Winners of 2019 Digital Photography Contest Announced

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club held it’s 2nd annual Digital Photography Contest recently. Eighteen club members entered this year’s contest.  Images were entered in four categories: Landscape, Nature, Creative, and People. Winners were selected by two professional photographers, and the winning images were announced at an Awards Gala on October 9, held at the Elk Park Meadows Lodge. During the evening, members had a chance to view all the images entered in the contest. The top images in each category are shown below. Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version of each image.

In the Landscape category, first place went to Chris Roebuck, for Climb Higher. Andy Butler received Second Place for Deadhorse Dawn, and Third Place was awarded to Bill Milner for Grand Canyon. Pagosa Fall, by Fred Guthrie, received Honorable Mention.

Winner in the Nature category was Dave Anderson, for Sunflower. Chris Roebuck received second for his image Bighorn, and Bill Milner was awarded Third for Rock Wall. Three images were awarded Honorable Mention: Lunch, by Dave Anderson, The Look, by Andy Butler and Pagosa Flower, by Fred Guthrie.

In the category for Creative images, Bill Milner received First Place for his image Rodeo Paint. The Second Place image was Aspen Haze, by Andy Butler and Third was awarded to Bill Milner for Thousand Island Paint. Three images tied for Honorable Mention: Pagosa Fly by Fred Guthrie, Turquoise Crack, by Liz Mockbee and Twilight Ice, by Dave Anderson.

Bill Milner’s image Funny Mbazi was winner in the People class. Second prize was awarded to Liz Mockbee for Slot Canyon Explorer, and Third went to Chris Roebuck for Magic of Fire-Controlled Burn. Bill Milner also received Honorable Mention for his portrait Lachu Maya Rai.

Congratulations to the all the winners! Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, the contest committee, judges and everyone who helped make our 2019 Digital Photo Contest a success!

Fall is Here!

Sneffles Range Dawn © Andy Butler, Nikon D7100, 85 mm, f/8, 1/125 sec

Happy Equinox day! Autumn is a favorite season for many photographers. Here in Southwest Colorado, the forests are alive with gold from Aspen, willows and cottonwoods. Although reds are not as common, look around and you’ll find many Autumn hues beyond gold. 

While it’s easy to find great color and take pleasing images, after awhile you’ll find many of your photos look good, but also look much the same as everyone else’s. So it’s worth spending some time thinking about ways to make your images both technically better, and also more creative. 

Here are eight tips for better Autumn shots, from Peter Baumgarten. I especially like his tip to not let the weather stop you!

Nasim Mansurov, at Photography Life, has several good Fall foliage tips. His article features several images from the Dallas Divide area, near Ridgway, where the photo above was taken. 

One of his suggestions is to use a polarizing filter. which can really help to reduce specular reflections from foliage, producing richer colors. Another is to do your research into good places (and times) for the best Autumn foliage photographs. Finally, and always important, Mansurov reminds us to always identify what, exactly, our subject is. 

Finally, Outdoor Photographer has ten great ideas for more creative fall color photography from Kurt Budliger, at  His tips include using backlight, long exposures, long lenses (to isolate color) and a variety of other techniques to give your images of fall color a more unique, creative look. Well worth a read. 

Personally, I’m going to spend part of the first day of fall photographing one of my favorite locations in the Pagosa Springs area, around Plumtaw Road, with other Photography Club members. I’m hoping for a few clouds to develop. Enjoy the fall color while it lasts! 

Tips for Photographing Star Trails

One of the topics I did not have time to discuss during last week’s presentation on photographing the Milky Way was making images of star trails. Ian Johnson has published some good tips and techniques for star trail photography over at . It’s well worth a read if you are interested in this type of photography. Johnson discusses the basics of star trails, as well as composition, processing, light painting, and the effects of focal length and exposure times. It’s clear that this is an approach that is ripe for lots of experimentation and creativity.

I’ve learned one trick that works well for star trails if you don’t have an intervalometer, or like me, you are too lazy to use the one built into your camera. You do still need a cable release, though. Once you have your camera set up to capture the scene you want, set the camera’s shutter speed to the longest possible, without going into bulb mode. On my Nikon, this is 30 sec. Then, set the camera for high-speed continuous shooting. This is the mode that allows you to press the shutter button down and take photo after photo until you let up. Start the star trail sequence by locking the cable release to “on”. In this mode, the camera will take a 30 sec exposure, then another, and repeat until you unlock the cable release. The camera will fire away, shot after shot, until you stop it (or the battery dies). Using a wide angle lens, you probably want to let it go at least half an hour, and longer is often better. With a 50 mm or longer lens, a shorter time will give you good trails. Johnson walks you through the steps for combining the photos as layers, using the “lighten” blend mode in Adobe Photoshop. This will work in any software that uses layers and has the proper blend mode. I use a dedicated app called StarStax, which has several features such as gap filling (for the brief time between sequential images) and the ability to save out intermediate steps to create a time-lapse movie effect. StarStaX is free, but if you like it, the software’s author would appreciate some money for beer or coffee as a donation.

Another consideration is that you can control the apparent density of trails using the ISO setting on your camera. ISO 1000, for example, will give you many trails close together. ISO’s of 200 to 400 would give you fewer trails, mostly from the brighter stars. It’s another way to control the look of your image.

As with all nightscapes, knowing a little about the stars, planning for a foreground, and using some creativity will help you make great images.

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