Shoot for the Moon

1 Oct

Eclipse merge

Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Of course, that’ll really only work out for you if you happen to be wearing a space suit…. haha

This past weekend we had a super blood moon eclipse.  I don’t recall ever seeing a lunar eclipse before that, and I have to say, it was pretty damn cool.

For those of you who missed it, this is a photo stack composite of the first 20 minutes of that eclipse.  These exposures are approximately 2 minutes apart.

As for the image itself…it’s not going to win any awards.  Unless you’re giving out awards for being awesome?  Yeah, it might win that. ;-)  But it *is* an opportunity to talk about photographing the moon.

When you choose to shoot for the moon, you have to remember three things: underexpose the scene to properly expose the moon, large (to large-ish) aperture, and fast shutter speed.

The moon is very bright, and in order to catch the details on the surface, you need to under expose your image.  Otherwise, you’ll blow your highlights.  This is one of those times were it is okay to crush your shadows on the histogram!

In order to prevent the “starburst” effect, you need a wider aperture (aka f/lower number). I would say if you’re heading toward f/16 or higher, you may run into problems. Your camera’s sweet spot (generally f/9-f/11) or lower number will be a wide enough aperture to prevent the starburst effect.

Because our position in the surface of earth is constantly changing in relation to the moon, you will also need a fast shutter speed to prevent blur in your images.  That works out fine, though, since underexposing your image is part of the master plan!

To capture these exposures, I used a tripod and a 2 sec timer to avoid camera shake, a zoom lens, I put my camera into manual mode, and used the live view feature to focus manually. If your camera doesn’t have a live view feature, setting your focus to infinity should get you pretty close and you can tweak it from there.

The image settings are: ISO 100, 135mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6

Happy shooting! :-)


22 Sep
Elemental :: MA / NY

Elemental :: MA / NY

This shot was taken at Bash Bish Falls on the Massachusetts / New York border.  It’s a shot that has eluded me for years.  I’ve always had a difficult time coming up with a good composition here, and the strong spray has historically made many of the shots I wanted to try difficult.

The water flow is light right now, though, which opened up a few possibilities this visit that I hadn’t had before.  The sun beam peaking through the gap in the rocks at the top of the falls was a nice, atmospheric bonus. :-)

2 sec
10 mm
iso 100

Get Outside! (After You Read This.)

3 Sep
Chasing Waterfalls

Chasing Waterfalls

You know what one of the keys to landscape photography success is?  Going outside.  Because that’s where the landscapes live.

There are so many variables outside though!  (And bugs.  And bears.)

I am 100% an advocate of working smarter, not harder and the Interwebs is a great source of information.  Every outing requires, minimally, some research about the weather, sunrise/set times, possible tide schedules (location dependent…duh) and if it’s a night shoot, the moon phase.  Those things are the easy part though.

For me, the hard part is always figuring out where to go.  Despite my art brain, I try very hard to be organized about my image releases, making sure I mix up subject matter and environmental conditions.  Often, my location decisions are loosely based around 4 factors: how much adventure I am looking for on any particular day, how much time and money it will cost me to explore, what I feel like shooting and what I haven’t shot in a while.  I used to spend hours scouring 500px, Instagram, etc for new locations…then more time on the Googles trying to get good information about the location’s accessibility.


Then I discovered The Outbound.  It’s like <insert favorite joyful, gift-opening holiday here>.  It had everything I needed in one spot.  I was so impressed, in fact, that I reached out to them and became an Outbound Explorer myself.  (Which makes this post extremely biased.  Give the site a shot anyway though.  If you like adventure, you’ll like The Outbound.) :-)

If you’re already an Outbound regular, find me!  If you want to talk about local spots to explore, also find me.  If you want to give me a winning lotto ticket, definitely please find me!

Salvaging Your Blue Skies

1 Sep
Poetry of the Earth

Poetry of the Earth

Another photographer recently talked to me about his silly habit of taking camera gear with him wherever he goes, even if he knows the light is going to be harsh.  I think he expected me to agree with him, and tell him he really *should not* hike with that extra 15lbs of gear up a mountain.  Instead, I reminded him of Murphy’s Law.  If he didn’t hike with his gear, he would get to the top of the mountain, only to find a unicorn standing under a rainbow, in front of a (completely unforecasted) partial solar eclipse.

Now, don’t get me wrong, blue skies at mid-day are not ideal light to shoot in.  I’ll always prefer the diffuse light of sunrise and sunset, or the textured light of cloudy New England days.  But if I find myself somewhere epic, with only a small window to shoot, I’m going to make the best of the conditions I have.

So, how do we do that?  First, I’d invest in filters to help you tame unruly light.  Circular polarizers help to cut down on harsh glare, beef up blue skies and give foliage a lush feel in bad light.  A neutral density filter will help you decrease the amount of light entering the camera.  Graduated neutral density filters are particularly handy for modifying the harsh light of blazing, mid-day skies, while still keeping your foreground well-exposed.  (If you want a bit more information about this, check out our practical tips e-book!  You can get a copy in our store, or on itunes through the Light & Landscapes magazine…found in the Newstand app.)

I’d also be certain that if you have the option to shoot in RAW, you do so.  As long as your highlights aren’t clipped and your shadows aren’t crushed, you may have enough data to work with to recover some of the image’s detail.  Remember to keep an eye on your histogram as you shoot and adjust your camera’s settings to give you the best possible chance at a successful photograph.

Balanced Flow :: RI

Balanced Flow :: RI

If the shadows and highlights are just too severe, you may also consider converting the image to black and white.  Personally, I prefer a well exposed black and white with full tonal range…but if image detail can’t be salvaged, B&W can generally support high contrast images.

Most of the time, your best bet will be to shoot during good light, as it will have fewer tonal extremes and be easier to edit.  Sometimes though, some places just won’t allow you to shoot during the golden hours.  In my opinion, you shouldn’t let that stop you from capturing your “epic place” experience.  Play with your camera and filters.  You may not get any award winning shots that day….but then again…you might!

If you know anyone who might benefit from this article, share it! :-)

“Ahem. My lens is up here.”

27 Aug
Balanced Flow :: RI

Balanced Flow :: RI


You can thank David for that title. haha

This week, I was honored to be included in a pretty comprehensive list of Inspiring Female Landscape Photographers, put together by Sarah Marino.  She did a really nice job expressing how I feel when she says that instead of being a “female landscape photographer”, it would be great to be recognized as a landscape photographer who also happens to be female. Every industry has its challenges though, and hopefully resources like this list will help make the hard-working landscape photo-ladies easier to find when companies are looking for speakers, teachers, etc. :-)

I feel so very honored to have made the list with so many other talented, inspiring women busting their butts to make it their goals a reality! Check it out, show Sarah some love and hopefully you’ll discover some new, awesome talent out there in the world.

As for the above shot?  I took that in Block Island a few weeks back.  I thought the composition had a nice “yin yang” potential, so I did the smart thing…plopped myself in the way of some incoming waves, and then was shocked when a rogue one snuck up on me and almost drowned my camera. haha  (Don’t worry…the gear is fine!)

Days Gone By

25 Aug
Days Gone By :: CT

Days Gone By :: CT

If you follow my IG account, you saw last Friday’s epic rainbow situation.  The sky just blew up, like, Whoa.

After the colors died down a bit, I began my walk to the park entrance, and came across this composition.  It’s just so *New England*.  It is also a perfect example of how beauty really is hiding around every corner here in Connecticut. :-)

Making Memories

19 Aug
The View :: Peru

The View :: Peru

Do you wonder if the people who live in beautiful places remember to appreciate the view?


In 2013 I took a dream trip to Peru to hike the Inka Trail to Mach Picchu, and…well…it didn’t turn out the way I expected. Still, traveling comes with uncertainty…thats part of what makes it exciting…and I made the best of my situation. For the full story, and a bunch of previously unreleased images, you can check out the newest issue of Light & Landscape magazine.


The magazine subscription is free, but is only for ios device users (iPad, iPhone, etc) through the Newstand app. For the rest of you (us! I have an Android!) make sure to follow me on Instagram where I will be leaking the images over the next few weeks!


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