Fading of the Golden Hour

Last rays of sunshine transition from a colorful sunset to the blue sky of dusk. North Bay in Wisconsin shelters the waters of Lake Michigan so you have a slow rolling surf able to reflect the colorful sky.

A special time to take photographs is during the “golden hour,” 30 minutes before and after sunset. This allows for more colors and no harsh shadows. Next comes the “Blue Hour” when, if you have a tripod, you can capture some very special photos.

Use photowalks to get interesting photos

How do you get interesting photos of places that are hard to get into? My suggestion is get involved with groups that have regular photowalks. Check their schedules for events that would be of interest to you. Groups that have photowalks are camera clubs, private instructors and camera stores.

For this and a few other photos on this page, I attended a photowalk with Creve Coeur Camera. They have a very full schedule of classes and photowalks around the St. Louis area. Here we went to Creve Coeur Airport where the owners of these planes brought them out of their hangers so our group could photograph the planes on the ground and in the air. You could not get this type of access on your own.

See all of the photos from the photowalk: https://greatrivers.smugmug.com/Events/Air-Shows/Creve-Coeur-Airport-Photoshoot/

Flying Doors Off

I few weeks ago I had the opportunity to fly in a helicopter to photograph St. Louis’ riverfront. This is a pretty exciting thing to do if you get the chance. Be sure to have the doors off so there are not no obstructions (and be sure you are well buckeled in). Shooting with a higher ISO and a low f stop keeps the shutter speed fast. This helps counter the extreme vibration and movement of the helicopter.

In this flight with Fostaire Helocopters we flew with 3 photographers, 2 on the left and 1 on the right, behind the pilot. We flew over Busch Stadium and then did a high pass in front of the Arch and then came back arond again for a low pass. You can see the results on this page.

Downtown St. Louis

Downtown St. Louis in the heart of the Midwest. Here you see our Arch, Busch Stadium (home of the St. Louis Cardinals), the Mississippi River, Eads Bridge and more. A helicopter was the source of this photo. I prepared for several days for a 20 minute ride by watching videos, checking my camera and talking to my friends that arranged the flight. Tips: make sure the doors are off, use as a wide lens, use a high ISO for a fast shutter speed, don’t take anything you do not need and buckle in tight!

Go back!

If there is a particular subject that  you like, I suggest you go back multiple times to photograph it. The more you study a subject, the better your understanding of how to photograph it.

One of my favorite subjects is a suspension bridge in St. Louis’ Forest Park. Below is a series ranging from 2008 to 2016. Things that have changed are my cameras and software. Some of the angles are different and the overall vision of the subject. Notice the distant shot in 2008 and the closeup in 2016. Which do you think is best?

Summer 2016

Continue reading

Northwoods Eagles

As mentioned in my previous post, if you missed the Eagles in St. Louis (Alton area), travel up to Wisconsin and catch-up with them there. Studies show that most of them live in Vilas and Oneida counties, many on Lake Minocqua. This photo was taken on the grounds of The Pointe Hotel and Suites where there is a dead tree they like to use to keep watch on the lake. Photographing these birds you will need a telephoto lens of 300mm or more. Also use anti-shake features that is available on all of the new cameras.

New HDR Tutorial

Many of the photos on this blog were created using a process called HDR, where multiple photos taken at different exposures, are combined to make one showing a wider light spectrum. Here is a link to my new free tutorial to show how this is done: https://greatriversimaging.com/hdr/


The Castle at Ha Ha Tonka

Ha Ha Tonka (25 of 1)

Here is another view of the “Castle” at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. This was actually a large mansion on a bluff overlooking a beautiful valley in the Missouri Ozarks. The man who designed it never lived to see it completed. Due to his sudden death, the property was never properly maintained and the home eventually was destroyed by fire.

This is a very large building and directly behind me is a steep bluff so getting far enough away to get the whole facade in the photo is almost impossible. Also to catch the drama of the lighting from the sunset meant capturing the scene from the dark side of the building. To counter these issues, I used a 10mm wide angle lens and took 5 shots of the right side of the building at different exposures and 5 shots of the left side of the building. Each of these 5 photos were combined in Lightroom using its HDR function. Then the results were combined in Lightroom again using its Panorama function. These results were then edited in Photomatix.

So, you want to buy a new camera….


City Garden (33 of 1)
This is a three shot photo take with a Nikon D7100 with a Sigma 17-50mm lens at 17mm. The three photos were combined in Lightroom into a HDR Photo. Other specs on this photo: ISO 1000, average exposure: 5 sec., f7.1. A tripod was used and no flash.

By: Ted Engler

Are you thinking about taking better photos? Perhaps you have been using an iPhone camera or other cellphone device and want to produce something more interesting. If you want outstanding photos, there are two things that you need to do: 1. Invest the money in equipment and software and 2. Invest the time needed take the photos and process them.

You will need higher end cameras and software. Using digital cameras eliminates the need for an investment in film. However, you will need to invest in software needed for processing the photos and spend time learning to use that software. Entry level Nikon cameras cost about $450 and go up to $750 for the higher end entry level camera (if you are wondering, the highest pro level DSLR is the Nikon D5 at $6,500. Other types of cameras go far above that). Here is a link for Nikon’s entry level cameras. I also suggest you look at Cannon, Pentax and Olympus.

In the Nikon category, I would suggest the D5500 at $750 ($1,050 with lens). This will give you some great options that the D3XXXs do not have. Continue reading

Using Flickr to improve your photography

If you are looking for a way to see what other photographers are doing or are looking for feedback on your photos, I would suggest using a service called Flickr (flickr.com). Flickr is a great place to show off your photos for friends to see, get feedback and find other great photographers.

You can find the type of photographers that may be of interest to you. This includes style, subjects or location. I have a particular area of the country I like to visit and follow photographers from there. You can “follow” particular photographers but they do not have to “follow” you back to be able to see their work. The more people you follow, the more people that will follow you and see your work.

People that follow you will be able to rate your work by either clicking a favorite star or by commenting. Flickr is able to rate your photos by numerous methods including “interestingness.” This is a combination of views, favorites and comments received by your photo over a period of time.

Minocqua Boathouses-30

According to Flickr, the above photo is my most interesting photo. To find this little house on the lake, I used Flickr to show me photos taken in Star Lake, Wisconsin. Others had visited this location and taken this photo so I was able to find it on a map so I could find this hidden treasure. An overcast Fall day made for an interesting scene.

Click here to see my Flickr site

Click here to find out more about this structure

Click “Photography Tips” above for more suggestions.