A Goal for 2016: Best in Camera

My second photo shoot since arriving in Arizona took me to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, east of Mesa, Arizona. Earlier, I had travelled to the Chandler, Arizona area to visit the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

Getting settled here and an unusual pattern of rainy days kept me focused on non-creative activities. But last Wednesday, while cool, the sun shone and air was clear. I loaded my gear and made the 45 minute drive to the arboretum. Likely I will make 4 or 5 trips to Boyce Thompson this spring. Each time there will be changes and wonderful photo opportunities.

Spikes on these Saguaros glow in the back light of the sun.

Spikes on these Saguaros glow in the back light of the sun.

As I hiked through the arboretum this week the back lighting on the Saquaros was stunning. I took a bracket of 3 images to ensure that I captured  as much data as possible. Processed as an HDR in Lightroom and then tweeking the shadow areas of the foreground rock face this image was the result.

In approaching my photography for this year I have set a goal of getting the best possible image ‘in camera’. By extension, that would result in minimal development in computer.

The overreaching factor in attaining this goal will be my patience. Too often on a shoot I capture a gazillion images only to find that many of my compositions are poor. Too few really stand up to construction examination.

Basing a composition, I’ve learned, on a pre-visualized view of the final rendition is a critical first step to making the best possible image. I’m hoping that by being more thoughtful in my image capture process I will be able to build more effective compositions. This will take time and patience.

Regardless of my camera or lens choice I’ve come to realize that a tripod and a cable release are vital to making the best ‘in camera’ composition. I know that at my advanced age I’m not as steady as I once was. Many times while making detailed examinations of a shoot’s results I’ve been disappointed by images that show evidence of camera shake. Utilizing a tripod and a shutter release cable has the advantage of steadying the camera as well as helping with the building of a simple, effective composition.

For a long time I have set my camera at aperture priority. I’m now working on setting my camera on manual exposure mode. I believe that will give me many more creative opportunities. This certainly will make me think about the exposures I make.

Finally, taking advantage my camera’s highlights function and histogram as well as bracketing my exposures I’m hoping that I will capture the maximum amount of data that each frame presents. Clearly, patience is the over arching factor in attaining my goal. It’s a factor that too often I’ve ignored. Time will tell.

This entry was posted in Education.


  1. Florian January 18, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

    Graduated filters to avoid bracketing and mirror lock up.

    • Stu Dale February 2, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks Florian. Grads are an area I have to move towards. I’ve done very little work with them.

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