Category Archives: Still Photos

Pure Michigan: Spring

In August of 2009 I was awared the Grand Prize for the Pure Michigan Professional Photo Contest. 50 photographers competed nationwide for each of ten spots. Each of the ten photographers photographed in their respective designated locations in the state for four months. I submitted a portfolio of 30 images from the Flint and Genesee County area. The judges included a National Geographic photographer, the editor of Outdoor Photographer and the photo editor of Arizona.

Below are the 30 photographs I submitted that won the contest and a $5,000 prize. Twelve photos are in the first pages of the book. To order the book click here.

Eleven of my students participated in my first Aerial Seminar on November 7, 2009. Expert pilot Craig Beins took each student up from Mt. Pleasant Airport for their first time photographing various areas in the Mt. Pleasant area. Each student had 15 minutes to photograph the area they desired, including Central Michigan University, the casino, farm lands, homes, and places they are shooting for class assignments. It was so great to see the smiles on their faces as they made pictures from 1,000 feet up in the sky.

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Sihang Zhang poses in the hallway just before my students set out in groups with pocket wizards, strobes, light stands and umbrellas. F5.6 at 1/200, ISO 400. Strpbe is on half power. 200 mm lens about 40 feet away. The umbrella provides a beautiful soft light espcially when fairly close to your subject.

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Nate Kostegian, right, and Joe Tobianski set up a light in the hallway of CMU’s new education building. F6.3 at 1/80th. 70mm lens. Slower shutter speed to lighten background.

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Studio student, Krista Tacey, brought in her childhood piggy bank and set this up during a hands on still life exercise. An SB 800 Nikon Speedlight was used with a Lumiquest Softbox III. A gobo was used to darken the background and eliminate a distracting reflection. In this case the gobo was a black piece of foam core held underneath the light and between the light and the piggy bank. The image was cropped slightly all around the scene to add impact.

Compare the two photos below. The top photo was shot bouncing the flash on the wall to Martha’s left. The bottom photo was taken with the flash turned around and aimed directly at her. Huge difference! The reason the light is so soft in the top photo is because the light source was about 6 to 8 feet in diameter coming from the wall. In comparison, the bottom photo’s light source was extremely narrow at about one inch by three inches. Notice also the fall off of the broad light lit up the background while the harsh lit photo had little fall off keeping the background dark. Also, with the broad light source the intensity diminishes. Notice the five stop difference between the exposure for each photo. Which do you prefer? Why?





One of my favorite things to photograph is the way human beings interact with each other. Capturing humans interacting in a way that shows intimate relationships is paramount to good photojournalism.  Animals are no different. It never ceases to amaze me to see the young being protected and nurtured by their parents. It is such a natural way of life for animals in the wild to take care of their young. It makes it hard for me to understand how humans can be abusive to each other.

LNW-CARIBOU-AND-CALFA caribou and calf.


A moose takes a moment to check on her calf.


Two yearling grizzly cubs share a moment at Sable Pass in Denali National Park in July of 2009.


A yearling grizzly cub makes eye contact with its mother.


A beaver and her kit seem to greet each other.


This moose calf chows down on willow while staying close to its mother. I saw it nursing but could not get a clear shot.


These appeared to me to be two young red fox siblings. They played with together on the road near Polychrome uninhibited by my presence from within the government vehicle I was issued.


A caribou and calf race across the tundra deep in the interior of Denali National Park. The calf never ventured too far away.