Category Archives: Glacier National Park Photo Workshops

Which one Works #6 -Sonoran Desert, make sure you are in the right spot!/ News, Workshop Update

                                    JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

LEARN to SEE                              LEARN to THINK                           LEARN to CREATE


Workshop schedule:

Workshop Registration Form: REGISTRATION FORM 2012v9

Workshop Overview

Individual ONE on ONE workshops


Workshop Referrals:


JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY   e books –available for purchase and immediate download

Jack on 500PX     Jacks Photos on PHOTOSHELTER

______________  _________________________________________________________________________________


Last month I recorded a webinar for NIK SOFTWARE, entitled, “Keeping it Simple” ( that you can access via the Nik Software Webinar Library by clicking here:

San Xavier del Bac, Tucson AZ

I am presently in Arizona. The first of 3 workshops ended last weekend. Though this as far from a banner wildflower season, we spent 3 ½ days in and around Phoenix and Tucson learning and photographing the landscape and some of the nuance of the southwest. For example we spent an afternoon at the Mission San Xavier del  Bac in Tucson as well as the old town Tucson area, photographing the buildings and intimate aspects of this beautiful area.

Old Towne, Tucson

2012 Workshop Info:

Arizona Workshops later this month — FILLED

WHIDBEY ISLAND, Washington, MAY 2012 ( few seats left, not many!

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK..MAY 2012 – 1 seat left

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE …JUNE 2012 – 2 seats left

THE PALOUSE, JUNE 2012, 1 Seat left


OREGON COAST 5 DAYS!—August 2012—2 seats open





THINK TANK CAMERA BAGS: Along with my large bags and my Streetwalker Pro that I use very often, I really love my new RETROSPECTIVE 10“Over the Shoulder” Camera Bag

Here are the Top Features of this bag (abou t$ 150.00-160.00)

Minimalist outer appearance conceals expensive photo equipment …Carries a pro size DSLR with standard zoom lens attached…..Accommodates 2-4 lenses in main compartment with DSLR body in front pocket…Front pocket fits a pro size DSLR (body only) …Organizer pocket built into main compartment for pens, note pad, batteries, etc….Choice of two different colors, black or pinestone, to suit the situation ( I love the Pinestone)….Hook and Loop “Sound Silencers” on the front flap eliminate noise while opening the bag….Soft, adjustable shoulder strap with cushioned non-slip pad….Clear business card holder under front flap….Removable short carrying handle for convenience…Seam-sealed rain cover included for protection against the elements

THINK TANK uses the highest quality zippers available…A lot of thought went into these bags, just like all Think Tank products.—Thanks Think Tank….HIGHLY RECOMMENDED—JG

Order here and enter CODE —  AP371  and receive a free gift!



WHICH ONE WORKS?          #6, the Sonoran Desert…

                                                      .                       . Make Sure you are in the Right Location

©Jack Graham, all rights reserved

In this series of articles, I discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the other.

Choosing one image over other similar images is one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom.

I suggest to you, as well as my workshop participants to work the subject while in the field, make final decisions on your monitors at home. The final image is important for whatever project it’s being used for, and spending time determining which image works vs. another is well worth it. In many case the slightest difference in composition, light etc makes all the difference, Most of the time it is very clear which one is better for your individual needs than others, sometimes it’s not. Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

Your comments, as always are more than welcome.—JG


LOCATION: Bartlett Lake area, North and East of the Phoenix, Arizona metro area.

 Note the GPS  DATA BELOW for each image


Sunrise near Bartlett Lake AZ


 I arrived into the Phoenix area about a week and a half ago, prior to my wildflower/landscape workshop in and around Phoenix and Tucson.  I went out scouting areas I wanted to take my workshop participants the morning after I arrived. A rather vigorous storm was predicted for later this day, That information, combined with wanting to be in this location for the sweet light, right after sunrise made it imperative that I get up and out early.

I caught a rather nice sunrise, then ventured down the road a bit, where I came onto a nice area that depicted the beautiful Sonoran Desert. The following morning I was standing in about a foot of Snow up in Sedona, just about an hour and one half north!

TECH DATA:  Both images taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikon 28-70mm 2.8 ED IF Lens. I used a Singh Ray 2 stop, soft , graduated filter on each omage (


IMAGE 1          2012:03:17 06:55:26                             2.8 @ at 70mm

1/3 sec, f/20     Mode: Av    Metering: Multi-segment

ISO: 200        AF mode: MANUAL

White balance: AUTO

Lat: 33°51’16.512″N  Long: 111°37’55.266″W   Altitude: 666m


IMAGE 2   2012:03:17     06:56:31                28-70mm @ 60mm

1/3 sec, f/20  Mode: Av     Metering: Multi-segment

ISO: 200 AF mode: MANUAL

Lat: 33°51’16.758″N    Long: 111°37’54.858″W   Altitude: 669m

Processing: Basic Lightroom processing. Most of the processing completed using NIK Software

in this order  Define 2.0 ( remove any noise), Viveza 2.0, Color Efex Pro4 and Output Sharpener.

( Save 15% on NIK Software when ordering using this code   JGRAHAM )

IMAGE: Finding a good looking saguaro around this area is getting harder and harder. Perhaps the increasing pollution in the Valley of the Sun is having its effect.

These magnificent plants can take up to 70 years to develop a side arm. A saguaro without arms is called a spear. The growth rate of Saguaros here in the Phoenix area of Arizona is about half as fast as those in and around Tucson, Arizona. They can live up to150 years. The largest known saguaro is the Champion Saguaro. It grows close to here in the Phoenix area and is over 43 feet tall with a girth of 3.1 meters (10 ft.). These cacti can grow anywhere from 15 to 50 feet.

Saguaros bloom at night and peak usually in late May & June. The major pollinators are bats, Doves and bees appear to be the primary daytime pollinators. The fruits are highly edible and prized by local people.

I came upon this area and looked for a pleasing composition to tell the store of the beautiful Sonoran Desert The light was really perfect for about 10 or 15 minutes when the angle was still rather low. However as quick as the good light come in, it got very harsh just as quick.

TIP: Always walk around and look for the better spot to plant your tripod. These 2 images were made about 30 seconds apart and just a few feet from one another (see GPS DATA)


 THE EDIT:  WHICH ONE WORKS            I chose image # 2


What BOTH images have in their favor:

1)     Great “sweet” early morning light.

2)     The desert vegetation is nice in both images.

3)     The saguaros add to the image nicely in both images

4)     Better than average sky ( the clouds add to the imagery)

IMAGE 1 over IMAGE 2

1)     Better looking clouds

2)     Better view of the little peak on the top of the hill on the left

3)     There is bit more space between the top of the tall saguaro and the edge of the top of the image

IMAGE 2 over IMAGE 1

1)     The foreground is definitely more interesting and really anchors the image

2)     More colorful foreground (greens)

3)     Better placement of the saguaros

4)     More defined leading line on the left center drawing the eye up into the center of interest.

I cannot stress the importance of foregrounds when it comes to anchoring the image. The empty foreground with the sort of dead brush in image one does not compare to what is featured in image two. Always ask yourself, “What is the subject”? Here it’s the saguaros and the surrounding area. Think of those features like a soloist and the sky , foreground, leading line like the orchestra, making the soloist sound good.

By literally moving 3 meters to the right and turning a bit to the left I was able to include a wonderful foreground. Before planting your tripod, (do you use a tripod all the time? You should as much as possible.) walk around and see if the spot you committed yourself to is the right spot. It might not be. Image one would have been trashed, but by looking around I was able to make a good image as I did in Image 2

Make Sure you are in the Right Location

Sunrise on the Sonran Desert, Arizona

Thoughts on Choosing the Right Camera for your Needs

Jack Graham Photography Workshops 2011 Schedule

Jack Graham Photography  Workshops 2012 Schedule


PODCAST:   New addition coming soon!


Thoughts on Choosing the Right Camera for Your Needs                                                                                                     © Jack Graham & Jack Graham Photography LLC

I am very often asked which camera one should own in order to take quality images. The easy answer is that most DSLR’S in today’s market are capable of making good images.

Quite often non photographers will see me in the field with all my gear and ask me” Does your camera take good pictures”. Funny right? Well the short answer is certainly yes, however what I usually tell them is that by owing a good camera and lens, I have only the chance to make a good image. I still have to make it happen.

Consider this comment…”The lack of attention to detail fails to explain why a 1999 camera in the hands of a meticulous PHD who studies the instruction manual wont produce as many publishable images as a 1939 camera in the hands of a person with a photographic eye”… Galen Rowell.


                                                                                                                                                                                               Shooting in the Alabama Hills    ©Michael Strubel

When reading this essay, also, consider this. Working pro’s use pro grade cameras for a reason. Believe me, Art Wolfe, John Shaw, Tom Mangelsen et al , would be more than happy to spend thousands of dollars less on cameras and lenses and be able to carry 1/10th the weight around if they could. But professional photographers can’t compromise. There are significant reasons for owing what we do. Having said that, in most cases the average photographer need not bust the bank account in order to make good publishable images in today’s marketplace. 

Owning a good or even a pro camera only gives you the “chance” to make a good photograph.

There are really 3 grades of cameras available today. Let’s go through these and talk about the differences.


Consumer Grade Cameras – These cameras are a decent nice step up in quality from point and shoot cameras.   These cameras will make a decent 8×10” print. Most are fairly light weight and affordable for most folks.  These cameras often lack some features needed by more advanced folks and are not built with the integrity of a more advanced DSLR. These cameras are by far sold more than any other category. For the weekend warrior or casual shooter these cameras do a great job and are a good value. On my workshops, I often see folks who use these cameras be quite unfamiliar with the more complicated menus than more expensive cameras use.  They also will not take the elements as well as more advanced cameras. Rain, dampness affects these cameras more. They will not perform at 20 below zero as well. But then again, most folks who own these cameras do not work in these extreme conditions like pro do. The other side of the coin I that if you have thoughts of becoming a more advanced photographer, you may want to start off with an advanced amateur camera as you’ll have more features, better build and quality with these cameras than the entry level consumer grade.

Advanced Amateur – This category is growing quite rapidly with the major manufactures these days. For folks who are a bit more serious about their photography, but are not making a living at it, I would definitely seriously look into this category of camera. For the most part this grade of camera is heavier and much more rugged than the consumer cameras. Though not perfect, they do take the elements better. They will also last longer.

These cameras have easier menus to deal with as well as many pro functions (Depth of field button etc) than consumer grade cameras. The functionality is there as well, bordering on pro grade cameras.

The higher end of this category of cameras is perfectly capable of producing professional quality images and prints over 11 x 14 and over. Just like the Pro category of cameras, you’ll need to be proficient in operating these cameras to turn out quality images. Consumer cameras are usually easier to operate, but will not produce the quality of image that an advanced amateur or pro camera will. I know many pros, me included that use these cameras as backups to the pro line cameras we use every day.

“A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy” ….Galen Rowel

Lantermans Mill, Youngstown, Ohio


 This image was taken using a Nikon D200, Consumer grade camera!


Pro Cameras – OK by now you are surly wondering why I do and other pros need a pro quality camera. Here are a few reasons:

1)     I work in extreme conditions, sometimes below -20 degrees (winter inWyoming) and over 110 degrees (Death Valley). I need a camera that will perform in these conditions.

2)     I work in dust storms (last spring in Monument Valley for example). My Nikon D700 performed marvelously, no down time. 

3)     I work in rainforests (Olympic Peninsula and the Columbia River Gorge in winter and theOregon Coast to name a few.

  ©Ray Larose

 I need a camera that is sealed (yes there is a difference between sealed cameras (lenses too) and non sealed cameras). Check out this article

Shooting in a sand storm, Monument Valley, UT

 4)     I am not a sport shooter, but next time you see a cameraman get run over by a 250+lb football player consider that the camera will still work! When pros go out to shoot they have to come back with the image every time with no excuses. 

5)      Pro cameras are simply built stronger and can resist more “torture”. The inside mechanics of these cameras are built to a much higher standard than other grades.

6)      Cameras that under perform in less than normal conditions will not perform and inhibit pro photographers from making a living.

7)     Pro camera bodies make menus very simple, the functionality of the buttons, such as DOF, compensation etc are usually much more user friendly and easier to access.

It was well below zero when I made this image in Wyoming...yes, that's freezing fog!



Let’s briefly talk about lenses. All manufactures have some lenses that are better than others. Just like camera bodies, lenses must stand up to the elements and shooting conditions as well as contain good glass. Some shooters need faster lenses than others. Few, consumer grade camera owners would be willing to carry around large, fast “Pro” lenses on a vacation.  Most dedicated amateurs and us pro’s are usually more than willing to carry around pro (heavier) lenses all the time to get the best quality lenses.

I recommend that if you are on a budget, as most of us are these days; put your hard earned dollars into good quality lenses. I am amazed to see how many folks I run into have pro cameras and average glass. Would you put average tires on a Lamborghini?

Professional gear is worth every print to pro photographers. The build and ease of functionality, in other words, the complexity of pro cameras are worth every dime.  

All of this ruggedness and sophistication comes at a price.  Professional equipment is expensive, and worth every penny to the folks who make their living using it. Having said that, pro cameras are not cheap.

OK … so how do I decide which camera to buy?

Simple… what kind of images do you want tot take. I also have a Canon G10 (Canon is now up to a G11 and will certainly have a G12 soon). My G10 shoots RAW and when using a tripod produces professional sellable images.

If the answer is family, vacations snapshots, children etc I would certainly look to own a consumer camera.  If you think you’ll move to the next level and become a bit of a more serious photographer either as a hobby or making a few bucks along the way, then an advanced amateur camera is the way to go. If you are close to becoming a pro photographer, or already are, and get into places as I mentioned earlier in the conditions I noted, then you need to “bite the bullet” and purchase a pro camera. You may want to purchase a pro camera at the start and save some money in the long run.

You also need to ask yourself the type of photography you enjoy. Differenty types of photography require different equiptment. Bird photographers need longer lenses and perhaps different cameras than landscape shooters. Buying a DSLR is really buying into a system. That system includes cameras, lenses, flash and accessories. For example, some manufactures are better at flash than other; some have better macro lenses than others etc.

This is not an article on lenses, though I touched on lenses briefly. However let’s talk about lenses. All major manufactures have optics in every price category Believe me, there is a difference between a Nikon 70-200 F4 ($ 2000+) and a 70-210 F4 (under 400.00). Do your homework. If you are a Nikon shooter like me this is a great website for honest information or

Even a few after market manufactures make a few good lenses. Tamaron, Sigma are ones I might look into if I were a consumer camera owner on a budget, but be careful, just like the name brands, not all these lenses are created equal!

You are going to hear a lot of opinions from everyone about brands, camera bodies, lenses etc. The bottom line is that today’s cameras, weather consumer or pro way out perform those of just a few years ago. However, they all kind of work differently. I encourage you to go into the camera store, touch and feel them. They all work a bit different. Consider the lens quality and perhaps take the flash systems in consideration when making your decisions. Decide what features and quality is important to you.                  

BE CAREFUL ON THE INTERNET: There a lot of great information out there and a lot of really bad information as well. Use reliable sources.

Where to BUY?—Buy from a reliable source. Do not deal with folks that:

1)     You can’t talk to

2)     Folks that will only help you if you are willing to spend money

Choose a dealer you can trust…..  What happens after the sales is usually more important than before!


I choose HUNT’S PHOTO & VIDEO in Massachusetts. I can usually get a hold of Gary Farber (part owner) or his right hand man John Duggan. Prices are equal to or better than NYC with great discounts and above all customer interaction and satisfaction. Call these folks direct and actually talk to a human who will walk you through anything you need!

GARY: (800) 221-1830 x 2332 (tell him I said HI!)

JOHN: (781) 462-2314 John’s direct line 

Rainbow over Hunt's Mesa, Monument Valley, UT

GUY TAL added as co leader on Eastern Sierra Workshop in October / Canson Paper/ F-STOP CAMERA BAGS

Jack Graham Photography Workshops( remaining 2011 & new for 2012) …… workshops filling quickly!
NEW   featuring GUY TAL

Double"O" Arch, Arches NP, Light Painted, late at night

Hello Everybody,

 Things are very busy here these days, trying to get caught up on work after being gone so much.

 I’ll be posting another blog edition next week with some helpful photographic tips and some new images.

 I do have a three announcements I would like you get out:


1)  Last week I sent out a tease in my newsletter about a very special co-leader that is coming on board with us in the Eastern Sierra photography Workshop this October 13-16

 I am happy to announce that my good friend and photographer extraordinary GUY TAL  will be with us for the workshop. Guy lives in Torrey Utah, within Capital Reef National Park. His work is as good as it gets and his knowledge and contributions that he will add to this workshop will be more than you ever expected. Adding Guy is akin to adding Babe Ruth to an already good baseball team.

Guy and I became friends many years ago on NPN ( ). I have 2 of his prints up on my wall in my studio.

I would encourage you to check out his work and writings (his e-books are superb—I just read his brand new on the plane back from the east coast and I highly recommend it.)

Creative Processing Techniques,….Understanding the Digital Studio….By Guy Tal   available here:
Sunrise at North Lake



As far as workshop size goes, as of today we are at 9 attendees. We’ll most likely add another 3 or 4 at more. Between Guy and me you will receive an enormous amount of personal attention.  On my workshops, I am here for you. A workshop is NOT an excuse for me or for Guy to take lots of pretty pictures on at your expense. From personal experience, I can let you know Guy has the same dedication to out attendees as I.  Check out some of the referrals here:’t wait to long to register–We’ll be full quickly!

I am sure you all are going to be quite pleased and frankly blown away with the time in the Sierra. I wish it was October tomorrow!


2) NEW PAPER: I am experimenting with some new photographic paper and am really pleased with the results. It is from CANSON. This is not a new company by any means, but one of the world’s oldest paper manufactures.

My paper of choice currently is Ilford’s Gold Fiber Silk paper; however, after printing a few prints on Canson’s Infinity Baryta Photographique, I must say that after using up my last box of Gold Fiber Silk, I’ll be switching to the Chanson product.

                                                                  The B & W inage shown here is the print I made. The blacks & whites were amazing!

Though very similar to the Ilford GFS (a very close 2nd to the Canson IBP) paper, the CanImageson IBP paper is lightly whiter, thus more like the paper used for great B & W images. The surface is as smooth as Ilford’s but whiter.  I printed a B & W image first and the blacks and dark tones were discernibly more brilliant improved over the Ilford paper.

I would suggest trying a pack for yourself. Paper can be quite subjective. This is just my opinion.


3) I just received my new TILOPA BC camera bag from F-Stop Gear    

I will be using it in the field in the coming weeks and will give you a review. At 1st glance I am really impressed. These guys “get it”….Stay tuned!




Mesa Arch, Canyonlands NP a different look with some "glow" effect added, thanks NIK Software!



NEW PODCAST UP—Weather for Photographers( Check out the PODCAST notes as well!)


Just a few spots left in the Eastern Sierra & Fall in NE Ohio workshops in October— check out


Special Fall Color workshop here in the Oregon Wine country, Columbia River Gorge and Hood River Valley in late October with Dr. Bill Campbell and me……………..  do NOT miss this one..

ICELAND 2012 is filling up nicely—if you are thinking about it:

“Hidden China” 2012–come with us to an area that few photographers have been (Optional week in Tibet too!)



Glacier NP © Jack Graham

The battle continues.. RAW vs JPEG . Well here’s my $0.02…. frag out the dead horse.. let’s beat it one more time!

Please know before you read this that I a a strong proponent of shooting RAW folks, as is the vast majority of pros, much more well known and established than me…. and there IS a reason for it. Ive tried to list these reasons concisely below.

Note I have seen some excellent results from a few of my photographer friends who shoot jpegs. However, in my humble opinion ( and this writing is just that) I would bet they would be better if they were shot RAW…JG



A RAW file is a proprietary format with uncompressed image data coming directly from the camera’s sensor, not processed , with no color rendering information. The file includes complete (lossless) data from the camera’s sensor. When shooting Raw files, your computer not the camera processes the data. Obviously your computer is far superior to processing files than your camera. Shooting Raw will gives you total control over how your image looks and allows you the possibility for correcting inadequacies in post processing. You’ll need to use software to process RAW files.

All Raw files are proprietary to the camera manufacturer and sometimes the camera model. Raw files must be converted to be used in Photoshop or other programs. RAW has much more exposure latitude. Often blown out highlights ( if they are not to badly blown out) can be reclaimed.

Color balance is also far superior in the final results of your processing when shooting RAW. Large prints made from RAW files are superior to those of JPEG files. RAW is not an abbreviation for anything. Controlling richness, detail (sharpness), color range etc in processing is much greater with a Raw file, even though the Raw files coming out of the camera may look bland

Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra © Jack Graham Photography


stands for “Joint Photographic Experts Group”. The JPEG file uses compression which results in a some loss of quality. Artifacts can be introduced in JPEG files each time the file is opened and saved. These are most noticeable in the sky or like toned gradients.

Also JPEG compression can bring out digital noise in the photograph. If you shoot in the JPEG format, I recommend using the highest quality settings, lowest ISO and presets for conditions in your camera ( i.e. cloudy, sunny etc.). When shooting in the JPEG mode your camera’s internal firmware processes the image It will take the information directly off the sensor and quickly process it prior to saving it on your memory card. Some color and resolution is lost.

With some cameras there is slightly more noise in a JPEG than in a comparable Raw version In the JPEG mode, the image blocks (usually 8×8 pixels) determine what can be “safely” discarded. The rule of thumb is that the higher the compression ration the lower the quality of JPEG is provided (more information being discarded). When the image is put back together a row of 24+ pixels that had 24+ different tones could provide less than 6. That valuable information is completely lost.

The quality of a JPEG taken with a DSLR will still be much better than one made with a point and shoot camera. Shooting bursts, as in bird photography allows for more shots using JPEG than Raw. R files, bring larger, take longer to save to the memory card. If you shoot in the JPEG format, I recommend using the highest quality settings, lowest ISO and presets for conditions in your camera ( i.e. cloudy, sunny etc.).

Mt Hood, Oregon © Jack Graham Photography


SO   ?………..Do some professional photographers shoot in the JPEG format? Yes. Can JPEG images be made with enough quality to be published? Yes. The bottom line is this. If you are printing your work, learn to work with RAW and become proficient in your processing , the benefits outweigh shooting in JPEG. If you are shooting small images for the web, not concerned with printing, or publishing larger images (more than 8 x 10’s) the JPEG format offers a quicker processing time.

Why shoot RAW?

1) Ability to change the exposure, saturation, sharpness, curves, etc with less quality loss than you’d experience with JPEG

 2) Maximum control in post-processing

Why shoot JPEG

1) Smaller file size allows you can fit more on a memory card (usually twice as many), and you can download images faster to your computer

2) Ability to shoot significantly more shots in a burst ( good for bird photography )

NOTE: Some cameras can be set to capture images in both RAW and JPEG formats at the same time. There may be times you want to immediate evaluate an image and use the RAW converter later to optimize your final results. ______________________________________________________________________________________________

                                                                RAW                                                                                                                                  JPEG

 RAW JPEG FORMAT              proprietary                                                                                           by camera manufacturer Standard easily readable

BIT RATE                                    at least 8 bits up to 12+                                                                       exactly 8 bits per color

COMPRESSION                         uncompressed                                                                                      compressed

FILE SIZE                                    uncompressed 12MP camera=12mb files                                   small file size (8MP Camera files=1-3mb file)

 DYNAMIC RANGE             Higher dynamic range( better highlights & shadows)              lower in dynamic range

SHARPNESS                              Not as sharp                                                                                               higher in contrast

PRINTING                                Not ready for printing, must be post processed                         immediately ready for printing or web posting

CORRECTION                       Read only some                                                                                        JPEG’S ready for print, web right out of camera

DATA LOSS                           No loss when processed into a TIFF, PSD file                               JPEGS loose data each time an edit is made no matter how minor

 WHEN FILE EXTRACTED FROM CAMERA     must be post processed                                        already processed by the camera

 REFRESHING BUFFER IN CAMERA    slower than JPEG                                                               Faster thanRAW

 RAW POST PROCESSING LOSS None                                                                                                         more than RAW, especially in exposure




We have one more space for open for our 2010 FALL COLOR in NORTHERN CALIFORNIA  NOV 4-7 2010 workshop. We’ll be spending a  full day in the Napa Valley, another in the Point Reyes and Marin Headland areas. Another day in San Francisco and along the coast south of San Francisco will follow. For more details please contact me :



        Information on my 2011 workshops can be found on my web site

                      2011 Workshop schedule  and registration form: 2011 Workshop Schedule.v3





 Images and text ©Jack Graham…All Rights Reserved

 I don’t know many nature photographers who began making quality images immediately, as a way to earning income from their photography.  Though earning income is important to a working pro,   our love and respect of the outdoors, nature, and the desire to communicate via the lens is the motivating factor.  As time I became more passionate with my photography, I wanted to capture images with the same quality as the “pros” that I see in publications.  As we all know, photography can be expensive. To justify my travel and equipment budget it was time to figure out how to actually make some money in photography.  Here are some of my tips to get noticed and maybe even published.

 Barker Dam, Joshua Tree Nat’l Park                                                             © Jack Graham Photography


 Go over to your local bookstore and check out the calendar and card sections.  You will notice that the subject material is made up of images that offer 1)vivid color, 2) grand landscapes, 3)dramatic big game action, or 4)  just the cute young animal close to its mother etc. We all strive to photograph many other subjects, but these 4 subjects make up the vast majority of commercial nature photography sales.   ……………..remember……….. Cute sells!






Local photography is a must. More often than not there are outlets like bookstores, gift shops and other retail environments where you might sell some of your work. If you are lucky to live in an area that attracts tourism that’s even better. Check you competition.

I have found that your target customers often are looking for that local flavor, rather than the grand landscape image shot 2000 miles away.

Shoot, package and market your work to be different. Obviously, not having to make long trips also cuts down on your expenses.

I am lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest where there are lots of photographic opportunities. Most locations do offer some local subject matter that is often marketable in the right situations.







Save your time & energy during mid day. Those are the time process images and find the great locations to go back to when the light is sweet, early and late in the day. As Galen Rowell said, ” Bad weather makes for good photography”. Snowstorms, dramatic clouds, fog, and wet conditions can really improve your results. The rich green in the trees of the forests is accentuated by rain. The light is flat. All these variables will even add more interest to your images

Always get to your location at least 45  minutes hour before sunrise and stay at least ½ or later after sunsets. This is the time of the “sweet” light. You need to know precisely when sunrise and sunset occurs, as well as aware of the weather conditions. (There are some great iPhone and iPad apps for this now!). The images at left was a dramatic sunrise close to my home. Imagine this without the fog?

Don’t forget the alpenglow! Alpenglow appears before sunrise, after sunset and lasts only a few minutes. These rays bounce through the atmosphere twice, once on the way down to the earth and again on the way back up.

The peaks of mountains and clouds will catch this light on the way back up. This glow will make these peaks intense colors of red, yellow and purple. Alpenglow is often a pinkish or orange palate.



Sunrise, Death Valley National Park  © Jack Graham Photography

And then there are those special times, when it just happens!!!!

                                                                                                                Rainbow over pond, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon                           ©Jack Graham Photography


Study your manuals (I still reread mine very often) and strive to know your equipment in and out. You should know where all your camera settings are without thinking. Work to perfect your exposure technique. In other words, knowing all there is to know technically allows you to concentrate on composition and vision. Being technically proficient allow you to use your right brain to properly compose a great image.  Use the slowest ISO you can (it will make for better prints), and as John Shaw says, “Carry the heaviest tripod you want to carry”! Know what’s in your camera bag and vehicle & where it is. How many shots have we all missed in the good light looking for the right lens, filter or even tripod!  Always use good technique with all of you’re equipment.

Avoid this!!





Don’t make the decision in the field. Even though you may be right shoot both ways. Make the final decision at the light box or computer. Remember calendars use horizontals; books and magazine covers use mostly verticals. Magazines use both.

  Which one looks better? Photograph the subject both ways and then decide after you get home. Both images are Latourell Falls, in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon  © Jack Graham Photography





HINT: If you are trying to sell a magazine cover, don’t forget to leave space for text!




Don’t be afraid to include people. Magazines love scenes with hikers hiking. Putting a person in the image often adds a sense of depth to the image.  I know of a few photographers who actually carry a red or yellow jacked to offer to a prospective subject to add an eye-catching effect (Most of nature is green, blue & brown right?). 

Check out the yellow dot on the bridge.  Thats a person When this image is full size the yellow dot of the person really adds a sense of depth.  










Nothing attracts photo editors as well as most people like action. Animals running, birds in flight all convey a different feeling than then they are at rest. People often do the same.

This coyote is “mousing’, looking for a meal in Teton National Park.




Remember, some photo editors are not photographers. They look at images usually grouped on a large monitor). Almost without exception, they will be attracted to images that pop. (Just like we are)

                                                              Be it a flower or a building, strong coloration is going to pop pout to photo editors and consumers.

Day Lily, © Jack Graham Photography                                   

                                                                                                                                 Local Church on the Big Island, Hawaii © Jack Graham Photography








John Shaw’s book, THE BUSINESS of NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY contains almost everything you need to know about shooting to get noticed and venturing into making some money in nature photography. This book is a bible for anyone venturing into the business of nature photography.

 Buy it. Read it. Then read it again!



I am sure you will find some other aspects of what you might need to know in order to get your photography noticed, but these ideas are the basic things…. things even the pro’s  need to remember and practice when out making images.  By remembering these techniques, you will be on your way to make some great images that can be used in publication, editorial, prints etc that will help you get your photography noticed……… and maybe pay for that new lens you just bought!


                                                                                                                     Goose Island, Glacier National Park                                                     © Jack Graham Photography

News…June 2010

Logan Pass, Glacier NP, Montana

     It’s been a cool and wet spring here in Oregon. May was the wettest month in 15 years (and one of the coolest. June is following suit, however I think we are finally breaking out of the doldrums.

Proxy Falls, June 2010

 Our waterfalls are still gushing like early spring and Mt Hood still has plenty of snow on it. Included in this blog are a few images made in the past few weeks wither on my own or while conducting some workshops in the area.



Please visit for details and registration forms:

OREGON COAST                                         July 15 -19   –2 spots left

FALL in the EASTERN SIERRA-                 Oct 14- 17— sold out

FALL in SW Washington and NW Oregon Oct 27- 31— 2 spots left

FALL IN THE BAY AREA/ NAPA VALLEY  NOV 4-  7—   3 spots left


One on One workshops are available … please consider attending—see below


NEW UPDATED WEBSITE: For those who may not have visited recently, I’ve revised my web site a bit, added some new content and upgraded the Links (lots of new ones!) and E-Commerce sites. I’ll be posting new images weekly, so please take a look when you get a minute….

PHOTOSHELTER: Many images that are not found on my website are available via Photoshelter .



As some of you may know, there is an effort to make the Alabama Hills a National Monument. The Alabama Hills Stewardship group (local citizens, local politicians and concerned citizens). Some of these folks do not want National Monument status, which they feel would give to much control over the BLM, but  Some form of resolution will be coming down perhaps as soon as later this year. As photographers who have been to this beautiful area in the Eastern Sierra, we know that this area is very fragile and should be protected. Meeting between all concerned are held monthly in Lone Pine. I urge you to be part of this effort by contacting the following & voice your opinion  Kevin Mazzu

David Kirk, BLM

The Alabama Hills BLM

The Alabama Hills Advisory Council Update

Quite a number of National Monuments and Scenic areas have come about from these grass route efforts.

PRO NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER, is a new website dedicated to the business of outdoor and nature photography was launched last February by Charles Borland, a 30 year veteran in the nature photography business.  Issues facing today’s pro nature, travel and adventure photographers are discussed. I have found this website to be very informative.



As some of you know, I am not an “over do processing” kind of guy. I try and make my images look as close to what I witnessed when making the photograph as possible. Yes I use CS4 & Lightroom, but more and more I am using my NIK software to complete the process. You can read about my processing in my current E-Book for sale .

From Define 2.0, which to me is the state of the art noise reduction program, to Sliver Efex Pro, for Black & White conversions… NIK is simply the best and easiest to use. Not only that, their web site offers tutorials, webiners and more product information than you’ll ever need.

And for an added bonus…. When purchasing any product from NIK you can receive an instant 15% discount by using the code JGRAHAM when checking out.

I recommend looking into “The Complete Collection” that includes all of Nik Software’s latest award-winning plug-in software titles for Photoshop®, Lightroom® and Aperture™ including: Dfine® 2.0, Viveza® 2, Color Efex Pro™ 3.0, Silver Efex Pro™, and Sharpener Pro™ 3.0. All products now feature Nik Software’s patented U Point® technology, giving photographers the most powerful tools for precise and natural photographic enhancements and corrections without the need for complicated selections or layer masks.

The Complete Collection offers two editions, the Complete Collection Ultimate Edition and the Complete Collection for Lightroom and Aperture. The Ultimate Edition includes support for every plug-in to work in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture, and offers Color Efex Pro 3.0 to work in Capture NX 2 as well. The Complete Collection for Lightroom and Aperture includes support for each plug-in to only work in Lightroom and Aperture



Getting personal instruction tailored to your specific needs, is a great way to become a better photographer. I am now offering one on one photography workshops in the field with a follow up session in my home studio. This is a chance to receive my personal undivided attention and have 100% undivided mentoring.

In the field, our time will be focused on everything from composition, technique, handling difficult lighting challenges, proper use of your equipment, how to make evocative images, to seeing an image and more. By letting me know your needs and expectations, I will customize a program that will meet and probably exceed your needs and expectations.

In our home studio session, we will review your images, either from the days shoot or ones you bring along with you. We will also discuss post processing and printing in depth. You will have full access to a state of the art computer system, including dual monitors with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop as well as the complete NIK Software system is available. We discuss the processing and printing topics in depth as well as pricng one or two of your images. Other applications, such as web use or other marketing strategies will also be covered.  

Here in the Portland Oregon area there is a wealth of amazing photographic locations. You can seem many images of these areas on my website. I am close to the Oregon Coast, Columbia River Gorge, and wine country of the Willamette Valley, the Cascade Mountains and Mt. Hood.

My One on One day rate is $500.00.

However during this special offer, you can sign up for a full day of field work as well as an evening in the studio for $400.00 per full day. As these days are limited, I recommend that you make your reservations as soon as possible so we can work with your schedule as well.

This one on one workshop includes transportation from my home (I drive —you don’t!). You also have the opportunity to schedule 2 or more days at a special rate of $350.00 per day.

By attending one of my One on One workshops, you will also be entitled to a 10% discount on future Jack Graham Photography Workshops (group workshops) as well as discounts on NIK Software, Lensaby, Think Tank, Hunt’s Photo & Video and Photograph America Newsletter.

If you have questions that are not answered here, simply email me at or call me at 503-625-1430. You can sign up using any credit card. Simply call or email us with your information.

After your appointment scheduling is complete, I will email you with all the information needed for out time together

 (One on one workshops are available out of the area as well. In addition to the day cost, other travel, lodging costs are additional)

 IMAGE REVIEW AND MENTORING………I am availabel by the hour for image reviews and mentoring sessions either in person or by the phone. Simply upload you images to a hosting service like Photoghelter, Zenpholio, Smugmug etc and away we go. My charge is $40.00 per hour and can be paid via MC or Visa. Of course this service is always complimentary, at any time to my current workshop alumni


I have 1 opening left for my Josuha Tree NP  wotkshop coming up on March 12-14 2010. The wildflowers should be great!      Please contact me at . Here is some information as well …JOSHUA TREE NP WORKSHOP OVERVIEW

I have 2 openings left for my Southwest Workshop  INCLUDING:  Slot Canyons, Lake Powell and Monument Valley  —April 15-18th 2010. PLease contact me if you are interested. Please contact me at . Here is some information as well…SW PHOTOWORKSHOP_2010




5 Reasons that IMAGES SUCCEED……… or don’t!

©Jack Graham all rights reserved

 In the many images I view, either online or in person, (and even my own), I see a very wide range in quality. In many cases the difference between a pretty successful images and a fine art photograph isn’t a whole lot. More often than not, the technique may be quite good but the non-technical aspects of making a successful photograph is lacking. One without the other is a prescription for failure. In photography where the rule of thirds, the zone system, and etc. must be applied, certain small fundamentals must be equally be present in our thoughts that go into making a fine art image.                                                        

Sometimes it is impossible, due to circumstances (lack of light, subject, clutter etc) to make a great photograph in a location you have already chosen. However when things do fall into place, take note of the following 4 considerations, and apply them they will make a difference.

(Not in any order of importance… the sum of all parts)

1)…..There is something we a look at and captures our interest. The subject is defined and isolated in our minds. Then,  cluttered foregrounds; distracting objects in the corners must be  identified and eliminated during  the compositional part of creating the image. Perhaps there is a tree or rock though an interesting addition to an image, but it’s in the wrong place. These objects should either be eliminated if possible, or if the can not, just pass on making the image. Sometimes these objects, if the can not be eliminated can be placed in the shadows. If however, these objects are pertinent to the image, as they often are (letting the viewer identify these rocks, trees as part of the location) by all means use them as long as they are located in the right areas of the image and do not distract from the subject.

 The seals swimming in the ocean may NOT be the subject of this image;    however they serve to add context and definition to the image itself.


                                A strong foreground anchors the image                             

 2)……Continuing that thought, when images become simple, uncomplicated, with little or no distractions, they often succeed. As photographers we need to constantly look around, move around, and get flat on the ground, in water at times if necessary  in order to be in just the right place, allowing us to attain the perfect image. Moving to just the correct spot to take the photograph is primary. Remember…..simple. …move around, work hard, think and evaluate your position before making the image.


3)……When we emphasize the most important part of the image, images will always succeed. Again, continuing the previous thoughts, move around, but also try using different focal lengths. Different focal lengths can drastically alter the mood and feeling of your scene. Also, if the subject is either darker or lighter than the surroundings can allow the image succeed.




Good examples of #3—– work the image in many different ways. Both of these images convey totally different feelings .

4)….Successful images are works of fine art. It is almost impossible to replicate to the viewer, either in a print or in an image viewed on a monitor exactly what we see with our two eyes. We see in multi dimensions. A print on a piece of photopaper is not three dimensional. Often photographers may arrive at a vista, view the magnificent scene and internally say to themselves “I want to really make this a great image so I can show so-and-so back home what I am seeing here”. This is almost impossible.

The viewer will not have the emotional attachment since they were not there. They also don’t hear the sounds, smell the smells etc.. we do when out photographing. Quaking aspens, babbling brooks, etc can not be transmitted in a print. Give up trying to photograph to show other where you were and work on making a work of art. Without following this thought, you will make uncessful post card images, not  a fine art print.

 One can not imagine the grandeur, beauty and magnitude of this location in Glacier National Park. Therefore my purpose here was to not try, but to make a fine art print.

 5) …….What we see in our viewfinders is not exactly what is being recorded. Often objects in the scene appear to be further away that they are. A good technique to properly help frame the image and see more of a closer reality than the viewfinder is to use an object (an old slide without the film). Hold this up to your eye, look a round and work on framing the image.

 ©Jack Graham 2010