Seascape Panning

One of my favorite techniques to play with at the beach is horizontal panning. It is really simple and can create a beautiful dreamy effect of the water, sand, and sky in any combination. 

You will want to use a shutter speed between about 2 seconds up to around 1/30 of a second or so. To do this, you’ll need to set your ISO quite low and close down your aperture significantly. If during the day, you may need a Neutral Density Filter to block some light. A 6 stop or 3 stop filter would be best in this situation. A 10 stop filter will be more than you need and prevent you from being able to see through the viewfinder when the filter is on.   

You can use a tripod or shoot handheld. A tripod may keep you steadier horizontally but handheld works too so definitely don’t hesitate to try this without a tripod. In either case, you’ll want to frame your shot and focus on your scene and then after you press the shutter, or AS you press the shutter with the faster shutter speeds, just pan the camera to the right. When I shoot handheld I hold my arms close to my body and just turn my body to keep steady. If shooting around 1/30 of a second, you’ll need to move quicker to get the effect. With a second or two you can go slower as you have more time. 

Sometimes it helps to start moving and then press the shutter, or you can also try putting your camera on continuous mode and as you twist your body press the shutter and let it take several shots as you move left to right.

The fun thing is that you get a slightly different effect each time. You may get a bunch you don’t like along with one or two that you really love. The painterly effect is subjective so choose the ones that YOU love! 

Have questions, feel free to reach out!

Sunset panning in Dana Point.jpg
Crystal Cove Panning.jpg

Kristen Ryan is a fine art landscape photographer from the suburbs of Chicago. You can purchase prints in the Fine Art store or contact her for custom orders. She teaches an online landscape photography workshop, “The World Around You” and hosts in person ladies’ landscape photography retreats.

Serenity of Seascapes

Another month gone by and it is already time for our Serenity blog circle to come together and share those moments and images that brought us serenity this past month. Many of us attended the Click Away conference in Dana Point, California earlier this month and I’m sure we’d all agree that the Pacific Ocean is a perfect recipe for serenity! Despite the chilly and sometimes rainy weather, we all felt rejuvenated by the crashing waves, beautiful views, and colorful sunsets. The only thing that competed with the views were the incredible friendships and connections grown stronger through the weekend.

I was fortunate to be asked to attend as an instructor at this year’s conference and taught three classes on shooting dreamy seascapes and long exposures. Not only do I find great serenity in viewing seascapes captured with slow shutter speeds, but the process itself is extremely calming and mindful. When I am out by the ocean with my camera and tripod, experimenting with shutter speed and timing of the waves, I am completely in the moment. My worries and anxiety disappear as I become engrossed in the creative process.

Panning at Crystal Cove

Panning at Crystal Cove


We were lucky to be able to shoot sunset each night and I was able to visit several different beaches in the area, from Dana Point, Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove State Park. As always I have many I have yet to touch, but I have spent time with a handful of my images and they bring me back to those beautiful moments on the beaches with friends.

Victoria Beach Sunset darker cropped.jpg
Crystal Cove Cloud Reflections.jpg
Crystal Cove Sunset_.jpg

Click on over to my talented friend, Nancy Armstrong, Kansas City Fine Art Photographer to see her view of Serenity this month and to follow the circle.

All images available in the Fine Art Store. Custom sizes and prints available upon request.



What Do You Do With An Idea?

Have you ever had an idea, a big idea? An idea that just kept staying with you and nagging at you despite uncertainty of whether it was a GOOD idea? What did you do with that idea? Did you ignore it? Did you do something with it? Do you have one of those ideas now?

A few months ago, September to be exact, I was signed up to be the ‘mystery reader’ in my 2nd grade son’s classroom. I wasn’t sure what book he would want me to read, so I asked the teacher to grab me a couple books. One of the books she handed me was titled, “What Do You Do With An Idea?” By Kobi Yamada. While it is a children’s book, I know the words had a much bigger impact on me that day than any of the children listening.

The inner tab of the book says “This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens.”

The way the story in the book goes, the “idea” is more of a true object that follows the child around and won’t go away. The child tries to ignore it and walk away from it, but it sticks around and gradually the idea grows on the child.

“I showed it to other people even though I was afraid of what they would say. I was afraid that if people saw it, they would laugh at it. I was afraid they would think it was silly,” the child says. And some people said it was a waste of time and he almost listened. But instead he decides that his idea deserves his attention because “no one knows it like he does”. So the idea grew and grew, as did his ‘love for it’.

After all that attention and love, “one day, something amazing happen. My idea changed right before my very eyes. It spread its wings, took flight, and burst into the sky.” And at the end, the child says “And then, I realized what you do with an idea… You change the world.”

I love the way this is written so simply as a children’s story and yet holds inspiration for people of all ages. The timing of reading this story resonated so strongly with me that I had a lump in my throat at the end. Only 3 days later I would be flying to Jackson Hole to host my second Magic in the Tetons ladies retreat, and this story made me think of my idea for my ladies’ landscape photography retreats.

Just like the child’s idea in the book, my idea for a women’s landscape photography retreat followed me around for quite some time. It began a couple years before I took any steps to make it a reality. The idea just stuck in my head and sometimes I would dream about the idea and then put it aside to go about my life. Sometimes I would talk about it with my husband, or with friends. While I received nothing but encouragement, the idea seemed large, and daunting to figure out all those details. Not the part of actually being there with the ladies. That part I felt like I could do in my sleep. I’d known the Tetons since I was little, after all. But the planning and pricing and getting a permit; well, those details felt overwhelming. And putting it out there for people felt even scarier.

There were plenty of landscape photography workshop out there, and there were other types of ladies’ retreats, but my research didn’t show any Ladies Landscape Photography Retreats. I was convinced we needed one. After teaching my online landscape photography workshop, The World Around You, for several years and teaching at larger conferences, I believed that an intimate retreat for nature loving women to come together and chase the light in a beautiful place was exactly what many of us needed. So often, we, women & moms, don’t take the opportunity to feed our creativity and connect with other like minded women. If I needed it, wouldn’t others? But would anyone sign up?

I love the Tetons, I love landscape photography, and I love connecting with and helping other women who share my passions. And so I took the risk, and followed my idea. I dove in and made my idea a reality. It took me out of my comfort zone and it was absolutely scary. In fact, I remember when I finally announced it, I was convinced I would pass out or throw up.

Did it change the world, like the child’s idea in the book? Well, no, it didn’t change THE world. But it definitely changed MY world! Because I now have amazing memories and adventures that are so special to me, and I share them with 18 beautiful friends, for whom I am so thankful.

I feel so much gratitude that this adventure has been successful thus far, for all the ladies who put their faith in me and the experience I am offering, and to those who have expressed interest in joining me in the future. What if it hadn’t been a success though? When I took those first steps to make it happen, I thought, if nothing else, at least I will have tried, and I won’t wonder “What if?”.

So I wonder, do YOU have an idea? One that has been with you awhile? One that you want to pursue but fear others’ response? An idea that takes you out of your comfort zone?

Maybe go find the book, “What Do You Do With An Idea?” And see if inspires you to take action. Who knows what can happen. Maybe it will change your world!

Captured in September 2018 in the Tetons

Captured in September 2018 in the Tetons


Serenity ~ Abstract Nature

This month creeped up on us in our Serenity Project Blog Circle. With the holidays at the end of December, this month flew by. With the holidays comes lots of chaos and craziness. So many special moments and memories but also so many tasks and things on the calendar and to-do list. Our holiday craziness is always compounded by having my birthday right after Christmas and my twins’ birthday shortly after the new year. With everything going on, I have done very little shooting recently. Though I am craving nature, longing for the beauty of snow, mountains, and magical light. The busy days make me crave those moments of ‘serenity’ where I am out with my camera and tripod and completely absorbed in the moment of Mother Nature’s magic I am preserving with that click of the shutter.

This year we added a ski trip to our winter break and drove up to Michigan with several other families. And while we were there, I played a bit with vertical panning of the trees. There is something about the abstract nature of these images that I find dreamy and soothing. The more I experiment with this technique, the more I love it.

Wintry Panning.jpg
Snowy Panning _.jpg
Ski Trip  Panning _.jpg
Snowy Panning 2.jpg
Wintry Panning wide_.jpg


Please continue the circle to enjoy the serene views of my talented friends. First, click over to Iris Nelson, Metro Phoenix Photographer, and see what she has shared with us this month.

18 Landscapes of 2018

2018 was a year of a lot of nature adventure for me with travel to Florida, Mexico, California, Canada, Kauai, and the Tetons! I loved getting out to shoot whether it was a devoted photography trip or just a quick shooting opportunity on a family trip. I have so many images I love from this past year and all of them bring back special memories. I went through and chose 18 favorites to represent my year.

Captured in the Tetons the evening before the 2018 Magic in the Tetons retreat began. After the sun went below the mountains, the light shone across the Grand so beautifully. I grabbed my Sigma 150-600 to capture this scene up close at 150mm.

Captured in the Tetons the evening before the 2018 Magic in the Tetons retreat began. After the sun went below the mountains, the light shone across the Grand so beautifully. I grabbed my Sigma 150-600 to capture this scene up close at 150mm.

My first trip to Yosemite was short and sweet. Tunnel view was the first stop I made with my mom and the kids. I captured this image of Bridalveil Falls with my Nikon 70-200 at 200mm and was thrilled to see the rainbow of colors in the water.

My first trip to Yosemite was short and sweet. Tunnel view was the first stop I made with my mom and the kids. I captured this image of Bridalveil Falls with my Nikon 70-200 at 200mm and was thrilled to see the rainbow of colors in the water.

June brought me back to the Canadian Rockies with my girlfriends where I finally got to shoot Emerald Lake. This image was selected as a finalist in Click & Company’s 2018 Voice Collection.

June brought me back to the Canadian Rockies with my girlfriends where I finally got to shoot Emerald Lake. This image was selected as a finalist in Click & Company’s 2018 Voice Collection.

The night sky in Kauai was just amazing this summer. I went out and captured the stars several nights during our stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

The night sky in Kauai was just amazing this summer. I went out and captured the stars several nights during our stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

June’s trip to the Rockies culminated in this stunning sunset at Lake Louise. I couldn’t help but succumb to my long exposure addiction here!

June’s trip to the Rockies culminated in this stunning sunset at Lake Louise. I couldn’t help but succumb to my long exposure addiction here!

I love a dramatic sky and September’s trip to Jackson Hole for the 2018 Magic in the Tetons retreat brought a couple days of stormy skies. This was captured during my final night during sunset.

I love a dramatic sky and September’s trip to Jackson Hole for the 2018 Magic in the Tetons retreat brought a couple days of stormy skies. This was captured during my final night during sunset.

Our first Chicago snowfall occurred just a week after peak autumn color. I took the opportunity to head to the Arboretum and pulled over upon seeing this collision of seasons. This image was selected as part of the “Opposites” story assignment for National Geographic’s Your Shot.

Our first Chicago snowfall occurred just a week after peak autumn color. I took the opportunity to head to the Arboretum and pulled over upon seeing this collision of seasons. This image was selected as part of the “Opposites” story assignment for National Geographic’s Your Shot.

In early November, I took the opportunity to fly up to Canada for a quick weekend with my photographer friend Gina Yeo and we ventured to Emerald Lake for a wintry evening shoot. The low clouds over the lake were just magical.

In early November, I took the opportunity to fly up to Canada for a quick weekend with my photographer friend Gina Yeo and we ventured to Emerald Lake for a wintry evening shoot. The low clouds over the lake were just magical.

After  the Magic in the Tetons retreat, I stayed one extra day and spent the afternoon at this location with a couple friends enjoying the view of the mountains and this beautiful moose.

After the Magic in the Tetons retreat, I stayed one extra day and spent the afternoon at this location with a couple friends enjoying the view of the mountains and this beautiful moose.

When I visited Moraine Lake in the summer of 2017, I was with my family and did not have the opportunity to capture a sunrise here. In June, my girls, Gina & Addie, & I made sure to make it there for this beautiful reflection of alpenglow.

When I visited Moraine Lake in the summer of 2017, I was with my family and did not have the opportunity to capture a sunrise here. In June, my girls, Gina & Addie, & I made sure to make it there for this beautiful reflection of alpenglow.

Totally unexpected, my November weekend with Gina culminated in a showing of the Aurora over Banff! This was an absolute bucket list moment for me!

Totally unexpected, my November weekend with Gina culminated in a showing of the Aurora over Banff! This was an absolute bucket list moment for me!

A stunning sunset welcomed me to the Tetons in September! Again, my obsession with long exposures tugs at me when there are beautiful clouds.

A stunning sunset welcomed me to the Tetons in September! Again, my obsession with long exposures tugs at me when there are beautiful clouds.

Such a stunning beach in Kauai lured me out of bed several mornings for sunrise. I love the softness of the long exposure but the way the waves still have shape.

Such a stunning beach in Kauai lured me out of bed several mornings for sunrise. I love the softness of the long exposure but the way the waves still have shape.

One night of the Magic in the Tetons retreat, the Milky Way would be visible without moon interference. I led my group to this beautiful spot for sunset so everyone would be set up to capture the magic of the Teton nights.

One night of the Magic in the Tetons retreat, the Milky Way would be visible without moon interference. I led my group to this beautiful spot for sunset so everyone would be set up to capture the magic of the Teton nights.

The colors of a sunset and gorgeous water in Mexico provided a great opportunity for this panning seascape.

The colors of a sunset and gorgeous water in Mexico provided a great opportunity for this panning seascape.

This night in the Tetons was magical. The gorgeous glow of sunset just seemed to last forever! My ladies and I had the best night.

This night in the Tetons was magical. The gorgeous glow of sunset just seemed to last forever! My ladies and I had the best night.

During the Magic in the Tetons we spent a couple hours shooting the autumn colors of the gorgeous trees. This shot is the result of vertical panning for 1 second.

During the Magic in the Tetons we spent a couple hours shooting the autumn colors of the gorgeous trees. This shot is the result of vertical panning for 1 second.

The first night in Canada in November, we ran over to Vermilion Lakes for a little star shooting. This capture is an 8 minute exposure of the stars over Mt. Rundle.

The first night in Canada in November, we ran over to Vermilion Lakes for a little star shooting. This capture is an 8 minute exposure of the stars over Mt. Rundle.

If you made it this far, thanks for staying with me through some of my favorite landscape photographic moments of 2018. I’m looking forward to many more adventures in 2019 including 2 Magic in the Teton retreats, Click Away, the Insta Inspire Retreat, and some new ideas I’m working on!

Happy 2019!

Serenity in Hawaii

One of the reasons I love landscape & nature photography so much is the peace and serenity it brings to my mind and life. There is something about being out in nature watching the clouds float through the sky or the waves crashing on the shore that brings a sense of calm.

So I’m very honored to join a talented and kind group of women for a Serenity Project blog circle.

When it comes to serenity, the island of Kauai pretty much epitomizes the idea of ‘serenity’. Imagine the clouds just floating over the mountains as the oceans waves lap along the shore. Whenever I shoot the ocean, I love to experiment with the shutter speed to capture the movement of the water in different ways. Sometimes I like to freeze the motion but often I love to shoot long exposures. Sometimes in the 1/4 of a second to 3 second range and sometimes really long exposures like a minute or more to capture movement in the clouds as well.

Shipwreck Sunrise 2.jpg
60 sec of Shipwreck Beach_.jpg

Another thing I love to do is use a slow shutter speed and use a panning effect to create a dreamy abstract image of the water and sky.

Shipwreck panning.jpg

And I love when a shutter speed around .6 seconds really creates a streaking of the water.

sunrise long exposure.jpg

Head on over to the blog of my talented friend Nancy Armstrong and continue the circle from there! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

7 Reasons I Don't Shoot EVERYDAY!

If you find it stressful to shoot everyday or are feeling guilty for not shooting more often, allow me to let you off the hook. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great reasons and benefits to shooting everyday. And when I began my photography journey 8 years ago, I did shoot everyday and continued to do so for at least 2 years if not 3, or even 4. While I never completed an official ‘365’ I guarantee I did a couple.  I shot everyday out of love for learning and because I felt inspired to shoot everyday. Because I was constantly shooting and evaluating my images, my learning was fast and furious and I have many memories & images to show for it.  I would never discourage you from shooting everyday if you are inspired to do so, but if you are at a point in your photography that you aren’t feeling that constant inspiration, I believe it is ok and sometimes beneficial not to pick up the camera. So allow me to give you a few reasons to ease your guilt!

Amazing Sunset during the 2018 Magic in the Tetons Retreat

Amazing Sunset during the 2018 Magic in the Tetons Retreat

Before we begin though, I think it is important to recognize that there are 2 situations in which we pick up our camera to shoot. The first is when a moment speaks to us so strongly that we instinctively reach for our camera. We may be inspired to capture some amazing light, a touching or memorable moment among our loved ones, a sudden sighting of wildlife out our window, or an epic sunset, etc.  For this reason, my camera is kept close by in the center of my house. It is at the ready for these moments!

The second situation is more planned, set up, or manipulated. This may be heading out for a sunrise landscape session, setting up a macro, self portrait, or still life shoot, or grabbing the camera and kids with the purpose of a photo session in a particular setting or activity.  When I was first learning, I took this approach often but these days, it is harder for me to find a good window of time, or when there is, the energy to capitalize on it.

So here are a few reasons that support “not shooting everyday”

1) Avoiding Burnout - Anything you do at a high intensity for a long time can lead to burnout. This is especially true if you begin feeling less than inspired or self motivated to keep up this intensity. If you are constantly pushing yourself to keep doing something even if you aren’t feeling like it, burn out is more likely. Allowing yourself to take a break when you aren’t inspired allows you to recharge and let the creativity come naturally. 

 2) It gives you the freedom to shoot a lot in particular inspiring situations (such as on a vacation) and indulge in spending time with those images without adding more images to your cue or backlog. This is a big one for me personally. When we travel, I come home with hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of images of both family and landscapes and these are some of my most treasured images. I want time to work through those images and I know that shooting more on the heels of this travel will just add to my unedited archives. 

Long Exposure during a gorgeous sunset on the island of Kauai

Long Exposure during a gorgeous sunset on the island of Kauai

My husband and youngest son in the waves in Kauai

My husband and youngest son in the waves in Kauai

3) Post Processing Boost! Not only does the time allow me to go through those unedited archives and keep me from adding more to my to-do list, but it gives me time to expand and fine tune my post processing tools and vision. Editing is a very important part of this art and an additional way we put our own voice into our images. Gifting ourselves the time to spend on this aspect of our art and not rushing ourselves along is so important to growing our imagery. This time editing also allows me to reflect on what I might do differently in the field next time.

Sunset glow at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

Sunset glow at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

4) It means I pick up the camera when I am truly inspired, which I believe will lead to images I love rather than images I took because I needed a ‘shot for the day’. Now…don’t get me wrong, there is definitely value in pushing yourself to be creative and get that daily shot. But at this point in my photography, I know what will speak to me and what won’t. And with that extensive backlog I mention earlier, if a shot doesn’t impress me, it won’t move into the editing cue. So I choose not to add more clutter to my EHDs unless I know it is worth it. Quality over quantity. 

5) Taking that daily shot off your to-do list can free you up to getting something else done.  I know when other life is weighing me down, sometimes I need to tackle other tasks so that my brain can be less cluttered and distracted, opening up my mind to creativity. 

A little abstract panning in the Tetons during the Magic in the Tetons retreat

A little abstract panning in the Tetons during the Magic in the Tetons retreat

6) Observe and Experience life without the camera up to your eye. Taking the opportunity to simply see the beauty and moments in life can help rejuvenate your inspiration. Taking away the pressure to capture every moment can allow you to recharge and inspire your creative eye. Other activities can spark ideas for photographic ideas. Or perhaps some time reading about creative techniques will bring ideas for something new to try!

7) Breaks are good for the mind, body and soul. Even in things we love, breaks are good, allowing us to feel a continued passion and creativity. And I believe even when we are learning new things, giving space in our practice can allow the sub conscious to digest what we are learning.  While repetition and practice are valuable no doubt, so is physical and mental rest. As a former freelance harpist, I will always remember coming back from a two week vacation to my gig playing the harp for the afternoon tea at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. I wondered how it would feel to play after two weeks away, fearing I’d be rusty.  And I distinctly remember being surprised by the way my fingers felt so light and fluid over the strings, more so than before my break. Additionally, in our practices of art, music, sports, etc., quality practice can be more important than quantity. 

An 8 minute exposure created star trails over Mt. Rundle in Banff National Park

An 8 minute exposure created star trails over Mt. Rundle in Banff National Park

So if you are inspired to shoot everyday, by all means, continue on! But if you have days you aren’t feeling it, I offer you these reasons to give yourself permission to let the camera sit until the next time you feel inspired. I guarantee the inspiration will come if you give it the space to return!

Check out my online workshop, mentoring, or ladies’ landscape photography retreats for educational opportunities.

Hawaiian Nights

When my family and I vacationed in Kauai this past summer, we were fortunate to be there at a time with little moonlight and rather dark skies. While the skies in Kauai are frequently filled with clouds, they move through the sky at a fast pace and I took the opportunity on several nights to get out and shoot the stars. Even with wispy clouds, I was in love with what my camera captured.

It is always a little intimidating to head out in the dark night but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t take advantage of the chance. The more I shoot at night the more I love it. Every time I shoot, I find myself learning something new & fine tuning my process. There is something magical about the night sky and I never cease to be amazed at what my camera can capture that the naked eye cannot see!

Stars over the ocean.jpg
Princeville Nights blog.jpg
Hyatt Milky Way_.jpg
Kauai nights.jpg

If you haven’t ventured out to shoot the night sky, I’d encourage you to try! It is quite an adrenaline rush. Just make sure to be safe if you go! And stay tuned for some tips on Astro Photography to come soon :)

9 Tips for Creative Long Exposures

One of my very favorite things to do when shooting nature and landscapes is to experiment with long exposures   Anytime I have the opportunity to get a creative exposure of clouds or water, I try to take it.

60 seconds in Grand Teton National Park - using a 10 stop filter.

60 seconds in Grand Teton National Park - using a 10 stop filter.

Here are some tips to help you find success when experimenting with long exposures:

1)  A tripod is your best friend.  I know, I know, they are cumbersome and a pain to carry but are necessary so that you can keep your frame stable throughout the long exposure.  Make sure your tripod is steady and secure. 

2) Invest in good Neutral Density Filters. I recommend a 6 stop and/or 10 stop ND filter. In brighter light and to get 30 second or longer exposures, you will often need a 10 stop filter. In lower light and/or an exposure of just a couple seconds, a 6 stop filter may be sufficient. For even longer exposures in daylight you can use a 15 stop filter as well. There are many companies that make Neutral Density Filters in various price ranges.

4 seconds at Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park - using a 6 stop filter.

4 seconds at Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park - using a 6 stop filter.

3)  Compose your frame and focus for the desired depth of field BEFORE putting the filter in front of the lens. Once you put a 10 stop filter on,  you can't see through to focus and compose. 

4) Set the new exposure BEFORE putting the filter on the lens. Find your proper exposure without the filter on.  Then you can use a Long Exposure Calculator App to find the new shutter speed after you put on the filter. Usually you will need to max out your ISO and aperture unless you are shooting in really low light.  For example, say I set my ISO to 100 and aperture to f/22 and my base shutter speed is 1/80.  If I enter into the app a 1/80 shutter speed and tell it I am using a 10 stop filter, the app will then tell me that a 13 second shutter speed will give me the same exposure with the filter on.  So then I will change my shutter speed to 13 seconds before I put on the filter.  The less I touch my camera after putting on the filter, the better. 

4 minute exposure using a 15 stop ND filter in Grand Teton National Park.

4 minute exposure using a 15 stop ND filter in Grand Teton National Park.

5) Use a Shutter release remote. These are critical if you are using a shutter speed slower than 30 seconds as you must then turn to bulb mode. But even out of bulb mode, using a shutter release is one more way to eliminate the chances of bumping your frame and increasing sharp focus.  If you don’t have a shutter release you can also use your camera’s timer delay.

6)  Cover your eyepiece viewfinder to prevent light from coming into the frame as this creates undesirable light leaks. My Nikon D810 and D850 have a little door that covers the eyepiece. But otherwise, I would cover it with a black/dark cloth or anything else that will keep the light out. 

7) Check your histogram. Sometimes finding the right exposure with the filter can be a bit of trial and error. Don’t rely on the app or the LCD screen. Make sure the histogram is toward the right without climbing the right wall. If you need to bump exposure, lower that shutter speed, OR if your shutter speed is where you want it for creative effect, raise your ISO or open up your aperture. 

2 minutes with a 10 stop filter at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada

2 minutes with a 10 stop filter at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada

8) Consider the creative effect and mood of the image you want to create! When choosing your shutter speed length, think about your creative vision. For really streaked clouds, you may need a 60 second exposure or even a few minutes. If clouds are moving fast, 15-30 seconds may create the look you desire.  With water, you may want to create a really smooth effect with 20-60 seconds or perhaps you want to leave more texture in the water with a 1 second exposure or a fraction of a second.

2.5 seconds in Kauai

2.5 seconds in Kauai

9) Lastly, look at the other areas of your frame. Do you have unwanted blur in other areas of your frame…such as trees, grasses or other foliage?  If so, capture the exact composed frame with a faster speed so you can composite the two images later in post processing. 

3 minute exposure for the sky combined with a fast shutter for the foreground grasses. Shot in the prairie of Illinois.

3 minute exposure for the sky combined with a fast shutter for the foreground grasses. Shot in the prairie of Illinois.

It's a little addicting, so don't say I didn't warn you!

Check out my online workshop, mentoring, or ladies’ landscape photography retreats for educational opportunities.

Viewpoints ~ My Canadian Rockies View ~ Part 2

Last month, I shared some of my images from our Canadian Rockies vacation, but those were hardly the end of my captures from this spectacular area of the world. Despite the smoke from the wildfires, I still came home with so many images that I love. From the Kananaskis to Jasper National Park, I was in awe of the miles and miles and miles of tall rocky peaks lining the views from the highway and beyond.  I think you could explore this area for a lifetime and never see it all.  I look forward to going back and seeing new places as well as revisiting those I saw this time, just in different light. 

Some more of the images I captured during our two week visit.....

 

Mt. Rundle reflecting in Vermilion Lakes at Sunrise 

Mt. Rundle reflecting in Vermilion Lakes at Sunrise 

Morning light at Pyramid Lake 

Morning light at Pyramid Lake 

Beautiful Elbow Lake 

Beautiful Elbow Lake 

The Gorgeous Athabasca Falls 

The Gorgeous Athabasca Falls 

Lake Louise at sunset 

Lake Louise at sunset 

A fiery sunset evening in Canmore 

A fiery sunset evening in Canmore 

I know you won't want to miss any of the beautiful imagery my friends have to share this week, so please continue the circle and click over to my friend, Amy Miller of Big Woods Creative

 

Viewpoints ~ My Canadian Rockies View

Last month I missed sharing for our Viewpoints blog circle because our family was immersed in preparation for some home renovations in addition to getting ready for a 2 week trip to the Canadian Rockies.  On July 29th, we flew to Calgary and got our rental van for exploration in the mountains from the Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper National Park. I was so excited for this adventure with my family and to simply be in the mountains again. I had seen so many images of this gorgeous area and the beauty did not disappoint.  

We were unfortunately greeted with smoke from the British Columbia forest fires and that really did not dissipate during our time in Canmore and Banff. It came and went with the winds so we had some clearer days and some really hazy days where the mountains could barely be seen. But we still made the most of it and despite the smoke, I also managed to get a few landscape photo opportunities. And of course, many shots of my kids during our adventures :) It will take some time to get through them all! 

Today I will share some of the landscapes I have managed to edit over the last few weeks since our return. 

 

Three Sisters reflection at Sunrise 

Three Sisters reflection at Sunrise 

Spring Creek during a smokey sunset 

Spring Creek during a smokey sunset 

Smokey evening at Vermilion Lakes 

Smokey evening at Vermilion Lakes 

The Road to Kananaskis Country 

The Road to Kananaskis Country 

Sunset at Storm Mountain 

Sunset at Storm Mountain 

Coming around the bend at Storm Mountain overlook 

Coming around the bend at Storm Mountain overlook 

Bow Lake on the Icefields Parkway 

Bow Lake on the Icefields Parkway 

Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway

Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway

Sunrise at Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park 

Sunrise at Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park 

Moraine Lake Reflection 

Moraine Lake Reflection 

Stay tuned for more views from the Canadian Rockies! And in the meantime, continue our small circle of visual inspiration with Kathy Roberts. You won't want to miss her stunning work! 

Viewpoints ~ My Hilton Head View

My family recently spent a week in South Carolina just off Hilton Head Island. The primary purpose of the trip was to visit my Dad and Stepmom and enjoy their home in Bluffton as well as the beaches of Hilton Head Island. We were lucky that my brother and his two young kids were also able to make the trip at the same time as us.  The kids enjoyed the cousin time! 

Whenever we travel, I look forward to exploring the nature and new photographic opportunities. With the kids, most of my photography was in the pool and the ocean, which mainly meant shooting with my new Go Pro Hero 5.  But I also really wanted to get in a little landscape shooting. 

Sunrise is always the easiest time for me to get out and shoot on vacation without being disruptive to family activities. It's tough to take the early alarm sometimes, but in addition to it working with family, it is a time of day that I love to be out taking in the quiet of the morning and watching the sunrise unfold. And no doubt, it is often the most rewarding when it comes to dynamic photo opportunities. 

I watched the weather and looked for a partly cloudy forecast at night and in the morning and headed out at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning. When I got in the car to drive the 30 minutes to the island, I could see stars above, so I wondered what I would find along the beach. Even as I drove, I couldn't see the sign of a spectacular sunrise, but when I walked onto the beach, I was greeted with amazing light and incredible colors! 

With Friday morning turning out so beautifully, I tried my luck again on Saturday. It was a little tougher getting up to the 5 a.m. alarm after a later night out with the family, but I wanted one more morning on the beach and with my husband joining us Saturday morning, I figured I'd get it in before he arrived. 

HH sunrise.jpg

This time the colors weren't intense, and I was not sure how the sunrise would unfold but the clouds were full of texture and interest. I set up my tripod and took a few shots and waited as the sun began to rose. Not as vibrant as Friday, but still, such a beautiful scene.  

So worth the early wake ups, I left the beach a bit wind blown and sandy, and very satisfied from my quiet time and fix of seascape shooting :) 

I also managed to catch one sunset when we were at the beach before we headed home for dinner. 

 

Don't miss the gorgeous work of my friends in this circle. Visit Amy of Big Woods Creative next :) 

 

Magic in the Tetons...A coming together of past, present and future

Back in 1969, years before I was born, my grandparents bought property in Jackson Hole, just south of Grand Teton National Park. By 1971, their house was built and a history of family memories was born. My first visit was as a very young girl and the story told to me by my grandparents is that when I was 4 years old,  I put up my arms and declared the Tetons "My Mountains". Though this is hardly true in reality, that feeling has grown and stayed with me for nearly 40 years. I have been fortunate to live in great homes and communities and travel to many wonderful places in my 41 years, but nowhere has my heart and soul felt so complete as in the Tetons. 

As I fly into the valley, the jagged peaks come into view and the feeling of coming home washes over me. I get a lump in my throat, a sense of peace, and a feeling like my heart is going to jump out of my chest all at the very same time. The piece of me that has been missing has returned and I feel complete once again. 

Driving the park road, putting one foot in front of the other on the trails I know by memory, watching the clouds float over the mountains, my heart soars and the feeling of being in 'my place' is so intense and familiar. I have seen the area change so much over the years and the tourist traffic increase dramatically.  But the magic of the Tetons remains the same year after year and my need to be beneath their grandeur remains as strong as ever. 

Hiking and photography have always been 2 of my favorite activities in GTNP. My husband and I hiked and camped all the backcountry trails in the early 2000s, finishing with a pizza at Dornan's and an afternoon of reading in the hammock with a beer. Eventually, the hikes became shorter with our kids but photography became a more serious endeavor.  

It seems only fitting that the Tetons have such a strong presence in my landscape photography since my passion for the landscape genre began in Jackson Hole. I dream of spending more time here exploring both iconic locations and the roads less traveled, capturing these peaks in all seasons and conditions. It is easy to simply spend hours watching Mother Nature unfold over the valley, as the light and shadows dance and the Grand plays hide n seek amongst the clouds. 

My passion for landscape photography led me into teaching the genre 3 years ago when my first online workshop began in September 2014 with Click Photo School. The workshop has now run 6 times with a fall and spring run each year. Through this workshop, I have met so many photographers and have had the privilege of seeing the world through their lenses and watching their landscape photography grow. The friendships formed have been a highlight for me and it has been especially rewarding to meet many of these alumni at the annual Click Away conferences where I have also led several landscape classes. 

As much as I love the online teaching, I long to also work and connect with my students in a more hands on way. Teaching at Click Away reinforced this for me and also demonstrated the inspiration, creativity and connection that comes from in person gatherings. I found myself longing for more landscape and nature focus and the opportunity to connect with others who share my passion. I long for the opportunity to teach and inspire as we immerse ourselves in nature and chase the light. I want to bring a group of creative women together for connection and inspiration to learn from each other and support each other in our art. I want to create an opportunity to give ourselves the gift of several days focused on nothing but nurturing our need to learn, create and connect with other women who share this need. 

For a couple years, the dream of leading a workshop in the Tetons was simmering in my brain. Finally I knew I needed to stop daydreaming and make this dream a reality. I wanted to bring my vision of this retreat experience together with my love and knowledge of the Teton area.  

I am excited to say that I have a fantastic group of 7 ladies signed up for this unique experience and I look forward to kicking off the first annual Magic in the Tetons retreat September 27 for 4 days and 4 nights of nature, photography and friendship.  

This past fall my grandparents home was sold and the loss is heartbreaking. But this retreat is a bright spot for me. Taking my past history there and my love for capturing its beauty to create this future adventure. 

Past, present and future coming together to build friendships, inspire creativity and capture the magic of the Tetons! 

Viewpoint ~ My Dominican Republic View

My website has been a bit quiet the last month or so as I've been teaching The World Around You on the Clickin Moms forum and combined with my kids sport schedule and end of school activities, not much time is left! Thankfully this month's Viewpoints blog circle is the inspiration to get me back on my website and blog. 

My family and I had the privilege of spending spring break in the Dominican Republic and it was a wonderful vacation. While my focus was family, I was able to sneak away and capture some of the beautiful landscape and seascape of this gorgeous island. So for this month's Viewpoints, I am sharing some of my favorite captures from this April vacation. 

You won't want to miss the beautiful work of Kathy, Nadeen and Amy! Next in the circle is Amy of Big Woods Creative with a view of her favorite island! 

7 Reasons Why I Love Landscape Photography

Why Landscapes? Do you ever wonder why people fall in love with landscape photography? Or why you might give it a try? Why spend time on this genre? 

The thoughts surrounding the answer to this question have been swirling in my head for the longest time; months, a year, maybe more. It’s a question I have asked myself at various times over the last couple years and reflected upon. 

After all, we are all busy people with so many choices and so little time. Life is short and precious and every moment matters. With 4 young kids, there is never enough time and I am always questioning how I use it. 

Sometimes it makes me wonder why I spend so much time on photography. I remember distinctly thinking about this in the fall of 2015. Shortly afterwards, we had an incident with my youngest boy, 4 years old at the time, where he crashed his bike and one of his top front teeth. He had to have it pulled because the tooth cracked down the middle up into the root. In an instant his baby smile was goneTwo days prior, we had been at the park during my middle boy’s soccer practice. I brought my camera along and captured my twins while they ran around doing their thing. One of my favorite images was of my boy in a full on genuine smile. And right there…that’s why I take those pictures of them. I was so happy to have a last real shot of his baby smile in the midst of his bike accident. 

 

But landscapes…well, then, why landscapes. That’s not capturing my kids fleeting moments. And most of the time I’m not even with them when I’m shooting landscapes. I spent some time reflecting on this and the short answer, I realized is that they are good for me physically, mentally and emotionally. And there are several reasons for this. 

1. They get me out in nature - Shooting landscapes forces you to get outside and find the beauty around you. Sometimes this means discovering places right in front of your eyes that you just never noticed were beautiful before. Other times this means exploring new places and getting out on a hike or nature walk. Even if I don’t come back with images that excite me, I’m always better for having gotten out in the fresh air. It also pushes me to explore new places that I might not have discovered otherwise. Students in my workshop, The World Around You frequently comment that they visit or discover places they had never been before in order to practice their landscapes during class.

 

2.  They lead me to see the world in new ways - Not only does landscape photography push me to explore new places, but it gives me a push to get out during those times of day that we are often holed up inside, such as sunrise, sunset and nighttime. Because it can be more challenging to get out at those times, we often don’t in our daily lives. But since these are the times when the most interesting light can be found, landscape photography pushes us to set an alarm in the morning rather than sleep in, or to stay out for (and even past) sunset. Or it leads us to find a dark place at night and observe the stars. I have seen more sunrises thanks to shooting landscapes than I ever had before. I have gone on winter hikes and seen the milky way over the Tetons at 4:30 in the morning. Often a little physical discomfort is involved, whether pushing through sleepiness or shivering in the cold, but it is almost always worth it. And the adrenaline high when the LCD screen captures what you saw, is indescribable. 

3. Shooting landscapes is like therapeutic meditation - Getting out to shoot landscapes clears my mind and soothes my worries and anxiety. When I get out and set up to shoot a landscape scene, I find that my mind is freed of my worries and distractions. I become completely focused on the scene around me and setting my camera to achieve my vision. Watching the sun come up over the horizon or dramatic clouds change as they move across the sky becomes entrancing and my mind and body are freed from the tension of anxiety as I focus on capturing the wonder of nature. For that time, all that matters is freezing those moments in front of me and in finding creative ways of capturing the beauty unfolding. 

I watched the clouds drift over the Tetons for 2 hours this September morning. 

I watched the clouds drift over the Tetons for 2 hours this September morning. 

4. They give me a genre of my art that is all for me - I love photographing my kids and capturing all their childhood moments, but I love that I have a genre that is all about me and my art. It does not rely on my kids’ cooperation, them being cute or little, wearing the right clothes, or anything else. I love that now and in the future, I will always have the world at my fingertips to shoot. Photographing the kids can come and go and change depending on their stage of life, but I know I can have my landscape photography outside of them. 

5. The world is my canvas - Sometimes I get frustrated living in the Chicago suburbs. I’m a bit far from the city to make it easy accessible, especially at ideal landscape light times, there is no beach and no mountains. But, there is beauty to be found everywhere if you look for it at the right times. Prairies, forests, lakes and ponds, oceans, mountains, deserts and cities. Endless opportunities and even a single location changes dramatically in different weather conditions and seasons. I love finding new locations but I also love the challenge of trying to find something new in the same location. 

There is also so many fun creative techniques and opportunities to show your voice through landscape photography in your processing. While my goal is to portray the mood of the scene as it was, there really is an opportunity to push the scene to reach your vision that is so fun if you enjoy post processing and sometimes, I can really lose myself in that process. Processing landscapes is just FUN!! 

6. To transport me right back in time to those moments - You know how you look at a picture of your child from when they were little and your heart melts remembering that moment? Well, landscapes can be the same way. When you truly feel like you captured the feeling of that moment out in nature, the photograph can bring you right back. That feeling of peacefulness in the open air, of being in awe as a sunrise unfolds or storm clouds develop over the mountains or sea, can come right back as I edit an image. 

They allow me to capture a place that is special to me, or one I have visited but may never go back to, and remember it just as I experienced it. The way I capture it or process it may not be the way someone else would have done so, but the image represents the way I saw it and felt in that moment. 

This is one of my very favorite images EVER...capturing the warmth of our family home my grandparents owned all my life and the magic of the nature that surrounds this place represented by the milky way. The home was sold this fall and my heartbreak is indescribable. But I'm so grateful for my experiences and that I was able to capture this and many other images of their property & our experiences there the last few years. 

7. Landscapes CAN and DO include people - I love that my practice of landscapes alone helps me to capture my children in the environment the way that I want to. Shooting landscapes makes me really look at every area of my frame in regards to composition and what is included in my frame, whether my depth of field works for my vision, and whether there is detail in all the highlights and shadows where I need it. Landscapes have pushed my practice of both technical and creative choices consistently and made me a very intentional shooter far more than I was before. 

#8 would be the way they have improved my photography overall, but that's a whole separate article! 

Ultimately, shooting landscapes allows me to capture the magic and awe that is our world. Not only does it get me out to see some of the more wondrous beauty of the world, like sunrise over the Tetons, or the most glorious fall colors in the forest, but it also has taught me to see the extraordinary in the more simple beauty of my local surroundings where a lone tree, curve of a path or simple reflection could make a stunning subject. 

See The World Around You for more information about my online workshop and Teton Retreat for information about the first annual landscape photography workshop retreat in Jackson Hole. 

Viewpoints ~ My Pond View

Welcome! I'm excited to be sharing the Viewpoints blog circle posts on my new website! I've got a little more work to do on the site, but so far it's looking more like I envisioned my website than my old site ever did.  This month, for our Viewpoints perspective, I'm sharing a few shots of the pond beyond our home.  I am pretty thankful for this little piece of nature in the suburbs as I long to travel and live near mountains or ocean. I do strongly believe beauty can be found everywhere though, and especially if the light is right. 

 

Winter can be really quite beautiful in Illinois...when it snows! I love when the snow sticks to the trees! 

Unfortunately this winter we really only got snow in early December and then not again almost all winter until we got a brief light dusting in the first half of March. It was cold enough to keep the snow on the ground for about a day and that was it. The light and sunset was beautiful the day after the snow and I went out to take advantage of it. 

Please continue the circle with my talented friend Nadeen of Nadeen Flynn Photography

New Projects

Welcome to my new website! It took quite a bit of time and experimenting to set things up the way I envisioned but I think I'm finally there. I'm so happy to love the look of my site and the way my recent images are presented. Check out the Shop Fine Art section to browse my recent and favorite images by category. Coming soon will be full details about my in person landscape photography workshop retreat in the Tetons!!! I can't wait to reveal all the plans!