Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis


Earlier in the month, I took a trip out to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a friend’s wedding. We made a long weekend of it and worked in some sightseeing. I knew Minnehaha Falls was on my list to see! It was beautiful and very popular! Finding angles to get shots without people was tricky. Another thing I knew I wanted to try was the silky water effect you so often see in water fall shots. Look at the shot above. See how the water looks smooth and continuous? Now look at the shot below–much rougher and more natural.


Smooth, silky water is very popular! So, how do you get it? You’ll need a tripod and a really slow shutter speed. If you are shooting in daylight, you’ll probably need a neutral density filter as well to drop your shutter speed down enough. The top shot I shot at ISO 100, f/22 and a speed of 1.6s.  A lower ISO number slows the shutter speed. The higher f-stop number slows the shutter speed. However, without a neutral density filter on my lens, I probably would have had a shutter speed about 1/30 given the brightness of the day. Which would not have made silk.

A neutral density filter essentially is a dark piece of glass you screw onto the end of your lens to make a bright day darker. They come in various degrees of darkness and you can buy them individually or in sets. Amazon sells a bunch of types, as does any camera store. They are handy to cut some of the brightness if shooting midday and to slow the shutter speed when you want to make water silky. They also sell graduated neutral density filters if you want only to cut the brightness on half the shot (such as the sky).

So, in sum, to make silky water:

ISO–set as low as you can (100 or 200)

F/stop–set as big a number as you can (f/22, etc)

Use a tripod–otherwise it will be blurry at such low speeds

Not a low enough speed to make it silky? –use a neutral density filter


Who I Use for Prints


On Saturday at the Claude Moore Fall Festival, I had a question from a young man about who I use for printing. That’s a bit of a complicated answer, as I use a whole range of sites. One, because I wanted to test out a bunch for quality and service and two, because I chase deals which I can then pass on to my customers.

If you’re printing photos, think about size, material, and why you’re printing (for a gift, to sell, to put up in your own home, etc).

Small prints for my home or to pass to grandparents, especially those of my own kids–I just use Walmart, Target or Costco.

Other sites I use:

Fabness–Printing canvases, both for personal home use and to sell. Don’t pay full price! They are always running sales (get on their mailing list) and often have Groupons as well. They do have a range of other products for the home like bottle openers, mugs, signs, playing cards but I haven’t used those.

MPix–Printing flat and folded notecards and regular prints (have printed up to 16×24 with them). They also run deals regularly. They also do canvas, metal and more.–I’ve ordered two things from them–a print on metal and a print on bamboo. They have a whole range of offerings on unique materials.

Picaboo–I’ve done notecards through them. They also do photo books, canvas and a few more options. There are always deals happening.

Artifact Uprising–I’ve used them for flat notecards. This is a high quality lab that does come with higher prices and doesn’t run sales as often as some of the others. They do a range of photo gifts and I’ve heard great things about their photo books, but haven’t used them for that.

Bay Photo Lab–Another professional level lab. I’ve ordered speciality items through them–photos on metal, maple wood, and acrylic. They do a huge range of products. Pricing is high, but so is quality. You can sometimes get deals.

Bonus: Photographer’s Edge–If you are looking to sell your work, this site has a bunch of useful materials. I got my large card rack seen in the top photo here, along with the plastic envelope sleeves for my cards and matted prints and a small roller for making creases on my cards.

For mats, I buy at Michael’s and go when I have coupons and for taping the print to the mat, I use Lineco Self Adhesive Linen Hinging Tape through Amazon.




Beach=Happy Place

SC_Dune Grass_WM

Walking along the beach in the early morning or late afternoon/evening is a favorite of mine. I definitely consider the beach a happy place! This particular happy place is in Garden City, South Carolina, USA. If you’ve never been to a US East Coast/Atlantic Ocean beach–go! Each section has a different vibe and this part of South Carolina was definitely pretty chill. Head up to Myrtle Beach for a more populated vibe.

I’m always interested in what settings people use to capture certain photos. For this photo, I did:

Canon EOS 6D (full frame) with a 28-105 mm 3.5-4.5 Canon lens. Shot at ISO 100 at 100 mm and f/4.5 at 1/2500.  Then I used Photoshop CC to convert to black and white.

Don’t know what those numbers mean?

ISO 100–picked for the bright sun conditions (lets in less light)

100 mm–How zoomed in I was. As my lens went to 105 mm, I was almost all the way zoomed in at 100. The helps create the blur and the close-up action of the shot.

f/4.5–this is the f-stop. It does a lot of things, but depth of field is one of them. The smaller the number, the less depth you have and the more blur you create. This lens is a 3.5-4.5 minimum depending on what I have it zoomed out to. At 100, 4.5 was as low as I could go. I have one lens that goes down to 1.8 and some people have lenses that go even lower.

1/2500–that’s the shutterspeed. That particularly speed balanced out my exposure triangle based on the ISO 100 and f/4.5. 1/2500 is pretty fast, which was necessary for the bright light.