Happy New Year!

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I would like to thank you all for an amazing year! I started this website just a year ago today to get to know people that loved the outdoors and photography as much as I do. What an amazing year it has been; I have met so many great people, made some lifelong friends and have learned so much along the way.

Some very, very BIG adventures are coming in the new year for us, and I am so excited to take you along! 

Now let's get out there!  

 

Thank you,

William Gillette

Wyoming

Mountains, planes, rolling hills, rivers, lakes, and streams, here in Wyoming there are so many different types of topography all in one location. On this trip we visited a beautiful section of Wyoming called Seminoe State Park. As we exited the interstate we passed a small sign that read Seminoe State Park 30 miles ahead. That 30 miles of open road went from pretty to beautiful to amazing into unbelievable. The drive in was full of wildlife, antelope herds of fifty or more ran along side our car. Their bright white and tan fur blended together as they ran, so well that you could hardly tell where one antelope stopped and the other began. In a few locations along the roadside I stepped out, camera in hand to get a shot of the passing herds. The antelope quickly let me know that having that many friends watching your back makes for a quick response and an even quicker getaway! 

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About half way in we came upon enormous sand dunes! No rocks, no trees, just the softest finest sand in many shades of red, tan, and white. I am told it is an ATV'ers Dream! My sister in-law, brother in-law and my nephew trailer their ATV's into Seminoe whenever they can to enjoy the endless riding trails and magnificent mountain views. They have told me so many great stories about the trials and dunes. We plan to come back in the spring to do some back country rides with them, I can't wait. 

As we rounded a bend I caught sight of an enormous valley and down at the bottom was a beautiful lake. This lake is man made and it was made by damming up the Seminoe River. Along side the lake sits the boat club, a group of small cabins next to the docks and launch that gives access to this recreational boaters paradise. 

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A bit farther down the road we came to the camping area, a well maintained small group of sites with all the hookups and comforts you need. As we toured the campground we noticed a small group of wild horses grazing by the roadside. There were all different colors from white, tan, painted, and an all black horse that's fur was so dark it looked as if it was velvet. My wife Nancy and I jumped out of the vehicle and slowly made our way down the road toward the horses. As we approach they did not seem to mind us in their space. I snapped a few shots from a distance and a few more as we got closer. We watched as they slowly moved along and crossed the campground road in front of us. The large painted horse turned toward us and slowly came in our direction he stopped about 30 feet in front of us and seemed to pose for a few pictures before going back to his group. 

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Over all our trip to Wyoming was so amazing. But as all trips, it was way to short. So much to see and so much to do, Wyoming we will be back for another ride next year and we can hardly wait! 

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Deer it's COLD.

This week we are out west! Rawlins Wyoming, a beautiful little town on the edge of the Continental Divide 7000 feet above sea level. The snow and cold weather are a great change of pace, highs in the teens and lows in the negatives. 

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There have been a lot of firsts on this trip so far. This is the first time I have been to Colorado, and Wyoming. The first time I have been in weather under -20 degrees, and the first time I have seen a Mule deer in the wild! What amazing animals, large groups of them walking across vast, open snowy, wind blown landscapes. It looks to me like the community group is strong with these animals. As I watch them you can clearly see the mothers walking along with there little ones tow. As the dominant buck sits quietly watching the heard. 

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The photographer in me wants to spend hours and hours following and patiently waiting for the perfect moment. And the photographers wife next to me says lets go it's cold!

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Friend Me! It Will Be Fun!

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Over the next 6 days I will be doing some traveling to a great American city. One rich in history and beauty. What will I be doing? Geocaching, hiking, photography, history, celebrating my wife birthday, visiting some beautiful places and so much more! Where are we going? You need to follow along to find out! I am going to be posting all photos from the trip on Facebook this time. So if you would like to come along for the ride friend me at www.facebook.com/gilletteoutdoors i will see you there! 

William Gillette

Share It

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 It's worth sharing. What is better than witnessing something amazing? Sharing that moment with someone else. Have you ever had something happen when you were totally alone and thought to your self they will never believe what just happened? Most of the time you tell your story later but it just doesn't have the same energy or excitement. That memory goes by the wayside even if it was amazing. Now take that same event and ad one friend seeing it with you, Wow the stories you will tell, bouncing that emotion back and forth between the two of you. your friends and family listen to your story start to get excited and it becomes a moment. Years could go by and your friend will say remember that time we... And you will laugh and get to relive it again and again, that moment will not only live on but that relationship is stronger because of it. Me and my best friend A.K.A my wife do this often, a silent car ride one minute. The next minute we are both laughing so hard we have tears in our eyes, one "hey remember when.." Will create hours of open conversation. So go on an adventure, do something new, bring your friends, and family, create some "remember when..." Moments. Life is worth sharing!

Hike Fit

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Experts say that Backpacking can burn up to 650 calories per hour in easy terrain. Even hiking without a pack can burn up to 550 calories per hour. So if you were looking for a way to get fit this summer get outdoors and hike your butt off. And remember camera gear counts! Pack it, Use it! Wouldn't you rather be hiking in the mountains than on some treadmill in a gym?

Everyone is looking for a way to lose weight and stay fit these days. There are so many fad diets, meal replacements, calorie counting, and magic pills to loose weight. It's getting harder and harder to understand just what is best for you. 

And on top of that as we get older issues such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, and the list goes on. Did you know that over 750,000 people died last year from heart disease? Or that the number of people with diabetes is up more than 50% from the 1980s? That's pretty bad right? Being over weight is the number one cause of not just these two diseases but many others facing us today.

So how can we fix it? To start a heathy diet starting with vegetables, fruit, healthy proteins, and no  processed foods. But that is not enough, exercising  and being active is the key to being healthy! Here are some facts for you to think about. 

- Hiking helps lower blood pressure and reduce hypertension. 

- Hiking helps your body release adrenaline to eases tension and lower anxiety. 

- Hiking increases bone density and slows the rate of calcium loss to decreases the effects of Osteoporosis.

- People who hike will lose more weight and will be able to maintain wieght loss more than people who diet only. 

- Hiking will actually help to reverse type 2 Diabeties and lower the dependence of insulin in type 1 Diabeties.

- Hiking will not only help your body but your mind as well, fresh air, fresh sights, and sounds will help stimulate your brain and make it easier to clear your head.

- Hiking will also help you sleep, lack of sleep is one of the biggest problems facing people today. 

Hiking is a very low impact activity and almost anyone can do it. Growing up many great friendships and relationship came from hiking with others. There is something fulfilling about going on a journey with someone you care about. Take your children hiking, spend some time with them away from TVs and video games, it will be hard at first but once out on the trail they will love it, and the memories and healthy habits you create will last a lifetime.

life

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Sitting by a small stream on a cool spring day in the middle of the forest takes me back. The time spent by the waters edge is short but the good it does last a lifetime. When I was just a boy I remember camping trips with my mother, our site always on the water. Or trips to Formar,a nature reserve in MI with my sister to go on short hikes. know matter what we would always stop by a small babbling creek just long enuf to take it all in. Or try to cross it on a large fallen log. Why do we as humans have this deep connection with water? To me it is because it is ever changing, like life. Rain up stream means high water and a faster current, the creek will surge to life taking with it sand and debris that will forever change its banks. Over time it will change the landscape, it will change corse as rocks or trees obstruct its flow. All the time pressing onward never to be held back. But for this one moment in time as I sit closely by it feels familiar, it is never the same yet it is always the same. I know that there will always be obstacles to overcome. Adapt change corse and all ways press onward never giving up, this is life.

Your Tracks

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Walking down some forgotten trail in the middle of nowhere often times I will come across a track left by a fellow hiker. My mind will often start to wonder what this persons story is. What I have found out is that as you fallow a strangers tracks down a trail you start to learn many thing about them, things that they may not even know. And from these things your mind starts to draw conclusion. First off the obvious, shoe size and distance between steps. Weight how deeply the track sinks into the soil. But more than that, I can tell if a person is careful or careless by how they choose to walk around a puddle or walk through it. I can tell a respectful person from a disrespectful one by the way they step around a flower or plant in the trail or on it, if they break branches on the trees as they move down the trail. Even things like a fresh chewing gum rapper thrown on the ground as they walk. I can tell a level of passion by the way they stop and turn to look out at a great view or a small stream. All of these small things ad up to big conclusion in my mind, I begin to get an impression of this person before ever even seeing there face or hearing what they have to say. Often times these things come to a head and if I do come across this person on a trail I have made the decision to talk to them and share story's or a quick hello is all they get. It is funny how much this parallels your every day life, often times someone has already made a first impression of you before you have even met. They have seen something along your path that has given them resin to think they know something about you. What kind of tracks are you leaving?

Up a creek! (Campfire story #3)


 

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One spring day Nancy and I decided to head over to one of our favorite state parks here in Florida. O'leno State Park located in High Springs FL sits on the banks of the Santa Fe River which is great for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. This area has some of the most beautiful oak lined riverbanks and I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice paddle and fish location. 

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This trip marks the first time my wife and I every went fishing from a canoe, and the last. As we paddled up stream enjoying the beautiful forest we passed so much wildlife along the way, deer, pigs, birds, turtles, and alligator sat near the shore warming them selves in the sun. The water was a bit low this time of year so on occasion we would need to get out of the canoe and push it over logs and shallow spots in the stream. About two miles up river we passed one of the largest alligators I have seen in the wild and in person. As a nature lover and a Floridian I know that these beautiful animals want nothing more than to be left alone and to be given there space. If you leave them alone they will leave you alone. Respect is a two way street in the wild. We watched him from a far for a few minutes and then continued up the river. About fifty yards up stream we came to a section of river that looked a bit deeper and we decided to try our hand a fishing from the canoe. 

Once we got the tackle and poles out and finally got our lines wet the fish started to bite right away. Nancy catching the first, a large fish know as a Bowfin. If you have never seen a Bowfin take a second to look one up. Let's just say they are very large and they have a mouth full of teeth! She reeled the fish up next to the boat and I pulled it over into the canoe, it must have been about 24 inches long. I worked the hook free from his sharp scary teeth and held him up one last time before setting him free. 

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Back to the fishing rods, I cast my bait in the area Nancy had been fishing before and that made her look for a new spot to cast her line. Just then she decided to turn around in the canoe with out warning to me her sudden movement flipped the boat completely spilling us and all of our stuff into the river! Rods, bait, tackle, lunch, shoes, cloths, paddles, and cooler gone! And suddenly that shallow creek that just a few minutes before was not deep enough to float a boat in was way over our heads.  

My first thought was to grab the now sinking canoe, as I hold the canoe in one hand and tread water with the other I remember that only about fifty yards up stream is a giant alligator and I just released a giant fish with giant teeth in the exact spot I was now treading water. I would be lieing if I said it didn't make me a bit worried, suddenly the boat was pointed strait down as I held the front end of it. This was a 15 foot canoe and it was not touching the bottom the water must have been twenty feet deep or more. One slip of the hand and we would be walking two miles though some of the thickest Florida forest I have seen back to camp. We slowly made our way over to shore which was almost to steep to climb. It took some team work to get the canoe back afloat, I jumped in the boat and paddled with my hands down river to find our paddles and cooler stuck in a fallen tree. The whole time Nancy walked along the shore asking me if I was mad that she flipped us. At the time I was just happy to be alive! By the time we made it back to camp we had laughed so much about it my sides hurt. That is one of my favorite memories.

 

Depth Of Field

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

One thing that separates a DSLR camera from your standard point and shoot is the dramatic range when it comes to Depth of field. 

depth of field (DOF): is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

TRY THIS

Put your camera on a tripod, go outside and find a fence. Set up yor camera so the legs of your tripod are touching the bottom of the fence and rotate the camera so it is looking down the fence line. Set your DSLR setting to "A" (Aperture Priority mode) and adjust you the dial on your camera that controls the Aperture setting or the F# on your cameras readout. If you have never adjusted these setting on your camera dust off the manual or search your cameras model number online for info on your specific cameras adjustments. 

Adjust the apriture (F#) to the lowest possible number for you camera, each lense has a different range of apriture so this number will be different depending on you lense. Take a picture down the fence line.  

Now without moving your camera adjust the apriture (F#) setting to the highest possible number. Take a picture down the fence line.

Compare the images.  

 

You will see that they are very different. Let's talk about the first image you took, with the lowest apriture (F#) setting. In this image the section of fence closest to the camera should be blurry and out of focus, as the fence gets farther away it should become clear and in focus and than as the fence goes on it will become out of focus again. This is short or shallow Depth Of Field.

Now in the second image the fence should be almost completely in focus the entire way. This is a long Depth Of Field.  

 

Left apriture F22, Right apriture F3.5

Left apriture F22, Right apriture F3.5

Depth of field is a great tool for telling a story in an image, it places the focal point of your shot front and center. Also the out of focus portion of the image adds mistery to the shot. Play around with your apriture setting and practice useing this setting. It's setting like this that make good images great images. 

Camping Quick Tip

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Campsite Bandits! When camping you should always be cautious of the animals that live in the forest that serounds you. This means keeping your food out of reach.  When shopping for containers to hold your camping supply's make sure that they are sturdy and that they lock or can be latched closed so that the wildlife do not get in them. Now in places that have bears that frequently visite campers make sure that you use extra precautions to ensure that they do not get in for a free snack. Even in FL where we have very few bears, I still secure my food containers in the trunk of my car at night so as to take the temptation away from the critters. Just remember anything left out WILL be eaten by something at night. It is our responsibility to keep it locked up, the animals are just doing what they can to find food.  

 

Location, Location, Location!

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A very wise man once said "if you want to take more interesting pictures go to more interesting places". Now as a young photographer I remember running around trying to make somthing out of nothing when it came to locations, and some times it worked. But as I have gotten older I now realize that location and timing are everything in photography.

Now that's not to say that sometimes the stars don't align and you get that unbelievable shot that no one could plan for. It is more realistic that you put in the time on scouting and light mapping and timing everything out to give you the best possible chance of getting the shot you are working toward.  

Some important thing to consider when looking at a location for outdoor photography. 

When I find a location I like, I always look at the angle I need to be in for the shot. In the compass app I take a screen cap with my phone (above) so I have the information at hand when I am planing my shoot. From this screen cap I can tell I am shooting west into a setting sun. This is good info to help plan.  

When I find a location I like, I always look at the angle I need to be in for the shot. In the compass app I take a screen cap with my phone (above) so I have the information at hand when I am planing my shoot. From this screen cap I can tell I am shooting west into a setting sun. This is good info to help plan.  

1. Location, ( literally GPS or address) I always grab a quick GPS location on my iPhone. I do this so it is easy to go back to this place in the future or if I am working with others I can send them the location in google maps so they can easily find it. I also meet a lot of other nature photographers out on trails and it's nice to be able to help them find new exciting locations. 

2. Light, look around for issues regarding light. Will a setting sun be to bright to shot in the direction you will be set up? You might need to try sun rise. Are you in thick tree canopy and need the sun to be overhead to give you the best chance for proper exposure? Again a smartphone compass is a great tool that almost everyone has on them at all times. 

3. Climate, here in FL we deal with bad rain storms almost daily. I know that between 2pm and 5pm during the summer I need to make sure I have a plan in place to deal with storms. Or that in the winter months our high water table causes thick fog in the early morning hours. Researching things like this will also help in determining the direction you want to take in telling the story with your shot. 

4. Terrain, when scouting a location take carful note of the terrain you will be shooting in and anything along the trail you will be traveling to get there. When planing  a shoot the gear you bring will be drastically different if you need to hall it 18 miles up mountains and across rivers, And being prepared when you get there is a must. Tripods, filters, lens, cards, remote shutter, rain gear, water... This stuff gets heavy don't overload with stuff you will not use, plan the shoot and shoot the plan!   

All of these factors will come in to play when out on the trail. I don't plan out every photo, sometimes they come by chance. But when you find a great location and really want to make that capture special. Take the time to plan and give you image the best chance of being the one you have in your mind.

 

Camping Quick Tip

Over the years I have found that when campground camping in cold weather it pays to be prepared for the worst! By the worst I mean a sudden cold front that blows in bringing the temp down to about 20 degrees ferinheight and the air mattress your sleeping on just allows the cold air to get you not only from the top but the bottom. Tents are mostly designed to breath so it's hard to trap enough heat in. A portable heater will just go up and out through your rain fly, and can be dangerous around flammable material. So what do you do?

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

Heated mattress pad! For two reasons. One the heat wants to rise, if the heat is coming from underneath you it will be trapped in your covers and keep them warm as well. And two the heat will keep your air mattress full of air. As it gets colder the air inside your mattress will shrink causing your bed to sag, very bad for your back.

Why not a heated blanket? A heated blanket is ment to go on top of you not underneath, what I have found is that this keeps you top half warm fine, but the air in your mattress will slowly cool down and your bottom will get colder with it.  

A queen size heated mattress pad will run you about $30 and will fold down much smaller than a blanket for space. I always have ours with us, it is just a part of our equipment. We learned our lesson one day in late March in FL when the day time temp went from 75 degrees to a night time of 20 degrees. That was a miserable night! 

Sometimes it the little things like a nice warm bed on a cold night that makes your trip just that much more relaxing. Enjoy!

Photography Basics : The Rule Of Thirds

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The rule of thirds is a very basic rule that is so simple but goes so far when it comes to its application in nature photography. 

Rule Of Thirds ; dividing an image in three equal parts vertically and three equal parts horizontally. The intersections made by these lines are the focal points of an image.    

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If you look at these images you will see that I have divided them as per the rule of thirds. When I set up these shots I purposely placed the subjects that I wanted to highlight into the intersections. By doing this I made these subjects the first thing you look at when you see the photo. Your eyes will go to these focal points first automatically without you even  knowing it is happening. 

Why? It is a natural thing that you do. Survival as a human depends on it! You have been doing it your entire life. Every day you use this skill without thinking twice about it. You first learned it as a baby. When you where a baby and could not communicate with your mom and dad you looked at there faces to get your information. More importantly you looked at there eyes and mouth. If they were smiling you knew everything was ok and you where safe, there eyes bright and wide and the corners of there mouth upturned. If they where scared  you also knew to stay close to mom and dad. If you have kids you know how this works. It is the reason a baby smiles when you smile it makes them feel safe. 

 

Geocaching

 

A real life treasure hunt! One of my favorite things to do when I am hiking and camping is to Geocache. Geocaching is basically a global game of hide and seek, one person hides a small countainer full of stuff and then posts the GPS coordinates online at Geocaching.com, then the seeker downloads the FREE moble App on any smartphone to find it.

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The App is simple, one button push and you will see all of the Geocaches in your area. Just select one on the map and then follow the map to the treasure. Once at the container you will find a standard set of items. First is a card or paper telling you that you just found a Geocache. Next is the logbook, this book is left in the cache for everyone who finds it to sign and leave a message to all other finders. Other than those two item you will find "stuff" basically buttons, pins, trinkets, toys... I have even found tool kits, flashlights, money, and an RC car one time. This stuff or swag as most cachers call it is meant to be traded for. #1 rule you take something you leave something of equal or greater value. This makes every cache exciting to find because you never know what you might find! 

One of the most eye opening things about Geocaching comes when you first download the App. The first time I pushed the find a cache button I realized that these things are everywhere! There were fifty to sixty in my home town, I walked within feet of some of them for years and did not even know they where there. But the best part is that some of them led me down back roads and to nature trails that I never knew about. I have lived in this town for over thirty years and just last year found amazing thing miles from my house that I did not know existed. 

This is by far one of my favorite outdoor activitys and now my friends and family are all into it! I have found several hundred caches in just two short years. And every time we camp, hike, backpack, or if I am just out shooting a few nature photos, I always check to see if there is a Geocache near by! Download the App

Get Out There! 

 

"Controlling Light" Part 4

This is the last video in a four part series called "Controlling Light". A photography basics video that will help you better understand the Manual (M) settings on your camera. Knowing what these settings are and how they affect your camera will help you understand how to use them

 

Phototogrphy Quick Tip!

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

 Here is a Photography Quick Tip. Straight lines are pleasing to the eye in photographs because they give your eye a path to follow through the shot. Your eye will automatically go to the end of this bridge first, because that is where all of the lines lead. In Landscape photography this is used often with images of roads, paths, fences, even rows of bushes or pines on a hillside can give you great lines. Practice useing straight lines like this to help your images tell a story to the viewer. When I framed up this shot I wanted to show the viewer how long and narrow this bridge over the gorge was. I chose this high angle with my focal path directly down the center of the image. I tried to give my viewer the same feeling and focal point I had when I first came up to this bridge. Only AFTER I located my destination point on the bridge did I look around at all of the beautiful view, and that is the way I wanted my viewer to see it as well.

Keep in mind the story you are telling may not only be visual but also mental. If I shot this image at eye level, you would have seen the bridge I wanted you to see, but by elevating the camera 12 feet above the walkway of the bridge I tried to capture the feeling you get when stepping out onto a suspension bridge 100 feet over a river. 

Practice is the only way to become a good story teller in photography. It may take 200 shots from 30 angles to get the look and feel you want. Keep try, keep thinking outside the box "pixels are free" every photographer in the world has 100 times more bad shots than good. After you get that shot that tells the story you want to tell, you will always remember the technique you used to get it for next time. And working through a shot like that is what makes good photographers great photographers! 

Now Get Out There!  

Graduated ND Filter.


Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

One piece of equipment that any nature photographer needs is a good set of ND filters, and specifically a graduated ND filter. ND stands for Nutral Density and it stops down the intencety of the light without much change in color. Most people have seen circular ND filters that screw onto the front of your lense that are one solid tint. The graduated version goes from ND tint to clear glass in a smooth soft transition. Pictured you will see a camera with a filter frame and filters installed. I prefer this style filter over the circular style for a few reasons. The first being you can easily ad more than one filter to the frame. Second the frame allows you to slide the filter in any direction in or out of frame so you can more precisely put your gradient portion of the filter where you need it. A circular graduated filter will blend in the middle of the shot every shot. So I find you set the shot up for the filter instead of filtering for the shot you want.  

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

When do I use a Graduated ND Filter? This is used when there is a portion of you shot that is to bright to keep the rest of the image properly exposed. Example sunsets are one place I almost always use my GND filter. The foreground is in shadow because the sun is directly behind it, if you have ever taken a picture of a sunset you know that most everything in the foreground of the shot will be total black and the sky will be properly exposed or the foreground will be properly exposed and the sky will be total white and lack color (clipping). Using a GND filter you can place the gradient portion of the filter just below the horizon line then meter for exposure. Your capture will be more evenly exposed, you will get the great colors from the sky and still have foreground to tell a story.  

This filter also works great when in the woods, canopied trees darken the forest floor sometimes you will get hot spots from breaks in the tree cover. It also works great for high temp reflections off of water. There are many uses for this style filter. The cost will very wildly depending on quality, but you can pick up a descent set for around $80 US, and if you take proper care of them they will last you a very long time. 

Now Get Out There!  

 

Camping Quick Tip


Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

Here is a quick tip. Throw a permanent marker in with you camping gear today, if you wait you will forget. When camping in groups it helps to mark drink cups, bottles, cans, even plates. This will benefit you in two ways. First, everyone will know which drink is there's. Second, people especially kids tend to reuse disposable items like cups when it is personalized. Saving money, storage space, and the beautiful environment we all love.  

"Controlling Light" Part 3

 

  This is the third video in a four part series called "Controlling Light". A photography basics video that will help you better understand the Manual (M) settings on your camera. Knowing what these settings are and how they affect your camera will help you understand how to use them

Source: http://