The photographer looking at the world using a camera such as a DSLR is seeing in two dimensions. The depth proved by humans’ stereo vision, binocular sight, is not present when looking through a single lens. Monocular viewing also restricts the “field of view”. Using a camera entails capturing a slice of time with a fixed focal length; a purposeful selection of peripheral vision. A friend asked me why no one had invented a device that would allow you to see the world with a the field of view from 10mm – 500mm in a compact device.  The glib and accurate answer is, “you have two already”.  Seeing and thinking in “restricted periphery” is a skill which requires the exercise of concentrating on your sense of sight and using your knowledge of optics and photography — allowing you to visualize the world in every focal length — the ultimate in vision.

Peripherally, a colleague of mine early in my career, coincidentally named “Wink”, had an eyepiece diopter made to match his vision correction (ie his glasses) and used it on his Nikon F. When he needed clarity — precision — he would look thought the camera, his eyeglasses to the world. Wink lived life on the manic edge, so for him clarity was paramount. Most of us use our visual imaginations to sense and focus on the world photographically, avoiding the distractions and distortions created by the visual chum.



Wild or Tame

Posted: February 25, 2019 in Accommodations, birds, nature, Photography, wildlife

On a recent visit to Pere Marquette Lodge for a winter get-a-way I felt like I struck the eagle jackpot when I photographed two immature birds at Audubon Center at Riverlands. Always inspiring to see animals in the wild. The next day on a lark (sorry) we decided to stop by the nearby Treehouse Wildlife Center where, guess what, there were eagles!!! Got up close and personal. Seemed like a trifecta, a great winter overnight stay and two fun pictures.

Hey Guys

Posted: December 20, 2018 in Photography

Vlogging. The winter solstice is approaching and daylight is in short supply making YouTube a welcome (?!?) distraction. I have become slightly addicted to new friends who tell me all the ways I can improve my photography. I watch my buddy in Denmark, my bestie in the UK, my Floridan birder, and several others in unknown mountainous areas.  There are a several variations  — walk, talk and show examples simultaneously; walk and talk and show results later; mix and match, and of course blatant salesmanship. The levels of expertise vary and the production values generally improve with each episode.  Sad to say a few seem to be putting so much time into Vlogging that they no longer make interesting photographs. And it is understandable. Try carrying a video camera (phone, mirrorless, GoPro) on a stick while tracking wildlife, NOT!  The merry vloggers all say, “hi guys” when the camera starts to roll (although there are a few gals), and most are clearly new to the concept of what we of a certain generation call “film”. They don’t know about story-boarding, complex editing, and most glaringly, the fact that you don’t have to be linear when making a “movie”.  They do know gear and relish explaining (mansplaining) in excruciating detail the megapixels, millimeters, and flaws of every bit of kit including clothes, cameras, lenses, bags, microphones, computers, etc. Excuse me if I am being harsh, I do look forward to the segments and they are often inspirational and informative, but I sometimes wonder if the vloggers are just lonely. Think about it, spending hours waiting for the mountain hare, the red-crested boobie, the cowardly lion; often in the worst possible weather, in waders, or in a stinky blind — a solitary undertaking. What I am waiting for (and what is no doubt already extant) is photo vlogging via Twitch; real-time sharing the hours toting 45 pounds of gear up a mountain side to no avail; did I mention non-linear editing? Heroic outcome for a dubious undertaking.

Flukes on Demand

Posted: July 2, 2018 in creativity, Fashion, Photography

Some pictures can be planned. I remember visiting Nick Vedros in his photo studio in Kansas City in the 1980s and watching him create a photo which previously existed only in his mind’s eye. Just amazing. I, however, depend on serendipity. I didn’t set out to make a timeless view of a little boy exploring the world;  I was babysitting for my grandson Walter and I grabbed a pair of jean shorts two sizes too big and one of my adjustable oversize hats and it was off to the park. Only after reviewing the usual daily snapshots did I discover that I had not photographed an 18-month-old toddler but a mini Tom Sawyer circa 2018. No, creating a photo from my imagination is not my forte. Let’s be generous and call it a conscious fluke.

Furry Tail Fling

Posted: May 20, 2018 in Cameras, nature, wildlife

Levitating squirrel leaves only a trace of tail – too quick for me. I have become slightly obsessed with wildlife in the last month – many robin pictures, too many hummingbird pictures, many missed egret pictures. On cold grey days I have watched Youtube videos of photographers showing off their super long camo-covered lenses and sharing their tips for capturing BIF (birds-in-flight). I suspect my interest will soon return to the species I am most familiar with – Homo sapiens.

Last of the Snow

Posted: March 11, 2018 in Photography

Mid-winter and a trip to the zoo, pretend you are in the savannah, lions and tigers and bears – oh my! But best of all was this tiny remnant of winter – a snow sculpture on the rail in front of the zebra enclosure. Hooray for whimsy!

Just Say No

Posted: November 21, 2017 in composition, creativity, Photography

Celebrating my grandson’s one year birthday I made many snaps. I like being on his level and showing the world from his point of view. Why say no? I took about 150 exposures (while stuffing myself with chilli and birthday cake) but I usually respond to requests to “see them all” or “what else did you take?” by sending the media-hungry a lone picture. Why? Not with animus, but simply to stay vigilant to my audience.  There is a excessive amount of visual pollution and I want to make sure I am not adding to the visual cacophony; and I do that by ruthlessly editing/culling my take.

Image  —  Posted: September 24, 2017 in Photography

Punchy Profile

Posted: August 24, 2017 in Cameras, Lenses, Photo equipment, Photography

Shameless grandchild show-off. I just had the urge to make a picture of Walter and decided to isolate the cheeky chum with my Nikkor 180mm f2.8 wide open and D610 camera. Super simple set-up with a Nikon SB800 flash through a soft box, 12 quick frames and bingo!

Flight of Fancy

Posted: July 30, 2017 in Art photography, UK

Does a paradox stimulate creativity?  I was thinking this morning of the teacher who said, in seeking enlightenment, you cannot fail.  Unless you think you cannot fail…    but the enlightenment is already within you, so…


The Nose Knows

Posted: July 22, 2017 in Lenses, Photography

By a nose…   Went to the Fairmount Park Racetrack to wager on the ponies (ha ha, those $2.00 bets add up) and dragged along the big tele zoom. Only got a handful of snaps and was happy with this capture. But this is the kind of photo that would drive me crazy as a photo editor; keep the context, or get really close on the jockey’s intense face?


Run, Don’t Walk

Posted: June 13, 2017 in Photography, University City

I guess this is the reason I am not a very successful commercial photographer; I go to an event and take a few hundred exposures and in spite of my best intentions I am subconsciously looking to get one “keeper”.  Oh sure, I do yeoman’s work, cover the bases, get the cliches, but dang it, I never really get excited about the commercial aspect — I am always striving for that one memoriable picture. I blame this on the uber competitiveness of University of Missouri’s photojournalism program, not so much the formal classwork, but the informal one-on-one (or dog-pile five-on-one) absolutely brutal critique sessions. And, of course I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Working (hardly) Vacation

Posted: May 20, 2017 in Photography, Travel

Travel photography requires early morning and late evenings to take advantage of the golden/blue hour classic lighting. Of course you have to while away the time in-between, in this case pretending to be Colonel Kurtz in the pool at the Hotel Mono Azul in Costa Rica. Coming from the Northern latitudes it is worth noting that the length of the days at nine degrees doesn’t vary much and it seems a much quicker transition during those sunrise/sunset periods. Enjoy my views of Pura Vida here.

Three for One

Posted: April 9, 2017 in Cameras, Photography, University City

Technology is a wondrous thing but with great power comes great responsibility. The easier it is to produce special effects the more important to stretch beyond the obvious. HDR photography is a great example — you can produce HDR with your phone camera, but why settle for a gimmick? Think content and decide, “will this tech trick impart greater meaning to this photograph? Am I stopping too soon because I see a neat image on the camera screen?”  Think of the sports mantra — follow through.

One Glove Clapping

Posted: February 16, 2017 in Photography

The sound in Pencester Gardens when one dinosaur glove claps…