All posts by jon

How To Take Macro Photos

By Jenn Gidman. Images by David Guy Maynard. (source:


David Guy Maynard doesn’t mind traveling—in fact, he often appreciates the change of scenery, whether he’s working for a few weeks in Germany or leading a workshop somewhere closer to home in the States. But while his travel, nature, and street photography gets an ample workout via these far-flung locales, there’s one type of photography he especially enjoys, and he doesn’t even have to leave his backyard.

“Macro photography is the only genre where you can always find something in the tiniest of spaces,” David explains. “I happen to be lucky in that I live in Florida, so there’s always something for me to take pictures of, whether it’s an exotic cactus, bug, bird, or lizard. Plus, unlike most other genres, I can sometimes photograph a dozen different subjects, all with their own unique look and feel, by moving just 4 feet.”

Even people in colder climates can find something to put in front of their lens. “Maybe there’s too much snow on the ground to document any type of wildlife or plant life, but you can capture the details in a patch of ice,” David says. “Or you can find stuff inside your home to shoot if the weather is really inclement: One rainy day I took the back off of a watch and spent an hour photographing the minuscule gears inside. It was a fascinating world I never really paid attention to.”

Here, with accompanying photos, are some of David’s tips for plumbing the macro depths in your own domain:


When I find a frog in the wild, I’ll often move it to a different location—you just have to be gentle and respectful so it doesn’t get hurt. There are times when I’ll find a nocturnal tree frog here in Florida, but maybe it’s sitting on an ugly stone walkway or a beat-up fence and I don’t like the background. I’ll take it and move it a few feet to where there’s some greenery, gently set it down, then let it get settled in against that better background before I take a photo.

This red-eyed tree frog you see here is an exotic, but I happened to photograph it in front of a live audience at a macro workshop while I was demonstrating how to set a scene up. He was perched on a little piece of driftwood made for a fish tank. The greenery you see in the background is also an aquarium accessory, not a real plant.

When I’m not out in the wild, I really like using tiny light tents for my macro work. They’re very handy and distribute the light nicely. With that pinpointed light coming in from two or three sides, it literally broadcasts the light everywhere and still allows you to capture that deep depth-of-field at a higher aperture. This frog was in one of those light tents with an inserted background inside, and with two lights (one from each side) illuminating the tank.

© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/16, 1/60th sec.

The peacock tree frog you see in the second image belongs to my assistant, Sammi, and he’s a real loudmouth: He actually meows like a cat. When it expands, the pouch you see under his chin is almost as big as his entire body. You’ll notice there are two catchlights visible in each eye. Normally I don’t like having two catchlights like this, but in this case I didn’t mind it—it gives a great gleam. I had him inside the same light tent, and I was hitting him from both sides with the light. It’s worth noting his texture as well. If you look at his face, you can see how wet and reflective it is, which can be a challenge for picture-taking. That’s another reason I love the light tents. Putting the frog inside one deadens a lot of that glare because your lights are off to the sides—you’re not getting a direct reflection like you would if your light were on-camera, which would cause glare and make you lose much of the detail in its body.

© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/22, 1/80th sec.


Here in Florida we have lizards all over the place known as anoles. We have green southern anoles, which you won’t see as frequently, and brown Cuban knight anoles, which tend to eat the green ones. They’re voracious and vicious, whether they’re fighting or mating.

This anole I photographed was in a cactus patch, so I had to shimmy in very carefully, because it’s very painful if you get pricked by a cactus, and I was wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops. The cactuses are gorgeous, but the gravel underneath this one was made up of dull, gray pebbles, and I didn’t like the looks of it.

The beauty of shooting the way that I do is that I don’t have to follow the rules we used to have to follow. In other words, if I have a subject that’s composed nicely and on a branch or a leaf where the background doesn’t suit me, I can just use high-speed sync with my flash, which lets me use the flash at higher shutter speeds than my camera’s maximum. By jamming it up to, say, 1/2000th of a second and filling in with the flash in high-speed sync, I can knock out any distracting background that’s 2 or 3 inches behind my subject and turn it into complete darkness.

Sometimes that technique doesn’t work, however, like when the background is very close. One other trick I use is to carry around a little pop-out reflector kit. I have ones with sleeves, in black, white, gold, and silver versions, as well as a diffusing panel. If you use the black side, a lot of times you can tuck it behind your subject and create a black backdrop right in the wild. It’s an invaluable tool out in the field. As for the diffuser panel, if you have really intense sunlight hitting your subject from above, that diffusion panel held over your subject cuts the sunlight enough that it mellows everything out and gives you an even exposure.

© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/32, 1/250th sec.


I’m a huge fan of architecture. I love the lines and angles you can find when photographing unique buildings. I find similar geometry in nature. With this cactus plant, it looks so organic, with the rounded edges of the green and flowing lines leading right into the soft middle. You can see a shimmer where the ringlight is hitting. And at the upper edges you get a sheen, because of the plant’s moisture. Finally, you have these spires poking out, almost like antenna towers. I find it fascinating to think about how organic and yet how stringent nature can be all on its own—it’s sacred math at work.

© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/32, 1/200th sec.
The same applied for the flowers on this native Southern plant. The image is actually inverted: The flowers were hanging downward, then I flipped it when I brought it into Photoshop. It’s an absolutely beautiful plant, with long, thick green leaves. Photographing plants like this, where you’re really taking a closer look at it, gives you a deeper appreciation for every tiny cell you look at, every organism, every creature.

© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/16, 1/250th sec.


When I shoot leaves, I love to backlight them, either with an off-camera flash that I can trigger from my camera or with a ringlight. I do this because while leaves are pretty, they’re not exactly that captivating—until you get up really close and see their organic architecture and what that leaf is really about: all of its veins, its arteries, how it works. It’s the true story of that living object. It’s discovery. I imagine it’s largely how Charles Darwin felt when he spent all those months in the Galapagos Islands—that wonder, that sense of being a child in the world, marking every detail.

© David Guy Maynard

We live our lives every single day with what we’ve been trained to see, whether it’s visually or politically or esoterically. We learn not to notice new things. Photography helps us look all around us and notice, whether you’re gazing up into deep space or examining the details of the tiniest things on this planet. Knowing I’ve been in my own bubble and never noticed something before allows me to understand my place in this place—at least a little better than I did before.”
To see more of David Guy Maynard’s work, click here.

David Loves His Nikon D7500

OPINION: the Nikon D7500
From time to time, we like to post about gear that has captured our attention. This time around, it’s the Nikon D7500 DSLR that has captured us.

Looking Glass Photo’s David Weitz owns the D7500, and he’s learned firsthand what makes this camera great. On his weekly photography outings, he has had a chance to shoot the camera in a variety of settings and conditions. Below, David shares his thoughts in a short Q&A as well as some of his fave photos captured with the D7500.

Let’s start with a little background. How did you get into photography and do you have a favorite subject to shoot?

“It started way back in 1988 or ’89. I had been given a Ricoh ME Super 35mm film camera with a zoom lens and I started shooting with it as a hobby. In ’89 I took a B&W film class at Berkeley High School and learned the basics of developing and printing B&W. From then on I approached photography as a hobby until I was hired by Adolf Gassers in 1997. From there, I was introduced to digital photography and my interest in it just took off. As to my favorite subject matter, I always seem to go back to macro photography and landscape and more recently, night photography.”


We’re psyched that you’ve been loving your Nikon D7500. How has the camera helped with your pursuit of photography?

“For me, the camera is just the right balance of weight for my hand, and is far more comfortable to carry around than my Pentax. Ergonomics is more important in a camera than many people realize. If one has a camera that is awkward to handle, is it really going to be used a lot?”

“In addition, the camera’s Autofocus speed far exceeds any camera that I have had previously. I am now far likelier to get the shot I want in focus. The camera is also far more usable at night than previous models that I have had. The reduced color noise and faster Autofocus allows for handheld photos without flash on well lit streets.”


What do you like most about the D7500?

“That’s easy. The ergonomics. It fits my hand like a glove.”


When helping people find their perfect camera, who do you feel the D7500 is best suited for?

“An advanced amateur or enthusiast who wants a camera model that offers a great degree of versatility. The camera can do most types of photography very well, from portrait, action or landscape, even when compared with cameras out there that are more specialized in those specific areas.”


Thank you for sharing some favorite shots that you captured with the D7500. Would you tell us a little bit about them?

“I love this one of a hippo playing with a giant beachball at the San Francisco Zoo. The opened jaws look quite alien to me.”


“Here’s another, this time with a stoplight reflecting off the wet cement at night during heavy rains. I took this shot under a tree, to minimize the amount of rain hitting the lens. Weather sealing, which the D7500 has, comes in real handy!”


“And finally, a closeup of a flower after it had rained. I always love doing macro photography right after wet weather.”


In what areas do you think the D7500 particularly excels?

The Focusing System: I captured this image of a crow in flight using the D7500’s 3D focusing. While the focus system is not the same as the D500 (the DX format flagship DSLR), it is still very impressive.”


The 14-bit RAW File Capability: This shot of ‘The Palace’ is an example of maximizing the D7500’s capability at ISO 51,200. A little work in Lightroom can get the noise down even in these conditions.”


Live View: This was a 30-second shot of the Palace of Fine Arts. I used a nine stop neutral filter and a tripod. Normally, focusing and composing the image would be a real challenge, as I would be unable to see through the filter. However, the live view mode can…and I could use the touch shutter to focus where I wanted to! Super handy for these long exposures that I love capturing.”


What accessories and/or gear do you recommend for this camera and why?

  • A circular polarizer is a must for any landscape photography. The resultant saturation and glare reduction are easily worth the price.
  • A Hoya neutral density filter, 9 stops. Perfect for motion blur capture with a tripod during the day.
  • The Peak Design Clutch. The perfect wrist strap for the D7500 for users who intend to walk around with the camera in hand for long periods of time.
  • A Crystal Shield screen protector- Don’t let your LCD screen get scratched up.


Below are more images that David shared with us, that he captured using his Nikon D7500. (click image to enlarge)

How To Photograph the Wild of National Parks

By Jenn Gidman. Images by Cecil Holmes. (source:

At least twice a year, Cecil Holmes says farewell to home base in Huntsville, Alabama, and heads out to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. While he’s there, he also makes the four-hour drive to Yellowstone National Park, where he complements the wildlife and landscapes he photographed in the Tetons with the geysers and geothermal pools (and yes, more wildlife) found in Yellowstone.

While photographers can find different attractions to document in the parks depending on the season, Cecil enjoys the late spring for his national park adventures. “These images were all taken in June, when there’s still snow on the mountains, the temperature is warming up a bit, and the crowds haven’t built up yet,” he explains. “Plus, as the snow melts and it starts getting warmer, the wildflowers come out in full force.”

This time around, Cecil packed his Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC G2 and SP 150-600mm VC G2 lenses to ensure he could capture every photographic opportunity the parks threw his way. “In the Tetons, the 24-70 is the perfect landscape lens,” he says. “And the 150-600 is indispensable as a compact wildlife lens. I’ve got everything I need to document the entire trip with just these two tools.”

Here, Cecil walks us through seven images he took on his latest trip, as well as how he used the lenses to capture them.


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 150-600mm at 500mm, F/8, 1/500th sec., ISO 1400

Park regulations in Yellowstone mandate that visitors stay at least 25 yards away from most of the wildlife (it’s four times that for bears and wolves). But what’s fantastic about the 150-600 lens is that when you’re photographing an animal the size of an SUV, you don’t need to get terribly close to get a full-frame image of it.

In this case, we happened to see a group of bison on the side of the road and jumped out. I had my camera on auto ISO (and I usually shoot everything in Aperture Priority), so I set the aperture for F/8. The camera selects the shutter speed based on the auto ISO, so I set the auto ISO to a maximum range and then indicated to the camera I wanted a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th sec. It adjusted the ISO based on the light from that point. That’s really the best way if you’re doing a “run and gun” approach as you’re cruising along, because if you have too slow a shutter speed and the bison moves, it will ruin the shot with motion blur.


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 150-600mm at 550mm, F/8, 1/500th sec., ISO 500

In the late spring, the pronghorn, or American antelope, starts to shed its winter coat. That’s another reason I love taking pictures in the Tetons at this time of year, because you can track down a lot of these creatures hanging out with that ragged coat look. Some of them may have already shed most of their coats; others still have their coats hanging off the side of them. It makes for awesome images either way.

I tried to place some of the grass and reeds in front of the pronghorn in the frame as an appealing visual element. When people think of wildlife photography, they often think strictly of the animal in front of the camera. But for a more compelling photo, it’s important to incorporate as much of the animal’s environment as possible. I was able to blur out the foreground a bit, as well as the background, which gives the photo a bit of three-dimensionality and makes my subject pop.


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 150-600mm at 600mm, F/8, 1/250th sec., ISO 800

At the Teton Raptor Center near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, birds are brought in to be rehabilitated. People call from all over Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana to report injured birds, and the goal of the center is to eventually release them back into the wild, if they get better.

We attended a birds of prey show here, and it was a controlled environment where we could get fairly close to the raptors. They bring each bird out every two or three shows so it doesn’t get too stressed. I’d never been to a show like this, so I brought along my 150-600. I decided to put it to best use by stepping back a bit and capturing some tight headshots.

This photo was of a bald eagle named River, in what one could call its teenage years, before it had lost its brown feathers and morphed into the white eagle we’re used to seeing. It had just dipped into a bathing pool and was trying to dry off, which is why its feathers look so ruffled. The crisp sharpness of the 150-600 allowed me to capture every detail in every feather, and I blurred out the background to get that eye-catching color contrast of brown and green.


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/8, 25 sec., ISO 100

This photo of Moose Falls along Crawfish Creek wasn’t a planned shot at all. We were just driving down the road right before sunset when I saw the sign for it; we didn’t have a lot of time to capture the remaining light. I said, “OK, if we get out of the car and hear water, we’ll grab our gear and run down; if we can’t hear the water, that means it’s too far and we won’t make it.” We got out and heard the water, and it turned out the falls were only about a tenth of a mile from where we parked. It was flowing really nicely, as the park had had a huge amount of snowfall this winter—meaning lots of corresponding snow melt creating lots of full rivers and streams.

Typically when you’re shooting waterfalls, light is your enemy—you don’t want very much of it, because you want a longer shutter speed to get that smooth, creamy effect in the water. The light was really starting to fade at this point, so I used a 25-second exposure at F/8. If I’m photographing a waterfall in the daytime, I’ll shoot at F/16 to get a lower shutter speed, but in this case I didn’t need that low shutter speed— I needed to get my aperture open enough to get a shutter speed that wasn’t going to be minutes long. The 24-70 really came through for me in this low-light situation.


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/16, 1/80th sec., ISO 100

The Grand Prismatic hot spring is one of the most photographed geothermal attractions in Yellowstone. Many photos of it that you see from above are taken from either a helicopter or plane, or by people who hike the trail that overlooks it. But when you’re right down there with it, it’s challenging to shoot—it’s not nearly as impressive as when you’re seeing it from up high. Plus, if you’re photographing it on a nonwindy day, the steam emanating from it will just rise and hang in the air. You want a little wind to blow the steam around a bit.

Luckily, I had just enough breeze so that the steam was moving. I was standing right on the boardwalk next to it, and I got down and put my camera as low and close to the pool as I could get it without actually touching anything—you don’t want to scald your equipment! I was trying to capture a sunstar (you can see the sun poking out from behind the cloud in the upper right), but I wasn’t able to get it. Because of that, and because the light wasn’t great, I decided to see what would happen if I turned it into a black-and-white photo. That changed everything. It created a mood I wasn’t seeing in color, and it brought out the textures, patterns, and contrasts of the pool and surrounding area.


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/8, 1/200th sec., ISO 100

The Morning Glory hot spring is one of my favorite pools to visit in Yellowstone. It’s not very big, maybe about 20 feet wide, and the boardwalk there puts you right along the edge of it. I took about three or four shots at 24mm vertically and then created a panoramic composite. I was finally able to capture that elusive sunstar, and the clouds in that vibrant blue sky added to the overall effect as well.

It’s essential to use a polarizer for an image like this. If you don’t, you’re going to get reflections off the water and won’t be able to see all of those colors and details beneath the surface.


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/16, 0.3 sec., ISO 100

While the shot of the Morning Glory Pool was my favorite photo from Yellowstone, this photo of the John Moulton Homestead was my favorite from the Grand Tetons. The morning I took this photo was horrible. It was raining when I woke up, but I figured I was already awake, so I went out anyway to see if I could get anything. I thought maybe, at the very least, I’d get some lightning shots over the mountains.

Right at sunrise, sunlight started to peek out and hit the barn. And then, for about three minutes, this amazing double rainbow appeared that stretched from the John Moulton Homestead to the T.A. Moulton Barn about a quarter-mile down Mormon Row. After that, the sun disappeared and it was gloomy for the rest of the day. Only about 10 photographers were out that morning to witness it, as opposed to the 30 or 40 who might usually be out and about. For someone like me who doesn’t live in the area, this was a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

To see more of Cecil Holmes’ work, go to

An Eye For Birds

Words & photos by Olympus Visionary Scott Bourne and Birdwatching Magazine. (source:

Join Olympus Visionary Scott Bourne and Bird Watching Magazine on a photographic journey – learn pro tips, techniques, styles and tools. Take your bird photography skills to the next level and download this multi-part series.

You will learn:

  • Why it’s important to shoot at eye-level
  • The one part of the bird that must be in focus
  • The best backgrounds for portraits for birds
  • Why studying bird behavior is a critical skill for bird photographers

Click to read the tips!

Shot with an OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800.



You will learn:

  • Behaviors to watch for that signal a bird is about to fly
  • Why you should shoot with the sun and wind at your back
  • The benefits of shooting in manual mode
  • How to get your lens to focus faster

Click to read the tips!

Shot with an OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. 1/1500 sec, f/11, ISO 200.


You will learn:

  • Why you should not look for owls but listen for them
  • How to approach an owl once you find it
  • Where to go to photograph owls when you’re just starting out
  • Why you’ll need a flash
  • The best settings for your camera
  • A top-notch camera and lens for shooting owl photos

Click to read the tips!

Shot with an OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. 1/1000 sec., f/5.6, ISO 200.


Olympus Visionary Scott Bourne is professional wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He was one of the founders of This Week In Photo, Founded and is co-founder of the new Photo Podcast Network



Pet Rescue Photography

Words & photos by Olympus Gallery Moderator, Amanda Strozeski. (source:

Are you passionate about photography? Do you love dogs, cats, or bunnies? There are many shelters and resuces throughout the country who would jump at the opportunity to have a photographer donate time to help photograph animals looking for their forever home.

Many times when you see an animal at a shelter, the photos are blurry and the animal looks sad. It can be hard to picture their true personality and imagine them in your home, as part of your family.

When you see these photos, they tend to be “intake photos.” These are photos taken when a new animal comes in as part of the intake process, along with other paperwork, and is used to help identify them. If a shelter does not have a relationship with a photographer, these can be the only photos available to promote them online. In the visual world we live in, social media and smartphone apps are the main way these animals are promoted to potential adopers: PetFinder, Adopt A Pet, Facebook, Instagram, and shelter websites are king!

Below is an example of an intake photo of a sweet Chihuahua, and a photo I took of her a few days after her intake. While her inake photo is blurry and shows her “behind bars,” her rescue portrait shows her clearly – she pulls you in with her large, reflective eyes and the beautiful bokeh created by an F1.2 prime lens helps blur out any background distractions.


Left Image: Smartphone photo taken at time of intake; Right image: OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO | 1/400sec | F2.5 | ISO200

Below is a real life example of dogs on the website Adopt A Pet. 

They are all from my resident shelter. Some of the dogs have had their portraits taken, but others were so new that I had not met with them yet. We will sometimes post dogs with their intake photos before their rescue sessions, so that we do not lose any time promoting them to potential adopters. 

If you were scrolling through – which dogs would catch your eye?


A rescue shoot will most likely be different than other portrait shoots you may have done in the past. Shelters are very utilitarian spaces. They’re designed to house and care for animals – and a dedicated, clean space to take photos is not vital to the health and well being of their charges. 

If you’re photographing outside, especially in a more urban setting, there may not be many green spaces to be found. There are often fenced-in areas outside, where dogs can meet with potential adopters and get some exercise – these are good options for outdoor photographs. I find that creating bokeh with a prime lens can help you blur out a lot of the background distractions.

Remember to work with the sun! A dog, or other animal you’re photographing outside, will have different eyes than a person. If there is direct, unfiltered sun, their eyes have a tendency to go all black and you lose the emotional connection that will come through eye contact. Try positioning them under a tree or in shade.

When I’m doing an indoor shoot, I have some basic gear I take with me:

  • Backdrop Paper: I use Savage Seamless paper, and have a variety of colors. I use a very inexpensive backdrop stand for my rolls.
  • Lights: I use continuous lighting, a studio kit made by Savage Universal. Whether you use strobes or continuous lighting, you will need some light source. You can bounce an on-camera flash behind you, or using white posterboard as well. Be sure to bring a power strip, because you never know where the nearest outlet may be!
  • Small Rug: I have a very inexpensive white shaggy rug that I use to lay on the ground, since some dogs do not like the paper. Many rescue photographers have material that looks like a hardwood floor that they use as well.


My main shooting location is in the laundry room of the shelter.
First time assistants are surprised that the photos they see online were taken in this unconventional space!

The ideal setup for photographing dogs at a shelter is to have two assistants. These are almost always volunteers at the shelter. They have an understanding of the animals, and have built up personal relationships with them. One of the assistants will hold the leash and help position the animal. You will be able to edit the leash out when you’re making other edits to the photo later on. The second assistant should stand behind you, and get their attention over your shoulder. There are a few ways to get the dog’s attention, so that they will look at the camera:

  • Food: If you hold a treat, or shake or crinkle a bag of treats, a dog who is food motivated should look in the direction of the treat. Be sure to check if the dog has any food allergies before giving them the treat – some dogs you may meet experience grain allergies, and would get an upset stomach from a biscuit type treat.
  • Toys: If you squeak a toy and the dog is play motivated, you will be able to get them to look in the direction of the noise. Make sure they do not oversqueak the toy, and this can make it quickly lose its effect on the dog and can sometimes scare more timid subjects.
  • Attention: Some dogs, like my dog at home, just want praise and attention from their human friends. Just talking to some dogs will help get them to look in the right direction.

If you are photographing cats, they are often in free-roaming rooms. You can set up an area with a backdrop indoors, or you can follow them around for more candid photos. It is still helpful to have a volunteer standing behind you, to help draw their attention with a toy.

Captured with OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 | 1/200sec | F5.6 | ISO200


Think: Focus, focus, focus. Especially when working with dogs, but with cats as well, their noses and eyes are further apart than it would be for a person. You will always want to make their eyes the focus point, and not their nose. If you are shooting with a small aperture and a prime lens, this is vital. It’s always disappointing when you get a shot of a happy animal, but their eyes are blurred and their wet nose is in focus instead. 

With rescue portraits, good photographic composition is great. But it’s more important to create a photo where the dog is making an emotional connection with you and the camera.

My first step when photographing an animal for the first time is to let them get near my camera. They may smell it, because it is new and unfamiliar to them. Making them comfortable with the camera will help make this a more positive experience for them, since they will already be stressed from being in the shelter since it a new place, filled with many other animals.

There are many tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way – and some tricks that I’ve figured out with the help of my OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • Get on their level. Meet them and position yourself to photograph down where they are. This helps build trust with the animal you’re working with.
  • Give them a break. If they’re getting anxious or shutting down, or are too excted, have the volunteer walk them away and bring them back. Having a moment of playtime can also help them work off some excess energy and let them focus more on the task at hand.
  • Pro Capture Mode is your new best friend. If you have Pro Capture on your camera – use it! If you’re working with dogs, they are in their kennels most of the day. So when they come out, they don’t want to sit still and pose for a photo. They want to play and burn off some energy. So using a combinating of focus tracking and Pro Capture Mode will make sure that you never miss the moment you want.
  • Try out Silent Shutter Mode. If you are working with a dog that is scared, or is uneasy around new people, having a strange metal camera in their face will be intimidating. If they hear the “click, click, click” of your shutter, that will make it even more indimiating for them. By turning on a silent shutter, you’ll be able to photograph them without adding that extra stress.
  • Use your articulating LCD screen. This will let you get at different angles physically, but still be able to see if you’re getting the shot you want. And by using your LCD to pick a focus point and take your photo, your face won’t be disappearing behind the camera and breaking the connection you’re building with your subject.


Captured with OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko ED 45mm F1.2



Since social is the lifeblood of adoption, one way to help get your photos noticed is to use seasonal theming.

For example, using red backdrops around Christmas can create a seasonal effect. I’ll use some inexpensive bags and boxes as decoration. Try pink for Valentine’s Day, green around St. Patrick’s Day, and black for New Year’s Eve. You can use overlays and text on your image to help as well.


Left Image: OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko ED 45mm F1.2 | 1/160sec | F1.6 | ISO200 ; Right image: OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko ED 45mm F1.2


So – you want to help! But how do you go about starting to donate your time for rescue portraits?

Just reach out – I find that email or a Facebook message can be the easiest way, or you can stop by on adoption days to speak to someone in person. Just a few short years ago, I did not own a camera and had never imagined spending my weekends working with shelter animals. It can be hard. You will see sad stories and meet many sweet boys and girls you’ll wish you could bring home with you. But when you look back on all of the lives you’ve affected – it’s all worth it!

These are some of the shelter animals I photographed in 2017!



Amanda is a professional animal rescue photographer, Featured Photographer for Savage Universal, and a member of HeARTs Speak, a non-profit for rescue related artists. She moderates the Olympus User Photo Gallery and recently spoke on rescue photography at Imaging USA 2018. Amanda also also a social influencer for a variety of well known brands and runs the popular pet Instagram account @itsmisterbarclay.


Words & photos by Olympus Visionary, Alex McClure. (source:

Before dawn on January 31, 2018, sky gazers will have the chance to witness a rare celestial event not seen since 1866. The second full moon of the month (called a BLUE MOON), in the closest position of it’s orbit (known as a SUPER MOON), will enter Earth’s shadow to produce a “BLOOD MOON,” a dramatic moment when the moon turns a reddish color.

Views of this unique lunar eclipse will vary, with totality only visible to those on the west coast (see viewing details here to see what to expect in your area). Even if you aren’t in the path of totality, you can still shoot and enjoy the Super Blue Moon! Check out these tips from Olympus Visionary Alex McClure to prepare yourself for capturing this spectacle.
Pick a shooting location with clear skies. The last thing you want to be is in a place that develops afternoon clouds, so be sure to check the local weather reports.

Photo taken with an OM-D E-M1 & M.Zuiko 75-300mm F4.8-6.7, 0.4 sec, F6.7, ISO 100.

Use a tripod! A stable platform is very important when shooting the moon. The longer the lens, the more support and stability is needed. You will have to slow your shutter speed down as the moon gets darker and changes to orange and then red colors. I also like using the Olympus RM-UC1 remote cable release to keep the camera from moving.

Editor’s Note: Using the O.I. Share App to remotely trigger compatible cameras will also keep your camera from moving.
Shoot with a telephoto lens that is 300mm or longer. Try using the M.ZUIKO 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 lens, the M.ZUIKO 40-150mm F2.8 PRO + MC14 1.4x Teleconverter (resulting in 210mm in coverage = a 35mm equivalent of 420mm) or the M.ZUIKO 300mm F4.0 IS PRO + MC14 1.4x Teleconverter (resulting in 420mm in coverage = a 35mm equivalent of 840mm!).

When it comes to shooting the moon, the bigger the lens, the better!

Moon over Flatiron, shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 & M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4.0-5.6, ISO 100.

Monitor and adjust your settings during the different phases of the lunar event. As the moon begins traveling across the night sky, it’s moving at a rapid rate of speed, so you need to start your shooting at around 1/640 second, F6.7 and ISO 200. As the moon gets darker, make sure to lower your shutter speed and raise the ISO. When the moon goes dark, you will have to open your aperture all the way up; with the M.ZUIKO 75-300mm that’s F6.7, but with the M.ZUIKO 40-150mm F2.8 PRO and MC-14 that’s F4. You will also need to bump your ISO up to around 4,000 and slow your shutter down to 1/10 second, depending on your lens. Lastly, as the moon comes out of the Earth’s shadow, you will need to do the opposite for your settings; remember to raise your shutter speed and lower the ISO.

Shot with an E-M1, M.Zuiko 75-300mm 4.8-6.7, F6.7, 1/10sec, ISO 4000.

Take multiple shots of the moon going in and out of the eclipse. Taking multiple shots ensures that you can create a composite post-production image that shows the total lunar transformation throughout the event.

Composite shot with the Olympus E-M1 & M.Zuiko 75-300mm F4.8-6.7. The start of the eclipse 1/640 sec, F6.7, ISO 200 & Blood moon, 1/10 sec, F6.7, ISO 4000.

Try using your camera’s specialized features to help you capture the drama of the lunar cycle. For instance, try using Focus Peaking (recent model PEN and OM-D cameras) and Zoom Magnifier to focus on the moon.
Alex McClure, an avid photographer for over 30 years, joined the Olympus Trailblazer program in 2013. Alex works to achieve his stated goal to “make beautiful photographs that inspire and motivate people” through his nature, commercial and fine art photography.

Holiday Pet Photography Tips

Words & photos by Olympus Gallery Guru & Rescue Photographer, Amanda Strozeski. (source:
Click images in this post to enlarge.

During the holidays, people love to photograph all of the family and friends they hold dear. For many people, this includes their beloved pets. Taking pet photos can be a struggle – they can move around even more than children, but without the ability to understand when you say, “Just one picture – say cheese!” Here are some tips to make your pet photography easier:

For many animals, especially those who you may have recently brought into your family, a camera and the sound of a clicking shutter is a new experience – and may be a little scary. (Think of a child getting their first photo taken on Santa’s lap at the mall!) If you can, let them see or smell your camera before taking photos for the first time. Even if you’re taking casual photos at a family gathering, and not specifically dedicating time to capturing memories of your pet, it will make “camera time” a more positive experience.


If you’re photographing a dog, they move around – a lot! Be cognizant of your shutter speed. A higher shutter speed will give you less motion blur, but a lower shutter speed will capture movement – like a quickly moving tail.

Focus is very important when photographing dogs and cats, because their eyes and nose are not always going to be in focus at the same time. You should make their eyes your focus point, especially when you are shooting with a prime lens. Capturing the clarity of their eyes will create a portrait you can connect to, while focusing in on their nose can create a more artistic effect.

As with any portrait, prime lenses are a great option for keeping the focus on your subject. I find 25mm to be an ideal focal length for photographing pets, since it allows you to shoot close to your subject. Depending on the size of your shooting space, a longer prime may not allow you to get the type of shot you are looking for.

If you’re hesitant about getting the settings just right for a fidgety subject, or are having someone else take the photo of you and your pet, you can set your camera to iAuto. If you’re more comfortable, try shooting in P or M to have more control over your shot.


We already know to make sure to focus on their eyes – but another element that will bring pets to life in your photos is to make sure to get catch lights in their eyes. This means the reflection of a light source. When shooting indoors, this can be from an open window, indoor lighting, or a flash.

When shooting outside, catch lights usually come from the sky. Direct sunlight can sometimes cause eyes to be totally in shadow, so try to find filtered light. This can be shooting in a shadow – but my favorite option is to shoot where tree branches will help filter direct light and create shadows, while still letting light in.

If you are using a flash indoors – like the FL-900R or even the FL-LM3 included with select PEN and OM-D cameras – try bouncing it on the wall behind you. This will help the light from being too harsh.

If you’re looking for more detail and pronounced catch lights, you can also find inexpensive studio lighting to help – even when you already have natural light. I tend to shoot indoors with my LED portrait lights and soft boxes.


There are a few distinct ways to think about photographing your pet. One style is to photograph them without pre-posing them. Show them naturally interacting with their environment – playing with a toy, snuggling up on the couch, or happily taking a treat from a family member.

Another style is a posed photo. Some pets look into the camera perfectly and give you a happy smile – while others aren’t the biggest camera fans. There are many poses to help you get the best shots no matter what kind of pet you have. Posed photos can be more challenging with animals who have not mastered the “sit” or “stay,” who are very active, or who struggle with confidence. One way to overcome this is to try holding a treat or squeaky toy in one hand, or have a helper do this over your shoulder. Much of the time, they’ll look right at the incentive and you’ll get the shot!
Some other ideas:

  • If your pet is a ham, use it! Eyes are the window to the soul, and it’s beautiful when they make direct eye contact with the camera.
  • Shooting with another human family member is a great way to get your pet at ease and stop them from wandering about. It’s always a good shot to show them sitting on a lap, or next to a person on a couch or the floor.
  • Try to get on their level for some of your photos. This will give you more freedom in terms of what angles you can capture, and often makes the pets feel more at ease.

Burst shooting will also be your best friend! With OM-D or PEN cameras, you’ll be able to shoot in bursts of at least 8 frames per second. By utilizing burst shooting, you’ll maximize your chance of catching the moment you want. If you have the E-M1 Mark II, you can shoots in bursts of 60 frames per second. You can also utilize its Pro Capture mode, to ensure that you catch the exact frame you want – with up to 14 frames preceding it.

An “ugly sweater,” knit cap, or even a fun holiday themed costume – your pet will either love or hate these fun photo additions. If you do have a pet that’s into props – like my dog is – have fun with it! Let them be in the Ugly Sweater photo – they’re part of the family!

But if your pets don’t gravitate to them naturally, don’t force it. You’ll be able to tell that your pet is uncomfortable, and that’s not the kind of holiday memory you’ll want to keep. Focus on other ways to bring the holidays into your photos. Think about the backdrop instead! There are many non-obtrusive ways to get some themed elements into your shot without alarming the subject. A beautifully decorated tree, roaring fireplace, festive blanket, holiday themed toy or snowy yard will give you the theme you want without making photography a negative experience for your furry friend.


A great photo can be hindered by busy elements, like leashes. You should always have your dog on a leash when shooting outdoors – and in many states it is illegal not to – but there is an easy way to remove dog leashes in Photoshop. If you select sections of the leash with the Lasso Tool, and then hit “Delete,” it will take elements from around the leash and blend the selected area with them. Be sure you’ve selected “Content-Aware” in the Fill > Contents window. This is the default option in Photoshop CC.

If you’re not comfortable with programs like Photoshop or Lightroom, there are many apps you can use on your phone. I recommend FaceTune and Snapseed – or even the editing functionality in social apps like Instagram. You can easily sharpen your photos, change the highlight levels, and increase brightness.

Enjoy this one-on-one time and have fun with your furry friend!



Amanda is a professional animal rescue photographer and a member of HeARTs Speak, a non-profit for rescue related artists. She moderates the Olympus User Photo Gallery. Amanda also runs the popular pet Instagram account @itsmisterbarclay.

Landscape Photography Tips

Featuring professional photographer, Tony Sweet. (source:

When you think of landscape photography, chances are the images that come to mind are the awesome vistas—something from Bryce Canyon, Yosemite or Mojave; maybe the Badlands, the Adirondacks, the Everglades. You know, the big stuff.

But landscape photography is also about the components of the big stuff, as well as the textures, colors and details of small slices of outdoor life.

Tony Sweet brought this to our attention when we asked him if he’d be interested in talking with us for a story about landscape photography.

“Sure,” he said. “But what kind of landscape do you want to talk about? A grand landscape, a tight landscape, a macro landscape?” Tony does them all, and we found that by working out definitions and differences, we came up with variety and opportunity.

It was liberating to realize that once you get outdoors, the landscape is anything and everything you want to make it, and once you think of the landscape that way, it becomes a lot more accessible than, say, just a vacation destination. “The landscape can be two miles from your backdoor,” Tony adds, driving home the point.

Which is pretty much how he started out. “It was all ‘nature photography’ then,” he says. “It took place outside, and that was it. So I went to the Cincinnati Nature Center—a few ponds, trees in the water, good reflections, and to me that was the landscape. Then I went out west—different places, bigger things—but the die was cast from that beginning: I photographed outside, where there were no people, and it was beautiful. It could be a local field with a few trees and great light. The photographs depended on what I made of them.”

He learned it was okay to interpret the grand places, but he didn’t have to be limited or constrained by feeling that he had to go to those iconic locations.


So if “the landscape” is pretty much everywhere and everything outdoors, what do you look for to make effective images of all that variety?

“Light,” Tony says without hesitation. “See the same scene in great light and lousy light, and it’s like you’re in a different part of the world. If you want to do it right, whatever it is, you have to get the light right.”

For Tony, who conducts a series of nature and landscape workshops, the right light starts with scouting. “You have to know the time and the circumstances that will give you the best light. The issue is not where the action is, it’s when.”

Which means, get out of bed. Early. “I see it all the time at the workshops,” Tony says. “Once the participants get to the location, they’re fine; fired up and ready to make pictures. But I’ve got to get them there plenty early to get the great light. They have to be there at first light, and that can mean getting up at three, four, five in the morning. Some people have a hard time doing that, but that’s when the pictures happen.”

Of course you can shoot the late light of afternoon, but, as Tony says, “It gets darker a lot quicker than it gets brighter, so morning will give you a lot more time to shoot various levels of light than sunset will. At sunset, the light’s great and then it’s gone. In the morning, you have more light slowly showing up to work with, from pre-dawn glow to sunrise. That’s why in the morning long exposures work better. Morning is quality shooting time.”

“See the same scene in great light and lousy light, and it’s like you’re in a different part of the world. If you want to do it right, whatever it is, you have to get the light right. You have to know the time and the circumstances that will give you the best light. The issue is not where the action is, it’s when.”


Finding a favored landscape near you gives you the benefit of a quicker early-morning journey, and the advantage of being able to get there year-round to catch the changes the seasons bring.

“The same landscape scene in four seasons is a great, under-shot project,” Tony maintains. “There’s a field, with a great tree, two miles from where I live. I can look outside, see that things look pretty good, drive over and wait to see what happens. It’s not an iconic spot; it’s a spot for cool pictures. A photographer told me years ago: ‘Shoot where you live.’ ”

Tony took the advice to heart: 20 percent of the photos in his first book, Fine Art Nature Photography: Advanced Techniques and the Creative Process, were taken within 90 minutes travel from his home.

Near or far, the landscape photos he takes are marked first by “the right light,” then by the classic elements in the scene that make the most sense to him and the composition: textures, colors, juxtapositions, contrast and perhaps most of all, the shapes found in nature—circles, squares, lines—and the things that connect to those shapes.

“I look into the scene to see what the elements are offering me and what I can do with them: s-curves, leading lines, repetitions, patterns, rules of thirds. Some people in my workshops look for trees and go from there. There are no rules; it’s all about what attracts you. And then, why does it attract you? The answer to that will help you frame and compose your picture—or pick out from the larger scene the essence of what it is you want to convey.”

That last point is important: what you see in front of you isn’t enough. Pick and choose, zoom and crop, get a high or low angle. This is where landscape becomes a macro landscape, an abstract landscape, a landscape of elements. “The negative of that,” Tony says, “is returning to the same thing, the same elements all the time. You want to develop a style, not a repetitive approach.”

The Nikon D810 is Tony’s major landscape camera. “Incredible resolution,” he says. “I can creatively crop into the big scene to get all the detail I want.” His lens choices range wide and far. “The most important thing is to realize that not all landscapes have to be taken with wide-angle lenses, because not all landscape images are the big picture.”

Ninety percent of his most recent landscape photography of the American west have been taken with the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR—”because I was ‘pulling in’ smaller parts of a large landscape, essentially reducing the big picture to one of details by making selections from the big picture. I do this especially in situations of overlooks, where I’m looking down on something. Wide angles? Sure, but mostly when I’ve got a foreground subject of interest, or I’m into shooting tighter scenes.”

The gear, especially a new lens, will make its own suggestions.

“There’s a shot I want to make in the Botany Bay wildlife preserve in Charleston, South Carolina,” Tony says. “There’s a tree in the water that we all shoot—we walk down the beach with a 24-70mm lens, great light of dawn or a little later, and we get a great shot. But I want to stand off about half a mile with the 200-500mm and try to get the huge fireball of the sun coming up behind the tree. I’ll need timing, position, the lens—all that to make it work—but that’s the goal: to do something different with a familiar location, to make choices to alter the landscape in the frame.”

  1. The earlier you get there, the more time you’ll have to let the light play with the scene.
  2. Sidelight on a scene serves to separate elements.
  3. Not all landscapes have to be taken with wide-angle lenses.
  4. Pick and choose, zoom and crop, get a high or low angle.
  5. You don’t always need to travel far to make great landscape photos. Look in, or near, your own backyard.
  6. Search out the stalwarts of composition: s-curves, leading lines, repetitions, patterns, Rule of Thirds.
  7. But remember, there are no rules; it’s all about what attracts you.


Tony is a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens.

Tony’s photography is published worldwide in every medium and is represented by Getty Images. His iPhone photography is represented by Aurora Photos. Tony’s images are also used by Nikon, MacPhun, Singh Ray, Alien Skin, Topaz, Lensbaby and others for national ad campaigns.

Tony has authored five books on the art of photography: Fine Art Nature Photography (’02), Fine Art Flower Photography (’05) Fine Art Nature Photography: Water, Ice, Fog (’07), Fine Art Digital Photography (’09) and HDR Photography (2011). He and Master Photo Workshops have co-produced four photography DVDs: Visual Artistry, HDR Made Easy, Visual Literacy and Flower Photography Artistry, as well as an iPhone instructional video series.

The first book in his Fine Art Nature Photography eBook series, “Creative Techniques and the Art of Self Expression,” was just released.

Creating Silhouettes in Photography

Words & photos by Olympus Visionary, Mike Boening. (source:
Click images in this post to enlarge.

Creating silhouettes in photography is a great way to explore the drama in your environment, wherever you are. The contrast and lack of detail in a subject creates a mystery for the viewer, which can be beautiful and mysterious. They are easy to make and fun to look for the next time you’re out with your camera.

The key to making an effective and interesting silhouette: you must first focus on the subject; it is much more important than the actual technical skills involved. The simpler a subject the better, when looking to capture great silhouettes. You want a pronounced shape because you will not have much detail on your main subject. Outlines of bodies, hats or recognizable items are always a plus.

If you pick a subject that is blocky or boring you may not have what you are looking for. Usually one person works much better than a crowd because of the overlapping bodies may look very unusual. For those shots that might work with two or more, like a kissing couple, try to shoot it just before the contact is made so the heads or faces don’t blur into one large block in the image as an example.

The key technical parts of making a silhouette are all about backlighting. You want the background to be so bright that it overpowers the foreground and the side or shape of your subject. A great time to achieve this on the streets is when the sun is rising or setting because it’s the lowest in the sky at these points of the day. That will always help light your subject from behind. It’s not easy and you have to think about what you are seeing because it does differ from the type of photography you may normally be performing.

Let’s talk more about subjects to select. Something memorable and simple like I talked about above is the first part of selection. The second is the shape. An image taken straight on may not work. Try to have the subjects off to their sides or in a profile. Remember the shape needs to be distinct. Keeping your subject away from other items in the picture always helps. If you take an image of a person leaning on a building it may just all blend together and not possess the type of shapeful subject you were looking for.

PRODUCTS USED FOR IMAGES IN THIS POST: (click below for more info on each product)



Basic Tips for Photographing the Moon

Click images to enlarge.

The moon, regardless of whether it’s a supermoon or just a plain ’ole full moon makes a great subject to capture because you know it’s going to be visible every month. So, if you don’t get a great shot, just try again.
The moon can be photographed using a DSLR camera and zoom or super-telephoto lens and even super-telephoto COOLPIX cameras. One tip for increasing the apparent focal length of your lens on an FX or Full Frame Nikon DSLR is to set the camera into DX Crop mode. This will add the 1.5x crop that using a DX format Nikon DSLR would have done, giving you extra reach.

By the way: if you’re thinking of getting a new Nikon DSLR or lens, let us know you saw this blog post. You’ll receive a free camera sensor cleaning when you make the purchase with us. That’s a $60 value!

If you’re using any of the PSAM exposure modes, set the camera’s exposure manually or use program or shutter or aperture priority. You may want to underexpose the image to ensure that the detail of the craters on the moon’s surface aren’t blown out. Bracket exposures to find the ideal one for your taste. Using Spot metering will also help you get the correct exposure for the moon, which will be the brightest part of your image. Use a shutter speed of at least 1/15 second or faster since the moon actually moves pretty fast across the sky. Set the focus to infinity and if your choice of ISO allows it, set the aperture to f/11 or f/16.
Select COOLPIX cameras such as the Nikon P900 feature a Moon Scene Mode. Select it and the camera will optimize the settings, focusing at infinity, in the center of the frame. You may also want to use a tripod, and if you do, remember to set the VR to OFF in the setup menu. Don’t have a tripod? Brace yourself against a sturdy object or place the camera on a sturdy surface and use the Vari-angle LCD to compose the image.
Photographing the moon along with the foreground landscape can be tricky because of the wide dynamic range. Exposing for the foreground might cause the moon to be overexposed, and exposing for the moon might cause the foreground to be too dark. In this case the optimum solution may be to create a multiple exposure or composite. If you’re using a wide-angle lens and the moon is a small element, it likely won’t cause the overall image to suffer if the moon is blown out with no visible details.
There are a few ways that you can add the moon to another image for a more interesting composition. One of those techniques is by using the Multiple Exposure function that is incorporated into select Nikon cameras. (Check your camera’s User’s Manual to see if your camera has this feature.) Some Nikon DSLRs offer Image Overlay in the camera, which is another way of compositing two images together.
Yet another technique is to photograph the moon and the landscape as separate images and combine them together using an image-editing program. Use the same focal length that you shoot the landscape with, when you photograph the moon, for the most realistic look in the final composite. It also makes the actual compositing easier to do.
Other ways to get creative: set the Picture Control in the camera to B&W since the moon against the black sky is pretty much a monochromatic image. When doing so, try adjusting the red filter in the monochrome setting, which will give you more of a punchier tonal difference or higher contrast between the blacks and whites.
Use some of the fun effects that are built-into the camera for a unique view. Shoot video as you zoom into your shot, or experiment with time lapse of the moon’s movement across the sky.

  1. Select an aperture of f/11 or f/16.
  2. Use a shutter speed of at least 1/15 second or faster since the moon actually moves pretty fast across the sky.
  3. Set the focus to infinity.
  4. Use Spot metering to help you get the correct exposure for the moon, which will be the brightest part of your image.
  5. Set the camera’s exposure manually and underexpose the image to ensure detail of the craters on the moon’s surface. Want to use the camera set to programmed exposure? Just use the exposure compensation to underexpose the image for a correct exposure. Either way—bracket your exposures.