Category Archives: Photo Blog

Birds on The Lake

Last week I finally got the Kayak out on the lake to do some bird shots. Although it was more of a trial run for the Kayak (making sure everything is ship shape), and the car, (Seeing if the kayak would fit on the car).

Need a bigger boat!


So I lucked into a nice day, although it may have been too nice, very bright out and unseasonably warm by the time to the lake. At least I didn’t have any storms to face that day though. So after working out mounting the kayak on the car, I headed for Douglas Lake. Actually it was on the Pigeon River near where it meets the French Broad River, kind of the beginning of the lake.

I got to the lake and got the kayak into the water about 11am. Pretty bright by that time, and I took the little camera for this outing. I still have to work out a dry system for the larger camera to fit the kayak. But this area is a wetlands area and a little bit of a preserve so the birds were abundant. Herons, Osprey, Ducks, Geese, Anhingas, and many more were out in numbers, along with a couple eagles.

Bright Sunny Day




The kayak is great for its stability. None of the worries of leaning to far that you get in a canoe, but in the end you are shooting from a boat that is moving, albeit slowly, from a sitting position. So stabilizing the camera was challenge, even for the small and light Panasonic FZ50 I was using.  I chose this camera as a small fixed lens camera I could keep in the car for mostly landscape shooting. It does okay for that with a nice 28 – 400 35mm equivalent Ziess lens, but I did find myself missing the big rig on this excursion. In order to try to avoid motion blur from the kayak and bird movement, I used an iso 400, which when combined with the maximum zoom produced quite a bit of noise in the images. Also the write speed of the camera is pretty slow, with little buffer, so a lot of images were missed waiting for the camera to write to the sd card, but this mainly a day to play to anyway. I plan to go back with the big rig next week weather permitting, and try to get some serious shots.

The kayak was excellent for getting close to the birds without spooking them too much. Herons are always a challenge of course, but with some quiet drifting I was able to get into position to get some pretty decent shots with a few of the more tolerant herons.

Heron on a log
Another heron another log
Another heron another log

















Of course many were spooked as well, so I got a little practice at takeoffs.

Moving on

Moving on

At this point I must through a plug for Lightroom 4. I was very impressed with its ability to clean up noise on these shots. These are pretty severe crops on a 10 mp point and shoot, so all things considered I’ll take em.

In Flight
In Flight












The osprey were in abundance. There are a number of nest in the area in old dead trees, a silo, and an old railroad bridge. So there is a lot of opportunity for flight shots, and nest shots if you can get a good angle. Hard to shoot sitting down in kayak, but a great place to try.

Through in a few gossiping geese and all in all, it was a fun day. I can’t wait to get back out there with the bigger rig at a better hour of the day.  While the little camera did a pretty good job, I know I can do a lot better with a rig better designed for this kind of shooting.

Gossip corner
Gossip corner

Moon Over Fox

What me photoshop?????? Never….

Surely you jest, you say. And I do. Couldn’t resist having a little fun with the “SuperMoon” this weekend.  This is a composite shot from my backyard and the Fox Memorial tower across the street.

Super Moon Over the Fox Memorial Tower

It loses a little in the translation to jpg, should be a little brighter. But you get the idea. With all the hype about the super moon this weekend I had to get out. Although it looked like the clouds were going to sock it in, they managed to clear enough around 10pm to get a little shooting in.  So how do you shoot a shot like this? Beats me, I couldn’t do it. So its obviously a composite of two shots that I threw together.

So first the moon. Shot from my back porch with a Canon 1DS Mark II, 100-400 Zoom @ 400 mm with a tamaron 2x teleconverter.  Shot at 1/100 @ f16 w iso 400. Then in lightroom I added a little contrast to make it pop a bit more.

SuperMoon From Backyard

Next in Photoshop I cut out the moon by selecting the dark background, inverting the selection, refining the edge a little and then copy. Whala! I have a moon.

The next step is to shoot the tower. After shooting the moon from the back yard I headed across the street to shoot images of the tower with the moon in the background. Mostly silhouettes, with the moon above the top of the tower. I didn’t get any shots that knocked my socks off, but of course I remembered to do some playing while I was shooting, so I came up with following shot of the tower.

Fox Tower By Moonlight

This was shot using a Canon 1DS Mark II, 100-400 Zoom @ 160 mm .  Shot at 30 sec @ f13 w ISO 1000. The bright area is the moon moving through the clouds during the 30 second exposure. I also lit the tower using the LED headlamp I was using. I rather like the muted look and the soft sky due to the motion blur. So its a simple matter of pasting the moon into this image after I cleaned up the branches on the left and straightend the tower. Amazing the focus looks okay even though I could not see the tower to focus while setting up the shot, just the silhouette.

So, all in all, a different shot that was pretty easy to do. I didn’t want to spend too much time with it because I knew that it would not be a natural looking shot. This was more for fun than anything else. Although I may play with it a little more to see what  other fun I can create. But the important thing is I got a little practice shooting at night, instead of watching it from the couch.

Here are a couple more untouched shots. The challenge is getting a crisp shot of the moon, while having a long enough exposure to get a crisp silhoutte of the tower. The obvious solution would be to light the tower sufficiently to get the desired shot. But I didn’t have a good light me to be able to do that. And the moon was moving far to fast for the long exposures necessary for a striking silhouette. Again the jpg’s are quite a bit darker than the origionals

Moon Over Fox Silhouette
Soft Moon Over Fox

Keep on Klikin!

Happy Thanksgiving – A Great Day To Be Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving. A great day to share with family and friends. Today I am grateful for natural beauty where I live. To celebrate that I’m sharing a couple of photos I entered in the Leconte Photographic Society competition last month. It is a great camera club with some awesome creative talent. So here are last month’s entries.

An extreme crop of a spideweb I was shooting, backlit with reflections of the cove in each droplet.
An extreme crop of a spideweb I was shooting, backlit with reflections of the cove in each droplet.

I’ll share one of my favorite prayers to celebrate this day. I am grateful for this prayer. If I can remember it, it will bring me through any situation I find myself in.

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

This is the second photo I entered. This scene can pretty much be shot any time of year, and is always available.

A very long exposure to blur the spray flying at the bottom of this minature falls.
A very long exposure to blur the spray flying at the bottom of this miniature falls.

So I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.

How about a nice summer Smokies musing

Enough of the cold! This is a summer sunrise shot of the Ocnaluftee Valley from Newfound Gap Road.

Blue Mountain Home

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23:6 (KJV)

This lofty aerie, from which I gaze;
This harbor in the sky, My haven away,
From which the trials of the day may drain.
Where happiness and joy may reign.
I reflect on time, I can rest unafraid;
Like a soft warm cloak on a winters day;
Warm, and safe, and secure;
And I know I am home.

Bc Hannold

This is the feeling I get when I am in Smokies. All of the trials of the day just to melt away, and life seems to take on a new meaning. Especially when I go to romp, and just take the little camera. It seems to not only lighten the load, it lightens the heart as well. I don’t feel pressured to get that perfect image like I sometimes do on the shooting forays in. Some days I just have to go for the journey.

Happy New Year – 2011

Any resolutions? I’ve not made any since history has shown that the grand designs imposed on New Years day typically do not work for me. A better approach for me has been using a daily resolution. Simpler and less daunting, but still requires a great deal of effort for the things that really matter. But there are things I want to change, one of them being the amount of time I spend with images, so in that vein here are a couple I took a couple days after Christmas. We had one of the largest snowfalls that I have seen since I’ve been down here. Over the Christmas weekend I believe we had around 9″ of snow, which is a lot for here. So the following Monday I headed out to Greenbrier. Basically all the roads in the park were closed, but Greenbrier is a decent spot to park at and hike in. I chose not to use the cross country skis, as they can be cumbersome and actually slow me down with that much gear. Plus the snow was very soft with an ice base so there would not be much glide using the skis.

I used two approaches for these shots, both from basically the same point. The first is a six shot HDR. I like using the HDR approach to capture a wider range of tones, but also for the dreamlike effect that can be created using it. Sometimes I will try to make the effect very subtle, as to not be noticeable, but other times I am looking for the effect to create an image that will stand out from the many images that were shot there that day. This one was done with six images, varying the shutter speed between exposures from 1.6 sec to 1/20 sec. One of the problems that day was being able to come up with a shutter speed slow enough to give some blur to the water. Even at ISO 50, I was stacking two ND grad filters, adjusted so that the dark area covered the entire lens, and still could not achieve a normal shutter speed of over a second. So the HDR effect helps the blur the water some in the final image. Here the HDR created image, after final tone and saturation adjustments in Lightrooom.

Greenbrier In Snow 6 shot HDR
Greenbrier In Snow 6 shot HDR

Here is the same shot as a single exposure after tone and color adjustments in Lightroom.

Greenbrier In Snow single exposure 1/2 sec at f16
Greenbrier In Snow single exposure 1/2 sec at f16

As you can see, the single shot has a bit more contrast and less motion blur than the HDR shot. The sensor does do a great job of capturing the range of tones in single shot though, but I do prefer the HDR image. The best advice I can give is that when you find a spot that you think is visually appealing, shoot it every which way but loose. Its always nice to have a choice when you back home and are going through the images. I spent 1/2 hour to 40 minutes at this spot for these images, and also stopped at the same spot on the way back to capture the following one because I had forgotten to capture it when I was doing the others.

This is a simple two shot pano stitched together in Photoshop. I was going to do a three shot HDR Pano, but my battery failed in the middle of shooting it. I need new batteries for my camera, so in the cold they fail really fast. I do keep them warm by placing them next my body, but once they get into the cold camera they don’t last long. Another trick you can use with a camera pack is to throw a hand warmer in a compartment with the batteries in your pack. You can only do this with a separate compartment! It is important to make sure the camera and lenses stay at ambient air temperature during your shoot. Otherwise you will have fog or ice on the lenses.

Greenbrier In Snow 2 shot Pano 1/50 sec at f16
Greenbrier In Snow 2 shot Pano 1/50 sec at f16

On this I did some brush work in lightroom to adjust the saturation in specific areas of the image after the overall tone and color adjustments.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, if you are so inclined. One of my goals (not resolutions) is to keep the blog updated more frequently, so look for more in the coming year.

Keep on clikin,


Time to put Pen to Paper

Figuratively anyway. Time to get some posts up at least.

This is the photograph that got me hooked. Technically not perfect, but the composition just spoke to me. From this point on I was committed to the art. Shot with a fixed lens 5 mp Sony on a frozen section of Lake Superior. George and I are hiking out on the lake to get to the ice caves on Mawikwe Bay. These are sea caves carved out by the waves on Lake Superior. During the winter they become a wonder land of ice falls, ice stalagtites, and other ice formations. Occasionally the lake will freeze over hard enough that you can hike out to them.

Trekking to the Mawiki Ice Caves

Trekking to the Mawikwi Ice Caves

Be sure to call before you go. The National Park Service maintains the trail as part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The water by the cliffs that you are hiking on can run up to 60′ deep, and as we well know from song, Lake Superior does not up give her dead. You don’t want to push the edge on this one.

Mawikwi Ice Caves

Mawikwi Ice Caves

As the water flows through mineral deposits, different colors appear in the ice created by it.

As the water flows through mineral deposits, different colors appear in the ice.

Back on the horse again

Okay, I got the house down Florida redone. So now I’m back in Tennessee and can get back to basics.

At the moment I’m designing a website for my son, the musician. Check out in a week or so to check out some of his songs, and upcoming gigs in the Knoxville area.

On the photo front, I was stunned to when I finally got back to the Leconte Photographic Society meeting this month, which happened to be the annual awards meeting, and found that I had won the 2010 Best of the Best award for the star division for this image.

Mingus Mill on a cloudy fall day.

If your looking for a camera club in the Gatlinburg/Sevierville area, check out the Leconte website at

They are an active bunch of photogs, and the images they are capturing are amazing.

If you are in the Morristown/Jefferson City area check out the Photographic Society of East Tennessee. You’ll also find some incredible talent there.

I’m still working on getting the Photographs on tiles up and running. Printer issues have slowed me a bit but the biggest challenge of course is getting the word out. I am available to do a Dye Sublimation Presentation if any groups in the area are interested.

Back to work. More a little later. I also hope to have the Poets Corner up and running with some content in the next few days.

Vacation is Over, Time to get back In

Enough catching up. Its time to jump back in with both feet. I had been taking things a little light, getting caught up etc, etc, but now its time to get moving again. I need to feel the camera in my hands again. I got a little burned out with the gallery, but now the itch has come back. Yesterday I hiked about 5 miles up the Big Creek trail in the GSMNP. I’d almost forgot how gorgeous it is. It was an almost perfect day, largely cloudy, a bit cooler, and I took the little camera, so I could focus more on the hike and why I moved here. Days like this help get perspective remind me that I’m not in charge of things. Kudos to Darwin and all that, but it is difficult to perceive such a perfect beautiful scene could be evolved from survival of the fittist. Survival tends to bring out mean ugly details, beauty lies in the communal harmony of coexistence on a grander scale.

Anyway I took the little camera and no tripod, so I could move easier and try to get out that perfect grand scene mentality. Its time to put some fun back into the art. The little one is a Panasonic Lumix Fz50. A not bad fixed lens SLR like point and shoot. One of the biggest factors in choosing this one was ability to manually focus. So yesterday was all about enjoying the day and playing around. Sometimes its nice to just shoot the scene and not have to worry with setting a grand shot. Probably nothing print worthy out of the day, but it was an excellent shoot just for the change of perspective.

Here are a few of the shots:

A random cascade along the creek with a bit of birch bark to spice up the foreground

Another of the many cascades with a couple leaves as foreground.
Another of the many cascades with a couple leaves as foreground.

And of course you can’t pass Mouse Creek Falls without a token shot.

Mouse Creek Falls
Mouse Creek Falls

All in all, a very good day, just to be out clikin.

Gotta do some real work now. Keep on clikin.


We have decided to close the gallery in Gatlinburg.

We are looking at opening a scaled back version in Cosby near the T junction. We will probably start out with a tent to gauge interest from the folks passing by. We are looking to set a shared type of setup, perhaps working with the  EaglePoint ministries so we share the burden of manning it. Unfortunately the economical conditions have impacted reduced the amount people are spending this year, so artwork seems to come off the top of the optional expenses list.

But that also translates into more time to shoot. I joined the Photographic Society of East Tennessee this week. Seems like a pretty good bunch with a wide range of experience. One of the assignments for this month is to pick a subject and shoot it 24 different ways. So I think I will do the memorial tower across the street from the house. I may have missed the best moonlight to shoot by though. I’ll have to see what it looks like in the next couple weeks. I went over to talk with the guy whose property I’ll be shooting from to let him know that the weird lights in the middle of the night over there are not aliens, just a local shutterbug. So the plan is to shoot it as a sunrise, sunset, late afternoon glow, moonrise/background, night shot with light painting, nighttime panorama, nighttime long exposure next to the tower to capture the rotation of the stars, etc, etc. Should be a good project. I’ll post some of the results when I get them  done.

Gotta run for now, time to fix breakfast.

Bruce (Bc)