Archive for March 2015

Two for Tuesday: Waterfall Photos   3 comments

The two-fer today is a little different than previous posts.  It’s something to think about if you get bored with a frequently-shot subject (flowers, rainbows, etc.).  In this case it’s waterfalls, which I shoot a lot of.

It takes a bit of effort to shoot a subject in a way that is authentically different than the usual way.  For me at least it also takes a certain mood, sort of a rebel attitude.  At Bennet Falls, a gorgeous cascade in the southern Appalachian foothills of eastern Tennessee, I decided without thinking about it much to do just that.

We hiked the trail down to the falls.  Since it was down, we arrived at the top before the bottom.  Shooting in front of a waterfall, usually at or near the bottom, is where most of us shoot from.

Despite a disaster that happened last year, I really like photographing from the top of a falls.  So I stopped and let the rest of our small little group proceed to the bottom.  It would’ve been worrisome for them to see me leaning out over the top in order to get a straight-down point of view.

This gave me an abstract that, like any shot from a height looking down gives, very little sense of depth.  Height is flattened when you do this.

Leaning out over the top looking straight down.

Leaning out over the top looking straight down.

Joining the group at bottom I started to go for standard shots of the beautifully tiered falls.  But the mood for something different was already on me, so I got my nephew Michael and his wife Cassie to pose in front.  It was her idea to kiss, and it was a good one!

The challenge was to get the kissing couple to remain as still so as not to be blurred during a long exposure.  But I didn’t go too long, just a half-second.  Why push my luck?  It turned out very nicely and I decided to give it a sepia tone.

A cascading kiss!

A cascading kiss!

I hope you like them.  Have a great week!

Posted March 31, 2015 by MJF Images in People, Photography

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Single Image Sunday: Covered Bridge & Mill   2 comments

In last Friday’s post I included a photo of Bollinger Mill, Missouri, with its covered bridge.  Both date from before the Civil War, so they’re definitely historic.  This is a different view, from the other side of the bridge.

The storm was bearing down here, with wind, thunder and lightning.  In fact the dramatic lighting was in part due to the lightning.  The covered bridge was mighty handy when the rain came.

This is in the Ozarks of southern Missouri, a land of rolling farms and forests, with the occasional sinkhole and cave testifying to its karst-like nature.  Rivers are common but disappear underground in places.  All in all a pleasant way to put some distance between me and the Mississippi River on my trip back west.  I’ll take it over the Interstate any day!

The historic Bollinger covered bridge and mill, southern Missouri.


Friday Foto Talk: Overcoming Mental Obstacles   13 comments

Sunrise over the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

I’m back!  Instead of offering excuses for my absence, I’m picking up where I left off as if nothing at all happened.  The good part of a break from blogging is I have plenty of new images to post.  They’ll give you an idea of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to lately.

This little series is devoted to overcoming all sorts of obstacles to getting your best shots.  If you like, check out the other entries, which cover the most important challenges we all face as photographers.

An Atlas 5 rocket soars into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida

An Atlas 5 rocket soars into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida


This one is hard to define.  Maybe a hypothetical will help.  Say you want to get close to a certain foreground element, and this involves hopping a fence onto what is most likely private property.  You’re naturally afraid of being caught trespassing.  And you’re certainly not going to break the law to get a picture are you?

But think about it.  What are the odds of being caught?  Okay, maybe they’re not nil.  But I’ve been caught a few times and on each occasion I explained what I was doing and apologized.  I was honest and said sometimes I get too excited about a picture, but that I meant no harm.  Nothing ever happened.  On a few occasions I even got into a conversation and obtained permission to shoot on the property in the future.

A quiet walk through one of Florida’s few remaining hardwood ‘hammocks’. These are islands of forest surrounded by marsh.

I’ve actually gotten into more hot water shooting from public places, when people became paranoid about me photographing them or their house.  Almost always my camera is pointed in a different direction.  There’s really no way to avoid this sort of thing, short of not shooting around other people (which is pretty darn limiting).

By the way, I wouldn’t use this rationale to shoot government installations or other sensitive subjects.  It’s not worth the risk.  Let your gut feeling about situations be a guide.  But in general, err towards moving past mental discomforts just like you should shoot through physical discomforts.  Don’t let any fears or other mental assumptions you’re carrying around get in the way of a great shot.

An alcove in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.  This is the only image here that isn't recent; it's from last fall.

Draperies line an alcove in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. This is the only image here that isn’t recent; it’s from last fall.

Always eager to get my feet wet in the pursuit of a great shot, this local showed up just in time to remind me where I was.


This is really another kind of mental obstacle.  For example, we’re often under the impression that we just aren’t good enough.  We say to ourselves, “I’m hardly an expert at this, so why should I go to extremes? I’ll leave that to the pros”  I’ve mentioned this in other posts.  Decide whether you want to remain casual or pursue photography in earnest.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the former.  But if it’s the latter, then don’t hold anything back.  Your attitude should be ‘I can and I will get the shot’.

I enjoy the act of photographing most of all, more than any other aspect.  And as much as I appreciate them, that includes getting oohs and aahs from you the viewers.  I can usually shoot myself out of a bad mood and into a good one.  Still, I occasionally feel too crummy to shoot.  Have you felt this way too?  Too impatient?  Or just too “off your game” that day?  Or maybe it’s a stomach ache or something else physical?

I’m stubborn and try to move through these things by continuing to shoot.  But there’s a point for all of us where the best thing to do is pack up and try another day.  If your attitude is not improving as you shoot, you won’t get your best shots.

Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia is a throwback to the old south, its good and its bad: slave quarters.

Beautiful (and car-less) Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia is a throwback to the old South, its good and its bad.  This is a slave cabin made of compacted sea-shells and mud, on an old plantation.

Live oak dripping with Spanish moss: Cumberland Island, Georgia.

But before quitting, try this: put the camera aside and just appreciate the scene before you without shooting it.  Tough to do in great light, but I think you’ll get even more out of this sort of pause if you watch awesome light come and go.  We train ourselves to jump all over great light.  So it’s nice to get out of this comfort zone once in awhile, chill out and just watch the show.  This works with people too.  Just call a break and hang out with them.  Have a few laughs.  Your pictures will be better after a bit of fun and relaxation.

Thanks a bunch for reading and have an awesome weekend!

Sunset at Bollinger Mill & covered bridge, in Missouri, which predates the Civil War, was my plan. But Mother Nature had something else in mind.

Sunset at Missouri’s Bollinger Mill & covered bridge, which both predate the Civil War, was my plan. But Mother Nature had something else in mind.  A violent thunderstorm was moments away here.

Wordless Wednesday: Dawn Breaks in the Everglades   3 comments


Wordless Wednesday: Playin’ in the Surf   5 comments


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