Cape Cod Through Their Eyes

Yet another installment of my “Through Their Eyes” series. This time images from the participants of my recent workshop on Cape Cod.  

Carla Francis

“I have been obsessed for some time to capture an image such as this.  As a few of us were on our way to photograph a lighthouse, this scene caught my eye and I had to shoot it. I love the simplicity of these fishing nets and immediately saw it as a black and white image.
I must give credit again to Chuck Kimmerle who opened my eyes to the beauty and serenity of simple black and white images. By the way, we never reached the lighthouse!”

Janice Chipman

A whale watch trip in Provincetown was a bonus to the Cape Cod trip with John.  The whales were sensational, but on the trip back to shore, we were treated to this scene.  I can eliminate the distortion with Lightroom’s Lens Correction, but I like the distortion.  I would have submitted a Cape Cod image, but my very talented tour mates took all the good ones!


Greg Debor

I chose an image of Stage Harbor Light as my favorite for three reasons.  First, I didn’t expect much from that evening’s shooting, since we didn’t get the sunset we expected when it clouded over.  Still, I noticed the dramatic sky behind the lighthouse because someone else in the group had submitted a set of dramatic B&W sky images in their opening slideshow.  Even so, I wouldn’t have been able to do the sky justice and produce the dramatic image if I hadn’t learned important tips for using the Lightroom Graduated Filter and other techniques from you and Lori in the post-processing session.  This is an image I probably would have thrown away before the workshop.  Now, I’m very happy with it!


Linda Russo

This early morning, photographing the yellow dory was magical. The tide was out and I couldn’t get enough of the patterns of the mud flats.
I was singing a happy tune when puffs of clouds appeared above the horizon. Exquisite moment shared with friends. -:)
Henry Fortna 
Low tide at Point of Rocks.  Look what was hiding under eleven feet of water.
Pt of Rocks Macro
Kris Fortna
The park at Rock Harbor was in a festive mood in a familiar, small town way. Folks eagerly talking to one another and asking what we were doing. I was looking for simplicity and I found it in the scene and in the warm welcoming feeling of the evening. The photo could not be black & white, it had to be warm brown.
John Barclay Blog
Barb Korman
I chose it because it was one only Janice, Kris and Henry would have seen. Rock Harbor is definitely a great stop. The tide was out incredibly far. I hadn’t seen anything like that since I was in the Bay of Fundy.
Rock harbor
Beth Debor
 I was having some technical difficulties most of the weekend which may no have been not technical at all, maybe just photographer error, I wanted to submit something that was forgiving. I brought my good time with me to a dreary morning shoot and captured this scene which included lots of rain spots on my lens even after wiping it so I worked with it and created this image.
Pat Sweeney
This was one of my favorite locations on Cape Cod.  Tho’ the sky  has a bit of blue, the scene was very overcast and the wood and grass tones were very earthy.  Therefore, I decided to take the photo to B/W….something very new for me.  I also burned the edges slightly for a bit of “framing.”
Patrice Zinck
“The photo I’ve selected was taken the first day of the workshop.  I felt that of all the photos I took, this one really captured the mood of the day. The sky was overcast and it was a wet/rainy/damp day, however did not seem to affect the seagulls.  I like the dark mood of this photo.”
Rosanne Cleveland-King
Cape Cod Shack Fall SMJohn
Janet Casey
 I realized that I need to stop and think about my intention before clicking the shutter.  What do I want to say?  How can I capture my intent, with the right lens, exposure, angle?
Posted in Cape Cod, Through Their Eyes

Paines Creek – Cape Cod

Yes, Cape Cod does color too! One of my favorite places to shoot sunset is Paines Creek. The grasses being lit by the wonderful “Cape Light” are always magical. Of course getting some “Barclay” clouds didn’t hurt!  Enjoy.



Oh okay, here is the B&W version……



Posted in Cape Cod Tagged , |

Cape Cod #3

When it’s good, it’s good. These three images were taken on the same morning. It was sweltering hot when all of a sudden, a bank of fog rolled in creating the separation between the boats and the background. Perfect!

I have to confess, I did not have a camera with me when I stumbled upon this scene. I was doing last minute scouting for the workshop. When I saw the fog bank, I could not believe my eyes. I hustled back to the hotel, grabbed my camera and raced back hoping the fog would still be there. I lucked out!




Posted in Cape Cod


Last year my friend and tremendous Cape Cod photographer, Betty Wiley, told me about Grey’s Beach on the Cape. This year I decided to take a look, glad I did.

I am often reminding students, and myself, that it’s important to look at other perspectives. In this case getting low creates a very different image than standing up (see image below). To my eye, the image made while standing up is static when compared to the more dynamic version where I put the camera on the boardwalk.


  1. Perspective matters. Get high, get low. Try them both and everything in between. I know, I know, it is not as easy to get up after getting down! This is a good reason to have a swivel LCD screen.
  2. This image was made at 2PM. Stop thinking there is a best time to make photographs. There is just light, it is up to you to figure out what to do with it. I think, so called “harsh light” worked pretty well here don’t you?
  3. Be patient. My first capture was made with a bald blue sky. As I stayed to explore, I noticed clouds building. When one wandered into the perfect spot, I was there to make the capture.


Posted in B&W, Cape Cod Tagged , , , |

Cape Cod #2

untitled-0507-EditmattedLast year while on the Cape (Cod), I was introduced to the wonderful work of Michael Kahn and purchased one of his books. This year, the Focus Gallery in Chatham, had more of his work on display and a new book. Inspired by Michaels work, I readjusted my vision to think more in B&W this year. Below are two favorites with more to come. Remember to click the images to view them much bigger.

A note on the bottom image. Carla, one of our participants has been influenced by the great Chuck Kimmerle. She attended our Death Valley/Valley of Fire tour where Chuck was a special guest. As we were walking out to photograph Stage Harbor Light, Carla spotted this scene. A small group stopped and we worked the scene for forty five minutes. We never made it to the lighthouse! A couple of lessons.

1. Be open to what turns your head. Yes, we had a mission to get to the lighthouse, but, this was great right now!

2. Without Chuck’s great images and inspiration, Carla would probably never have seen the potential in this type of scene. 

By the way, the poles in the water are part of the nets used for Weir Fishing.



Posted in B&W, Cape Cod, Chuck Kimmerle Tagged , , , , , |

The Palouse Through Their Eyes

I am pleased to present another installment in my “through their eyes” series.  This time a group of images from our participants on our recent Palouse Harvest tour. Harvest came very early this year, but, this group brought their good time with them and made some wonderful images.  Remember to click on the hot link to see more of each participants work.


Ginny Brown

“Steptoe Sunrise – It was the last day of the workshop, and we went to Steptoe for a final sunrise shoot.  I really wanted a shot of the “morning tree,” which is a lone tree beautifully illuminated by the sunrise under optimal circumstances, but that wasn’t going to happen that day.  Too much haze, not enough separation between the tree and the background, farm equipment in the way, etc.  So, in spite of taking probably 20 shots, I wasn’t happy and started looking around.  I found this beautiful scene with its curves and patterns, but it was only when I got home and processed the image that I saw what I actually had.  The moral:  be open to all possibilities, let go of preconceived ideas, and trust your vision.”

Patterns new perfectly clear workflow

Albert Bronson

“Whenever I am photographing with a group, I try to look beyond the subject we came to photograph—in this case, the grand landscape—and find the details that are often overlooked within the landscape. On the recent Palouse Harvest tour, I found a case of empty soda bottles that had become home to a spider. A floating seed had settled into the web. The juxtaposition of the natural and manmade caught my eye. The deep green glass of the bottles presented a pleasing contrast with the cobwebs and seed nested among them.”


Kris Morgan

“The Palouse is filled with wondrous variety…from patterns created by the rolling hills and fields of wheat, weathered barns, buildings, and beautiful skies, old cars and trucks, sunflowers, silos, and wind turbines,  to wonderful surprises like the old wheel fence at Dahmen Farm. The challenge, especially with repeat visits, is to capture these treasures, the sense of place, the visual design in unique, creative ways that go “beyond the handshake”. It is this challenge that makes the Palouse a favorite and the nurturing and encouragement that comes with traveling with John, Dan, and friends enriches the experience making it special.”


Rona Schwarz – Steptoe Blur

“It is probably my favorite or one of my favorites of about two dozen that I did.  One of the reasons it is a favorite is that I love to create blurs for me it captures the essence of the rolling hills and the harvest colors as well as the majesty of the region.”



Joe Bumgardner

“I am drawn to this particular image because of its simplicity. It is illuminated with complimentary lighting. The composition contains pleasing elements of design including contrasting curves, lines, pattern, texture, color, and shape; it also contains my favorite subject matter ‘nature’!”

2015 Palouse Images captured by Joe R. Bumgardner, M.D.

2015 Palouse Images captured by Joe R. Bumgardner, M.D.

Nancy Fezell

“From the first time I saw the Palouse, I was captivated by the patterns on the land –  made by nature and by man. I loved the gentle, undulating hills, the colors and shades of the crops in different seasons, and the stripes and circles left on the land after the harvest. Together, nature and man have created a unique landscape.”

Heading home

Wendy Hannum

“The essence of the Palouse to me during the wheat harvest is the actual harvesting.  The combines themselves add substance to a static landscape.   I loved the signature patterns they cut into the fields.  It is as much art as function.”


Debbie Winchester 


Beamie Young 

“My favorite is Auntie Em’s house. I love the shadows, and the tracks in the wheat make it look like someone had to make a quick exit. That gets my imagination going…”



Jeff Levine


Posted in Palouse Tagged , |

Cape Cod

I’m on the Cape, scouting and getting ready for the workshop gang to arrive tomorrow. Here are a few new things I’ve found with the help of Betty Wiley, one of Cape Cod’s finest photographers. If you don’t have Betty’s terrific Cape eBook you can find it here








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Backlight – New Zealand



Sheep are everywhere in New Zealand. There were a few on the bus that would yell, SHEEP every time we saw some. Josh Cripps, our guide and generally great person, is a pure landscape guy and did not understand how important it was to stop at some point to photograph the sheep. Well at least not until there was a mutiny, verbal threats and lots of screaming from a few unnamed (Lola, Terry) participants on the bus! All in good fun of course. This stop seemed like the perfect place with the distant hill in the background still in shadow, the light behind the trees creating beautiful backlight and SHEEP!

I’m selling my Nikon AF-S 70-200 2.8 VR. This is VERSION 1 of this lens which means on a full frame sensor you will see some vignetting in the corners. On a cropped sensor which it was designed for, it works perfectly! It has be used but is in great shape. A steal for $800.00 plus shipping. Box, hood, and carry bag it came with included.

Posted in New Zealand Tagged , , |

You Bring Your Good Time With You


I am just back from co-leading a tour to one of our most popular and favorite locations, the Palouse. We chose the week we did to photograph the amber waves of grain during the height of the harvest. Well, the weather in the Palouse has been unusually hot this year, the harvest was pretty much done by the time we arrived. During our meet and greet session, we always cover items like, stay hydrated, use sunscreen, be courteous, car pool, etc. This year we added a new rule, wisdom from Dan’s Mom, “you bring your good time with you.” I also added a concept I speak about often in my lectures, beware of expectations. With these two ideas firmly in place, we went about photographing the “harvest.” On a day where we had 106 degree heat, I did a processing session, before I started, I spoke to the group about how wonderful they were. How they truly had brought their good time with them and it showed. We were battling some difficult heat and hazy conditions, yet they were having a blast and making extraordinary images! No grumbling from anyone, in fact quite the opposite. So, next time you encounter conditions that are not optimal, beware of expectations and remember Dan’s Mom and her “you bring your good time with you” wisdom. I promise you’ll have a much better time.

Today’s image is from an abandoned grain elevator. I pay homage to Chuck Kimmerle on this one. Yes, I know I’ve broken a sacred rule of composition, do you care? Does it bother you? Obviously it does not bother me, I posted the image.

Posted in Abstract, Chuck Kimmerle, Palouse Tagged , , |

More Thoughts on Art and Competition



The positive response to my previous post tells me people are interested in the topic of art, photography and competition. I’d like to add a few more thoughts.

First, for anyone who might think otherwise, make no mistake, I believe camera clubs offer great value, especially to beginning to intermediate photographers. My friend Chuck Robinson feels the same way. This is what he had to say about his club experience. “I joined our camera club when I first got started into photography.  I wanted to meet people with similar interests and learn more about photography.  I ended up befriending some great people who are awesome photographers and I did learn a great deal through these friendships.  I enjoyed the competitions at first because I thought it was a way for me to gauge the growth of my photography compared to others that have been shooting way longer than I.  I felt that it also pushed me to become better.  As a novice photographer at the time, I felt that it was beneficial to my growth”  I agree with Chuck, his feelings mirror many others I’ve spoken to about their club experience.

Chuck goes on to say, “Nine years later my feelings have changed. Today, my personal view is much different. A little over a year ago, I was becoming frustrated in my photography.  Although I did very well in the competitions, I felt that the comments from the judges from month to month were all over the map. Now I can take constructive criticism, in fact, I look forward to it.  But some of the comments were just ridiculous. More importantly, I felt like I was creating images just to win competitions and I was becoming very frustrated and lost sight of why I wanted to create images in the first place. I was losing my desire in photography. I was chasing what I thought someone else would think was a winner.  I had to stop and regroup and distance myself from the club. I feel so much  better now that I’ve done that”  This too, is common feedback and emphasizes my concern with competition. 

I am currently traveling with my tour partner Dan Sniffin. We have been conversing about the value of camera clubs and the feedback to my last post. We even called Cole Thompson as someone shared with him a Facebook link with some of my comments regarding this subject. We all arrived at the same conclusion. Getting people to think about what and why they are creating images is important and healthy.

Second, In no way am I advocating that everyone who owns a camera or is part of a camera club should ascribe to my way of thinking. There are some who enjoy competing, winning points, pins, ribbons and plaques. If this is what brings you joy, who am I to say otherwise? For instance, I have a friend Gunther Riehle who is one of the highest ranking PSA nature photographers in the world. His work is stunning, yet follows a different vision and the guidelines of PSA. I am simply suggesting that following your heart or your vision could bring a different level of joy or satisfaction. Or as my friend Dewitt Jones says, another right answer. Let me share a two stories that might illustrate what I’m trying to say.

I was on the first day of a fall weekend photography workshop. The colors were astounding, the conditions could not have been better. A participant came up to me and said, “I am going to go home.” I asked if I had said something that offended her, had I done something wrong?  She said, “No, its just I am not finding what I came for.” She then shared that she had a competition at her camera club and her expectation was to find a particular image that she could win with. Rather than find another right answer, a different and maybe better answer, she went home. Isn’t that sad?

Contrast that experience to this story. Dan (tour partner) and I were scouting for our spring Smoky Mountain Tour last year. When we arrived, he said to me, “John, don’t worry if I don’t shoot much. I’ve been to the Smokies a number of times, I’ve got all the images I need. I’m going to just relax. I have no expectations for this trip. I’ll just shoot when something moves me.”  Normally Dan would go on a trip and have a “shot list.”  Not this time, he was going to be open to what moved him, spoke to him and inspired him. Guess what? He produced the best work he has ever produced from the Smokies. His success was so good, he did the same thing in the Palouse a couple of months later with the same results.

These stories capture the essence of what I was hoping to express in this and my previous post. I am simply suggesting an alternative approach.  A more contemplative approach, where you are open to whatever turns your head and will create based on what makes your heart sing.

Posted in Cole Thompson, Inspiration Tagged , , , |