Beauty beholding – Artist calls the image passable — I think this one is Super!!

35598_1454095043678_7209894_nWhat makes for a super image. In my eye this has an emotional pull that many don’t. So, I went to the artist for more information. What he said, isn’t what I expected…

“Well Bob you asked for it. Here’s everything!

Taken, 9-07-09, from Parkway of Looking Glass Rock at Subset.

With, Canon 5D Mk II, w/ 24-105 MM lens @ 24MM. f-8 – 1’80 sec, iso 400. Three shots bracketed, 0, +2, –2.

Processed in Photomatix Pro HDR, using Balanced setting, and saved as 16 bit image.

Opened in Photoshop CC, camera Raw. Whites lowered, and highlights reduced to reduce brightness of sunset. Shadows increased for overall image brightness.

Graduated tool used on right side to tone down the bright sunset,,,Still too bright and detracts from subject “Looking Glass Rock”.

Added sharpening and noise reduction. Reduced yellow luminosity, trying to tone down overexposed sunset. Never got there! The glare from the sunset attracts too much attention, and pulls the eye away from the rock.

Opened in Photoshop.  Made duplicate layer, created mask on top layer, painted out the rock areas with black brush. Selected bottom layer, clicked on adjustment for “Lightness/Contrast. and then lightened up the rock a little. Flattened image and saved as TIFF.

Not really what you would call a good image,,,just passable. The low mist and clouds added to the image, but, couldn’t overcome that darn sunset. Should have found a better location to shoot from without the glare of the sunset.”

Ole Jer

 What? Image just passable????

Let’s have some comments on this one…

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Hiking with a camera.

Beverly Slone Woodvine ©When Beverly Slone hikes she takes her camera. When I asked her for some information about her hike this is what she said. “We hiked along the Green River Trail when I notice this Wood Anemone with the nice greenery and background and thought it might make a nice image – Used Canon 50D with a Tamron 28-270 at 184 mm, ISO 400.”

But what else does she take? Extra Lenses, filters, tripod, Poncho?

And where is the extra gear put? in a Backpack. We use to have gear in a backpack. It wasn’t unusual to set it down to retrieve gear, then become involved in something else and walk away from the pack.

Now, thanks to Mind Shift and Think Tank, we have some alternatives.

I really like the Rotation 180°, either the original pack or the smaller and lighter versions. Your camera rides in the pack in a well supported hip bag. when you need it, it simply (after a little familiarity) slides around to the front to access the camera. the pack never has to come off. Lens Luggers receive a special gift here…

Our friends at MindShift Gear have also just released three new products for outdoor photographers.

Providing rapid access for filter changes, the Filter Nest Mini and the Filter Hive Mini offer protection and ease in compact cases. For those who do not need the capacity of larger filter cases, these offer a great option for keeping filters at the ready. The Filter Nest Mini fits four round filters (up to 82 mm) including a variable ND.  The Filter Hive Mini fits four square/rectangular filters (up to 4 x 6 or 100 x 150 mm).

The new House of Cards lightweight memory card wallet offers convenient storage and protection for your memory cards. Offered in easy-to-locate Tahoe Blue color, photographers can quickly find and organize six CF and three SD cards. The built in business card holder makes for easy identification. Its orange colored elastic band offers silent access plus additional wallet security. The House of Cards’ removable tether clip allows it to be worn on the outside for quick access.

Get more information here…

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Springs a popp’n in the mountains of Western North Carolina

Yellow Toadshade, Corneille Bryan Native Gardens by Bob Grytten

Yellow Toadshade, Corneille Bryan Native Gardens by Bob Grytten

Here in the mountains, wildflowers are loving the warmer weather. We were shooting a the Corneille Bryan Native Gardens in Lake Junaluska, in preparation for the May Spring Field Photography Program May 5-June 2. Participants shoot on Wednesday mornings then meet at the Waynesville Armory Tuesdays Evenings to discuss. This year some lucky person will attend Free.

A drawing of those signed up will be made and that person receives a Free pass.

Wood Poppy, Corneille, Bryak Native Garden by Bob Grytten

Wood Poppy, Corneille Bryan Native Garden by Bob Grytten

Wednesday mornings are $48 and Tuesdays evenings are $15. Those signing up for all 7 events receive a 20% discount. Lens lugger Members receive an additional 30% discount.

Space is limited, early registrations suggested

Photo Gear will be awards will be provided by Thank Tank Photo and MindShift Gear.

For those traveling from out-of-town, Lodging assistance will be provided. Contact workshop leader Bob Grytten for more information and registration forms.

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Happiness is…

Yesterday, Sunday, we only did what seemed to be calling to us to do. Setting a day a week aside to just hang has been helpful for so many years now.

Ending up at Jack of the Woods for some Celtic music …


We can spend more time on happiness. I like what Steven Farquharson, says. “It must come from within.” Spending our time with things we care about and treating our body with respect.  More…

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Photo Tips, Photographing Birds – Florida, USA

Little Blue Heron by Duke Miller

Little Blue Heron by Duke Miller


Action Bird Photography

by Duke Miller


Our residence in Florida has a deck at the edge of a lake from which these shots were taken of a Little Blue Heron. The Little Blue is about half the size of a normal heron and actually bluer than it’s larger relative. Recently, this one was in a feeding frenzy, which I was able to capture from above as he literally danced atop the water grabbing whatever got in the way of his beak.


Littl Blue Heron #2 Duke Miller

Littl Blue Heron #2 Duke Miller

Prior to this shoot, I experimented with numerous shutter and aperture settings.  The number one priority is shutter speed; no less than 1/1000th sec. to freeze the motion. Remember, not only is the bird moving, but I’m also panning the camera at a high multiple exposure rate. The  Auto ISO function, which adjusts the ISO to whatever value it takes to properly expose across a wide range of varying light conditions, is a great help as well.  Setting the camera to Continuous Focus and holding the camera’s AF button down at all times is important for getting sharp exposures.

I do my best to concentrate on the eyes at all times I don’t mind if the depth of field is a bit shallow in these instances, because it gives a sense of motion, which I don’t find objectionable. (If DOF is critical, you’d shoot Manual instead of Shutter Priority, setting the speed to 1/1000+ and the aperture to suit your desired DOF. In that instance, noise could become an issue, since Auto ISO will be pushing the upper ranges of the camera.) Because these birds have white feathers, I like to shoot at -2/3EV to insure detail at the high end.

Little Blue Heron #3 Duke Miller

Little Blue Heron #3 Duke Miller


Nikon D800e, f/5, -2/3EV, 1k/1250th sec, Shutter Priority, Nikon 70-300mm VR at 255mm (full frame), Auto ISO, Focus Center Weighted. Post with Lightroom 5.5.

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Spotlight on Photo Workshops – Don McGowan, Spring 2015

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Spring TN/NC
Townsend, Tennessee
Mar 28 – Apr 3, 2015
Tuition:  $1295
Participants: 8

TrilliumGrandiflorumIII am, first and foremost, a photographer of the Great Smoky Mountains and have been photographing professionally in them for over twenty years. For five of those I served as the staff photographer for Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I have hiked nearly all of the nine hundred miles of maintained trails of the Park and backpacked extensively in it. This Park is the back of my hand, and more than almost anything, I love sharing it photographically and otherwise with anyone I can. We will spend a week exploring the streams, early spring flowers, high country, spring atmospherics and light of this most-visited national park of all.

PurchseEarlyLight2014-10-20-6Spring in the Smokies is a time of new beginnings as winter loosens it grip on the hills and streams. As the buds turn to blossom, it becomes more than obvious why it has been suggested that it might well should have been named “Wildflower National Park.” The streams themselves are alive with the bounty of winter’s rain and snow, the gift of the “rainy season.” As the forest comes to life the green begins to creep slowly up the mountainsides like a living carpet. Cooler and warmer air masses mix and mingle producing cloud forms of exquisite beauty and fogs of moody presence. The light itself seems rarefied, lighting the landscapes below. In a Smokies spring morning the entire world seems fresh and new, and photographically pristine. In a Smokies spring the pulse of creation is not only felt, it is also seen.    MiddleLittle2014-04-17-5

About Don McGowan…

I grew up in the rolling piedmont hills of Georgia, the child of farm children and the grandchild of farmers. My earliest memories of the natural world are informed by this heritage.

As a teenager, much of my time was spent exploring the forests, wetlands, and river valleys of the northern and central parts of my native state. Later, during undergraduate and law school, my range expanded to include the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as the swamps of the southeastern coastal plain.

DonMcGowanPhotographerDon McGowan, PhotographerAs I moved into my working career, I discovered that rather than wanting to spend less time in Nature, I wanted to spend more; and a small SLR camera to document my travels became an integral part of my outdoor gear. Like most of my friends, my understanding of photographic technology was quite limited. My images, likewise, reflected this shortcoming; but making them was fun, and even if I did not completely understand how I had obtained them, I knew that I wanted to keep at it.

In 1993-94 a sequence of totally unforeseeable events occurred that changed my life completely and forever and put me on the path that I now travel. I came to an understanding that being a professional nature photographer was exactly my purpose in being here, and each day since that time that is the trail I have followed.

Here is the essence of what I have learned:

The images that we make are the reflections of our heart. From the moment we are born, and even sooner, we begin to receive impressions from the world around us; and, from those impressions, questions begin to be answered: What sort of place is this? Is it safe, or no? Does it mean me good or ill? What is this thing called beauty and how can I know it? What part do I play in all of this?

At some moment in time, the impressions begin to coalesce into pictures, the world takes on form, we become aware of elemental design; and these things stand before us within a context of light and shadow that is constantly changing. We see this with our eyes, in our minds, and within the core of our being. And we respond.

For some, the response is a verse, a song, the lines of a story; for others, it takes on shape and form: a bowl, the mouldings of a sculptored body; for me, it became a photograph. For I have found over the years that I best connect with the world through the creation of images; and I best share that expression – my love of this earth – through the eyes of a camera and lens.

For Registration go to EarthSong Photography

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Folly Gras – Mardi Gras, Folly style: Great photo opps

We’re in Charleston, SC with clouds, but warmer than the mountains – welcome relief  and to be in the 60’s today. Learning of the Folly Gras – Mardi Gras Folly style, we head back to Folly Beach.

Follygras, welcome models by Bob Grytten

Folly Gras, welcome models by Bob Grytten

It wasn’t long before we find our first story in a picture – two guys dressed for the occasion… I sort of motion with my hands to get their heads together. They smile and oblige. Thumbs up and they go back to their revelry…

On these occasions almost everyone wants to have their picture taken, but I still ask. Sometimes, though, I shoot the candid first then ask – just in case.

Follygras, Bulldog with Beads by Bob Grytten

Folly Gras, bulldog with Beads #2 by Bob Grytten

Next, we just cruise the length of the event for anything special. There are  dog’s of all descriptions, but when we saw this guy we knew it would be a winner…

My first shot of this guy was nice, but once I got all the images

Follygras Bulldog with beads #1 by Bob Grytten

Folly Gras bulldog with beads #1 by Bob Grytten

processed I knew the one looking straight on was the strongest.

Things are heating up…




Couple at Follygras by Bob Grytten

Couple at Follygras by Bob Grytten

I found this mask and asked them to move closer. I then cropped it so their eyes were at points where Thirds Rule would intersect.

I’m using my Nikon18-200mm lens. It’s my go to for street photography because of its almost unlimited focal length, plus it’s pretty sharp. The above bulldog that I liked was actually part of a street scene; but, so small it had to be cropped and enlarged a bit.

We stopped to eat at the Crab Shack and got a

Colorful at Carb Shack by Bob Grytten

Colorful at Crab Shack by Bob Grytten

high table outside – perfect shooting perch.

These guys were so colorful. Couldn’t resist.




Four at the table by Bob Grytten

Four at the table by Bob Grytten

Here’s a foursome that we shared a table with, all live nearby. It was so crowded…





And finally a short video clip which better conveys the mood. They hold this event every year…

If you go …

The edge of America. Just 15 miles from downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is its own universe – with its own sense of time, enjoyment, and a laid back, friendly energy that has earned it the lifelong affection of locals and visitors alike. Its wide beaches, solid surfing, eclectic neighborhoods, and community of locally-owned restaurants and shops make it the perfect place in which to revel, relax, and reconnect.

Folly Gras Parade
Held every February. Come and enjoy Mardi Gras, Folly style with the annual Folly Gras festival and parade.

Folly Beach History
1934: George Gershwin takes a beach vacation at 708 West Artic to write the classic musical, Porgy & Bess.

Morris Island Lighthouse
1876: The Morris Island Lighthouse was built. Today, though it’s light no longer shines, it stands approximately 300 yards off shore, as a beloved historic landmark.

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Lens Lugger Artist Rick Hills is in the Spotlight – Makes Cover of Rapid River Magazine

Asheville Artist Rick Hills is in the Spotlight

February 11, 2015 | Leave a Comment

Fine Artist Rick Hills Makes Cover of Rapid River Magazine


Fine artist Rick Hills is on the cover of this month’s Rapid River magazine. Rapid River Arts & Culture Magazine is the largest and oldest arts publication in Western North Carolina. In his interview with Rapid River, he said,” “It’s getting out and observing the things that are happening around you that matters—the smell of the pines, the crunch of the forest floor beneath your feet, the cloud that appears, seemingly out of nowhere—this is how God speaks to me, through His creation…”

Currently Rick specializes in a wonderfully colorful form of art called “Pochoir” (po-shwah). Rick’s pochoir based artwork utilizes leaves and plants as stencils to create bold outlines with strong signature colors.


Rick lives in Waynesville and it’s his close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway that fuels and inspires his personal “art” walks. According to his interview is frequently on his walks by his three collies Sugar, Lily, and Toppie.


From his interview “His connection to his surroundings deepens as he returns to favorite locales again and again, in every season and at different times of day, coming to know them intimately, as you might come to know a lifelong friend.

It becomes a kind of conversation—one in which he listens to the silence, absorbs its wisdom, and carries it home to his studio to bring life to his paintings.”

Asheville artist Rick HIll's Pochoir artwork

“Hills graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in fine art, then began a 30-year career as a festival artist, combining his love of art with his love of travel. He had the opportunity to explore most of the US and finally settled in the beautiful North Carolina mountains.”

Pochoir is also an old French word that means ‘to sparkle’… and as you can see Rick’s pochoir pieces are truly something unique and different than other painted works.

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Daybreak Multimedia with Ray Lynch music from Deep Breakfast

If you enjoy the mountains with morning mist, you may enjoy this piece. Ray Lynch provides the perfect mood for this 5AM shoot from the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the sun rises over Waynesville, NC.

The musical piece is “Falling in the Garden” from the album Deep Breakfast  used with special permission.  You may wish to turn the volume up a bit…

Enjoy  — Bob Grytten

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More on Tips in design using photography tools by Jerry Stone

Here are my latest images, done on my set-up. Hope this is what you are looking for.
Photo by Jerry Slone

Photo by Jerry Stone

Shooting pictures with a candle is fun, and great for honing your camera skills. You get a greater feeling of achievement with a still life or table top set-up, because “YOU” have created the entire image, as opposed to recording the greatness of nature.
Control of the ambient light in the room is critical to achieve the lighting balance that you are trying to present. Use your imagination in the use of lamps and reflectors.
The use of Camera RAW is a big advantage. Because it allows you to utilize the full dynamic range that your camera can produce for your presentation. The candle is very bright in relation to the surrounding scene, thus creating a high dynamic atmosphere. You don’t want the flame to be completely too,too bright, or blown out, but it wants to be very bright. But, again, it’s your creation, use whatever guidelines that make you happy with your image.
HDR is also helpful in some instances, but be careful, as HDR has side affects that can be harmful. By it’s nature, HDR produces excessive digital noise in the darker and shadow areas of your image. This digital noise is accumulative.
The use of wider angle lens in close, will make your scene deeper and further away. Where as longer or telephoto, from further back will compress the scene. shoot the scene with both and review your results. This is very helpful learning the traits and eccentricities in your lens. Varying the height of your tripod for different angles of view, will also have an big effect on the composition.
Stopping your lens down to f-22 will give a star burst effect to the flame, if you desire.
I’ve found it beneficial to take notes of each series of shots. I then process my shots for review and most times, return to the set-up and make further adjustments and more shots.
Photo by Jerry Stone

Photo by Jerry Stone

The use of the graduated filter in Photoshop or Adobe Raw Convertor is a powerful tool in this type of work. You have more control with the filter in A.R.C.
Side lighting of folds or ripples in the cloth background can produce interesting lead-in lines.

With or without a candle or principal light source, you can create dramatic images from everyday objects with creative lighting.

Your only limited by your imagination.
Ole Jer.
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