Solar Eclipse: A Week Before

2017 Solar Eclipse: A Week Before

The path of the 2017 Solar Eclipse is starting in Oregon and making its way across the country.  As much as I would love to be in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is going to be crowded and patience has never been my strong suit.  Luckily the eclipse runs right through the middle of South Carolina going over McClellanville. 

The first full solar eclipse in years is going to happen on a Monday afternoon so of course I decided to take the day off because I’m not missing this possibly once in a lifetime event especially since I live 30 minutes from where there will be totality of the eclipse (full solar eclipse).  I actually put in for the day off in May.

The next important thing is deciding where to take go, I could stay in Myrtle Beach which will have 99.6 percent of the totality.  To many people that is enough but it is not for me. I want the full eclipse so that leaves anywhere from Pawley’s Island to Charleston.  Charleston is going to be crowded and don’t really feel like dealing with that much traffic.  No matter where I go, without doubt I will not be the only person there shooting the eclipse.As much as I would love to go to the point in Pawley’s Island, there isn’t a lot of parking available so I"m going to head to Georgetown where the totality will be the longest and hopefully I can find a place even if it is just a parking lot.  Since its a solar eclipse int he middle of the day, the subject will be high in the sky so I don’t have to worry about people in my shots.

Another very important item, a filter for my camera that is strong enough for the camera to be pointed at the sun for a few hours except that short window during the totality.  Luckily my wonderful friend Tim is sending me his because I waited to long to order one.  I now have to decide if I want to shoot with the Nikon D300s or the Nikon D700.  The D700 is the better camera but its a full frame camera so using a 80-400mm the most zoom I will get it 400mm.  Because the D300s is a crop sensor, the 400mm lens now becomes 560mm. Ordered my special solar eclipse glasses from Tidelands Health so my eyes are taken care of as well.

This week will be spent watching videos, reading everything I can about settings so on the day of the eclipse I am ready and I don’t miss the photos of a lifetime because I don’t know what I am doing. And I will also be practicing. Hopefully Mother Nature will behave and we will have clear skies.



Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

 Day 2: Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Day 1 with my new lens was my sunrise shots at Surfside Pier.  You can check out the blog post: Surfside Pier Sunrise

For the second straight day, and believe it’s a miracle that I got up early two days in a row, I decided to head to the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk to take sunrise photos.  Unfortunately mother nature had other ideas as there was considerable clouds near the horizon which made the sunrise virtually non existent.  

The sunrise was not a necessity to get some fantastic shots of the boardwalk and the Skywheel.  Fortunately it was warmer than the day before and with no wind made it feel bearable.  Just like the day before, I decided to go the HDR photography route so my camera was set for brackets.  There were not many people around so I had the place to myself.

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk has a line of flags on the edge of the boardwalk looking out over the beach.  Shooting flags in HDR has an advantage especially on windy days.  Since HDR photography combines three photographs into one, flags generally are in three different positions so you get the ghost look as you can see on the photo on the left.  

Pier 14 at Myrtle Beach BoardwalkAfter taking many photos of the Boardwalk and the SkyWheel from both the boardwalk and the beach, I headed down the beach toward Pier 14 for more photos of another one of Myrtle Beach’s great piers.  

All in all, I think I had taken about 250 photos.  I uploaded them into my computer when I got home and spent the next few hours editing and deciding which ones I liked best.  

To anyone who thinks photography is just taking photo, there is a lot more work involved.  I spent maybe an hour taking photos and then at least 6 hours deciding which ones were the keepers and then editing them.

Surfside Pier Sunrise

Sunrise at Surfside PierFor those of you that know me, you know that I am absolutely NOT a morning person, actually I’m quite the opposite. I entered SnapKnot’s contest in November to win either a Canon or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 portrait lens which is also great for landscapes.  To my surprise I won.  The lens arrived on Thursday afternoon. 

On Friday morning, feeling ambitious and wanting to try out my new lens, I headed out to Surfside Pier on a blistering cold and windy morning to shoot the sunrise.  There is nothing more beautiful than capturing the sun rising over the ocean.  There were a few clouds at the horizon but not enough that would keep me from getting some great shots. Actually the cloud cover produced some interesting effects.  I arrived about half an hour earlier than the sunrise because that is when you can get some of the best colors.

Since I decided to shoot HD photography, I had bracketing set up on my camera so there would be 3 images for each subject I shot. It makes for some great shots but takes up space on your memory card.  

Even pros make mistakes.  I had taken maybe 100 shots when I noticed that one was very noisy.  I looked at the ISO and to my horror, it was set at 2500.  I have no idea what I had last shot that I needed such a high ISO. I changed it to 200 then continued shooting.

So there I am having fun with my new lens shooting the pier waiting for the sun to rise above the horizon and hoping the clouds would somehow disappear and trying to keep warm.  My fingers were frozen even with the gloves I was wearing.  It should not have been that cold in Myrtle Beach, I live in the sunny south, it is supposed to be warm!  

Surfside Pier Sunrise

Just before the sun became visible, it lit up the clouds to make it look like some bomb exploded at the horizon.  So I was glad that there was a few clouds at the horizon.

About 20 minutes after the sun rose, I headed home to upload the photos into my computer before I headed to work.  

I took over 350 photos and doing them in HD, I knew it was going to take me some time to edit them.  When I finished, I had narrowed it down to about 40 photos. From those, Check out my Facebook page to see what I thought were my best photos from that shoot.


Different Kinds of Photography



If you have ever picked up a camera and took a photograph of a family member or a pet than you have done portrait photography.

Two different types of portrait photography are:

Studio – Many professional photographers have a studio where they do most of their work.  The studio most likely will have lighting, muslims (the backdrops in photographs) and different props.  Photographers can have a lot of equipment and it is much easier to bring the subject to them than to have to take all the equipment they would need to them.

Location – Many photographers including me, prefer natural lighting to artificial so they do their photography outdoors.  No matter where you live,  you can find some place that have a beautiful backdrop, whether it is at the beach, a park, famous landmark or maybe just your backyard. I live near the beach so I have the perfect backdrop.  The downside of course is the weather, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature.


Have you ever taken a picture of a flower in your backyard or a cardinal eating out of your bird feeder?  That is nature/wildlife photography.  The great thing about nature and wildlife photography is you can do it in your own backyard or at the local park. Ansel Adams is probably the most well known nature photographer.  His shots of Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks are incredible.  This is the photography that I love to shoot.  It is beautiful and unpredictable.  The great thing about wildlife photography is no two shots are the same but you do have to be patient and you have to be ready.

One of my favorite types of photography is long exposure photography.  You can find some great photos on Fine Art America’s Long Exposure Art for Sale


Another great subject is landscape photography.  Have you ever taken a photo of a famous landmark (i.e. Lincoln Memorial, Seattle Space Needle, St. Louis Arch).  That is landscape photography. Cityscapes also fit into this category.    Cityscapes are especially great photographs when taken at night.

Copyright Issues with Photographs

Copyright issues with photographs is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously by individuals wanting to use a particular picture.  

 I recently had a photo of mine pulled off Facebook and used without my permission so I decided that I would do a blog on Copyrights.

Copyright is a form of protection, authorized by the United States Constitution, that gives photographers, artists, authors, musicians, choreographers and architects the exclusive right to use and reproduce their works. Essentially, all original works can be copyrighted. This includes photographs, art works, sculpture, writings, music and computer software. Virtually all works created or first published after January 1, 1978 are protected by copyright. Many works created prior to 1978 are also protected.

copyright is secured automatically when a work is created. This concept is frequently misunderstood. Some people still believe that there are formalities required in order to create a copyright. This is not true. Under the latest version of the Copyright Act, neither publication nor registration with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress is required in order to secure full copyright protection. When a work is created, it is automatically copyrighted.

The owner of the copyright generally has the exclusive right to reproduce the work in copies, to prepare derivative works based on the work, and to distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.  The owner of the copyright generally has the exclusive right to publicly display and perform the work.

Permission to use a copyrighted work is called a "license." A license must be obtained from the owner of the copyright prior to using the work. The license can be oral or written. Obviously, the use of a clearly written licensing agreement will avoid confusion. The writing does not have to be detailed to be effective. A simple letter or invoice is usually sufficient. For example, ‘one-time usage rights for photograph in brochure with press run of 5,000 copies and regional newspaper use for six months – $2,500."


The unauthorized use of a copyrighted work is called an infringement. The Copyright Act provides stiff penalties for infringing copyrighted works. Under appropriate circumstances, penalties can include monetary damages, all profits earned by the infringer from the unauthorized use of the copyrighted work and attorneyís fees. A court can also order the destruction of all infringing copies.

For more information check out:


Washington DC

Washington DC I was an army brat growing up so I have lived in a few different states and even a foreign country but I spent most of my life living in Maryland.  Being only about 45 minutes away from our nation’s capital, many of my school field trips to were to Washington DC.  I have always loved wandering around downtown DC. I am a history buff, was an American History major in college so Washington DC is the perfect place for me to go especially because I am such a huge admirer of President Abraham Lincoln.

You do not realize just how big the National Mall is until you walk from end to end.  The National Mall extends from the U.S. Capitol (with the idiots that occupying the building now) to the Lincoln Memorial.  In between the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial is the Reflecting Pool, The Jefferson Memorial, The Tidal Basin (which in late March, early April is surrounded by beautiful Cherry Blossoms), The White House, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Veterans Wall, Korean War Veteran’s Memorial,  Constitution Gardens,  FDR Memorial, the Museum of American History, Museum of National History, National Gallery of Art, National Air and Space Museum, The Smithsonian Castle, African Art Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, American Art Museum, American Indian Museum, and the National Archives.  The Smithsonian Institution makes up for 19 Museums (most of which are listed above), 9 research centers and the National Zoo which is in the Woodley Park area. To make up for their horrible traffic that DC has, it has a wonderful Metro System.

washington dcI try to make it up to Washington DC at least once a year just to wander around the city and take photographs.  This year I was lucky enough to go when there was still a significant amount of snow on the ground so I got some great photos, the downside of course was it was rather cold.  You can check out more of my photos from my trip on my Washington DC gallery.  As I said before I am a huge admirer of Abraham Lincoln so a majority of the photographs are of the Lincoln Memorial.  It was a great trip but I walked the full length of the national mall three times in a day and half of it so my legs were feeling it by the end.  If you have never been before, I would definitely recommend going but try to stay for a few days because there are so many great things to do.

You can purchase great works of art of the Lincoln Memorial on Fine Art America’s Lincoln Memorial Art for Sale

No Batteries or No Camera = No Shot

Alligator1-FrameWI always carrying extra batteries in my camera bag so if they die, I still have extras.  A few months ago I was at Huntington Beach State Park taking photos of wading birds (egrets, herons). Deciding against carrying my heavy camera bag, I just grabbed one of my cameras, my extra memory cards and headed to take more photos.  I was on the other side of the causeway from my car when my batteries died.  As I was walking back to my car  to replace them I heard crunching near me.  I turned to look and not five feet in front of me was an alligator facing me munching on a blue crab.  It would have been a great shot but because I hadn’t brought my extra batteries, I did not get the shot.

A few weeks later I was sitting at a light when to my right I saw a Red Tailed Hawk 10 feet away standing on the ground.  Because I was heading to a meeting I had not thought to bring my cameras with me.

No batteries or no camera = no shot.  The moral of the story, just like the boy scouts, is "always be prepared." You never know when you perfect shot will be presented to you and you want to be ready.