Canary Spring – Yellowstone

Every once in awhile you run into a scene that simply takes your breath away. Such was the case at Canary Spring in Mammoth Hot Springs. What a unique nature story, full of color, mood, and well, yumminess. As much as I love this photograph, what will stay with me is the feeling and the experience I had while making it.

Photography has blessed me in many ways. I have had the opportunity to travel to locations I could never have imagined. I have made life long friends. I have had the privilege of working with extraordinary photographers like my tour partner Dan Sniffin, Betty Wiley and the team at the Hui in Hawaii, Jonathan Kingston, Dewitt Jones, and Rikki Cooke. I am grateful for my blessings, and what to say thank you to all who have been there along the way.

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I just spent a week in Yellowstone with my tour partner Dan. We were scouting for a tour we will be leading this time next year. What an amazing and unique landscape! We look forward to showing the group what we found.

I re-learned a couple of lessons on this trip. 

The first two days were pretty much blue sky days. As this was our first time in Yellowstone, I found myself feeling those familiar and uncomfortable feelings of F.U.D. (fears uncertainties and doubts). It looked like a sea of evergreen trees and nothing else. Because it was unfamiliar, I was searching for things and feeling anxious. Heck, our mission was to scout for paying customers. We needed to find things, and find lots of them right now! Dan being the faithful co-leader he is, looked at me and said, “relax John, remember, be open…”  I sighed and said, “You mean you want me to actually practice what I teach?” We laughed, but, Dan was right. I needed to slow down and let the images come to me. Once I did that, once I trusted myself and beat away the F.U.D., I was overwhelmed with the possibilities. 

The second lesson is confirmation that once I relax, I am better at being open to what I now refer to as “the moment of perception.” It is the story behind the blog image, read on.

We had scouted the Grand Prismatic Spring the day before without cameras. It is truly magnificent and we wanted to go back to photograph in better light. As I walked over the foot bridge, I looked to my left and “in a moment of perception,” saw this scene. In that moment, I knew there was an image to be made. Rikki Cooke says to our students at the Molokai Workshop, “whenever something turns your head” you must stop and make an image.  A moment of perception is something that happens very quickly and without thought. And I believe, it comes from being open rather than having expectations. The key is to act upon it. So, rather than march on toward the other-worldly, colorful spring, I stopped, set up my tripod, and tuned into what the perception was. I silently asked, what turned my head? Now, how best to capture that. Long lens? Wide? Great DOF? Shallow DOF? Color? B&W? 2×3 or panoramic format? All of these decisions, come after the moment of perception. 

I know I sound like a broken record about expectations, but, there is a reason. They are so hard to get past! I hope these stories help. Please consider the idea of “a moment of perception.” Try to slow down as Dan remained me to do. Try to push aside your F.U.D. and expectations and be open to whatever turns your head. I promise you’ll find wonderful gifts!

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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
Since I was having some technical difficulties most of the weekend which may not have been 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……



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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.


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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


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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.

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