Thinking Shots

I am going to let you in on a little secret….a photographer takes a lot of photos before they find the right one.  Suprised?  I know you are not but I was scrolling through my Iceland photos and caught myself thinking.  I looked at a series of shots that normally no one would ever see because I am looking for the right shot.  Plus, I like to try things because you never know what you are going to get unless to try. Failure is not failure it’s just finding out what doesn’t work.  I will take pictures of things people will walk by because most times those are the pictures that are most interesting. River-5307

Picture one in a sequence.  I like the color in the sky and the tuffs of grass on the beach.  Not enough interest here to get a good photo. Now I could crop it down to the grass and the sky but the sky is ok.  Note I didn’t do a lot of editing to these just to show you photos in the natural off camera look.  The next photos come from me standing in the same spot and turning to find what I want to shoot.


Photo thinking shot number 2.  I have just pivoted my camera on the tripod.  As I am looking thinking ok I could crop it and it might not be a bad shot.  I was using my Canon 17-40 wide angle so I have a lot of picture to work with but I could take some of the sky out and some of the black beach.  However, it does feel it is missing some story on the edges with the mountains.


Picture Three in sequence.  No cropping or editing other than bringing some of the shadows up.  I like this shot the sky needs a little work but overall I am getting the eye to be drawn in and the mystery of Iceland fills the picture.  The beach fascinates me being black and the wild grass that survives amazing to look at.


Picture Four.  I have turned my camera in a circle from where I was standing.  I have a person in this photo that will have to be removed or not.  (I would remove.)  I would crop out some of the sky and some of the beach but overall this is not a bad picture.  The footprints lead your eye around the sand and there is plenty of interesting things to take in.  This is probably the photo that you would see on my website and with a little work number 3.

I know we see beautiful photographs on the websites but they all started out in the field thinking and trying.  Sometimes it takes a lot of trying before we succeed but half the excitement is in the trying.  Opening up Lightroom and revealing what I have after a weeks shoot is like Christmas.  Many times I wished I could do things over and I have to remind myself to slow down but when that really good photo comes alive on the screen…wow.  The excitement and beauty of nature keep me going.  I hope you go out and do some thinking photos and see what you come up with.  That’s all right I don’t have to see them.


The Watermark


I finally invested in a professional looking watermark. was having a sale and to me, that is the best time to invest.  I have white and black and they can go on different corners of the photos.  I had to set it up in Lightroom to pull my logo but it was so worth it.  This is an example of the old watermark I created.  Not bad but really doesn’t add to the photo with any style.

Iceland 2017-5292

Now the photo with the new watermark to the side.  The watermark just adds the finish to the photograph and I feel people connect a person to the work that way.  I realize as photographers our cameras do a lot of work for us but without us, there would be nothing to see.  Everyone takes a picture differently and looks for what they like.


These pictures were taken in Iceland with many other photographers standing around.  Not one of those pictures was exactly alike.  So show off your individuality with a watermark.  I am glad I did.

The search for gold


As photographers, we get a scene for a picture in our heads.  Mine was the road scene with the trees golden and orange with filtered light.  The road needs to curve and disappear on the horizon to draw me in.  I found it this year while I was out testing a Gimbal tripod head.  The light was really bright all day and I had to wait until 3 pm to head outside.  The river was my destination and I hoped to see some eagles but the day was warm and the chances were not high.

Normally, the last few years the color has been dull to disappointing.  If the weather has been too dry the trees are lackluster color and throw down the leaves early in protest.  This year we had a deluge of rain in October and that fueled the color and the above picture.  _MG_8748

Light and shadows make a gorgeous photo.  The way leaves hover crowded together on a branch and then the light filters through, catching your eye.  I try to look up and shoot into the canopy to get the right leaves at the right time.  I took many bad shots just to get this one.  The camera had to find a focus point and the leaves needed to give you something of interest to look at.  I never really know what I have until I get home to my big screen.  However this one with the lights darks and color speaks fall in volumes.knudsen family photo 2018-8665

Many times have I tried to take a picture of this bridge and have been disappointed.  I would tell myself it was just an ugly old bridge after many failures.  OK, so the problem was with me and getting what I thought did the scene justice.  There was alot going on in this photo but the main point is the color and the silhouette of the bridge.  The drama of the water was an added bonus and I was using the long 600mm lens.  (Still looking for the birds.)  This year the trees and the color produced a scene that does that bridge justice.

As a photographer, I always lean toward that splash of color that makes a scene pop.  I look at other photographers to see what I like and don’t like.  What catches my eye in their work that would make that photo a good picture.  I think today we are trying to be so artistic with our work that we forget that photography is about connection.  How we see a scene and take the picture so others can connect to it.  We don’t have to prove were artists we already are…I realize that everyone has a camera at their fingertips but that doesn’t mean the photo will be any good.

Photography at the end of the day is an expression of our vision.  The photographer is the one who sees and tries to bring you into that world.  The only one you compete against is yourself.

The Iowa I grew up in.


Clark Barn Stockport Iowa

Today I took a drive with my camera for a Fall Harvest Historical Barn Tours.  I noticed most of the people were older this morning and maybe that was just the time of day.  Everyone had the same look on their faces coming to see these old buildings.  It’s like we are trying to cement in our minds what lives were like before the age of computers.  Not many buildings are left and many have been torn down.  Most young people really don’t have an idea what life was like in the error of the farm barn.

What is it about fall and nostalgia.  Every year I have to watch “Hoosiers” with Gene Hackman at this time.   The scenes remind me of growing up and what small-town life was about.   As the weather turns cold and the corn starts to turn to a light sand color, and I think about my childhood on the farm.  I never would have thought to say I miss those days but I do.  I miss the farm and everything it represented: family, hard work, fields, God, and love.


Dorothy Barn Keosauqua Iowa

The inside of a barn for a child is a magical thing.  I remember light streaming in through dusty windows and kittens tumbling down over bales of hay.  The heat rising from animals and the tools hanging from the walls.   A barn represented a place where work would get done and animals would get fed.  Lives were built around everything kept or stored in barns.  Iowa-8433

And the barns and what they held help build the midwest.  I remember so much of my time as a child focusing on the home place and the buildings on it.  They stored the machinery and stored the grain.  Our family barn burned down due to lightning.  I find it so sad that little by little they are disappearing from the landscape to be replaced.  The farms don’t even look the same anymore because they don’t raise as many animals like they used to.


Wickfield Farm Sales Pavilion Cantril Iowa

If the barns could talk do you wonder what they would say.  A testament to the rise and fall of each generation and whether a family is able to build for the next generation.  A barn represents big dreams, hopes, and the future.  You only need a barn if you have something to store.  I saw a lot of farms on my tour today as summer shifts over to fall.  I remembered my family and my father’s dreams as a farmer.  When I go who will remember what life was like?


It feels like home.


The first time I visited Scotland it felt like home.  I travel many places to take photographs but something about the grandeur and the misty morning sticks with me.  The light is different here and the weather in fall comfortable, windy and wet but Scotland.  I think what I like most are the wide-open landscapes and the big skies.  The sky always provides drama with clouds rolling in and clouds rolling out.  The above photo was taken on an early morning drive to the Ullapool Ferry.  We left early just to see if we could get a sunrise but we ended up with some really nice light.

When I started photography as a hobby with a Kodak Easy share I never thought I would be standing in the places I have.  The art form grabbed my heart and it hasn’t let go.  I do have certain things I like to take photos of and every person does.  I love water, mountains, mist, sea and it has to have trees.  Which is why the United Kingdom suits my interest so much.  I only get to travel a couple times a year and after every journey, I swear I am going to quit. Usually, after a rest and forgiving the train and airlines, I reset and get ready to go again.


When I go with friends I usually end up being the navigator.  Which means research on locations and how to get there.  The research is just as fun and dreaming about the location before I even get there gets my excitement up.  Except, finding the places is easier on the computer than with Garmin, maps and guide books sometimes.  We learned that Garmin stops at a certain point just before your destination.  This time I took a hiking Garmin that showed roads the driving Garmin didn’t know existed.  Priceless.  Which means we could still get home since it tracked us also.

In my head, I have things I want to see and explore before I die.  I call it my bucket list.  Everyone has one.  A dream of an adventure that needs to be fulfilled, well part of mine was seeing the black houses on the Isle of Lewis.  It is now checked off the list.


The best part is I get to do this with friends who enjoy it as much as I do.  It really matters who you take on trips when you take photographs.  They need to understand that taking good photos is going to take time and want to be up at all kinds of hours and weather conditions.  You need to be fit because you are going to want to climb that hill to get that shot.  I have walked on sheep trails right on the edge and decided the way back would be a different path.

If I were to change anything it would be the long flights and jet lag.  Ugh…..JET LAG.  Takes days to adjust coming and going.  The days start to merge the longer I am there and my eyes fill with sights and beauty hard to descibe.  When light hits for a few fleeting seconds and the car can’t get pulled over fast enough to catch it.  Or the herd of sheep walking on the road and you jump out of the car to get a picture.  All those are memories stored on a card taken by my Canon camera.  Why?  Because something in my heart says that the beauty of Scotland can only be captured one photo at a time.

The 4th of July


The fourth of July.  My dogs hate it, and I just want to sleep without all the noise. My neighbors enjoy letting some off several nights before the actual day.  Oh, well once a year.  Beyond that, I just hope people remember what they are genuinely celebrating and the lives lost to get our freedoms.

However, taking pictures of the fireworks is quite the experience.  These are from last year when Sharon Scarff and I went to the fireworks display.  The hardest part was finding a place to set up the tripod and camera without a lot of people in the way.  Next, getting a decent shot in the dark with the camera.

Some tips from the Nikon USA website.  I posted the link below.  Let’s face it I don’t try to remember and google what I need to.

And you want to have your camera set as much as you can before you start.  The time between fireworks is not that long, and you don’t want to miss a good shot.  No, not every shot will be a keeper because you don’t know where they are going to appear in the sky.  Just relax and have fun with it.  


At first, I didn’t know whether I would enjoy taking the photos themselves.  It’s hot, and the crowds are large, but a new experience and a chance to see what the camera can do in low light makes it fun.  The time will go faster than you think and you will wish they had more to set off.  I did use a cable release, bulb, and f11 as suggested.  I had a great time, and glad I went out and took the photos.  Don’t be afraid to try something new with your camera you will probably be amazed at the results.


Hand in Hand


Sometimes, I like to sit and think or stand and think.  Either way, I am an introvert, so it comes naturally for me to need time to process life around me.  I enjoy nature so much so that I do not know how good my life would be without it.  Another part of my life that is important to me and I am protective of is my peacetime.  I do not function, write or be a happy person without time to reflect and rest.  I do realize that this all plays into the great adventures that I go on.  The need to explore and take photographs of places around me.  I need both, and surprisingly they go hand in hand in my life.

The creative side of my nature feeds off of the photography and writing.  Photography takes time to learn and develop and the ability to see a good photo does not happen overnight.  The development takes looking at other peoples photos who are better and seeing what they see.  Reading books on photography helps too.  My favorite book when I was starting out was “Digital Exposure Handbook” by Ross Hoddinott and “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson.  They helped me understand the f-stops, lighting, and speed which function together.


And I like to look for what people overlook.  The abstract, simple, intricate, lines and anything that will interest you and me.  Mostly, it has to mean something to me and my vision.  Photography and writing is a reflection of the artists’ life.  Most people don’t recognize and or see the relationship.  Most people don’t care they just either like the photo or not.  Just as the writing, the story either says something to them or it doesn’t.  Either way, I never expect people to really understand what I see.  A few people will, but those are the writers, poets, photographer romantics on a similar journey.  River (1 of 1)

My best advice is to not get upset if people don’t see color in your black and white.  Developing your creative side and learning what works for you takes time and comes down to what is inside of you.  Not everyone you meet will be supportive or have an interest in what you do.  Keep your faith and learn to grow.  I have been more of a late bloomer with my creative side.  As the confidence in myself grew I laid down the old hang-ups.  Don’t be surprised if your photography inspires you to write, paint or dream.

The traveling opens doors to the soul and you find people and places you didn’t know existed.  My thinking burst the limits of my small town the moment I flew across the water.  The moment I stood and stared out across a lake in the still of the morning covered in mist.  I hope you find your adventure.