Wagner Falls in Winter

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Although this popular waterfall near Munising has been photographed many times I always make a point to stop here. It is beautiful in every season but winter is my favorite, and this time I caught it after a heavy snowfall. After hiking through the deep snow which was thigh-deep in some areas, I was able to capture this beauty surrounded by a fresh blanket of powder. I spent some time trying to capture what I felt was the best perspective and this ended up as one of my favorites.
Settings: 1/2 sec @ f/13, ISO 50

You can view more of my winter images here.

Guess What Happens When Six Photographers Meet Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

My friend Aubrieta Hope is a great photographer and writer.  This week she wrote an article as the guest blogger for Pure Michigan, about our photo adventures in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula this fall. Check it out and don’t forget to follow her on Facebook to see all her beautiful images! http://www.michigan.org/blog/guest-blogger/what-happens-when-six-photographers-meet-michigans-upper-peninsula/

2015 Michigan Calendar – The Perfect Christmas Gift

Today I realized that Christmas is only six weeks away.  Wait..what?!!  Don’t worry, I’m here to help.  My 2015 Michigan Scenic Calendars are for sale on my website, along with Fine Art Prints and Canvas Wraps.  A few simple clicks and you’ve got one more person crossed off your shopping list.  No driving through heavy traffic to get to the mall.  No long wait in a crowded line to check out your items.  Feeling better?  Glad I could make your holiday shopping experience a little easier.

To view the images in the calendar and purchase, click on the link below:

http://www.neilweaverphotography.com/#!/p/calendars

2015 Michigan Calendar

This month I spent a few days in the Upper Peninsula with the goal of capturing the winter landscape in this rugged part of our state. One stop that I absolutely had to make was a visit to the Eben Ice Caves.

These caves are beautiful frozen formations located in the Rock River Canyon Wilderness within the Hiawatha National Forest. According to geologists, water drained from sandy loam seeps through the sandstone bedrock. As the temperatures drop, these intermittent “leaks” through the sandstone create ice stalactites over the entrance of undercuts in the exposed bedrock cliffs.

I walked around the area and shot for a couple of hours, trying to capture the cave’s size without having a person in the photo to show its scale. This was one of the last images I took that day and I hope it accomplishes that :)

Looking “Through the Teeth” of the Eben Ice Caves

Winter's WindowGrand Haven is far and away my most photographed lighthouse. Besides its somewhat close proximity to my home, the setting – the red inner and outer lighthouses on the south pier and the large sprawling beach adjacent to it – just feels right to me!  I typically go here for the sunsets, but on this day I set out early for some good morning light.  I have shot this lighthouse from just about every angle so today I  was wanting something different.  Framing up shots all along the pier, I attempted to incorporate the ice formations into the photo while still keeping the lighthouse as a prominent part of the image.  Nothing was looking right to me.  Finally, as I made it out toward the end of the pier I tried using the icy legs of the catwalk to frame the lighthouse in the center, which also has the lines of the catwalk and the largest icicle leading right to it.  One more thing that I liked was the morning light giving me a front-lit subject, it really made the red lighthouse stand out against that dark blue sky.

Winter’s Window

Get Sharper Photos

Some tips and equipment that will make your photos tack sharpFB DSC_0759-2

  1. Use a sturdy tripod – A good tripod is important for consistently sharp images.  I almost always use mine because I can get sharp photos in any situation and it allows me  to shoot with slow shutter speeds and f/stops.  Even on a sunny day you’ll be surprised how slow you may need to set your shutter speed when shooting a landscape at small apertures such as f/16 or  f/22.
  2. Use a cable release or self timer – Pressing the shutter button may shake the camera enough to loose sharpness.  Even mounted on a tripod pressing on the shutter button can shake the camera.  I often use the camera’s self timer set at 2 seconds.  Either one of these methods will work since you’re not touching the camera when the shutter opens.
  3. Mirror lock-up – Using this in-camera feature is very useful and perfect for long exposures.  When you take a picture the mirror will flip up a second before the shutter opens so there is no vibration.
  4. Use the best f-stop available – Using the best aperture for the situation you’re shooting in.  Most lenses are their sharpest at around f/8, but that won’t always be the ideal f-stop to use.  For landscape photos I usually shoot at f/16 or f/22 to achieve focus from foreground to background.  I normally favor f/16 because there can be significant diffraction at f/22.  This happens because light begins to disperse or “diffract” when passing through a small opening, such as your camera’s aperture, and can result in a soft image.
  5. Keep your ISO down – Shooting at high ISOs will make your photos noisy/grainy and less crisp.  I generally shoot at my camera’s lowest setting which is 100 to minimize this as much as possible.
  6. Correct focusing – You’ve probably already discovered that your camera’s Auto Focus is not perfect.  You go out take some shots thinking everything went well until you pull your photos up on the computer and things aren’t in perfect focus.  In certain situations manual focusing may be the answer to get things right.  I also like to double check my viewfinder at 100% after I take the shot just to be sure that got it right.