Spring is coming!!!!

I was out walking the dog yesterday and could not believe how hot the sun was. A good sign that spring is coming and with spring the birds. I love the spring birds as they are in good health and their colors are starting to enhance so what better time for a bird course.

This year I have added a full day with (6 hours) of shooting.

Bird Photography
Bird Courses

Waterton Lakes National Park

February 19, 2017

Waterton Lakes National Park

Was a cold, windy and snowy day but still great to get down to Waterton.  A lot of snow still around causing some issues with pulling off the road.  No animals around other than the deer, I think the snow pack may have played a part in this, hard to move when the snow is so deep.

When I got down the clouds were moving in and within about 20 minutes the snow really started to come down.

Continue reading “Waterton Lakes National Park”

A colour checker for the camera bag

Okay I am not one to buy something just because it may work, but I have been thinking of this for a while. Then when I was watching a video today I saw that the presenter was using one I thought that I would make my own colour checker and see if it works. This is the first version, I already can see a number of changes that I would do, but first I will play with it for a while then make the changes.

Continue reading “A colour checker for the camera bag”

A little teaser on the 2015 courses

The dates below are for the winter / spring calendar of my 2015 courses.
More information to follow as things are confirmed.
January 2015 

15th – Looking after your digital files
17th – A day in the park
24th – Adobe Photoshop / Elements
29th – Ladies Night

February 2015 

February 5th – Painting with light
February 25th – Photo Printing (Part 1)
February 28th – Studio Photography

March 2015 

March 4th – Photo Printing (Part 2)
March 11th – The Works (Part 1)
March 12th – Photography Business
March 18th – The Works (Part 2)
March 20th – Astro Photography
March 26th – Photo Restorations
March 28th – The Works (Part 3)

April 2015 

April 1st – The Works (Part 4)
April 16th – DSLR 1
April 18th – The Works (Part 1)
April 24, 25, 26 – Waterton 3 day
April 30th – Ladies Night

May 2015 

May 1st – Full Moon Photography
May 2nd – The Works (Part 2)
May 9th – The Works (Part 3)
May 14th – DSLR 2
May 23rd – The works (Part 4)

June 2015 

June 6th – Waterton
June 11th – Ladies Night

Camera set-up for photographing lightning

Lightning Set-ups

I often get asked how I do my lightning pictures so I thought that I would take the time to show my current set-up. I have it tweaked so that it works really well. With this set-up I can shoot a storm and follow it across southern Alberta without a problem.

  • I run two cameras at a time usually set on different areas of the sky – sometimes even with different ISO, Shutter speed and aperture to get different effects
  • Camera settings (ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture) will vary with the lightning
  • I like this set-up over using the tripod as it is safer and I am able to move to follow the storm easily with minimal packing
  • I also have a second vehicle for shooting from, if I am doing lightning from this unit I find a good spot and shoot the storm as it passed, it is designed to get to an area and shoot not to follow. It is a 4×4 truck and it has a camper on the back, with this I can go in the back and shoot with all the comforts of home, and more!
Canon 40D with wired remote shutter release. Works great without rain, or light rain. (For heavy rain I use the next set-up or a tripod set up under the tail gate for distant lightning). Lens usually is either a 17 – 85 or a 10 – 20 – depends on what the other camera has on.
Lightning 3
The thing I like about this vehicle is that the seat folds down and the laptop has its own table.
Lightning 2
Canon 40D with laptop and Canon capture software. Camera is on the dash so in heavy rains at night I can run the wipers to keep the window clear and I am inside in the dryness. Capture software can be set to timer mode to fire repeatedly.

Forgot to add – Shut the vehicle off when shooting, pictures will be sharper!

This is the inside of the second vehicle.  On the left past the closet door is a large window (out of this shot) that I shoot from.  I have done a number of animal pictures this way as after a few minutes the animals don’t even notice you. With photographing lightning or storms it is GREAT as I can be inside and have everything I need and more!


The business of photography – Part 2 – Marketing: Prints, Web Sites and Email

Well now that you have gotten through part 1 of the business of photography and my less than encouraging comments lets move on to something a little more encouraging, Marketing.

This is a overlooked area when starting a business.  People think that if they take some okay pictures that word will quickly spread and clients will come beating down the door.  Well in some industries that is what would happen if you have a good product, but in photography it does not happen.   Why? Just look on advertising web sites at the number of people that are doing the same thing as you are.  So what should you do?

1 – Display Prints: First you need to set yourself apart from the crowd.  If you want people to call get some amazing prints and start showing them around.  Put them on web sites, find display space, show them to every potential customer.  Now when I say AMAZING prints I am talking about the best of your best.  Don’t show okay prints.  Don’t have any amazing prints?  Get some.  Start shooting pictures that take time to set up, use great lighting and great subjects.  For the nature people that means get out first thing in the morning or late at night to get the exceptional light.  Everybody else is showing prints shot at 1 in the afternoon with flat light, go for the amazing!

Southern alberta windmills with a full moon
Full moon rising

For the wedding and portrait photographer find poses that will blow the clients away, work on lighting and shoot, shoot, shoot. As for the size of your display prints?  A good saying to go by is “You only sell the sizes that you show”.  I have proven it time and again to people that if you only show 8×10 prints that is the maximum that you will sell, show bigger sell bigger.  People do not want to buy a large print if they do not know you can print that size.

2 – Get a web site and a real E-mailI am not talking about a Facebook page, but a real web site that you can design and modify as you like.  Facebook is not a real web site and limits a lot of what you should be doing.  Nothing wrong with having a Facebook page and your web site but you need to show clients that you are serious and not just a fly by night operation that did not even bother to spend on a real web site.  (Whoops sorry about the honesty again 🙂 )  In addition to a web site get a real E-mail address, not mike99684a54545@yahoo.ca but one that advertises your web site and shows people that once again you are a real business, one like mike@firstchoicephoto.ca shows people that you have a web site and you have taken some time to set up a business.  Whenever I get an E-mail from a company trying to sell me something the first thing I look for is do they have a real E-mail address, if it is Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail (now Outlook) I am VERY cautious about the company.

Question – Should you spend money at this point to market you web site?  I have to say at this point no.  There is a lot more to do before you should be spending money on SEO and other marketing for your web site.  I would make sure that ANY thing you send out about your business has your web site address on it and you are letting people know about the web site but wait on the marketing of it.



Bucket List

I was out for a drive this past weekend with my teenage son and we got talking about bucket lists, that got me to thinking about what photos I would have on my bucket list. So I sat down and did up a list, and it wasn’t easy.  As you will see below all the pictures that made my list are of either animals or places.  I also found that there are some things that I would like to get at least one picture of (or some that I have pictures of but would like a digital image as the ones that I have are on negatives or slides and they either are not good enough quality or the negative or slide is damaged) , I guess that is my true bucket list as even one would be nice,  things like a cougar or a wolf, or a barn owl. Then there are a number of things that I would like to get more pictures of – or better pictures.  I guess this would not be a true bucket list as I already have pictures of these, I would just like more or different ones and that would include things like the Northern Lights, bears or elk. So I divided the list into the top and the secondary – funny thing is that I have removed a couple from the top list even this year as I got pictures that I always wanted. Then there are MANY pictures that I want to get more of but it really is a day to day thing that I will never have enough or know that I wanted it until I see it, so for these things I have left off the list (things like sunsets, and storms)

So what pictures would you have on your bucket list?

Here is what I have come up with so far (will update as I think of more)

Top (My true bucket list)

North America



Polar Bear





Owls – there are many species that I still have not got a picture of

The World




Victory Falls




Secondary (pictures that I would like more of or different/ better ones of)

Northern Lights

Grizzly Bear

Black Bear


Mountain Sheep

Deer (almost off the list as I have so many)

Mountain Goat

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle

Coastal BC pictures


Snowy Owls