, attract all the animals to my backyard.   When I want to get photos of eagles, I know some locations to find them.  To find eagles (or any bird) look to the Cornell Birding site.  From this site, you can find where the birds are in the world at any given time of the year and if they migrate.  The site also shows maps of sitings for each species.  So my tip here is to leverage a resource such as the Internet to find locations.  In addition to the Internet, rely on local birding clubs, nature preserves, ranges, or other local communities that specialize in that species.

I live near the Oxbow in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and have found a common location for eagles.  So, I frequently go there to get photos and here is a sample.

Eagle landingEagle landingEagle landing

Which Lens To Use

You may be limited to a single lens because lenses aren't cheap.  However, a single non-telephoto lens or shorter focal lengths will present some serious limitations.  My photo of the eagle above was taken with a 150-600mm zoom lens and was cropped in post.  A short lens would not have been adequate for the shot of that eagle.  However, many of my backyard photos are taken with a kit lens that is 18-35mm.  This small chickadee was stuck under a canopy on my back porch.  It was a baby bird and after a few photos, I was able to free the small bird to its mother that was waiting for her baby to be freed.  So, a long lens is not always required and sometimes would not work at all.  Use the lens(es) you have today and as you learn and save for a different lens (if needed).


Settings To Use

Settings are hard to give as a perfect setup for every photo for wildlife or any other photoshoot for that matter.  Instead, I will give you some starting points and recommend you play with those settings and adjust to your style.  I did the same by following the advice from other photographers.  I learned from others and came up with this way of taking photos.  For wildlife photography, I found three ways that can work for me.

  1. Shutter Priority (Tv for Canon and S for Sony and Nikon)
    Everything else is on auto including ISO
  2. All Manual with auto ISO
    This method is a good learning step to number three below
  3. Shutter Priority with manual ISO
    This one is my favorite

This photo was on ISO 800 (fixed ISO) due to it being a bright day and using shutter priority with a shutter speed of 1/1000 to capture the movements of the birds.  With shutter priority and a high ISO, it forces the aperture to a chosen by the camera.  In this shot the camera chose F6.3.  Some animals move faster and a faster shutter speed may be needed or if the subject is a bit darker then don't be afraid to bump the ISO up to 1600, 3200, or even 6400 to capture the movement.  A grainy sharp photo is better than a blurry unusable photo.


Getting sharp photos

This advice is a sister to the settings to use sections.  Getting sharp photos takes practice and learning how your camera focus system can work for you.  So let's start with the focusing system.  Most DLSR cameras have options to spot focus, area focus, or large area focus.  I would recommend learning how this works and I may cover it in a future blog.  Suffice it to say, I use the area focus setting where there is a 3x3 or 2x2 grid of small squares to focus on the moving subject.  I also use back-button focus, again a topic for another blog for another day.

The techniques in my previous paragraph are important and helpful, but for producing sharp photos of wildlife.  I am sticking to the settings as the method for helping you learn about getting the wildlife photo you are trying to get.  So, keeping this on a more basic level, in addition to the settings above recommending higher ISOs and fast shutter speeds a tripod is extremely helpful.  If not a tripod, then a monopod is needed.  If you don't have a tripod, then the settings above are even more important.  The shot above was taken without a tripod or mono-pod.  But notice the fast shutter speed I used and medium to high ISO I had set.  Even though the Heron was flying they are a slow graceful flyer.  If it was a faster bird I would likely dial in a faster shutter speed and maybe a higher ISO.

Getting action shots

A short section for you.  Actions shots simply take patience and learning the behavior of the animal you are trying to capture.  Some animals move a lot some sit for a long time.  However, learn where, how, and when your animal moves and use that information to put yourself in the right place at the right time.  The right place is also important once you learn the where, how, and when.  Try to place yourself in a location that has the sun at your back and where the animal will move toward you.  This helps light your subject and once again aid in a sharper photo.

What are you waiting for?  Grab your camera and get out there to get that next great shot.

(FotoMentum) best birds camera canon chickadee club creative eagles heron photo photography tips wildlife Thu, 06 May 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 21 So, with my start of youtube, I have missed a few of my PTT.  So here is a short tip and will continue the PTTs, but on Mondays at 8:30 AM

I failed to do this on my last photo session, so I am sharing my mistake and hope to remember this for my next trip.  When you are out with a friend or group on a photoshoot, get some behind-the-scenes shots.  For example A photo of a photographer in action, a group shot, or something other than the target subject.  These make great thumbnails for Youtube or posts on Facebook.

(FotoMentum) behind camera club creative memory mistake mistakes photo photography scene scenes tips trip Mon, 03 May 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Not Getting Comments Hi All,

First, I know you are out there.  I have been consistently posting on my blog for close to a year and am seeing about 500 or more hits every week.  I realize that doesn't break any records or WOW bloggers with much larger followings.  However, I know I have some readers from my numbers.  What doesn't make sense is I have not seen even one comment.  So, my first thought was "where are my readers?"  Surely, I have written something you liked or even disagreed with that warranted a comment or two.   I then asked my provider if there was something on my website possibly blocking comments, but was assured that all was set up correctly.  As of this writing, I have over 6,700 hits across 77 blog posts, so in true Pink Floyd style "Is there anybody out there?"

Here are my top five blog posts:
Photography Game - From A to Z

Out with a purpose

How Yorkies do Portraits


Birds of Indiana

While writing this blog I decided to do a quick test comment and it worked easily.  You have to leave an email, but only I will see it.  I am too small to sell any emails nor do I have a desire to.  I tried to shut the email required feature off, but that is not an option.  So, if you want, use your "throwaway" email address that is fine.

So, here is my ask of you:  Leave me some comments, I would love to get some feedback on new ideas or thoughts on my posts.

This blog was going to be my thoughts as a photographer, but the topic of comments was on my mind and I went with it.  If you want to connect with me you can find me in several ways.

You can find me here:
Youtube:  Practicing Photography
Instagram: _dougga_
Twitter: Doug Gabbard

(FotoMentum) blog club comments connect dilemma favorites five hello interact posts tips top Thu, 29 Apr 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Smartphone Portraits Made Easy Taking self-portraits can be intimidating, awkward, and not your favorite task.  But this will help you when taking portraits of others.  You can also use some of your portraits for your social media profile pics.  Make this fun, but get some serious shots as well to get a variety of shots.

I created a video on how to create self-portraits using a DLSR and one of the comments on the Youtube video was asking for a video on how to do a portrait with a smartphone.  I have created that video and here is a write-up of what/how I created the portrait(s). If you would like to see the video it is called Smartphone Portraits Made Easy.

Since we are using a smartphone I will also assume or expect that we will not have any studio lighting to help light the portrait.  So, for that, there is an easy solution and depending on the look you want we can do this on a sunny or a cloudy day.  My photoshoot was on a cloudy day.

There are advantages to both sunny and cloudy days.  On cloudy days the sun is essentially behind the largest natural softbox so you have a lot of options for indoor or outdoor photos.  For this blog, I am going to focus on indoor portraits.

Let's start with what you will need.

  1. Your smartphone.
  2. Something to hold your smartphone (I used my gimble that has a cell phone bracket.  If you don't have a cell phone stand, then a stack of books would work as well.
  3. Some props to use in your photos
  4. Pick your location

So, let's get this set up and start taking some self-portraits.

I chose a room with a neutral wall for my background.  The only settings on my phone I used were a 10-second timer and a little pinch zooming.  The props I had on hand were a book, my camera, a banana (that never made any final images), a ball cap, my dog, and a lemon.

If at all possible use the rear-facing camera.  You may wonder why I am not using the front-facing so I can see where I need to stand/sit to be in the frame.  While that is a good option and ok if you need to go that route.  But most rear-facing cameras are better than the front-facing camera, so I opted for the rear-facing camera.

Now you are set up and ready to start shooting.  If you are using the rear-facing camera as I suggest you will need to check each photo as you take them to see how well you are framing yourself and if you are in focus.  This is where I would adjust the zoom as needed or move my camera closer or further away to adjust.  Finally, don't be afraid to take a lot of photos.  Many of the shots will be blurry, out of frame, or just plain bad for whatever reason.  When I was doing this photoshoot, I came up with an idea of when you think you are done, take ten more shots.

I had fun with this shoot and was not looking for a formal profile pic.  Here are some of my shots.
Portrait with cameraPortrait with cameraPortrait with camera Portrait of a manPortrait of MePortrait of Me


(FotoMentum) creative easy phone photo photography portrait profile selfie self-portrait smart smartphone tips Thu, 22 Apr 2021 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 20 With the start of my YouTube Channel, I have missed my last two photo tips.  I also incorrectly scheduled my normal weekly post.  So, with this tip,

I have several purposes.

1.  Get my tips going again
2.  Get regular posts back on schedule

My tip has a small selfish request for comments.  I have found the best way to learn is to interact with others wanting to learn the same thing you are learning.  So, my tip is to reach out to your circle of influence to find others with similar interests and work together to learn.

This blog gives you that opportunity, so I am asking for suggestions for blog posts or regular posts from you.  What do you want to learn that I can share how I do it.  If I haven't done what you request I may learn and share my experience.

So... this was a longer PTT post, but take a few minutes and leave me a comment.  If you do or do not leave a comment, I wanted to say thank you to everyone reading my blog posts.  I am seeing some growth with about 100 reads a day.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  So thank you for reading.

(FotoMentum) camera club community creative learn photography share Thu, 15 Apr 2021 12:45:00 GMT
Guess My Story Photography Game A skill to practice is to tell a story with your photo.  Do a search for people on social media with "storyteller" in the name and you will find many diverse and creative photos.   Storytelling with photos can be fun and give you a different perspective.

So how can we game-ify (is that a word) this into a game?  Let's give it a try.  Give me some feedback via comments on this blog post on how to improve this game.

Here's my idea for the game.

  • Someone posts a photo with a story they are trying to tell
  • Do not provide details of what the story is being told
  • No other photos are posted until the story is guessed
  • The person guessing the story first gets to post the next photo
  • Don't guess unless you have a photo that you want to share (we want the game to keep moving)
(FotoMentum) camera club creative fun game game-ify photo photography story storyteller storytelling teller telling tips Sat, 10 Apr 2021 10:00:00 GMT
Photography Game East to West This week's blog post is not going to line up with my YouTube channel, but make sure you check it out if you want to see the video of my adventure to a cemetery.  Instead, this week's post is yet another game for your photography club.  Actually, a set of games.  Some of the versions of this game may not be possible or a good idea to try for the first game with your club.  So, I would recommend trying just the first or last version to see how it goes.  Both of them keep the game local to your City/Town.

This is a geography game that can be applied to any part of the globe.  It can be a country adventure or a small town adventure.  The idea is to travel across a geography with a defined starting and ending location.

So, here are some ideas to get you started.

Keep it in the City/Town:

  1. The first photo starts on one end of the town (North, South, East, or West)
  2. The second photo has to be within one block going in the opposite direction.  For example (North to South)
  3. Or you could circle the city
  4. The common rule for most of my games:  Keep at least two photos between your posts.

Cross Country

  1. It is possible to start in your local city or pick a city on the country/state border/coast
  2. Determine a mileage for radius distance (50, 100, 200 miles).  Depending on the size of your country or if you are doing a state you may want to adjust to the smaller number.
  3. The common rule for most of my games:  Keep at least two photos between your posts.
  4. This can be difficult since the distance will be too far to travel to get the photos
    So, you can get the photo from your library or contact a friend to take a photo for you.
    No photos from the web

Cross Country race

  1. Same as Cross Country but with teams
  2. Divide your club/team into teams of 3 to 4 photographers
  3. Pick a city for a starting point
  4. Pick a destination city
  5. Pick a start day (don't divulge the cities until the start day)
  6. Choose a distance from the previous city that the next photo needs to be taken
  7. To get all involved you cannot post a third photo in a series without at least one photo from each member of your team.
    For example, if you have 4 on your team and team members 1-3 have all posted two photos team member 4 must post the next photo.
  8. This can be difficult since the distance will be too far to travel to get the photos
    So, you can get the photo from your library or contact a friend to take a photo for you.
    No photos from the web

Cross City/Town Race

  1. Same concept as Cross Country but in a city/town
  2. Choose a point in the city/town for start and end
  3. Don't disclose the start or end until the first day
  4. Choose a distance (number of blocks)
  5. All photos must be new photos from the team members

Review the rules above and adjust to make it your own game.  These are just some thoughts to get you started.

(FotoMentum) camera canon city club country creative fun game geography participation photography state tips town Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:45:00 GMT
Changing Blog Post Release Date If you didn't notice I am moving my release date from Saturday at 00:01 to Thursday mornings at 8:45 AM.  I am doing this to line up this blog post with my YouTube channel release date.  I realized this was better when I created a video of what was "going" to be released days later after the blog post.  So, to not have that happen in the future I lined up the release times to be the same.

This does not mean they will always match, but this way I can reference the blog in the video or the other way around if desired.

So, head over to my YouTube to see this week's video.  These two are from the same topic.

YouTube Video: Favorite Photography Tip (Game) for Clubs to Improve Participation
Blog Post: FotoMentum | Photography Tips for Clubs to Improve Participation

(FotoMentum) blog blogpost youtube Thu, 01 Apr 2021 16:39:05 GMT
Photography Tips for Clubs to Improve Participation I am confident you have read many blog posts or posts on Pinterest on photo-a-day projects.  They vary in length up to 365 days but with busy lives and full-time jobs, this is daunting, difficult, and probably not the place to start if you haven't tried this before.  I help run a photography club that we like to create challenges from time to time.  The challenge that seems to get the most participation and is similar to the photo-a-day projects is what I call "List of Seven"

In the "List of Seven" challenge a list of words or phrases are provided that are used for a topic for seven different photos.  Ideally, the idea is to complete one photo per day and to complete all seven in seven days.  However, we are in this for fun, so we are flexible.  If you want to take all seven photos in one day or to take your time and spread the seven photos over a 30 day period, it is your choice.  The most important part of the challenge is to get you taking photos and to take some photos of things that are out of your normal practice.

At the time of writing this blog, it is early Spring near Cincinnati, Ohio.  It is a great time for the change of seasons with flowers blooming, grass turning green, people coming out more,... just to name a few.  This will bring the photographer out of all of us.  So, if you want a sample list here is the one I created for my club this past week.

List of Seven


1. A bud ready to bloom

2. Something with Spring colors

3. Hikers/Walkers

4. Wild Card (whatever you want)

5. Spring weather - could be rain, sunshine, storm, rainbow...

6. Something New

7. Spring Family Photos

To add to this challenge, try to not post your photos until you have all 7 on the list.


This is a photo-a-day challenged shortened to seven days to accommodate new photographers, busy lives, or just to use as a simple challenge to get out there and take photos.  Follow a list of topics and don't post/share your photos until you have captured all seven photos.

Leave comments below.


(FotoMentum) challenge club day photo photo a day photo-a-day photography photography club Thu, 01 Apr 2021 12:45:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 19 This tip is to practice without your camera.  When you are out without your camera look at scenes and imagine a photo composition that you could create. Pay attention to distractions that would impact your composition and how you could eliminate them in-camera.  Also, pay attention to the light and how you could use it to enhance your photo.

A bonus tip:  Use that same technique before you pull your camera out of your bag if you are out with your camera to take photos.

Leave comments below.

(FotoMentum) composition distractors easy in-camera light photo Quick tips Thu, 01 Apr 2021 02:30:00 GMT
Photography Scavenger Hunt It seems that game posts get the most hits, so here is another.  You can find others explaining similar, but I add an option to use Instagram as a way to share the photos.

In this game, you are tasked to find nine items.  Nine items are chosen so it fits in an Instagram feed if you are into that.  If not, then it is just nine photos. 

Here is a 9x9 grid from my Instagram feed that wasn't following any list, but is here for an example of an output you want to be turned in.


Here is a list of random thoughts from me to get you started.  Encourage participants to be creative and feel free to stretch each topic. So, remove any boundaries because there is no rule of how you connect your photos to each of the words/phrases.

  1. Rock
  2. Soft light
  3. Blue
  4. Wet
  5. Hot
  6. Silhouette
  7. Big
  8. Chaos
  9. Motion

To keep things unique from each participant, ask that no one shares any of the photos until a specific day.  This will encourage each person to be creative in their own way.  Copying from someone is a great way to learn, but this method helps bring the creativity out of those that participate.

So here are a couple of schedules depending on your situation (Case).

Case 1: Team Building over a weekend or week

In this case, I would recommend creating a new list that lines up with the purpose of the weekend or the location.  For example, if you are in Las Vegas one of the items could be to get a photo of a bride in her bridal gown.  There are a lot of weddings every day in Las Vegas.  Also if just a weekend trip then the list may need to be shortened.

  • Provide the list to the teams/individuals on the first day
  • Collect all entries day before the last day
  • Show the photos on a 9x9 grid from each entry on the last day

Case 2: Club weekly or monthly challenge

  • Provide the list to the teams/individuals on the first day
  • Set a complete by date for each entry
  • Remind to not share so each uses their own creativity
  • For a list of nine photos, you may need to give one week, two weeks, or a month

Case 3:  Rapid Fire
My favorite for several reasons:  It will finish quickly and makes each participant not overthink any given photo.
This case works well at festivals, busy cities, or parties.

  • Provide the list to the teams/individuals
  • Set a short time requirement of one to four hours
  • This method will really get the creative juices flowing 
(FotoMentum) building cretive fun game hunt photography scavenger scavenger hunt team Sat, 27 Mar 2021 10:00:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 18 I just looked at my stats for hits on my blog and I am seeing an increase in readers.  So, thank you to all that are reading my blog.  What I did find interesting is the lack of comments, so leave a comment or question and I will answer.

So, on with the tip.

Today's tip is in-line with a quest that I took on a long time ago.  My quest was to learn what every switch or button did on my Canon t7i EOS Rebel camera.  I have since upgraded to a higher-end Canon and glad I learned before upgrading.  I am not asking you to learn every button or switch, but to start with just one or two that may be foreign to you.

If you are struggling with which one to start with, start with the dial that has a mode for the camera (auto, manual, etc.).  Learn what each setting could be used for.

Get out there and take some photos and leave me a comment here.

(FotoMentum) automatic camera features functions learning manual Wed, 24 Mar 2021 10:00:00 GMT
I Spy Photography Game I may be showing my age here, but when I was a child my family would play a game called "I spy with my little eye, something....."  The idea was to give a single hint and others had to guess what you saw.  For example "...something green."  and the answer could have been a green car.

This game is easier because there is no "wrong" answer.  The first photo has no rules and can be anything within the rules of ethical standards of your club.  The second photo has to include something from the first photo.  You can really stretch what you are matching like an object or a color.  You just have to explain your connection.

As an example, the first photo was posted and the 2nd photo has the comment of "I spy a bike in your photo"


Tight Race of ThreeTight Race of Three

I can't believe I started this game.  I am so excited.


I spy a bike in your photo.  I like the motion in your photo and the lineup of the front wheels.


There is really no "end" goal for the game other than guiding some interaction with your photography group.  In my example above I play the part of the first post and show how exciting it can be to be the first poster.  So, if you are running the game don't post the first photo.  For the second photo, I make the connection with a bike and provide some constructive feedback.

Some rules you may want to include:

  1. If you have a large group, minimize one person dominating by making a rule that you cannot add two photos in a row or have a minimum number of posts before you take another turn.  
  2. The poster must identify the connection
  3. Each post must provide constructive feedback about the previous photo

You can download a PDF version of this blog here.  The PDF version has some slight modifications, but nothing new from the above for rules or how to do this club activity.



(FotoMentum) club creative eye fun game photography photography club spy Sat, 20 Mar 2021 10:30:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 17 (Clean Your Camera) Don't be afraid to clean your DSLR camera sensor.  It is not hard.  You only need an inexpensive kit from Amazon and watch my YouTube video to see how I clean my cameras.

(FotoMentum) camera clean cleaning DSLR easy safe sensor Wed, 17 Mar 2021 04:01:00 GMT
Preparing to Photograph a Polar Bear Dip Event photography is a fun task and I will share three tips on how to succeed at an outdoor event.  First (this isn't one of the three tips), the participants are expecting cameras and viewers.  So taking photos is not a problem.

In previous years I photographed our local Polar Bear dip at Hidden Valley Lake Indiana.  If I were to guess, there have been over 200 crazy (I mean participants) at the previous years' dips.  This year, however, we are dealing with COVID, and the original date for the dip was delayed to 3/6/21.  In the past, my vantage point has been near or in the crowd around the beach.  So, the first tip is location, location, location.

Tip 1:  Location

This year I decided to get a new vantage point and go out in the lake in my Kayak to get a different perspective I have not seen yet for the Polar Bear Dip.  Mixing in the crowd or being near them is fine and not wrong, but just doing something different this year.   In years past, I got a lot of backsides running in the water, but also got great expressions as they were running right back at me.  So, the land view is just as good as the lake view.

Tip 2:  Lenses

Decide what lenses you want to use.  I may take more than one lens but may only use the 70-200mm Tamron lens.  I will not be far from the dippers, so the 70-200 should be good for all my shots.

The day of the shoot went as planned for this trip.  I used just one lens (70-200).

Tip 3:  Decide if you want to freeze (sorry for the pun) the water or show some motion with some blur in the splashing water.

Whichever you want, do some practice shots and in this case, I will be shooting in manual.  The time of day will be about 11:30 AM with plenty of light with a sunny sky.  I will start my settings at 100 ISO, F5.6 aperture, and adjust my shutter speed to get the proper exposure.  I want a 5.6 or better aperture to ensure I have a decent depth of field.

If you want anything to be on auto, I would put ISO on auto and set the aperture to 5.6 or 8.0, and again adjust the shutter speed that I want.  In this setup with auto ISO I can opt for faster shutter speeds knowing that the ISO will compensate to provide enough light.

Comments are welcome.  Here are a few of the pics from the shoot.

PolarBearDip-4095-20210306PolarBearDip-4095-20210306 PolarBearDip-4048-20210306PolarBearDip-4048-20210306
PolarBearDip-4059-20210306PolarBearDip-4059-20210306 PolarBearDip-4026-20210306PolarBearDip-4026-20210306


(FotoMentum) bear cold dip ice photography polar water Sat, 13 Mar 2021 11:00:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 16 (Social Media) If you are stuck and lacking the creative drive, use social media to find some different ideas to try.  Look for something that you haven't done before and try to replicate it.  If you are able, reach out to the creator to ask questions and share your experience.  This is a two for one tip to open your creative flow and make a connection with another photographer.

(FotoMentum) creative creativity media network photography social Wed, 10 Mar 2021 11:30:00 GMT
Learning How to Edit Videos I have taken the plunge into the video world.  I am following the path of many YouTubers and making similar videos.  I have a lot to learn, but I learn fast and have already posted my first video where I do very little talking.  I plan on making more but due to full-time employment, it will probably be closer to once a month until I can be more efficient at my editing.

My first attempt at this was also my first time on some trails at the Fernald Preserve.  I look forward to going back and continue documenting some of the wildlife with my photography.  One drawback to this location is you must stay on the provided trails, so it may be difficult to find some angles that I would otherwise try if something didn't look right.

A little about my YouTube channel:

  • Right now it is dominated by my timelapse of several puzzles with no audio
  • I had several 2-minute tip videos, but they were pretty lame so I deleted them
  • For now, I am using my Hero 9 GoPro
  • I will likely start using my Canon 5D Mark IV for some things
  • I have a gimbal that I may use at times to improve overall stability

If you want to see what I have and follow my progress, here is my YouTube Channel.

Check out my latest video - I promise to do more and will be learning more as I go.

Here are two photos from my hike on the trails.  The first one is of a Starling (not my favorite bird), sitting on the wing of a bird statue at the welcome center.  The second is of a Red-Headed Woodpecker.  I have not seen the Red-Headed Woodpecker near my house, so I was pleased to have spotted four of them on this first hike on the trails.

Starling on a WingStarling on a WingStarling on a Wing Red-Headed WoodpeckerRed-Headed WoodpeckerRed-Headed Woodpecker


(FotoMentum) channel fernald hike preserve red-headed starling statue Video woodpecker youtube Sat, 06 Mar 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 15 (Be Yourself) These Wednesday tips are short and sweet.  I love doing these.  This week's tip is from a Youtube video that I watched.  It probably is likely something you already know, but let's talk about it anyway.

The tip is don't listen to what others are telling you to take photos of.  That was his tip, but I would like to add a why.  If you listen to what someone tells you what to take it will unnecessarily put limitations on your creativity.  By all means, be polite and listen, but if you have other ideas follow your creativity and dump the idea provided.  Just be you! 

(FotoMentum) adventures be creative creativity photo you Wed, 03 Mar 2021 05:01:00 GMT
How to Photograph a SnowFlake I will be straight up - I have never done this before.  But my goal is to do things I haven't done before to help me learn more.  I am writing this before I even go outside to illustrate something I have written about in other blogs.  In my post on how I photograph birds, I tell you my starting point.  So in the same way I will pre-set my camera before I attempt the snowflake photos.  There are two distinct advantages:  1. I hope to be close accurate settings before I go outside and 2. It is much easier to set it up in the warmth of the house.


The first topic is gear:
  • I will be using my Canon 5D Mark IV with one of two prime lenses (50mm or 85mm)
  • I have three extension tubes that are stackable, but probably will not need to stack
  • I am debating using a tripod, but with the bright snow, I should be able to do this hand-held
Next are my settings:
  • ISO 100
  • For aperture, I may use wide open (f1.8) and use photo stack if needed
    • I may use a smaller aperture (f8.0) to maximize the depth of field for the snowflake
  • Since the snowflake will be static and on something (not falling) I can go with slower shutter speeds.
  • So my camera will be on 100 ISO and aperture priority while watching my shutter speeds.
The final discussion is the subject matter:
  • I need to find my subject
  • Look for colorful objects that have accessible edges where snowflakes or crystals are present
  • Dual colored surfaces

The settings above are just my best guess after researching how others have created these photos and a few of my own experiences. 

First try

I took a short break from work today to attempt my first snowflake photograph.  It isn't the best and I will have more time to try again on the weekend (tomorrow).  I started with my 55mm with all the extension tubes and also tried my 70-200mm zoom with the same extension tubes.  My favorite came with my 85mm and my settings were not what I expected.

ISO 400
Shutter Speed 1/80
85mm prime lens
All three extension tubes to get as close as I could

12, 20, and 36 mm for a total of 68mm added to my lens.

I also had to use a piece of black contruction paper to get some contrast.  This was the output from the first attempt.


Second Try

The weekend has come and gone and my first attempt at a snowflake was the better of my two attempts.  I fared no better over the weekend.  And because of that I flippled to a previous project but tried it out outdoors.  I did a soap bubble project last year that went well with a few minor issues that I may try to resolve in a future project.  But for now, I tried the soap bubbles outside for some freezing bubbles.  The temperature was 12 degrees Fahrenheit, which was not as cold as I needed it to be.  I had read some blogger's post that it needs to be closer to zero, but I had no control over the temperature.  I did, however,  let my bubble solution sit outside in the cold for some time in hopes of better ice bubbles.  I did get one or two that turned out ok.

Ice BubblesIce BubblesIce Bubbles Ice BubblesIce BubblesIce Bubbles

If it were colder, it may have worked out better.  I think I already mentioned that. Both of these photos were taken after leaving the solution outside for about 30 minutes but not quite frozen.  When I created the bubbles some ice formed, but not as much as I hopped.  In the photo on the right, you can see more of the bubbles frozen.  Just needed to be colder for a faster freeze.

(FotoMentum) canon close extension macro photography snowflake tubes up Sat, 27 Feb 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 14 (Just Go) This is more of a general life tip than a photography tip but it is true in all you do.   You can not learn all you need to know by just asking questions.  At some point, you have to start doing to get to the next level.

(FotoMentum) and believe faith go life photography tip Wed, 24 Feb 2021 15:15:00 GMT
Two Bucket List Photos We have all heard of bucket lists of places we want to go to or do something we want to do.  So, this is not a new concept at all and I am just going to apply it to my photography hobby.  Also, in full transparency, this is not even my idea.  Unfortunately, I don't recall which podcast it was, but it was from one of my three favorites:  Photo Taco, Photo Geek Weekly, or Master Photography Podcast.  All three are great and have very different purposes.  Photo Taco will help you with deep tech for photography.  Photo Geek Weekly has the tech, news, and general chat.  Master Photography Podcast is just like it sounds, it helps you learn how to do things and is great for beginners to advanced photographers.

Let's get back on the topic of the photo bucket list.  This idea is to choose two photos that you want to get this year.  Some examples could be your local city or town skyline at sunrise, sunset, moonrise, or moonset.  It could be a photo of an eagle catching a fish on a dive in a lake.  I give you these two examples to give you some guidance on your two photos of choice.  There is one distinct attribute to keep in mind and that is the control or availability to get the photo. 

The city/town photo is available many times over the year and just needs a little cooperation from the weather which means this photo is achievable and has little excuse for not getting it.  I am not diminishing this one as a potential bucket list item, but just to help you set expectations.

The eagle catching a fish is extremely dependent on luck and being at the right place at the right time.  You can increase that chance with frequent trips to a location with eagles, but the time available to "snap" that photo is very small.  So this one may be difficult to impossible to get the sharp photo that will meet your quality bar.

So, after this rambling, here is what I am proposing:

  1. Create two achievable annual bucket list photos
  2. Create two lifetime difficult to achieve bucket list photos

So, not that I completed that thought process here is what mine are (which I reserve the right to change)

Two annual photos

  • Sun or Moon over the Cincinnati skyline
  • First paid senior photo shoot

Two lifetime photos

  • Eagle or other raptor picking up a fish out of the water
  • Fox mother with kits
(FotoMentum) best bucket goals list photography spectacular Sat, 20 Feb 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 13 (Check Your Settings) Take a few minutes before you leave the house for your next photoshoot to review your settings on your camera.  Your previous use of the camera may have needed vastly different settings than you need now and it is much easier to get your camera in the settings you want before you get in the field.

(FotoMentum) learn mistake photographer prepare settings Wed, 17 Feb 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Bird Photography Bird photography can be one of the most satisfying and most frustrating experiences for a new photographer.   I will share with you my thoughts as an amateur photographer that has been learning and trying very hard to get the perfect shot of several birds.

Downy WoodpeckerDowny WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker

There are several ways to approach a common question of how I get my photos.

1. The dreaded gear question

To start, use what you have.  I encourage you to use what you have until you become limited in what can be done.  Do you have a point and shoot with a long zoom - go for it you will get good shots as well and don't have to get caught up in some of the discussion below.  But stick around, I have some good tips for those cameras as well.  I mean, yea, I have one of those too and I do use it.

The first item on the gear list would be the lens:

You don't have to have the giant zoom for wildlife and in this case for birds.  A large zoom is useful, but not necessary.  So, let's assume you have a basic DLSR with the kit lens that came in the box.  That lens is typically something like 18 to 35mm.  If you are a member of a club, then see who else has the same camera with compatible lenses and ask to borrow a lens.  Or better yet, go on a club trip and share a lens.  I am a Canon user, so a word of caution that Canon full-frame cameras use EF lenses, and the crop sensor Canons can use EF-S and EF.   DO NOT use an EF-S on a Canon full-frame camera.

The next item would be a tripod

Use a tripod or mono-pod to photograph birds when you are out to get the sharpest photos possible.  I will talk about settings below to help in getting sharp photos, but this just as important as the settings.  Especially if you are using any kind of zoom, a tripod will remove camera-shake that will cause motion blur.  It may be subtle in some of the photos, but it will be evident in the feedback asking how you get such sharp photos.

Here is a photo, that I wish I had my camera on a tripod.  I like the photo of the eagle, but it is not as sharp as I would have liked it to be.

Immature Eagle on the IceImmature Eagle on the IceImmature Eagle on the Ice

2. I almost dread the what are your settings.

You may wonder why I would dread this question.  I dread it because I don't want someone to take my settings and use them in the field only to find that the settings do not work for them.  Instead, take what I suggest here as a guide and come up with your own settings.  Each time I go out, I set my camera settings before I take the first photo, but seldom stay on those settings.

Understanding the exposure triangle of Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO is critical here.   Before you choose any setting learn how much and how fast a bird moves.  Capturing a photo of a bird in flight vs sitting on a branch calls for very different settings.  Don't put artificial limits on the settings.  I have heard many times to avoid high ISOs due to noise.  I heard it so many times I limited my shots and probably missed some good opportunities.  I don't want a super high ISO, but I would much have a sharp photo with noise than a blurry photo without noise.

That said, here is how I start when I go on a photoshoot to look for birds:  I put my camera in manual with Auto ISO.  Then I set my aperture to a fairly forgiving setting of F8 to F11.  Then I dial shutter speed to 1/1000 as the slowest that I want to go.   If my ISO is getting too high (64K for my camera) I will open the aperture to 5.6 to let more light in so the ISO will automatically come down.  But I am okay if my ISO has to be high to get the shot.  If you are concerned it is easy enough to change the shutter speed and aperture to get the ISO you want.  I just take multiple shots to get many photos with different ISOs and can choose the best when I get home.

So, walking out the door, I am set on manual with auto ISO, shutter speed set to 1/1000, and aperture probably at f8.0.  I will take a few test shots at those settings and will likely move my shutter to 1/2000 if it is a very bright day.

3. How to be in the right place at the right time

I could talk for a long time on this topic but will try to be as brief as possible.   The most basic philosophy I have is it takes persistence of going back to the same place many times until that right opportunity presents itself to you.  If you go once and get an epic shot, well good for you.  That would be total luck and that is okay, but don't count on it.  Even if I get the best photo on my first visit does not mean I ever give up getting that next photo that "wows" the viewer.

Even if you are in the right place at the right time does not mean you are going to get that epic photo.  You need to also need to understand the animal (bird in this event) and how it moves around.  Knowing that a bird is skittish and will leave at the slightest noise is critical.  For those times, you need to have the lens cap off and the camera ready to use.

If you are after a specific bird or animal learn their behavior.  There is plenty of Youtube videos that will give you some advice to learn animal behavior.  Ask your local birding clubs, naturalists, park rangers, etc because they will know when and where to find them.

In closing, here is one more photo from my recent trip a location with many birds and known for bald eagles.  Again, no tripod for the photo, so not as sharp.  I was also on a shutter speed of 1/400 which I did not notice until I got home and started looking at them.  I would have wanted 1/2000 or faster for these birds in flight.

Bald Eagles in FlightBald Eagles in FlightBald Eagles in Flight


(FotoMentum) bald downy eagle photography woodpecker Sat, 13 Feb 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 12 (Camera Cleaning Kit) TLDR; Purchase a camera cleaning kit.

Keeping the weekly tip short and simple.  If you have a camera that you can change lenses you should have a cleaning kit on hand before you need it.  You may be very careful when changing lenses, but dust will still get in the body of your camera.  I am not going to put a link for a cleaning kit because they come and go on Amazon quickly.  At the time of this writing, the price for most cleaning kits is around 15 dollars.  Just go to your favorite search engine or Amazon and search for "camera cleaning kit" and you will find a kit.

(FotoMentum) air blower bubble camera cleaning dust easy photography tip Wed, 10 Feb 2021 05:01:00 GMT
New Website for my Photography Club Check out Hidden Valley Lake Photography Club's website here.

(FotoMentum) club new photography Wed, 10 Feb 2021 02:41:07 GMT
Top Ten Photos for the Year (Part 2) This is part two of my top ten photos from 2020.  So, let's get right to it

Sixth photo.  If you are wondering where photos 1-5 are, go to last week's blog.  The first photon on this series was me playing with lighting and self-portraits.  This is not a selfie.  I set this up with a 10-second timer and I would move quickly to the spot for the pose.  I had a lot of fun trying different poses and this one was my favorite and was appropriate with all the turmoil with elections and COVID.

Praying for healingPraying for healingPraying for healing

Seventh Photo

I had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot for my daughter's 2020 graduation from Indiana University.  I was solo and did not have a light stand, so most of my lighting was setting flashes on the ground and pointing up or placing them on a wall.  I was not able to use my soft boxes so any lighting was from a distance so it didn't overpower the scene or my daughter.

Daughter Portrait IUDaughter Portrait IUDaughter Portrait IU

Eighth Photo

We sadly lost our dog of 15 years in June.  This is our new puppy.  I had to lay on the ground and used a high flash to capture this photo.  The tongue was an extra that added story to the photo.  His name is Zeus and only a few months old in this photo.

Meet new puppy, Zeus.Meet new puppy, Zeus.Meet new puppy, Zeus.

Ninth Photo

This is Zeus again.  Boy was it fun.  After listening to some podcasts on pet photography, I gave it a try with our new puppy.  While he looks like he is about to take a bite of my hand, it was all very playful.  I had to have the lights unplugged due to the constant chewing on the cords.  But this one turned out great with the reaction of Zeus while I am trying to get lights wrapped around him for a cute photo.  In this setup, I have a softbox about 2 feet away pointing down at a 45-degree angle.  My camera is on a platypod and set to take a photo every five seconds.  The flash in the softbox is a GoDox 200 pro so it is keeping up with the 5-second interval.

Zeus and Christmas LightsZeus and Christmas LightsZeus and Christmas Lights

Tenth Photo.

This is my emotional add to the group. This is Nemo who passed away on June 24, 2020.  After 15 years it was a hard loss and he is missed.  This photo is done with no flash or tripod.  It is just one of many photos that I have taken and I like the alert look and full body photo.

Memory of Nemo. June 24, 2020.Memory of Nemo. June 24, 2020.

(FotoMentum) best favorite photography rank ranking review share ten top year Sat, 06 Feb 2021 05:00:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 11 (Check Lists) I thought this would be difficult to come up with weekly tips, but just sitting here I can come up with many tips.  So, this tip is more philosophical than practical.  I am finding that when I am writing my blog I am learning more things that I was not expecting.  When I write a long post such as my backup process I find that my process had some gaps.  So my tip is to write out your processes (whatever they are) and you will realize that you are missing some options to make it better.

Example: My tip to create checklists resulted in me discovering that Microsoft Notes can store my notes on my account and I can access them via my phone.

(FotoMentum) improve learn photography process success write writing Wed, 03 Feb 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Top Ten Photos for the Year (Part 1) Have you taken more photos than ever last year?  Or only a few. Have you ever looked back over a period of time and picked your favorites?  Either way, this is an exercise you should consider doing, but it isn't easy.  This was my first year picking my top ten and to be honest it wasn't my idea at all.  I listen to many Podcasts and watch many Youtube videos on how to improve my photography.  On one podcast, the host stressed to only pick 10.  If you take a lot of photos as I do, you will find it difficult to only pick 10.   I found I chose some due to emotion - and that's okay even if it is not necessarily the best in terms of technique but they were important to me.

So, if you want to hear a little about each photo, keep reading.  Or if you just want to see my top ten you can see them in this gallery.  I am breaking this into two blog posts with the first five described here and the next five in next week's post.  But you can get a peek at the second five with the gallery link above.

So here are the first five of my top ten photos from last year.


My first photo in my top 10 is of the Cincinnati Skyline.  This took a while to find this spot, but once I found it I realized it was a likely location for many others before me.  I was standing on a sidewalk next to George Roger's Park in Northern Kentucky.  This photo is three photos stitched using Lightroom.  I also used Photoshop to create a better reflection in the water.  It was a long exposure so that is why the river is so smooth.  IF you click the link you will see a similar photo but in black and white.

Cincinnati SkylineCincinnati SkylineCincinnati Skyline


My next photo is taken from the balcony of Hidden Valley Lake's Administration office.  This photo was printed and framed and gifted to the community manager that was retiring.  The sky was added to because the sky that morning was cloudless and rather boring.  Like the skyline photo above this one is all a stiched panorama shot

HVL Lake ViewHVL Lake View


The third photo is from Whiskey City Bike Races in downtown Lawrenceburg, IN.  It took me a while to discover this photo and then with some photoshop (actually only used Lightroom) to turn the background to black and white.  What I really liked about this photo is how the front wheels are perfectly lined up in succession.  This motion blur photo technique is known as panning.  I have a relatively slow shutter speed while I pan the camera as the bikers go by.  That is why they are fairly in focus while the background is rather blurry.  In addition to enjoying the day taking photos, watching the competition is exciting.  I also took photos of the same race in 2019 and found the winner of one of the races to be a graduate from IU.  He was back for this race as well but did come in second.  I am hoping to see him racing again next year.

Tight Race of ThreeTight Race of ThreeTight Race of Three


The fourth photo is of penguins out for a walk at the Cincinnati Zoo.  I got this photo right before the COVID outbreak.  To see these penguins check out the Cincinnati Zoo for times when they walk them.   I believe it is only once a week and in the early morning.  They walk right down the middle of the street/path inside the zoo and you are very close to them.

Penguins of  Cincinnati ZooPenguins of Cincinnati ZooPenguins of Cincinnati Zoo


The Fifth photo and last for this post is of my niece's fiance.  They are now married and this photo was over Memorial Day weekend.  His name is Jordan and is driving his future father-in-law's boat.  We were out to pull some of the cousins on tubes behind the boat.  His sweater was a light pink, but the contrast was strong with his dark hair and beard against the sky and his clothing.  I reduced the saturation to a point the pink is hardly visible.  He was not aware that I was taking the photo and I like how this one turned out.

Nephew driving the boatNephew driving the boatNephew driving the boat

(FotoMentum) best favorite photography rank ranking review share ten top year Sat, 30 Jan 2021 05:00:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 10 (Review Your Photos) I am sticking with Lightroom here. But you can do the same manually.   Each January review your previous year of photos and choose your top ten photos.  This is not easy.  Your first attempt will probably be about fifty photos if you are like me.  But you must reduce your choice to your top ten.  You can do this by using criteria such as something that you learned and applied successfully - it doesn't have to be the perfect photo.  Make sure you are mixing some different genres in the top ten.  I use LightRoom's smart collection and can quickly go through all my photos for the year and add them to the smart collection and then cull the photos to get to the final top ten.  Good luck. 

(FotoMentum) best favorite january photos ten top Wed, 27 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Doug's Backup Philosophy Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.  But maybe you have been lucky and have not experienced a hard drive failure.  There are many ways to lose your data.  It could be a hardware failure, an accidental deletion, a software issue, malware (such as ransomware), a natural disaster, or even an accidental event such as dropping your data drive.  It is very unlikely that all possible disasters will happen to you.   And, yes each one of these is a disaster.  However, if you are diligent with your backups, you can recover from just about any disaster.   I implore that you have some form of backup of your photos.  In this blog post, I share my process and how it evolved over time to what it is today.

Let's start with some basics.  There should be three copies of every photo and one of those three should be off-site.  If you are just starting, the cheapest and fastest start is to use Local-Only backups.  If you have sufficient funds you should be using all three methods below and that is what I am doing.  Think of it this way.  I have seen requests on the Internet where some are willing to pay high dollar to recover their only copy of their files.  The cost of using all three methods below would have been a fraction of what they are willing to pay to recover.

As a real-life example, a friend's hard drive with the only copy of their photos began failing to be recognized by any computer and they thought all was lost.  I was given the hard drive and with some hard work ahead of me.  With some luck and geek ingenuity, I was able to get the drive recognized and slowly copy all the photos to a fresh drive.  The failing drive was so bad that it took about 3 days of copying to complete the job of about 3 TBs of photos.  It should have been able to be copied in a couple of hours at most.  The excitement of the recovery was awesome, but not worth the stress.

Local-Only backups:

So, let's start off simple with a backup to an additional harddrive.  This is the easiest and first step to avoid loss due to a single hard drive failure or accidental deletion of all or a portion of your files.  It will also protect your files from corruption and hopefully a ransomware attack.  If this is all you do for backups it is a start, but you should consider more.  But, for now, let's assume this is all you are doing it is better than nothing.  If that is true, here are some recommendations.

  • Backup Drive should be a removable drive that can be mobile 
  • The backup drive should only be connected to perform backups
  • The backup drive should not be stored in the same room as your computer
  • If possible create a second backup drive to store at a friend or relative's house

Benefits of the local drive backup

  • Inexpensive
  • Fast to backup
  • Ease of access to recover

Disadvantages of the local backup

  • Typically manual process
  • Human error to miss some folders/files
  • Easy to forget and backups become stale
  • Not protected from a natural disaster

Use Alternate Media

I am not going to give this method much attention due to the volume of media needed to create a backup.  In the past, data was not as large (file size and number of files).  This made using alternate media such as CDs or DVDs a viable option.  Even if you were to get high-density DVDs you will still be limited to 4 GB per DVD.  Some of my edited photos are greater than 1 GB in size.  Most of my RAW photos are 30 to 40 MBs.  So using this as an alternate media to not be a likely candidate.

So, instead of alternate media, use the same type of media to have two local copies of all your photos.

Benefits of alternate media

  • Gives you a second chance if the first backup is not working
  • Inexpensive
  • Fast to backup
  • Ease of access to recover

Disadvantages of alternate media

  • Typically manual process
  • Human error to miss some folders/files
  • Easy to forget and backups become stale
  • Not protected from a natural disaster

Off-Site Backup

With today's automatic backup options to various cloud providers, there is no excuse to not have your photos in a cloud storage location.  I am using BackBlaze.  Backblaze is automatic and will backup new files as they are added.  There are other options, but BackBlaze seems to be the solution of choice by many photographers.  Setup is easy and relatively inexpensive.

Advantages of off-line backups

  • The backups are automatic
  • Protection from natural disasters
  • For the amount of storage used it is not expensive
  • Protection from deleted files ( Deleted files are kept for 30 days after deletion - a BackBlaze feature )
    • BackBlaze allows deletion to remain for one year for an additional two dollars a month as of writing this blog

Disadvantages of off-line backups

  • Not free
  • The initial backup can take a long time to complete.  It could take multiple weeks or months depending on your network connection and amount of data to backup


(FotoMentum) backblaze backup disaster drive hard online photos recover Sat, 23 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 9 (How to Store Photos) Today's tip does not require your camera.  Instead, today I want you to think of how you store and save your photos.  I will write a blog post on the process of backing up my photos.  So my tip for you today I am sharing my method to store my photos.  I create a folder structure for each year and a folder for each month and then a folder for the shoot.

So, it may look like this


I use Lightroom to import the photos in the structure and use Lightroom to rename each photo with the same name as the folder or something that is related to the photoshoot.  Photos need meaningful names.   If there are several different themes, I can import each theme one at a time to assign the names.

(FotoMentum) adobe flow lightroom naming photo storage work Wed, 20 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
How to Use New Gear If you are like any enthusiast, hobbyist, or professional photographer you likely purchased or received new gear over the holidays.  I am not going to get into the argument of new gear vs use what you have - that can become a heated debate and not what I am after here.  Instead, you can apply this blog for new or existing equipment.  Getting something new, however, tends to get my willingness to try new things easier to come by.  Maybe it is the new shiny object or prestige of having product X that drives you.   But how often does that energy wain after a few short months or weeks?

I personally do have new gear.  One was expected and one was not.  I am older and my wife and I pretty much pick our own gifts for Christmas.  We do some small surprises, but we enjoy our way.  It is us and you can be you.  So, my gift of choice was the GoPro Hero 9 bundle.  My unexpected gift was from my son and his wife:  a gimble.  The gimble is a smart gimble for smartphones, but my GoPro sits on it nicely as well. Gopro on GimbleGoPro and GimbleGopro on Gimble

So, enough of the upfront chatter and on with the purpose of this blog.  How to go about using your new or existing equipment to energize or open the creative side of your photography.

This is how I go about learning my new or existing gear.

1. Look all around the gear.  I mean turn it over, read the labels, push some buttons, try to make it function, and be curious.  This lets me understand what is intuitive (to me) before I look at any instructions.

2. Look at Youtube for reviews - this will often point out the good features and the bad features.  Realize that the reviews are just opinions and don't take them as 100% spot on.  What someone thinks is a problem could be something you like.  So, watch and listen and then make your own judgments when you try the same features.

3. Try all the features.  Even if you don't plan on using them you will benefit by trying out most if not all options.

4. Don't be afraid to try things.  Failures are just as important as successes.  In fact, I don't call them failures as much as discoveries while learning new techniques.  The only failure in my eyes is a failure to try.

In the spirit of my blog here, I took my GoPro and Gimble out to try a timewarp.  You can check it out here: HVL Trail TimeWarp.

Don't limit yourself to just new gear, but also apply this to existing gear.  In this photo gallery of soap bubbles, I followed a project from this YouTube video.  I haven't blogged on how I did this and may make it a future blog.

Another example where I applied this to existing gear is before I upgraded my camera body, I took time to learn all the features of my existing camera body and got another year of use before I was ready for the upgrade.

(FotoMentum) canon creative gear gopro hyperlapse learn technique time timewarp warp Sat, 16 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 8 (Getting a Better Focus) LCD focusing

Using the LCD to focus can be a more accurate process than using the eyepiece.   You likely have a zoom function on your LDC to zoom to the subject to get an even better focus.  Practice using the LCD screen for static or subjects that will sit long enough for you to get the focus.  Practicing this will increase your speed of using it and can expand into some cool wildlife shots.

(FotoMentum) accurate focus LCD photography practice screen sharp wildlife Wed, 13 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Shooting for the Stars Shooting for the stars or planets in this case is a fun adventure.  I was able to garner interest with my photography club to meet in an open area and practicing social distancing to try to capture the Saturn Jupiter Conjunction of 2020 that was expected on December 21, 2020.

I used Google maps to look for a location that had a clear line of sight to the Southwest sky and was pleased to see our community's golf course back porch was a good spot.  I then used PhotoPills to plan my shots.  Our location did not lend it to using a foreground object, so we shot mostly zoomed-in shots of the event.

So, on the 21st it was cloudy all day.  The planets were expected to be in alignment at about 6:30 PM that evening, so the clouds were a big disappointment.  At about 4:00 the clouds began to depart and by 5:00 all the clouds were gone.  That was great and we were excited that the event was going to be visible to us.  Unfortunately, the clouds started to return about 5:30 but in small amounts, so our hopes were high.  As the time approached the clouds increased and we were taking shots as the clouds would move in to block our view and then move on and reveal the planets.  By 6:15 it was 100% cloud cover and we missed the pinnacle of the event. 

I am only posting two photos because they are all essentially the same.  The first photo was on the 21st before the clouds took over.  The second photo is the day after on the 22nd.   If you compare the two photos you can see the change in alignment from the 21st when they were going to line up (but I missed due to cloud cover) and the photos from the 22nd (the day after).  In the photo from the 21st, you can see Saturn almost straight up from Jupiter and if the clouds would have held out another 15 or 20 minutes it would have been awesome.  In the second photo, you can see the separation and they never lined up as one.

Saturn JupiterSaturn JupiterSaturn Jupiter Saturn JupiterSaturn JupiterSaturn Jupiter


(FotoMentum) 21 astro astrophotography conjunction december exposure jupiter long night photography planets saturn stars Sat, 09 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 7 (Create a Creativity List) Creativity can be learned if you try.  Some come by it naturally, some have to work at it.  This tip is to get your creativity a kickstart by creating a "List of 7."   I do this with my photography club once in a while.  The idea is to have a list of 7 things/concepts or whatever and then you have to photograph over 1 week (7 days).  Hence the name "List of 7."  Here is one example from my photography club:

Very little guidance, just topics:
1. Glass
2. Looking up
3. Candlelight
4. Wild Card - a project of your choice
5. Books
6. Long Exposure
7. Fruit


(FotoMentum) creativity list photography practice project tip Wed, 06 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Taking Your Photography to the Next Level Happy New Year! 

Is your New Year's resolution to take your photography to the next level?

I can only hope that this year of 2021 will better than the one we just left.  To forever be known as: "The year that must not be named."  That said I will share with you my theory on New Year's resolutions.  It is something I have learned from some fitness trainers and I apply it to other areas in my life including photography.  TLDR; Today is the day to start on a new goal/resolution.  Don't wait for a new year to start.

Here are my general suggestions regarding goals:

  1. Most importantly, you don't have to wait for a new year to make a resolution. 
  2. Making lofty or abrupt life changes and expect them to stick on a specific date is unlikely to be successful. 
  3. It takes time and a lot of small changes to achieve goals. 
  4. The journey should be just as rewarding as reaching the goal.

Once you make goals - whenever that may be, you need to have actionable and measurable steps.  If I could also make a recommendation, read a book called: "Get Things Done (GTD)"  That book has a huge following and great ideas on how to GTD.

Here are some potential goals for photographers and example tasks:

1. Learn basics

  • Learn the basics of using a camera in manual mode
  • Attend training or sign up for an online course
  • Watch Youtube (find a few good ones to follow)

2. Improve skills (have some specifics such as portrait, landscape, macro, etc.)

  • Follow some photographer podcasters and Youtube channels
    • Interact with these photographers
  • Join a photography club
  • Connect with a professional photographer
  • Enter photography contests

The next two are my personal goals and I have been working on them.  For my wildlife goal, I had not found the right training until recently.  I watched this video by Steve Perry over the Christmas holiday season and will be trying many things suggested in this Youtube video.

3. Convert skills to a business

  • Setup portrait photography photoshoots
  • Build a portfolio
  • Let others know my intention

4. Take my wildlife photography to the next level

  • Use Youtube to find training opportunities
  • Get more photos - aka Practice more
  • Build my wildlife portfolio
  • Submit my work to wildlife photo contests

Whatever you decide for goals, I hope you are successful.  Remember my initial points that you do not need to wait for a new year to start and the journey is just as important as the goal itself.  Make your goals reachable and then "Believe and Go."  You got this; I have faith in you.

(FotoMentum) aperture automatic club contest goals iso manual new new year's photography resolution shutter tasks year Sat, 02 Jan 2021 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 6 (Save Small Parts) TLDR; Do not store your quick-release pad on your tripod.

Quick and not so obvious tip here for tripod use.  I have thought of this before, but today it was reinforced.   I typically do NOT leave the quick-release pad on my tripod.  I am afraid it will fall off while attached to my backpack and be lost on some trail or path I was on. today, I went on a shoot and put my L-bracket on my camera and did not need my quick-release pad (but it was on my tripod).  The photoshoot went ok ( the weather was not cooperative ).  However, when I returned home and began unloading my truck my quick-release pad was sitting on my front seat.  It had fallen off but was right where I could see it.  Minor catastrophe abated.

(FotoMentum) easy find loose lose photography tip tripod Wed, 30 Dec 2020 05:01:00 GMT
How Yorkies do Portraits Pet photography is a thing - just search with Google or Bing for pet photographers near you and you will surely find a few.  Pets are part of the family and it is important to capture the short time we have with them on this earth.

This may be to late for you this Christmas, but you can practice these shots any time of the year or you can use these tips for pet photography in general.  In my case, my young Yorkie is about 8 months and full of energy.  In his mind, this was all fun and games, and playing with the lights was on the agenda.   I took these photos by myself so I did some things to automate the picture taking.

I knew I was going to be battling to get my Yorkie to sit nicely for the lights and actually never got the "calm" shot I wanted.  Some tips for posing the dog that I have heard on some photography podcasts is to use a leash and to minimize the amount the leash overlaps with the dog.  You will be photoshopping the leash out later, so don't let the leash lay across the dog's back.  Instead, hold the leash so it is a vertical line going straight up.  Also, if you are going with the photoshopping to remove the leash, try to have a simple background.  Or, in my case, there was no control of my Yorkie with or without the leash so I relented and accepted that the "calm" photo was not meant to be.

I tried two different flash techniques and found my second to be better than my first choice.  My first choice was an on-camera canon flash and you will recognize them from the duller look of the photos.  My second choice was off-camera flash with my godox 200 pro and trigger.  Those with the off-camera flash are much more vibrant.  I did not do much post-processing so that you can see the difference.

I put my godox flash in a softbox as well, so the on-camera flash really didn't have a chance.  As energetic as my Yorkie was, I had to keep the softbox about 3 feet away so he would not knock it over.

My camera is a Canon 5D Mark IV and is on a platypod on the floor.  My camera has a built-in intervalometer that allows me to set the camera to take a series of photos at predetermined intervals.  It took me a while to figure this out and maybe this will help someone as well.  At first, I thought I had to define the number of photos to take with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 99.  While I did not need 99 for this shoot, it would be nice to have an option for greater than 99 if I ever need it.  I find it hard to know how many photos I want to take.  So, if you set the number of photos to zero it won't stop until you stop it.  The only way I have found to stop it is by shutting off the camera.  I set the number of photos to take to zero and set the interval to 5 seconds and began wrestling my dog.

The first two photos are an introduction of Zeus my Yorkie to the Christmas lights and using my on-camera flash.  These are the only two calm photos.

Yorkie and Christmas lightsIntroducing lightsIntroducing lights Yorkie and Christmas lightsIntroducing lightsIntroducing lights

The next two photos are also taken with an on-camera flash and I still was not impressed with the lighting.  Zeus was not impressed with anything and the battle began to get harder with me trying to get him to sit nicely and get a cool photo.   Zeus had other things in mind.

Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights

It was time to get out my godox flash with trigger and my softbox to get better coverage with the flash.  Notice the difference with this flash on how well it not only makes the colors stand out but how it also provides much better coverage of the area.  Zeus was still not impressed and still was not cooperating.

I started with the Christmas lights draped over him and plugged in.  He began biting the lights and the chords and then rolled over as I fought to keep them out of his mouth.

Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights

For both of our's safety, I unplugged the lights.  Now I only needed to keep the bulbs out of his mouth and not worry about the chord and getting electrocuted.  You can see here, Zeus appears to be settling down and may let me snap a few shots.  Maybe.

Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights

Here, Zeus is still twisting and turning and biting and growling, but it is all in fun.  Just like his chew toys, he is playing tug-a-war with me.  Zeus broke free a couple of times and ran around the room avoiding my light stand with my godox flash with a softbox and my camera on the platypod.  Photos are happening every 5 seconds which the godox flash can handle that speed without any issue.

Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights

The final photo is probably my favorite and shared on social media.  He looks like he is about to take a chunk out of my hand, but he is just playing and did not bite me even once during this ordeal.

Zeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lightsZeus chasing lights

(FotoMentum) canon christmas godox intervalometeer lighting lights photo platypod portrait softbox tangled terrier yorkie yorkshire Sat, 26 Dec 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 5 (Nigh Light Shots) Photo tip # 4.

Woot Woot.  Four weeks and counting and having fun.  This week's tip is on Christmas lights and not so much on how, but when to get the photos.  I may work on a longer post for Christmas lights on the how, but for now, the short tip is for the "when."   The best time for Christmas lights is between the Golden and Blue hours.  And even better if the subject faces the direction of the sunset.  Now, get out there and take some Christmas photos.

(FotoMentum) camera canon Christmas exposure Lights long photo photography tips Wed, 23 Dec 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Turnaround Just turn around, you may be surprised at what you see.  So many photos are the same because we tend to take photos of what everyone else is taking.   Be different and turnaround.  It is easy to remember to turnaround, but that comes in other forms, but the phrase "turnaround" is a good way to remember what I am talking about.

When you are setting up for a photoshoot of some spectacular sunset or sunrise or maybe you are looking at some architectural structure that you are focusing on.  Look around to see what else is an option for a photo.  Events that are rare and seem to gather crowds can be another form of the turnaround technique where you are capturing people's reactions to the event.  Try to include a piece of the event for context, but the reactions may be as good or better than the actual event because it will be showing emotion.

So the obvious is to simply turn around and you may see something like this:
Cincinnati Skyline from Union TerminalCincinnati SkylineCincinnati Skyline from Union Terminal

If I had a better sky this would be a much better photo.  However, that is what I saw when I turned around from the main subject in the photo below.  I had to use Luminar to replace the sky from my personal library of skies because it was a gray and boring sky (as you can see in my turnaround photo).  I believe the sky is from Oklahoma during a drive home with my daughter.  In this photo trip, my intention was mostly to practice and to look for angles to get of Union Terminal.  I was expecting partly cloudy skies according to the weatherman, but he missed that prediction by a mile.  The clouds never left.

Cincinnati Skyline from Union TerminalUnion TerminalCincinnati Skyline from Union Terminal

Frequenting a location is a technique I use to learn better angles and options for better photos.  It also gets me to learn many things about a location such as parking, costs (if any), where I am allowed to go, where the sun is, available amenities if any, or any other important information to know.  With COVID, there was hardly anyone there, but if there are workers it is good to talk to them to let them know you are taking photos.  It is polite to ask even if you know it is allowed.  This shows some respect and will likely end in advice from the worker that you would not know about.

Here are a couple of more shots with different angles and a turnaround shot.

dlg-uniontermiinal-CIncySkyline-2298-20201214CincinnatiCincinnati Skyline from Union Terminal Union TerminalUnion TerminalUnion Terminal Union TerminalUnion TerminalUnion Terminal


(FotoMentum) better cincinnati library photos skyline technique terminal union Sat, 19 Dec 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 4 (Starburst On Lights) I was going to put this on my HVL Photography club Facebook page, but they all follow me, so putting it on my main feed so others can see this tip as well.  And also including here on my blog.

For the Christmas Star photo opportunity on 12/21 when Juniper and Saturn are lined up there is a setting you will want on your camera to accentuate the star pattern.  You can search the Internet or just follow this link to read more.

Set your camera on Aperture Priority or Manual Mode and ensure the F-Stop of 8.0 or higher. If you see photos that have star patterns from the lights it is because the F-Stop is at 8.0 or higher.

Take some practice night shots with a high F-Stop and you will see what I mean.

Here is the HVL Photography page if you are interested:


(FotoMentum) aperture camera Celestial Christmas Jupiter light pattern Saturn Star tips Wed, 16 Dec 2020 05:15:00 GMT
Blue Light Night Shot Blue FountainBlue FountainBlue fountain in a small lake

I am starting this blog post with a photo right at the top.  Why not?

This photo is part of a monthly photo that my photography club and I publish in our community newspaper.  Our community is Hidden Valley Lake in Indiana, and our club is called "HVL Photography Club".   Not as catchy as some club names that I have seen out there, but we wanted it to be obvious in hopes to attract members.  We have about 25 members with about 10 active members on a regular basis.  So I am pleased with that.

Our article is titled "Where in HVL" and is published once a month with an occasional miss now and then.  What is interesting to me is our "Where in HVL" article is one of the more popular reads in the online version.   Our community is pretty large and.. well, let me just copy and paste a paragraph from the home page:

Nestled in the rolling woodlands of southeast Indiana just 30 minutes west of Cincinnati, the private community of Hidden Valley Lake offers a unique blend of small-town charm and big-city access. The 150-acre lake, 6 smaller lakes, 18-hole golf course, athletic fields, pool complex, sandy beach, restaurant & bar, and more provide abundant recreation opportunities. We welcome you to discover the many reasons why “life is good where we live.”

With the size of our community, it is very easy to not see it all.  We have 4 entrances around the perimeter and some residents come and go from the same entrance and may never see half of the community.  But as you can see from the description, we have a lot of amenities that are spread throughout.  So, if you just use a few of them you will get off the beaten path.   The article in our local paper is a way to show residents what is around and possibly get them out and about to enjoy some of the parts they don't see very often.

How I took this photo:

To get this photo I use all manual settings except for focus.  The fountain was close enough and there was enough contrast for the autofocus to work.  For most night photos I am also on manual mode for focus as well.  However, in this photo, the auto was good to use, so I did.

My settings were:

Shutter speed: 30 seconds
Aperture: 3.5
ISO 100

I took sever others at different ISO to get a smaller aperture, but this one turned out to be my favorite of the batch.

Thanks for reading and come back each week for the next post.  I am also posting tips on Wednesdays.  So be sure to mark this page as a favorite and come back often.

(FotoMentum) fountain hidden hills lake light night photography rolling valley Sat, 12 Dec 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 3 (Learn Exposure Triangle) Since last week was about manual vs auto, here is a tip to help you work toward manual mode.

The tip is to "Learn the Exposure Triangle."  I mean really learn and think about each one of the legs of the triangle.  For example, learn when would you prefer one leg of the triangle over the other two to control light or the lack of light.  Then think about how you could make sure that you get the effect that you want to achieve.  This can be done by setting the leg of the triangle to the setting you want and then use the other two to achieve the desired exposure.

Don't limit yourself to settings in the camera.  Think about how you can change the subject's exposure to the light.  Can you take the photo at a different time, can you add flash, can you move the subject to another location, or can you bounce light to the subject?  

(FotoMentum) exposure improve master photography triangle Wed, 09 Dec 2020 05:00:00 GMT
Self Family Portraits I am sure you have heard of self-portraits or even selfies, but what about family self-portraits?  This technique can work for selfies/self-portraits as well, but this time I used it for a photo of me and my wife.  I read some ideas that I will share first then tell you how I took this shot:


The technique I found involved prefocusing on a subject (anything) in the spot where you would be when the photo was taken and set the timer to 10 seconds and make your way to that spot.  Tools suggest were a tripod (pretty obvious), an object at that location to use for focusing, and then placing a piece of tape on that spot for you to go to when you start the timer.  This obviously takes trial and error, especially for focusing.

I did similarly, but since it was a group shot I did not need an object for focusing.  Instead, I used a person for my focal point.  What I also did differently was to not use the timer in the camera.  If you read some of my earlier posts I use a tool called the intervalometer.  This is a device that you can get from Amazon (Just make sure you get a model that works with your brand of camera.  In my case it was for Canon).  Another option that I had available is to use the built-in intervalometer.  My camera I use for my puzzle timelapse does not have a built-in intervalometer, so I do have the externally connected intervalometer.  Once I had focus, shutter, aperture, ISO, and flash configured to the settings I wanted, we stepped into the frame and let it take the photos.

My settings were as follows:

1. ISO 100

2. Aperture 3.5 to have a forgiving depth of field.

3. Shutter speed 1/160.

4. On-camera flash set to full power since it was far away.

5. Interval-ometer set to take photos every 10 seconds to allow time for the flash to recharge.

So, the two differences were using an intervalometer and not use tape to mark the spot on the floor.  In the article, I read the most difficult part was the focus point just being off a little.  So with an intervalometer, you can get the focus as close as possible and move just a few inches in each direction while the camera is taking pictures. 

(FotoMentum) family photo portrait professional self Sat, 05 Dec 2020 05:00:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks - 2 (Reset Your Camera) Welcome to tip #2

The first tip was a long post so in case I didn't mention this or it was not noticed I am going to try to publish one tip a week on Wednesday.  On with my tip.

If you are new to photography, you may hear pressure to get to manual mode.  Or you are an experienced hobbyist and have the same pressure.  Manual can be intimidating, but also rewarding.  However, just leaping into manual mode is not the best recommendation.  Instead, after you have learned the exposure triangle practice semi-automatic modes such as aperture and shutter priority.  And when you are done practicing whatever mode you are trying to learn, put the camera back in automatic.   Nothing is more discouraging than picking up your camera to snap a photo of something only to find it in some setting that will not work for the photo you just tried to get and now missed.

So, my tip is to always store your camera in Auto mode while you are learning.  Work toward non-auto modes, but in the beginning resetting to auto mode is acceptable.

(FotoMentum) auto automatic camera exposure how manual mode to triangle use Wed, 02 Dec 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Black and White One way to keep your photography exciting and active is to participate in group projects.  There are many places to find groups to join:  Flickr, Facebook, photo contest, etc.   Beware of photo contest sites on the Internet that promise great accolades and even money.  Most of them have thousands of photographers.  Instead, use small groups that only encourage you to take photos because it more about taking photos than it is winning some contest. In one of the groups that I follow the challenge was black and white and I turned in the photo that is in this blog.   Black and white is fun and helps to find the light.  In this photo, there is not a lot of "light" to find but the contrast in the hair of my Yorkie (Zeus) caught my eye.

B_W_DogsEyeThe Eye of The YorkieThe Eye of The Yorkie

I also have a square catch light in his eye from the window in our house.  I was watching some youtube videos showing how to find over photoshopped portrait photos.  The video was more related to human portraits but had some cool conversations around catchlights to see how a photo was lighted.

In my photo here you can see the catchlight is in the upper part of his eye so the light source is higher than the subject.  However, it is not directly overhead.  If it was directly overhead, I would have had shadows and less detail around his eye.

(FotoMentum) B&W Black & White BW catchlight contrast dog lighting portrait Yorkie Yorkshire Sat, 28 Nov 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Tips and Tricks 1 (Go Take Pictures) Photo Tips and Tricks - 1

Do you want to take better photos?  I do too.  So, how do I improve?  At least I am hoping I am improving.  This website is one of the many ways I try to improve.  I am starting a new series that will be in addition to my regular blog posts.  I do not plan on stopping my regular Saturday blog post.  I am not sure how long I will do this series but will see how it goes and welcome to Photo Tips and Tricks (PTT1).  My goal here is two-fold.

1. Share tips with others that are looking for tips.

2. Increase traffic to my blog.

If I cannot meet both of these then this series may not be what is needed.  Either way, it will be fun for me.  I have found that sharing and teaching things that I do know help me understand photography better.  There are many tips that I will share, but today is by far the most important tip that I can give you.  So without further delay here it is:


Sound simple?  Maybe.  But that is the most important tip you will ever get.  You can watch videos all day, read every blog you can find, and read every magazine, etc. without getting better.  Compare this to a sport such as a basketball player shooting free-throws.  If you watch videos, will it make you a better free-throw shooter?  Sure, you may get some technique ideas, but that is all they are... ideas.  Until you throw that first free-throw you are no better than before that first shot.

Just like the sports analogy your photography will all be in your head and only theory.  Can you change the aperture, shutter, or ISO quickly?  Have you ever looked through a camera with a new technique?  What about the first time you went to manual mode?  How did that go?  Pretty poorly?  Me two.  I sucked.  However, the more I have my camera in my hand and taking photos the better opportunity I have to improve.  I have sat on my couch just looking through menus to learn what is available.  I have practiced learning how to change my settings without taking photos.  So, my point is you can have a camera in your hand more often than you do today.  Learn how to use your camera.

Don't be afraid to use your cell phone.  It has some settings too - learn them as well.

This may be one of my longer tip articles, but I am sure I may get more in-depth tips that take longer.  If it is too long, I may break it across multiple blog posts.  I will try to keep it to 2 to 3 paragraphs.

Finally, if you made it this far, thank you.  I am ending with a name for this series.  I spent some time trying to come up with a catchy phrase or acronym that unique.  In the end, I almost landed on a question that I hear so often and many photographers don't like to answer to be the title.

WWYS - What Were Your Settings

But that just didn't look good on the blog post because the content of this post and the first tip had nothing to do with the title.  So I scrapped that title in favor of Photo Tips and Tricks.  That will be closer to what I will be writing about.  So stick around to see what's next.  Cya next week.

(FotoMentum) blog how improve improvement photo photography skills tips to Wed, 25 Nov 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Planning a Timelapse There are many photography project ideas that can be found on the Internet.  A project that I frequently enjoy is making a timelapse of a jigsaw puzzle.

I have a blog on the details of how to create a timelapse after taking the photos.  However, I did not spend much time on what goes into the preparation.  So stick with me as I go through my thought process. In one of my previous blog posts I covered what I think about when taking a photo, this blog post is my thoughts for creating a timelapse.   For any project, putting your thoughts down will help with a successful photography project.  I had a few issues on this project starting with my focus and composition.


Here are my thoughts on how to prepare for a timelapse photo project:

  • I want 24 frames per second.
    • So to get a 10 second timelapse you need to take 240 photos.
    • For experimenting try 5-second timelapse with 120 photos.
    • My jigsaw puzzle in this blog post was about 1800 photos for about 75 seconds.
  • I use a tripod to keep the camera as close to the same spot for each photo.
  • I use all manual settings for exposure.
  • Manual focus is also preferred.
  • I use a trigger known as an intervalometer to take photos at specified intervals.
    • I use 30-second intervals for my jigsaw puzzles.
    • For my first timelapse I set it for every 10 seconds.  However, that resulted in about 8,000 photos.
  • For my puzzles or any indoor timelapse projects, I use lighting in a windowless room to have consistent exposures.
    • You can always use blackout blinds to achieve a similar environment if you have windows.
  • I have more than one battery so I can swap out the battery if needed.


Some ideas for timelapse projects:

  • Use a figurine and move it across a table
  • A glass with ice - you can use a hair drier at a distance to speed the melting or just let it run for a couple of hours
  • A sunset - this is harder because you will need to adjust the exposure as the sun gets lower in the sky
  • Yard work like mowing your lawn, planting flowers, or blowing/raking leaves
  • Painting a room

List of things needed

  • Timelapse subject
  • Camera
  • Intervalometer if not built-in on the camera
  • Lights if indoors
  • Software to create the video
  • Patience


(FotoMentum) canon fun interval jigsaw project projects puzzle timelapse Sat, 21 Nov 2020 05:01:00 GMT
My Niece's Wedding Day This was one of my most fun photoshoots of all.  I was honored to take photos during the morning of my niece's (Brandi) wedding.  She had a photographer for the wedding, but the photographer was not scheduled to be there for the prep time.  With my niece's permission, I got the opportunity to be her photographer to capture her and the bridesmaids getting ready as well as a few photos of the groom and the groomsmen.

I have never done a wedding, so I was a bit nervous.  The good part was I had plenty of time to get photos and repeat different shots throughout the morning.  I got settled quickly and got my nerves under control.  For the first photo, I will start with the bride.  This first photo is near the end of the morning, but one of my favorite photos with her smile, and her eyes turned toward me.  I could see the happiness in her expression.  The second photo of the groom (Jordan) opening his tux and probably overwhelmed with the day ahead.

Brandi the BrideBrandi the BrideGetting ready GroomsmanHope this FitsGetting Dressed

A click on any of the photos will take you to the sample gallery.  Next up are a couple of groomsmen and a bridesmaid.  They guys were fun getting the ties on.  A lot of joking and teasing was happening.

groomsmanThe Guys Getting ReadyCan you tie this for me? Putting on makeupMakeup Just RightI think I got it Coming togetherComing togetherWorth it all

Once most of the makeup was on we headed outdoors to get a group photo.  This is an area I need more practice to get good poses.  I got a great pose and the girls were very good with me taking photos.  At first, I was not getting what I wanted until I gave direction for them to place their hand on the hip of the girl in front of them and that is the pose I was able to get - boring sky though. 

Bride and bridesmaidsBride and bridesmaidsAll together
The guys were mostly dressed and ready but needed a shot of Jagermeister
for a toast, or maybe to calm the nerves - who knows.  Either way, this was the one time I almost missed the photo.  I was shooting in manual mode all day and doing great.  But I just couldn't dial it in, so I switched to Aperture Priority Mode (or maybe Shutter Priority) to get the photo.  I also had to convince the groom's brother to get in the shot since he does not drink.  He is in the back and does not have alcohol in his hand.   So, we got them all.

jagermeister toastBottoms upjagermeister toast

The photo on the left was taken with no flash.  The bridesmaid was facing a sliding glass door providing great natural light giving awesome highlights.  The second one is also without a flash and purposely underexposed to give a similar look.  Both were adjusted with lightroom to darken the backgrounds.

BridesmaidsBridesmaidsPortrait BridesmaidsBridesmaidsPortrait

I will end this post with a photo of Brand's dress.  We moved it up to a fireplace in the house.  I have two photos to share here:  Color and Black and White.  Not sure which one was better.

Wedding DressWedding DressWedding Dress Wedding DressWedding DressWedding Dress  

After doing this for my niece, I would enjoy being a second shooter for a photographer as a professional shooter.


(FotoMentum) bridesmaid dress groomsmen hair makeup prepare preparing Second shooter wedding Sat, 14 Nov 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Birds of Indiana Coming up with ideas each week for a blog post is fun.  There are so many topics I want to cover but it is hard to write about some of them.  This week I am going to highlight my "Birds of Southeast Indiana" gallery.  This past weekend, I took a photo of a very patient and still Red Shoulder Hawk pictured below.   This bird sat on this branch for over 4 hours just waiting for me to take his photo.  I am sure that isn't true but he was there for me. That's a long time to sit in one place.  I had made multiple trips in and out of the house each time thinking I wish I had my camera with me to get his photo.   On my 4th trip, I decided he probably isn't going anywhere soon, so I grabbed my camera to get these shots of him.

Red Shoulder HawkRed Shoulder HawkCalling for his food the hawk will soon capture a mole from my yard. Red Shoulder Hawk with MoleRed Shoulder Hawk with MoleBreakfast is served

I have more photos of birds in my Birds of Southeast Indiana in my gallery.  In that gallery, you will find a Mallard Duck (I think that is a bird), several different woodpeckers, a blue kingfisher (it is a little grainy due to a long zoom and a tight crop), a barn swallow, great white egret, bluebird, robin, eagle, oriole, tufted titmouse, golden finch, and Carolina chickadee.  I may have more or less because I may update the gallery someday and not update the blog post.

Birds are one of my favorite subjects to photograph and I have a few action shots and birds that I hope to get someday.  I would like to get an eagle swooping toward the water and if I am lucky enough to capture the shot as it is grabbing a fish.  Another of my favorite birds is the piliated woodpecker.  The piliated woodpecker is very skittish though and hard to get in position for the right photo.  They usually fly in the direction away from me, so most of those shots have been from the back of the woodpecker.   Much like the hawk in the photo above eating his catch.  He moved several times as I was positioning to get that photo.

(FotoMentum) birds chickadee duck eagle goose hawk indiana oriole piliated red robbin shoulder southeast titmouse tufted woodpecker Sat, 14 Nov 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Photography Games for Fun Look out, Surprise Post!

I have seen many different games for photography clubs but I do not think I saw this one.  This will get your imagination going and will likely result in many fun, funny, serious, and let's just say "interesting" photos.  The only rule to this game is there are no rules.  Be creative, be kind, and stretch your imagination as wide as possible.

The game is to take a photo that somehow tells the story happening with one of these phrases.  Or if you have a phrase not on this list by all means leave a comment and I can add it to the list. Point is, this list is just to get you thinking.  Come up with a list of your own if you like.

A Chip on Your Shoulder
A Dime a Dozen
A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted
A Piece of Cake
An Arm and a Leg
All Greek To Me
Back to Square One
Back To The Drawing Board
Barking Up The Wrong Tree
Beating Around the Bush
Beating a Dead Horse
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Break The Ice
Burst Your Bubble
Close But No Cigar
Cry Over Spilt Milk
Cry Wolf
Cup Of Joe
Curiosity Killed The Cat
Cut The Mustard
Cut To The Chase

(FotoMentum) crazy creative Fun funny games idiom interesting photo Wed, 11 Nov 2020 20:00:00 GMT
Automatic Thinking When someone asks how to take a good photo or comments that you take good photos, they probably don't understand what goes into some of the photos.  Some of my photos come with little or no thought and sometimes I am lucky and they become one of my favorites.  However, more often than not, my best photos came with thought, preparation, or both.   The shots without planning are usually related to things that happen unexpectedly and I happen to have my camera.

Narrow Leaf Milk WeedNarrow leaf milkeedMilkweed

There is a lot to learn how to take a good photo and many things to consider.  So if you are wondering what you need to consider when taking a photograph keep reading this blog.  I try my best and while I am not a professional photographer (not paid - yet), I have learned a lot and have got a few shots that I am proud of.  Just to set expectations on this blog post:  This is just scratching the surface and I am sure there is a lot more for me to learn.

So what do I think about when taking a photo?  Some of these are conscious and some are not.  The ones that are not have become automatic, much like when you walk you don't really think about how to do it - it just works.  So here goes.

  • Where is the light impacting the subject?
  • Where are the shadows?
  • What is around the subject?
  • What are on the edges of the frame?
  • Get on the same level for children.
  • Get on the same level for pets.
  • Focus on the eye(s).
  • Where are the eyes focusing?
  • What is my aperture? A low number requires a tighter focus.
  • Are my camera settings right?
  • Is my camera in autofocus? (I have been burned by leaving it in manual focus from last use)
  • Is there another angle to consider?
  • How much space is left on my memory card?
  • How much charge is left on the battery?
  • Do I have a spare battery with me?
  • What is the story I am telling with this photo?
  • Is there an emotion?
  • Is someone photobombing in my background
  • What technique am I working on?

That list is just off the top of my head and I am sure I think about a lot more.  The photo I selected is recent (a few weeks prior to this post) because I could tell you what I was thinking about with just about any photo.  This photo was part of my effort to get out of my rut (What is Your Rut?).  My thoughts from this one were:

  • Getting out of my rut (not on the list above)
  • Working on the contrast technique
  • Working on close up photography 
  • What is in the background and edges

So, when you are taking photos, be aware of your thoughts to make the photo.  Is it a snapshot and you aren't worried about any technical details or are you wanting a photo that is suitable for printing and sharing.   


(FotoMentum) camera canon landscape learning photography project skills tips Sat, 07 Nov 2020 05:01:00 GMT
Should I Shoot in Manual or Automatic To shoot in manual or automatic and what is considered automatic.  Read on...

I follow many photographers both on youtube and through podcasts where I get plenty of photography tips.  I would like to debunk and support a statement I heard talked about on some of these podcasts and youtube channels but never heard from photographers when talking face to face.  That statement is "you are not a real photographer unless you shoot in manual."   With that said, several professional photographers told me that they most always shoot in manual mode.  They were almost reluctant to admit or agree that anything other than manual mode was the way to go.  It makes me wonder if it is an unspoken expectation that pro's only shoot in manual mode.

My photography club has members using iPhones and some with top-end Nikon and Canon cameras and some of the best photos share are from the iPhone which is automatic (unless you have downloaded some photo app and use it to set it to manual).  So, that is saying something about the person and not the equipment.   You can take great photos with the equipment you have and do it all in automatic.

If you look through some of my photos, I have a lot of bird photos.  Now to be transparent, I do shoot in manual a lot.  But depending on what I am after, I may be in shutter or aperture priority.  By setting my camera settings to shutter priority and ISO set to 800-3200, I can let the camera decide the aperture for me.  This gives me the opportunity to get sharp and crisp pictures of birds in flight by controlling the shutter speed to keep it above 1/1000th and letting the camera take control of only the aperture.  With this setup, the only part that is automatic is the aperture settings.  I have seen comments that aperture or shutter priority still a form of "automatic."  And my reply to that is "so what."  I have never looked at a photograph that looks awesome and commented it is a shame they took this in aperture or shutter priority.

Manual has its place and it takes practice.  If I am looking for any special effect or controlling the exposure I use manual.  Any time I start missing or and in a position to miss a shot, I will move to shutter or aperture priority very quickly. 

A perfect example was my niece's wedding rehearsal and wedding day where I was honored to be the photographer for the rehearsal and prep.  A paid photographer was scheduled for the ceremony.  Several times, the light was changing quickly and I needed to go from low light to bright light.  In these instances, I switched to aperture priority to control my plane of focus and depth of field.  My results were what I wanted and not once did my niece ask what mode my camera was in and I didn't miss any shots.

Another example of my preference is for street photography where I am predominantly in manual mode.  This is because I have plenty of time to adjust my camera to the settings - things are not happening fast like they are at wedding events.

Finally, there are times that I exclusively use manual mode.  These times are typically projects I do under very controlled environments and setups.  I like to do time-lapses with my jigsaw puzzles and my camera is on a tripod with all manual settings.  This is a must for this project because I am taking thousands of photos and want consistent exposure across the board.  Another scenario for manual only is landscape photography.  Landscapes are a slow methodical setup and thoughtful process where the subject is not rapidly changing.  Even as fast as sunsets and sunrises change, it is not too fast to not be in manual mode (from my experience).

In summary manual mode, is a choice that is up to you.  Don't let others tell you otherwise.  But at the same time, don't ignore them - experiment and be amazed at what you learn.  Try Manual Mode.  Try Aperture Priority.  Try Shutter Priority.  Even try those different settings on the dial that try to automate situations such as sports, shade, sunny, landscape, etc.  (Hint: These automatic modes are simply adjusting the various parts of the triangle that best fit the situation.)

(FotoMentum) aperture camera ISO Manual mode photography shutter Sat, 31 Oct 2020 04:01:00 GMT
What Is Your Rut? What is your go-to when you grab your camera and go?  Is it landscape?  Is it sunsets or sunrises? Is it flowers, birds, animals, or insects?  Is it Street, City, or architecture photography?  Do you use the same lens every time?  Do you use auto, shutter priority, or aperture priority?  Manual?  What is your rut?

If you follow me, you probably see that I have some variety, but I tend to do landscape, birds, or animals.  What made me think of this topic was a recent trip to my favorite location known as the Oxbow.  I go there often and come back with the same photos.  On my recent trips, I ran into several photographers and one I started following on Facebook.  What was interesting was how different our photos were even though we were in the same area on the same day.

So take inventory of your habits and preferences.  If you take photos in an area that others frequent, compare what you take to see what you are missing.  In my case, the Oxbow is a large wildlife area with about 6 small lakes and a lot of birds.  What I saw in other photographers' pictures from this area were small insects, beautiful butterflies, close-ups of flowers, and other perspectives I had not thought of.  

Foggy day in the OxbowFoggy day in the OxbowSome scary photos? Or just cool ambience from the fog?
Foggy day in the OxbowFoggy day in the OxbowSome scary photos? Or just cool ambience from the fog? Foggy day in the OxbowFoggy day in the OxbowSome scary photos? Or just cool ambience from the fog?

These three photos were pretty cool with the fog.  The first one is of a small island in Osprey Lake with fog around and some weeds in my foreground.  The second photo is on the new trail that circles around Osprey Lake.  I was walking around the lake in hopes of seeing a rare bird or other wildlife.  instead, I stuck with the fog theme (plus, not much was out in this fog).  The final photo is a silhouette of a small tree making it look a little scarier than it really was.  All-in-all, I did have fun as I always do, but did not get out of my rut.

So, still in my rut on this trip because I took the same equipment (lenses and tripods).   There is a famous quote about doing the same thing and expecting different results.  SO..... my next trip will be tough for me.  I need to leave my long lens behind and bring my macro lenses to get the smaller life scenes. 

(FotoMentum) change landscape new people photography rut same Sat, 24 Oct 2020 04:30:00 GMT
Podcast Youtube Anyone? Sunset ProjectSunset ProjectSunset in the West lined up with Cincinnati East/West streets
I listen to a lot of photography podcasts and watch my fair share of Youtube videos too.  The photo in this blog is a result of watching Pierre T. Lambert doing the same thing in Chicago.  I have a few favorites and will give you my suggestions in this short blog post.  Starting with podcasts here is my list that I subscribe to:

Master Photography ****
Pierre T. Lambert ****
Photo Focus ****
Latitude Photography ***
PictureThis **
Tips from the Top Floor (TFTTF) **
Photo Geek *
Beginner Photography
Photography 101

The ones with the most stars are my preferred podcasts.  The ones with no stars I listen to if I have time or if the topic draws me in.  However, a few of them are just teaser podcasts to get you to pay for a subscription.  However, even the free portion is good enough.

For listening to the podcasts I use Castbox on my Android phone and is available for the iPhone as well.  When I had an iPhone I used Overcast, but that is only available on the iPhone.  So, if I had to do it over, I would have started with Castbox since it is available on both platforms.  Needless to say, I learned the hard way when switching phone systems.

Youtube, I have a few that I seek out and I will start with my favorites

Pierre T. Lambert

Mark Denny

Peter McKinnon

Anything from ZenFolio

For learning Photoshop and Lightroom, my favorites are:


Photoshop Training

Photoshop Cafe

Here is an extra that I thought of while writing this post.  I have an app on my phone called PhotoPills (available for both phone systems).  Photopills has many uses, but the most common is planning for sunrise and sunset but has much much much more.  Too much to even try to explain here.  So here is the Youtube channel to get the most out of PhotoPills on your phone.

Outdoor Photography School




(FotoMentum) learn learning lightroom photography photopills photoshop podcast teach youtube Sat, 17 Oct 2020 04:30:00 GMT
Small Town - Photography I live in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and have walked the town many times in the past to take photos.  However, I have not done it with a project mindset.   So on this trip, I was looking at more of a project and I walked only a short 2 miles at most but had several interesting encounters.   If you want to see these photos in one location (and larger) click to see the gallery

I started near a building that appears to be keeping some history intact with multiple colored bricks. I would love to know the back story of this building.  It makes me wonder if there was an accident at one time and the red brick was used to repair the damage resulting in the multi-colored feature.  Or was the building converted at one time to be some sort of public building?

Lawrenceburg-6I9A0688-20201004Lawrenceburg-6I9A0688-20201004 Lawrenceburg-6I9A0689-20201004Lawrenceburg-6I9A0689-20201004

I didn't go far to find my next photo of a book sharing location using an old newspaper stand.  This is put here by the local library and others may take or contribute books. My community neighborhood does this with directions from the Little Library website.  It is a great way to share a book or find your next great adventure from a book donated by someone else.


Again, only a few steps further to the old Post Office for my next photo.  I actually only turned around from the "Little Library."  This post office like many across the United States is shut down.  A larger Post Office was built to service two towns.  This building still appears to be in good condition.


One more photo on the same street is close to the Post Office in the previous photo.  This one is an old building that was converted into a restaurant.  I have not had a chance to eat at this location, but hope to someday.  The colors on the building contrast well making it stand out.  The Halloween decorations (skeletons) climbing the building add to the photo.


The next three photos are on the levee walkway.  The wider angle shows our public heroes of fire, police, EMT, and emergency response.  The silhouette is one of the four statues representing our military. And the third photo includes the flags of the branches of the military.  From this location, you are to see upriver to a power plant and the I-275 bridge connecting Indiana and Kentucky.  Right next to me on the river is a restaurant called "River Watch" that I think (don't quote me) is not reopening due to COVID.  And then if you look downriver you can see some storage tanks that were used by barges at one time.

Lawrenceburg-6I9A0725-20201004Lawrenceburg-6I9A0725-20201004 Lawrenceburg-6I9A0730-20201004Lawrenceburg-6I9A0730-20201004 Lawrenceburg-6I9A0733-20201004Lawrenceburg-6I9A0733-20201004

While still walking on the levee I took a look into the town.  This photo is of the courthouse for Dearborn County.  The power lines cutting through the photo are not my favorite.


Across the street from the courthouse is an old church: Hamline Chapel United Methodist.  Hamline Chapel, United Methodist Church is a historic Methodist church located at High and Vine Streets in Lawrenceburg, Dearborn County, Indiana. It was built about 1847 and is a one-story, gable-front, Greek Revival style brick building on a raised basement. A rear addition was built about 1900 and a two-story Sunday School and office addition in the 1950s. The church was renovated in 1979.


The next two photos are of the same scene using two different lenses.  I wanted to "see" the compression when using a longer lens.  The first is using my 24-70 and the second I am using my 70-200.  This is a good use of a long lens to make things that are further away look closer.

Lawrenceburg-6I9A0767-20201004Lawrenceburg-6I9A0767-20201004 Lawrenceburg-6I9A0769-20201004Lawrenceburg-6I9A0769-20201004

Almost done with my trip of about 2 miles (maybe) I took this photo of a homeless gentleman named Tom that I met at the beginning of this small adventure.  I talked to him for a bit and gave him a few dollars so he could get some lunch.  His dog's name is Lucky and the two of them just needed some friends that day.  On my way back to my truck, I asked Tom if I could take his photo and he was fine with it.


My last photo is of a scarecrow in a garden in the middle of town.  I suspect the garden is a community garden or a school garden.  Very interesting location in the middle of town.


As mentioned at the beginning of this blog you can find the photos in this gallery.


(FotoMentum) indiana lawrenceburg project small small town town Sat, 10 Oct 2020 04:15:00 GMT
Post Card Landscape Sedona ArizonaBeautiful Day in Sedona, ArizonaSedona Arizona

I am leading with the photo at the beginning of the blog post instead of putting it at the end.  This week I looked back at this year in photos find one of my favorites.   It is hard to beat the landscapes around Sedona, Arizona.  The photo here is actually two photos merged to create the small panorama.  A single photo cropped the rock formations on the left or right.  I also, wanted the small bush at the bottom edge near the center to give the photo more depth.  I wish the road was not in the frame, but if I were to cut it out I would lose either the bush or the right side of the rock formation. 

The rock formation is mostly visible in the photo, but there is more in both directions.  However, the details were not valuable to the photo.  To the right, the rock formation is in shadow and small.  To the left, the rock formation loses a lot of detail with a less interesting texture.  The clouds added a lot to the depth as well.  The more I looked at this photo the more I liked it.


(FotoMentum) Arizona formation landscape rock rock formation Sedona Sat, 03 Oct 2020 04:30:00 GMT
PhotoPills Besides the camera.  Besides the lenses.  There are a plethora of tools available to make photos better and one of my favorites has been apps on my phone to help me find times to take photos or locations for photos.  I have narrowed the list of apps to PhotoPills as the most powerful and useful.

There are many free and freemium (aka in-app purchase to upgrade to get the feature(s) you want and need), and also there are honest ones that just ask for the money upfront.   I am not going to put down the free or freemium type of apps because they were helpful as well in my learning path.  But the final app I landed on had all the features I needed in one place.  The most inaccurate app was not the app's fault at all, but rather the unpredictability of the weather.  I have empathy for the app developers that try to predict the good and bad sunset days based on weather predictions.   I have seen sunsets have a 90% prediction (meaning it is going to be a glorious sunset) only to be reduced throughout the day to a mere 10% by the time the sunset arrived.  And I have seen them miss in the opposite direction as well.  What I have found best for that feature is your own intuition based on your experience in your local area.

So my favorite of these apps is PhotoPills.  At the time of this blog, the cost was 9.99.  That's it.  Not per month.  One of the drawbacks that I hear in some videos is that it is complex and hard to use.  I tend to disagree in the sense that if you understand some basic things about the sun, moon, stars, and some basic app functionality it just takes practice because all the features are packed into this app.  Think of it this way.  If you wish the app could do something for you like find the next new moon so you can pick the right time to photograph the milky way it probably can do that.  However, not only can it actually do that, it can do it in two places.  1) In an obvious place when looking at moon phases, but also 2) in the milky way view by simply clicking on the milky way icon it will jump month by month for the dates of the new moon.  How cool is that?

So, is the app hard to use?  Sure, if you haven't ever photographed the milky way and have no idea how to go about it.  Then yea! It is hard to use.  So, this blog is not a tutorial on how to use PhotoPill, nor would I attempt that.  Instead, I will provide you with a link to the best training/instructions I found on youtube on how to use PhotoPills.  If you do not know how to use PhotoPills, just started and are lost, or even if you think you know how to use PhotoPills, I encourage you to visit Outdoor Photography School and their series on PhotoPills.  I have watched multiple videos and re-watched them with the app open in my hand to learn how to use the app.  It is worth your investment.

I used PhotoPills to get a photo of NeoWise that I put in this blog post.  Without an app like PhotoPills, I would not have been able to find the comet.


(FotoMentum) app comet millyway neowise photopills stars sunrise sunset Sat, 26 Sep 2020 04:30:00 GMT
Pet Photography ZeusZeus


This is my new pup named Zeus.  Tough to get photos as he is very fast, but this one worked pretty well.


(FotoMentum) cute dog pet pet photography photography play puppy Sun, 20 Sep 2020 16:18:44 GMT
Here Comes the Sun Here Comes The Sun

The sun has a very predictable cycle and we have many apps and websites to give us information regarding sunrises and sunsets.  We get to know within minutes of each of the events.  There is a nautical hour, blue hour, and golden hour.  This has helped us all plan for great photos of both the sunsets and sunrises.  However, I decided to expand this to catching the sun above the horizon and lined up with the streets of a city or over a landmark. 

In this blog I looking for the time when the sun will line up with the East and West running streets for Cincinnati. For this to happen in your town or city, the streets need to be running in the North to South and East to West layout.  Many major cities do this in true East/West and Nort/Sout directions.  The information in this blog is for Cincinnati and your city will have different times when this phenomenon occurs, so don't rely on my dates below.

Lining up a photo on the streets with the sun bearing straight down the street actually occurs several days before sunset or days after for a sunrise. If you go to your location at the actual sunset or sunrise time, the sun will be too low on the horizon. So, using an app such as PhotoPills, I was able to estimate what day might work for the sun to be lined up. Here is what I found what works for Cincinnati, OH.

Fall line up

October 13th is the date when the sunset directly lines up with the East-West streets of Cincinnati.  However, this will put the sun too low for it to be visible in a photo with the streets of the city.  Instead, I want the sun to be up and be in view of the photo.

So, on October 9th the sun will be high enough to see and in line with the East-West streets of Cincinnati to be part of the photo. 

There is some play here, so if you need you can adjust a day forward or back if needed.  This makes it flexible with your schedule and also gives you a chance for a do-over.  Also, if there are better clouds on one day over the other, you will have choices.

Spring line up

On April 11th is when the sunrise directly lines up with East-West streets in Cincinnati.

April 15th is about the date when the sun will be high enough to see and in line with the East-West streets of Cincinnati.


I use manual settings for landscapes and city shots.  I like aperture priority, but in cases where the light is not changing rapidly manual works best.  For settings, I would recommend using the lowest ISO possible and high aperture setting (assuming you are wanting most of the architecture to be in focus).  This means your shutter speed may be down in the 1/15th of a second or possibly slower.  A tripod is a must for this setup and since you will be sitting in the same place for the most part that should not be an issue.

My first attempt went well in 2019 and am excited to try again in 2020 if possible.  This photo was the last photo I took and was walking back to my car.

Ready for rain on 4thReady for rain on 4thLast picture of the night and was not expecting to see this couple with an umbrella.


(FotoMentum) city streets sunrise sunset Sat, 19 Sep 2020 04:00:00 GMT
Home with ZenFolio Full disclosure ( if it is really needed):  My site is hosted on Zenfolio so I am likely biased because I like their service after trying several others.  However, I do not work for them nor am I getting compensated for this post. 

Using Zenfolio was a personal decision for me just as your decision to use them or some other provider is or will be for you.  To provide a small amount of basis, I used two other hosting services that were also awesome in some of the features they offer.  What drew me to Zenfolio was the focus (sorry for the pun) on photographers.  Zenfolio can be used by many creatives (not just photographers) and probably by any other generic website.  But the emphasis of the Zenfolio service is around creatives and support for the photographers.  If I were just a blogger, then I probably would not have moved around.  But I am more than a blogger: I am a photographer as well.

Zenfolio has a great YouTube channel that does live site reviews on Tuesdays.  Hosted by a genuine and caring gentleman named Robert, the stream is called "Live Review Tuesday."  Early on I kept hoping my site would be chosen for a review.  I mean, why not?  I put a lot of work into my site and was proud of it.   Little did I know, my site needed a lot of work before it hit the big screen on Live Site Review Tuesdays with Robert.

Robert reviews 3 sites with each 1-hour session on the "Site Review Tuesday" streams.   He provides consistent recommendations for the owner of the sites and after watching a few I thought I had hit everything I needed to know and had everything fixed.  But somehow, Robert keeps repeating something I missed in other episodes or the site is using a feature that I didn't know about.  So, I kept watching, fixing, watching, fixing.

What I find amazing from Robert's videos is that his feedback is always positive and works with what the site presents.  If a site needs some work, he doesn't go into an explanation of how to set up some complicated features.  Instead, he describes how to improve on what the site already has.  Robert has a way of providing constructive feedback to improve every site he puts on the screen.

When Robert finally hit my site to be reviewed, I felt it was ready.  It had more to go, but yes it was ready.  If he got to me earlier, I feel I would have missed out.  Trust me, I tried to be one of the chosen sites by doing what they said to get on the list.  If you want to get reviewed and you are just finding the stream, watch 3 to 5 episodes before submitting follow the recommendations for your site.  If you need an episode to start with, watch the stream where he reviews my site.  If you get reviewed early and haven't fixed many of the common mistakes then you are making Robert's job too easy.  Give him a good site for a review.  If you watch the stream with my site being reviewed you will see that the "Fotomentum" Logo was intruding on my menu and he suggested using the "B" layout to correct it.  That was an easy fix and shown in the image below after the fix.

I thought this may be a short post and I have just gotten started.  To keep this post at a reasonable length, I will summarize a few obvious and not so obvious reasons why I am using Zenfolio for my website hosting.

  1. Availability for training:  In particular, the Live Site Review Tuesdays and there is a second stream on Thursdays that you should also checkout.  I don't think I have begun to scratch the surface yet on what I can learn from them.
  2. Great help:  The Live Site Review Tuesday cannot be emphasized enough, but the help with the chatbot was great when I had an issue and they were available in minutes.  Even for my minor issue that turned out to be something I was doing wrong.
  3. Price is very consistent with other providers, but what brought me here in the first place was the ability to store the full image size.   I opened a ticket with one of the other providers to ask how I can provide my full-size images to my customers and that feature was not available and I also had restricted storage space.  They actually suggested keeping my site on their hosting service but link to another service for downloads of my full-sized images.  So, in my search, I found Zenfolio and moved everything over so it is in one place.  I do use another service to maintain my domain name and DNS and will probably leave it there. 

My website found its home with Zenfolio.



(FotoMentum) photography website zenfolio Sat, 12 Sep 2020 04:30:00 GMT
Oxbow, Rinse, and Repeat One of my favorite tips I have noticed in many blogs and youtube videos is it takes time in the form of repeating visits to a location where you can get the photo you want.  In addition to frequent trips, sometimes I will sit for a long time to wait for the scene to develop in front of me. There is a lot that goes into each photo I post and I enjoy the journey for each one whether it is the first trip, the 50th trip, or the first minute or 100th minute.  The truth or fact of the situation is that I seldom go out and get that awesome photo on the first trip.  If it does, that was luck.  But most photos that you find on the internet that are awe-inspiring didn't just happen. 

I have been going to the Oxbow often in hopes of getting that great photo of a mature Bald Eagle in an action shot.  It would be awesome to get one as it dives into one of the many lakes at the Oxbow to snag that fish for some dinner.   But that hasn't happened just yet.  However, I have found where they like to perch on branches when they are either hunting or resting (I'm not sure).  And I have seen as many as 4 eagles together, so it is just a matter of time before I am in a situation to capture that photo.  In the meantime, I am finding where they like to perch and dive for fish.  I am finding where the lighting is the best and the best place for me to be when that photo opportunity presents itself to me.

During these adventures to capture that "Great Photo," I have learned a lot about the Oxbow such as it is a place many like to fish, Birders love to come to this sanctuary because there are hundreds of different birds, I have seen teenagers taking precarious rides through the rough roads in jeeps, and I discovered it is an excellent place to kayak in the Springtime when it is flooded and all the lakes are connected giving you access to the entire Oxbow via boat.  But don't expect an easy boat ramp or kayak launching point.

Did I mention the wildlife here is plentiful?  As I mentioned above there are many different birds.  Don't take my word for it.  From a page on the Oxbow website titled "A Special Place."

.....drawing the tri-state area's largest concentrations of ducks and herons. Birders have listed 287 species of birds in this area, among them ducks, geese, shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds. Sixty-six species of fish live here.

I come to this location at least once a week and would come more often if I had time.  My last visit did not result in finding any Bald Eagles, but I did see a Cooper's Hawk.  The photo of the Cooper's Hawk was not one I felt worth sharing, but a photo of a Red Admiral Butterfly and very colorful field in the foreground of JackPot Pond was very cool.

RedAdmiralButterFly-6I9A9580-20200904RedAdmiralButterFly-6I9A9580-20200904 RedAdmiralButterFly-6I9A9515-20200904RedAdmiralButterFly-6I9A9515-20200904

(FotoMentum) admiral butterfly field oxbow red Mon, 07 Sep 2020 16:34:15 GMT
Photography Game - From A to Z The game title is "From A to Z."

During the pandemic, games can be good for photography/camera clubs since we cannot meet face to face like we used to.  I have found several games online and I am sure you have to.  I am hoping you found my page here and can use this game for your club.

The rules are very simple.  The first photo must have something in it that starts with the letter "A", the second photo must have something in it that starts with the letter "B", and so on from A to Z.

Some additional rules to consider.  Pick and choose to fit your club.  If you have a large club increase the gaps a user needs to wait so more in the club to have a chance to post a photo.

1.  All photos are new photos meaning nothing from your library.  The idea with this rule is to get the photographer to use the camera.

2.  Go A to Z the Z to A

3.  After a user adds a photo at least two other users must post before that user can post again.  So if the first user adds a photo and is fast and posts when they are allowed then they can put at most 9 photos.

4.  If the user posts out of turn (see rule 3) the chain goes back 3 letters and that user must wait for 4 users to post before they can post again.

5.  The letter needs to be something in the shape of the letter.  For example, a football goal post can be the letter U or Y.

6.  If someone skips a letter then the chain goes back 3 letters.

Leave a comment below of a Photography Game you have enjoyed.

(FotoMentum) Alphabet club game photo photography Sun, 30 Aug 2020 02:15:29 GMT
Winding Up Check Lists Topic Do you need a checklist for a photography shoot?  Check out mine to get yourself started.  Leave comments so I can improve mine.

I did my homework as promised.  I gave it thought all week on how to go about this.  Should I create printed cards or handwritten cards?  Handwritten was my first choice.   But as I began to think about it, before I wasted note cards with mistakes on my lists I took to the computer to create my lists. 

I started with just a handful of categories that I frequently do or want to do.  In no particular order, my categories and my lists are below. 

Before you jump to my list I must let you know that I also decided against using paper/cards for my lists.  My phone is always with me so I am trying to use the app on my computer called "Sticky Notes" (screenshot below).  Sticky notes use OneNote as its app, so if you are looking for it on your phone you will find it in OneNote.  This is a really cool feature because you can update your checklists on your PC and have them available on your phone when you need them.  Using my phone, means I don't have to print them, store them, and replace them when they become lost or damaged making my phone the best choice for my checklists.




(FotoMentum) checklists landscape outdoor photography portrait rain street water Sun, 23 Aug 2020 23:57:06 GMT
Sticking with Checklists Until I Get It Right

To be transparent, in one of my previous blog posts I wrote about having a checklist because I thought it was a good idea and had heard others do it. However, I have yet to make any formal written checklist, but I travel frequently and am pretty good about thinking through my "virtual" checklists in my head. I don't recall leaving anything that was critical behind. The worse I have probably done was forgetting socks or other clothing which was easily resolved with a trip to Walmart. Given my travel experience and a good record of remembering what I need, I felt I didn't need a physical checklist. Well, I am here to tell you, memory is not the best checklist to use.

However, when going on a photo shoot of any kind it can be the small items that are critical. My recent trip to the Oxbow in Lawrenceburg, IN. I forgot to bring my bug repellant (sometimes I apply it before leaving).  While I survived, it would have more enjoyable without being dinner for some insects.

I also, was not diligent in a recent portrait photoshoot for a friend's children with their cousins when they were in town. I am trying to practice doing some portrait photoshoots and this was one of my practice shoots and she benefited in that I created some pretty cool photos for her. BUT, yes... But, partway through my memory card was full. I had not cleared my card from previous shoots so there was not a lot of room. I did have extra cards, but I had to stop and swap out cards for a short (30 minute) mini session. I should never have to change cards in a short session due to a full card.

So in a short span of seven days, I had two photoshoots that were not well planned.  This blog post is a promise to me to have a few printed checklists that remind me of all the small things. The act of looking at any checklist will make me make sure I have memory cards and batteries, but some items are not so obvious such as bug repellant or maybe the camera rain jacket, etc.

My thought is to have a few very short checklists that line up with the purpose of the photoshoot. I will share what develops between now and my next post.


(FotoMentum) camera checklist insects organized photography planning prepared Tue, 18 Aug 2020 01:38:53 GMT
I'm Late I'm late, I'm late for a very important date.  In one of my earlier blog posts, I discussed the need for checklists and there are several good reasons to have them.  CameraBag-6I9A9060-20200731CameraBag-6I9A9060-20200731

First of all the most important reason to have a checklist sounds like circular reasoning:  you should have one.  Yes, you should have one.  Having a checklist will task you with inventorying your gear so you know what you have and don't have.  Knowing what you have hopefully will lead you to the next reason.

The second reason is your gear will be more organized for that quick unplanned trip to be able to gather what you need quickly to take with you.

The third reason is as you gather more gear you will find your backpack is getting heavy.  Carrying extra gear is not needed.  So I recommend creating several lists for different photo trips.  The gear in my backpack for trips to the Oxbow will have a vastly different set of gear than a portrait shoot.

The reason for this topic of this post, was it was late, it was late for a very important date.

(FotoMentum) checklist organized photography Wed, 12 Aug 2020 02:21:42 GMT
Improve Composition with 50 or 100 Have you ever seen someone else's photo only to wish you thought of that composition?  This happens to me all too often, but I had an idea but turns out it wasn't as original as I thought.  No problem: Great minds think alike.  This idea is to overshoot the scene.  By that, I am not talking about the "spray" and "pray" technique with the multi shoot option on many cameras.  "Spray" and "pray" is great to have in your bag of tricks when you are trying to capture the action shots from the soccer player or maybe a bird in flight.

So, if it is not "spray" and "spray" and you paid attention to the title: "Improve Composition with 50 or 100", what is it?  This technique is not easy is it may sound rather it will challenge and make you think.  The number 50 or 100 is depending on you.  Notice that I didn't provide an option for 25 because that is too easy.

The technique is to choose 50 or 100 as the minimum number of different photos you are going to take of a scene, object, person, etc.  Though it may be a bit much for a portrait.  I tried this with the George Street Bridge in Aurora, Indiana.  Getting 50 shots was a challenge for me after I got all the obvious angles but I persisted.   Hindsight, I wish I had set my count to 50 as none of the photos turned out to be photo contest worthy.  It also didn't help that it was a dreary day.  Nonetheless, I was on an adventure anyway.  Out of the 50 angles, this was my favorite.



(FotoMentum) bridge composition photography project Sun, 02 Aug 2020 19:40:26 GMT
Edges Edges Edges We are taught many rules or suggestions on composition with the rule of thirds, where to put the horizon, focus on the eyes, get on the same level as your subject, etc.  But one that I find that does not get much attention is watching the edges for distractions.  This is easier than you think but very easy to not notice while you are trying your best to follow all the rules.  By the way, it is okay to break those rules.

The next time you are taking photos do two things and you will likely see some changes in your portfolio.

1. Observe the edges when framing your shot for distractions at the edges.

2. Look at your photo on your camera after for distractions on the edges

Once you have done that enough it will become a habit where you either exclude or intentionally include something on the edges.

I cannot count the number of times when reviewing my photos after I return home I see things on the edges that I have to crop out or use photoshop to remove.  There will be times where you cannot avoid objects or distractions on the edges and sometimes you may want to intentionally have it there.

I looked through some of my recent photos for an example and didn't have to look far.  In these two photos, you can see the uncropped photo on the left with two people on the left edge and the second is that same photo after cropping.  

Crop-6I9A8934-20200110Crop-6I9A8934-20200110 Crop-6I9A8934-20200110-2Crop-6I9A8934-20200110-2

Now, neither of these photos are contest worthy but make a good example of my point.  To improve the photo in this instance I could have just waited a few minutes to get the same photo without people in it or moved a little closer.

(FotoMentum) composition crop cropping edges Sun, 26 Jul 2020 18:56:00 GMT
Back button Focus Last week I suggested to learn something new.  This feature is called back button focus and is one of my favorite features that I have learned.   I doubt I will ever go back to the shutter button for the focus trigger.  When you get a new camera the shutter button is what does the focusing when you push it half way.  Once you have focused on a subject and it moves toward or a way from you, the camera will need to refocus.   This is difficult at best and disastrous at worst with only the first shot in focus.  With back button focus the camera does a much better job of changing the focus as the subject is moving in and out of the area of focus.

I use YouTube a lot when learning these techniques and you can do the same.  The link below is for two photographers that I have learned from their YouTube  channel and also from training that I have purchased from them.  So, instead of me making a long post here on why back button focus is helpful, watch the link below from Tony Northrup.

Back Button Focus

(FotoMentum) back button focus BBF Wed, 22 Jul 2020 02:11:21 GMT
Learn Something New Learn how to use your camera.  Regardless if you are using a smartphone or have an expensive DLSR, I am sure there is a feature, button, knob, dial, menu etc. that you have no idea what it does.  Start learning what each one does and how use it.

I was at a point where I thought I was ready to "upgrade" my camera.  But instead I upgraded my knowledge of the camera I had.  I made a commitment to myself to learn what every button, knob, and menu feature was and how to use it.  I completed that project and of course don't remember what everything is.   What I did learn was I didn't need to upgrade my camera yet.  I did eventually upgrade to a professional camera, but not until I started hitting limitations with my old camera.

So, the point here is as most photographers tell you, is that it often is not the camera that needs the upgrade its the user behind the camera.  So, before you invest in the latest tech, make sure you are using your current tech.

I would recommend going beyond learning how to use the features of your current camera.  Look at getting training by attending a workshop or joining clubs where there will people ready and willing to help you try something new.

(FotoMentum) buttons camera dlsr new Sun, 19 Jul 2020 00:45:00 GMT
YouTube Channel I have started a youtube channel.  Pretty basic, but getting some focus around photography and some geekery (if that is even a word).  Anyway if you happen across my blog, I will reference this youtube channel to describe some of what I do.  Right now they are short 2-minute videos but expect to make some longer ones describe some of the things I do in deeper details.

Check it out:

Update for this post.  Today is 1/13/2021 and my two-minute videos were too dry even for me.  So, while I still have the Youtube channel, I removed the "Two Minute Tuesday" videos and have some of my time-lapses that I have done.  I hope to add more, but for now, it is just going to be random things that I want to share.

(FotoMentum) dougga fotomentum gabbard92 youtube Mon, 13 Jul 2020 01:16:59 GMT
Project Ideas Here are some project suggestions.  Most I have found on other sites and some are just some odd ideas

  • Project 365 – Take a picture a day.  This is tougher than it seems.  I tried this and made it to about 180 or 190 days before I gave up.  However, I learned a lot about my camera during that time and some of my best (and worse) pictures are from that shortened project.
  • Project 52 – You probably guessed right away what this one is:  One picture a week.  I have not tried this one.
  • Project 12 – On the same theme, this one is a picture a month.
  • Project color – This one is a fun change in approach and is best in a busy area such as a town or city.  Pick a color before you head out and only take pictures that include the color chosen.
  • Project Fixed Focal Length – Use a prime lens with a fixed focal length or commit not to adjust your zoom or telephoto lens.  This makes you move around to get the shot.


(FotoMentum) photography projects Sun, 12 Jul 2020 00:30:00 GMT
Believe and Go Believe and Go is my personal philosophy and I am sure there are many phrases that are similar.  So maybe a short explanation or expansion of its meaning to me is appropriate.

The first part of the phrase “Believe” is a mindset that is needed to be successful, and is something to be practiced.  Children have this mindset early in life, but we stop them from believing by telling them they can’t do something.  Quoting a Disney movie here, but it is appropriate: “Believe you can, then you will.” — Mulan (Princess Stories).  I can add to this with “Believe you can’t, and you won’t.”   So, start believing you can.

The second part of the phrase is “Go” and is centered around getting started because if you don’t start you can’t finish.  No Disney movie quote here so just “Go!”

(FotoMentum) personal philosophy Wed, 08 Jul 2020 00:15:00 GMT
Timelapse This post I share how I create timelapse videos.  You can see an example on my youtube channel here.

But I must give you a warning, because I geek out in this post.   I combine my photography hobby with my computer geek skills.   I will explain how I made this time lapse completing this 2,000 piece puzzle.


Setup was very simple.

1) Tripod

2) Camera –Canon XTI

3) Intervalometer

4) Puzzle

Okay, pretty simple so far.  The camera was set to auto focus with manual exposure settings so that the pictures would be consistent.  A very helpful part  of the setup was the location:   my backroom in my basement with no windows.  So no changes in light due to the time of day.

The intervalometer might be something you are not familiar with.  The intervalometer is a simple device connected to my camera to automatically take a photo at specified intervals.  Hence the name “intervalometer.”   I am not endorsing this specific device, but it is similar to the one I use.

I set up the camera on the tripod, set the exposure settings, and connected the intervalometer.  Most times I want high quality photos and have the camera set to large or raw.   This time, though, I set the photo quality to small and no raw.  I then  set the intervalometer to take a picture every 10 seconds and began working on my puzzle.  Every time I worked on the puzzle I would turn on the camera and intervalometer unti I completed the puzzle.

Now, a little truth here.  At this point, I had no idea how I was going to make the time lapse.  Wasn’t even sure that my setup was even a good setup.  But after about 30+ hours of work on the puzzle I had 8,336 photos.

That is a lot of photos and seemed to be more than I needed.  I wanted to use about a fourth of the photos.  But how to get those photos without having to click and copy and paste through over 8,000 photos seemed a little daunting.  If you don't need to reduce the number of photos skip to the next section.

Ready for some computer geeking?    I wrote a powershell script to copy every fourth photo using a simple counter and math.   As my script  goes through the files, I increment a counter and use division and if the remainder = 1, copy the photo to the new destination, otherwise I skip that photo.  This results in a folder with every fourth photo and leaves the original 8,336 photos in tact.  The final folder resulted in 2,084 photos.   You will have to change the folder names in the script and make sure the destination folder exists because I don’t create it for you).  Use my scripts at your own risk.  I do not guarantee it will work.

$path = "D:\PuzzleTimeLapse\AllPics\"

$oldnames = Get-ChildItem $path*.* | select name

foreach ($item in $oldnames)


if ($i%4 -eq 1)
copy-item -path $path$itemx -Destination d:\timelapse




So, now what.  I have a good set of pictures, but the size is still pretty large if you add them all together and I felt I needed to reduce it even more.   Each photo was about 1.2 to 1.5 MB.

Introduce PhotoShop.  Using the built-in scripts in PhotoShop I reduced every photo to about .5MB or less.

I am finally ready to create the time-lapse.  Looking for timelapse software, they cost 50 dollars or more or come with mal-ware, ads, nag screens, or hijacks of my browsers and toolbars.   However,  I found a great command-line program that comes at no cost, no ads, no mal-ware, no hijacks, no ads, etc.   The owner does ask for donations, and I will give them a donation.  So if you use the software, I hope you do the same.

Here is a link to the software and some instructions on how to use it:

Reading how to use this tool I found the files needed to be numbered sequentially and since I copied every 4th photo, there was no longer a smooth sequence.  It was more like 1, 5,9,13….  You can also use my script below to rename your files just to get them in the format needed for ffmpeg.

Again, there is software available but filled with extras  I would rather not have on my computer.   Back to Powershell.  With all the photos in a single folder, I wrote this script to rename all the photos with a new name with sequential numbering.  Again, use my scripts at your own risk.  I do not guarantee it will work.

$NewName = "img-"
$i = 1
$path = "D:\timelapse\"

$oldnames = Get-ChildItem $path -Filter *.* | select name,lastwritetime | sort name

foreach ($item in $oldnames)

if ($i -lt 9)   {$pad = "000"}
if ($i -gt 9)   {$pad = "00"}
if ($i -gt 99)  {$pad = "0"}
if ($i -gt 999) {$pad = ""}

Rename-Item $path$oldname -NewName $path$NewName$pad$i.jpg


I am finally to a point to actually create the time-lapse using ffmpeg.  Instead of getting even geekier with how I learned this command, suffice it to say, it took some trial and error and reading the documentation to figure it out.  I Hope, this works for you as well if you try.

Ffmpeg -r 30 -f image2 -start_number 1 -i C:\Photos\TimeLapse2-20\JPEG\img-%04d.jpg -vf scale=1280:720:-1 ../new_movie.mp4

There is no on the line wrap, so img-%04d.jpg is altogether.

Hope you have good luck if you give this a try.


(FotoMentum) camera canon intervalometer jigsaw professional project puzzle timelapse Fri, 08 May 2020 03:02:34 GMT
Don't Forget Key Equipment with Checklists Checklists helps us remember more so we are not disappointed when we arrive to our destination to take photos.  Some of the items may seem uber obvious, but trust me the entire list is needed.  I have more than one camera and I take different cameras for different reasons.  So, yea... the first on the list is camera, but don't laugh - you want the right camera and lenses to match.  Maybe all your lenses are not interchangeable.  On with the list:

This list will be one long list but split into two preps - day before and day of.

Day Before

____ Charge all batteries

____ Clear memory cards


The next portion can also be the day before but charging and memory card management should be done the day before.

____ Camera Canon 5DMIV

____ Camera Canon 5ti

____ Camera inexpensive point and shoot (good for potential risky shoots)

____ Batteries for camera (s)

____ Memory cards

____ 50mm EF lens

____ 85mm EF lens

____ 24-70 EF lens

____ 70-200 EF lens

____ 75-300 EFs lens

____ Extension tubes

____ Lens filters

____ Tripod

____ Platypod

____ Cleaning wipes for lenses

____ Props

____ Flash(es)

____ Plenty of AA batteries for flash(es)

____ Flash triggers

____ AAA batteries for flash triggers

____ MORE TO ADD  I am still working on this list and it is a personal list but you should be able to make one of your own.


(FotoMentum) checklist don't forget equipment Sun, 01 Mar 2020 03:51:02 GMT
Out with a purpose This past weekend was a photo weekend where I was on a determined path to take some photos.  Parts of the trip were planned and some were hopeful.  None of the hopeful shots happened.   My first shot I was after was to return to a previous location that I snapped a shot of a large paw print from a Bobcat that was in some mud.  Almost a week had passed, but we had a few wet days since the first shot keeping the ground wet for more prints.  I was not disappointed and found a similar print and had my handy ruler to put on the ground next to it for perspective:



After a lunch break and some time to warm up from the cold, it was off to capture the Cincinnati Skyline.  It was a beautiful night and with some stitching (photo merger) in Lightroom, I was able to produce this image:

Cincinnati ReflectionCincinnati ReflectionReflection of Cincinnati



(FotoMentum) cincinnati hike skyline weekend Sun, 01 Mar 2020 03:36:51 GMT
First Blog Post This is the first blog post of many more to come.  I am an amateur photographer in the sense that I am currently fully employed in another field but hope to have some revenue stream at some time.  I consider myself advanced and just have not made that switch to charge and thereby be a "Professional Photographer."

I am a software support engineer and have a lot of experience in that field which helps me with the geek side of photography.  So, don't be surprised with some of the depth I will get into with this site.

Believe and Go!  

(FotoMentum) advanced new photographer professional Sun, 23 Feb 2020 03:53:42 GMT