Burnham Graphic Arts: Blog https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog en-us (C) Burnham Graphic Arts [email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:19:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:19:00 GMT https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/img/s/v-12/u729719174-o605820359-50.jpg Burnham Graphic Arts: Blog https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog 85 120 Focus Trek #11 – A Weekend With Bryan F Peterson https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2017/7/focus-trek-11-a-weekend-with-bryan-f-peterson

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  -Heraclitus As a member of the Peoria Camera Club, I get the opportunity to meet some very gifted photographers not only within the club, but from outside as well. We invite speakers every year to keynote our seminar and… Read more »

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2017/7/focus-trek-11-a-weekend-with-bryan-f-peterson Wed, 12 Jul 2017 14:14:59 GMT
Focus Trek #10 – Part 1: A Yankee’s Guide to Driving (and vacation Photography) in Britain https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2017/7/focus-trek-10-part-1-a-yankee-s-guide-to-driving-and-vacation-photography-in-britain

“That her face, at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale” – Keith Reid/Procol Harem “Whiter Shade of Pale” This article is Part 1 of 2. Continue to Part 2 here… Originally, I was going to make this article about driving in the UK. After 1200 words, I realized I completely digressed from my original theme.

Read Part 1 and 2 here about a photography excursion to Northern England


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Focus Trek #9 – The Black Hills Photo Shootout https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2016/12/focus-trek-9

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
-Greg Anderson

It’s been awhile since my last “Focus Trek”. Sometimes I take these trips to “focus” on improving the craft. Other times it’s a mixture of family vacation and photography. With the former I can focus on just photography and being where I need to be to get images. I stay as long as it takes to get what I want. With the latter you are always on the move from one thing to the next. Waiting for the right moment means losing your family around a corner. Both situations require you to compromise, but for different reasons. Although travelling with the family requires much more compromise. With compromise comes less opportunity. With less opportunity, you become more selective.

Read more here:  Focus Trek #9 The Black Hills Photo Shoot

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The Leland Report Book https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2016/5/the-leland-report-book See the history behind our upcoming photography book for The Leland Report


[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) book photography publishing self https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2016/5/the-leland-report-book Tue, 03 May 2016 05:17:37 GMT
Focus Trek #5 - Looking for a Heartbeat in Telluride Part 2 https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/10/telluride-part-2 The search continues...

<< Back to Part 1  | The photos for this blog can be viewed here


The most beautiful music in the world is your own heartbeat, it assures you that you will survive even when the whole world leaves you alone.


The Comfort Zone

There was a six hour break between sessions. The bouldering session was not going to start until 4pm and I didn't even know where that was meeting yet.  After breakfast, I said goodbye to Tom and his companion and went out to Airport Rd, where Last Dollar Rd starts on the south end, to see if I could grab a shot of three barns I was told about by my cousin. I was staying at her in-laws beautiful home downtown and was told they might like to have a good shot of them against Mt. Wilson. The clouds were starting to build now so It was a good a time as any. Plus, I wanted to drive the entire length of Last Dollar Rd and these barns were on the way. I had five hours.

"This is plenty of time to take pictures and drive the 20 mile route" my heart told my brain.

And my brain looked at my heart and said, "Idiot, we've been through this before, you know."

"Yeah, I know, we can do it this time", my heart said quietly, knowing it was a lie.

I wasn't disappointed in the three barns. I had some clouds and everything was lit up nicely. But I wasn't completely sure I got what i was looking for. 


The Three Red BarnsThe Three Red Barns1/20s @ f16 44mm ISO125

These barns are a favorite spot for photographers. It's a spectacular vista as you come off of Last Dollar Road. There are probably hundreds of thousands of photos out there. Probably very much like this one, but then again, all different. But I don't think this had the heartbeat I was looking for.

I decided to continue up Last Dollar Rd and I found I was stopping at least 8 times in every mile to take photos. I felt I needed to at least start my way back to town by 3pm in order to find out where we were meeting and get my gear all ready to go. Now, I really only had 3 hours.

Then, my heart says, "Oh, a grove of Aspens lining the road, STOP!"

Last Dollar Road Aspen groveLast Dollar Road Aspen grove1/30s @ f11 18mm ISO100

And my brain goes, "If you keep doing this, you will be late and you have no idea where you are supposed to going yet to even be late to it."

And my heart responds: "Ooooh, mountains! Get out your polarizing filter"

Oh yeah, crap, I have a polarizing filter, and it's not on.

Cloud over MountainCloud over Mountain1/30s @ f11 52mm ISO160

And so the dance continued up the mountain


In Colorado
A voice as pure like sunlight on the snow
Like a thorn, she's buried in my soul
Just two days is not enough to show
Everything I wanted her to know
Just one hour and then I'll have to go



Sun in the Aspen groveSun in the Aspen grove1/50s @ f22 12mm ISO200

Posted Keep OutPosted Keep Out1/50s @ f11 18mm ISO100


In Colorado
A voice as pure as sunlight in the rain
Like a drug, she courses through my veins
Just two days is not enough to tell
If I just gave my heart for her to sell
So she can buy my ticket out of hell



Aspen Grove on Last Dollar RoadAspen Grove on Last Dollar Road1/80s @ f11 18mm ISO100


The effect the polarizer had on some of the photos was dramatic.

Here is a comparison between one and the other.

Not polarizedNot polarized1/125s @ f10 90mm ISO200 Polarized. Oh yeahPolarized. Oh yeah1/80s @ f10 75mm ISO200

Polarizing makes clouds and the colors pop, but you lose a stop of light. But there was plenty of light. But it works the best 90 degrees to the sunshine and not as well with wide angle. Use one judiciously.

Eventually, I had to give up and get back to Telluride. I was near 58P again, like the night before, so I took that again through the switchbacks into Sawpit. This time in the light.

And my heart goes, "Cattle farm, mountains, aspens, oooooh!"

Ok, then. My brain has given up at this point. Logic does not exist. Time is only gravity in space. (that was for you, Steve B.)

Cattle Ranch on Last Dollar MountainCattle Ranch on Last Dollar Mountain1/125s @ f11 38mm ISO100


Bouldering with Michael Clark



Red Bull in hand as expected, Michael Clark met us all in front of the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride at 4pm. Two members of my morning excursion were with us. Our goal was to journey out to some large boulders West of town to learn some techniques on shooting climbers, using fill light and accent lights, etc. Our subjects were Nick Niebuhr and Chris Brooks, two local climbers who were very patient dealing with the group of us as we clicked and circled them like hungry paparazzi.


Nick and ChrisNick and Chris1/50s @ f8 62mm ISO800


I got to carry a suitcase full of lighting equipment up the hill to where we were shooting. As a manly man, I trudged full speed up the slope. Then I slowed a little, oxygen levels getting low, my feet wrote a check that my lungs couldn't cash. But I had to make it. It was only 30 more feet. I made it eventually, panting and wheezing like a asthmatic runner in a sawdust factory. Kim came up to me and patted me on the back and asked if I was ok. (She's from Durango, btw so this must be kid's stuff for her)

"I'm a low lander", I replied. "But I'll be ok".

Thank you for caring, Kim.

As for the photo shoot, the rules were pretty simple:

  1. Get them and the environment (including the ground) in the shot
  2. Get both hands and both feet in the shot
  3. Get them in a transitional stage (not hanging or posing)
  4. Get them in good light
  5. Get their face


I was doing ok, I guess.

Chris ClimbsChris Climbs1/125s @ f8 26mm ISO1250

Nick ClimbsNick Climbs1/60s @ f4.2 38mm ISO2000

Then I start taking off-time shots

Chris and Nick WaitChris and Nick Wait1/60s @ f4 50mm ISO125

then I start getting more creative.

GrabGrab1/160s @ f6.3 250mm ISO800


then, I just threw the rules out the window completely

Chris on AngleChris on Angle1/60s @ f8 18mm ISO800



Maybe I didn't learn anything.

ChalkChalk1/100s @ f5.6 105mm ISO800

Or, maybe I didn't go there to learn anything.

I went there to experience it.

I'll probably never be an action photographer,

but it's fun to pretend it's possible.


But no, I did learn something important

Rule #6: When shooting, don't stand behind Michael

Give me a HandGive me a Hand1/60s @ f5.6 38mm ISO2000


It started getting dark

Michael persuaded Nick to climb with his shirt off.

Then I felt really, really fat all of a sudden.


Nick Climbs 2Nick Climbs 21/60s @ f4.8 52mm ISO2000

I guess there's your heartbeat, ladies.


We all traded information afterwards and disappeared into our own lives again. I finally was able to get some sleep that night. My heartbeat was not noticeable at all that night and I slept. My flight out was at 1:30pm so I had plenty of time to walk around Telluride and take one more stab at the Three Barns shot on the way back.


Blackbird on RoofBlackbird on Roof1/320s @ f6.3 250mm ISO100 Painting TelluridePainting Telluride1/320s @ f6.3 250mm ISO100


This one I like because I used to drive this as a kid. Without the flowers. This is a real man's 4x4. In order to lock the hubs in front, you have to get out and turn the dimpled dials on the front axle. With your bare hands.



With clouds rolling in, I eventually got my "Three Barns" shot.

Three Barns RevisitedThree Barns Revisited1/30s @ f11 18mm ISO100 with split ND filter to add drama to the clouds

And on the way back to Montrose, I ran into another "young" older person who made the mistake of taking his Lamborghini out of first gear.


My last photo put the period at the end of the trip. My heart yells one last time as I pull over to the side, take this photo,

Dallas DivideDallas Divide1/50s @ f11 52mm ISO100

 and then watch the guy in the Lamborghini lumber past in first gear with 5 cars impatiently trailing behind him.


In love with the sky
I feel with my eyes

And the solid ground
And to my surprise
I melt with the ice
But I never die



Thanks for reading, please comment and share if you liked it.

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) 4x4 adventure aspen black bear canon colorado fall imogene pass nikkor nikon off road pandora photo telluride tomboy mine tour trail workshop https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/10/telluride-part-2 Sat, 10 Oct 2015 21:24:08 GMT
Focus Trek #5 - Looking for a Heartbeat in Telluride (Part 1) https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/10/telluride-part-1 Notes on a first workshop experience in one of the most beautiful places on earth

Part 2 is here:  Looking for a Heartbeat in Telluride (Part 2)  | The photos for this blog can be viewed here


But some emotions don't make a lot of noise. It's hard to hear pride. Caring is real faint - like a heartbeat. And pure love - why, some days it's so quiet, you don't even know it's there.

Ernest Hemingway


Ross Ranch from True Grit Ross Ranch from True Grit This is the Ross Ranch from the 1969 movie True Grit with John Wayne. ISO 100 18mm 1/125/sec @ f6.7
That quote has also been attributed to Erma Bombeck. I couldn't find any definitive source for either, but when in doubt, I'll always go with Hemingway.

Day 1: Flight into Montrose

and the attempt at Last Dollar Rd at Sunset

Bucket list item completed: Fall in Telluride, Colorado. Again, this was not originally on my bucket list, but was added based on opportunity. I can't put into words what I experienced without actually writing a song about it because upon arriving home I immediately channeled my inner John Denver and wrote a song. It will probably remain unfinished because I still think I have more to see there.

Last Dollar Road FenceLast Dollar Road Fence18mm 1/250@f8 ISO400


My main reason for being there was to attend two photo sessions. One with Rick Sammon, an accomplished photographer and author who runs worldwide photo workshops. He's going to be our guest speaker for our camera club's seminar next March, so I wanted to meet him ahead of that. The second was with Michael Clark, an adventure photographer for Red Bull who showed us his techniques for shooting bouldering, which is freestyle rock climbing on small boulders. By small, I mean 15-20 feet high, which is small compared to most of the other climbable things in the area. These boulders probably sheared off the face of the nearby mountain thousands of years ago. If it happens again, I don't want to be anywhere nearby.


Master Photographer and Author Rick SammonMaster Photographer and Author Rick Sammon75mm 1/30s@f8 ISO1100 Red Bull Photographer Michael ClarkRed Bull Photographer Michael Clark1/80s @ f6.3 75mm ISO 640









But that was day two. Day one was my journey into Telluride down from Montrose. I want to tell the Alamo lady how much I love her, but again, words cannot express my elation when they didn't have the all-wheel drive SUV I wanted and replaced it with a 4x4 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Fortunately, they didn't know my history with 4x4 vehicles. Jeep on Last Dollar RdJeep on Last Dollar Rd26mm 1/45s @ f11 ISO100


I was talking to another photographer in the later session. She said that she was taught that a good photograph had to have a "heartbeat", something that makes a photo alive. Otherwise, it's just a snapshot. I've heard this before but had not thought about it again until then. It shouldn't stop you from taking a photo, but it sure helps when editing them. So during the flight back, I went back through my photos looking for that "heartbeat"...

...in the evening sun shining through the aspens. 

Sunburst in AspensSunburst in AspensThe setting sun peeks through the aspens on Last Dollar Rd 1/180s @ f22 22mm ISO800

...in the balance of elements, like Newton's cradle...


Faded TwilightFaded Twilight1/3s @ f8 38mm ISO100

After midnight's fallen
I reach the solid ground
After quarter phases, the moon is all around
I look to the sky,
I look to the sky but I see solid ground
I fly with the birds
I swim with the tide
But I never die


...in the kiss of ground and sky...

Cloud on Hillside 2Cloud on Hillside 2A cloud hangs above a small hill - Last Dollar Rd 1/125s @ f11 105mm ISO100


...or in a isolated patch of Aspen Trees on a hillside.

Stand of AspensStand of Aspens7/10s @ f8 22mm ISO100

After a hundred miles
The pattern soon was painted
I slept under rain and thunder
A higher battle rages



These were all taken on Last Dollar Rd, which is a dirt road that leads down from CR62 and goes to Telluride airport, which is just West of Telluride. Most of it is two lane, but the middle few miles is mixed one-lane wide with hundred foot high drop offs. On the one lane routes, one car has to move over enough to let the other car go through. 

The map says 1h 17 minutes to go 20 miles. That might be true if you don't stop. But you will stop. You will stop every 100 feet or so. Just sayin'

I was about halfway down the road when it started getting dark. I thought I had just enough time before twilight turned to blackness to make it all the way, but I did not judge how slow some parts are and it was getting really dark.







The sign on the right says:




 As this was an unknown road to me, my need to survive my first day overcame my spirit for adventure and I made a hasty retreat back where I came from. I took a shortcut via 58P to the main highway via some switchbacks into a place called Sawpit. The next day I drove the part I missed and confirmed that was the right choice. It's hard driving down that road during the daytime.




Caution Ahead
The dark paths that we tread
If I never see her again
I'll just smile and remember




New Sheridan HotelNew Sheridan Hotel

Before I turned in, I stopped at the New Sheridan Hotel for some food. Here is a shout out to the bartender Daniel Davenport and his co-worker Brian Balconi.  Brian actually turned out to have a Michigan connection, having attended a wedding on (or near) Van's Beach a week before my Dad took the wedding photo for the 9/26 Leland Report. They made my first night alone in a strange place less boring by feeding me a massive hamburger and seasoned fries. Thank you, fellas! I came for the food and stayed for the music. Thanks for the scotch. And the advice about pacing myself? Worst bartender advice ever. ;)


There was another heartbeat I experienced. This was real, and kept me up all night. I thought I did my homework about the trip and came 100% prepared (actually 90% because I always forget something). But I forgot to check one critical fact about my destination. Telluride is at 8,750 feet. That's over a half mile higher than Denver. That's considered "base height". That means everything else is higher, so you should be prepared. So what happens to you when you plod along at sea level for 47 years and then jump to 9,000 feet in less than 4 hours?


I went to sleep, but I couldn't for some reason. I could feel my heat beating. It was beating hard. It's not a comfortable feeling at all. It's a feeling I've had after drinking Red Bull and that's why I don't drink it. (sorry, Michael)  So I looked up all the symptoms of being at altitude.


  • I didn't have a headache, good.  
  • I wasn't nauseous, good.  
  • My heart rate was strong and slightly elevated  


Turns out my heart was working not so much faster, but harder, to pump oxygen into my blood. Turns out, an extra day in Denver would have helped acclimate me better to Telluride. A reminder to all other "at sea level" residents.


Day 2: Imogene Pass & Tomboy Mine


We met Rick Sammon at 6am the next morning at Telluride Outside, an adventure excursion company. There were 9 of us joining him. Our route was going to be up Imogene Pass to visit the Tomboy Mine, an abandoned silver mine near the summit. We rode up a narrow and bumpy road 7 miles along the south side of Chicago Peak (appropriate) so the sun was actually going to have to rise higher to light up the range opposite us. Our guide was "Roma", who had, what I can only describe as a face for adventure, experienced and rugged in his words and his attitude. For the photo below, Rick was showing us some fill flash techniques. In this particular image, my flash didn't go off, but I brightened it up and it turned out to be my favorite.


RomaRomaOur guide at Telluride Outside 1/200s @ f11 105mm ISO100




I got there early and tried to get some long exposure cityscapes in the back alley. Just for fun.




Shadow PlayShadow Play20s @ f5.6 11.5mm ISO 1600




And then on the street as people were gathering




Morning StreetscapeMorning Streetscape8s @ f22 32mm ISO200


We headed up the Imogene Pass and through the sun was starting to come up, it was mostly behind the range to the East. As a result, I didn't take many landscape pictures early on. We were mostly heading SE so sun had not yet lit up the valley and range on the opposite side. In addition, the sky was cloudless. Here, you have an impossible exposure situation with shadowed hills on the bottom and bright, cloudless sky on top. You can try a split ND filter on it and up the saturation, but really all you get is still a shadowed landscape with a less bright cloudless sky like below. Pretty, but no heartbeat here.

Exposure DilemmaExposure Dilemma1/180sec @ f8 18mm ISO800




So I took pictures of everyone else taking pictures.


I talked with the guides.


There, I found my heartbeat.







It was cold up the mountain, around 40F. I had forgotten my hand warmers (argh, there's the last 5%!), so I had a hard time keeping them comfortable. But I layered up, so only my hands were cold. But the sun eventually rose and started warming everything up. We watched as the sun started lighting everything up as it moved slowly down and into the valley below.


First the pines, and then the whole valley




Light in the PinesLight in the Pines1/40s @ f10 38mm ISO100




As we started back down the trail, one spot drew our attention. Four of us jumped ship and spent some time on the hillside shooting some aspens. Josh Trefethen was with us and judging from his body of work, I know he was there for the experience and the view, like myself, not so much to learn technique-wise. But he was trying out a new Sony mirrorless, which takes some getting used to. I'm not sold on mirrorless, yet.




Kim ShootsKim ShootsKim shoots among the remants of the old mining operation 1/125s @ f11 18mm ISO250 Trestle Boards and AspensTrestle Boards and Aspens1/1600s @ f5.6 90mm ISO400 Sun and ShackSun and Shack1/40s @ f22 52mm ISO200


Eventually Roma came back up and collected us. I don't know if I got my heartbeat though.  "But Jim", you say, "those are beautiful shots, what's wrong with those?" I'm just looking for a little more, that's all. I'm a cloud guy. And there were no clouds. The one above with the sun as it moved behind the trees with the old shack above was my heartbeat but was difficult to get for some reason.


We had strayed


We were being called back.


I was rushing the shot.


But there are other things.


You look for patterns and find balance.




JF4_4565JF4_45651/320s @ f8 38mm ISO250




There are patterns in nature, some created by millions of years of geological upheaval, and then those that were created by people, but slowly covered up by nature. At the bottom is an old abandoned silver vein. I'm not sure if the other lines are also veins, but it's likely.




Abandoned Silver Mine CutAbandoned Silver Mine Cut1/750s @ f6.3 250mm ISO100


Before heading back, we all gathered at another mine site where Rick was helping some of the others with HDR techniques. The sun is strong at this altitude, so shadows are difficult to expose. I'm not an HDR guy. I can do it, but choose not to. Sometimes it can get out of hand and unless you are very restrained, it can become unrealistic. Then unrealistic becomes the norm and normal becomes unrealistic. Bright directional light on a cloudy day can be spectacular if you have time to wait. Watch the shadows on the landscape. Anticipate the speed and direction of the patterns it creates on the ground. Wait for the light to cover your subject. More on that later.


JF4_4608JF4_46081/250sw @ f5.6 105mm ISO200 Old MineOld Mine1/180s @ f8 18mm ISO200


Note to self: Clean your lens before you point it into the sun.


But I love the star effect I got on this


Rick and Josh on MineRick and Josh on Mine1/60s @ f22 12mm ISO250


We were done and back by a little after 10am. We came in a little late because Roma liked to stop and tell us stories about different parts of the route where someone proposed to someone else, or got married. There was even an old "red light district" way up the mountainside. Remnants remained of old shacks where there were women for hire. I wouldn't have wanted to be that horse that had to drag those men up that trail every week. One story involved stopping at a campsite over Pandora to watch the July 4th fireworks at eye level with his son. If I can revisit my bucket list, that one is moving to the top. We all enjoyed your stories, Roma!


When we got back, I had breakfast at the Butcher and Baker with an 80-year old young man named Tom and his "significant other" as he introduced her, a very nice Lithuanian woman (forgive me, I forgot your name). But he also had another "significant other", which was a newer Porsche Carrera that he drove up in. We talked about photography and his time as a Navy Doctor and his greenhouse where he grew orchids. I think he was involved in Korea and Vietnam, I can't remember exactly if it was one, the other or both. The car was a present to himself as he never had a sportscar.


I asked him what made him pick the Porsche and he replied, "When you think sportscar, what do you think of first?" Oh yeah, a Porsche. It was a pleasure to meet you Tom, I could tell the trip up the mountain was not fun for you, but you endured and I don't think you would have had it any other way. I wish you all the luck going forward. I also wish I had gotten a picture of you with your car. Maybe next time. Please keep in touch. If you have one, please send it to me and I will include it. There's some more heartbeat, right there! ;)


I really enjoyed meeting the people on this trip. I think it's just as exhilarating and inspirational as taking pictures. It was a very eclectic group, widely different ages and nationalities all gathering together to share a single interest. If I regret one thing is not getting a group shot. I always get a group shot. Regardless, it was a pleasure meeting all of you. I think I would like to eventually lead my own workshops. Please leave a comment below if you read this article. I'd love to hear from you.




InstructionInstruction1/30s @ f8 75mm ISO1100 Imogene Pass TrailImogene Pass Trail1/125s @ f11 18mm ISO200



Next article: Last Dollar Road (for real this time), bouldering with Michael Clark, and Airport Rd for a final gift shot for the relatives.


Part 2 is here:  Looking for a Heartbeat in Telluride (Part 2)

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) 4x4 adventure aspen black bear canon colorado fall imogene pass nikkor nikon off road pandora photo telluride tomboy mine tour trail workshop https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/10/telluride-part-1 Sat, 10 Oct 2015 21:16:41 GMT
In My Mother's Garden https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/9/in-my-mothers-garden "In search of my mother's garden, I found my own."    -Alice Walker

DeliveryDelivery by Jim Burnham

Every so often, we make our way up to my parent's house in Michigan. It's a 500 mile trip but there are good reasons to pack up the family and brave the traffic jams around Indiana (there and back). I know the recession was hard for everyone, but at least it cut down on the road construction. I started getting used to an 8 hour trip. I guess it's back to my longcut over to I-65 to avoid 80/94.

Michigan, specifically Leland, holds a special place in my life. I was lucky to have spent all my Summers growing up there. It's easy to take for that area for granted. I knew some who were born there who couldn't wait to move away, as well as many people who couldn't wait to move in. Maybe it's the "greener grass" syndrome. If you are born in paradise and spend all your time there, it seems abnormal in comparison to everywhere else.

Central Park TulipsCentral Park Tulips

My parents moved from a Chicago suburb where retirees dream of living to the middle of what my Dad calls "paradise". You suffer the winter for 7 months, occasionally with no power, to enjoy "paradise" for 4-5 months. A place like Hawaii offers this to you full time. Michigan makes you earn it.


There is no shortage of views in that area. Any follower of our Leland Report site knows that. I always go out to take photos when I'm up there and I never leave disappointed. It would be easy to write a long essay on that, but the Leland Report site does that better than I ever could. But there is a fascinating place that my Mom created on their hill, from practically nothing, that helped give me something different to point my camera at. And because of that I look at everywhere I go differently now.

Buds #4Buds #4

When you narrow your focus things take on a completely different feel. Light works in increasingly mysterious ways. Moving from a world where everything needs to be sharp to one where even the slightest movement alters your focus both literally and figuratively. 

What is not in focus has the same (or greater) importance as what is in focus.

What's more important, the flower in the back...


Or the flower in the front?

Dual #2Dual #2

Or do you not care?  

I do, I like the first one.

But that's because it's different. 

It goes against what you expect.

I entered it into a competition and the judge commented that they would rather see the front flower in focus.

I expected that. 

That's why I took two versions. 

And regardless, I entered the one I liked.

Buds 3Buds 3

The following  "Buds" image was an experiment in finding a stronger composition than the typical straight on petal shot. Nature is full of repeating patterns. Symmetry is easy to find and photograph. Sometimes other patterns and shapes present themselves. Sometimes the pattern is time, young vs old is the contrast.

Buds 2Buds 2

This past weekend my two children celebrated their 12th and 13th birthdays and around the same time two relatives passed in close succession, both humbled in their final years by "age related" illnesses. Although these were not sudden or unexpected events, they reminded me of the very nature of the garden and why we tend them, watch them grow, feed them, protect them from predators, enjoy their beauty for a short time, then watch them wither and return to the earth.

Spring RulesSpring RulesSpring, time to break the rules

Flowers die gracefully.

In fact, you anticipate their fate and do not grieve for them

because you know they'll be back next year.




Photos mostly tend to capture the beginning of the cycle (hope)

and the peak of the cycle (beauty),

but never the end.

Why not? 

Because in the case of flowers, the end isn't pretty, is it?




You remember them at their best.

If the garden was a metaphor for life, I guess that would be it.


White DaylilyWhite DaylilyWhite Daylilies in a neighbor's garden Rose Focus AbstractRose Focus Abstract

So when I talk about my Mom's garden, look at it in terms of your own.

It could also be your Dad's garden.

It could be anyone's garden.

Rose Petal AbstractRose Petal Abstract


The smallest garden is just as important as the largest...


Botanical Garden #3Botanical Garden #3


...when you get close enough.


Hover FlyHover FlyA hover fly joins a friend on a coneflower


Dedicated to my Aunts Judy Burnham and Therese Larson who did not know each other, but spent their lives cultivating their own gardens.

PollinatorPollinatorA bumblebee polinates a stand of goldenrod

All these photos are here in this gallery -> Gardens

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) Photo Photography aperture camera canon flower forest garden green life mother nikon orange red yellow https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/9/in-my-mothers-garden Wed, 02 Sep 2015 02:22:00 GMT
Focus Trek #4 - That's a Wrap! Part 2: Cape Cod https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/5/thats-a-wrap-p2 A story of the Big Apple and the filming of a movie on Cape Cod.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

-T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


The Experience Trip Part 2: Cape Cod   [Go to Part 1]

Part 1 of this story detailed what was, in essence, a four mile hike through Manhattan. The weather cooperated nicely as was evidenced by the multitudes that flocked to Central Park. It's hard to say enough about green space in a city, one of the only sources of free oxygen in an area usually blanketed by the fumes of commuters. Even though I am from Illinois, I have a fondness for Central Park and a personal connection to it's developers, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. These two also designed and developed my home town of Riverside, IL as "a village in a park".

Central ParkCentral ParkCrowds fill Central Park on a spring day in Manhattan

So, from the green space in the city, we move up the coast to the green space that is the coast of Massachusetts to Cape Cod, where the filming of "Year by the Sea" was well underway. If you are not aware of Joan Anderson's best selling memoirs, you can read about the whole project here http://www.yearbythesea.com/. By the time this article is public I believe the bulk of the filming will be completed, but the effect the cast and crew had on the area was obvious with an influx of activity and customers during a normally slow off-season period.

It's nice not to be on a schedule sometimes. We were not in any hurry to get to Wellfleet and arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday. There was no TV or internet in the house we were staying in, so we picked up some groceries (at the only place open on the Cape it seemed) and settled in for a quiet evening. After sleeping in late and finally having a charged phone, I got a message from Laura, the associate producer, that they were going to start filming at the Nauset Lighthouse on the Atlantic side very early. Sleep wins out though, and so we would have to meet up with them at their next location.

Around 8:30am we met the crew at the Nauset Lighthouse in Eastham right after they were finished shooting their first scenes. Compared to many lighthouses in this area, it is fairly modest and in extremely great shape despite being recently moved across the road from it's original location. Due to natural shoreline erosion, it was in danger of sliding off the cliff. This is a National Park, and they are doing a great job preserving part of our heritage. But there is still an ongoing threat of erosion.

"Cape Cod is gradually narrowing. It loses more land than it gains. In several thousand more years, it will no longer exist."
- http://www.nausetlight.org/NLerode.htm

Nauset LightNauset Light1/2000 @ f/4.8 52mm

The next scene was being filmed on a private beach in the area, so we headed off to watch. The path down to the beach included a small cliff that reminded me of the shores on Lake Michigan. In this case the rising and falling tides, and the occasional storm, create a natural wall that is constantly evolving. The whole area actually reminded us of Leland, except for the accents.  

While waiting for the actors to arrive, everyone was busy preparing the area. We watched the prop-master below walking what seemed like a quarter mile down the beach in the water collecting a bundle of seaweed that the actor would eventually use in the next scene.

PropmasterPropsThe prop master searches for seaweed to use in the upcoming scene This crew member backed up very carefully and used a sweeper on the sand in an attempt to make the sand appear untouched.
Sweeping sandSand sweepingA crew member sweeps the sand to remove evidence of footprints The day started out chilly, but I think it was rather temperate for the season. The sky was starting to open up and give us some sun.
On SetOn setWe wait for filming to being on the beach I think I need to apologize to this crew member. He was bringing down lighting equipment and had to negotiate a cliff. As he got close to the edge, the wind whipped up and caught the scrim he was carrying and the tripod leg went right through it. Zooming in on the photo I could see he was looking directly at me at the time. If I distracted you sir, I'm terribly sorry, that's not exactly the shot I was looking for.  I'm glad there was some tape on hand.

Tripod and ScrimTripod and ScrimCrew members negotiate the cliff down to the beach with the equipment When it all comes down to it, this is a complicated process, involving many people, with many jobs. They all work in a sort of organized mayhem, everything planned, but eventually slightly improvised to fit the conditions. One take gives them a canvas to work from. Each successive take changed slightly to account for things not anticipated until it's seen on the monitor. 

Quiet on the setQuiet on the setRehearsing for the next scene Some of the filming was done whenever the sun was filtered by passing clouds, or when my "son" was not wandering down the beach looking for rocks. There is nothing like being guests on a set and seeing one of the crew running toward your child in a desperate attempt to get him out of the shot. It's a proven fact that if you have to get someone's attention, they will always be upwind.

A note on the cloud below, it seemed to hover endlessly over the dune, probably a result of the ocean breeze being swept up into the cooler forest air, but despite the scientific explanation, they could not have had better weather for this shot.

DirectionDirectionXandy Janko discusses the current scene with Karen, Celia and the head cameraman A note on the photos in this article, I am not going to publish close up photos of Karen Allen or S. Epatha Merkerson (although I have some). You'll remember Karen from her role as Marion in the Indiana Jones movies and Epatha from Law and Order (as well as Reba the mail lady from Pee-Wee's Playhouse!). To be honest, even though we were feet away from each other many times, I did not meet either one personally. But I don't feel that is the object of this article. I do have to say that they looked like they were both having a lot of fun and were as laid back and unpretentious as I imagined them. I am a big Raiders of the Lost Ark fan, so watching Karen Allen work was a big thrill. I think their presence gave this independent movie a huge boost. Fortunately, I did get the opportunity to meet the author, Joan Anderson. She was in and out with her camera taking shots throughout the day.

Instead, you get shots like this of Director Xandy Janko and Producer Bill Latka discussing the current scene. Bill is another Michigan connection for this film, hailing from the Traverse City area. That day I wore my 49654 hat and he was wearing a Crystal Mountain hat. I think the kids call that "representin'", right? No? Oh, I'm sorry, I'm told I can't say things like that.

DiscussionDiscussionDirector Xandy Janko and Producer Bill Latka discuss the current scene

Here we were able to view what the camera was filming on a remote monitor. You can see the actors down the beach. The reflection in the monitor is not Xandy, but Ted who runs the nearby Wellfleet Motel. They were host to a good number of the cast and crew.  MonitorMonitorWatching the scene being filmed remotely


The kids kept themselves busy building a "stone throne".

Stone ThroneStone ThroneThe kids kept themselves busy during the down times The next scene was filmed on the Cape side near Wellfleet. I think the boat below is a crab or lobster boat. There were also a few groups of "clammers" walking around in the shallows. 

ShellfishShellfishI think might cover it I was told there was going to be a "car stunt". I think I might have misinterpreted it as "car jump". I was corrected and told it was more like "a car being driven down a bumpy road real fast". Whatever. I enjoyed watching take after take. Below is the First Assistant Director, Bruce Hall, standing (or sitting) in for Karen Allen in the passenger seat for a quick white-knuckle go-around. The stunt driver is Andria Blackman. The car is played by a squeaky silver Subaru.

Car StuntCar StuntBruce Hall takes a ride  

The Producer's dog helped keep at least one person interested in staying longer...

JF4_0480JF4_0480  The clouds started rolling in late in the afternoon. We left after that scene was shot but I understand they were still shooting until 6:30pm that night.

Cape SideCape SideA beautiful day We took a walk after getting back to the house. Down a back road we walked past a llama farm. These guys were funny. They just love to watch you walk by. There were only two or three outside, but after one saw us, she told the next Llama, and then she told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on and so on. Eventually, you have 30 llamas standing at the fence staring at you in statuesque silence as you walk by. Did anyone catch the Faberge shampoo nod there? No? I'm old.

Llama DramaLlama DramaCurious llamas watch us pass by

Around 8pm I got the notice that we were to report to our wedding scene filming location at 5:30am. That meant going to bed fairly early. We got there while it was still dark around 5:15am. Later, I caught Meredith in mid-yawn (below on the left). We were to bring our own clothes, with options in case what we were wearing wouldn't work. There was a small cadre of costume and make-up people milling around making sure everything matched. 

Hold RoomHolding RoomExtras and other cast members wait for scenes in the holding room One of the wardrobe designers was known as "Purple Pat". Here, she is pinning Meredith's shawl in place.

Purple PatPurple PatMeredith gets some wardrobe help from Purple Pat

Meredith also got a special hairdo from the stylist. Hair DoHair DoMeredith gets some help with her We met a lot of new people, Carol and Joanne here were personal friends of Joan Anderson and were about as thrilled to be part of the production as we were. As most of being an extra is waiting, it was great to have these people to talk to. The extras in the show were a mixture of professional actors and first-timers like us. 



And what do you do when you are waiting to be called for your scene? Most people just talked, our kids got creative. MoMa candidates for sure.

Boredom ArtBoredom Art 1 Boredom ArtBoredom Art 2 Boredom ArtBoredom Art 3

Of course, I know what to do when I'm bored.

RosesRosesVases of roses at Captain Linnel's We were finally called into the reception room and over the next couple hours we were positioned and directed and moved around during the scenes that they were filming. We were "background traffic", there to fake talk and mime drinking. We had fake champagne that was drinkable, but we were told not to or the prop master would put salt in it. We knew she was kidding. At least, I think she was kidding. Enough said. :) When this movie gets to the big screen, look for me in the background talking with DK (one of Xandy's friends from Princeton) at the bar at Joan's son's wedding reception. My wife will be crossing at some point with Daniel.

After that, there were some additional scenes that were being filmed that didn't need the extras. That meant more waiting in the "holding room". After the kids had been there for 12 hours, they decided to call it quits and Erin took them out to shop souvenirs. Not too soon after they left we did film the next scene, an outside reception line for the bride and groom. The last scene was going to be the dancing scene during the reception and I texted Erin to get back as soon as she could if she wanted to be in the scene dancing with me. Otherwise, Xandy said he was going to pick someone for me to dance with. Uh-oh.

Reception Line SceneReception Line SceneCamera crew set up for the reception line scene

Here is part of the preparations for the dancing scene. And in the end, Erin did not get my message in time and Xandy did pair me with someone in the movie to dance with. Who? Well, let's just say she "stands" out. But you'll have to go see the movie to find out who. No, it wasn't Karen Allen. Dancing Under the StarsDancing Under the StarsPreparations are made for the dancing scene

A parting shot of the white roses in the foyer of the restaurant where we filmed White RoseWhite Rose


At GuaposAt GuaposA great end to a great day


After Xandy filmed on final scene, we met him and some of the other producers, directors and crew at Guapo's Tortilla Shack for some "non craft service" food. The lead cameraman talked in great detail about how he applies his craft, which I found fascinating. Being one of several there not in the "business" It was incredible hearing all the details from veteran film makers.




All in all, I have to rank this experience up at the top so far.


I'm certainly not quitting my job to become an actor, however.


But it was great fun to pretend for a day.


What did we learn?


  • On a movie set, know where your kids are at all times, or they might end up SAG accidentally
  • Cape Cod may be 5 degrees south of Leland latitude-wise, but Leland is warmer.
  • The "Cape Cod" style of home is literally the majority of the homes in Cape Cod, it might actually be a law.
  • My brush with fame now includes Karen Allen, next to:
    • Watching a scene and meeting Ted Lange (Isaac the bartender) in his trailer on the set of the Love Boat
    • Spotting John Tesh and Connie Selleca driving up Mulholland Drive. Actually, I didn't actually see them, my wife and friend did, but that counts, right? 
    • Who could forget a "tipsy" Chris Penn down on the Santa Monica Promenade?
    • I met Tom Silva from This Old House, he signed my squishy novelty hammer
    • I did a scene at Improv Olympic in L.A. one night with Neil Flynn, the janitor from Scrubs


Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, anonymously if you prefer!

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) 911 aperture beach camera canon cape cod film hollywood instruction lens manhattan massachusetts movie new york nikon photography world trade center https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/5/thats-a-wrap-p2 Wed, 13 May 2015 06:34:06 GMT
Focus Trek #4 - That's a Wrap! Part 1: New York https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/5/thats-a-wrap A story of the Big Apple and the filming of a movie on Cape Cod.

"You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences."
- fastcoexist.com, The science of why you should spend your money on experiences and not things [1]


The Experience Trip Part 1: New York   [Part 2 is here]

To be honest, I don't have an official "bucket list", but if I do eventually create one, this will be added and checked off along with sailing to Bimini, visiting a shipwreck, standing at the edge of a cliff, seeing the 9/11 memorial and photographing the Manhattan skyline at sunrise from Brooklyn Bridge Park. To be honest, my BL is a work in progress and I add things as I go. That way, at the end of my life I can claim that I did everything on my list! 

These are all experience points, something my kids have yet to appreciate. I think as you get older you want to be able to tell people where you've been, what you've done and who you've met and how all this has affected you. I guess there's always the fear of seeming pretentious when talking about these kind of things, but as artists we are by nature narcissists with our occasional "Look what I've done" moments. I guess I'm not innocent in that respect. But I think this information can help, so I broadcast it. The quote at the top comes from an article I read recently on fastcoexist.com site that sums it up very nicely if you can get past the snorkeling girl in the bikini at the top... (read it here)

The only reason I, along with my wife and kids, were extras during filming was due to my friendship with the Director Alexander "Xandy" Janko. I've known him since I was a teen hanging around the beaches of Leland, MI. When he emailed me last year announcing a Kickstarter for his first movie "Year By the Sea", I knew I had to become involved in some way. After convincing my wife to donate to the effort, our reward was to be extras in a wedding scene. We decided to make this a family vacation as well and when I asked if the kids could watch the filming (if they were quiet), Xandy called me and graciously invited them to be extras as well. He is not only Director, but he also wrote the screenplay and composed the score. Read more about it here: http://www.yearbythesea.com/

The main focus of the trip was to be extras in the movie, but a number of things happened while on this trip that were well worth documenting. 

Eric Workum - Workum Photography We arrived late at JFK on Friday night and we made arrangements to meet up with Eric Workum, another Leland connection that I've known since I was able to walk. He is a fantastic photographer (you can see his fashion work at http://ericworkum.com) and I had to see him because the last time I was in NYC I only remembered he lived near there after we were already heading back to the airport. This time was different but unfortunately he had to take a flight out to Maine for a shoot the next morning, so we only saw him for an hour around midnight. Still, that's better than not at all.

My secondary reason for flying into NYC instead of Cape Cod (where the movie was being filmed) was to photograph the Manhattan skyline with the pilings at the south end of the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Most people wait until sunset when the afterglow gives a glowing backdrop to the buildings as they all light up at night (plus you are more likely to have clouds in the evening). I wanted just the opposite, as the sun was coming up over Brooklyn behind me and the rising sun reflected in the mirrored sides of South Street and FDR Drive. We secured a hotel room close to the bridge and I walked down at 5am (on pure adrenaline with only 3 hours of sleep) to Brooklyn Bridge Park for a 6am sunrise. I was not only the only photographer down there, I was the only person down there for over an hour.

(Roll over images to see technical details. All photos were taken with a Nikon D7100 with either a Sigma 18-250 Macro or a Nikkor 50mm 1.8.)

Sunrise on Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge ParkSunrise on Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge ParkThe sun rises over Brooklyn and reflects in the buildings that line South Street. 0.5 sec @f/16 18mm Manhattan Tug at DawnManhattan Tug at DawnA tug passes down the East River framed by the Manhattan skyline at dawn. 1/15sec @f/5.6 26mm

ManhattanSunrise ReflectionSunrise Reflects on 180 Maiden Lane Building. 1/4sec @ f/22 18mm


PhotoEphemeris.comPhotoephemeris.com You don't know how useful tools like http://www.photoephemeris.com/ are planning for shoots like this. It allowed me to visualize Manhattan knowing exactly where the sun was going to rise. If I wanted to go out there at sunset, I would know exactly where the sun (or moon) would set.

It's important to note there is new tall development going up directly behind the park. There is going to be a lot of $ being made from rents with this view in the future. Arguably, a lot of property values are also going to go down, notably on the other side. Progress? Sigh.

Around 7am the other photographers started to appear. But I got what I came for and more. On the way back you have to walk up Old Fulton St, which is a steep hill. I managed to make the climb with all my gear, but while I did, a fast-walker passed me on the way down, crossed the street, went up the hill, crossed the street, passed me again, crossed again and went up and disappeared. Glad I had my tripod to use as a cane. From there, I took Cranberry St back up to Camden Plaza and found some nice magnolias.

MagnoliasMagnolias on BrownstoneMagnolia blooms on Cranberry St in Brooklyn. 1/60sec @f/6.3 250mm (ISO800) Cranberry Street MagnoliaCranberry Street MagnoliaA magnolia blooms on Cranberry Street in Brooklyn. 1/45sec @ f/8 90mm magnoliaMagnolia ShadowMagnolias cast a shadow on Cranberry Street. 1/125sec @f8 90mm

After walking back to the hotel and waking everyone up, we took a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Of course, everyone was shooting their own copy of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge guide wires shot with their camera phones. I resisted the urge, opting for less dramatic abstract views like this one of the much ignored but still impressive Manhattan Bridge.

Manhattan BridgeManhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn BridgeA tower on the Manhattan Bridge is visible through the buildings from the Brooklyn Bridge walkway. 1/500sec @f8 75mm

We discovered the infamous "Love Locks" (by the way, NYC wants you well meaning Europeans to STOP adding these locks! They hang right above moving traffic and dropping one could cause a major accident). I'll take it further and say that one type of metal touching another type of metal might also cause some sort of reaction and might cause the spars to rust prematurely. Maybe a chemist out there can verify that.

Love LocksLove LocksLocks added by amorous tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge. 1/350sec @ f8 105mm

After crossing, we made our way down to the 9/11 Memorial, and on the way we were treated to the #10 Fire Engine from "Ten House" backing into station. Having gotten in the way accidentally gave me a great vantage point.

Liberty Street Ten TruckLiberty Street Ten TruckThe #10 Liberty Street Fire Station Truck backs into Ten House near ground zero, New York. 1/125 @ f11 18mm (ISO140) Ten TruckLiberty Street 10 TruckTen Truck fully backed into Ten House in Manhattan at Ground Zero. 1/30 @ f11 18mm

The memorial was impressive or course, however we both thought the inverted fountain and drain concept was strange and depressing. But, if you read the designer's plan, it makes a little more sense:

"Surrounding the pools on bronze parapets are the names. The enormity of this space and the multitude of names underscore the vast scope of the destruction. Standing there at the water's edge, looking at a pool of water that is flowing away into an abyss, a visitor to the site can sense that what is beyond this parapet edge is inaccessible." [2]

911 MemorialSeptember 11th Memorial Reflecting Pool1/125sec @ f/6.7 38mm

The unofficial cell-phone-camera to DSLR ratio here was 8-1 (4-1 if you count me)

CellographersCellographersVisitors jockey for position to take mostly cell phone photos. 1/125sec @ f6.7 38mm

The design of One World Trade center was a bit more obvious, especially if you stand at the base and look up. It appears that the building rises into infinity, I assume that to be a clear message that if you take us down, we will only build ourselves higher.

One World Trade CenterOne World Trade CenterOne World Trade Center rises to what seems like infinity. 1/250 @f/8 26mm

My kids had never ridden the subway before, so we took the Red Line up to Central Park and spend the afternoon playing on the rock outcroppings and people watching. Here, a group of students was gathered around the John Lennon "Imagine" mosaic. I can only assume there is a constant circle of singers at this location at any given time. I'd love to set a camera down and take a time-lapse for a day to test that theory. Here is the Texas All State Choir giving their all in John's honor.
Texas All State Choir

As a lark, I brought with me a 50mm Nikkor 1.8 prime lens that was originally used on the old Nikon FT3 that my Dad gave me, so it's easily over 30 years old. I have to say that this lens by far is the best I've used. It's small, light and has auto-focus. I believe I'll be selling the 85mm Rokinon I just purchased as an art lens. Here are some shots from the Dairy building flower garden in Central Park. I love the bokeh this lens generates.

TulipsTulips at the Dairy, Central Park1/8000sec @f1.8 50mm Looking UpLooking UpTulip in the garden at the Dairy in Central Park. 1/4000 @f/1.8 50mm

From there, we hopped on the subway at 59th Street to head south to see Blue Man Group at Astor Place. All this reminded me of Simon and Garfunkel's "59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)" 

Hello, lamppost, whatcha knowin'?
I've come to watch your flowers growin'
Ain'tcha got no rhymes for me?
Do-in do do, feelin' groovy


LamppostsLampposts at City Hall Park, Manhattan1/180sec @ f/6.7 75mm

 I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning-time drop all its petals on me
Life I love you, all is groovy


59th Street Station59th Street Station, Manhattan1/30sec @ f/4.8 62mm (ISO1100)

My wife and I saw Blue Man Group in Chicago many years ago PK (pre-kids) and thought it would be fun to show them. They were indifferent at first, but I know they really enjoyed the show. 

Blue Man GroupBlue Man Group1/250sec @ f/1.8 50mm Blue Man GroupBlue Man Group1/180 @f/1.8 50mm (ISO6400) Photo OpPhoto Op

One final mention must be made  about Junior's Restaurant in Brooklyn (386 Flatbush Ave). If you are staying in that area, I recommend them highly. We ate breakfast there two days in a row and it was great. The last day in New York, we drove up to Cape Cod. Our two days involved in the filming will be in the next post.

What did I learn?

  1. A well made lens can be used forever
  2. You CAN be alone to take a picture in New York
  3. Blue Man Group is just as good 13 years later
  4. I kind of enjoy taking abstract flower shots, who knew?

Now, go expose yourselves.

Go to Part 2 -->


[1] Excerpt from 

[2] Excerpt from http://www.911memorial.org/design-competition

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) 911 aperture beach camera canon cape cod film hollywood instruction lens massachusetts movie new york nikon photography world trade center https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/5/thats-a-wrap Sun, 03 May 2015 22:58:27 GMT
The Ruler and the Egg https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/3/ruler-and-egg The things we do when learning the craft

At the end of 2000, I took my very first official photography class at North Central College in Naperville, IL. The class was led by Kirk Kreutzig, a successful photojournalist who holds several patents on color correcting filters. You can read about him in this article which appeared in the Chicago Tribune the year before about his underwater lenses: 



It was a community college adult education class, so it wasn't very intense, but he was very instrumental in lifting the fog that surrounded exposure.

I had recently read the Ansel Adams book series on photography.  I didn't get much out of them as it was geared toward a different time on different equipment. All the information was there, but I think hearing it straight from Ansel Adams would have been helpful. But since he was dead almost 17 years, that wasn't going to happen. So, enter Mr. Kreutzig.

The Egg Experiment

So, what does the camera "see" when you point it at something? This is the first step in understanding exposure. This applies to spot metering and center-weighted metering for the most part. Most cameras now have some sort of evaluative metering which will take all levels of light into consideration when guessing the exposure. It's a better guess, but it's still a guess.

The camera evaluates everything you point it at as 12% grey. Yes, I know, you've always been told it's 18% grey, but see evidence to the contrary here.

The first experiment we did to illustrate this example was the egg test. Place and egg on a white surface with a white background with as little variation in shadows as possible. Everything needs to be white. Set the camera to use spot metering an meter off the whitest part. Use aperture mode wide open (lowest f-stop). Most important, do not change the suggested exposure the camera gives you. With your f-stop fixed, the shutter speed will be set to what the camera thinks is the correct length of time to let light fall on the sensor. Take a few exposures. If printing, instruct the printer NOT to adjust the exposure to compensate, because your local Walgreens or Walmart will color correct by default if you don't tell them not to. (I did this back in 2000 we were all still using film cameras. I know, only 15 years ago. Seems like forever.) If you do this test with a digital camera, make sure your camera is not set to auto-adjust ISO.

Shot #1, ISO 400, f4.8 at 62mm. Suggested exposure is 1/20sec using the camera's metering gauge

JF3_0977JF3_0977 IMG_20150319_203253656IMG_20150319_203253656

As you can see, without any adjustments, the whole scene is too dark. The histogram shows most of the values to the left side of center, which is a shadow area. If you take a photo of an "18%" grey card, you will see a similar histogram, except there will be a spike at one point since most of the values should be middle grey.

Simple exposure compensation corrects for this. But setting the camera to EV+1, we get closer. Suggested exposure is 1/8sec. (Which actually ends up being EV+1.5)

JF3_0978JF3_0978 IMG_20150319_203306480IMG_20150319_203306480

What we want is the right side of the histogram curve as close to the right side as possible without clipping the highlights. You will assume correctly that this works when taking a photo of a very dark subject. In that case, EV-1 or more will help keep the darks dark without overexposing the bright values. But we are still well off the highlight area of the histogram. We need to go further.

I then went to EV+2 to see what effect that would have. Suggested exposure is 1/4sec (1 additional stop)

JF3_0981JF3_0981 IMG_20150319_203316807IMG_20150319_203316807

Closer, but still not white! I actually had to go to EV+3. Suggested exposure 1/3, which is actually 1/2 stop more.

JF3_0980JF3_0980 IMG_20150319_203322309IMG_20150319_203322309

I think any more and it would have been too white. You never want to go too far with the compensation or else you start clipping highlights. Best to stay a bit back so you have room to adjust in either direction. This is an extreme example, however. Taking a photo of a snowy scene is different and probably would not require such a large EV compensation. Start with EV+1 or +2 and you will usually be safe. If your camera has a "snow or sand" setting, it will usually do this compensation for you.

So great, you now have a perfectly exposed photo of an egg at f4.8 (f1.4 or 2.8 if you have a fast lens). Let's assume ISO is 400 and shutter speed is 1/3sec. You now have the three elements needed to be creative. Also remember that "moving +/-1 stop" is the same as either cutting the light hitting the sensor in half (stopping down) or doubling the light hitting the sensor (opening up)

Using the exposure above at ISO400, f4.8, 1/3sec, we can easily compute all other combinations without doing any math. Let's say you want to get more sharpness front to back in your snow image. If you have elements in the background, f4.8 won't give you the background sharp, so you need to stop down (raise your f-stop) to narrow the aperture. If you look at the chart below, it's pretty simple. It's in 1/2-stop increments for simplicity.

fstop shutter  
f2.8 1/8s  
f3.3 1/6s  
f4 1/4s  
f4.8 1/3s <-Ideal exposure @ISO400
f5.6 1/2s  
f6.7 1/1.5s  
f8 1sec  
f9.5 1.5sec  
f11 2sec  

To sharpen the background (more Depth of Field or DOF), you could go to f11, and how ever many steps take you to f11, you slow down your shutter speed by the same number.  In this case, 5 steps on the aperture dial gets to f11. 5 steps slower on the shutter speed gets to 2sec. 2sec at f11 will give you the same exposure as 1/3sec at f4.8 (or 1/8sec at f2.8)  If you want f8, 3 steps on both.

If the ISO changes, it affects both the shutter speed and aperture. If you change the above exposure, which was at ISO400, to ISO200 (stopped down one stop) we've effectively "simulated" cutting the light hitting the sensor in half. I say "simulated" because you are not changing the amount of light hitting the sensor, you are simply changing how the sensor reacts to the light hitting it. ISO400 amplifies the light hitting it so you can use a smaller f-stop or faster shutter speed. By going to ISO200, we've cut down on the sensor's need to amplify the light, so we have to compensate by adding more of it.  To match the 1 stop change in ISO, we have to change the combination of aperture and shutter speed one stop down on either OR a combination of aperture AND shutter speed (1/2 stop down and less light on both).

1/2s at f4 
(open up both by 1/2)
fstop shutter  
f2.8 1/8s  
f3.3 1/6s  
f4 1/4s  
f4.8 1/3s <-original exposure
f5.6 1/2s  
f6.7 1/1.5s  
f8 1sec  
f9.5 1.5sec  
f11 2sec
1/3s at f3.3 
(open up aperture by 1)
fstop shutter  
f2.8 1/8s  
f3.3 1/6s  
f4 1/4s  
f4.8 1/3s <-original exposure
f5.6 1/2s  
f6.7 1/1.5s  
f8 1sec  
f9.5 1.5sec  
f11 2sec
1/1.5s at f4.8 
(open up speed by 1)
fstop shutter  
f2.8 1/8s  
f3.3 1/6s  
f4 1/4s  
f4.8 1/3s <-original exposure
f5.6 1/2s  
f6.7 1/1.5s  
f8 1sec  
f9.5 1.5sec  
f11 2sec

This is especially useful at night if you want to take moonlight landscapes. You can set your ISO to the highest it will go and take some test shots at different shutter speeds. Once you find the right shutter speed at the high ISO, you can back down the ISO and know exactly how much to increase the shutter speed to match that exposure at an ISO that will not produce as much noise.

The Ruler Experiment (Depth of Field)

The other experiment we did was using a ruler. We were to set up the ruler on edge with the camera set at one end pointing down the length of it. The camera ISO should be fixed and the f-stop should be at it's widest. The shutter can be set at what gets the correct exposure. The focal point, however should be at the very closest setting the lens can manage.

JF2_078618-250 Zoom @ 18mm1 sec @ f4 JF2_078618-200 Zoom @ 18mm(Enlargement) 1 sec @ f4

The lines on the ruler are a great example of the extremely tight depth of field the camera has in this configuration. The enlargement on the right shows relative sharpness of just one inch (12 to 13). But since the ruler is on an angle here, the actual DOF is actually a little less. This is why many close-up photos of flowers fail to bring all parts of the flower into focus. Many times the photo is being taken at very close range to fill the frame and at a wide aperture to let the most light in so the shutter speed can be set fast to stop any motion in the flower. In order to increase DOF, you have to stop down the aperture (smaller circle), but in doing so, you have to open up (slow) your shutter speed to let more light in. But you also have ISO to save the day. By increasing your ISO, you can keep your shutter speed where you want it, but at the cost of more noise in your photos. If you have a full-frame DSLR, you do not have as much of a problem however since the pixels are larger and can handle the amplification better.

JF2_079118-250 Zoom @ 18mm1 sec @f11 JF2_079118-250 Zoom @ 18mm(Enlargement) 1 sec @ f11

At f11, things get a little clearer. The photo on the right shows sharpness from 10 3/4" to 12 1/2" (1 3/4") with some unsharpness on either side of that, but the numbers to the back are still readable.

JF2_079518-250 Zoom @ 18mm1 sec @f22 JF2_079518-250 Zoom @ 18mm1 sec @f22

At f22, the depth of field increases dramatically, from before the 9 inch mark to the back. All numbers appear readable on the full size image.

When we extend the zoom out to the maximum of 250mm, things get funky. At f6.7, acceptable focus is roughly nil, although it appears like 12 1/4" - 12 3/8" is acceptable, which is less than 1/8". But, I can't even get any DOF calculators to give me anything more than 1mm! So, remember, at high telephoto settings and closest focus, we have an extremely narrow DOF.

JF2_079718-250 Zoom @ 250mm.7 sec @ f6.7

At f11, we improve slightly to 12 1/8" - 12 1/2", or 3/8" total apparent focus. The DOF calculator still shows less than 1mm! JF2_080018-250 Zoom @ 250mm1.5 sec @ f11

At f22, we've only improved to maybe 5/8" total apoparent focus. And with the DOF calculator, I did get close to .02". That's 2 HUNDRETHS of an inch!

JF2_080418-250 Zoom @ 250mm6sec @ f22

So try these experiments yourself. The pixels are free and it's a great way to get a feel for your meter and lens. Hopefully it will help you make good decisions when you want to photograph something that you want to be all sharp and in focus. Or maybe it will help you be creative and throw everything out of focus. Whatever you want to do, make sure you put the egg back in the refrigerator or someone might get a big surprise when they sit down.

What did we learn today?

  • Ansel Adams' concepts are still relevant and if you read his books you'll see he was a technical master
  • That last egg picture was actually pretty cool
  • I no longer surprise my family with some of this nonsense.

Now, go expose yourself.


P.S. If you liked this article, please comment or "Pin it" or "Like it" or do whatever you kids do with this stuff today

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) aperture camera canon dof exposure film focus how iso landscape nikon photography portrait shutter sigma sony to tokina https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2015/3/ruler-and-egg Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:04:35 GMT
Amazing example of inter-species cooperation - A Geese & Deer encounter https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/10/deer-geese The meetingDeer approach a Canadian goose on the banks of our lake

I was talking with friends this weekend and the topic turned towards animals, specifically deer.  The topic changed to bow-hunting but since I'm not a bow hunter, or even a hunter for that matter, I couldn't contribute much to the topic. However, it did remind me of something that I witnessed and photographed back in May of 2009.  As I recounted the experience to them, I (and they) realized that was I saw was extremely unique and I knew right then what my next blog was going to be about. 

As Phineas of "Phineas and Ferb" says: "Ferb, I know what we're going to do today!".

See the video version of this story here:  http://youtu.be/zGI8X_7aA_k

This was an amazing experience that not only I witnessed, but also my wife, kids, parents and in-laws. That was a day I am glad I had my camera ready, because I was able to capture the entirety of the event. The scene unfolded between two deer who found themselves somewhat stranded on one side of our lake and two Canadian geese. I say "somewhat" because our lake is really not that big and all they had to do was go around it. They probably would have done that eventually except that one of the geese that frequents that side came to their assistance. At this point, it wasn't developing into anything other than some deer wandering around.

Before I started to write this down, I did some rudimentary searches on inter-species communication. I came across one article where a deer adopted a widowed goose and guarded her and her eggs, even going as far as to take a defensive stance if anyone got too close, putting himself between the goose and the intruder.  You can see the story here from 2011:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RusOCWpGZM8

JFB_0067JFB_0067 Other than that, I read a few articles talking about human to animal communications. Some were interesting, some were a bit "out there" with people claiming they can read the telepathic messages that all animals send out. I get telepathic messages from my cat sometimes, when he's laying on my chest in the morning, his thoughts read along the lines of: "The heating vent is not on, so that is why I'm here." There are also many stories of how animals within their own species can communicate with each other, like within an elephant herd and wolf pack. 

JFB_0068JFB_0068 What I was looking for specifically were examples of communication between animals from different species.  For example, I found some Geckos begging for food from insects, birds luring badgers to beehives to sucker them into breaking into it so they didn't have to and also some dolphins that led some stranded whales to safety.  Read about those here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7294051.stm  


So IT DOES HAPPEN, BUT IT IS VERY RARE.  Or, it happens all the time and we either don't notice it or they do it purposely in secret.  It reminds me of the Gary Larson cartoon about the cows that are socializing and standing on two legs up until one of them shouts "CAR!" and they all go down on four legs until the car passes.  Then the next panel shows them all socializing again. In respect to Gary Larson, I won't post that cartoon here. He's kind of sensitive to that.  Odds are very good you've already seen it anyway.


The explanations for this are varied. Mostly people seem to believe that it is a telepathic type of communication that is occurring. I'm not sure, but to this day I really could not explain what I saw. I also never saw it happen again. In fact, in the story about the deer guarding the goose nest, there was a goose expert that claimed that this type of interaction was extremely rare and unique.


There was a period in this drama where we had no clue what the goose was trying to do.  We thought she was trying to run away at first, and they usually run straight to the lake if you chase them. However, upon noticing the deer stopping, the goose also stopped short of the lake and turned around. Above, you see her giving them a honk.


And a couple times, the deer would look around and you could imagine the one in back saying (or thinking, this is telepathic, right?), "What the heck are you thinking? There's people over there, lined up on their deck watching this whole thing! I hope none of them is filming this..." And the goose replies,

"C'mon, let's DO this already!"


And the back deer is saying, "Oh boy, Mom and Dad are gonna KILL us..."


It's obvious at this point that the goose's whole purpose is to lead the deer into the lake.  But why? The choices are: 

1) She is truly being benevolent and helping the deer get across the lake.  
2) Her sole purpose is to drown the deer out of spite.
3) There is another goose filming this from a secret location and this is all one big practical joke.

I don't know, Canadian Geese can be unpredictable. But I don't think they would gang up to trick me into walking off a cliff.  Or would they?


You can see by the turbulence in the water in the last three frames that the goose here is being REALLY INSISTENT.  So the deer capitulate and join her for a swim. JFB_0080JFB_0080

Above, you can see the goose flapping her wings and making more of a commotion.


At this point, there was just one goose participating in this journey with the deer.  What you don't see off-frame to the left is a second goose who is waiting for them patiently as you will see in the next frame.


Now the two geese discuss who's going to do what in a goose version of "Rock, Paper, Scissors".  JFB_0083JFB_0083

"You lead", "No, YOU lead!"  Eventually, one becomes leader and the other the "motivator".




As they deer got closer and closer to the shoreline, the goose in the back slowed down and backed off...



...as the first goose pressed on and then turned toward shore...


...and the deer found their footing on the muddy bottom.


...and the pair scamper up and onto the other shore.


I still geek out once in a while about what happened.  I wonder why I buried these photos for the last five years for some reason. I only had my 18-200mm telephoto lens, so these photos are pretty cropped, even with the zoom extended completely. But, if I had gone to grab my bigger glass, I would have missed this whole thing.  This lasted no more than 4 minutes.

I recently watched a video by Jared Polin, a photographer from Philadelphia, who made a very poignant statement.  I believe it was somewhere along the lines of: "Get the shot. Don't worry too much about your exposure settings if the moment is fleeting. Just get the shot. If you fiddle and chimp and second guess yourself, the moment and other moments are going to pass right by."  I hope I got the essence of what he said, I couldn't find the video where he said it, so forgive me, Jared. I don't know how many people agree with that, but it never hurts to have the camera nearby and set to auto.

Does anyone have a theory about this event?  Feel free to comment below, I'd be interested to hear it.

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) Photo Photography animal aperture bloomington bow hunting camera canada canadian canon communication deer geese hunting illinois instruction interspecies lens mammals nikon peoria protection safety tremont https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/10/deer-geese Thu, 23 Oct 2014 05:05:25 GMT
The Moon Composite Photo https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/9/the-moon-composite-photo OR

The Velvet Elvis Painting of Photo Manipulation


I love the moon. On special events, like lunar eclipses, I like to take photos throughout the phases (if I can stay up). So far, I've made it halfway. I figure the other half is probably a lot like the first half, only backward.

The moon is also easy to shoot. The rules are very similar to the "Sunny 16" rule of daylight photography which says that you can set your camera at f16 and the shutter to the reciprocal of the ISO setting and get a decent exposure. If you are at ISO 100, you can set your shutter to 1/100 or 1/125 and know you'll be pretty close to a good exposure. If you want to use f8 (letting a full stop more light in), compensate by making your shutter speed faster by a full stop to 1/250 (letting one stop less light in).

Moon shots use a similar principal, except starting at f11. The "Looney 11" rule.  But if you want detail, you need a good long lens, at least the equivalent of 400mm and up or use a telescope with a camera mount.  At 300dpi, a 200mm moon shot is about 550 pixels wide, whereas a 500mm moon is about 1200 pixels.

Since the same side of the moon is always facing the earth, there are only so may different shots of a full moon you can take.  Either it's full or not, in eclipse, rising or setting. But, it's still a moon. Try to include a perfectly exposed moon in a photo and you are sure to have a black landscape. Give the landscape enough exposure and your moon is washed out. There is only a small period of time where the moon is rising and the sun is setting (or vice-versa) where you can include a well-exposed landscape with a well exposed moon. And that evening/morning has to be clear enough to have both visible.

Here's one I tried with the moon setting in the morning in Chicago.

Moonset 5:19amMoonset 5:19amTaken from the Lake Shore Drive bridge near Navy Pier. One frame shot looking west at sunrise.

I chased this setting moon one morning North up Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The sun was rising behind me illuminating the buildings. I don't know the exact exposure because this was in the days of slide film and the Chicago Police were watching my every move. I was probably at the widest I could be at 200mm, probably f5.6 or 6.3. The shutter speed was probably around 1/250. I exposed for the moon, but I didn't have much time. Parking on the bridge got me noticed. The Chicago Police car I missed pulling up sat silently waiting for me to move on. I nodded a thank you and moved on. This was before 9/11, so it's not likely I could repeat this again any time soon.

So this was a legitimate shot. I didn't have to paste this moon into this image. On another occasion (below), I did have to paste the moon into the shot, but it was actually the same scene exposed for the moon, but in that case the sun had already set and there was only twilight lighting up the barn. I had to use a longer exposure and washed out the moon. I took a second exposure for the moon and pasted that into the first shot. That's what I saw, so I think it's acceptable. Usually, I draw the line there. If a moon isn't part of a scene, I won't add it. But this is what I saw. The camera does not have the dynamic range of the eye, so you need to be able to handle it in post production.

20010701_1320010701_13James Burnham Moon here was pulled from another shot from the same series

I've seen some really baffling images of moons inserted in other shots where there is not indication by the author that the image is a composite. Are they assuming everyone knows and can judge it accordingly? Comments are baffling as well with things like "Beautiful shot!" and "Amazing composition". The photo in question had streaks of car headlights and taillights, which indicates a long exposure. But the moon was perfectly exposed. An obvious composite, but the author didn't indicate that it was. The photo was put under "Nature" on 500px, so everyone assumes it was a single shot, not thinking of the contradiction in exposures. I questioned him, hoping he would at least add something to the description about it being a composition, but there was no response. Still, the praise earned the "photo" one of the highest scores on the site.

There was another photo where the moon was so insanely large that it only belonged on a bad sci-fi book cover. Also a high scorer. That says something about the audience on 500px, I guess. I probably should start slapping one of my many moon images on other photos that I've taken that were somewhat boring without it.

Here is what I started out with. I cropped out a circle as close as I could and pasted it in.  Set the blending to "Lighten" and lowered the opacity.  You can see the process I used at http://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/how-to-add-the-moon-to-a-photo-in-photoshop/



I picked this one to start with...

DSCN0133DSCN0133File name :DSCN0133.JPG
File size :1.0MB(1057695Bytes)
Shoot date :0000/00/00 00:00:00
Picture size :2048 x 1536
Resolution :72 x 72 dpi
Number of bits :8bit/channel
Protection attribute :Off
Hide Attribute :Off
Camera ID :N/A
Model name :E995
Quality mode :FINE
Metering mode :Multi-pattern
Exposure mode :Programmed auto
Flash :No
Focal length :8.2 mm
Shutter speed :1/362.3second
Aperture :F6.7
Exposure compensation:0 EV
Fixed white balance :Auto
Lens :Built-in
Flash sync mode :N/A
Exposure difference :N/A
Flexible program :N/A
Sensitivity :Auto
Sharpening :Auto
Curve mode :N/A
Color mode :COLOR
Tone compensation :AUTO
Latitude(GPS) :N/A
Longitude(GPS) :N/A
Altitude(GPS) :N/A

Ok, not bad.  I had forgotten about this one.  I took this in Joshua Tree many years ago.  I didn't pick it as a standout.  I like the textures and the overall shapes, but something wasn't doing it for me.

But add the moon, instant classic!  And the best thing about it, you can put it anywhere you like!  Space and time are simply playthings in my hands!

DSCN0133-EditDSCN0133-EditFile name :DSCN0133.JPG
File size :1.0MB(1057695Bytes)
Shoot date :0000/00/00 00:00:00
Picture size :2048 x 1536
Resolution :72 x 72 dpi
Number of bits :8bit/channel
Protection attribute :Off
Hide Attribute :Off
Camera ID :N/A
Model name :E995
Quality mode :FINE
Metering mode :Multi-pattern
Exposure mode :Programmed auto
Flash :No
Focal length :8.2 mm
Shutter speed :1/362.3second
Aperture :F6.7
Exposure compensation:0 EV
Fixed white balance :Auto
Lens :Built-in
Flash sync mode :N/A
Exposure difference :N/A
Flexible program :N/A
Sensitivity :Auto
Sharpening :Auto
Curve mode :N/A
Color mode :COLOR
Tone compensation :AUTO
Latitude(GPS) :N/A
Longitude(GPS) :N/A
Altitude(GPS) :N/A

Or how about this one?

jb_LS001_10058jb_LS001_10058James Burnham

This one actually did have the moon in it, albeit not full. But this was wide angle, so the moon is always a point of light, regardless of if it's full or not.

Why not make it BIGGER?

jb_LS001_10058-Editjb_LS001_10058-EditJames Burnham

And MOVE it somewhere more convenient. But I couldn't bend the physical world THAT much. I mean, the moon would never be full so close to sunset in the West sky, right? I had to make it believable, so I made the moon a waxing crescent like it was at the time, only 100 times larger than it actually is. Because, Photoshop!

Here's another one


Actually, I don't know why I want to screw with this one. I like the little ship (which isn't so little) against the negative space of the sky. This was taken on Lake Michigan during the tall ships festival.  You know what would make this perfect?

You guessed it



Ok, I guess perfect is relative. Now my senses are starting to hurt. I can't look at this and say, "Golly, what luck! I was out on the lake at just the right time to see the harvest moon rise just as a tall ship was passing by and so I pulled out my telephoto and snapped this gem... oh God, just kill me."

Now that I've completely sold my soul.  Why not one more to finish off?


When worlds collide

This is all kinds of wrong, I won't even try to justify it.

So, the moon is the moon is the moon.  And if the moon isn't already in your shot, it's your decision if you want to slap it on or not.  Just don't pass it off as a pre-planned single frame grab.  Be honest and call it a composite.  Better yet, go out at the full moon rise or set and use the setting/rising sun to light your scene.  You'll get some fresh air and see something many people usually miss.

What did we learn here?

  • Whether the moon is a blue moon, super moon, harvest moon, snow moon or beaver moon (yes, there is a beaver moon), it's all the same thing.
  • You can improve your dull boring shots by adding a moon to them, the same way you can improve you pets by putting them on a skateboard.
  • No one will ever look at the dark side of the moon, except for Pink Floyd, of course
  • Chicago police are even more intimidating when they just sit in their car and don't do or say anything to you

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment.

-Jim Burnham

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) aperture astrophotography burnham canon lens moon nikon photo photography sky https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/9/the-moon-composite-photo Sun, 21 Sep 2014 22:32:10 GMT
Behind the Shot #1 -Vegas Strip https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/6/behind-the-shot-1-Vegas-Strip I always enjoy reading about other photographer's stories regarding some of the shots they captured.  I always wonder what was going through their mind at the time, what their setup was, how they planned it and what their motivations were.  The equipment used is important too, I guess.  But I use a Nikon camera system and if I see a great shot taken by a Canon or Sony I don't abandon Nikon. 

If I pay attention to anything, it's in this order

  1. Pre-conception
  2. Exposure considerations
  3. Actual Exposure settings
  4. Lens
  5. Post-exposure processing

Exposure for me is more important than the lens because you can be using a $10k lens and still take crappy photos.  A great exposure on a crappy lens is still better than a crappy exposure with a great lens.  For an example of this, there is a great video by Kai Wong comparing a consumer level camera with an expensive lens to a pro level camera with a consumer lens --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk5IMmEDWH4.  Cut your teeth on the cheap equipment first and if you like what you are doing, move up to the good stuff.  But improve the lens quality first, then make a jump to a new camera, not the other way around.

Here is one shot that I can say lived up to the preconception I had.  But I almost didn't get a chance to take this.  I had a very small window in which to get it right and not much chance to go back and try it again.  I didn't go to Vegas to take this shot, but the shot was waiting there for me to take it.

Vegas StripVegas StripNighttime on the Vegas strip from above the Bellagio.

Full disclosure:  This is actually a composite of two shots taken roughly 10 minutes apart.  The fireworks started after the last fountain show of the night and were actually off camera to the left.  The fountain in the shot was the finale. 

I'd like to say this born of a proven strategy of planning, knowledge of events, city, landscape and a long camp-out evaluating the scene. 

I really, really would like to say that. 

But it's not true. 

This was simply luck and being able to get to the right place at the right time and having enough time to experiment on a digital camera before attempting this.  Back when I was shooting film, I would have probably tried this, but not come close to this result, only because I could not scan the resulting film and retain the detail that I got here.  But even shooting with a really good digital "pro-sumer" camera and decent lens, I made some rookie mistakes here which I'll point out as I go.


Camera:  Nikon D200

Lens: 18-200mm Nikkor lens (this is the kit lens that came with the system)

Tripod: Manfrotto (I don't even remember what model it is, but I've had it forever and it's HEAVY, especially with a Manfrotto pistol grip attached.)

Remote shutter release (connected to the D200 remote port)

The Conception

My wife and I were attending a wedding, which was at the Paris Casino (the Eifell Tower in the shot).  We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel across the street.  We were up around the 40th floor and had an awesome view of the strip and the Bellagio fountains, which were next door.  When I saw that view, I thought "Hey, this must look cool at night!".  But were going to be there for two nights only.  The first night I scoped out the events.  After that, I decided to take this picture the second night, during one of the fountain shows.  I didn't exactly know where I was going to be at the time, but I knew I would have to have enough time to get back to the room before the fountain shows ended.

Exposure Setup

Before I go into how I exposed this, I have to tell you what I had to do to get back to my room in time for the photo.  After the wedding at the Paris Casino, we all went up to a suite near the top of the casino's hotel.  I was taking photos all night and noticed at one point that my battery was starting to run low.  I didn't have a spare at the time (this prompted me to get one), so I stopped taking pictures.  I knew at the time that the photo I took was going to be the couple's gift, so I had to get it right, but I also had to disappear without them questioning it.  I was told there was going to be a fireworks show at Caesar's Palace at 9:15, so I had to get to the room before 8:45pm.  I was going to catch the 8:45 fountain show and have time to get the fireworks.  At 8:30pm, I silently walked out only telling my wife and another friend who was in the know.  15 minutes should be enough time to cross the street, right?

If you haven't been to Vegas in a long time, you'll notice that you no longer are allowed to cross the street by actually walking on the street.  There are now walkways arching over the intersections like a Japanese garden pond.  Vegas walkwaysYou can't cross the street at street level. You are safely suspended over traffic as it whizzes dreamily below you I was able to manage these pathways earlier in the day, but after a few beers, and in a hurry, I ended up crossing the walkway over the street and then took a really long walkway straight into the Bellagio, when I actually meant to go next door to the Cosmo.  The distance between the room (which was on the opposite side of the large building behind the Eifell Tower) and my hotel room was deceptively far.  In my state, it seemed extra close.  I seem to remember doing the same thing in New Orleans walking from a hotel to a bar and thinking it was close, but I ended up walking two miles, in the driving rain, in what ended up being the beginning of Hurricane Georges in 1998.  But I digress, long story short, it took me 25 minutes to cross the street in Vegas.  I got to the room a few minutes before 9pm. One show before the fireworks.  And not much battery left.

Since I was shooting through a window, I had to make the inside of the room pitch black.  But there are always some annoying reflections, so I closed the drapes as much as I could.  I knew when I started that I would need a long exposure to capture the lights.  But I would also need to judge that against what happened with the fountain.  I chose F22 as the aperture so to make sure everything was sharp from the fountain to the farthest building. I figured later this was my first mistake as F11-F16 would have done just fine and allowed me to take a stop or two off the ISO, which was pretty high 1600.  10 seconds at F22 was pretty good to get the building lights exposed properly.  After that, I took some test shots with the fountains going and decided 8 seconds was going to be my target.  That would also get me some light streaks from all the cars moving below.  Not knowing what the fountains were going to do, I kept the shutter open for eight seconds at a time, crossing my fingers that the battery would hold out.

There was rarely an eight second interval where all the fountains were lit up.  I would chimp the screen (look at the exposure right after taking it) to see what it looked like and never was impressed with the fountain.  In real time, the fountain was great, but as a long exposure, I was only getting part of it at any given time.  I'd caught the end of the previous show when I got to the room, so I knew at least I had a shot at the end when all the fountains would fire.  My last exposure of the finale ended up being my best one.  The fireworks started after the fountains ended.  I had to take those separately.  At 9:23pm, my battery died.  I managed to take only 17 photos.

I managed to get back to the party where I was greeted with "Where the hell did you go?".  Well, I'm glad I was missed at least.

Post Processing

Here is the photo I started with out of camera with no alterations or color correction.  Because I was at a relatively wide setting (22mm), you can see the vertical window frame on the right.  I couldn't avoid it at that setting, but the parallax effect would need to be fixed anyway (you can see the right side of building on the far right is far from parallel, but the buildings on the left are vertical).


Fortunately, I didn't have to do too much more than some distortion correction to straighten out the buildings and a little cropping on the final shot.  Also, there were some reflections from the drapes that I had to remove in Photoshop.

Here is a simple rotation counter clockwise which evened out the parallax between the left and right sides...



Here it is after using the vertical parallax adjustment in Lightroom (+15)  Note the whitespace added because of the distortion.  But the building lines are now vertical on both sides...



After that, it was simply a matter of cropping out the whitespace.

I also picked one of the firework shots that I took before the battery died and superimposed it on the sky.  Although they were going off to the left of the fountains and after the show was over, I wanted to include them for the wedding present because they wanted to see them and couldn't because of where their suite was.  The problem for me was one of the Caesar buildings was in the way for most of the shots.  The best one I got is below.  This was at the same settings as the strip shot, but at 6 seconds instead of 8.


I had to cut just the fireworks out of this shot and creatively place them on the shot of the strip without the Caesar dome and the Trump sign showing.  Placing it to the left against the new Palazzo building gives it a bit of legitimacy.  Creating a layer with just the fireworks in it and setting it to "Difference" layer effect cancels out all the blacks and leaves the colors intact.

Vegas StripVegas StripThis is a composite shot of the Vegas strip. The fireworks were actually going off immediately the left of this shot, and I took a separate image of them and added them to this one.


Lessons Learned

What did I learn during this experience?

  1. Always have a spare battery that is charged
  2. The best way to pack a 5 pound tripod is to use a army duffel bag and pack all your clothes around it.  Clothes=earth friendly packing material.
  3. There are three elements to an exposure, Aperture, shutter speed, AND ISO.  Question your settings, but not so much you miss the shot.  Do you REALLY need to be at F22?  Do you really need to be at ISO1600?  (That's a rhetorical question, btw)
  4. I used to think F22 was the best option for sharp images.  That's a myth (at least outside macro photography).  This is a very good explanation about aperture and the effects of diffraction.  http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/technical/diffraction.html
  5. If you drink and photograph, don't drive.  If you are in Vegas, remember how to get back to your hotel room.
  6. Public intoxication is legally protected in the state of Nevada.  Who knew?
[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) Ballys Bellagio Burnham Casino Flamingo Palazzo Paris Photo Photography Vegas aperture camera casino instruction lens https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/6/behind-the-shot-1-Vegas-Strip Sun, 29 Jun 2014 17:28:32 GMT
Focus Trek #3 - If You Freeze It, They Will Come-Part 2 https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/3/if-you-freeze-it-they-will-come-part-2 A photo pilgrimage to the Ice Caves of Northern Wisconsin.  Part 2 of 2  (back to Part 1)

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
― Carl Reiner


I thought it fitting to start part two off with the last photo from part 1.  It shows the sheer number of people who were still there in the late afternoon (which in Winter and in that latitude is shortly after lunch).  It also shows how the conditions deteriorated by this time, so any ambient light was all but gone and anything would have been obscured by the heavy snow.  I decided it was time to follow the hoards back to the parking lot.


[See the full photo portfolio here:  http://www.artistasylum.com/icecaves]

Natural BridgeNatural BridgeNatural sandstone bridge in Winter at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore


When I decided to make my way back I had walked all the way past the natural bridge.  I turned around and looked back and could no longer see where the entrance to the parking lot was.  After about two miles, I took the photo above.  The entrance is around his left shoulder (his, not yours).  I pressed on, legs aching from walking over four miles of snowpack with heavy boots and cleats.








My Camera Hat



I did manage to take a picture of my "camera hat".  I found it on my phone.  I already lost one camera to water, I wasn't going to lose another.








The parking was what I expected.  Having gotten there at sunrise, I was able to park in the main lot, so it was an easy drive out.  Anyone who got there after 9am had to park down on either side of a 1/2 mile entrance road.  If they couldn't do that, they had to park on the main road. 

Day 2

Rule 1, if you go anywhere cool, get there before sunrise.  If I had known how clear it was, I would have gone out at 4am and taken some long exposure moonlight shots, but sleep won that battle and I still had to drive 9 hours back.  Getting there early has many advantages.  I was able to park right at the entrance to the beach and I had time to double back after I realized I left one of my filters behind.  When I got down to the shore, I saw there were a few photographers lined up down the ice pack shooting toward the moon, which was a few days past full.  I think the better shot would have been the opposite direction, with the moon lighting up the sandstone.  Maybe another time.  When everyone else packed it up and moved on because the moon shots were going away, I got this one.  Right after this, the shoreline was completely engulfed by the fog.  But the sun eventually started to clear it away.  You can see it in a thin layer which was suspended about four feet above the ice.  Very cool to watch it move in slowly...


Sunrise at the Ice CavesSunrise at the Ice CavesSunrise along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore


...then the sun broke over the ridge...


Morning LightMorning LightThe sun breaks the ridgeline along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore


Walking the DogsWalking the DogsHikers move toward the ice caves along a foggy morning at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore


While walking up the shoreline I talked with a couple walking their dogs.  I would pass them, then see a photo and stop.  Then they would pass me.  We continued that waltz up the shore.  To this couple: If you remembered the website and see this photo, I'll send you a print.  I didn't ask their names, but I probably should have.  I didn't have anything to write with and I'm terrible at remembering names anyway.  I need some business cards. 





Sandstone SlotSandstone Slot


One cave that was inundated with people and kids the day before was actually empty this time.  It was not so much a cave, but a slot that goes back about 100 feet and ends in a very cramped point, but the sandstone walls go straight up 100 feet on either side.


Cave WallCave WallIce formations in a slot along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore

The ice on the right looks pretty big in the photo below, but that's a trick of the 10-17mm lens at 10mm (The D7100 has a 1.5x crop factor so it's actually 15mm).  Point is, I was lined up pretty close to that wall when I took the shot, which makes everything close look bigger and everything farther away look very far.















After that, I moved only about 100 yards farther up the shore.  I planted myself at the edge of the general pathway in the vicinity of what I called the church organ.  It was one of the more impressive walls of ice.  On the right was the towering columns of icicles that looked like pipes on a pipe organ.  Then there was the big blue wall (the organ) that everyone stopped to pose in front of.  There was also another, smaller, blue wall on the left side, inset into the cliff, but he wasn't as popular (a confessional?).  It was then I made the impassioned plea home to stay just a little longer because the weather was perfect.


So this is where I made my stand for the next seven hours.  Compared to the day before, I probably could have gotten a number of better shots had I moved up the shore again.  But I had a preconception of this wall, in full sun, with blue sky behind it and bright white birch.  I could have moved on and then come back when the sun was on the wall.  But I didn't.  I waited.  And I started a time lapse.  Had I just previsualized the time-lapse, I would have changed my mind.  Watch the shadows of the trees move on the ground.  You will see what I mean.  Ignore the pretty clouds, that was a bonus.

What the eye does not see in real time is that the shadows are not moving toward the cliff AT ALL.  They are moving parallel to it.  I was hoping for just enough sun to illuminate the whole cliff side, but the sun is still too far south.  It never was going to happen.  But while I waited, I kept shooting.


This is as close as I got to my pre-visualization

Ice CavesIce CavesBeautiful day along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore in Winter



I like this one, but only because it was so hard to get him by himself in the shot.  But he unknowingly posed there for as long as it took for everyone to walk out of the frame.  When someone walked out, another would walk in from the other side.  Thanks for waiting, cross country ski guy!  If you whisper "don't move" enough I think they hear you subconsciously.  And he moved away as if knowing I got the shot I was looking for.  BTW, this has the less popular blue ice wall.  I didn't want it to feel left out.






Here is the bigger blue ice wall

Ice Wall PhotoIce Wall PhotoA photographer stops to shoot a blue ice formation along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


I liked this one too, it reminds me of an lone explorer in the frozen wasteland of the old days.  A kind of Baroque composition with the diagonals.  This is probably more leading lines though with the cliff outline pointing to the hiker.















My lone battery was beginning to run out (damn you, Snow Miser, for delaying my battery shipment from B&H), so I started to make my way back to the parking lot.  But, I had one final adventure to wrap up the trip.  I started to walk with an older gentleman who was pulling his wife on a toboggan.  She had bad legs and he was taking her out on her first trip to the ice caves.  I probably shouldn't have been distracting him because he kept running over rocks of ice and occasionally we would hear a groan from the passenger.  After that, I kept an eye out for him and we were able to scoot around the obstacles.

We eventually came to the spot with the eagles nest and I pointed it out to him.  He invited his wife to stand up and we all took in the view.  I talked with them for a bit about how I saw the occupant the day before.  Another guy stopped and told me about the time a small bear hibernated in an eagle's nest once.  Then I saw someone moving up on the top of the hill.

Eagles NestEagles NestA Bald Eagle's nest along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore

After that, three kids slid down the side of the hill (that's the brown streak down the middle).  The eagle's nest is up and to the right.  Hoping to get a closer vantage point to photograph the nest, I asked the kids how they got up what looked like a sheer cliff.  They led me up to the top via a stairway they had fashioned on the left side.  So, not wanting to look like an old guy wanting to look young, (and failing) I climbed up with all my camera gear.  They ran up effortlessly.  I lumbered.  And I think they came up again after that, and they helped me bring my gear up to the top.












Bald Eagle NestBald Eagle NestA Bald Eagle's nest along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore



Thanks, kid!  I got my shot!

When I was done, I followed them down to the bottom...

the fun way.


What did we learn today?

-You can't beat the show stairs kids can make on a steep hill
-Even Ansel Adams didn't pre-visualize perfectly every time.
-Yes, the ice WAS that shade of blue.  Meggen Watt Petersen, back me up.
-Subconscious mind control only works if you say please
-Sometimes if you stay put, you are moved by the people who move around you


See the full photo portfolio here:  http://www.artistasylum.com/icecaves

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) aperture apostle camera canon caves ice instruction islands lens nikon Photo Photography Street wisconsin https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/3/if-you-freeze-it-they-will-come-part-2 Sat, 08 Mar 2014 20:38:45 GMT
Focus Trek #3 - If You Freeze It, They Will Come https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/3/if-you-freeze-it-they-will-come A photo pilgrimage to the Ice Caves of Northern Wisconsin.  Part 1   (Part 2 >)

“A million miles from nowhere, is better than going nowhere, a million times.” 
― Anthony Liccione


 And then what happens when a million other people show up? 

TouristsTouristsRecord number of people out to see the ice caves  


 And when it gets airplay on the radio and posted on every news website on earth, they will come. 

I made the decision to drive 540 miles north to the Apostle Island National Lakeshore after seeing some of the photos being posted online.  I was wrapping up one last week at my regular job and built in some time off before starting another.  I saw it as an opportunity to start finding interesting places to photograph and although it looked like 100,000 other people might have had the same exact idea, I scheduled it on a Monday and Tuesday so to minimize the weekend crowds I was reading about.

[See the full photo portfolio here:  http://www.artistasylum.com/icecaves]

So I floated the idea to my wife, saying that I'd like to do something cool before I started my new job and the ice caves would be a great place to go photograph.  And the response was, "I would love to go see that".  "But," I said, and continued with a long list of why the family would want to avoid doing this:

  • We would have to go on a weekend and I want to avoid the sheer number of people that are going to inundate the area on Saturday and Sunday.
  • It's kind of hard to get good shots when there are 100+ people constantly in the frame.  
  • We would have the kids with us and you know they would hate it, because a kids job is to hate things that you like (except for sugary cereal, in which case they are always on board). 
  • We have been through enough Winter in central Illinois, why would they want to go 500 miles NORTH? 
  • The drive is 9 hours long, and I'm NOT stopping.
  • If you do go on a Monday and Tuesday, the kids have to miss school.

So the list of reasons why I wanted to go alone was growing and although my wife did want to go, she eventually gave her blessing.  Under tourist circumstances, I would have been all for the family going.  Maybe next time, in the Summer, when it's not 15 degrees and snowing.

Roots #3Roots #3Tree roots take hold in the cracks of the sandstone cliffs at the Ice Caves at Apostle Island National Lakeshore. Just to be clear, when I am out photographing I am not sightseeing.  That may sound contradictory, but I'm not visiting an art gallery.  I don't have a set agenda.  I have a starting point, but there is no middle point to eat lunch (I only brought a thermos of hot chocolate for the whole day) or any stopping point where I have to pack it up.  I may stop and wait in one place for hours at a time.  I crawl and sit and watch and wait and move one way then another.  Then I walk fast.  Then I move painfully slow.  The point I'm trying to make here is that I am not fun to be around when I'm taking pictures, unless you are trying to learn how I take pictures, then you can at least pretend to like it.  The same thing happens when I'm driving with my camera.  I'll pass a scene, turn around, pass it again, decide if it's worthy, then turn around again and look for a place to park.  If I don't, then I turn around again and look on the other side.  One can get dizzy.

Tree on SandstoneTree on SandstoneTree roots take hold in the cracks of the sandstone cliffs at the Ice Caves at Apostle Island National Lakeshore. I left home (Tremont, IL) on Sunday afternoon.  The drive up was uneventful, even peaceful, until I got to the dreaded roundabouts of Northern Wisconsin, of course.  I'm not sure what crazed British soul got the freeway planning job in Wisconsin, but if they were terribly popular, there wouldn't be websites dedicated to hating them.  I don't see any "I hate intersections" websites.  Just sayin'.  Don't get me started on the "jug handles" in New Jersey.

 I arrived in Ashland, about 25 minutes South of the caves, around midnight.  I got there right before a Winter Weather Alert.  5-10" of snow was expected on Monday.  Great.  That means cloudy with a chance of snowballs in that area.  I was hoping to get there way before sunrise to take some moonlight shots.  Now that idea was scuttled, so I slept in and got out there right after sunrise.  The parking lot already had 20 cars in it and the DNR guy was there handing out parking envelopes, not a good sign.  Also, all the songs on the radio on the way up were about some aspect of dying, which was unnerving, seeing as I was walking out on the same lake that Gordon Lightfoot lamented about, except in frozen form.

From a quote on a random blog on the internet for example: "We get there early in the morning just before the 2,000 other people arrived".  Turns out that estimate was low.  I didn't realize how many people took President's Day off.  After reviewing my shots, I must have made an unconscious effort to take photos that did NOT have many people in them. 

The snow started almost immediately, but I managed to get some interesting large icicle shots like the one above.  With heavy overcast skies and flurries, it was hard to get any decent landscape shots.  So I stuck close and looked for interesting patterns and people.  On the way, someone close by spotted a bald eagle's nest, with the occupant perched right above it.  This was the only time I saw him the whole trip and although my long lens (A Sigma 150-500 telezoom) couldn't handle the shot under the lighting, I felt lucky to have seen him at all.  I flubbed on the shutter speed though.  I set my camera at ISO100 and had I set my ISO higher, I could have gotten a sharper image.  As is, I was at 500mm, f6.3 @1/50 sec.  Tsk-Tsk, I should have been at least at 1/250 on this with a tripod.  ISO400 or 800 would have been a good start.  The lens is great in good light, though.  See my Performance portfolio , most of the shots of the Thunderbirds were with the Sigma.

The EagleThis is at 500mm and is cropped to about 1/9 of the original frame. That tells you how far I was away.


There were a lot of photographers, but even more "cellographers". 

The cellphone woman The cellphone guy

Now, I don't have a top of the line tele-zoom (Sigma 18-250 Macro/Zoom), but with the combination of that and the D7100's 24MP, I was able to crop the hand of the guy on the right and was able to make out not only his glove brand, but the brand of cellphone.   And this was taken at ISO100 f/11 @1/8sec.  I think I'll keep this lens.







There were a lot of people who commented to me that it must have been hard to get a shot without people in it.  I always told them that sometimes people are the most important part of a photo.  For Example...

How big is this ice column?  Not easy to estimate, is it? 

I don't know, probably big, but you still are left wondering.

Wait for someone interesting to wander into the photo and it's all very clear, isn't it?

Ice ColumnIce ColumnA hiker admires the massive column of ice on the sandstone cliffs at Apostle Island National Lakeshore

Honestly, I wouldn't stand there.


Because of the heavy snow outside, I couldn't shoot what I wanted since the wind was blowing snow onto my lens and covering my cameral with snow.  I spent a lot of time with my knit hat over my entire camera body.  I actually heard someone say "Hey cute, he has a hat for his camera".  I wish I had taken a picture of it, but that would have involved having a second camera or some creative time space juxtaposition.  I bet Dr. Who could do it.  So I stuck close to the walls and in the caves when they were free of people.

NeedlesCondensation on the cave walls drips over a large surface creating "needles" on the ceiling

Ice does funny things when free to do what ice does

Weird Ice thingsThis looked like buck teeth

It's Bacon!

Cave BaconIt's (Cave) Bacon!Ice formation on the sandstone cliffs at the Ice Caves at Apostle Island National Lakeshore.

In the caves, I played with some in-camera HDR shots. (Below) 
But since the sky and lake were both white, only the lone hiker shows up.  That was enough for me.

Ice CaveIce CaveFrozen ice cave along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore


The last shot I took that day was of the crowds heading back to the parking lot (and some late comers arriving)  One shot I don't remember taking gave me the creeps.  I don't remember these two on the right...


Or I was taking the shot and waiting for them to walk out of it, but they stopped for some reason.  But I think I actually caught them walking, but at a point where it looked like they were posing.  But they look so serious.  Photo-bombed by ghosts?  With lift tickets?

That was supposed to be my only day out.  I was sore from a five mile hike.  I was going to head back home on Tuesday morning.  But when I woke up at 5am, I saw stars.  That means clear weather, and blue skies, at least for the moment.  Weather report looked good.  I headed back out, but I stayed in one spot for the whole day.  Partly because I was sore from walking around the day before, but I also had a pre-visualization of one cliff face that I wanted to happen, I just didn't know when it would happen.  That's an adventure for part two.

What did we learn today?

  • If you have a chance to do something memorable, make sure it's ok with the family, then go anyway.
  • If you have a chance to photograph an eagle perched above his nest on Lake Superior for 10 minutes, it's ok to use 5 of those minutes to make a deal with Satan so you can have a 1000mm f4 prime lens on hand.  Or just use what you have, but for god's sake, make sure you have the right shutter speed.  kick kick kick
  • People take President's day off.  WT..?
  • The ice along the sea caves moves.  You don't notice it, but it moves.  You can hear the muffled booms underneath you.
  • Even though people knew they were going to be walking over miles of ICE, they still wore regular boots and shoes.  I'm sure there were many sore bottoms the next day.
  • Teenagers can be extremely loud creatures.  Screaming isn't exactly what you want with 2 ton icicles hanging over you.

Go to Part 2 >

See the full photo portfolio here:  http://www.artistasylum.com/icecaves

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) aperture apostle camera canon caves ice instruction islands lens nikon Photo Photography Street wisconsin https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/3/if-you-freeze-it-they-will-come Sat, 01 Mar 2014 18:55:48 GMT
Why This Photo Stinks https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/1/why-this-photo-stinks And why I don't care what you think
















Ok, so that's not exactly true, I do care what you think, but this is a story of my first foray into public critique of any of my photos.  The audience for it was pretty large, the website was called Photoblink.com created and run by Sergei Samus, a talented photographer from the UK.  This site still exists today, but at the time (c. 2000) it was still relatively new and gave photographers the ability to critique other photographers work.  At the time, anyone could comment and rate a photo.  I was new so I invited outside people (family) to comment.  Little did I know that was frowned upon on that site.

My Dad got on and gave me a high rating.  Family will do that.  Unconditional support is great.  But I raised the ire of quite a few other photographers on that site who were very quick to down rate me and were very clear that this photo was not deserving of the praise it got and set out to list every single fault with it.  Then my sister came on to defend me, family will tend do that.  The photo does not exist on the site anymore, but from what I remember, this is how the conversation went:

(1/24/14 Update: Edited to fix the actual people involved.)

Dad:  I love this photo, it's very natural and she's cute.  4/5 stars

Photogs #1-10: This is what's wrong with this site, anyone can comment!  Obviously, they know nothing about photography.  The little girl here is CENTERED.  Don't center your subjects. The girl should have been positioned so she was not in such harsh sunlight.  Maybe use a scrim or something to shade her.  And a speedlight to bring out the shadow detail... blah...blah...blah...blah  1 Star!

Sister:  What a bunch of snooty b.s.  (Ok, I don't remember exactly what she said, but I remember the point)

Various other Photogs: Grumble Grumble Grumble

Soon after that, the site implemented a policy that you had to critique 5 other photographer's work before you could upload your own.  The people critiquing also needed to be members of the site.  I'd like to think I was the reason they did that, but I'm sure it was already in the works.  I wasn't the only offender.  And to be fair, this is not the general attitude on the site.  The overall environment is constructive from other very talented photographers who simply know what they are doing.  Otherwise, I would not have kept posting images there.

Yes, I got the message.  Don't put up sub-standard work.  And don't ask friends and family to vote for your stuff.  Yes, I know she's in harsh sunlight.  I know the difference in light on her face is like a half moon in the night sky.  There aren't enough flowers around her.  I should have taken this during a cloudy day or used a scrim sheet.  But I didn't know if anyone critiquing knew (or cared) that:

This was candid.  I did not pose this little girl

I don't think you can compare it to a studio or setting where everything is controlled down to the power level on the speedlights.  In this case, I was at my boyhood home at my sister in law's baby shower.  This was in my old backyard (actually the neighbor's garden, but there is no fence).  I did not know the girl and may have met the parents briefly at the party.  I saw her out of the corner of my eye smelling the flowers and saw the combination of her dress and the flowers behind her and RAN to the spot where I took the picture you see.  I may have been in the middle of a conversation, maybe even in mid-sentence, but I saw an opportunity and capitalized on it.  Maybe that was rude.  This picture happened when she first noticed me.  After that, I didn't get the same look again.  After that, I went back to the party.    I probably apologized to whoever I was talking to.  Then again, I may have forgotten who I was talking to in the first place.  I didn't know what I had until I had the film developed.  Being a novice, I did not see the imperfections in the lighting or the placement.  I saw a priceless expression on a cute little girl wearing a dress that matched some of the flowers around her.  This is the essence of street photography (I know, this was a garden, but the rules, or lack of, still apply).  You get what you get with the light you have and once in a while you will capture a completely natural moment and a unique expression.  Something different than what you would get if I had told this little girl to "move around and smell the flowers and ignore this 6' tall stranger stalking you like a Nikon branded cyclops".

>>1/23/14 Update:  I recently watched a very interesting video by pro photog Joe DiMaggio (no relation to the baseball player) entitled  "Everything in Photography is a Compromise" (click to view)  He touches on this dillemma between getting the shot and getting the perfect shot.

Even if I had staged that shot back then I would have committed the same fouls.  I didn't know any better.  In the shot on the right, I cut off my nephew's shoe.  Arggh!  Still using film at the time.  Didn't realize that until later. Otherwise, a good shot.  Also, someone commented that there was too much depth of field and the background was not out of focus enough.  I mean, how much bokeh do you really need?

Sometimes it's better not to know the rules at all than to know what the rules are and intentionally break them.  Some people can do that.  But it's usually the ones with the magazine column assignments or those with a multi-million dollar gallery business in Costa-Coloma California.  Hey look, they say, "I'm centering my subject, but that's ok to do, sometimes you have to break the rules."  I wonder sometimes if someone famous posted this same picture to the same forum whether the response would be completely different.  "Love your use of contrast on the face, Mr. famous photographer, you know sometimes breaking the rules is what you have to do."  Anyway that's what I image would happen.  I've seen Franz Lanting post some horrible stuff in his articles in Outdoor Photographer magazine and I have to second guess my critiquing muscles.  He is famous and has an excellent lifetime body of work which adds up to more than all the neurons in my brain.  All I have is a little girl with a purple dress in a garden.  And cake, there was cake.

When I first saw this photo printed, I thought maybe that I had some talent.  Maybe a little bit.  I thought maybe with some instruction I could do better.  I posted 30 or 40 more shots on that same website and got some decent feedback.  I wasn't able to match some of the other art being posted.  And I was always curious why some photos ranked higher in scores than other photos that seemed to me to be much better.  Maybe I needed to be part of the clique of photographers who score all their friends photos higher.  That was the conspiracy half of me talking.  That really doesn't exist, does it?

So I'd like to be better at posing people for portraits.  I'd like to be able to get people into natural poses.  but telling people to be natural is tricky.  If they have to think about being natural, they never will be.  You have to catch them in mid thought or relaxed.

My Dad took this shot of some family friends back when I was a kid.  They asked that he take a formal portrait that they could give as a gift to their parents when they returned from an overseas trip.  This is what my Dad said about it:  

Burnham Graphic ArtsCooney Portrait

"We went down to Swan Pond and I set up remote strobe lights that flashed when I took the picture.  Took pictures in color and B/W.   I told them to relax and take a break and I took the picture moments after.  It’s the one they picked to give their Father on his birthday."

So, how about this?  When taking family portraits, pretend to take photos when they think you are, THEN start shooting when they think you aren't.  That's gold, Jerry, gold!











So a week after 9-11 I went on a soul search in downtown Chicago.  I called in sick to work and just drove downtown.  I may not have even called in sick, even.  I took my camera on purpose looking for something interesting.  Then I found this guy playing an accordion.  I don't even remember where exactly this was, but it was close to Madison St, maybe on LaSalle.

I loved the hat.  I was trying very hard to be inconspicuous, but in order to get the shot and blur the background, I had to get far enough away and zoom in.  In order to do that, I had to circumnavigate some construction scaffolding in a doorway.  I had a hard time positioning myself between the bars and finally I took a few shots.  I was anything but inconspicuous.  He was looking at me the whole time (and playing).  He didn't take his eyes off me.  And his expression in this shot was perfect.  I thanked him and gave him $5 for the trouble.  My performance was free. 

After that, I saw a banner somewhere that the Red Cross was taking blood donations for walk ins to help the victims of the twin towers.  I think that might have been the first time I ever gave blood.









On the same day, I was in downtown Naperville, IL where I found a 9-11 memorial set out on the lawn of the City Hall building by the River.  There was a small flag placed in the ground for everyone who died.  I was taking close ups of the flags when I noticed a Mother with her two daughters walking nearby.  I hung out and watched as the little girl's mother began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with her.  Afterward I approached the Mom and got her name and address and later sent her a print and got a nice thank you note back.

I posted both of these on that website for comment and voting.  I got some very good comments and scored fairly well in the contests.  Family life kept me from using the site more and I eventually stopped submitting. Even though I stopped presenting on that site, I think Sergei did a great job building that global community of photographers.  You can check out the site here.  It used to be a free site, but Sergei came to his senses and created a pay model to support his habit.  Segei, if you are reading this, I hope you and your wife are doing well.

And I learned some valuable lessons since then

1. Praise from your family and friends is not critique.  If you want critique, find someone unattached, and who doesn't hate you, at a minimum.

2. Break the rules if you want to.  But don't do it because you are a rebel, do it because you don't know any better.

3. People who don't know they are being photographed make the best photographs.  Just don't start creeping around to get them.  Be obvious, but not oblivious.  Don't ambush people on the street.  If they know you are there, introduce yourself, get their info and offer them a print.

4. Don't get up close in people's faces without permission like some "street" photographers do.  It makes the rest of us look bad.  But you can still do it to cats.  They give you unconditional permission because they are born attention hogs anyway.

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) Photo Photography Street aperture camera canon chicago illinois instruction lens napervill nikon https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/1/why-this-photo-stinks Fri, 17 Jan 2014 02:55:00 GMT
Focus Trek #2 -The Washington Tornado https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/1/washington-tornado The New York Institute of Photography was gracious enough to publish my account of the Washington, IL tornado from November 17, 2013.  Read about it here: http://www.nyip.edu/photo-articles/student-success/james-burnham

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) aperture Burnham camera Illinois photography photojournalism tornado Washington https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2014/1/washington-tornado Sun, 12 Jan 2014 19:27:20 GMT
Focus Trek #1 - Into the Storm https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/12/into-the-storm Thoughts on chasing storms from a non-storm chaser.

Moving CloudApproaching storm over Mackinaw, IL f/3.5 @ 18 mm, 1/25, ISO 100 I'm not a storm chaser (as you may have guessed from the subtitle).  I like to be out photographing in storms, yes, because bad weather creates opportunities that most would usually miss inside where it's warm and dry.  Approaching weather is sometimes very dramatic.  But I don't sit on weather radar looking for something to happen.  In central Illinois, it usually just happens spontaneously.  I took the photo to the left after I spotted the front moving quickly from West to East as I was coming home from work on 10/4/13.  I didn't have my camera in the car at the time (this happens more often than not), so I rushed home, ran into the house, yelled where I was going and raced back out down the highway back toward where I came from.  This front was moving approximately 40-50 miles an hour and I could barely get out ahead of it after driving 7 miles.  I finally saw this, stopped in a field and took a string of photos as it moved over.  But my main goal was getting a time lapse, so I took off again toward the East and set up a mile ahead of the front.

Stormfront Timelapse I set up originally pointing toward the storm and after about a minute of shooting every 15 seconds with the intervolameter function, I decided a side shot would be better.  As far as exposure goes, I was at 11.5mm on my 10-17mm Tokina fisheye and at f3.8.  Camera was set to aperture priority so the clouds would be rendered a consistent shade of grey as the light continued to change.  Shutter speed ranged from 1/25 sec at the beginning to 1/2 second on the last shot.  The video on the right shows the progression.  So you ask "where is the pincushioning in the frame if you were at almost full wide angle?".  That's one of the things I love about Lightroom 5, it reads your RAW file and when you tell it what lens you used, it corrects the curvature.  It won't do that if you shoot in JPG mode, but you can still adjust the curvature, poorly.  I guess I could have aligned the horizon at exactly frame center, but I didn't want that much ground in the shot.

JF2_1771Ill-conceived in-car shotMake sure your flash is off if you decide to take a blind photo from inside your car

I regret not shooting what was happening behind me to the North, which was a bit more dramatic, but there were a lot of telephone wires and grain silos right in the way, so I stayed focused on the South.  There was no time to move clear to get a timelapse pointing North.  I did manage to snap a one-handed shot through the car window (-->), but the flash went off and I ended up with a photo of myself superimposed on the cloud, with my curved, camera hand looking, coincidentally, like I was holding the cloud.  I could have also shot a video, but the compressed nature of the timelapse is much more effective.  It was moving so fast, that had I changed the interval to 5 seconds, it would probably have been just right and given me more shots to work with in the movie.  In this case, I chose the fade to next effect, which is a good way to transition each frame and make it run smoother.

Rainbow The backside of a storm can treat you to opportunities that are just as good if you are willing to wait.  As I was on my way home after the shoot above, I was treated to a full rainbow as the sun set behind me.  But it wasn't done yet.  The clouds to the West were shaping up to get some dramatic uplighting from the setting sun. I only had 5-10 minutes to get into position somewhere.  I needed to find something close by and interesting to put in front of the sunset.  Otherwise, it turns into just another sunset.  No scale, no interest.  I have hundreds of plain sunrises and sunsets.  Been there, done that.  I fell back on some grain silos that had produced some interesting storm shots in the past.  But this time, I was on the opposite side of them.



Sunset over SilosISO 200 1/80sec @ f5.3 105mm


You would think that was it, right?  Wrong!  After it got dark, there was quite a bit of lightning off to the East, so I drove to a spot near my house with an unobscured panoramic view and stood with my camera on a tipod in the rain, under an umbrella, taking 8 second exposures of the sky.  I was hoping to catch some of the lightning on a frame and with it, some illumination of the landscape.  I was out for 45 minutes, took 250 exposures and was only able to get a couple decent shots.  This one was the most interesting.


LightningISO 200 Exposure: 8 sec @ f5.6 26mm


Stormy days usually transpire without much happening, but this day was unique in that there were interesting events one after the other and I didn't have to go very far for any of it.  I especially like watching an Anvil Top form, where it starts with a billowing mass of Cumulonimbus clouds into a towering cloud mass that reaches a thermal boundary and just stops expanding, flattening out into what looks like an anvil.  A more scientific explanation can be found here:  http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=16267.0

Cumulonimbus TowerCumulonimbus Tower



I followed this tower from its inception, again looking for something interesting to put in front of it.  I finally found what I was looking for (and that's not easy to find something other than a farm out in the middle of a vast area of farmland).  But, I'll admit, the old silo was the perfect item to show scale for the could and also mirror it's shape.  Farm wins again.  






It eventually morphed into what you see in the next shot, which is full "Anvil Top".  




Anvil TopAnvil Top

Impressive enough that it didn't need anything in front of it in my opinion.  Truth is, I couldn't find anything and stopped short where I was so I wouldn't lose it.  Soon after this, the whole thing expanded, lost its shape and moved East.  

If you are a storm chaser, you have ample opportunity to find situations like this.  And you need to stick around a while to see how it all turns out.  If you are not a storm chaser, you have to wait for the opportunity to come to you.  You might be disappointed most of the time, but you might also be pleasantly surprised. But don't risk your safety chasing something that might turn dangerous.  My next article will be about the Washington, IL Tornado and how I didn't follow that advice and why I was there.   (I did a tribute video of the images with original music here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yL7k0Lh14g)

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) aperture camera instruction lens lightning photo shutter speed storm timelapse tripod https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/12/into-the-storm Tue, 17 Dec 2013 02:37:01 GMT
How to Bring a Photo Back From the Dead https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/11/how-to-bring-a-photo-back-from-the-dead I say “try to” because ultimately I failed to accomplish what I intended to achieve, which was an exceptional color corrected photo from a promising shot that, if not for the placement of the subject, would have been an easy adjustment and exceptional color photo.  At a certain point you have to throw your hands in the air and submit to the fact there are more important things to than beating your head against the wall.  Also, you might know exactly what I could have done in which case, I’d love to hear from you.

On many occasions (more than I care to count, especially when I used to shoot film), I get a result where the color balance is a mess and the auto balancer on the camera goes into fits because the light is simply not behaving like it thinks it should.  So it compensates in a completely ignorant way and you start with a mess when you see the result.

But can it be brought back from the dead without converting to Black and White?  I aim to find out with this one photo that I gave up color correcting years ago, and due to the sheer expression of the subject, decided it would make a better black and white photo.  And that actually might be the case here, but back when I took this, I had only the latest version of Photoshop (which was 3 at the time, I think) to make adjustments.  Not understanding color adjustments at all at the time, I made the basic levels adjustments I learned in digital scanning 101.  That was taking the RGB layers separately and bringing in the black and white levels so they basically even out the exposure and not one single layer is dominating and creating a color cast.

So, I’m going to do this from scratch and scan the original slide again right out of a Nikon Super Coolscan 4000.  This was taken in full sun under the shade of a tent that had large yellow and white stripes.  Unless you have a greycard available, this kind of lighting is disastrous, especially with color slide film.  But this was candid, unplanned and fleeting, so greycard color balancing is not usually an option.  You just take it and hope for the best.



Original uncorrected image
Original uncorrected image

Ugh!  This one has “Convert to B&W” written all over it.  The skin tones are all muddled up.   The whole thing is completely biased toward red while her arm is a completely different cast.  I’m using Hamrick’s Vuescan software, which imho works much better than the bundled Nikon scanning software.  But even with it set to “Auto Exposure” the scan resulted in this.  Setting to “White Balance” wasn’t much better.  I decided to stick with the lesser of the two evils.





So the first thing I did was look at the histogram in Photoshop.  Red dominates, of course.  Blue and Green shift off to the darker areas.  So the first thing to do is bring these levels back into some sort of balance using the levels tool. It’s important to adjust the RGB level separately, or you will lose the benefit of this basic first step in color correcting.






Bringing the Black and White slider over to meet the curve on Blue and Green helped out somewhat.   The overall cast is still on the photo, though, but at least it was a better place to start overall corrections.

levels-adjustedResult after separate RGB adjustments




After adjusting black and white sliders in Levels


Adding a Photo Filter layer, I started looking at what colors I wanted to filter out.  Red?  Yellow?  Orange?


Illustration By Nathan Hernandez from an article by “The Editors” at shutterbug.com – http://www.shutterbug.com/content/photo-filters


Actually, the Green filter was the key here.  If you look at the chart on the right, using a green filter lessens the Magenta cast (and Red/Blue to a lesser extent).  If you look at the histogram after setting the Green filter a 35%, you can see the difference. photo-filter-green



After Green Photo filter added at 35%


We aren’t quite there yet, though.  The arm is still a different color than the face which looks unnatural.  Here I desaturated the whole image a bit, which helped out quite a bit.  But the arm was still too yellow compared to the face.  That is where you have to go manual and mask off the arm itself and adjust the color balance separately.



After Desaturate (-35)

I added another Photo Filter layer and then selected the Mask that is added to the layer.  I selected all, filled it all in with Black, then used a soft brush in White to color only the arm.  That way, any adjustments would only apply to that part of the photo.  I set the Photo Filter color to Blue, adjusted to the point where the skin tones came very close (around 39%).



20010519_22a-selected Selecting only the arm inside the Photo Filter mask 



Here is the result (left).  I like this version much better (original version on right), but in the end not as much as the Black and White version, which I ultimately settled on.  You can see that one on the Candid page:  http://www.artistasylum.com/candid






[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) adjustment basic burnham color correction instruction james level photography https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/11/how-to-bring-a-photo-back-from-the-dead Mon, 25 Nov 2013 00:51:12 GMT
More About Jim https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/10/more-about-jim As I transition photographs over to this new storefront, I am also moving the blog entries from my jamesburnham.com site.  Here is the first one.  I don't post much on LelandReport.com, I tend to lurk and read the comments.  Therefore, not much is known about me.

I remember times when I was a kid growing up in Riverside, IL.  I was the first one to get a pair of glasses in my 4th grade class.  I was told they made me look smart (Btw, thanks for that, Mary).  Before that time I wanted to be a stunt man…or an air force pilot.  One or the other, but not both, that would be silly.  To build my skills, I practiced doing stunt falls and I built an inordinate amount of model jets (not at the same time).  But getting glasses reduced me to potential navigator on a fighter jet, and with no opportunity to prove my prowess at stunt falls, I worked on the smart angle instead.  After all, I tested near the top of my class up to that point, the glasses could only help.  Right?  The reaction of my class to me getting glasses?  The teacher asked my friend Sarah what she thought and she replied very succinctly, “He looks weird”.  But they did have horn rims, so she just told the truth.  I think I caught the tail end of the last remaining supply of 1950′s stock.

But the fact is, I leveled out as an average student.  I turned out to be more creative than smart.  I taught myself to play guitar and sing.  I wrote a few songs in High School which I performed at shows.  During a bout of strep throat and on a heavy dose of codeine in my Sophomore year at the University of Dayton, I threatened to my Mom that I would quit school and pursue music.  But soberness and practicality prompted me to pursue a career in computers, as they were becoming a big thing in the 80′s.  My first real job out of school was supporting hardware at a large corporate law firm in downtown Chicago (where I developed a thick skin walking past the Sears Tower from Union Station for a whole Winter.)  From there I supported midrange and mainframe hardware at Waste Managment, then bought hardware for employees at Ameritech, then helped test web software at IBM which eventually became the base for all the bank software taken for granted today.

That got me interested in programming software, so I put my creative and smart sides together and taught myself HTML, PHP, and ASP.  Since then, I’ve been involved in several different organizations as a designer and programmer, including my own company on the side which I took over from my father.  It’s through that company we provide lelandreport.com, a popular web photo blog about Leelanau county, MI, which my Dad is the main contributor and muse.

Which brings me to the photography angle.  I remember riding on the back on my Dad’s Honda 175 motorcycle scanning the HondaLeelanau countryside for photos.  My Dad had several different cameras over the years, mainly the Nikon FM3, FTN and 6006 series.  He had one high end medium format twin lens reflex Rolleiflex that he used often (I remember him saying he later regretting selling it).  He also printed most of his film himself in his darkroom in Riverside.  My brother and I would hang out in that room while he printed and when he shut off all the lights, enjoyed the glowing tape that marked the different mechanical devices.  Not thinking the pitch blackness was confining enough, I would crawl into the cabinet on his drafting table and shut the door, thinking I could make it even darker.  This is one reason why I’ve never been afraid of the dark.  I still  have that old homemade drafting table, inherited as part of my parent’s move to Leland, MI many years ago.  My kids have also climbed into it at some point.


Brookfield Zoo Lynx. Nikon FM3


It wasn’t until my Dad gave me one of his old Nikon FTN cameras with a couple rolls of hand-rolled T-Max BW film.  I took it to the zoo and had a few good (motivational) results.  We printed them in large format on a stat camera.  I eventually bought my own Nikon N80 film camera and used that for many years until I bought my first digital camera, a 3 Megapixel Kodak DC290.  I don’t know where Kodak went wrong.  At that time, it was an decent camera, only 2.2MP, but still a good training camera.  I kept using the N80 through 2002, even though I traded up the DC290 to the Nikon Coolpix 995 when my son was born and into 2003 when my daughter was born.  But the number of photos taken with the 995 started to eclipse the number taken with film.  The tradeoff being the convenience to Megapixel.  Each roll of slide and print film processed at a local camera store was a longer and longer wait, even though it always took the same amount of time.  Digital was instant gratification.  Digital saved all my exposure settings.  Out went the written transcript of shutter speeds and F-Stops.  Out went the trips to Fox Valley Camera.  I doubt they miss me.  When I got my first digital DSLR around Christmas 2005, I never looked back again.  The Nikon D70s put the nail in that coffin.

tremontturkeyfest2005_0036I remember the last slide I shot.  It was 2005 of a 1956 Minneapolis Moline tractor in the Turkey Festival parade here in Tremont, IL.  I don’t even remember any significance to the fact it was the last shot on the last roll.  It just seemed a shame not to use it.  The only way I know it was the last is because it is the last page in the last slide folder I have on my bookshelf.   I actually still have a couple rolls of unopened Kodak 100 speed color print film laying on that old drafting table I used to play in when I was a kid.  I don’t know why I let it sit there.  Maybe it’s there out of respect.  I just can’t bear to throw it away.  But then again, I don’t know if anyone is left to develop it if I did shoot it.



My son models my new (at the time) D70s


[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) Burnham Leelanau Leland Michigan Photo https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/10/more-about-jim Wed, 16 Oct 2013 19:20:28 GMT
New Burnham Graphic Arts and Leland Report Storefront https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/10/new-storefront For a number of years we have offered prints and gifts through bgastore.com.   A number of times, I've gotten emails asking why an individual cannot find a specific photo on the store so they could order a print.  The answer was always that there were so many photos, that I couldn't possibly keep up with the management of the photos and tie them to the products I wanted to offer, like mousepads and mugs.  The products were listed on the site, but the actual photos were always on lelandreport.com.  The person just needed to enter the report date or photo number into the field provided.  The management of the products became cumbersone to deal with as some photos did not lend themselves to certain productions or sizes and it was up to me to make a judgement call what could and could not be printed.  I also wanted to offer much more than I had the capability of researching and updating.

With this new site, the photos can be browsed, favorites saved and ordered later.  We will upload the best photos for display and ordering, but will not refuse anyone who wants a specific photo that they saw on one of our sites.  This includes photos that are included on the Leland Report pages, but are not the main photograph, like the Biscuit Report.  We've had many requests from those photographed with biscuit for a print.  Now, we have the workflow to handle that request and let the person see the photo without it being available to the public.

What is ArtistAsylum? Why?  What happened to BGAStore.com?

ArtistAsylum.com was an experiment we started many years ago to provide low cost online artistic space to the community.  Having refocused on family and career, I decided I could not put the time necessary to develop that community for the income that it was generating and shuttered it to focus on the Leland Report instead.  Since the LelandReport.com website is intergrated into the burnhamgraphicarts.com site, I couldn't use that domain, so the next best choice was artistasylum.  That was we could not only offer LelandReport items, but also Jim's and Keith's other art as well.

I honestly never liked the domain BGAStore.com.  Enough said.  It will now redirect to this site.

Why are you using Paypal exclusively?  Do I have to join Paypal?  :(

We did have to sacrifice some convenience and handle payments differently because we are no longer in control of that process.  Orders handled by us personally go through Paypal and are either charged to your credit card or you can opt to use your Paypal balance if you are a member.  Paypal is the processor, but joining Paypal is not required to make a payment.  Orders handled by our print processors are handled via credit card directly.  For this reason, you cannot combine an order for a print and a calendar into one shipment.  Orders handled by us are in the "Specialty Items" and "Other Products" categories.  The rest are handled by our partner labs.

Can I still pay by check?

Paying by check is also possible for orders we fulfill (described above), but it is not as obvious how to do that is it was on the old site.  In this case, fill your shopping cart and then contact us for a shipping quote.  We only had a handful of people paying by check in the past every year, but we don't want to lose you as customers.  Hopefully, our host will offer this as an option in the future.

Can I get signed prints?

Unfortunately, since our processors handle the printing and shipping now, all orders are drop-shipped to you.  We will no longer be able to offer a signed print with every order.  However, there might be limited editions available in the future which WILL be numbered and signed.  These will be available in the Other Products area and will be handled by us personally.   All Leland pen and ink prints are signed by the Keith.

Thank you for your support!

Without the sale of the prints, mugs, calendars and mousepads in the past, we would not be able to provide you with the daily dose of the Leland Report.  Thank you for your continued support and we hope to also continue for many years to come.  Maybe we will also work on that book we've been hinting about.  Stay tuned.

We would also like your feedback.  Change is hard and this decision was not taken lightly.  We would love to hear about your experiences so we can help improve the service we are part of now.

[email protected] (Burnham Graphic Arts) Arts Burnham Gifts Graphic James Leelanau Leland Michigan Photo Photography Prints Report https://www.burnhamgraphicarts.com/blog/2013/10/new-storefront Fri, 04 Oct 2013 21:31:43 GMT