Center Composition

Composition seems to be the component in photography that allot of people struggle with.  You are told you must stick to the basic rules of composition.  Then, sometimes, you are told that it's OK to break those rules.  So, follow the rules...break the all makes sense now, right?

I generally base most of my compositions off the "rule of thirds".  The rule of thirds, if you aren't aware of it, is a composition rule that divides your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically so you have nine parts, or squares, like a tic tac toe board.  The idea is to place your main point of focus at one of the intersecting points of the squares.  This is supposed to make your image better balanced and give a more natural viewing experience.  Like I mentioned, this is the rule I base almost all of my compositions off of.  It's what I am always thinking about when I compose a shot through the viewfinder.

There are times, however, that I want my subject in the center of the frame.  You will hear many give advice against putting your subject in the dead center of the frame.  However, when I do it, I am still thinking about the rule of thirds.

Aperture-priority, 1/250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 1000, Compensation: +2/3, 600 mm

This elk, for example, is in the center of the frame.  As I was composing this shot, I was thinking about the rule of thirds, like always, and wanted to position his eyes on the "upper" third line.  Although the eyes aren't at one of the intersecting points, they are placed along the line of thirds.  In my opinion, this still works.  Being an outdoor/nature photographer, I use this type of composition most often when photographing wildlife.  In a scene like this one, where the critter is looking straight into the lens, I think it works well.  It gives you a sense of making direct eye contact with the critter.  Personally, I don't think you would get that instant sense if this scene were composed with the elk's eyes at one of the intersecting points.

Composition rules...follow them, bend them, break them.  Do whatever it takes to make the image a pleasurable experience for the viewer.  

This elk was photographed in Cataloochie Valley in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

This image was made using my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600 G2 Lens mounted on my Sirui Tripod with PH-20 Gimbal Head.  Camera settings can be viewed by hovering over the image.

That Lens Isn't Wide Enough

This past weekend, I met up with a small group of friends to do some waterfall photography in the back woods of North Georgia.  I am always up for waterfall photography!  When you throw in nice weather conditions and a waterfall I've never visited before, I will be even more excited.

I wanted to make sure I was traveling light for the trip, so I only took the Canon 5D IV and the new Tamron 24-70mm G2 Lens.  This was my second chance to try out the new Tamron Lens.  I have no idea how they did it, but they managed to make it even better than the previous 24-70, which I used more than any other lens in my arsenal. 

One of the falls we visited was Crow Creek Falls.  It has two parts, an Upper Crow Creek Falls and a Lower Crow Creek Falls.  I enjoyed the upper falls much more and spent more time photographing it. 

Did I mention that I only brought my 24-70mm lens?  When I typically shoot these water scenes, I like to use a wide angle lens and anchor the foreground with something.  In my experience going with a wider lens, like a 15-30mm is usually too wide for these scenes.  It also presents a bit of another problem in the fact that you will absolutely need a circular polarizer for these scenes...and although I have the polarizer setup for that lens, it is bulky and takes a bit of work to assemble.  I went the lazy route and stuck with the 24-70mm lens and its easy peasy, screw on polarizer.

Aperture-priority, 2.5 sec, f/16, ISO 100, 24mm

I wanted to use this group of rocks and small cascade as my foreground anchor, but when I tried that at 24mm I was losing the main waterfall in my composition.  I need to be wider!  Crap, I was lazy and didn't bring my wider lens.  What did I do?  I took two shots.  One for the foreground, then another including the main waterfall in the background overlapping the scene by about 30%.  In Lightroom I used the Photo Merge feature to create a panoramic out of the two images.  I got the composition I wanted and I could still be a little lazy by only bringing one lens...winner winner chicken dinner!

Image made with Canon 5D IV, Tamron 24-70mm G2 Lens and Sirui Circular Polarizer.  Gear supported by a Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20x Ballhead.

Tips For Posting To Instagram From Your Computer

Photographers in the masses have been trying to figure out why Instagram has never given us access to post our images from a computer.  That is where we edit them, right?  Wouldn't it be easy to edit and post from the same place?

Luckily, I came across this nifty little program several months back called Grids.  Not only is it a great way to post to Instagram from a computer, but it does an amazing job at displaying your Instagram feed on a large screen.

When you visit the website, , you will notice the elegant design right away.

It is available for download for both Mac and PC, and the full Pro version only cost $9.  You can only view your Instagram feed with the free version.  You will need the Pro version to post to Instagram.

Once you install the application and log in using your Instagram account info, your feed will be brilliantly displayed.  You can set your display options to view only images,  images with a brief description or images with the full description.  You can also set the size of the images in the preferences.  You can post images, video and even stories from your computer.  There are even keyboard shortcuts for you fancy keyboard shortcuters.

It is super simple to post, too.  It will even let you drag and drop.

This is how the feed looks once you get logged in through the app.  It is pretty sweet!  One of the only caveats I have found is that when using hashtags with your post it doesn't remember your frequently used hashtags, like when you post from a mobile device.  

However, if you are on your desktop posting, you can visit this handy little website called Display Purposes.  It will allow you to type in a hashtag, like say #landscape, then do a search and it gives you suggested related hashtags you can use with it.  It even has a copy button so it will copy to your clipboard, then you can paste into the caption filed in Grids or add as a seperate comment.

P.S.  I have no affiliation with either Grids or Display Purposes.  I purchased my Pro version of Grids for $9.  I feel like $9 is more than fair for a program that helps me solve an issue I have had since I started using Instagram.

Hopefully this helps you if you were looking for something that would allow you to post from your desktop without any special modification or workaround techniques. 


It's that time of year again... 

In a few, short days, we will get what may be, for some of us, our only attempt this year at photographing fireworks.  In order to make sure your ready and prepared, I'm going to give you a few pointers for capturing the best images possible.  

  • Tripod - You NEED a tripod in order to capture nice, sharp images of fireworks,  Your shutter will be open for several seconds at a time.  Unless you are dead, there is no way you can hold still for even a few seconds.  If you have no access to a tripod, you can attempt to brace yourself against a wall or something of the like, but if you try that, you're likely to go home and order a tripod.
  • Cable Release - This is a nice tool to have to eliminate shake in your camera, which could cause blurry images.  You could use your camera's self timer in a pinch, but I'm a much bigger fan of the cable release.
  • Bulb Mode - If you are using a DSLR, or a camera with full manual controls, your camera probably has a BULB Mode setting.  In this mode, your shutter stays open as long as your holding the button down.  What this enables you to do, is press your cable release as soon as the fireworks launch and hold it down until the pretty explosion is over.  If your camera has no BULB mode, you can use manual mode also, but you'll have to experiment with shutter speeds and have a bit of extra luck.  If you are using a compact, or point and shoot that doesn't have manual controls, try using on of the scene modes to attempt slowing the shutter, usually the "Night" mode works well.
  • Aperture - I always try shooting shooting at an aperture between F/8 and F/16.  It varies depending upon how bright the surrounding area is.  F/8 is always a good starting point.
  • Focus  - You'll cuss far less during your time out photographing the fireworks if you use manual focus.  It may sound intimidating, but there's really nothing to it.  If your lens has a focusing dial on it, you can turn it all the way to infinity and then back off just a hair.  This should ensure everything in the scene is in focus. Auto-focus will make you say things you will regret if you try it.
  • Experiment -  Don't be afraid to experiment.  Especially with compositions.  Try shooting in tight and then try wide shoots with something interesting in the foreground, too.


Hopefully these tips will help you while you're out "shooting" fireworks.  Oh yeah, a few more things...have fun, eat BBQ and most importantly, thank a troop, or veteran, or both!