Monthly Archives: July 2012

Think about your snapshots

City Fish Market

I found myself in the Pike Street Market area of Seattle a couple weeks ago for work.  After I finished up with what I was there for, I grabbed my camera and wandered around the market a little.  I have been to the market many times, and I really wasn’t doing anything more than grabbing a few snapshots as I was enjoying everything that the market has to offer.

I have said many times that people should not discount the value of a snapshot, sometimes they become some of the most important images you can take, they can capture the emotion of a moment.

This little snapshot that I made that day doesn’t fit into that category, but it does represent something that I wanted to mention in a post.  Even if you are taking simple snapshots, do yourself the favor of paying attention to the basic “rules” of composition.  Many people would simply aim there camera at this iconic landmark and centered it right in the frame, they are taking a picture of a sign afterall, but if they did that, they might have missed that seagull that is flying straight towards them.  To me, this simple snapshot is changed by the simple addition of another element in what would have otherwise been negative space on the right side of the frame.  When I raised my camera to my eye to capture this, I didn’t know that the gull would be there, but if I hadn’t tried to compose the shot the way I did, I certainly would have missed him.


Posted in Photography Tagged |

Day Walkers – Shooting Lightning in the Daylight

The following post was originally published on my blog last year.  I am re-posting it here on the new blog unedited.  Remember, these images were made last year and are not from this years monsoon season.

The Skater

The Skater

Shooting lightning in the day is a lot different than shooting it at night.  At night you have the advantage of it being much darker which allows you to leave your shutter open for a longer period of time.  During daylight / dusk hours, there is a lot more ambient light which means that you have to be with much faster shutter speeds if you don’t want to severely over expose your images.

While there are many ways to capture daylight / dusk lightning, including things like lightning triggers, I am going to go over how I do it.


In The Desert

Desert lightning at dusk

I don’t own a lightning trigger.  It seems that the good ones are quite expensive and the more affordable ones simply don’t work all that well.  Because of that, I have to find other ways to try to maximize my chances of getting a strike or two while taking into account that I need fairly fast shutter speeds.  Some of the elements are the same as night shooting, I always use a tripod and I also fire my camera with a shutter release cable.

Where I use the bulb setting in manual mode at night, I stick with aperture priority during daylight / dusk.  I also like to have a middle to higher aperture set, in the case of these images it was f:8.  Not only do I not need to worry about DOF issues, it also allowed me to have shutter speeds in the neighborhood of one second for these dusk shots.  During brighter daylight, I still use this formula, I just have much faster shutter speeds.  I also like to dial in about a stop of under exposure in my exposure compensation to add some contrast between the lightning strike and everything else in the scene, that is just a matter of taste for me.

Once I have the settings the way I want them, and the camera mounted on the tripod, I compose the image the way I want it, composition is every bit as important in a lightning image as it is in any other image, I then start firing away on continuous mode.  Granted, you will make a lot more images that don’t have lightning than those that do, but by shooting on continuous mode you will insure that your shutter is open more than it is closed, this will give you a much better chance of catching something.  Don’t stop to review your images or delete those that were misses, you will never capture anything while chimping the back of your camera.

These two images were made on Sunday evening as the sun was setting.  We were on our way back from Roosevelt Lake and this storm was sitting over the Florence, AZ area.  I shot them from near Florence Junction.  I made about 400 exposures, probably 25 have lightning strikes, 6 are what I consider “keepers.”

As always you can click on either image to see a larger version of it, and please feel free to leave blog comments if you have any questions or have anything to add to this little tutorial.

Posted in StormChasing, WayBackMachine Tagged |

Reflections in IR



IR image of a small lake near Lacey, WA

You knew that this new blog wouldn’t be up very long without an IR image being posted. This image was made late last week at a little neighborhood park in Lacey, Washington with my IR converted Nikon D200. I really don’t have a lot to say about this image other than I like it, and that I wanted to post a recently captured image here instead of going back to the archives for this post.

I hope you enjoy the image, and stay tuned for more.

Posted in IR photography

Dandelion Wagon – A point and shoot sort of day

Dandelion Wagon

An old wagon sitting in a field of dandelions shot with a point and shoot camera

Over the last few years I have seen the phrase “point and shoot” become an almost derogatory term, and I have to be honest, that really bugs me.  Talk about elitism in photography.  Why is your image that was created with the bleeding edge camera body and gazillion dollar lens any better than an image captured with a point and shoot camera?  I am not talking about a technically better image at the pixel level, but simply how good the image actually is.  Composition and light/shadow are what make an image an image.  Are you more qualified to capture images because you have $10k worth of gear hanging around your neck than the guy next to you that has a couple hundred bucks worth of camera that you can’t even change the lens on?

I use an example of something that happened to me personally a few years ago at the downtown Chandler art walk.  I was walking around with a point and shoot camera looking at the work of 5 or 6 different photographers who were selling prints at the art walk.  Talk about being talked down to and treated as though I didn’t know a thing about photography.  The only photog at the entire event that I had a really nice conversation with was a young girl who was selling prints made from her point and shoot camera in hopes of saving up to buy an entry level dslr.  Needless to say, I bought two very nice prints from her.  I never bothered to tell any of them that the point and shoot that I was carrying was at the time the top of the line, shot RAW and cost as much as any entry level dslr that was available then. :-)

This all brings me to this image.  I made this image today as I was driving to Lowes to pick up a grill cover.  I have seen this old wagon almost every day since moving to Olympia and knew that there was an image to be made there.  My initial thoughts were that it would be a great IR image, and it still will, but today I saw all these great dandelions in living color.  How can you not just love the bright yellow against the green grass?  This image was not made with any of my dslr bodies, it was made with the point and shoot camera that I keep in my Tacoma.

The next time you feel the need to use the term “point and shoot” as a slur, please stop yourself and think about it.  It isn’t about gear, it is about images.  I don’t care what gear you use, just take the time to learn your craft and develop your skills and it won’t matter what camera you use.

Posted in Photography

Welcome to Scott Wood Photoblog

Up until very recently I had used as my general purpose blog.  Granted, about 95% of it’s contents were photography related, but it wasn’t exclusively photo related.  Infact, that site pre-dated my photo blogging by many years.

I had been wanting to make some changes to the way I was blogging, and to get the photo blog a little more “focused” so to speak. :-)  I sort of hastened that process this last week when I accidentally destroyed the whole site.  Even though I did have a backup, I decided that it was the perfect time to make some changes, and this new blog is the first of those.

Welcome to

Over the next few weeks I will be restoring some of the key posts from the old blog, and I plan on featuring a number of my images in a “Way Back Machine” manner as I used to on the old blog.

I will continue to use My Blue Heaven as my personal blog, and hope that you will consider following both of them.

There is still a lot of work to do around here, but the structure is in place and I didn’t want to go too long without posting new content, so stay tuned, there are some exciting announcements coming soon.

Posted in ScottWoodPhotography