Dan Ballard

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Light Up the Dark!! Night Photography Lesson

Published July 27th, 2011

Just because you can’t see the light, does not mean there is no light!

The photo below was taken about an hour before the sun came up. I literally couldn’t see anything of the photo I was about to take, but in my mind’s eye I basically knew what the image would look like. It can be a little difficult to learn how to take pre-dawn photos, but once you get the hang of it; it can yield incredible results. Not only do you have the chance to show off the stars, but moving clouds and in this case smoke, can make an otherwise ordinary photo extraordinary. I will give you a few basic tips to get started.

First off, you must have a tripod and a cable release. Most night photography exposures are between 20 seconds and 1 hour. If you have the equipment you need and find a night sky to shoot, the next step is to focus your camera. At first that would seem to be a difficult task as the scene will probably be to dark for your cameras auto-focus; however, all you have to do is focus at infin ...

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"A Tale of Near Death in Tibet"

Published July 27th, 2011

The story below may just be scariest thing that has ever happened to me while traveling. I have been robbed at gun point twice, was almost thrown in jail in Syria, spent several crazy days in Iraq during the height of the conflict there, slept on the street most nights while hitchhiking through Europe and the Middle East, amongst other things and this was by far the closest I felt I have come to dying.

“A tale of near death in Tibet”

The mountainous area of western Tibet is a rarely explored mix of dizzying heights, culture, religion and often tragedy for those who choose to explore its upper reaches. For a landscape photographer it is heaven. Peaks reaching to over 24,000ft ascend from the grassy plains into clear blue sky, or red and orange sunrises.

The first four mornings I was in the area I was up at 4 am ready for the tough 2 hour hike from the town of Kangding to around 10,000ft to shoot the surrounding peaks. By the fifth morning I was tired of the hiking and ready for the c ...

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Great Quote

Published July 27th, 2011

“You don’t take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it. ~Author Unknown”

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"Germany in Autumn" ~ Sharpness

Published July 27th, 2011

Sharpness is perceived. Of course some lenses are sharper then others. The camera your using can have an effect. But sharpness is perceived! I get asked about sharpness as much as any other aspect of photography. “What lenses do you use?” “What amount of sharpening do you do in Photoshop?”“What is your sharpening process for enlarging images?” Etc. The answer is……… ask a different question. Yes sharpening on the computer and shooting with great equipment has an effect on the sharpness of your image. But the circumstances in which you take a picture are actually much much more important. “How do you take a better image?” is the right question.

If you want sharper pictures, the key is good light, clear air, color, and making the subject stand out with either light or an out of focus background. Red and orange seem much sharper to the eye. When a scene has warmer tones or red or orange colors it will appear sharper then a scene with cooler blue tones. If you shoot in gr ...

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"Tunnel of Time" ~ Great Photography

Published July 27th, 2011

Can you teach someone to make a stunning photograph? I have always thought the answer was yes. You teach them about simplifying the image. To shoot in good light and to understand all light. The guidelines of composition. How form and colors and textures can work with you or against you. How to let your subjects “in” and truly “feel” what your shooting. How the camera “sees” the world differently then the human eye. How to think like an artist, be more creative……and to shoot with passion.

I just returned from the Imaging USA photo expo in San Antonio yesterday, and I had the opportunity to do some shooting on the way down. As I was looking at the photos on my computer last night I was very much aware of the quality of the images compared with my horrible photos from a few years back. It was a battle, but what a difference!! I truly believe that anyone with dedication and an open mind can learn to be a better photographer. I have never heard of anyone who was great when ...

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"Rocky Mountain Fire"

Published July 27th, 2011

I’m not sure what it is with me and the wind lately, but it is making my photography outings less then pleasant. My girlfriend and I decided to make a quick trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend partly due to the predicted good weather. I normally watch for bad weather to go shoot in, but as I have been in near blizzard conditions every time I’ve been to the park I really just wanted to see it. We set the alarm for 2:40am (she lives in Denver) and drove to the Bear lake parking lot. Guess what……..the wind was blowing like crazy!!! Again. After the sand dune experience only a few days before I couldn’t believe it. Luckily we were prepared for the cold with almost every piece of outdoor gear we had ever bought and we deiced to head up. After about the fifth time we lost the trail because it had blown over with snow I was wandering if this was a good idea however. I think we got lost at least three times. We finally found the lake, but at that point we had to st ...

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Great Quote

Published July 27th, 2011

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” ~Ansel Adams”

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"Dance of Light & Sand"

Published July 27th, 2011

First off I would like to thank Miles Morgan for the inspiration to go in search of a great photo yesterday. I had been considering a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park for a while now, but I have just been to busy to make the trip. Wednesday night however at about 8:00 I came across this picture that Miles had recently posted. Folks, that is one hell of a picture. I looked at it for about 10 minutes going between admiration and jealously, when I decided the only thing to do was get off my butt and go in search of a powerful image. This and only this would make me feel better. I set my alarm for 1:15 the next morning and packed my gear. I arrived at the dunes at about 5 a.m. which gave me just enough time to hike to the top and get set up by 6:30 when the first color started. I had good luck and bad. The color was great, and the mountains in the distance were covered with snow, but the dunes where covered in snow as well, meaning all those great comps that come from the blowing san ...

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Great Quote

Published July 27th, 2011

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we will find it not.”

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