Is your creativity being limited by your camera?

Knolan Benfield in Hawaii with me helping teach posing to photography students with Youth With a Mission. (Photo by: Dennis Fahringer)

This is my uncle Knolan Benfield who was the first to give me a camera and teach me photography.

Knolan talked with me over his counter in his studio in Hickory, North Carolina in 1979 about how to use this range finder camera he gave me. It took 35mm film and didn’t have a meter.

No meter meant you had no way to measure the light and see what was a perfect exposure. He gave me a roll of film and then pulled out the sheet of paper that came with the film.

Kodak Data Sheet

I learned about the Sunny ƒ/16 rule. This is where in direct sunlight the Aperture is ƒ/16 and the shutter-speed is equivalent to the ISO. So if you had ISO 64 then your shutter speed would be the closest to that and for my camera that was 1/60. Using the chart that came with the film I learned how to properly expose for Sunlight, Cloudy day, Shade and backlit photos as well.

This is how I took photos when I first started. I dropped that camera while ice-skating and that is when my dad bought me my first DSLR Pentax K1000 camera. I could change lenses and it had a build in meter.

Now in the days of film you just bought film that would work either indoors or outdoors. You didn’t change your ISO from frame to frame as you can today with digital.

I remember Knolan taking time to explain how Aperture and Shutter-speed worked.

One of the most important things he taught me was how the Kodak Brownie box camera worked and how my camera was different.

Brownie Aperture Chart

The original Brownie camera had one aperture of ƒ/11 and one shutter speed of 1/35-1/50 seconds.

Knolan pointed out that by only using the sunny ƒ/16 rule outside meant I could have saved a lot of money and just bought the Kodak Brownie camera rather than the Pentax K1000.

Besides controlling the exposure Aperture and Shutter-Speed give you creativity.

Today I am channeling all those comments that Knolan taught me. If you only shoot at one aperture all the time you are missing out on so much creativity that your camera can do.

Assignment to do

Depth of Field & Lens Selection
4 images with the same composition, altering the aperture and focal length
1. Widest focal length, widest aperture (~ f/3.5)
2. Widest focal length, aperture between f/11-f/22
3. Longest focal length, widest aperture (~ f/4.5-5.6)
4. Longest focal length, aperture between f/11-f/22

Some previous blog posts to help you:
Depth of Field Preview – A tool underused by many photographers
Depth-of-field is more than Aperture

Starting School: Be a Knowledge Seeker

Nelson, Taylor and Chelle on the first day of school, 6:50 a.m. August 14, 2006. [Nikon D2X, AF Zoom 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6D , ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/40]
First days of school are happening  this month all over our country. In our family we always took a photo of the kids on their first day. We were all excited each and every year for that first.

Watching your child grow in stature through the years was just one way of seeing positive changes happening for them and for you.

Nelson graduates from Roswell High School on May 25, 2007. [Nikon D2X, Sigma AF Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8D, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/125]
When Nelson, our oldest, graduated from high school he was now in charge of that next school choice and what he would take. Up through high school most all of us have less choices as to what we will take. We have some say in which science course or english course we would take, but we still had few options as compared to the next step–college.

Matriculation Day 2017
The Citadel. [Nikon D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/500]
When it comes to first days at college the experience varies a great deal we came to learn when our oldest Nelson decided to enroll at The Citadel. To this day my wife helps other parents each year with helping them navigate military college life and how best to support their student without being a helicopter parent.

Moving Chelle into her dorm room for the start of her freshman year at Columbus State University. She arrived early to participate in Camp Prowl a freshman experience and first year of the program. [Fuji X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 3200, ƒ/5, 1/100]
When the youngest, Chelle, went to college the experience was so different.

Both of them embraced college and all that entails. They did a great job picking majors that suited each of them just perfect.

Youth With A Mission Photo School 1 [Fuji X-E3, XF10-24mmF4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/6.4, 1/300]
There are many others who choose alternative education like YWAM’s University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii. These students take one course at a time for 3 to 6 months. This is a group photo of the class I taught this past February.

Most colleges and universities have some sort of “general education” requirement forcing students to take at least a couple of math and science courses, but many non-science majors will take the barest minimum, and work very hard to put those off as long as possible. Disgruntled spring-term seniors who don’t want to be in the course but can’t graduate without it are a regular and unpleasant feature of a “Gen Ed” courses.

I had one course requirement for statistics that really frustrated me to no end. I took the class three times. My first time taking it the professor’s english was extremely difficult to understand. While later when I took it again I realized this wasn’t the only reason I was struggling with that course.

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
― Albert Einstein

I then took the class again at Brookdale Community College while home from East Carolina University during the summer. I still struggled. I finally passed the course during summer school at East Carolina. My motivation that last time was I needed it to graduate.

In college everyone is looking to take an easy or fun class that counts toward their degree. Often these classes student’s interest in the subject is better than say their interest in a “required” class, but from my experience this is not all that much better than say where their passion lies.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 5600, ƒ/4, 1/100]
As an adjunct professor through the years at different colleges I felt like this mom with the child on the back. I was carrying these students way too much. There was little self motivation on their part.

A few years ago I just stopped teaching at a college in their communications program. I had taught there for many years, but the problem was quite simple–the students didn’t really care to master the subject.

However I continued to teach photography workshops. There was a big difference between the two classes. The workshops every student I had really wanted to learn the material.

Stanley teaching at University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii. photo by Robin Nelson [Nikon D810, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 3200, ƒ/7.1, 1/60]
I never had a student break down in the “college” courses in tears because they wanted to understand something so bad and were upset they were not comprehending the content. My first time teaching at University of Nations in Hawaii I fell in love with teaching once again. I cannot thank Dennis Fahringer enough for inviting me to teach Lighting and Business Practices.

Everyone really seems to be excited when I teach the studio lighting, but are not as thrilled with the business practices. Through the years I have been able to help more of those students jump start their professional careers as photographers. It had less to do with the lighting and more about the business practices.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Now more than 12 years later I hear that the reputation of the class teaching business practices has many eager to learn this topic. Still many in the class are not as enthusiastic about it as I wish they would be about it. in San Benito, Nicaragua. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/100]
The best students are the ones who are what I call “knowledge‐seeking”. These are those that are emotionally engaged to do expert work.

This photo of the two young ladies are so excited to learn that they are sharing with each other during their shooting in Nicaragua workshop I did the summer of 2016.

Since 2008 I have been going to The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia to guest lecture on business practices for Mark Johnson. These were so different from the students I had taught at other colleges.

When Mark called me up last fall asking if I would teach this coming year 2 sections of Intro to Photojournalism I said yes. Since saying yes I dug deeper into the program.

I asked if the students taking the class are always engaged in the content. You see that was what turned me off before. An instructor can only do so much to get a student excited. The student must make an effort as well or there is no success.

Mark told me how there are two classes that they need Intro to Photojournalism to take later before they graduate. In those later courses they must do photojournalism with videography, writing, layout and design as well as posting projects in social media and blogs. If they don’t come out of the Intro class knowing photojournalism well enough to do it professionally then they will not be able to do those classes well at all.

This is to Kongs Shamaki. [Nikon D750, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/4.5, 1/40]
Some of the students I have taught live all over the world and are quite successful today. This is Kongs who has a successful photography business in Nigeria, West Africa. He was so excited to take photography classes and continues to keep in touch letting me know all he is doing.


Tom Kilpatrick during the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Bucharest, Romania. [Nikon D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 450, ƒ/1.8, 1/100]
Tom Kilpatrick is a great example of you are never too old to learn. Tom has trained thousands of college students as helping young photographers when he was a newspaper photographer. He taught a few of my closest friends who went on to National Geographic.

Going from film to digital was very difficult for Tom. He told me a few times he almost gave up photography because of how difficult the new technology was for him to understand.

After he finally had made the switch he decided to go on the Storytellers Abroad Workshop at the age of 72 to learn how to do video editing and storytelling in this new medium.

How we value the future affects our desire to learn.

Ever since Dennis Fahringer asked me to teach I have been working with students who had a passion for using photography as a profession. Very few have ever been gifted and just got the content easily. Most have a moment where you can see on their faces a real struggle with the content.

There is a real difference between these students who come up against a wall that they push through. When I pushed to past statistics I wasn’t really interested in ever using it again. These students are pushing through all the struggles of mastering the content because they want to use photography in the future.

“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
― Albert Einstein

I have autism and I think Aspergers Syndrome best described my situation. One of the traits is obsession with specific, often unusual, topics for those with autism. Now when I was young it was all about G.I. Joe. Thankfully I grew out of that obsession.

I would over the years find different topics from playing trumpet, chess, toy models and today photography.

I was blessed with Autism. This is what helped me push through difficulties, because my wiring wouldn’t let it go.

This new school year try your best in all your classes to learn the content. You may not see it at the moment but this will help in live a better tomorrow.

Monday morning pick me up

Garrett Hubbard speaking at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference asked everyone to examine our identity

“The most powerful words ever said to you are your own,” said Garrett Hubbard. The self talk we do can be the most damaging or up lifting. We are in charge of which that will be.

Good friend James Dockery [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/100]

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.” – Wilfred Peterson

I have some of the best friends. James Dockery who currently works as a top video editor for ESPN, leading the way to incorporate innovative editing and communication techniques.

James Dockery enjoys taking photos and showing the boys in the Balkans their photos.

James has me laughing as much as anyone these days. I love his teaching style and most of all I love his positive attitude and joy of living.

Stanley and James enjoying some Macchiatos. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/100]
We didn’t drink all these by ourselves. We had a few of the students in the workshop help us with all these macchiatos.

Morris Abernathy my good friend for more than 30 years

The very first time I met Morris Abernathy I knew I had found a good friend. No one has every had me laughing so hard in my life as Morris. He has helped me see the world in new ways.

Morris provided coverage for the Dallas Cowboys, the Tennessee Titans, the Texas Rangers, California wildfires, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 and five U.S. presidents.

Morris and I have had so many heart to heart conversations. He was a good friend who helped me during some pretty tough times with work and personal life. He is one of the best listeners I know.

Everyone needs a Morris in their life.

Robin Nelson

For many years my agency was Black Star. Howard Chapnick had told me about Robin Nelson, another Black Star photographer, in Atlanta when I first moved here in 1993, but it would be more than ten years later that we would meet.

Robin has a passion for social justice and human rights issues, which I also have a heart for doing. I quickly realized how outstanding Robin is at capturing people’s stories. Robin is always saying, “Everyone has a story if you dig deep enough.”

Dorie Griggs

Now my best friend of all is my lovely wife, Dorie Griggs. She has helped me grow in so many ways. Her heart for serving others is truly inspiring.

I have met more interesting people from all walks of life because Dorie has made it her purpose to be inclusive of people from so many different backgrounds.

Leary family Family Photo at Ocean Isle Beach, NC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/250 – (2) Alienbees B1600s triggered with Pocketwizard TT5 & TT1]
Now of course my family has also been a great support system for me. Both my family and Dorie’s family has been there for us throughout everything.

Griggs Christmas Family Photo [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/200 – (2) Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]
Now with all this support you would think this is the key to success, but actually people with this type of support and more have been depressed and even suicidal.

Garrett Hubbard [left] at a previous SWPJC.
So every Friday on my Facebook feed I see this:

Garrett continues to build up each other. He know that this can help each of us with out inner voice.

An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”
The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”
-Author Unknown

If your self talk is negative then it needs to change. One of the best ways to do that is to surround yourself with positive people. I have done this all my life.

Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you. – John Wooden

Surround yourself with the right people, and realize your own worth. Honestly, there are enough bad people out there in the world – you don’t need to be your own worst enemy. – Lucy Hale

“Be a star in someone’s dark sky.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo

While finding your support system remember also to be the one who lifts others up.

“Some people say, “Once you learn to be happy, you won’t tolerate being around people who make you feel anything less.” My Christ says, “Your job is to get off your self righteous butt and start reaching out to the difficult people because my ministry wasn’t about a bunch of nice people getting together once a week to sing hymns and get a feel good message, that you may or may not apply, depending on the depth of your anger for someone. It is about caring for and helping the broken hearted, the difficult, the hurt, the misunderstood, the repulsive, the wicked and the liars. It is about turning the other cheek when someone hurts you. It is about loving one another and making amends. It is allowing people as many chances as they need because God gives them endless chances. When you do this then you will know me and you will know true happiness and peace. Until then, you will never know who I really am. You will always be just a fan or a Sunday only warrior. You will continue to represent who you are to the world, but not me. I am the God that rescues.”
― Shannon L. Alder

It’s gonna take time. A whole lot of precious time. – George Harrison

Airborne School First Jump [Nikon D3S, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000]
 . . . I got my mind set on you
But it’s gonna take money
A whole lot of spending money
It’s gonna take plenty of money
To do it right, child
It’s gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It’s gonna take patience and time, um
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it
To do it right, child
– George Harrison


Airborne can be placed behind enemy lines, and have the capability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning. The formations are limited only by the number and size of their aircraft, so given enough capacity a huge force can appear “out of nowhere” in minutes.

The ability to work with jackrabbit speed is typically recognized and rewarded in business. Simply put, companies like employees who can cruise through their to-do lists at Mach3 with their hair on fire. Because, after all, time is money.

But time is not money if that efficiency is not matched with effectiveness.

Airborne School First Jump [Nikon D3S, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000]
When telling a person’s story you must take time to get to know the person and time to explore their story so that you can tell “their” story. You see if you move too fast you are often doing so based on assumptions.

Parachute journalism is the practice of thrusting journalists into an area to report on a story in which the reporter has little knowledge or experience. The lack of knowledge and tight deadlines often result in inaccurate or distorted news reports, especially during breaking news.

The other term similar to parachute journalism is yellow journalism.

Yellow journalism and the yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.

There is a difference between the two, but both are rooted in one common problem–not putting in the time necessary to do justice to a story.

Here are some of the key ingredients to great journalism

Journalistic Truth – is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts.

Your community – while most journalism is underwritten by advertisers they are not the audience. You must be serving the citizens in your community. When you do a great job of putting them first your credibility is increased.

Journalistic methods for verification – unlike social media where people “trust” their friends thoughts over and their own gut, journalists cannot use these methods. They must used the skills of the profession where the consistent method of testing information – a transparent approach to evidence – precisely so that personal and cultural biases would not undermine the accuracy of the work. The method is objective, not the journalist.

Journalistic independence – you must work very hard to not be drawn into a crowd, organization, to a person of power or anything that can compromise your ability to be unbiased in your journalism. This also includes be careful that your newsroom doesn’t create it’s own elitist group of its own.

Watchdog – informs the public about goings-on in institutions and society, especially in circumstances where a significant portion of the public would demand changes in response. – wikipedia

Fact-checking statements of public officials.
Interviewing public figures and challenging them with problems or concerns.
Beat reporting to gather information from meetings that members of the public might not otherwise attend, and to observe “on the ground” in broader society
Investigative journalism, which involves information-gathering on a single story for a long period of time

There are even more elements to good journalism than these listed here. The point I want to make it getting the story correct requires being thoughtful and taking the time to get it right.

What is sad today is that people trust their friends over journalistic institutions which helped create the atmosphere for “Fake News” created by Russia to actually impact the United States culture.

There have been journalists who have desecrated the profession, just like many priests have done in the church lately. Sadly much of the public believe that these ‘bad apples’ are criminal beyond rehabilitation.

Sadly many journalists today are fighting battles that they didn’t create. Just remember to be diligent in telling a story that is truthful. It just may time some time to do it right.

Come with us to Lima, Peru in January 2019


Storytellers Abroad workshop in the Balkans [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/240]
Come join Storytellers Abroad Missions Multimedia Workshop to Lima, Peru January 2 – 17, 2019.

Go to the website to learn more about the trip on the website.

James Dockery, Pat Davison, Jeff Raymond and Allison Basye on our trip in the Balkans. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/120]
The teaching team is an awesome group.

  • Jeff Raymond, ABWE Director of Visual Communications
  • James Dockery, ESPN Video Editor
  • Patrick Davison, UNC School of Media/Journalism
  • Stanley Leary, Adjunct Professor UGA, Freelancer & Workshop Leader

Each person is given a story to work on during their time in the country. We have constructed the course so that each person is able to have one-on-one time with the instructors that will help coach them through their story.


– A working knowledge of your DSLR camera and laptop computer
– An interest in using photo storytelling in missions

If you are a working professional, this course is designed to apply your skills and experience in a missions context, and to expand your tool kit into new disciplines and to new heights. You will discover how to use your experience for Kingdom work.

If you are a student, this course is designed to fulfill internship requirements of most photography, journalism, digital media, design or missions majors. It may also qualify for course credit at your institution. Contact us to discuss the details.

The workshop fee includes all travel expenses from Harrisburg, PA (airfare, baggage, taxes, ground transportation, travel insurance), meals, housing, workshop tuition, supplies, use of equipment and software, and group activities.

Participants are responsible for their expenses to Harrisburg, PA, and any necessary immunizations, passport or visa costs (varies depending on destination).

CONTACT | 717.909.2302

I think this is a great workshop because your leaders are working in the industry and have been teaching for years the art of storytelling.

I have been to many workshops myself through the years. The majority of the leaders have been outstanding in the industry, but very few have been outstanding teachers. We all want to create tomorrow’s storytellers and want all of the students to succeed.

Pat Davison and James Dockery are working one-on-one to help each of the workshop participants polish their stories during the editing process. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Here is one of the past stories done by a workshop participant Stacey Schuett in Togo, West Africa.

Go here to see some of the past stories produced during the workshop:

Mother nature continues to destroy lives on Hawaii

Paradise Helicopter Tour
Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi. Fissure 8 continues to erupt lava into the perched channel leading northeastward from the vent. Lava levels in the upper channel between Fissure 8 and Pohoiki Rd. are low this morning but are expected to rise after the next collapse/explosive vent at Kīlauea summit. The channelized ʻaʻā flow west of Kapoho Crater continues to be the main ocean entry at the southern edge of the flow front this morning. Despite no visible surface connection to the Fissure 8 channel, lava continues to ooze out at several points on the 6 km (3.7 mi) wide flow front into the ocean. [Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1250, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
The massive destruction of the Kilauea volcano over the past few months hasn’t been what we expect from Mother nature.

We don’t expect our homes to be destroyed with no hope of rebuilding.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
In this photo you can see the home in the path of the destruction. This looks more like a scene from the 1958 science-fiction-horror film The Blob.

While I was enjoying my tourist helicopter ride to see the power of the volcano I wasn’t thinking about the lives being destroyed by nature.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
I was in the sky with other tourists on numerous helicopters flying over the volcano being entertained.

The University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii. [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm ƒ/4, ISO 250, ƒ/16, 1/100]
The reason I was in Hawaii was to teach photography at The University of Nations which is part of Youth with a Mission. The campus is now in the process of seeing how they can help some of the families displaced by the volcano.

I was listening to the founder Loren Cunningham as he talked about the plight of the those who have lost their homes to the volcano.

I had been teaching on storytelling and knew that when you tell a good story it actually affects the audiences physical body.

In a good chase scene you can feel your heart racing. When the main character is hiding and close to being found you may have your palms sweating.

The same gut wrenching feeling I get when bills are coming due and the cash flow is getting tight is how I felt when Loren Cunningham pointed out that these people had not just lost a home, but were having to still pay on their mortgages. They were now paying for something that they couldn’t rebuild on or resell.

This is a different kind of natural disaster than fires, tornados or hurricanes I have experienced in the past. Those disasters volunteers organized to help clean up and rebuild the destructed areas. They helped to restore people’s lives.

The closest disaster that has some similarities was Katrina where many could not go back and rebuild.

Fissure 8 continues to erupt lava into the perched channel leading northeastward from the vent. Lava levels in the upper channel between Fissure 8 and Pohoiki Rd. are low this morning but are expected to rise after the next collapse/explosive vent at Kīlauea summit. [Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
As you watch the updates on the volcano, please keep in mind all those who have lost their homes and are now in financial crisis.

The lava striking the sea is gorgeous — and can be deadly
     Lava spilling off the southeastern edge of the island of Hawaii is producing a noxious haze where it hits the seawater. Made out of hydrochloric acid, steam, and shards of volcanic glass, the gas is hazardous to anyone who breathes it.
     Laze forms when lava reaching temperatures of around 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit strikes seawater. The heat boils seawater dry — not just boiling away the water, but also heating salt molecules the boiled water leaves behind, like magnesium chloride. “The magnesium chloride is pretty reactive,” says volcanologist Simon Carn at Michigan Technological University. “It reacts with the water — the steam in the air.” That makes hydrochloric acid, which probably sounds familiar because it’s the acid in your stomach that melts the food you eat into a soupy pulp. That stuff isn’t good to get in your lungs.
[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1000, ƒ/8, 1/2000]

Shooting Kilauea Volcano from Helicopter

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1250, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
What a thrill it was to get the chance to go up in helicopter and see the lava flowing at the Kīlauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dorie and Chelle gave me this present for father’s day.

While I had been in helicopters many times clients paid for the experience. This time it was out of our pockets. I had wanted to do this for years.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1600, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
I have been coming the The Big Island of Hawaii at the invitation of my good friend Dennis Fahringer. I have been teaching photography to his School of Photography students with the University of Nations which is part of Youth with a Missions.

Now for 12 years I have been coming driving to the Volcano hoping for good photos. I have made some pretty good photos through the years. Here is one from February this year before they closed the Volcano National park due to the recent activity.

This is the Halema‘uma‘u Crater inside of Hawaii Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii [Fuji X-E3, 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/6.4, 1/6]
Really the best way to see the volcano is from the air.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 250, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
This is an untouched photo right out of the camera. Just converted from Nikon NEF to a JPEG.

By shooting RAW you can then work with the photo in Lightroom just like we did in the film days in the Darkroom.

Paradise Helicopter Tour
Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi. Fissure 8 continues to erupt lava into the perched channel leading northeastward from the vent. Lava levels in the upper channel between Fissure 8 and Pohoiki Rd. are low this morning but are expected to rise after the next collapse/explosive vent at Kīlauea summit. The channelized ʻaʻā flow west of Kapoho Crater continues to be the main ocean entry at the southern edge of the flow front this morning. Despite no visible surface connection to the Fissure 8 channel, lava continues to ooze out at several points on the 6 km (3.7 mi) wide flow front into the ocean. [Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 250, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
The number one tool that helps you when shooting from a helicopter is the Dehaze Slider.

There is a lot of haze created by the atmosphere and over the volcano with VOG you need to use this tool or the haze just clouds the photos literally.

Rainbow Falls from the air in Hilo, Hawaii. [Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
Just compare this photo of Rainbow falls that I processed to the unprocessed photo.

Now here are two short videos I shot while up as well. I processed these in Final Cut Pro X and also corrected the footage for better contrast and color.

Kīlauea Volcano from Stanley Leary on Vimeo.

Kīlauea Volcano Fissure 8 from Stanley Leary on Vimeo.

Hope these tips help you see why shooting RAW and using Lightroom can make a HUGE difference in your photos.

Go to your archives and re-edit old photos with updated Lightroom

First Day of school for Chelle at the new house. First time to ride the bus to school. Starting middle school today at Elkins Pointe on August 23, 2010. [Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.3, 1/160]
Your old photos can look even better today due to the advances in technology. I went back to this photo of my daughter’s first day of school ten years ago to re-edit the photo in the latest version of Adobe Lightroom.

Original Edit in 2010.

Now you may like the earlier edit, but there are more possibilities with a few changes in Lightroom. First of all they did a major overhaul of the main engine in the software and then adding new tools like Dehaze.

Today you can pick a color profile and use Dehaze that were not options in 2010.

Another control that was implemented since 2010 was Lens Correction improving all lenses by correcting for their imperfections.

[Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/3.5, 1/125]
Back in 2010 I didn’t even try to edit this photo. With the dehaze control I was able to bring down the background much easier than doing this in 2010 would have required.


Shoot RAW – you have more information to work with before exporting a JPEG in Lightroom
Folder for RAW and separate folder for JPEG – I ingest and put all my RAW files into a folder and then when I finish editing and export I put those in a separate folder JPEG
Archive all photos – Keep the RAW images and your JPEG images. You can later return to these photos and discover some gems due to the software improvements in the future.

Flash can improve your outside and inside photos

The Cows at Roswell Town Center are celebrating on Cow Appreciation Day 2018 in Roswell, GA. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3200 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]
With today’s cameras you can shoot most anything without a flash. You know this from using your smartphone. What you might not know is that professional photographers don’t use flash because there isn’t enough light, but rather to compliment the light.

Using flash outside and inside is about knowing why you need the flash and how it can improve the photograph. These photos are from my job yesterday.

I enjoy Cow Appreciation Day each year. This year I went to five different Chick-fil-A restaurants in Metro Atlanta getting photos of customers dressed up as cows.

Chick-fil-A, known for its iconic “Eat Mor Chikin®” Cows, celebrated the 13th annual Cow Appreciation Day on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. On that day, Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide offered a free entrée to any customer who visited a restaurant dressed as a cow.

Customers dressed up as cows for Cow Appreciation Day. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/50 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]
I have learned over the years using off camera flash improves so many of the photos and especially outside. This one of the customers inside without the flash the visors would have made their faces much darker. The flash helped open up their faces.

Dorie Griggs, my wife, was my photo assistant for the day. She helped with carrying my light and keeping people from bumping into it as well as people blocking the flash.

One more super important role she filled was helping me get the all important Model Release.

A model release form is a legal document between you, the photographer and the person or the person who owns the property you’re photographing). It is the written form of their permission allowing you to publish their image on your website, blog, and marketing materials.

You need permission to publish the photo for commercial purposes.

The Cows at Roswell Town Center are celebrating on Cow Appreciation Day 2018 in Roswell, GA. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2500 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]
When I did the photo at the top I first shot this photo of the cows jumping. Well I didn’t expect the cow to jump with the feet that wide and I cut off the feet.

My wife made a video of me taking this photo where you can see the off camera flash Godox V860IIN that I am triggering with the Godox X1NT. Watch here and you can see both photos being made.

These flashes let me shoot at any shutter speed. This let me freeze the cows in the air. Just remember that one of the best times to use flash is outside in bright sunlight.

Customers dressed up as cows for Cow Appreciation Day. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/50 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]
Now shooting inside the flash will not over power the available light when set on TTL. The flash just fills in and gives that wonderful catch light in the eyes that makes them sparkle.

NO FLASH [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/30]
Zoomed in view

Just so you can see how the flash just adds a little without greatly changing the photo this first photo of the lady with the cows is without flash. Then look at the one with flash.

WITH FLASH [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/30 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]
Zoomed in view

The biggest difference is that the shadows and blacks in the one with flash have more detail.

Customers dressed up as cows for Cow Appreciation Day. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]

What you do isn’t as important as who you are to be successful in business

Family Vacation to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida

Dorie, my wife, knew when making plans for our children when they were young that there was a time limit. It was about 2 hours and then it was as if we hit a wall.

We like being at a fair: there are rides, games, entertaining acts, and tons of food. It’s exciting at first, then it becomes overwhelming, and finally it makes you sick (and you hate it!).

When you’re sick of something it shows in your attitude and performance most of the time. Just like our kids would be at places like Disney World.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Often we hit the wall in our careers just as we did when we were young. It isn’t fun for us any more. If you are a freelancer you can feel that you are just not in step with your client as you once were.

I have discovered this happens with every client that I hit a wall at some point. It is the same feeling that happened with our kids on an outing.

Nikon D5 Video Gear

I think what happens is we have become too focused on what we do in our jobs and less on the people that we work with in doing those jobs. This can happen to you if you are extroverted or introverted.

Too much focus can be a problem: It drains your brain of energy, makes you care less about people, and prevents you from seeing what is happening around you. When you become more focused on say a product that you are producing in a job rather than realizing you are working with other people and they need to enjoy the process and not just the end result.

I came to this conclusion when over the years I find that I must rekindle a working relationship. In the past I would work on my portfolio or some new skill to talk to my client. I was thinking the client needed to see my skills are valuable.

While working on some materials this latest round of rekindling relationships I realized that no matter what I did it was going to look like I was going to do some “Explaining” to the people in the meetings I was setting up.

This approach can be very condescending to others. It actually undermines the relationship that you are trying to nurture.

Thinking about his it really hit me – I had not worked enough on the relationship with my clients.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2800, ƒ/4, 1/100

In your work have you been measuring using your skills in our work as well as developing relationships?

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We spend a lot of time at work; there is nothing worse than someone who cannot get along with others. It’s so important and involves being helpful, understanding the unwritten rules, being respectful, reliable and competent.

Here is a simple way to start this conversation, “We’ve been doing business together for almost a year. I’d like to take you to lunch to get to know you a little better.”

The single most important thing you can do at a business meal is to listen. You want to hear what the other person cares about, what their interests are, what makes him or her tick. They need to know you care about them as people and not just the money they give you to pay your bills.

One time we were at Disney and we ran into my daughter’s friend from home. While normally our daughter would be ready for a break from the theme park this “Relationship” gave a burst of energy to go through not just our daughter but the entire family.

Theme parks can be like your product in business. At a certain point this really isn’t going to keep your client enthused. Remember friendships do keep your help energize business relationships as well.