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PhotoPlus Expo 2016

28th September 2016

Like A Kid in A Toy Store

As a long time follower of all thing photographic, I’m attracted to places where I can see, touch and fawn over new and innovative photographic equipment, accessories and services.

The upcoming PhotoPlus Expo 2016 Conference and Exposition is magnetically drawing me to New York City where more than 250 exhibitors will gather to show off their latest products and services. It’s the largest photography and imaging show in North America and has the distinction of more than 30 years of continuous operation.

Additionally, dozens of noted professionals and instructors will conduct 100+ of in depth seminars and classes demonstrating posing, lighting, wedding, portrait, marketing and photofinishing techniques.

Over the many years that I’ve been attending PhotoPlus seminars and demos I come away a little smarter as a photographer. Unfortunately (for my wallet), I also leave itching for new camera equipment and accessories.

The conference includes daily photo walks where attendees will explore the sites and streets of New York City accompanied by well-known professionals.

One standout is the Drone+ Seminar led by photographer George Steinmetz as he shows his aerial films. Also joining him are representatives form the FAA that will explain regulations concerning commercial drone photography.

PhotoPlus takes place October 19-22 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. With the completion of the #7 subway last year, getting to Javits is an easy ride from other areas of the city.

If you share my enthusiasm for photography, visit PhotoPlus Expo 2016 for more details. Maybe I’ll see you there.


Written by: Arnie Lee



WPPI Conference & Expo

22nd February 2016

The Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo

As I sit at my computer in crusty Michigan with the clouds building for another forecasted snow storm, I’m looking forward to escaping for a few days.

My destination is the WPPI Conference & Expo which begins March 3rd and runs through March 10th. For professional photographers and hobbyists alike, it’s a chance to learn from experts.

Additionally, you’ll travel to the warm climes of Las Vegas at the MGM Conference Center for extracurricular activities that are sure to add up to a practical education and fun packed week.

WPPI is comprised of hundreds of classes and seminars taught by noted photographers such as Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Roberto Valenzuela, Bambi Cantrell, Hanson Fong, Kevin Kabota, Jerry Ghionis and Gary Fong to name a few.

Alongside the conference is the expo portion in which 80,000 square feet of space occupied by 300 exhibitors who will showcase the newest cameras, lenses, equipment, lighting, accessories, supplies, marketing material and services. All of the major camera manufacturers will set up booths to demonstrate their latest wares.

To look at the wide range of classes and seminars please visit WPPI Conference & Expo.

Written by: Arnie Lee


Rogue Safari

26th March 2014

Flash Extender

The Wedding & Portrait Photography International event can be thought of as a conference of 260+ instructional classes for where photographers can sharpen and learn new skills and a huge expo where they can meet with more than 300 exhibitors displaying, explaining and selling all kinds of photographic equipment, accessories and services.

For two days, I roamed the two exhibit floors at the MGM Resort visiting with several dozen exhibitors as they showed me new camera models, innovative equipment and useful accessories.

In the next few articles, I’ll review a few of the more interesting finds from the exhibit floor.


Rogue is a maker of a variety of flash accessories. I got a hold of their a new device they call the Safari. This small unit sits atop of your camera’s pop-up flash to extend its range.

The Safari package comes with a couple of shoe mounts to fit on different model cameras. The mount slides onto your camera’s hot shoe. The Safari then slides onto the mount.

Your pop-up flash then “opens” inside of the Safari as you can see below.

Below are unretouched photos without any flash compensation. Clearly the Safari does a good job of extending the range of the camera’s pop-up flash.

Taken using the pop-up flash without the Safari

Taken using the pop-up flash with the Safari

Rogue says that the Safari works best with lenses that have a focal length of 100mm or greater. My simple tests proved equally effective using both Canon and Nikon cameras. You may want to dial down the flash compensation if your subject is close to the flash.

The Safari sells for about $35. For more information, please see
Reviewed by Arnie Lee

Your Mind’s Eye

30th November 2013

It May be too Limiting

What do you visualize of when you hear someone say that they are going to visit Colorado?

Most of us already have a picture in mind even before that person finishes his/her sentence.

It doesn’t matter if they are visiting New York City or Texas, Paris or Timbuktu. And of course it doesn’t matter if we’ve never before visited that place. We’re all influenced by our mind’s eye – the previous information and images that we’ve associated with that particular place.

This past year I visited Colorado on several different occasions.

As I reviewed a few of the photos taken during my visits, I found it interesting to see how these photos aligned with my idea of “Colorado” images.

These three photos contains what I most closely identify with Colorado: mountainous, snow, lots of wildlife.





Colorado, being a large state has quite varied terrain. So as not to shortchange Colorado, I wanted to take a few photos that expand my preconceived notion of the state.

These stacks of hay in Del Norte show that there’s plenty of farming and ranching here.

I believe that the yellow trees are aspens growing near Cortez – part of the high plains desert.

This leafless cottonwood tree sits close to a nearby stream near Salida – running water is another trademark of Colorado.

So I keep telling myself: don’t fixate on the “mind’s eye”. I tell the photographer in me to keep eyes wide to everything when traveling. Colorado is more than the Rockies, New York City is more than the Statue of Liberty, Texas is more than the Alamo and Paris is more than the Eiffel Tower.



Written by: Arnie Lee





Another Amazing Feat of Nature

The story goes that hundreds of years ago herds of antelope grazed on the grounds where natural forces carved an assortment of narrow passages through the sandstone to create what native Americans call Tsé bighánílíní or the place where water runs through the rocks.

This sacred Navajo monument is commonly known as Upper Antelope Canyon. This slot canyon is a phenomenal site to experience and photograph.

Since Antelope Canyon is a Navajo Tribal Park, access is is granted only through one of five guide services that operate from nearby Page, Arizona which is also home to the Glen Canyon Dam. I chose to take an extended 2-1/2 hour photographic tour.

I’ll illustrate my visit with photos that show you the scale of the passageways and canyon walls in relation to the size of an average visitor.

This is one of vehicles used by our tour operator. The ride from Page to the canyon entrance takes about twenty minutes.

Notice the vehicle’s sizable off-road tires.


The canyon entrance is at the end of a long, sandy road, hence the need for off-road, four wheel drive transportation.

The road is actually a wide channel that serves to drain the watershed for a large part of northeastern Arizona.

With five tour operators, there is a steady stream of visitors coming and going.

This is the parking area immediately in front of the entrance. My experience was that each of the tours was well organized.

Judging from the size of the two photographers here, you can gauge the narrowness of the pathways in the slot canyon.

The color of the canyon walls varies greatly. Here the opening at the top of the wall is quite wide so it lets in a lot of bright light.

The pathways are very level making it easy to walk on the hard packed dirt surface.

You can see that the walls jut out randomly along the pathway. As you are walking, you need to take care not to bump your head or appendages.

The coloring is quite different here. The dim lighting accentuates the texturing of the rocks.

The widest part of the canyon is a cathedral-like alcove near the entrance.

Here the canyon opens to about 30 feet wide and the walls are simply splendid.

For anyone interested, I chose the 2-1/2 hour photographic tour from Antelope Canyon Tours. The cost was $80.

Before this visit, Antelope Canyon had been on my list of “must see” places for several years. Now that I’ve experienced this enjoyable place, I am again thoroughly impressed by Mother Nature.


Written by: Arnie Lee





The Shadow Knows

30th August 2011

a case for more activity


This year, summer has been an especially busy time for us. I’m just catching up with some of my tasks including writing these articles. I’ll do my best to keep sharing some of the things I’ve learned having spent so many years with a camera.

We all know that light is the agent that makes photography possible. Most often we spend our time making sure that the light is “perfect” – the right intensity and direction to bring out the essence of our subject.

When light diminished or missing, your camera records the darker areas as shadows.

Here’s a few examples of how I’ve played around with shadows.

One of the reasons for a busy summer was two cross-country trips by car from Grand Rapids to Reno, Nevada and back – a journey of 4400 miles x 2 or a total of 8800 miles. That’s a lot of driving.

On one of these drives, my five year old granddaughter and I took a side trip to visit nearby Yosemite and decided to hike a long 3 miles to gaze at the Giant Sequoia trees.

The entire trail was tree covered and occasionally the sunlight would burst through the leaves. When I spotted our stark shadows ahead of us on the path, I simply snapped the shutter to capture an interesting shot of both of us hiking.

Skip forward to last weekend. We’ve just returned from the second drive out west.

As I’m admiring the colorful stencils on one of the grandkids’ bedroom wall, I see a captivating reflection superimposed over the cartoon characters.

The sun shining through the window is casting a reflection on the wall too.

The shadow of the window has turned the stencil into a magical scene.


We see that lighting (or the lack of lighting) can be used to create neat pictures too. Experimenting with the shadow side of lighting was easy and in my case fun too.



Written by Arnie Lee


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Add Soft Lighting to your off-camera flash

The modern day external flash unit is a vital accessory for indoor portraits, still life, food shots and more.

Light that originates from a small source such as an external flash unit is harsher than light that originates from a larger source. To “soften” the lighting especially for portraits, photographers often use “modifiers” to alter the lighting to something more pleasing. Most of the modifiers work by spreading the light out over a larger area.

LumiQuest has been a well-known maker of modifiers for many years. Among their bestsellers is the Softbox III. When I was attending the WPPI Expo, Heidi one of LumiQuest’s principals gave me a quick demonstration of this lightweight device. I was so impressed that I ordered one when I returned home.

The concentrated light from the flash bounces inside the reflector of the Softbox III and passes through the translucent material covering its face. Instead of harsh light originating from the small flash head, a softer light originates from a much larger reflector.

Follow along as I show you how I’ve used the Softbox III to improve the lighting on some of my recent portraits.

When it’s disassembled, the Softbox III folds flat to a 8″ x 9″ size, making it convenient to take anywhere.

As folded, it easily fits in the outer pocket of my camera bag so is always available when I’m carrying my external flash.


Enjoy those Winter Brights

24th January 2011

In my last article Fight those Winter Blahs, I pleaded that you not put your camera away for the winter. In our part of the universe (western Michigan), December through March are known to bring day after day of heavy, blanketed overcast. Along with these dark clouds come lots of dull lighting that tends to stifle the picture taking mood of many of us. I suggested that despite the dark skies, there’s plenty of opportunities to find ways to make your subjects “shine”.

So it was a very pleasant surprise to see today’s sterling bright sunshine. As I looked out the window, I could see a crystal clear blue sky and blinding reflections coming from our snow-covered lawn. But as I opened the front door to fetch the Sunday newspaper, the bone-chilling winds reminded me that a 10-degree temperature makes Grand Rapids feel like the Arctic.

After enjoying a cup of hot tea, a couple of the grandkids were prodding me to play outside in the snow with them. Despite the icy cold, I decided that I wouldn’t miss this chance to have some outdoor fun and maybe take a few winter photos too. So I tracked down my trusty ski jacket and soon followed the grandkids outdoors.

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The Holiday season has always been a wonderful time for me. While it’s envigorating to all of my senses, I’ll concentrate only on my visual sense here.

As I look around at the Christmas and Chanukah decorations, I’m overwhelmed by the variety of colors, textures and shapes. I’m often amazed at the intricate detail that I find. Let me show you what I mean.


Here is an ornament which at first glance looks simple. But look a little closer and you’ll see that it is very elegant.

The colors are simply amazing. I love the way in which it was made from many strands of yarn woven into an intricate pattern and carefully wrapped into a solid ball.

By taking a close up photo, I am able to see this detail. If you click on the photo, you’ll see this detail in the enlargement.


To photograph these ornaments, I used the available light. I set the camera ISO to 800. The lights were incandescent so I set the White Balance accordingly. I used a large aperture to blur the background which in turn helped to produce a shimmering look. To avoid camera shake, I braced my elbows against my sides to keep it steady.

With close-ups, you may want to turn off Auto Focus (AF) and manually focus the lens. At short distances like these, manual focus comes in handy.

Note that if I had used a flash, I would have spoiled the visual look and feel that I wanted to retain.


If your visual sense appreciates all of the stimulation that the Holiday season brings, go fetch your camera and take a few up-close photos. They’ll help you recall the Holidays long after they’re over. Happy Holidays!


Written by Arnie Lee


Tips for holiday photos

11th December 2010

It’s never too early to prepare for the festive holiday season. To help you along, I’ve jotted down a few picture-taking tips that may help you capture those great and memorable photos to share with family and friends.

Whether you’re using a convenient point-and-shoot or an advanced DLSR, most cameras have a wide range of adjustments and settings. I’ll key in on only a few of these.

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