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Entries in Inspiration (9)


Watching and Waiting

Sometimes you can drive or hike out to the spot where you think you could make a great photograph. Sometimes you stumble upon those spots, and if you're prepared, you can work your magic. Other times you need to sit and wait for it to come to you. Such was the case for the photograph below.

Elvis was away from home, in a hotel room, without a vehicle. Heavy wind, rain and lightning kept Elvis from venturing outside, on foot, into the storm.

The trees were partially blocking the view but by putting them at the bottom the thought was they could make a nice frame or at least add some contrast to the sky. Elvis took 67 shots over a period of 2 hours hoping to catch the lightning, and this is the only frame that did. The deep, angy sky adds drama to the lighting bolts. Patience was a virtue.



Taken with a Nikon D2x and a 20-35mm lens.


Pining Away

Pining away for new or upgraded equipment is a fool's game. Use what you have. Until (if ever) your photographic equipment fails you, or fails to perform to your needs - you're good.

Elvis knows what you're thinking; "Easy for you, Elvis, you've got a top-of-the-line Nikon and quality glass". True enough. But understand that Elvis used to roam the Lambeau Field sidelines taking pictures of the mighty Green Bay Packers. The old Nikon D100 just didn't cut it in terms of speed or in image quality. The newspapers Elvis worked for demanded high pixel count, even though they printed medium quality jpegs no larger than 6 inches by 6 inches. So a Nikon D3 it was.

Short of sports or weddings (or battlefield or space photography) you simply don't need that much camera.

Elvis sometimes shoots with a Nikon D7000 and thinks that in many respects it's better than the D3. The D3 wins in speed and high ISO (low light) shooting, but the D7000 wins in almost every other category. Reviews of both cameras coming soon to

Pining for something better (or newer, faster, etc.) leads to stress. Be happy with what you have and you'll be happy. Like what you have and you'll have what you like.

One shot HDR image made with Nikon D3s and Nikon 105 macro lens


The Forest Through The Trees

Sometimes it's easy to forget just why we take pictures.  Some times it's to create art.  Other times it's just for fun.  Many times it's to document an event or a person or a place.  But for some hard-core photographers it's about production.  Gotta make the images.  Elvis thinks this attitude kills creativity.  If you start making photographs for the sake of making photographs all inspiration is gone.  And when inspiration is gone the likelihood of making something worthwhile goes effectively to zero.

Another sure way to zero-creativity madness is when we focus (pun intended) on equipment.  Gotta get that new Nikon lens or that new Canon 60D, then my photographs will be great.  You get the new thing and start snapping away.

Without a specific purpose it's difficult to create something, anything, worthwhile.  If you're in that rut, stop.  Think about what you're doing and why you're doing it.  Only with purpose can we get inspired.  Only with inspiration can we create lasting photographs.  It's not about the doing, it's about the why.  Even if the why is simply to have some fun.  Elvis thinks having fun should be a specific purpose in everyone's life.

Forest on Cana Island, Door County, Wisconsin.  HDR image taken with Nikon D3s and 14-24mm lens.


Catch As Catch Can

Some photographs require lots of planning, testing and trial and error.  Others are seen only if you are looking
and are willing to take the chance to make them.

On a trip west Elvis happened to be crossing the Mighty Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, WI.  A thunderstorm had just moved through and as the headlights hit the rising road of the box girder bridge the scene below unfolded.



As usual when seeing nice opportunities from a moving vehicle, Elvis was thinking, "That would make a pretty nice picture, but it's a long drive, I'm tired, how can I stop in the middle of the road, bla, bla, bla".  But the sign welcoming travelers to Iowa read, "Iowa, The Land of Opportunities", so Elvis decided to take a chance.  He drove back across the river, turned around, waited for a group of cars to pass and parked his car slap bang in the middle of the road with the high beams on.  He quickly grabbed his trusty Olympus OM-1n with 50mm lens and put it on a tripod.  He set the aperture at 2.8 and watched the needle as he switched between shutter speeds.  Estimating a time of 2-3 seconds based on the needle movement he took one shot at 2 seconds and another at 3 seconds.  Then quickly ran to the car to get off the middle of the highway, at night, in the rain.  Whew!

A month passed (vacation over, film sent in for processing) and the yellow box of Kodak Kodachrome slides finally arrived.  The reward for taking the chance and not passing up the opportunity was in that little yellow box. 

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