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A Quick Canon RP Review with Photos

A Quick Canon RP Review with Photos

For a new project, it was highly suggested that a full-frame camera was required. So, I decided to get the Canon EOS RP. It’s a full-frame, mirrorless camera. It’s also the least-expensive and with an adapter, will accommodate all my current lenses.

Here’s a few photos, a quick review and my first thoughts about the Canon RP.

1.  Frame Rate

First of all, I was not that excited about the mediocre 5 FPS, meaning it only shoots up to five photos in one second. The 7D Mark II shoots 10 FPS, in comparison.

2.  Battery Life

The battery life is not that great. A second battery – or more – is a must. After shooting for about 1.5 hrs, the battery signal was blinking. I’m used to going out for most of the day without changing a battery.

3.  Focusing

Focusing is a little weird and took some getting used to. The mirrorless system’s default settings are set so that it is ready to focus on the first subject it sees. It’s easy enough to correct the settings. This probably contributes to a larger battery drain.

4.  Settings

After tweaking some settings, I set out to a local favorite spot and purchased my season pass. The weather was cloudy with a few light rain clouds. Since it was really gray, I set the exposure to +1/3, f-stop 1/1000 and auto ISO. The 400mm is tacked on with the adapter.

5.  Noise

The brillants Peacock photos were shot through a fence. Luckily he was about halfway inside the enclosure and not too close up.   The settings were 1/1000 and 1600 ISO. I was really worried the ISO was too high. In normal situations, the 7DMII could barely handle 800 ISO without a lot a noise.

peacock 2 canon rp review

Brilliant Blue Peacock

Canon RP full-frame mirrorless camera:  1/1000, ISO 1600, 400mm

Second subject was a sleepy white fox. She barely opened her eyes for the shot, which is also cropped about 1/3.

sleepy white fox

Sleepy White Fox

Canon RP full-frame mirrorless camera:  1/1000, ISO 500, 400mm

Next, we have the landscaping crew. Why do I say that? Because their cousins raided our property over the winter and “trimmed” a significant amount of foliage off the evergreen trees. It is not good at all – just hoping the damage will grow back.

landscaping crew

Landscaping Crew – a pack of White-Tailed Deer

Canon RP full-frame mirrorless camera:  1/1000, ISO 2000, 400mm

Finally – an uncommon sighting – and perhaps my favorite photo: A pair of Double-Crested Cormorants! One was drying it’s wings and was looking left, it’s buddy on the right was looking right. I really like the composition. The photo was cropped about 50%. Anyway, the wing detail is impressive!

double-crested cormorants

Double-Crested Cormorants

Canon RP full-frame mirrorless camera:  1/1000, ISO 1600, 400mm


My first reaction thoughts about the camera – A quick Canon RP Review:


1. Lightweight and compact

Really comfortable to walk around with, but doesn’t feel flimsy.

2. Low light handling

Did a very impressive job at 1600 ISO – hardly needed any noise reduction at all.

3. Easy to use

Setup was pretty quick and easy to customize.

4. Image quality is sharp and bright

The full-frame provides adequate leeway for cropping without losing much quality.

5. Video button

The video on/off button is a single, seperate button that is easy to access.


1. Battery life

I knew this would be an issue. The battery is small to fit in the smaller camera body. Make sure you carry extras with you.

2.  Viewfinder

The digital viewfinder takes some getting used to.

3.  Frame Rate

Frame rate of 5 FPS is not great; however, there is a higher keeper ratio and less photos to review.

4.  Shutter Sound

The shutter sound is louder than I would have expected.  Noticeable sound not great for a church or museum.

5.  Video

Have not done much video testing at all. An extra software update may be reqired to test 60FPS and 4K.


Next tests will include multiple exposures, video and bracketing. Overall, I’m mostly impressed with the low-light handling. I got a great deal on the bundle, which included a 64MP card, lens adapter, case, monopod, cleaning kit, mini-tripod, small gorrilapod, microphone and LED light.

I’ll think I’ll keep it!

11 Tips to Make Your Average Zoo Photos Awesome

11 Tips to Make Your Average Zoo Photos Awesome

After a long winter, Spring has arrived and the annual bird migration will soon be underway. Not into birds? Go to the zoo!

Some may consider Zoos prisons for animals and wildlife photographers say it’s cheating. However, photographing animals at the Zoo can also be challenging and rewarding, and a great way to practice your skills.


Here are 11 tips to make your average zoo photos awesome.


The biggest challenge of getting better photos of Zoo animals is dealing with barriers. Many of the animals you encounter will be behind a fence, glass, or some other type of enclosure that will partially obstruct your shot. There are a few things you can do to get around this.

1. Get your lens close to, or directly onto, the fence.

If you’re using a phone or point-and-shoot camera, zoom in so that the fence is no longer noticable. The animal should be far enough away but close enough to get a clear shot. Basically, the closer you are to the fence, the less noticable the fence will be.

2. Camera settings:  Use a large aperture (low number) setting on your lens.

By doing so, the light will wrap around fence, greatly diminishing it’s existence in your photo. Your subject should be in the middle section of the enclosure, not right up against the fence.

Be sure to use continuous shutter or burst mode, depending on your camera. This will allow you to take a series of photos at once, instead of snapping away one photo at a time. Especially if the animal is moving or doing something interesting, multiple frames will get you better chances for a good shot.

African penguin body closeup (1)

South African Penguin with 400mm lens

African penguin body closeup (5)

Penguin is a little closer, softer background

African penguin closeup (3)

Penguin closeup with clean background

3. Use a long lens or zoom lens.

A long telephoto lens, such as a 400mm lens and low aperature will be able to “cut” out much of the fence and focus on the animal. Again, the best scenario will be when your subject is in the middle of the enclosure, not up close to a fence.

4. Look for a shady spot.

By doing so, any distracting reflections or glare from a metal fence will dissapear. You make need to increase your ISO – make sure it’s not too high in order to avoid excessive noise.

5. Pay attention to backgrounds and other distracting elements.

The animal may have a large metal water bowl or food tray – not exactly the look you want in your photo, unless the animal is doing something funny or interesting. Depending on the enclosure, be sure not to include signs, bright spots or other people. Using a large aperture will help get a blurry background.

egyptian goose

Average shot of a tagged goose in an enclosure next to it’s water bowl

egyptian goose (2)

Closeup shot of the Egyptian Goose with blurred out pond in background.

6. Bring a walking stick or monopod.

This will help stabilize your shot, especially if you intend to record video or use a very long focal length. Many zoos do not allow tripods because they take up a lot of room and could be a safety concern to someone not paying attention – imagine that! Little kids may run into them over sheer excitement and you may inadvertently trip them with your tripod – whoops!

Another tip is to balance your lens or camera on a fence post or railing for extra support.

bald eagle

Bald Eagle in center of enclosure shot through fence – some remnants of fence appear in background.

barred owl

Barred Owl up against wall shot through fence – would be better if it was also near center of enclosure.

Other tips to elevate your photos from the average to awesome:

7. Plan to arrive early.

Many animals are more active in the morning, during feeding time or anticipating what the day may bring. Lighting conditions are also more favorable in the morning by eliminating harsh sunlight.

Generally speaking, most people begin to arrive by mid-morning, especially when they have kids in tow. Some zoos may even offer special early morning viewing before they open to the public, usually for an additional fee.

8. Check for events.

If there is a special viewing of an animal on exhibit, get there early to get a good seat closeup to the action without too many obstructions.

9. Be patient.

When you approach an exhibit, the animal be appear to be resting but something may cause it to change it’s behavior soon after. The animal may get up, yawn, stretch, eat, roar, jump or stand to attention. It may just pick up it’s head and open it’s eyes. Anticipate these behaviors and improve your chances of getting a keeper.

river otter

Approaching the River Otter with eyes closed, enjoying the sun. OK, but not that exciting.  Let’s see if anything changes…

river otter yawn (1)

Less than a minute later, he steps up and takes a giant yawn.  With continuous shutter, got his paws lifting too.  Very cute!

10. Check for good angles.

The sunlight, shade, distracting elements, background, distance and angles are all factors to consider. Ideally, the animal will be around the center of the exhibit at eye level in order to cut through the fence and harsh sunlight. You may need to change your position by getting down lower or perhaps moving further away or holding your camera higher for the right angle..

tiger roaring mouth open teeth (5)

Afternoon light in fall.  Tiger in middle of enclosure, shot through fence.  Waited a few minutes to hear and see a very load ROAR!

11. Be aware of photo policies.

Most people just want to capture some good photos of zoo animals. However, if you plan to sell any of these images, be aware! Zoos own the rights to their animals – this is their property.

They will need to sign a property release form in order to allow you to use the photos commercially. There is usually a fee associated with the release. Think of it as photographing private property and getting it published on a magazine cover – you can get sued if you do not have the proper release forms.

Check the Zoo’s website FAQ’s, photo policies, Rules, or speak to the Public Relations office.  A little hassle upfront will save you down the line!



It can be fun and rewarding to photograph animals at the Zoo. Get there early, use a wide aperature, get close to the fence and use a zoom lens for your best chances of getting keeper photos of Zoo animals.

What’s your favorite tip? Let us know in the comments below!

Pet Rabbit Photo Bloopers

Pet Rabbit Photo Bloopers

Photographing a pet rabbit is not always easy.  The rabbit needs to be comfortable and in familiar settings.  Here are a few bloopers from our Easter photo shoot.

Rufus-rabbit-Easter-Bunny-bloopers (3)

Rufus Rabbit is not quite finished with his snack.  

In order to photograph your pet rabbit, or just about any pet, a little snack helps to keep them interested.

Rufus-rabbit-Easter-Bunny-bloopers (2)

Caught exactly at the wrong moment – silly rabbit!

Be prepared to take a lot of photos.  In many cases, you will only have a short window of time before they become distracted and walk off the set.

Rufus-rabbit-Easter-Bunny-bloopers (1)

Here’s what I really think about this photo shoot!

Hope you enjoyed this super-quick post and have a few things to keep in mind for your next pet photo shoot.  Have a great day!

The Easiest Way to Get Quality Snowflake Photos

The Easiest Way to Get Quality Snowflake Photos

We got a lot of snow this week

…about 3 feet (about 1 meter), then some ice and a power outage, and today – more snow. The little voice said get your butt outside and take some snowflake photos!

So, I got all the gear together – my Canon 80D, a Canon 100mm macro lens, a sturdy tripod, and some dark microfiber towels to catch the snowflakes. Seems like an easy way to photography snowflakes, doesn’t it?

No worries – there’s a Plan B.


Macro like this on a point-and-shoot camera?

The challenge:

Accuweather predicts there’s only 20 more minutes of snowfall. Of course they’re reliable, so I put on all my winter gear, grab a few extra towels for the camera and start shooting straight away.

The photos aren’t looking great so far with setting at f/8 and ISO 400. With a shutter speed of 7 FPS, there is obvious blur in the tiny snowflake. I move closer, move away, focus manually, change a few more settings.

Meanwhile, the towel covering the camera

is covered in snow

and my feet are already frozen.


After ten minutes, I retreat. Come in, wipe off the camera and let it be still while it acclimates to a balmy 65 degrees F in the house.

Zoomed in all the way – captured on the Olympus Tough TG-5 compact camera

Plan B?

It’s the Olympus Tough TG-5. It’s a little brick of a camera that fits in your pocket. The camera is mostly metal, waterproof, handles freezing temps, tolerates a few good drops (table to floor), can shoot RAW, slo mo, 4K. It can also shoot macro.

  • There’s a microscope mode
  • a zoom microscope mode
  • a focus stack mode in-camera
  • and a focus-bracketing mode

It’s attached to a Gorillapod most of the time.  I grab it and head outside with a fresh towel.


Size compared to a US dime

Snow accumulates quickly

Ten cents and a snowflake

Snowfall lightens up.   The camera is set to the zoom microscope mode, which can also do video. The Gorillapod is bent so that the camera is sturdy, about one inch from the towel. Everything can be seen clearly on the back of the screen – it’s waterproof and freeze tolerant. Forgot to mention – shoots 20 FPS!

When you photograph snowflakes, it has to be really really cold, or you have to be really really fast, like within a second. Otherwise, the snowflake turns to mush.

After ten minutes, the battery dies. It was not fully charged, but lasted long enough to get the job done.

If it kept snowing, I could have stayed out there much longer – it was really fun and SO easy to shoot with the Olympus. I didn’t have a ton of stuff to set up or any worries about damaged gear, settings, etc. Only two decent shots with the Canon setup – had many more to choose from with the Olympus.

Canon 80D + 100mm Macro


Olympus Tough TG-5 zoomed in all the way

My Olympus is at least two years old. Latest model is the Olympus Tough TG-6 with some notable improvements. A bundle goes for about $389 USD.

Favorite things about the Olympus:

  • Compact and quiet – no shutter noise and fits in your pocket
  • Video features are good when stabilized and used in daylight, including 4K, Slo Mo (60 FPS) and regular
  • Macro mode is really fun and easy to use – get super-close
  • Shoots RAW
  • Waterproof
  • 20 FPS
  • Has many other standard features like Scene mode, Timelapse, and Timer

Not so great

  • Does not perform well in low light – grainy
  • Video is best when stabilized, to much ghosting, IMO, when moving
  • Image quality is best in daylight
  • Battery life is not great and the battery indicator is unreliable – always carry an extra charged battery
  • A little expensive for a point-and-shoot


Would you get a point-and-shoot camera for not only macro photography, but suitable for all of your outdoor adventures?  Consider the Olympus Tough, for fast photos and 4K videos.  Don’t forget that extra battery!

What to Photograph in Winter After the Holidays:  19 Ideas

What to Photograph in Winter After the Holidays: 19 Ideas

Perhaps one of the most festive times of year has passed. The lights, the colors, the gifts, the ugly sweaters, the special meals, the desserts – you get it. What else is there to photograph during this cold, bleak period before we begin to see the life of spring? Well, plenty, actually!

Winter brings some unique opportunities unlike any other time of year. So get your camera ready and let’s get to it!


Here’s a list of 19 ideas to photograph in winter after the holidays have passed.

Do a photoshoot in the snow

Snow and winter landscapes can make for extra dreamy backdrops and really capture the heart of the season.

If you live in an area that is cold enough for snow, or if you plan on travelling to a cold climate, here are some ideas for your photoshoot:

1. Throw on some bright colors, perhaps a matching hat and jacket, for an instant color pop and head to the local park, stand in front of a snow-covered tree or head to a majestic overlook.

 Color Pop Girl with Skates by langll from Pixabay


3. Snow too heavy? Make a little snowman. Hold it out in front of the camera so that you or your subject is de-focused. Or, get ready for Valentine’s Day by making a snow heart or tracing one in the snow.


Mini Snowman by Sandra_M_H from Pixabay

2. Not snowing right now? Throw some snow in the air around your subject. It can be your friend, a pet, or just do a selfie. Remember not to clump the snow together – that’ll hurt!


Snow Blow by langll from Pixabay


4. Do a winter sport like snowshoeing, ice skating, skiing, sledding or snowmobiling. Be ready to take action shots and closeups of the blades on ice and the skies plowing through the snow. Get the reaction shot after descending down a big hill!

5. Head out onto snow-covered roads lined with evergreens. Just be on the lookout for vehicles!


Don’t like the cold enough to get outside? Try these indoor ideas:

6. Cozy up to the fireplace. The warm amber lights could be the main subject, or, add interest by composing your shot with the fireplace in the background.

7. Make a mug of hot chocolate brimming with fluffy marshmallows and whipped cream or other warm beverage.  Get close to capture the delicious details and the hot steam rising from the mug or hold it in front of the fireplace.  Take flat-lay images of your hot toddies scattered with ingredients placed on the tabletop or counter.

Cozy Fireplace by JillWellington from Pixabay

8. Experiment with bokeh. If you still have string lights floating around, why not cut out fun bokeh shapes, like stars, snowflakes or hearts, and snap away.  For more creative light ideas, check out my blog post.

9. Try macro photography. If you’ve never tried macro photography before, now is a great time to try it. Photograph coins, a flower bouquet – add water droplets for extra interest – or capture frost on a window.

A super-quick tip for photographing a snowflake: bring a dark-colored fleece scarf or similar object to catch the snowflake – it needs some dark contrast to make it stand out.  Besides, it’s easy enough to pack away in your pocket, or perhaps you’re wearing a fleece item.  The fleece material also adds interest to the overall image.

Macro Snowflake by Ekamelev from Pixabay

Capture the essence of winter landscapes

10. The days are shorter in winter, so it’s easier to get out before sunrise or after sunset for spectacular golden hour color. Clouds during this time tend to capture vivid pink and purple tones, which look even better against a snow-covered landscape or frozen lake.

Even bare trees look amazing under the right light conditions, like this stunning capture:

winter ice shadows water

Bare Tree Winter by MabelAmber from Pixabay

COVER:  Frozen Winter Lake during golden hour with long shadows by fietzfotos of Pixabay

11. Photograph ice patterns. Ice formations can make great abstract images, especially if you plan to layer them in post-processing. Even if you keep it simple, look for ice formed over standing water, in shallow creeks or river, iced-over foliage and interested formations created with freezing water.

12. If you live in the city or plan to visit in winter, a cityscape covered in snow can take on mysterious qualities and suddenly look calm, clean and peaceful. Look for a park lined with streetlights or capture a downtown scene with lights streaming through the snow.

13. Near a lake or the ocean? Winter is a great time to capture dramatic weather events. Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the water as it crashes against the rocks, a lighthouse or pier. Use a slow shutter speed to blur the clouds for a dreamy and relaxing effect.

This winter storm crashing against a lighthouse in the sea looks especially dramatic in black and white:

Winter lighthouse by LintonS from Pixabay

14. Shoot a time lapse. Head down to a frozen lake at sunset and setup your camera for a timelapse. Figure out how long you will be there – 20 to 30 minutes should be fine, especially in the winter, and set the timer to capture a photo every # amount of seconds.

On this recent time lapse, I setup for a landscape shot, f/11, ISO 100, and had the camera take a photo every 4 seconds. For a 15-second timelapse, it took 30 minutes, a photo every 4 seconds. That’s 15 frames per minute X 30 minutes, for a total of 450 frames.

For this image, I used my Canon 80D DSLR, which has an articulating screen. It’s very easy – and fun – to do a time lapse with this camera. The touch-screen lets you focus exactly on the point in which you choose. And the flexible screen is a life-saver in awkward positions. Check out the latest version on Amazon.  Don’t forget your tripod!

15. Photograph falling snow. Besides, isn’t that what we all love to see? Falling snow flakes in your composition can take ordinary shots to the next level.

Experiment with your shutter speed: If it is slow, you will end up with snow streaks. A faster shutter will capture smaller flakes. There is no right or wrong answer – it all depends on what effect you are going for.

16. Shoot the shadows. The low light of the sun in winter creates long shadows. Capture patterns of shadows over a landscape or get your subject to wave their arms or jump up for some creative and fun effects.

17. Don’t forget white balance. Winter is cold. Make the effect more compelling by experimenting with your white balance settings. This will generally be a temperature of no more than 5000, or try the florescent light setting for blue hues.

Wildlife makes a special appearance

18. Perhaps my favorite tip – photograph birds and wildlife in the winter! Birds rely heavily on supplemental food, water and protection from the elements during winter, when there are less natural resources for them.

Set up a perch in your backyard to entice your visitors. Use your leftover Christmas tree or, from our December DIY project, the Festive Winter Gnome to help cover food sources and add natural interest.

As a bonus, there may also be unique wildlife that only comes around in winter, such as Dark-Eyed Juncos, aka, Snowbirds. Look for sightings on ebird , a bird-tracking and hotspot app brought to you by Cornell University. 

A trip down to the NJ shore got me this gorgeous Harlequin Duck, visiting all the way from northern Canada and Greenland!  Snowy Owls occasionally dot the landscape with their grand appearance.  Snow Geese, which flock in the thousands, may also be seen flying overhead, foraging in fields or making a stopover at a large reservoir.

harlequin duck

A Harlequin Duck makes an appearance at Barnegat Inlet, NJ, during winter.

19. Not into birds? Dress up your pup in a colorful winter outfit and keep it warm during your walk – makes for a cute and colorful winter memory!


There are plenty of fun things that you can photograph during the winter. Use this season to practice your skills and gain new ones.  From macro photography, creative lighting, landscape and bird photography, dramatic weather, and experimenting with fast and slow shutter speeds, winter brings many opportunities to create special images during the winter.

What are your favorite things to photograph during winter?

Let us know in the comments below!


Disclosure: Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, such as Amazon links. I may earn a small commission from purchases made through some of the links, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products that I personally use and highly recommend. Any purchases made through affiliate links are greatly appreciated, as they enable me to continue to create content to share with you.

Winter Photography:  What to Know Before Shooting Snow

Winter Photography: What to Know Before Shooting Snow

It’s December and for many of us living in the northern climates, snow is on the way! If you enjoy getting outdoors in the winter, the cold weather presents a few more photography challenges.

Fresh snowfall can make beautiful images unique from any other season, but you will need to prepare more than usual if you decide to leave your warm and comfy home.

Here are 15 tips to know before you go out in the cold for snow photography.

1. Bring extra batteries and keep them warm

When you’re photographing in cold climates, it is important to bring extra batteries. They drain much faster in the winter, especially if you use Live View to help compose your shots. It’s a good idea to keep a spare battery readily accessible, like in your warm jacket pocket.

2. Expose properly

Your camera’s metering system is standardized for middle gray. Normally, this works great for moderately sunny landscapes where there is a lot of balanced colors (not too bright or dark).

However, the bright white snow throws the system off because your camera is looking for a balance. Instead of the bright snow that has fallen before you, your photos are gray.

What can you do?

You need to tell your camera about the freshly fallen snow by increasing the exposure. This can be done several ways:

a. Increase the exposure compensation. Start by going up 1/3 full stop and adjusting from there. This lets more light into the scene so that your freshly fallen snow looks white, not dull.

b. Meter your exposure. Set the exposure so that it takes several photos of the same image at lighter and darker exposures.

c. Shoot in RAW so that you can adjust the settings in post processing.

d. When in doubt, lean towards a slightly overexposed photo, which will help convey the whiteout conditions, the cold, and also a sense of calmness.

Personally, I always do #a and #c – I ALWAYS shoot in RAW and for bright scenes like snow, increase your exposure.

3. Use the correct white balance

This can be tricky, because you don’t want a warm “yellow” look. That just wouldn’t be right, especially if there is snow in the scene. If you cannot find the perfect balance, choose a cool color. Besides, it’s cold outside and the shadows produce a blue hue, which will make the scene more realistic in keeping with a cold winter mood.

snow landscapes

Amazing cool tones of winter reflect off the icy Delaware River, with Milford Bridge in the background.

4. Know what lens you plan on using

When the weather is volatile, it is not the ideal time to be changing lenses. Condensation can become trapped inside your camera body. Or, the cold snow might freeze your fingers and the lens will fall into the snow. Highly consider a zoom lens, which may be appropriate in many situations. Less is more in tricky weather. Pick a lens and work with it.

5. Acclimate your gear

Extreme temperature shifts will wreak havoc on your gear and lenses. If your pack is in a warm car and you run out into the blizzard, there’s a great chance of lens fog or freeze. Same thing happens on the opposite side of the spectrum; you’re outside in the cold taking landscape photos and move indoors to photograph flowers and exhibits – the lens definitely fogs up.

This happened to me on a visit to Longwood Gardens, which is famous for spectular gardens, waterscapes, winter lights and a HUGE 6-acre aboretum. It took a good 20 minutes for the camera to adjust. Highly suggested trip, BTW! 

6. Keep your lenses clean

Especially if you are out when the snow is falling, your lens will meet the elements, and not in a good way. When the snow lands on the front element, it will create a large blur. Use a lense hood and microfiber cloth and try shooting in the opposite direction of the snowfall.

If your lens gets fogged, do not blow warm air onto it – this can potentially form a thin ice coating and even damage the lens. If it’s not that cold, you may want to protect your gear as is you were shooting in the rain. Plastic bags and rubber bands can be lifesavers in this situation.

morning snow driveway

Freshly fallen snow just as the sun rises

7. Get out early

Freshly fallen snow is precious for so many reasons. However, footprints in the snow are not so great. Especially if there was a crowd of people trampling through the snow – A diesel powered vehicle might as well rip through the scene! Perhaps the only place to get out early is your backyard or the little park down the street. If that is the case, plan on it and get out early.

8. Bundle up in layers

Protect your hands and feet. There a great chance you will be standing still, in the cold rain and snow. Invest in warm, weather-proof boots and bring an extra set of gloves. Hand warmers will also help a lot, not only for your digits, but can help keep your batteries warm. Once your fingers freeze, the likelyhood of sticking around diminishes quickly.

Snow Barn by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

9. Find Color

If you have a location in mind with a bright color, you have earned your extra credit! A red barn immediately comes to mind, but will only be found in certain locations. It’s an easy fix; have your model wear a bright color, add an ornament or other brightly colored object, or arm yourself with a bright jacket and take a selfie.

bluebird in snow

An Eastern Bluebird brought just the right amount of color to dress up a snowy scene.

10. Shoot black and white

The sun is low and light is limited in winter. This creates dramatic shadows in your landscape. It is especially effective in the winter, when landscapes are typically bleak or when freshly fallen snow adorns the land.

black and white road

Black and White photography can add interest, especially in winter landscapes.

11. Shoot during golden hour

Before the sun rises and if there are enough clouds, there is a good chance the sky will illuminate with pink and purple hues. This will, in turn, cast upon the sparkling snow creating a magical effect. Same goes for blue hour, just after the sun sets. If you can also capture some lights, it will add an extra element of beauty in your winter photography.

high point winter

First day of Winter atop High Point State Park, NJ.  Sunset reflects beautiful light off frozen branches and snow.

12. Shoot frozen water

Icicles, and especially frozen water, can create unique, abstract and intricate details only available in cold weather. If you have a macro lens, use it to get super closeups of the awesome details in nature.

frozen details in winter

Frozen foliage at sunrise

frozen water

Frozen water textures

pine tree with ice sunrise

Ice on Pine needles at sunrise

13. Look for subtle details

Take some photos of evergreens adorned with freshly fallen snow. Enhance the peaceful look and feel of the delicate snow by shooting at sunrise.

14. Take photos when it is snowing

With some of the above-mentioned tips in mind, especially for keeping your lens clean, capturing falling slow provides the ultimate detail to your winter landscape scene. It can be a little tricky; your shutter speed will need to be higher in order to freeze the motion of the snow. If the shutter is too slow, it will create streaks of snow, which can be interesting too.

15. Bring extra water and snacks

Just like your batteries, your energy level can drain a little faster in the cold, especially if you are trekking through snow to find your ideal location. Road conditions can also become tricky in cold weather.  For these reasons, it is a good idea to have extra food and water on hand in case of unexpected delays.


There are many ways to capture the unique beauty that winter landscapes provides. From grand scenes in golden hour to finding a pop of color, winter snow photography can be very rewarding. Just remember to do a little preparation to make the most of your experience, enjoy your time in the cold, and be safe.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, such as Amazon links. I may earn a small commission from purchases made through some of the links, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products that I personally use and highly recommend. Any purchases made through affiliate links are greatly appreciated, as they enable me to continue to create content to share with you.

Eight Top Tips for Photographing Christmas Tree Lights

Eight Top Tips for Photographing Christmas Tree Lights

The Christmas Tree is a focal point for the winter season, indoors and out. Many people have a tradition of cutting down the perfect tree, hanging special ornaments on it, and adding the perfect lights for a memorable holiday.

Whether going out to admire outdoor lights or just appreciating a humble tree at home, it is worth learning a few photography tips to help capture the beauty of season. Here are eight top tips to photograph Christmas tree lights indoors, outdoors and creatively.


1. How to photograph Christmas tree lights indoors

A tree is most memorable for it’s lights. Set the mood by photographing later in the day, or when the room is dimly lit. This will enhance the appearance of the lights and make them the primary focus.

Next, use a fast lens with a very wide aperture. The best choice is a 50mm f/1.8 lens. They are readily available for major camera manufacturers and there are also generic brands that make strictly manual lenses for about $50. My advice is to get a professional known brand. I use Canon, the lens is about $125 and one of my favorite lenses. It creates magical bokeh, the blurry soft out-of-focus effect – really easily.

Christmas tree by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Christmas Tree by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay

2. How to take pictures with Christmas tree lights in the background

There are a couple of ways to do this. The easy way is to photograph an object close to you, like an ornament or a gift box, some cookies – a festive prop. The further away the tree is, the softer the lights will become. The room should have some ambient light.

Ideally, set your ISO as low as possible (ISO 100-200) to avoid extra noise and put your camera on a tripod. Use Aperture Priority Mode “A” and wise aperture (low f stop); set f/stop to 1.8; depending on how dark the room is will determine how long the shutter will be open.

Here are four examples using different apertures:


web xmas lights 1 6th f1.8 iso100

50mm lens, 1/6 sec, f/1.8, ISO 100

web xmas lights 0.5s f4 ISO 100 lights on

50mm lens, 0.5 sec, f/4, ISO 100 lights on

web xmas lights 1s f4 ISO100

50mm lens, 1 sec,  f/4, ISO 100

web xmas lights 3.2s f8 ISO 100

50mm lens, 3.2 sec, f/8, ISO 100

Finally, don’t forget to check your white balance. If Auto WB is not working, try switching to Florescent or Tungsten, depending on the type of lights.  LED lights tend to cast a cool hue; traditional lights are warmer.

The more experienced way to photograph lights on a tree is to use manual mode.  Because of the dark room and bright lights, the camera may have trouble making the correct exposure.  On manual mode, aim for a low ISO and wide aperture. If you focus manually, you can create the blurry effect without an object in the foreground. Again, the tripod is essential.

3. How to photograph Christmas lights outdoors

First of all, time of day matters a lot. Do not wait until it is dark. Get setup so that you are shooting just after sunset, where there is still some color in the sky.

Here’s the clicker: when it’s pitch dark outside, the camera will either expose for the lights, making them appear to be floating in nothing, or, will expose for their surroundings, which will make them appear too bright with no color.

A tripod is needed for long shutter speeds. ISO will need to be bumped out to about 400. Otherwise, the shutter will be open for way too long. Start with an aperture of f/8, especially if you are capturing a scene such as an outdoor market, street lights, etc.

web xmas lights 1.3 f11 ISO100

Time of day matters when photographing lights outdoors.  Here, you can see exactly what time it is!

Canon 18-135mm, 1.3sec, f/11, ISO 100


4. How to create a light trail zoom effect from Christmas Tree lights

web xmas lights 5s f6.3 ISO100 zoom

This is a fun way to photograph lights. For this effect, you will need a tripod and a zoom lens. The shutter needs to be open for at least a second.

In order to get everything in focus, use Aperture Priority mode and a low aperture, start with f/16 and experiment to f/20. ISO is low, at 100.

Frame the tree, press the shutter, and slowly – and most importantly – steadily zoom in or out. This will take a few tries and the zoom usually goes a little smoother in one direction than the other. You don’t need a huge turn, either.

For this photo:

Canon 18-135mm, 5 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 zoom

5. How to create a light painting spinning effect from Christmas Tree lights

Unless you are lucky enough to having a rotating tree, this effect will work easier for smaller trees with battery-operated lights. Make sure that you have a decent amount of lights.

For this experiment, I used two sets of battery-operated lights on a one foot tall tree and placed it on a lazy susan.

It may be easier to use the TV setting,  which is Shutter Priority. You will need about two seconds. Using a 50mm lens, set TV for two second exposure at f/8 and ISO 100. The settings where tweaked in post in order to get a totally white background.

To get this effect:

Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, 2 sec, f/11, ISO 100


spinning tree lights

6. How to make and use lens covers to create shapes in bokeh

If you are really good at using an Exacto knife, you can get really creative with this effect. Or, you can purchase a kit with pre-cut shapes. Otherwise, if this is new for you, keep the shape simple.

You will need cardstock or foam sheet. Measure the circle by using the widest aperture lens that you have. With the 50mm lens facing down, use a pencil to outline the diameter of the lens. Make a few of these.

Fold the circle in half and cut out half a shape, for instance, a heart or triangle with stem for the tree. Use painter’s or masking tape to place over the lens, or, if you cut extra tabs around the circle, use a rubber band.

Set the aperture to f/1.8, ISO 100, and photograph lights. Each light will take on the shape of the cutout. Larger lights will produce bigger shapes. More lights will produce more shapes.

bokeh masters

Bokeh shape over lens

star bokeh

7. How to get ready-made starburst effects on Christmas Tree lights

A cross screen (AKA Star Lens) filter will create a dramatic flare or “twinkle” effect. There is a number on the filter, such as 4, 6, 8, which indicates how many rays are produced. 

web xmas lights 3.2s f4 ISO200 star

Canon 18-135mm, 3.2 sec, f/4, ISO 200 6-star filter

Diagonal lines are cut into the lens to produce the effect. Make sure to get the correct filter size for your intended lens. Each light will be transformed into a star.

For the image on the right:


Canon 18-135mm, 5 sec, f/6.3, ISO100 with 6-Star Filter

web xmas lights 5s f6.3 ISO100

8. Use other elements to create a balanced composition of your Christmas Tree

Finally, create a stronger composition by photographing people, presents, or pets in the picture. Perhaps the tree is in a beautiful room with a fireplace, or near a huge picture window and it’s snowing outside. As long as it adds interest without distracting from the tree, which is the main subject of the image, feel free to include it.



Whether you are inside or out, there are plenty of ways to creatively photograph Christmas Tree lights. Whether the tree is spinning or you are turning the zoom on your lens, try some new techniques to capture the lights on a Christmas Tree.


What are your favorite ways to photograph Christmas Tree lights? Let us know in the comments below.


Disclosure: Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, such as Amazon links. I may earn a small commission from purchases made through some of the links, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products that I personally use and highly recommend. Any purchases made through affiliate links are greatly appreciated, as they enable me to continue to create content to share with you.

Make a Festive Winter Gnome for less than $5

Make a Festive Winter Gnome for less than $5

It’s winter and everything is looking a little bleak. Sure, the lights look great at night, but the yard could use something festive. We have a tree stump in front they looks ugly, now that growing season is over.

What can you do in a short amount of time, with just a few supplies and a budget of $5?

Make this adorable and festive winter DIY Gnome for less than $5 – it’s a fun and easy project.

There’s also a quick two-minute video below that you can follow along with. My first how-to video!

Be sure to follow along to the end for a special surprise!  


gnome assembly materials


Support. Many instructables suggest using a tomato cage and floral wire. This design uses bamboo sticks and zip ties. Use what you have on hand.

Hat. Depending on the size of the Gnome, you may get away with a standard Santa hat from the dollar store. My first Gnome was about 5 feet tall – I found a Santa hat chair cover at Dollar General for $1! A Santa hat also works for smaller Gnomes.

Zip ties.   Easy to work with, get a $1 pack from the Dollar Tree.

Nose.  A decorative pick at Dollar General for $1 was used. If you have stockings or knee-highs, you can cut a piece and stuff it with an old t-shirt or cotton.

Arms. A pair of $1 red socks from the Dollar Tree worked well. For the stuffing, I used recyled plastic bags – they don’t soak up rain water and they’re very lightweight. And, I they can still be used when the season ends.

Clippers. Hopefully you will already have these on hand. If you do any type of gardening, they are a must-have. I love Fiskars and Corona brands. They are comfortable, cut branches quickly and they are reliably sharp.

Gloves. Depending on the type of evergreen, some cuttings may produce sticky sap or be a little prickly. Plus, it’s probably cold out. Protect your hands.

Evergreen branches. The amount you need depends on the size of the Gnome and how full you want it to look. For my five foot Gnome, I got about two dozen, two feet branches. Enough to fill a reusable tote bag.


Here’s a how-to video on assembly the Gnome, with written instructions to follow.


  1. If you’re using bamboo sticks, gather them on one end and ZIP tie them together. Fan out the bottom “legs”. This is easier if you are putting this in your yard; you can push the sticks or wire into the ground for additional support.
  2. Add the branches. I started from the bottom, working around the perimeter and working my way up. I snipped off excess ZIP ties or wire cutters at the end.
  3. Add the arms by stuffing socks and attached them to pole or cage with ZIP ties. I used recycled plastic bags to stuff them.
  4. Place the hat on top to determine how far down the nose should be.
  5. Tie the nose into place with ZIP tie. I used a round decorative pick for my first Gnome; a fuzzy Santa ornament for the other. Each one was $1 each.
  6. Secure the hat with a zip and/or safety pins. We had very strong winds and the hat did not budge.
DIY gnome less than $5 snow 1

DIY Gnome #1 covering tree stump 

DIY gnome less than $5 snow 2

DIY Gnome #2 out back for the critters

Now for the the Surprise.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about what you can do to help birds in the winter. Well, this was a surprise. I put some seeds on the old tree stump, which is now covered from the element and guess what – the birds love it!

They’re not the only ones who love it – look who comes to visit in this quick video.


So there you have it – You solved the problem of adding some festive decor, covering up an old stump or provided additional habitat for the birds. The solution is this fun and creative DIY Gnome that cost less than $5 to make. The surprise was that you had some furry and feathered friends absolutely loving it!

Hope you had fun making this Gnome and enjoy the season!


Here are some Resources used for this DIY project, available on Amazon:

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, such as Amazon links. I may earn a small commission from purchases made through some of the links, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products that I personally use and highly recommend. Any purchases made through affiliate links are greatly appreciated, as they enable me to continue to create content to share with you.

Top Ten Thanksgiving Photo Ideas for 2020

Top Ten Thanksgiving Photo Ideas for 2020

Thanksgiving 2020 is upon us. This year will be unique. Smaller gatherings, more intimate settings, limited menu items or perhaps even no travel at all.

In this crazy year, there is still something you can be thankful for, no matter how small. With that in mind, here are my top ten Thanksgiving photo ideas for 2020.

1. Meal Preparation

As you are preparing your favorite side dish or dessert, take a moment to take some behind-the-scenes shots.

  • The ingredients might be measured out in mixing bowls.
  • Fruits, nuts and herbs may be a featured ingredient in your dish. Take a photo of them.
  • Do you have some helpers for your meal prep? Take a few fun photos of the mess.

These photos will help to remember all the planning and work you put in to make your favorite recipe.

kids baking

Kids Baking by Lisa Kreutzer from Pixabay

2. Photograph the Details

Thanksgiving is a holiday to break out the special plates, stemware and silverware. Make your pictures more memorable by focusing on the details. Take a photo of the place setting from a unique angle. Shoot closeups in addition to the wide angle table.

dinner party

Pumpkin Place Setting by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

3. Props should be clean

When shooting plates, glasses, and utensils, make sure they are clean. The slightest bit of mess will become visible in your image.

This is a beautifully-lit and accented image of Thanksgiving Wine, but the glass is dirty!  

thanksgiving wine

Dirty Glass by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

4. Use natural light

Whenever possible, use natural light for your photos instead of bright flash. Take a photo near a window.


5. Make sure the white balance and shutter speed are correct

Taking photos indoors can mess with the white balance. Florescent lights can create stark, bluish tones and tungsten light can create overly warm, orange-ish photos.

If there is not a lot of light available, you will need to bump up the ISO in order to avoid blurry photos.

6. Use battery-operated twinkle lights to elevate the scene

Place lights in a corner or on a desert or beverage table to add some pretty accents and bokeh to the scene.

These Fox cookies look amazing, but the lights really make them look special!

fox cookies

Fox Cookies by Jill Wellington


Here is a 12-pack of twinkle fairy lights on Amazon currently listed for $13.99


You can easily bring a set or two with you for this price!


7. Take candid action photos

Setting the table, cutting the turkey, pouring the wine, passing the side dish, reaction photos.  Don’t forget to capture these fun moments.

glasses salud

Glasses Salud by Element5Digital from Pixabay

8. Get Outside

Did your host decorate their front door with a special wreath to celebrate the day? Send them a photo.

Take some photos along your journey. Include favorite landmarks or road signs. Did you rent a vehicle for the trip? Photograph it at your destination.

autumn scene

Autumn Scene by Albrecht Fietz of Pixabay

9. Incorporate Props

To give your Thanksgiving photos a more rustic look and feel, include some seaonal props. These may include mini-pumpkins, pinecones, leaves, a flower arrangment, a special centerpiece.

Or, maybe you have a one-of-a-kind item appropriate for Thanksgiving, like this cute turkey mug!

thanksgiving mug

Thanksgiving Mug by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

10. Pets

Don’t forget to include your favorite furry friends into your Thanksgiving photos!

This is my house rabbit, Reggie, who loves getting out in the garden.  I added some mums and a pumpkin for a festive scene.


reggie rabbit thanksgiving


Hopefully you got a few new ideas to help capture Thanksgiving this year. Don’t forget to incorporate some seasonal items like mini-pumpkins, take some behind-the-scenes shots of preparing your favorite dish and include your favorite furry friends.


Find something to be thankful for

and photograph it for Thanksgiving.

Enjoy, be safe and have fun!


Check out my post for more food photography tips.

Story Behind-the-Photo


This adorable little chipmunk was one of my first photos that got accepted into Stock photography.

That began a whole new journey for me and I will always be thankful to have opportunities to capture sweet images like this one!

thanksgiving chipmunk

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, such as Amazon links. I may earn a small commission from purchases made through some of the links, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products that I personally use and highly recommend. Any purchases made through affiliate links are greatly appreciated, as they enable me to continue to create content to share with you.

13 Backyard Birds with Gorgeous Golden Fall Foliage

13 Backyard Birds with Gorgeous Golden Fall Foliage

On a recent photoshoot, I was able to capture closeup shots of some backyard birds with gorgeous golden fall foliage. As the days get shorter, the sun also begins to set sooner, casting beautiful backlight on my subjects.

We had our first snow of the season this morning! To end October on a high note, here are 13 “lucky” photos of my backyard birds captured before the leaves fall off for good.

blue jay fall foliage right

The boisterous Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata

Tufted Titmouse

The charismatic visitor: Tufted Titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor

chickadee fall

The acrobatic charmer: Black-Capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus

female cardinal looking straight

Looking right at ya!  Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, female

blue jay feather

Blue Jay strikes a pose showing off his beautiful wings

tufted titmouse

Tufted Titmouse with a little head tilt

blue jay

Blue Jay surrounded by beautiful fall foliage


Golden Sun lighting up the feathers of this Chickadee

blue jay

Green and burgundy leaves create a unique palette behind this Blue Jay

female cardinal gold

Golden sun compliments the feathers of the female Cardinal

tufted titmouse

Another minute goes by; the Tufted Titmouse is not shy!

blue jay closeup

We end with another closeup of this handsome Blue Jay.  Must of been the food selection at the bird buffet!

Hope you enjoyed the fall foliage photo shoot!

Stay tuned for more backyard birding tips, including how to make an easy perch for more natural-looking bird photos!

In the meantime, check out my GEAR page, recently updated.



Raymondskill Falls:  Better Days Ahead?

Raymondskill Falls: Better Days Ahead?

Raymondskill Falls is the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania. Adding all three tiers, at about 150 feet tall, it is just a few feet shorter than Niagara Falls. However, it is difficult to view all three tiers together, especially with the closure to the bottom of the falls. Which is why I ask, are there better days ahead?

Getting There

Located just a couple of miles from Milford, PA, it’s easy to get to. From Scenic Route 6 heading west, take a right onto Raymondskill Road with some S curves and you’ll reach one of two parking lots on your left.

The parking lots hold about ten cars each. On a recent trek back from Shohola Falls, it was easy enough to swing by. However, the lot was full. In this day of Social Distancing, that was too full for me and so I returned again this week.

hackers falls map

Hackers Trailhead Map can be viewed from the parking lot 

The Trail

The trail is a short 0.3 miles to the main viewing platform. However, it gets steeper as you approach the falls, making it uneven. To reach to upper falls, follow the wooden steps up about 75 feet which provides a view of the upper pool and some cool rocks carved from the water erosion.

There are several resources available from the park service, including a map of the area and the trail system.

A quick video of Raymondskill Falls during my recent visit

Better Days Ahead?

Over the years, I’ve visited Raymondskill about ten times, mostly in the fall and winter. The cover photo for this post, taken on 10/20/20, was “touched up”.

There has not been a lot of rain in the past couple of months and the low volume was not as aesthetically pleasing than in times past. Some large trees became lodged into the falls and have been there for at least a year.

The main viewing platform received a much needed makeover for safety. It was looking strong and tough. The path down to the falls also got some reinforcements. However, access to the bottom of the falls at Raymondskill Creek, was closed due to dangerous conditions – Sigh!

main viewing platform

Main Viewing Platform of Raymondskill Falls


This was my first time visiting with the closure. There are some beautiful streams that meander from the main falls. They’re very picturesque and gives you more time to explore the area.

raymondskill falls autumn 2017

Raymondskill Falls in Autumn 2017

Extend your visit

There are some hiking trails across the lower Hackers Falls lot that offer several miles of hiking and some scenic views known as the Cliff Park Trail System.

There is also the McDade Recreational Trail, which is a hard-packed gravel trail next to the Delaware River. It runs about 22 miles, nearly the length of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the PA side.

After a recent visit of walking and biking McDade Trail with a hybrid Trek bike, I highly recommend walking. There are some hilly sections along the southern part of the trail near the White Pines parking area.  It was difficult to maintain traction uphill with that bike.  Even still, I did manage to bike all the way to Dingmans Falls!

For some shopping and a bite to eat, explore historic Milford, PA. The Apple Valley Inn is a casual family restaurant and bar and there are several fun and “touristy” shops in the vicinity.


After visiting Raymondskill Falls several times over the years, I have seen it looking better. The extended closures were disappointing to me. However, it is a quick stop to see some nice waterfalls if you are looking to expand your trip to the area.  Also check out the following from Raymondskill Falls:

  • Dingman’s Falls is a short 15 minutes drive south.
  • Bushkill Falls is about 30 minutes drive south, open seasonally for a fee.
  • Shohola Falls is about a 20 minute drive west, recently visited and reviewed.


Need some tips on taking great photos of Waterfalls?  Check out my post!

Shohola Falls:  Quick Stroll to Amazing Waterfalls in the Poconos

Shohola Falls: Quick Stroll to Amazing Waterfalls in the Poconos

Visit Shohola Falls, located in Pike County, Pennsylvania. It is located off Route 6, approximately 10 miles northwest of Milford, PA. It may not be well known, but it is one of the easiest-to-reach waterfalls in the Pocono Mountains.

The Shohola Marsh Reservoir empties into Shohola Creek, where a series of cascades, steep ledges and deep holes forms into Shohola Falls.

The falls were visited at the end of September and middle of October 2020. There had not been a lot of rain at the end of summer and early fall, but that did not affect how the water flow cascaded over the rocks. Some beautiful fall foliage surrounded the falls.

There are photos and a short video to show what you can expect on your visit to Shohola Falls.  Get tips about camera settings, filters and light conditions so that you will be prepared to take great photos of Shohola Falls!

Shohola Falls sign

Shohola Falls wooden sign near Route 6

Shohola Falls view from parking lot

View from parking lot at Shohola Falls

Getting there

Shohola Falls is located off scenic Route 6, approximately 10 miles northwest of Milford, PA. There are two parking lots.

Heading north on Route 6, you will see a wooden sign, “Shohola Falls” on your left. Further north, a larger lot has a sign, “State Gamelands 180, Hunt Safetly” which brings you to the east side of the falls.  Here’s an official map of the State Game Land 180.

On my first visit, I turned back and chose the modest lot with the Shohola Falls sign. You can park at the lot near the road or drive in about 1/2 mile to another parking lot. When you drive in, the falls are a very short walk from the parking lot. Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots because the trail is slippery in parts.

Trail to Shohola Falls

Entrance to the falls

photographer on the trail

Photographers on the trail

The Trail

The falls were approached from the West side. You will see the dam spillway from the parking lot. Follow that down along the river and you can see the top of the falls before it cascades down.

There are a few steps and a muddy, rocky path. Take that down to get a better view of the falls. If you decide to continue down further, be extra careful because the mist from the falls make the rocks slippery and there are some steep steps.

Shohola Falls

Near the top of the falls 

Shohola Falls middle

View from the trail

The Falls

There are varying reports about the size of the falls. Some say it is only 50′ tall by 50′ wide, other reports claim the waterfall is 70′ tall and about 75′ wide. Perhaps it depends on the volume of water flowing at the time.

It is hard to imagine, but people have actually kayaked down the falls!   That’s a little too crazy for me.


Photographing the Falls

The lighting conditions during my September visit were much different than the mid-October trip. I also changed up the filters and settings.


My first visit was on a variable cloudy day in early afternoon. Clouds and sun appeared randomly. The clouds cast even light throughout the falls, although they were a bit darker.

Shohola Falls Sep 2020

Shohola Falls first visit.  Canon 18-135mm f/11, ISO 100 with CPL filter

My second visit in mid-October was a glorious morning with peak foliage. However, there were hardly any clouds. By mid-morning, the trees surrounding the falls were brightly lit. The falls were still shaded. This posed a challenge to capture the entire falls in even light.

What to do?

Pick your spots and edit in post. The easier task was to simply move to a spot where there was even light. Looking at the photos, my favorite section was the last one I photographed, near the top of the falls. All the photographers were gone – I had the place to myself for a little while!

There were beautiful reflections in the water from the sunlight that I did not notice the first time. There was a pool of water under a tree that draped over the falls. Leaves fell gently with the breeze. It was spectacular!

Shohola Falls peak foliage

Camera Settings – White Balance

Most of the time, I shoot in AWB (Auto White Balance), RAW and edit in post. However, I wanted my video to look better out of the camera. The AWB was casting a very blue hue on the scene. Since the falls were mostly shaded, I switched to “Cloudy”, which is quite warmer (between 6000-7000) and that made a huge difference.

Shohola Falls AWB

AWB:  Auto White Balance cast a cool blue hue

Shohola Falls WB shade

White balance on “Cloudy” warmed up the tones


On my first visit, I used a CPL filter – a circular polarized filter.  See the image above, under Light.

Second time around, I tacked on a ND4 (neutral density filter). Looking at the raw video, the ND4 gave a warmer, more pleasing effect.

Here’s a filter pack that contains a CPL, ND4 and a UV filter, available on Amazon.


Be mindful of the light. It is always better and easier to photograph waterfalls on a cloudy or partly sunny day. The light will be more even and you can slow your shutter down without issue. On a sunny day, the light really created a large contrast against the falls. However, it did create some gorgeous reflections on the water that was shaded by draping trees.

Think about your white balance, especially if you do not intend to do any post-processing. Experiment with filters.

Expect there to be other people and be especially happy when you have a few moments to capture the beauty all by yourself!

Check out my article about Photographing Waterfalls for more tips.


Here’s a quick YouTube video I put together highlighting Shohola Falls:

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, such as Amazon links. I may earn a small commission from purchases made through some of the links, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products that I personally use and highly recommend. Any purchases made through affiliate links are greatly appreciated, as they enable me to continue to create content to share with you.

Can’t get to Shohola Falls anytime soon to take your own photos?  Get a beautiful print, sticker, magnet, shirt, pillow, poster or choose from 50+ other items.

Also available with text “Shohola Falls” and in portrait orientation.

Fulfilled by Redbubble.

Art Board Print

Shohola Falls Art Board Print

dt 20 year anniversary plan
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