January Newsletter: Travel Does the Photographer Good

 In Picture

As I write this, it’s -20 out and the wind is blowing close to 30 knots. It’s cold. What a change from December when the temps got into the 50s and 60s. And that was a change from November when the temps got down below zero. This up and down weather pattern is just a little to volatile for my taste. That said, I did enjoy the December weather. I spent time teaching a Badlands Photography Workshop and then went west to scout areas along the Oregon Trail. It felt great to see and photograph new scenery. I think all photographers owe it to themselves to do a little traveling now and then to help shake up their style. I can’t wait for my next road trip and I’m so looking forward to heading back to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to teach my annual Fall in the Smokies Photography Workshop.

Making Mini-Portfolios

For this newsletter, I’m going to recap my travels with mini-portfolios. This is something that I recommend that you try to do as well. The easily way to do a mini-portfolio from your travels is to pick your 5 best photos from each day, work on them and then pull them together in a place to share. If you’re on Facebook, you can easily share with all your friends just by making a new photo gallery.

I think sharing in this way is fun, because it shows your travels to your friends and family. By confining yourself to 5 photos for each travel day, your selection of photos ends up tighter and will look better. By doing this you also avoid the pitfall of posting 1 billion travel photos that all look the same. Paging through galleries like that is no fun for the viewer.

So, my monthly challenge to you is to look back over your most recent outdoor adventure/travel and pull together 5 of the best photos from each day and then post them in a gallery on Facebook. If you make the gallery public, feel free to post a link in the comment section below so we can all see the photos.

Photo Workshops for 2015

Just want to mention that my Spring Waterfall Photography Workshop is now open for registration and almost full. I may open a second session if there is interest. All the rest of my workshops are now open as well. If you haven’t photographed the waterfalls on the north shore of Lake Superior in the spring. You owe it to yourself to get up here. The spring runoff makes the waterfalls massive!!! My Fall on Lake Superior Photography Workshop is also filling up.

Des Moines, Iowa Photography Workshop

My Des Moines, Iowa Photography Workshop at Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge is now open for registration The Neal Smith is a value, because you get two instructors for $179 for the weekend. There’s more classroom time than my typical workshop, but you also get field time as well.

My Mini-Portolios from December

In December, I visited the Badlands National Park, Carhenge, the Scottsbluff area, Vedauwoo, the Nebraska Badlands (Toadstool Geologic Park), Wind Cave National Park, Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower. I was scouting locations for future workshops and heard that western Nebraska might be worthwhile. It was really cool. It surprised me, because it’s nothing like the rest of Nebraska, which is flat, farm fields.

Badlands National Park Mini-Portfolio

I was in the Badlands National Park for six days. I taught a photography workshop for three of those days. The conditions are great with a rising full moon and great sunrise and sunsets. I ended up with many more 3 star photos, but narrowing it down to five photos a day ends up with this selection.


In western Nebraska, a sculpture recreated Stonehenge, but out of cars. I spent a day there and these are the photos that I got. I loved the grain elevator that was just across the road from Carhenge, so I also snagged a shot of it.

Oregon Trail in Western Nebraska

I spent two days exploring the Oregon Trail in western Nebraska. These are my top ten shots. I enjoyed western Nebraska and want to head back and spend more time there. The combination of flat land and these interesting buttes and bluffs created a unique landscape that was worthwhile to shoot. Plus, the Oregon Trail was such a huge part of way the U.S. is the way the U.S. is, so it’s worth seeing it just to help you understand this countries roots.


I spent 2.5 days in Vedauwoo. I was there to photograph the crazy rock shapes and scout the location for night photography. I love this location and will be heading back.

Half-Day Locations

I spent about a half day at each of the following locations: Nebraska Badlands (first three), Wind Cave National Park (next five), Rushmore and Devil’s Tower.



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