Elk Rut Video, Cataloochee Valley, NC

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Elk Rut in full force makes great photography

Bull Elk, Broken antler Cat V. by Bob Grytten

Bull Elk, Broken antler Cat V. by Bob Grytten

I think we would all like to get the iconic shot no matter where we are or what the activity, that single image that tells the story. They don’t come often. Yesterday morning at Cataloochee Valley, on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky National Park this big guy not only made a feint charge, he had a broken antler from one of his challenge duels I expect.

Sometimes, it’s a sudden activity that happens. I’m not sure what spooked this big guy but he was just watching over his harem, keeping them all together, then he began to move toward the small group of photographers on the road next to their cars. His gate picked up and then this pose, the most expressive of the number I made. Then he moved his ladies and fawn toward the tree line and they slipped away from sight.

The post production was a little tricky as the morning was misty. The mist tends to become magnified thereby building up in the image when using a telephoto lens, 300mm, giving a somewhat washed out finish.  But I think the essence of the moment comes through.

The elk were absent from this area for 150 years. They were reintroduced in 2001 and have resettled throughout the area.

Thanks for looking in and please feel free to share, like and follow.

Bob says… Thanks

Bob says… Thanks


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Brevard – the small town with the big Heart

Looking Glass falls, Bob Grytten image

Looking Glass falls, Bob Grytten image

We’re in Brevard, NC, with new eyes. Before, years ago we brought photo groups to the area for the waterfalls. Now, living about an hour away, we’re playing tourists. Having been detoured by a fire when traffic snarled on Rt 25 on our way to another destination, we decide to stay closer and reroute to Brevard. First step, find a place to overnight. Later, we experience the Brevard Brewery and discovered a quaint restaurant that invites patrons with dogs to their back porch, then even staying at a cabin overnight down the road.

Finding Lodging…

Traveling with our doggie, we head to the welcome center which is now part of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce building on 175 East Main street. Formally a bank, the huge vault is now being used for storage. A majestic mural covers the wall and Suzie, one of the volunteers cheerfully offers to help us find a place. It’s Saturday, so we’re glad they’re open. Three phone calls and no room for us. Then finally, a hit. We hadn’t thought about staying at a cabin; but, one’s available for

Adventure Cabin

Adventure Cabin

about half the price of a motel room. We head out to take a look. That works and we book it by cell phone.

Barvard Brewing Company…

The Brevard Brewing Company is family-owned business in the heart of Brevard, just down from the Chamber office. They Specializing in hand-crafted lagers. No food here but they do have chips, and also serve wine which keeps my wife happy. I learn they’re the only brewery in Western North Carolina to specialize in lagers, cold-fermented and aged over twice as long as ales. They also brew an American IPA. I order the IPA. We catch up on the college games and banter with the patrons at the full bar. Two bags of chips and a second pint later, food is next on the agenda.

Wine Down on Main Street Back deck

Wine Down on Main Street Back deck

Wine down on Main…

This could be challenging, with a dog and 80° weather. Lively restaurants line Main Street. Then we spot a sign on one of the doors, “Dogs welcome on the back porch.” That could work. We check it out and settle in. Taco explores, nose to the deck. A collie and its person join us on the deck. Nice menu and the staff and owners couldn’t have been more accommodating. for more information and their menue go to Wine Down on Main.

Or just drop in at 28 E. Main St or phone at 828/883-9463. Have fun.

Rustic Cabin Accomodations…

Our rustic cabin for the night at Adventure Vallage 828/862-5411 is seven miles from Downtown Brevard close to Rosman. Take Rt 64 toward Cashiers. They’re cozy, feature a full kitchen and have full bath and shower, AC & heat, but you’ll have to bring your own food or eat out. That night we sipped wine to the crackling of a fire. The Adventure Village also has RV & Tent sites as well as chalets which offer indoor fireplace and jazuzzi. Hiking trails are also on the property. This is a casual place and the owner does not appear to be there at all times. We had to use the phone to make arrangemnets, which put some people off according to the reviews; however, it worked will for us and the place was clean.

About the area…

Transylvania county has over 250 Waterfalls, including Whitewater Falls. At 411 feet it is the largest in the East and available without a long hike.  If you need mor information about the water falls, Kevin Adams has an great waterfall book out that will feature all the falls in the area.

Guide and Tutoring programs…

We also provide half day and Full day Tutoring or group Photography Programs. or Call 828.627-0245; bobgry@aol.com.

Thanks for looking in. Please share, like, or follow. Comments are really appreciated…

Bob says… Thanks

Bob says… Thanks


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Can’t find things to Photograph – Use the SWIM approach

Dew drops in Grasses Morning in Wikie Watchee, FL

Dew drops in Grasses Morning in Wikie Watchee, FL

Keeping our images simple. That’s what the Digital Photo Mentor discussed recently. See https://www.digitalphotomentor.com/32-images-that-exemplify-keeping-it-simple for the rest of the story.

This took me back to one of the biggest gripes I hear from people. “I can’t find anything to photograph.” Consider the SWIM approach.

What is the SWIM approach? Simple Winning Image Method.

When I think about Swimming, we can either swim against the current, banging our heads against logs that are flowing downstream, or we can swim with the current, the easy successful way.

Last of the seed pod - Specie unknown

Last of the seed pod – Species unknown

The camera is designed to let us see exactly how the image in the viewfinder will look with the lens opened up all the way, so I simply set my lens that way, to the largest aperture opening.

I also set my camera control to Aperture Priority so the shutter speed sets automatically to provide proper exposure. It helps get those special images in quickly changing light conditions.

Celestine Bud (Wood Poppy)

Celestine Bud (Wood Poppy)

By doing those two things I’m swimming with the current. I simply look through the viewfinder – If I like what I see I release the shutter. The SWIM approach.

That approach will work for 80-85% of the images. The other 15% will require adding more depth-of-field by adjusting the aperture smaller or something similar.

If one is already shooting on manual, first set the aperture, then adjust the shutter speed for the exposure desired.

Frog in Florida bog Bob Grytten Photo

Frog in Florida bog Bob Grytten Photo

Using a Telephoto Lens…

By using a telephoto lens we can eliminate about 80% of distractions around an image and

by moving closer to the subject we can defuse the majority of distractions in the image. The result will be a pleasing, striking, winning image.

If the design of the lens does not allow us to get close enough to cut down background distractions use an extension tube. It allows us to get both closer to the subject and blow out the background.

Using a tripod will help keep the camera steady in low light.

This simple process will open the door to 80% more possible images. Scanning the area we are at, especially  using a telephoto lens, provides opportunities not seen before. The more we look, the more we will see.  I think you’ll like what you see.

Boy With Pizza, Saorge, FR Bob Grytten image

Boy With Pizza, Saorge, FR
Bob Grytten image

More info on Aperture…

The subject of Aperture, Exposure, Shutter Speed and such has been brushed over in this blog due to space constraints. However for those interested Bryan Peterson explains this subject in the most interesting way. I’ve been a fan of Bryans ever since I first learned of him. I found this book Understanding Exposure on Amazon, that he has authored. It has great reviews.

Click here for Amazon.com

Thanks for visiting with us. We would love for you to comment, like us or follow. Let us know what works for you and what doesn’t. Thanks again.

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The Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera Reviewed

Tickseed Sunflower made at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Tickseed Sunflower made at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Hi Linda,

Carol mentioned for me to contact you re. lighter equipment. As you probably know I switched over to the Sony a6000 mirrorless, in an attempt to go lighter primarily for my walking around the lake here and still having the features I feel are important.

The move has not been without challenge. The DSLR is so simple. The Sony is more complex. However, if one knows photography, as you do, it offers some features that are fantastic. As you know the key to photography is recognizing something worth shooting; then even a point and shoot works. And the Sony really works well. Fast, accurate and everything we need. I also shoot on the Aperture Priority or Manual mode when I want to super control the functions.

wild-lupine-Great Smoky Nountain National Park Sept-2016

wild-lupine-Great Smoky Mountain National Park Sept-2016

Here’s what I like:

  • Fast tracking of moving subjects.
  • Accurate focusing.
  • Light weight

  • Here’s what I had to adjust to and How I adjusted:

The Sensor attracts dust like many cameras; but, the Nikon had the auto dust vibrator. to get around that I traded in my kit lens for the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3. I  have kept my 16-50mm which is 24-75 in 35mm format. And that by itself is a really sweet package. I now carry around a sensor brush which also works well. But I like to shoot in long lens So the 18-200 is my go to system. I also carry a 16mm extension tube for really close images. Tamron also makes a pretty good 18-270mm for Sony that may be a tad smaller than the Sony 18-200mm.

Test photo with 200mm lens on Sony a6000 set on Auto

Test photo with 200mm lens on Sony a6000 set on Auto

Here is a test image I made in the house from my chair across the living room. On Auto hand held at 200mm, 1/20 sec, f/6.3, 3200 ISO. Just point N shoot. No PP alterations. The vertical line in the back of chair is where the two walls some together.

Incidentally the camera doesn’t shut off automatically if I forget to shut it off by the switch and the battery drains. I now carry five batteries, just in case.

Amazon has the a6000 with 16-50mm lens for $448. Not bad.

Here is a good visual review of the Sony a6000 compared to Nikon 5300 and Sony N6 & N7

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Think Tank: Updated Airport rollers released

Think Tank Roller Bag updated

Think Tank Photo just released completely updated versions of their award-winning Airport rolling camera bags. They feature improved handles, greater durability, and dedicated laptop and tablet compartments.

Before, the 15″ lap top had to be carried in another back pack. It gets heavy when having to follow those airport maze like departure gates and back.

We’ve been using the Roller bag for the past 4 years on trips to New Your state, Costa Rica and France. It’s really saved my back.

The Airport International V3.0, sized for international carry-on requirements, holds…

  • two gripped DSLRs with lenses attached,
  • two to four additional lenses,
  • a 15” laptop,
  • and a 10” tablet.

The roller fits up to a 500mm f/4 detached or 400mm f/2.8 attached (hood reversed).

The Airport Security V3.0, sized for US domestic carry-on requirements, holds…

  • two gripped DSLRs with lenses attached
  • four to six additional lenses,
  • a 17” laptop,
  • and a 10” tablet.

The bag also fits up to a 600mm f/4 detached or 500mm f/4 attached (hood reversed).

With our partnership with Think Tank, you receive free gear and free shipping with every order you place for their gear. To take a closer inside CLICK HERE

At 14” W x 21” H x 8” D (35.6 x 53.3 x 20.3 cm), the airport International is a tad smaller than the Airport Security, 14” W x 22” H x 9” D (35.6 x 55.9 x 22.9 cm), to comply with size requirements for International travel, but holds a ton of gear.

Put two bags together…

Another alternative with this bag is to couple it with the Shape Shifter Naked bag which has a special sleave to fit on top of the roller. This way it’s possible to split the camera gear between the two bags leaving more room for clothing etc. I put my Modular belt system in the Shape Shifter which frees up space in the roller for clothing. Both bags on board with us. No need to go to the Airport baggage pick up when departing and we’re always sure to have all our gear with us and not get lost in transit.

Another bag, the Airport Advantage is smaller yet at 12.7” W x 19.5” H x 7.3” D (32.3 x 49.5 x 18.5 cm) and designed to meet the Regional and Commuter Jet requirements.


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Bus to Cahuita – A Costa Rican Photo Adventure

Cahuita, Parc National, Costa Rica

Cahuita, Parc National, Costa Rica

“Cahuita,” “Cahuita,” “Cahuita,” I keep pronouncing once hearing how the locals do it. “Ca-hui-ta.” — We do know they have a Sloth Sanctuary there.  We’re on a bus in Costa Rica, a week before Christmas, but back home there’s snow. Here, no snow, shirt sleeves! But let me back up a bit.

This adventure begins with a plane from Ft. Lauderdale. It’s dark when we touch down at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, then a taxi whisks us away to our hotel. The driver talks with the hotel guy at The Millenium II B&B in Alajuela, our hotel for the first Millinum II B&B BG Photoand last nights. No cost for the taxi, just like our friend Elisabeth said. So far so good.

The room’s spartan, but clean. No TV. To eat, “Just a couple blocks up the road,” we’re told. “I’ll unlock the gate. Just ring to come back in…”

Dinner of Chicken, Black Beans, Eggs Chicken, Rice; Salad, Costa Rica

Dinner of Chicken, Black Beans, Rice; Costa Rica


We find a nice restaurant with open porch and sit down to a great Tico meal of chicken, rice and beans, salad and beers. Maybe a couple too many, but we’re here – safe and smiling, anticipating the rest of our journey.

First bus – Oh, you’ve just gotta take the bus to Sequirries,” Elisabeth exclaimed. “You’ll love going through the Cloud Forest!” Visions of something spectacular raced through my mind. I was still anxiously anticipating, standing in line to buy the ticket.  It’s raining more and cars whiz by on the skinny road. Bus stops at a check point type place, then back on our way. Climbing now, can’t see a thing. More rain. Reminds me of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina but a palm tree here & there gives it away.

Night #2 at Elizabeth's Casa

Night #2 at Elizabeth’s Casa

Suddenly the rain stops and it’s bright and sunny. Then, a sign – Sequirries. We get out to meet friends of a friend, another tasty meal, and to friends home. Definitely, have to explore this place…

Tomorrow, back to bus station and off to Puerto Limon and on to another bus.

on the bus

on the bus

Bus number 2 stops and in come vendors, with chips, fresh fruit, and Lottery tickets. Trooping down the aisle, and back, then they’re gone, but not before they sell something. The younger woman across from us has some fruit and a baby — I’m watching how they eat this. Camera goes up for a quick shot and she notices and looks, then smiles and poses. Click. Part of her wrapper gets stuffed under the back flap of the seat. Hmmm.

Puerto Limon sign. We disembark and look around for the next bus. “Go out of station and to another place,” we’re told. I asked a woman where that is and she begins to explain. I don’t understand her. “Just come with me,” she motions. Small child in hand she’s off. We follow. Over one street, across another, then another down an alley and there we are, at the Puerto Limon station.

Next bus – to Cahuita. These people are so friendly.

After all the talk about pot holes and rough roads, I’m disappointed. It was a smooth ride and comfortable seats. It’s our third bus to get here from San Jose. Next stop Cahuita…

Cahuita, Costa Rica

Cahuita, Costa Rica

Cahuita, Costa Rica Parque National

Cahuita, Costa Rica Parc National

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Flowers of another kind, w/ photo tips…

Flower basketThis attractive basket of flowers on our deck in morning mist caught my eye. Sometimes the plain ‘ole feel of a subject trumps composition. But it opens discussion about designing an image.

The plus includes the Red & Green hues, a proven winner most times. The two Red flowers right up front so there is no question about the subject. Something in sharp focus and soft background.

Things which could be improved… Choosing a background darker than the foreground so the petals do not draw the eye away from the subject – the eye usually goes to the lightest part of the image. The partial blur of flower in the lower left, either eliminate or crop out. although this is a minor issue here. At least it is not very light. Oh, yes – the blade (streak of something light in the upper middle of  the frame).

We were able to clean up the original image in a post production application. Then we considered cropping to feature the personality of the two flowers in the foreground. It’s up for grabs. Which do you like the best? That’s often the ultimate decider.

Flower basket cropped

Flower basket cropped

Flower basket cleaned up

Flower basket cleaned up

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Blue Ridge Parkway Image in Digital Watercolor

The Blue Ridge Parkway is often a maze of mist and mountain ridges. Here is a take off on a watercolor treatment. What do you think?

Blue Ridge Parkway by Bob Grytten

Blue Ridge Parkway by Bob Grytten

Posted in Art, inspiration, Landscape, Mountains, Nature, Photographic light, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Camera bags that make a difference

Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter Camera Bag

Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter Camera Bag

In a prior post we mentioned the Shape Shifter bag by Think Tank Photo. Our sample has arrived and it is a honey. Typical long lasting construction, loads of pockets, and unique features.

It is the perfect go along for those trips where you want to carry both camera gear and clothes. Sometimes there is so much camera gear that cloths tend to get left out, because of space. This will be the perfect addition to my Airport Takeoff, the roller bag from Think Tank, that converts to a backpack and also carries my 15″ Macbook Pro.

Think Tank Airport Takeoff Camera Bag

Think Tank Airport Takeoff Camera Bag


Why two similar bags?

First the Roller bag does just that, rolls through airports; however, when doing train stations and other places with stairs, it has to either go on your back or have sturdy handles to carry up or down the stairs. Plus I love to roll my computer.

Then why the Shape shifter?

The shape shifter while a great backpack bag, can also be attached to the Airport Takeoff by a special sleave that slips over the handle of the Roller. A great thought by the Think Tank group. It can also be reduced in size when the Camera Great and other accessories are removed.  Here is the video with details .

Incidentally, on both these bags the tripod can be carried on the outside. Although there is enough room on the inside for my travel tripod, as I prefer not to advertise that I have camera gear with me.

I selected the Naked Shape Shifter Bag as it has removed the pockets for gear so I can place my current gear in protective pouches as well as my belt system which is my working field set up – a more hands-free approach with gear around my waist. It’s also on sale for $199.00 and  readers will receive special product if using the attached code…https://www.thinktankphoto.com/pages/backpacks?rfsn=140257.3fb716

The second Shape Shifter, reduced down in size, also serves as my day pack, with more room to expand if I need. Now I have enough room for both my Photo gear and Clothes. And both Bags travel with us on the plane, one travel roller and one backback.

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Lens Lugger Showy Photography

Glory Image by Lens Lugger Jim Bowman

Glory Image by Lens Lugger Jim Bowman

Lens Lugger Jim Bowman captures this image of a Glory Lily in Palm Harbor, FL. Using the dark background really pops this image.

Like so many colorful species in nature; however, it can be poisonous.

Gloriosa is a genus of 12 species in the plant family Colchicaceae, and include the formerly recognised genus Littonia. They are native in tropical and southern Africa to Asia, and naturalised in Australia and the Pacific as well as being widely cultivated.[2] The most common English names are flame lily, fire lily, gloriosa lily, glory lily, superb lily, climbing lily, and creeping lily.

They are tender, tuberous rooted deciduous perennials, adapted to summer rainfall with a dormant dry season. All parts of the plant contain colchicine and related alkaloids and are therefore dangerously toxic if ingested, and contact with the stems and leaves can cause skin irritation. Various preparations of the plant are used in traditional medicines for a variety of complaints in both Africa and India. It is state flower (Kaanthal) of Tamil Nadu. In Indian language of Telugu, in the state of Andhra Pradesh it is called Naabhi and was used in traditional medicine.

In Australia, “scattered naturalized populations exist in the understorey of coastal dry sclerophyll forest and sand dune vegetation throughout south-east Queensland and New South Wales”.[5] It is considered a rampant and dangerous invasive weed in Australia, dominating the coastal dunes at the expense of native species and leading to deaths of native animals and birds when ingested.

** from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Note: This showy plant is known to be poisonous to Cats & Dogs. Here is the Pet Poison Helpline should you need more information  –  http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/glory-lily-2/

For Photography Tips, more images as well as members Portfolio go to www.lensluggerworld.com

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Close by Lake Junaluska Photos

Flying ant LJ 2Lake Junaluska’s recently added path near the large parking lot is ripe with blossoms, as the insects have discovered.

My Peterson First Guide on insects doesn’t show this species, so I call it a handsome wasp. If you know I’ll appreciate hearing from you.

Swallowtail LJ



This Swallowtail seems to be measuring every step. all these images were shot with one setting incidentally. Aperture Priority with the lens opened all the way, and as it was about 11:30AM with plenty of light and the action was furious, I hand-held Sony a6000 with 18-200mm lensout the background a bit.

Bee LJCome join us on Thursday morning field shoots. This Thursday, Aug 13, we’ll head to Cataloochee Valley for the Elk in early Rut. We leave from the Waynesville Armory at 6:15 AM on this one. Lens luggers take a 30% discount off the regular $45 fee. Expect to be back by 11AM. While no rain is forecast until later, bring rain gear, water, and snacks. Let us know by Tuesday, please at bobgry@aol.com or 828.627.0245. Thanks


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Photographing Butterflies

Butterfly on Carolina LilyYesterday afternoon, the mountains were calling.  About 4PM. In 20 minuets I’m at 4,000 feet altitude and feel like I’m floating. Changing skies, overcast with sun peaking through. Not knowing what to expect for sure. Suddenly I spot a Carolina Lily bush, pull over.

Swallowtail are enjoying this showy bush. The Carolina Lily is North Carolina state’s official wildflower. The Turks Cap Lily is similar to the Carolina Lily, but has a green streak at the base of each flower segment forms a green star.

Photographing tips to follow


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Marketing Photo Art

Mountain Mist at Pssquale's Restaurant, Waynesville, NC

Mountain Mist at Pasquale’s Restaurant, Waynesville, NC

Placing larger pieces of Photo Art someplace besides the walls at home can be a challenge. Then it hit me. Share with a local business that needs wall art. I’m at one of our favorite restaurants, Pasquale’s on Main St. and Allens Creek in Waynesville, NC. “Would you be interested in having some artwork for your walls,” I asked.

In came the images from the car. The owner was giving the first one a real look over when I brought the second one in. I not sure what is going to happen to these, but, they do have prices on them with inscriptions…

This image is entitled Mountain Mist and was made at Morton’s Overlook in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, one late stormy afternoon.
    The framing was done by The Village Framer on Main Street, in Waynesville, NC and I think it really helps to set the mood. The Print is on a durable Vinyl material 48″ X 30″ in size.
    Available for sale at the special price of $650 with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Villa LaPaz, home for destitute and abandoned children in Lima, Peru. The print only is available for $385.
    The artist is local photographer, Bob Grytten. His website is bobgrytten.com.

Clouds Over Waynesville Framed Image at Pasquale's Rest

Clouds Over Waynesville Framed Image at Pasquale’s Rest.

A plus was the lighting that suddenly appeared to really show off the images. What a nice thing.

The second image entitled Cloud over Waynesville, a multiple exposure to provide detail in both the clouds and darker mountains. Priced at $400, the frame is less expensive and the print itself is priced at $385. 

The third image, smaller, was selected for a placement in a nice location near the window. It sets the mood for the area and was made at the Corneille Bryan Native Garden located off Stewart Drive in the Lake Junaluska Area of Waynesville. This special place is home for over 500 native species and cared for by volunteers in the area. Priced at $285 or $$190 for the print alone.

Clouds Over Waynesville Framed Image at Pasquale's Rest

Yellow Trillium  Framed Image at Pasquale’s Rest




Now I will have to figure out the next step in this marketing plan. Any thoughts will gladly be considered. Hmm, I wonder if any of these could be auctioned off for a worthy cause? Comments invited.

Bob says… Thanks

Bob says… Thanks

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Jackson Hole WY Photography

Winter is a great time to be in Jackson Hole Wyoming, USA. I’ts not too far around the corner. Just to get us in the mood, I’ve reprinted a piece from our f/8 and being there newsletter. Hope you like it. Before you go, it would be wise to double check the phone # of suggested places to go…

f8 Nwsltr vol11, #1


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Do what you love, the money will follow…

A nifty title for a book would be Do what you love. Period. But could one get paid for it? I’ve read the book and I can’t remember what it said. However, I can remember the tests I took from Johnson O’Connor and it guided me to my Photography Career. Yes. I am happy doing it, and Yes, I am being paid for it.

Do I recommend others get into this field. It depends. Below is the history of this unique organization to follow what I mean.

Tomorrow I will do the, It depends!


Research and guidance since 1922

The Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, Inc. grew from a testing program begun in 1922 by Mr. Johnson O’Connor for the General Electric Company in Massachusetts. Mr. O’Connor, who had graduated from Harvard University, started working at General Electric because he wanted to learn about engineering. One of his main projects was trying to find ways to increase efficiency in an effort to reduce overall costs. Along with Mr. F.P. Cox, Mr. O’Connor theorized that if people were doing work that was natural to their abilities, efficiency would increase and employees would be more satisfied and productive.

The early years of industrial testing

Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Cox decided to analyze various jobs to see if they could identify the natural ability each one would need. One of the first jobs analyzed was that of meter assemblers. A dexterity test, which is still in use today, was designed and administered to nearly all of General Electric’s 3,000 employees, most of whom had volunteered to be involved in Mr. O’Connor’s work. From that one test, the Foundation was born.

Fitting people to the right jobs

As they continued to work on test development and analyses, the point of view of what they were doing was slowly shifting. Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Cox now began to consider individuals first, instead of their particular jobs, becoming more interested in placing them in the jobs most suitable to their abilities.

Demand increases

Soon, employees wanted to have their children tested because they felt that students could also benefit from learning about their aptitudes, and Mr. O’Connor was hard-pressed to keep up with the demand. He began doing testing in his own time, and started thinking about setting up an actual testing center. The first office, the Human Engineering Laboratory, was established on Beacon Street, in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, in 1938. A center in Chicago came soon thereafter, in conjunction with what is now the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Growth and expansion

In 1939, the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation / Human Engineering Laboratory, Inc. was incorporated as a nonprofit educational and scientific organization. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have found out about their natural abilities and used the information to make career and educational decisions. The Foundation now has eleven offices around the United States, as well as a Research Department located in Chicago.

A Portrait from Memory

George Wyatt, President of the Foundation from 1978 to 1993, relates his personal memories in Johnson O’Connor: A Portrait from Memory.


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Western North Carolina Pisgah Inn, great Photography

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Sitting at the edge of the mountain with only a pane of glass separating us from the elements, the mountain stretch out before us, going on forever or so it seems.  We remark how this place is ao rich in subjects to photograph. We’re in the dining room of the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We’ve just come from one of the best points of view of Cold Mountain, ten minutes away. The waiter tells us to climb the old fire tower when it’s misty for an outstanding view of the various mountain peaks as they poke through the Cotton Candy like clouds. In the other direction he suggests the trail off the parking lot to the Pisgah Mountain.

Mounytain Laurel, Pisgah InnGo out the back door, past the rocking chairs and off the deck, turn left and you’ll find some of the best wildflowers and flora to shoot.


June - Blackberry Blossom (disambiguation), Pisgah Inn

June – Blackberry Blossom (disambiguation), Pisgah Inn





To get to the Pisgah Inn, take Rt 276 south from Waynesville, NC or north from Brevard, NC to the Blue Ridge Parkway, go east about 10 minutes to the Inn. From Asheville drive west on the parkway to Mile Marker 408.6

The Pisgah Inn – The Peak of the Parkway

One visitor recently said, “We go to the Pisgah Inn as often as possible. The view is ever-changing and gorgeous. The dining room servers are incredibly attentive and the food is excellent.
Reading in part from their blog, the Pisgah Inn was recently voted “Best National Park Lodge” by USA Today readers, this beloved North Carolina inn is on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s the second most visited national park unit, which includes historical sites, national monuments, recreation areas and national military sites. Nearby is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
All 51 rooms come with balconies and a pair of rocking Adirondack chairs, and they’re designed to emphasize the 50-mile valley views. Though the property dates back to 1964, guests benefit from what most national park property managers would consider upscale upgrades: solar panel and LED lighting installations, satellite TV and free Wi-Fi.
And then there’s the dining: The walnut-crusted fresh mountain trout with blueberry butter attracts out-of-staters who wait in line to score one of the restaurant’s coveted window seats. This place has some of the best entrees on the 469-mile-long parkway, and at an elevation of 5,000 ft., it serves them alongside mile-high views. Rates from $138 – $250
Tip: Since Pisgah Inn does not accept dining reservations and seating is first-come, first-served, arrive early and be prepared to relax on the porch and take in the scenery while you wait.

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Folly Beach yields special discoveries

Folly Beach Night 7-29-16

Folly Beach Night 7-29-16

Somehow, Folly Beach SC finds a way to keep surprising.

Drop the dog off at LaQuinta, our fav Inn and now at 5:30PM we seach out a cool drink and some vittles. It’s 95°. Fishing plans go on hold – water temp -84.° The Beach City Grille next to the Pier takes us in. ”Best Shrimp and Scallops with Marinara over Liguini I’ve had. No AC but cooling fans, I think. Carol says no it’s still HOT!!! “Let’s go for coffee some place else…” Busy, too Busy,

St James Gate, Folly Beach

St James Gate, Folly Beach



We’re walking now, and spot a new place. An Irih pub. Cross the street. Inside. Ahh, AC!!! St James Gate is neat. Carol Gets her coffee, and I another.

St James Gate, Folly Beach Interior

St James Gate, Folly Beach Interior



Another Coffee and I another…

Next time we’ll retutn for the Pub Food.

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Photography at the Small Pond

Big wonders come from Small Ponds.

Blue Damsel, Bob Grytten Photo

Blue Damsel, Bob Grytten Photo

This morning I decided to cut back some of the foliage from around a pond  beneath our front deck. Surprise! Look at the Damselflies, all irridescent and active. It’s about 10AM in the mountains.

Out comes the camera. I’m using a Sony a6000 Mirrorless camera these days with a 18-200mm Sony lens.

Knowing dragonflies and damselfly behavior is to fly to one or two places, leave, then return to the same place. I find a spot with decent background and wait. Below me as I wait for the Damsel to return, tiny ants scurry around. Light changes, fascinating, challenging.

About Damsel and Dragonflies…

From the Peterson First Guides by Christopher Leahy on Insects, I learn there are 400 American species in this group. Most Damsels belong to the Narrow-Winged Damselfly family. This one appears to be in the “Bluet” species. They pick up tiny insects swarming over the water surface or even on shoreline plants. In turn, they are important prey for birds, frogs and other insect eaters, including dragon flies. There’s more to learn. I’m intrigued.

Want to have a pond?

Grytten Water Garden #2 Bob Grytten Photo

Grytten Water Garden #2 Bob Grytten Photo

Ponds are easy to make and upkeep can be simple or complex depending. I error on the side of simple. A beginner can even use a half whisky barrel, even without a liner they will hold water. Add a few native plants, a few goldfish from the pet store and watch. Before long there’s action. It will increase with time.

Want more agressive water feature? Get a preform for about $100, a pump for about $50 -80, pond plants and fish. More exotic, get a big liner. I recommend a Firestone 45mil liner. Ours has been in service since 2002. Make a waterfall or fountain, pre filter strainer, bio filter and go where your imagination and pocket book takes you. If not able to locate supplies locally, I have found justliners.com to be a good source.

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The World thru the lens

Sometimes the lens helps us to actually see the world as it is.

Fern Fiddle Head

Fern Fiddle Head

Simple, unbiased, growing and alive. A place where the beauty of even the smallest of creatures helps us keep things in perspective.

Oh, if we could only share this experience with others.

In the silence of nature something speaks…           “It is I.”

Can we hear their small silent voice?

My first experience came as an awakening moment as I viewed a tiny worm, inching along a branch. For the first time it became obvious that there was no mistake here. No casual attempt to color this little guy. So obviously painted by a careful purposeful hand. There are no mistakes in nature. My journey began.

The long lens became my friend from that point on…

Later, I realized that photography was not difficult. One really only had to be there. All else would be provided.

  • Use a tripod to steady the long lens.
  • Ues an extension tube to get close and isolate the subject.
  • Make sure there is film or a card in the camera.
  • If it speaks to you, release the shutter.
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What’s Next? Extending our photopgraphy

What’s Next? Moving images?

How can one truly appreciate people from another country, without tapping into their tradition and folk dances. An extension of  the sense of place we try so hard to capture, achieved by simply pressing the video button on our camera.  This short clip was made yesterday with the Sony a6000 camera and the 16-50mm lens. The post production processing, titles and photo credits were made in the Apple computer MacBook Pro program iMovie.

Tips for successful videos.

  • A tripod will help keep the video steady.
  • A fluid tripod head will help smooth panning. you can pay more but I found a Velbon PH-368 on Amazon for $79. That came from a tip from The Right Way to Travel <eletter@greatescapepublishing.com> They carried an article on travel video, that  that I subscribed to.
  • Practice a lot before that special moment.
  • The directional mike attached to the camera will help cut down on unwanted noise near the camera.
  • You will also find many youtube tutorials to help along the way.

And best of all, the composition techniques learned in still photography will lift your video work out of the ordinary. You’re probably way ahead of the curve and didn’t even know it.

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To change cameras or not, that is the question.

Mist - Lake J 7-22-16

Mist – Lake J 7-22-16

Yesterday morning, a Lens Lugger waited patiently as we made our way around the 2.2 mile Lake Junaluska Trail. “Should I have my camera fixed or opt for something lighter like the Sony a6000 you often speak of?” she had asked the day before. “Will it do macro? What do you think?” she wanted to know.

Good questions. And the answer is usually it depends… On one hand, if one likes a certain camera, why switch? If one isn’t getting the results one wishes, a new model may not make that happen, if only an occasional use.

Morning Light - Lake J

Morning Light – Lake J


Then this morning, I was inspired to do a few more snaps myself. Mind you, it is 7:30 AM so subjects can be most interesting just by themselves. Almost any camera will work. Of course, a bit of inspiration seldom hurts…

Pollen Works - Lake J

Pollen Works – Lake J

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Building a sunburst into the landscape for more interest.

Hill of Ice by Bob Grytten

Hill of Ice by Bob Grytten

Landscape photography can be greatly enhanced if selecting a unique point of interest that relates to the overall scene. Using the rule of thirds can be a great composition maker. In this example, the farmhouse is the focal point. Everything else supports it.

Red Cloud Sunset BRP, Bob Grytten image

Red Cloud Sunset BRP, Bob Grytten image

The next image has a lot of interesting light but no real center of interest. Sometimes we just have to take what nature provides. I still recall that late afternoon up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Everything was so special. I kept hanging around shooting like crazy. Everything was right for a super image but no central point. I still like this overall, however.  If there is nothing specific in the scene that may have a lot of potential, consider arriving there just before sunrise or just before sunset, to hopefully make a sunburst or starlight kind of feature that will be your point of interest.

Sun Rays over the Smokies by Louis Sasso

Sun Rays over the Smokies by Louis Sasso

Lens Lugger Louis Sasso captured this winner. It’s a great example how a sunburst can balance and enhance an otherwise good image, elevating it to a level of SUPER!

He Writes… “This was shot at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway, October 21, 2015 at 6:32 AM. I was in a four-day workshop that concentrated on the BRP. Used a Nikon D5300, with tripod. Stop: f25, shutter speed: 1/40 sec, underexposed: 1 stop, 100 ASA. I used a small aperture to get the ray effect. Processed in Lightroom; post-processing in Photoshop with NIK plug-in. Loved being there at sunrise.”  Louis Sasso

 To make the sunburst the following may be helpful as a guide…

Use a tripod if the shutter speed is too slow to hand hold. Generally, you should be able to hand-hold a 50mm lens at 1/50 of a second or an 18mm lens at 1/18 of a second. Early morning with the light just coming up will probably require you to use a tripod.

Using a tripod offers the benefit of our work becoming more deliberate often improving our final image. A remote shutter release is suggested or 2 sec or more delayed time release.

Using a wide-angle lens, consider setting the camera on Aperture Priority if not familiar with manual shooting. Adjustment to the exposure can be made with the EV control, or if shooting in Raw, with the computer.

Select a very small aperture ie., f/22.

A sunburst or sun flare will generally occur with a small point of light rather than a large broad light.

Country Road Tree Winter, Bob Grytten Photo

Country Road Tree Winter, Bob Grytten Photo

Positioning something in front of a potential light, such as a tree limb, can often block the light enough to create a smaller piece of light which may work better.


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Early morning photography at Lake Junaluska

Things seem to move slower when mist envelops the scene…

Mute swan

Even this Mute Swan seems to be more at peace as calm reins heavy over the lake.

Sunflower LJ

Commen flora shows an uncommon look. Perhaps an inprompteau dance…

lace in mist full LJWhat is it about the mist with these creatures. What would they be saying if they could talk or perhaps this is their way…


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Mushrooms vs. Photo Landscapes

Cataloochee MushroomsWhat does photographing mushrooms have in common with landscapes? A camera is used for both, but what else.

Well one morning, Don and I were over to Cataloochee Valley and after the Elk went in and landscaping light faded we wandered toward Woody’s place, a wide trail at the end of the road.

Now, Don makes fantastic landscapes and loves using wide angle lenses in his story telling. I on the other hand, love the way a long lens can isolate a subject in both close work and landscapes.

So, are there some common elements or procedures for both mushroom photography and landscape as well?

Well, for one one thing, to be successful they both need to speak to us. A special kind of light can help to do that. They both have to have balance. Both should provide a sense of place, a sense of time, and say nature obviously. They both need to guide the viewer’s eye to the story.

I hope we have accomplished that here.


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Three keys to winning photography

A. Winning photography requires that we shoot often…

When buying my first …it's all about the lightcamera, one of the clerks at a camera store gave me some sage advice. “If just starting out,” he said, “don’t buy that  second lens until you’ve shot 100 rolls of film.”

The difference between a Pro and Amateur – the size of his wastebasket! Even today, those words ring true. And it probably is one of the better pieces of advice I can think of.

Two things happen when shooting often.

  1. We get to know our camera.
  2. The odds of just happening on a winner increases exponentially.

The special light captured with this image was so subtle that I didn’t actually see the impact until looking at the images back in the studio.


Water dropletB. If our photography is not good enough we’re not close enough…

Often credited to Robert Capa, World War II photographer.

This is a two part statement. He actually was inferring that we should understand our subject better thereby capturing the essence of the story. However, another thing happens when we get physically closer, the image seems to take on a personality hard to see with distractions. Both ways it’s a winner.


C. Be there…

Mountain Mist, happening when weather system passes through, by Bob Grytten

Mountain Mist, happening when weather system passes through, by Bob Grytten

Just go out when the chances are best that something unique will happen.

In nature the sweet light is an hour before sunrise and an hour after sunset.

During the rain is another time when the elements come together to create something special.



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National Parks champion Phoptotgrapher Clyde Bucher

Alligator, Evereglades

Alligator, Evereglades


I first met Clyde Butcher and his wife Niki at an Art Show we happened to be doing together in Florida, in fact we had adjoining sites, so we chatted during the down times. We then had the pleasure of visiting his Gallery on  Tamiami Trail in Ochopee, FL on the way to the Everglades and Key West. I was blown away.

Clyde was not at the Big Cypress Gallery that day; however, Carol & I were befriended by a fellow at the Gallery and he offered to take us on a ride through the back areas of the swamps in his boat. It was January or February as I know that is the only time we would set foot in the swamps. any other time of the year, the mosquitoes are so large and numerous that they could almost carry one away. At least that is how a nightmare would seem.

During this short backwater excursion we came upon a baby owl somewhat struggling in the water below it’s nest, easy prey for the many alligators in these waters. Carol happened to have a towel with her and was able to take the baby into the boat, at the encouragement of our new friend.

Once on shore, we drove to a nearby Vets office and deposited the critter with them, amongst many praises and thanks. The young man presented Carol with a walking stick complete with feather and shell ornaments, symbolic of the nearby Seminal tribe’s spiritual protection. We still have it today, alongside our cross country skies in the rafters of an outbuilding.

I know that I have many images of that event in the archives; however, for now these words will have to suffice, as I think the attached e-mail, just received from Clyde’s office, is of utmost interest. Be sure to look at the amazing images and short comments on how Clyde both made the image and printed them. Thanks for looking in. Feel free to share this and like it as well…

If you ever have an opportunity to take one of his swamp walks or other events, I know you will be well satisfied.

Now here is Clide’s E-mail. I think you’ll enjoy it…

—–Original Message—–
From: Clyde Butcher <mail@clydebutcher.com>
To: bobgry <bobgry@aol.com>
Sent: Tue, Jun 28, 2016 3:05 pm
Subject: Everglades National Parks needs votes!

Needs Your Vote
by: Clyde Butcher
Until July 5 to designate the
Everglades National Park as your Favorite
Everglades National Parks needs votes! Help the park win a $250,000 Partners in Preservation grant to restore the Flamingo Visitor Center in Everglades National Park by going on-line today at www.VoteYourPark.org and casting a ballot for the Everglades. Everglades National Park is one of 20 national parks competing for $2 million in grant funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express. You can vote for your favorite park once a day, now through July 5. The parks that collect the most votes by July 5 will win a Partners in Preservation grant.
Limited Edition, Large Format Silver Gelatin Photographs
In Honor of the Centennial Celebration of Our National Parks,
once a month, I am sharing photos and stories of the 33 National Parks that I’ve had the privilege to photograph over the past 50 years. As we traveled around, Niki and I were overwhelmed by the beauty of our country. We felt fortunate to experience these wonderful natural places that have been saved for all of us to enjoy. Let’s all join together to give thanks to the forward-thinking folks who created these places “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Their consideration for the environment and for future generations have given us the pleasure of seeing portions of our country as pristine, unchanged and unspoiled as they were long ago. I hope you enjoy all the photos I share throughout 2016! New National Park Book
Big Cypress Swamp and Everglades National Park have always been at the heart of my photography. My first baptism in swamp water was in the Big Cypress, where I felt a primeval presence I had never felt before. It was as though I was entering a time warp where the beginning and ending of time were combined together in the waters of the swamp. It dawned on me, in that first moment, that we humans are part of a greater whole than we could ever imagine. We have a jewel in our midst and a healthy Everglades is a legacy we must pass on to our children and their children. It is important for us to think beyond ourselves.
Limited Edition Digital Photographs
View Clyde’s Previously Featured Collections of National Park Photos
America The Beautiful
New This Year! 16 Month Calendar includes additional image plus we lowered the price from $20 to $14.99 to help out with the shipping. For more information and to order 2017 calendar click here
America’s National Parks
A lifetime of Images: Clyde is very excited to share with folks his love of our national parks. For the past 50 years, he and Niki have had the good fortune of traveling around this beautiful country while photographing the wilderness areas that are so unique to America. For more information on this two book or to order new books click here 
Clyde Butcher’s Collection of Fine Art Photography Books
For information or to order one of Clyde’s beautiful books click here.
October 29 & 30, 2016 – Big Cypress Gallery Fall Open House
  • Exhibit of all National Park photographs
  • Book signing, meet Clyde and Niki Butcher
  • Ranger-led swamp walks behind gallery – Reservations Click Here
A portion of the sales this weekend and all swamp walk money will be donated to the Education Department of the Big Cypress National Preserve. Gallery event is FREE and the guided swamp walks are $50pp and children are FREE.  SAVE THE DATE – this is going to be a fun event that you will not want to miss!
Clyde Butcher Galleries
Venice & Big Cypress
Directions & info
This message was sent to bobgry@aol.com from:
Clyde Butcher | mail@clydebutcher.com | Window of the Eye, Inc | 237 Warfield Ave | Venice, Florida 34285
Email Marketing by iContact - Try It Free!


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Peace conveyed through photography

Morning, Wikie Watchee,  FL, Camera Settings, f/4.5, Shutter speed unrecorded, Lens Nikkor 300EDIF set at 300mm with 50mm extension tube on tripod, about 6:15 AM

Morning, Weeki Wachee, FL, Camera Settings, f/4.5, Shutter speed unrecorded, Lens Nikkor 300EDIF set at 300mm with 50mm extension tube on tripod, about 6:15 AM

One of the most important things in my life, as a young man, was something said in a Norman Vincent Peale article, “Peace I give to you, may the Peace of God be upon you.” Today I’m more aware than ever of the qualities of Peace and Stillness – the strength of images.

When asked about what it takes to make an image that speaks, I can only reflect on my own journey as we are all different and come from different experiences.

It was one morning after pondering things, that I came to the realization that images that speak are all around and that I only need to be there and receptive to experience that, then photography was simple. Just press the shutter release button.

It’s very difficult to replicate the magic and mysteries of nature. But it is possible with the right frame of mind to feel that Element.

It can’t be rushed. If it isn’t there yet one must be patient, and positive. It will come. As one grows, either through experience or study, or a combination of both, discernment will come.

keep-buildingThis morning I received this message, from the folks that do WordPress.

Others often can’t really see, nor understand our vision.

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
Norman Vincent Peale

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Hiking with a camera

Having a camera while hiking is a great way to capture a memory or two.

Mute swan LJ ©

Normally I would walk past the mute swan on Lake Junaluska when there is so much reflection on the lake; however, something said to take it. So, I did. Back at the computer, I took a second look. I still liked it.

I think it might be because of the triangles that are formed by the reflected sky on the dark water. It may seem like a stretch but any subtle graphics are that way. When used with the left and bottom edges of the frame rough forms resembling triangles show up. They also repeat that pattern across the frame.

Of course, the background works with the White Swan and the swan is active (drinking from the water). And I did have to crop this image so the swan could become about 1/3 the size of the frame.

Hope you like it…

Lake Junaluska is near Waynesville, NC and boasts a 2 mile around the lake trail used by the community or just about anyone at no charge. Many people walk their dogs around this lake.


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Backyard pond Photography

Frog in the pondThis morning this frog kept making low ribbits and finally I could see him.  Usually they leap away, but maybe he thought the foliage would hide him. He just stayed there as I moved closer, and closer with each shot. The camera was set at 200mm with a 16mm extension tube, so I didn’t have to get super close, otherwise, he might have fled.

Insects were really attracted to the blossoms as the rising sunlight fell on them. As it got warmer they just got faster.

Having a pond in the backyard can be involved with moving water and 20 year Firestone ÒWhiteÓ butterfly45mil liner. Or it can be quite simple using just a frame and outdoor tarp that will last 4-5 years. Either way, it provides a natural environment for aquatic wildlife and plants. But it offers an opportunity to not only exercise our equipment but learn a little more about our natural surroundings.

Bee on Pickerel Rush

Bee on Pickerel Rush

Making a simple pond…

This 6×8 foot pond is made of 2X8 pressure treated boards 8 ft long.

I cut two feet off two of the boards and backyard pondnailed them together, then bought the heaviest tarp I could find and placed it inside and over the edges. The ground serves as the floor supporting the tarp. Fill with water, get native aquatic plants and add fish. I use  Comet Feeder fish from the pet store. They cost about 15 cents each, and are used as feed for larger fish, so they are not well taken care of, so some will not survive.

Attracting wildlife…

In our area, it doesn’t take long before the toads show up to lay their eggs. Oh. Don’t make this pond under your bedroom window. The ribbit ribbits may keep you awake all night. About mosquitoes, the fish eat them. And you won’t have to feed the fish. They live off the pond. The native plants come back every year and help keep the pond in balance. Make a habitat and they will come. You may also attract a snake or two, just so you should know. But you should know that I have five ponds now and have had ponds for the last 20 years or so and have only had two sightings of snakes. They too are interesting creatures.

Starting equipment needed…

In the previous article about Spider Photography we discuss extension tubes. Used with a long lens on tripod will be a good outfit. If your lens is fast enough you may even end up hand holding for some images, unless you are shooting in low light.

Incidentally, the extension tubes will restrict the full range of viewing. They allow you to get closer to the subject and increase magnification. An alternative would be a bellows, a close up diopter for the front of your lens or a macro lens.



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Photographing a spider on a wild web

Calm air is a big help if photographing a spider.

Spider repairing Web

This little spider, not more than 1/4 inch body, could be a challange. I might have to focus closer than the lens would normally allow. An Extension Tube would help with that.

the Extension tube

Usually sold in sets of three, they can be used all together or in different combinations as well as single.They fit between the Camera and Lens, allowing the camera outfit to get closer to the subject, producing a multiplier of the size of the subject.

Camera Extension tube and lens fit together to make a unified outfit for close up photography

Camera Extension tube and lens fit together to make a unified outfit for close up photography

Having a set allows them to be used on all your lenses, from Wide Angle to Telephoto. The only restriction is the size of the lens to be used. The total mm of tubes cannot be used with a smaller mm lens.  In other words, a 20mm lens can take a 12mm or 20mm tube, but not a 36mm total of tubes connected together.

They are simply a spacer between camera and lens. There is no glass in the tubes to diminish the quality of the image.

It’s a cost effective setup, less than a Macro Lens and less weight. Go to B&H Photo, Adorama, or Hunts Photo to review the various brands Usually $100 to $150 US. Verify the electronic hook ups if Autofocus is a consideration.

About the results with this set up on the new sony – Positive. YeAA!












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More Questions than answers…

I’m here on my favorite chair watching the TV Sunday morning news. It’s one year since Charleston horrific shooting at the Church where nine people were killed. Carol & I made a point of going to the spot when in Charleston last year, but try as I may I couldn’t find anything to photograph.

Oh, I did take pictures of things I thought I should take pictures of. But I was cold.

It was another beautiful day in Charleston but I somehow felt so insignificant as we looked at the artificial flowers, ribbons and scrolled sayings here and there.

Sundown sky with Palmatto_So, I turned to my list of images on file in Lightroom, and this is what caught my eye.

If only there were answers. If there was some direction. And now Orlando.

But earlier this morning I was testing another candle and noticed how bright and steady the flame was. I began to think of it as a symbol, somehow. I was feeling  something more real to me and put the words down as they came to me…


Unto each of us is given…

The flame is a source of many things.
Heat to cook with, to nourish our bodies or warm ourselves from outside.
Light to read by or allow it’s message to come to us from whereever.
It’s an opportunity to set aside our cares or concerns of the day to receive what we need  to nourish our spirit.
If we can but breathe deeply the essence of the flame, we can draw from it strength or enlightment. This is the time to rest out thoughts and open our receptors. A time to receive from without that which we need within.
Listening for that still small voice as C. Charles Chatham would call it.
For it is from within that we give, that light can be passed on.


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Photography where we’re at…

On the way to the shoot, a funny thing happened. Actually, with the temperature and dew point nearly the same I was hunting mist, the great separator between something interesting and a ho-hum image.

Barn in mist

Barn in Mist

That’s when this caught my eye. I took a half dozen exposures – a vertical, just the barn horizontal, etc. Time to choose the most effective would be later.

The option here is to just show the image and barn; however, to tell a story there is more information we can include.

  • A bit of the sky gives a better sense of place (mountains). The furrowed newly planted garden says more about the time of year and provides some graphics (Leading lines).
  • The furrowed newly planted garden says more about the time of year and provides some graphics (Leading lines).
  • The tree on left in the foreground helps hold back some of the sky providing some depth of field.
  • The color reddish/orange farm equipment helps provide a spark of interest. Red & Green together is usually a great combination.
  • The machinery hints of a working farm, along with the newly furrowed garden.
  • And of course, the mist provides a lot of sizzle. Without it, I doubt it would be used in this example unless we were doing a documentary piece and discussion of that.

This could have been shot with any camera. Like they say, “The best camera is the one we have with us.”

If anyone wishes to see the other images made on this barn, let me know.

Bob says… Thanks

Bob says… Thanks

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Deer in Madison County

So, I’m scouting the Barn routes and suddenly white tail deer.jpg3 or 4 deer are all around the car, At leat one crosses in front of me. Brakes go on and whats left of the herd scatter. I glance out the window as I’m grabbing my camera. Point and shoot. Then she’s gone…white tail deer - gone

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Lens Luggers Thurs. Morning Photo Shoot June 7, 2016

Beverly Slone image

Beverly Slone image

It’s 8:02AM on my wrist, and with a single turn of the key, 175 horses come alive. Off we go. Two Lens Lugger in the back seat; myself and another in the front. Anyone have any places they want to go, I ask? Not expecting any answers, at least it forces us to think about it.

Our pre plan was to go up 276, cross over the Blue Ridge Parkway, then back down Rt 215 with a casual hot dog & beans picnic. It’s bright out, not a cloud in the sky. Not the kind of weather one would hope for. Mist would be better. Clouds would be better. Rain would be better. But, the challenge would be less. So, we’re off, saying possibility of low hanging mist. And we do have long morning shadows. That can be helpful. And we also are noticing some lingering spring green at this altitude.

Beverly Slone image

Beverly Slone image

Just around the bend, off to the right, a flash of some brilliant colors in the overhanging shadows in the Pigeon River. We park ahead and walk back to that spot. I’m thinking this could be interesting, four different set of eyes. Hmm. Here are some…

Morning Shadows June

Morning Shadows June



Next we make it on up to the Parkway and free shoot.


Mountain Laurel, Beverly Slone image

Mountain Laurel, Beverly Slone image



Leaves vignetting ©






Lens Luggers Picnic, L to R. Chuck Coburn, Beverly Slone, Susan Lawrence, Bob Grytteh

Lens Luggers Picnic, L to R. Chuck Coburn, Beverly Slone, Susan Lawrence, Bob Grytten



Len Luggers do picnic at Sunburst on Rt. 215 Haywood County, NC





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Close to home – Pigeon River Relections

Pigeon R. Reflections 111** ©

Our county has many fast-moving rivers. This one, the Pigeon river, on this morning provided some wonderful spring green reflections. On problem was the group of rapids pictured in the lower section of this image. Of the many image settings I took this one worked best. I used a Polarizer and a three stop Neutral Density filter to help extend the shutter speed.

Settings: The camera was a Sony a6000 with a Sony 18-200mm lens set at 200mm, f/40, 2 sec shutter speed, -1.3 EV, Aperture Priority on Tripod.

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Grotto Falls, Infra-Red by Lens Lugger John Schakel

Grotto Falls IR by John Schakel

Grotto Falls IR by John Schakel

Infra-Red Grotto Falls ©Photo by Lens Lugger John A Schakel Jr

Location:  Grotto Falls, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Gatlinburg TN
Camera Settings: Infra-Red (Standard Color IR – 720 nm) Modified Nikon D200 with Nikkor 24-210mm F3.6-5.6D Lens @ 24mm, ISO 100, Shutter 1/15s @F-22

About a year ago I had my Nikon D200 converted to Infra-Red camera by Lifepixel.com.  I have been doing a little work with it but not liking what I was getting. LifePixel.com offered a workshop in the Smoky Mountains run by Don Wampler of LifePixel.com.
I have taken other workshops for regular light photography and have always picked up a new trick or two from them. Since I know very little about Infra-Red Photography I thought this would be a good chance to learn more about it. I was not disappointed. Dan was very informative and I did learn a few new tricks that did improve my Infra-Red Photography.

Getting there…

After the workshop I spent 3 days doing other photography both with Infra-Red and natural light there in the Smoky Mountains. Several people in my camera club, Photographic Art Society of St Petersburg FL and headed by Jim Swallow, told me to check out the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail that starts and end at stop light #8 in Gatlinburg TN.  They said the scenery was great and worth the trip. While I was on the trail I saw the sign for Grotto Falls but there was no place to park due to all the people there.

I went back the next morning early. The hike to the Grotto falls is about 1.5 miles and most of it is uphill. It took me about and 1.25 hrs to get there. When I first got there it was crowded with about 30 people all over the place. As I looked around I saw that I need to get to the other side of the falls to get a good view of everything. It seemed everyone was taking selfies and you had to stop and wait for them to get done so you could move on.

When I got to the other side I saw the photo I wanted. I set up on the rocks next to a trail leading from the Grotto. I must have waited a good 20 to 30 minutes before people started to leave. Just as everyone was leaving a senior couple came and sat on the rocks in front of me, in the middle of my foreground, then started eating some trail mix. I was just about to give up and then realized that they made my shot.

Post Production of Nikon Raw

I shoot all my photos in Nikon RAW. To process the Infra-Red Raw photo I first open it in Nikon Capture NX2 (16 bit). I then made a few adjustments, exposure, contrast, brightness. I then transferred it to PhotoShop CC (16 bit) were I was able to make more adjustment and convert it to Black & White. After I sharpen it I then converted it to 8 bit and JPG for printing.

The final photo has not been cropped. What you see is what I saw in the camera when I took the photo. I always try to crop my photos in the camera. It saves time and effort in post production.

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Travel tips for camera and photographer

If I could do only one thing to make my travel images better, what would that be?

Cahuita, Costa Rica in the Rain Bob Grytten images unless otherwise noted

Cahuita, Costa Rica in the Rain. Bob Grytten images unless otherwise noted

Probably, this… Have a camera handy for that spur of the moment photo op. That has to be #1. That could be my smart phone. Where are we going – what special need will I have?

What do I NEED?

If we’re off to Costa Rica, we can probably expect rain. I google Waterproof cameras and find a Panasonic Waterproof camera for my pocket. Cost $125.

Don’t Advertise?

Also, a small camera does not advertise that I have expensive camera equipment. When Frans Lanting travels, he says that he puts his expensive cameras in an old navy duffel bag. Good idea. Mine goes in a nondescript backpack. It does not advertise that I have expensive camera equipment.

Think Tank retrospective shoulder bag

Think Tank retrospective shoulder bag

Some equipment manufacturers have come out with Camera bags that don’t scream “camera.” Think Tank is one of them and I’m pleased to say, one of our Affiliates. They do an excellent job with the quality of their products, mostly Camera Bags, and now also provide videos showing the features of each product. We have some of the product on hand for Lens Luggers to try out.

Same for the Photo Vest. Sometimes it’s better to leave the photo vest at home. Blend into the crowd. If I’m going to another culture, I do not wear a “USA! USA!” tee shirt.

 Include people…

Naxos alley no people

Naxos alley no people

Here are two pictures. The first one – no people; the second one – People

Mykonos person taking picture

Mykonos person taking picture

…and the bonus is that the person is also doing something and a second bonus is that we’ve included a symbol – the camera.

That is not to say that we don’t make images that convey the feeling of quiet and solitude. In the first image, can you almost hear the echo the wall could make? On the second image, I even find myself looking toward the area she is photographing to see what it is.


Mikinos windmill w model, B.Grytten image

Mykonos windmill w passing model,                         B. Grytten image

Asking a passerby if he or she would mind being in the picture often works. Sometimes they even are flattered. If they ask to get a copy, give them your e-mail address and tell them to send a note reminding you in 10 days.

 Get Close…

Door knocker Naxos Greece Photo by Carol Grytten

Door knocker Naxos Greece Photo by Carol Grytten


World War II Photographer, Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He wasn’t suggesting the use of longer lenses; he was telling us to become more involved and intimate with our subjects.

However, a closer image often reveals detail that few people ordinarily notice, somehow making it more interesting.


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Lake Junaluska, June – Images close to home

Lake Junaluska, JuneLake Junaluska is an inland Mountain Lake fed by Richland Creek, near Waynesville, NC Each season is different. This is where we walk. Never boring. Always changing.

Made with Sony a6000 w/18-200mm lens at 64mm F/5.6, 1/250 sec, just as I was arriving 6:49AM. I love the mornings. Share with a friend.

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Travel Exploring Eze Village, FR.

Eze Village, FR.

Eze Village, FR.

Exploring when traveling takes on unexpected rewards.

On this day, we travel to the small town of Eze Village, a medieval village perched high up between Nice and Monaco.


Eze Village Back Allies, FR

Eze Village Back Alleys, FR

A small doorway in one of the many winding alleys beckons us.


Inside, a hallway and some news articles about an exposition and though my understanding of the language is limited, I sensed that this artist’s work is somehow tied to music.

Suddenly, a lady appears. “I’m Madame Sevek, would you like to meet Sevek,” she asked. Not wanting to impose, I beg off. She invites us in to have a look around. The room is larger than expected, a staircase and living room like furniture next to a fireplace. A figure appears dressed in denim and red ascot and casually descends. I asked if it would be alright to take some pictures.

“Yes, it’s okay to take pictures,” he nods. Now, with the only light from a solitary window, I try to capture the scene knowing the slow ASA 25 film could be partially blurred. Not understanding everything he says,  Madame Sevek  interprets his words. “…the most difficult part is listening to the music,” Sevek recounts, turning one page after another of this massive book.

Then, he’s finished and moves to a chair by the fireplace, ash dangling from the cigarette between his thumb and finger. Madame Sevek takes a seat on the chair’s arm, gazing admiringly down at him. The whole scene turns magic. I braced against the wall hoping for some added support. Slowly squeezing off the last two frames of the roll. Now, home to the darkroom. Sevek offered us a print from a recent exhibition – one we had admired – and signs it in pencil. It hangs on our wall today.

The special image does turn out, after some burning and dodging. Pleased, off it goes to France. Within a short time, we received a note. “Sevek says that the image you took is the best ever…” the note reads, from Madame Sevek. Funny how such an incidental moment can bring so much pleasure.

Some time later we received a second note. “Sevek has died.” The words hit us. Could we send another picture – the first one they valued so much could not be found.

An innocent exploration had formed a bond, which we still warmly hold today. And now we know how important those chance moments can be It’s not our nature to consider the impact we might unknowingly encounter – those of us with camera and a verve to explore. Never underestimate. Aways appreciate.

Getting there…

Taking a bus from Nice is inexpensive and only takes 1/2 hr.

I think this time we had a rental car, but either works well. Incidenally, Monaco is only 10 minutes away and bus service is frequent as you will see when going to the bus from Nice link.

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Greek Islands Tour with camera and a can-do Tour Director

We’re in the Greek Islands, eight years ago, when gale force winds keep us in port for three days. Not to be deterred our tour Director, Elisabeth Kontidou arranged for this huge Ferry to get us to the other islands on schedule. Now, that may have been her job; but, her attention to detail, friendly smile and readiness to help made a lot of our group of 23 very happy we had her.

Sailing Ship Panorama, Group aboardWhy do these people look happy? Elisabeth.

Yes, her knowledge was superb, and preparation – over the top, but her personal interest in each of us was really the key to this trip.

Elisabeth and Group Member Jennifer Guzman

Elisabeth and Group Member Jennifer Guzman

Why am I going on about this? Well, for one thing, it just occurred to me. After friends asked what it was that made this particular trip so nice, I couldn’t put my finger on it.

This was one of the few actual Travel Tours we have taken. The other dozen or so trips outside the US were independent where we made all the reservations, took all the risks and probably missed out on a lot about the areas we were in.

But what prompted me to put pen to my thoughts? Just this morning I received an e-mail from Elisabeth answering a query I sent her about the Dalmatian Pelicans in northern Greece.

Group member, Suz Weston, gets directions from Elisabeth TD

Group member, Suz Weston, gets directions from Elisabeth TD

She writes, If you are interested in traveling to the North of Greece during winter time there are innumerous options and possibilities.  There is always the chance of doing great archaeology and combine it with really unusual, extraordinary areas, mountains with stone built villages, beautiful small cities and their monuments, wine roads and wineries, ski resorts etc.  January is usually a wonderful month because it includes the 12 Halcyon days with great weather, only it is impossible to foretell which part of the month will be having the good weather. If you would tell me what you have in mind I could be of more help with suggestions of specific sites and destinations.

Hoping that this note covers a few of your questions,

With my warm regards, Elisabeth”

I should point out that we were on an

Tom Eighmy recieves a birthday congrats from Elisabeth

Tom Eighmy recieves a birthday congrats from Elisabeth

Overseas Adventure Travel tour and they do an outstanding job in putting together small group cultural events like this. They deserve a huge amount of  credit.

This trip was more relaxed than our independent travel, had impromptu parties, cooking and language class, a Greek family hosted dinner, plus we learned much more about Greece than we probably would have read on our own. And as a photographer, I had plenty of time for the camera.

Photo Tips…

Equipment: They say the best travel camera is the one you have with you. That could be your Smart Phone in many instances. If one wants to carry a camera with interchangeable lenses I suggest the Digital Photography School for more information. Few brands are not good. The images you see here were taken with a Nikon D70s with a 18-200mm lens. That in ancient equipment by todays standards. My travel outfit today is the Sony a6000 with a Sony 18-200mm lens.

What about Model Releases? Well generally in the US, they are not required when taking photos for educational or news. As editorial Stock Photographer for many years, I cannot recall being asked by an editor, art director or publisher for a model release. I use to have a preprinted card that people could sign giving permission to use their image in magazines, news or commercial. Over a 20 year period, I only had two people deny permission. My procedure now is to just ask the person if it would Ok to use their image in a magazine. I want them to know what my intension is.

For this Tour, I had spoken to the OAT PR department about doing some photography and even arranged to use their Model Release form. I met with Elisabeth early on and discussed my arrangement with her. We sent it around for our group members to sign. Everyone did, and they became use to me being around with the camera. You may notice that many of the images have people in then. So, that part is covered.

To me, even as a nonworking photographer, I derive a lot of pleasure in recalling our trips through the images. Have fun but especially in foreign countries learning the words in that language “May I take you picture?” can go a long way to a comfortable relationship. Some people even open up and give you a warm smile. Is traveling great or what.



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The Basic Element of Photography

Lake Logan

Lake Logan

Basic elements would imply that there is a certain How To thing that can make our photography either better or Great. However, before composition, lighting, exposures, equipment, methods and all the rest , we must “Want To.” For without it nothing else matters.

Wanting to …

In my mind, wanting to put my shoes on and get out the door comes before anything else. A need can prompt us to activity. If we have to generate income, that would be a “need.” We become motivated to go tho work. Everything else fades in importance.

Another need can be prompted by a deep “interest” in something. Developing or creating that interest is what this blog is about. “The sea is calling and I must go,” kind of thing. What causes the interest to exist? In my mind, that is the most basic element.

This morning I received an e-mail from friend and colleague Duke Miller. He suggested an Ansel Adams film might be something of interest for an issue of this Photography Blog. He is right.

If you are reading this piece, you must have at least some kind of mild interest in photography. Take a few minutes more and watch this 1958 film. It says tons more than I could in those few minutes. Then, at the end, there will be a resource for other elements to develop that interest – the most Basic Element.

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Ancient Greece, today…

Acropolis at dusk

Acropolis at dusk

The Acropolis of Athens is located on an extremely rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.

In order to get this image we had to take a cable car to a restaurant, although during our walk from our Hotel, we came across another neighborhood restaurant and ate there.

I liked this look because it also gives an idea of the location relative to the other parts of the city. There is evidence of that this place was inhabited as far back as 495-429 years BC – the fourth millennium. We were on a two week trip with OAT, Overseas Adventure Travel. Recommended.


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Beauty, in the eye of the beholder. What does that mean?

Spring, Pigeon River, NC

Spring, Pigeon River, NC


A drive in the country when the mind is in neutral, then suddenly something pops. On this spring morning, when not expecting it, suddenly form, color and lines come into balance.

Nature provides.

One simply has to show up. Not all images have to be designed through our unique talents, made as they say. On the road to developing the artist’s eye, we often arrive at a point where something just looks right. We’re not sure why. It’s not important. Just capture the moment. That’s what photography is all about. Later in our – studying, reading, looking at images by others –  we can find the why.

Chance favors the prepared mind, they say. Luck. And to us goes the credit for showing up.

So why does this scene work?

  • First, it does have some balance. The trees and mass of grass seem to be balanced by the smaller spot of color across the river, near the upper right.
  • Secondly, Color can imply emotional feeling – the touch of yellow in green grass. The study of color therapy lists yellow & green this way…  Yellow: sunshine, happiness, hope, intelligence; Green: growth, healthiness, harmony, blooming, healing.
  • Thirdly, we notice that the lower edge of the water next to the grass forms a rough triangle if we use the edge of the frame as the other two axises. We also have to visually crop the grass up to where the water intersects to actually make a triangle. I first learned of the importance of triangles from Freeman Patterson. I now attempt to include graphic design elements whenever possible to strengthen the composition.

 In photography, there are no good or bad images, only more effective or less effective.

What attracts us to a scene? What is Beauty?

The foregoing narrative may seem to suggest that we all see things the same way. Far from it. However, some elements tend to sway more people toward labeling something as beauty.

Wikipedia says, The experience of “beauty” often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective experience, it is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Webster says, the quality of being physically attractive, the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind.

Pigeon River tree with flowers Image #2

Pigeon River tree with flowers Image #2

When I photographed this image I also made two other scenes I felt worthy. I’m including them here as I really couldn’t decide which to lead with, however, I wanted to open the discussion. You may have a preference.

Pigeon River #3 Bob Grytten images

Pigeon River #3 Bob Grytten images





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Tufted Titmouse Photo challenge

This morning was practice time with the Sony gear. What I hadn’t expected was a mom & pop portrait. My lucky day.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Even though this image is a bit diffused from looking through leaves, etc, I think it is still worthy of sharing. Hope you agree.

A glimpse into the life of two hard workers, bringing home the bacon, or in this case the bugs. The Male is going all the time. Must be a good hunter – about every 5 minutes he’s back.

These birds were photographed with a Sony a6000 mirrorless body and an old but good Nikon 300mm EDIF f4.5 lens, on tripod. I’ve had this lens about 30 years. Original cost was about $800. Today it can be purchased for less than $200. See KEH. I needed an adapter for the lens to work on the Sony. My adapter, as most, negates the Auto features of the camera. I have to use mine as a manual everything; but, it’s great glass and provides a 450mm view in 35mm terms. The adapter I purchased is an Ommlite and has a built-in aperture adjustment, but, I don’t use it.

An aside. The birdhouse has been in place for  about 5-6 years, long enough for a new twig to grow at the entrance. These guys are the first tenants. Guess some birds are just particular about the landscaping.

About purchasing used equipment…

While we’re mentioning equipment and KEH, I would like to mention what a good experience I’ve had with them. First off, if you don’t know how they work here it is… They buy equipment from photographers who don’t need their stuff anymore. First, you google them, then indicate what you want to sell. They indicate what they can pay for each item depending upon the condition of the item. You select the category and they send you a prepaid label that you affix to the box of equipment. You then drop it off at an American Express depot. That’s it.

When they receive the equipment, they check it out and if there is any question they contact you. If everything checks out all right, they cut you a check. Then they mark it up to satisfy their margin and offer it out for sale. If you wish to buy something, maybe a camera body as a backup, you select the item, they ship it per the arrangement and they also pay for shipping. Of course, that’s figured in the price. You have 14 days to examine the equipment before returning it at no charge if it’s not what you thought it would be. KEH also warrants it for 90 days.

What about Insurance?

While on this subject, many people ask me about what lenses to buy for this or that trip. What is never discussed is a backup camera. If your 3 or 4,ooo miles away on the trip of a lifetime, and your camera fails, you would have to do that trip again to capture the images you were hoping for. That could be pretty expensive. It may be a good idea to purchase an extra body just in case. And about putting your equipment at risk, think about insuring it. If your current home policy won’t insure it, you may be able to insure it with Inland Marine. Their annual policy is only about 1% of the value of the equipment, usually has no deduction and includes all risk including mysterious disappearance. Call me if you have any questions. or e-mail bobgry@aol.com.

Thanks for viewing, hope you like it and look forward to your return. Comments invited.


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Spring Photography Backwater Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley is popular for its Elk population; but, in the spring we go off trail. I love the ferns. Here are a couple of images from this Thursdays shoot…

Spring ferns Cataloochee Valley

Spring ferns Cataloochee Valley


ferns with trees

ferns with trees

I’m in the process of putting together a short video to help capture the stillness we experienced.


Here is a Black & White treatment you may enjoy…

Share with a friend. Join us next time…


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