Get Close & Explore a Subject

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough”
– Robert Capa

This year I have been teaching Intro to Photojournalism. This is the first photography course for many of the students.

For many in the class this is their first time taking pictures for an assignment. For most the photos look a lot like this photo here.

Fireman [X-E3, XF10-24mm ƒ/4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/120]
Now when you and I look at the photo we see primarily a BBQ Grill. They see the fireman.

I comment on their photo that they need to get closer. So the next round of photos looks more like this photo.

Fireman [X-E3, XF10-24mm ƒ/4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/105]
While this is a much improved photo, my comments are still “Get Closer.”

Then we end up with this photo.

Fireman [X-E3, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/3.5, 1/110]
They have now switched to their telephoto lens. They are still not close enough. Again I am saying in my comments to get closer.

Fireman [X-E3, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 500, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]
So instead of shooting with their zoom telephoto lens at 55mm they zoomed in to 200mm.

I talk to them about getting closer with their wide-angle lenses.

This is what I show them and talk more to them about.

Fireman [X-E3, XF10-24mm ƒ/4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/80]
I want them to understand getting close means that they move their feet until they are right next to the subject. The distance you would have a conversation with them over a cup of coffee.

Why am I afraid of talking to people while at the same time I wish to talk to someone?

For the introvert you are being held back because you are worried about being judged, or you don’t know what to say or … well, for any reason really. Here is an insight that you need to know. You will discover, without realizing, people you talk to are worrying about exactly the same things you are, and feel just as afraid, they just might not show it. You are not alone.

I’m introverted at heart, but that doesn’t mean I have to be shy. The two are quite different, and realizing that shyness is a habit that can be broken was a big first step in understanding that I can develop social skills.

Realize it isn’t all about you. The trick I learned through the years was to focus on the other person. Make them the center of the attention.

Instead of hiding behind texting or emails, go down the hall and talk to that person face to face.

The cool thing about having a camera and on an assignment it was the ice breaker. Telling them I am on an assignment and I would love to feature them in a photo and tell their story really worked most of the time.

Fireman [X-E3, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]
What I also learned was that once I was just talking to someone and getting to know them I was now “Close Enough” to shoot with a wide angle lens and the photos were much better.

I would then take photos with those wider lenses and slowly move back to shooting with a moderate telephoto lens. For my full framed Nikon D5 that go to lens is the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 lens for a portrait.

18mm [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/3.2, 1/200]
Most of the students just have an 18-55mm lens on a cropped sensor camera. So here is me using the same lens as they have on similar cropped sensor. I am showing how to shoot from wide to close as you back out. The other thing I want them to do is to walk around the subject and shoot them from different angles.

28mm [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/3.2, 1/140]
Now this is the moving around the subject. I am looking for an interesting and captivating image.

44mm [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/160]
Now when shooting from the back I try my best to still show their face. Sometimes it might work without their face.

42mm [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/140]
Now go to the other side and see what that looks like.

39mm [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/3.6, 1/140]
Now zoom in and get a tighter shot.

55mm [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 250, ƒ/6.4, 1/60]
Move again and shoot more images.

55mm [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 320, ƒ/6.4, 1/60]
When shooting an event I am doing this exercise over and over and over again. I want to have at least 10 to 30 images of which I will pick only one of them for the photo story package.

“Spray and Pray” is a common phrase associated with the practice of shooting rapid fire, as many images as possible, and then hoping and praying that you’ve got something good. That approach almost never works. Notice in these examples I am moving and taking a couple a frames.

There are a couple times where a motor drive can help. In those cases, such as photographing things like sports, doing panning shots, or anything with action like birds or wildlife – shooting in burst mode, and taking multiple frames at a time, will likely help you get some good images.

I have found that trying to get your first photo to be the one you want is much better than just starting to fire randomly and then picking an image later.

I personally suggest slowing down and actually taking less photos, than the “Spray and Pray” mode. I am always looking.

When you are starting out it is really better to over shoot. You need to push yourself early and as you get more aware of what will work and not work. You will find yourself walking around subject and exploring and picking moments and compositions.

Digital Natives aren’t Tech Savvy

Report: 6 of 10 Millennials Have ‘Low’ Technology Skills

By Dian Schaffhauser


Digital natives aren’t as tech-savvy as they think they are — at least, not according to their bosses. American millennials (those between the ages of 16 and 34) may be the first generation that grew up with computers and Internet access, but all that time spent glued to a small screen hasn’t translated to technology competence. While they spend an average of 35 hours every week on digital media, nearly six out of 10 millennials can’t do basic tasks such as sorting, searching for and emailing data from a spreadsheet. […READ MORE]

I am finding that 60% number is pretty accurate in my teaching of millennials.

Mobile Consumption vs. Laptop Production

Consuming content is better on a mobile device than on a laptop. Our mobile devices are always with us, always ready to go. With our mobile devices we can lean back, walk around, and use on the go.

Our laptops, conversely, are much better for producing than they are for consuming.

The problem is that so many know how to consume the technology, but when it comes to producing it you need to know a LOT MORE.

This morning I got an email from one of my students saying, “I am having trouble uploading my photos because it says that I don’t have enough storage on my computer.”

Every time I teach photography I always start with some computer basics that will become problems if they are not taken care of immediately.


External Hard Drives

First of all your photos are going to be at least a thousands times bigger in file size than most of your documents.

My first recommendation is to put all photos and videos on external hard drives like the ones pictured above.

Filing Cabinets

Hard Drives work like filing cabinets. You need to think of a file structure for organizing, because it doesn’t take long for this to get cumbersome.

Related image


Rename your Hard Drives. You can do use anything you like, but even just something like “Stanley_2018” will work.

I have two folders for all my photos. “NAME OF PROJECT RAW” and “NAME OF PROJECT JPEGs”. All the photos I ingest which are shot as RAW are ingested into the RAW folder and after I work on them in Lightroom I export those to the JPEGs folder.

So move all your photos and videos off your hard drive.

Hat organizer

Clean Computer

Empty Trash–This means on your computer and in programs like your email.

Download Folder–Delete all your downloads. It’s time to kick some of these files to the curb. You should be transferring all your downloads to the proper folders where you need them later. If you’re on a Mac, you’ll find your Download folder next to the Trash Bin in the Dock. If you’re on a PC, you can find it by navigating to c://users/username/appdata/local/temp. Sift through the files in there and toss the ones you no longer need into the trash. If you’re a frequent Internet user, you’ll be surprised at not only how many files are in there, but also by how much space you free up.

Audit Your Entire Computer–You need to see what directories are taking up the most space on the drive, and drill down into those folders to even discover the individual files that are the culprits. There are some apps to help you do just that, but since I am not using any at the moment I just recommend you Google that for your PC or Mac.

More from that article I quoted from earlier:

… The results of the analysis, shared in the four-page report, “Does Not Compute: The High Cost of Low Technology Skills in the U.S. — and What We Can Do About It,” found that although 91 percent of millennials consider a lack of computer skills irrelevant to their job prospects, employers think otherwise, A survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, found that only 37 percent consider recent college graduates well prepared to stay on top of new technologies.

By the way I love that the Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication is preparing their students to produce digital content. One of the last classes the students must take to graduate is a Capstone class where they put all the mediums together to tell stories.

I like this last paragraph from the story:

“Opportunities to learn problem solving with technology must become the rule rather than the exception,” the report’s authors stated. “Now is the time for business to join forces with government, educators and other STEM advocates to ensure that all young people…have the opportunity to become tech savvy.”


Tips photographers could learn from golfers

[NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, 35mm Equivalent=300mm]
I find a lot of similarities between the game of golf and photography. We talk about golf being the game of inches and so too we say the same in photography.

If you just move the frame ever so slightly it would be a much better photo.

Lifeshape’s Legacy of Leaders Golf Classic [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 110, ƒ/5.6, 1/100, 35mm Equivalent=300mm]
Before a golfer takes a shot they examine the lie of the ball. They look at the distance to the pin. They see if they need a couple shots to reach the pin. When putting they try and read the putt before they take a swing.

The problem I am seeing with most beginning photographers is they were playing golf is they would just walk up to the ball and just hit it. They don’t look at what they want to accomplish. They don’t decide which is the best club from their bag to hit the ball with and then make a decision on how they will swing to hit the ball.

Lifeshape’s Legacy of Leaders Golf Classic [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 2800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, 35mm Equivalent=600mm]
Now at the best golf courses and for pro players they had caddies.

In golf, a caddie (or caddy) is the person who carries a player’s bag and clubs, and gives insightful advice and moral support. A good caddie is aware of the challenges and obstacles of the golf course being played, along with the best strategy in playing it. This includes knowing overall yardage, pin placements and club selection.

At the very top of their game you see pros not swinging a club before they have paused and considered everything possible and then select the club and then even will do some practice swings.

Lifeshape’s Legacy of Leaders Golf Classic Lifeshape’s Legacy of Leaders Golf Classic [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/100, 35mm Equivalent=125mm]
Here is a tip for every photographer. Before you click the shutter take a moment and decide each of these and why you picked them before you take a photo.

  • ISO
  • Aperture
  • Shutter-Speed
  • White Balance
  • Under exposed, normal exposure or over exposed
  • Do I need to change the light in some way [reflector, flash, etc]
  • Background
  • Foreground
  • Composition

If you were to talk about why you took a photo, could you tell us also why you chose different settings on your camera to capture the moment?

It all boils down to why am I taking this photo? What am I doing with the camera to be sure that I have captured it the best possible way to achieve my goal.


Lighting Comparison of Georgia Dome to the new Mercedes Benz Stadium

Georgia Dome – Georgia Bulldog’s Freshman Running Back #35 Brian Herrien Scores his very first collegiate touch down while UNC’s Safety #15 Donnie Miles was unable to stop him during tonights Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game September 3, 2016 at the Georgia Dome. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, 35mm Equivalent=240mm]
When photographers go to a new football stadium they are concerned about a few things. Here are some of those comparisons between the older Georgia Dome and the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

The light is first of all much more even from one end of the field to the next. Unless you put lights in the end zone pointed straight at the field it is impossible to make it as even as the middle of the field where some of the lights are in front of the action.

Mercedes Benz Stadium – Chick-fil-A Kickoff Washington vs Auburn [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 25600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, 35mm Equivalent=600mm]
The color temperature in the Mercedes Benz is about 5400k with +8 magenta using Adobe Lightroom. Very close to daylight. In the Georgia Dome the temperature was 4650K with +33 magenta making it closer to Fluorescent.

Georgia Dome – UNC vs Georgia [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, 35mm Equivalent=600mm]
The other big difference is there was more of a flicker in the Georgia Dome with the lights. I didn’t detect any flicker in the Mercedes Benz Stadium.

The complaints for those working the games in the new stadium are due to the size of the place. Under the stadium behind each bench are restaurants about the size of a football field and then outside of that is the tunnel to walk around with the locker rooms outside that area.

The press box is no longer center field. It is in the corner. The photographer work room is on the outside wall of the field level tunnel.

Mercedes Benz Stadium – Chick-fil-A Kickoff
Washington vs Auburn [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 20000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, 35mm Equivalent=460mm]
You walk about double the distance to get to the field from the work rooms than you did in the older Georgia Dome.

I am noticing photographers are in better shape now days as well as the writers who decide to come down from the press box to the field.

This is the best Investment to turn Pro in photography

Godox V860IIN 2.4G TTL Lion Battery Camera Flash Speedlite for Nikon + Godox X1NT Flash Trigger

One of the biggest mistakes new photographers make that are trying to do photography as a profession is not investing soon enough in a light kit that lets them take photos with the light source off of their camera.

The super simple kit I have above is so inexpensive to take off-camera flash photos.

Here is what I recommend for just about everyone and they make this kit for Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Fuji. There are many other solutions like this, but just invest in an off camera light source.

$225.00 – Godox VING V860II TTL Li-Ion Flash with X1T TTL Trigger Kit
$57.15 – Manfrotto 5001B Nano Black Light Stand – 6.2′
$17.90 – Godox S-Type Speedlite Bracket for Bowens
$20.50 – Westcott Optical White Satin Diffusion Umbrella (45″)
$320.55 Total

This alone will make your photos stand out. This photo below is without a flash.

[Nikon D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/100]
Now just look at everything the same but an off-camera flash can do at 45º from the camera.

[Nikon D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/125 – Godox V860IIN
2.4G TTL L + Godox X1NT Flash Trigger]
The only difference between the photos for the most part is the off-camera flash.

Which one of the photos will people pay you to take more often than the other? The one with the flash, because they can get the other photo with their camera on their phone.

“Why is the sky blue?” And other important questions

Patrick Davison, professor at UNC School of Media/Journalism, talks with students about their projects during visual storytelling workshop in the Balkans. [Fuji X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 5000, ƒ/5, 1/100]

Matthew 18:3 ESV
And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Little children have a special humbleness and are easily taught. Most adults are not this way. A little child is enthusiastic and eager to learn, and has a love that is forgiving. He has simple trust.

My mentor Don Rutledge says, “Photography … forces us to see, to look beyond what the average person observes, to search where some people never think to look. It even draws us back to the curiosity we experienced in our childhood.

“Children are filled with excitement about their surrounding world: Why is the sky blue? Why is one flower red and another yellow? How do the stars stay up in the sky? Why is the snow cold?

“As the years go by that curious child matures into a normal adult with the attitude of ‘who cares anymore about those childish questions and an­swers?’ The ‘seeing beyond what the average person sees’ fills us constantly with excitement and allows us to keep the dreams of our youth.”

Bridge in Mitrovica [Fuji X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/320]

I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.
— Stephen Hawking

Little Cowboy enjoys the Celebrate Freedom Rodeo at Wills Park in Alpharetta, GA. [Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 640, ƒ/1.8, 1/160]

“When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die.”
— Lillian Smith



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.

Aires IIIC That was given to me

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.

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.

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.