Online Program – Nature Photography in the Florida Everglades and Beyond

Join us Tuesday night for my online program of Nature Photography in the Florida Everglades and Beyond.

I’ll give pointers on best time of year to visit the region, great Everglades access points to observe wildlife, and info on how to get off the beaten trail in this hotbed of biodiversity.

Thank you to the Somerset County Library System for allowing me to talk about my passion of nature photography. If you have any questions or comments on photography programming email me at

Wilder Side of New Jersey

A supplemental guide for Sparta Camera Club on beautiful places for nature photography in New Jersey. Leave a comment here or email me at for any additional questions.  Be sure to also follow me on Facebook.

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Wildcat Ridge WMA
Rockaway Township, Morris County NJ

Scenic area, good for birding, macro, landscapes, mammals. Other activities including hiking, hunting, mountain biking. Hikes can range from easy to strenuous

Area info –

Bat Cave Parking Lot –

Hawk Watch Parking Lot –


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Jonathan’s Woods
Denville/Rockaway, Morris County NJ

Includes wetlands, forest, small meadow. Good for birds, macro, possibly landscape. Walks go from very easy to moderate difficulty. Free guided hikes by the POWWW organization visit or for upcoming events.

Area info –

Parking Lot –


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Great Bay Boulevard WMA
Little Egg Harbor, Ocean County NJ

State open space, VERY good for photographing birds (Osprey, warblers, sparrows, sandpipers). Also for good for landscapes and maybe a few butterflies to be found as well. Most of the journey is a scenic drive on maritime road which ends at a beautiful natural sand beach that should be walked.

Area info –

Parking –


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Franklin Parker Preserve –
Chatsworth, Burlington County NJ

11,000 acre nature preserve in Pine Barrens. Outstanding wetlands for landscapes. Also very good for macro photography and botany. Abundant wild blueberry as well. Not many services nearby, bring lunch with you.

Area info –

Parking –


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Double Trouble State Park –
Berkeley, Ocean County NJ

Easy gateway to New Jersey Pinelands nature, close to Garden State Parkway. 8,000+ acres. Walks are very flat and level on sand trails. Very good for landscapes, dragonflies, birding. Also outstanding kayaking on Cedar Creek.

Area info –

Parking –


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Ken Lockwood Gorge WMA –
Lebanon, Hunterdon County NJ

Scenic peaceful walk along South Branch of Raritan River. Very good for landscapes and also some birds. Walking trail is broad and level. Can also be good for bike riding.

Area info –

Parking Area –

Elevated Camera on Tripod for Landscape Photography

Filmed at Silas Condict County Park in Kinnelon NJ. A great facility administered by the Morris County Park Commission.

This morning I was using an elevated handheld tripod technique to remove perspective distortion from my landscape photography.

It helps to have a lightweight setup and strong tripod for this technique.

Canon M50 + 10-18mm STM lens + Manfrotto tripod

Results to follow!

Macro Photography Program in Warren County

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Just putting the finishing touches on slides for my photography program on Macro Photography tonight in Oxford NJ
There’s still time to sign-up and attend

Motion Blurs in Photography: How Much is Too Much?

…or how little is too little.  Quite a subjective topic, and of course there are no laws in the arts while “rules” are merely guides.  Having done a lot of nature photography in the past seven-odd years, I generally find that my first impression when proofing my own photos is what appeals most to me aesthetically even in the long run.  Do viewers and peers share my visual preferences?  I’m not sure.  Please do feel free to tell me how you feel about these photos in my comments section.

Today’s subject material ended up being the common Pokeweed plant.  I haven’t done many abstract closeup photos before, so I tried some different camera motions to try to coincide with the shape of the berries and stem.  All photos taken with the Tamron SP 90mm VC F/2.8 1:1 Macro Lens and the Canon EOS 60D, handheld.

#1 – My finalized photo:

NJ Fine Art Abstract Photo

Optimized image with intentional camera movement, ICM.

Settings for above photo: 1/5th F/11 ISO 100.  A slight circular motion of the camera was made.

#2 A split screen comparison of the SOOC shot versus my end product:

photoshop comparison

Lower left is the straight out of camera shot, upper right is what I deemed to have a good amount of contrast for web viewing.

#3 An outtake, not enough motion makes this look sloppy to me

Phytolacca americana

A slow hand movement has rendered a fair amount of sharpness on the subject but still left faint signs of blur.

Above photo settings: 1/5th F/11 ISO 100.  Camera was moved in a slow fashion.

#4 Another outtake.  To me, the subject is unidentifiable and this photo lacks a sense of order:

very blurry view of foliage

Created with a very fast downward motion of the camera as the shutter was closing.

Above photo settings: 1/5th F/11 ISO 100.  Camera was moved in a very quick fashion.

Which do you think looks best?

Rethink the most obvious shooting angle: Green-striped Darners

Photos taken yesterday in Sussex County, New Jersey.  I was actually trying to take a macro shot of a caterpillar in the shade (quite frustrating) when I saw these two large dragonflies in the mating wheel position fly near me and land.  I approached slowly with macro lens in hand and got very lucky that they were not startled off.  Haven photographed insects quite a bit the past few years, it’s only natural to look to capture them both together in the same frame without having any of their appendages extend beyond the frame.

Shot #1:

macro odonata photo

A few of a male and female darner in a typical reproductive pose. Photo taken in Sussex County, New Jersey with the Tamron SP 90mm VC F/2.8 Macro Lens and the Canon EOS 60D DSLR.

Metadata: 90mm, 1/640th F/3.2 ISO 100, handheld with VC.  Manual Exposure.

I NEARLY walked away haven taken a pretty sharp frame, but I thought “what the heck” why not try a true macro photo with high magnification on one dragon’s face.  It took 1 or dozen frames to get a handheld shot in focus at that magnification, but to me it created a photo with a much higher “wow” factor.

Photo #2:

macro odonata face photo

An intimate view of a Green-striped Darner showcasing vivid lateral coloration. Photographed with the Tamron SP 90mm VC Macro Lens + Canon EOS 60D in NJ.

Metadata: 90mm, 1/100 F/5.0 ISO 100, handheld with VC.  Manual Exposure.

It is certainly subjective to which shot is “better”, but the 2nd is more to my liking.  By rethinking about possible compositions I have 2 drastically different photos of the same subject taken a minute or two apart.  Quality nature photography is seldom performed in a hurry.  I have always been an advocate of the phrase “haste makes waste”.

Exposing for backlit photography subjects: Orange Sulphur

I am generally a fan of semi-automatic exposure systems when looking to photograph wildlife.  Specifically, I begin most outings with the camera in Aperture Priority Mode, and having an extra 2/3 stops of lights dialed seems to work pretty often.  However, as soon as I see a tricky lighting situation through my viewfinder I will try to get into Manual Exposure Mode as quickly as possible.

NJ Wildlife Photo

A macro photograph of an Orange Sulphur butterfly in New Jersey. This backlit capture was made using the Tamron SP 90mm VC 1:1 macro lens and the Canon EOS 60D DSLR.

Camera settings: 1/200th F/5.6 ISO 200

Above photo is a handheld capture with one of my typical rigs for closeup photography, the Tamron SP 90mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 60D.  The goal with this backlit photo was to get a good amount of illumination showing on the butterfly itself.  To achieve this, some of the brightest parts of the scene are pushed out of gamut because of the dynamic range restrictions of DSLRs.  As cameras are programmed to expose for the median tonal range of an image, it would require a significant increase in exposure compensation to get what I was after.  Turning the knob to Manual Mode and dialing in my desired settings was a much more succinct process.

“Blowing out the highlights” is not always a sin in my book, as I’ve learned to “see how a camera sees” and envision the end product.  Indeed there is some detail loss on the fringes of the butterfly and also on the petals of the flower, but in this case I think that adds to the “warm” feel of the image.

Nature Photography in 20 Frames; my free how-to ebook on DSLR photography

Nature Photography in 20 Frames

Cover for my free short but detailed PDF ebook on Wildlife, Macro, and Landscape Photography. Get your $5 PayPal donation ready… but only if you feel like paying for it 🙂

Press release for upcoming eBook:

Nature Photography in 20 Frames
By Dave Blinder

I’ve completed the content for my first eBook which will be offered in its entirety as a free download, no strings attached, no trojan viruses, etc.  My short illustrated PDF is currently undergoing quality checks and proofreading.  I will provide download locations as soon as possible.  If anyone finds value in the book, I would greatly appreciate a $5 PayPal donation (info included in book) as I have done this work at my own expense.

Within the book I have provided full DSLR settings for each photo shown as well as a grid overlay to demonstrate the composition.  A focus point is also superimposed on each shot to show where critical focus was set.  The nature photos in my book encompass my personal approach to shooting Macro subjects, Landscapes, Birds, and Other Wildlife.

My PDF eBook will be completely free for non-commercial usage and distribution, but may not be altered in any way.  I will offer the eBook via email, my personal website, and try to have it uploaded to popular file sharing services as well.  I will be available to conduct private and public seminars to expand on the subject matter to support my material.

If you’d like personal notification upon release of my eBook send me an email –

Thanks very much,
Dave Blinder
Denville, New Jersey

Expressing motion in photography: Laughing Gull in flight

Plenty of terms for the type of DSLR photography illustrated in the main image below and to tell you the truth I don’t even know what to call them.  Panning blurs may be the most logical terminology in my opinion.  Anyways, I often forget how much I enjoy looking at this type of capture.  It seems to boil the bird down to its very essence: shapes and colors.

Larus delawarensis

Photo demonstrating intentional use of a slow shutter speed along with panning of a telephoto lens.

Picture taken using a Canon EOS 7D and the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC telephoto lens.  Tripod lens collar is mounted to Manfrotto 055xProB tripod and Manfrotto junior fluid head.  Camera settings: focal length at 600mm, Manually set shutter at 1/30th, aperture at F/14, ISO 100, Camera RAW, Auto White Balance, VC On, Servo Focus Mode, High Speed Motor Drive.  Photography location: Ocean County, New Jersey.  Atlantic Ocean that is…

This type of photo can sometimes be performed in Aperture Priority mode by using a low ISO and large Aperture number to slow down the shutter.  The shutter speeds that usually work best for me are between 1/13th and 1/50th.  Your mileage may vary.  My goal when preparing for this kind of shot is to get a good amount of definition on the wildlife while emphasizing some motion (in this case the wing beats).  I also want a nice bright exposure that will retain a lot of details in the highlights but still have my histogram as far to the right as possible for maximum detail.  Compositionally speaking, I may be looking to place the bird prominently in the frame without cutting off any appendages or I may want try to include some scenery like showing the bird flying across the water’s surface.  There is a great deal of trial and error in this style of photography.  Patience, persistence, and studying other photog’s successful photos will go a long. way.

Expressing motion in photography: Beach Grass and Crescent Moon

When I first began doing photography, I thought that the prime objective was to freeze all action to record a moment in time.  Getting a sharp capture of a fleeting moment can indeed be difficult, whether it is a closeup view of the supermoon rising on the horizon, a sports photograph like a MLB baseball player nailing a fastball, or a bird photo like trying to shoot a tiny Tree Swallow mid-air.  There is also great validity to having motion within your frame.  In some cases, this can evoke moods like quickly fleeting action or on the other hand, serenity.

NJ Shore Night Photo

DSLR Nature Photograph from New Jersey showcasing how motion caused by wind can express time and add further dynamics to an image.

The above image was taken recently at the New Jersey Shore using a tripod-mounted Canon EOS 60D camera and the Tamron SP 90mm VC 1:1 F/2.8 Macro Lens.  Camera settings in manual exposure: 2.5 seconds F/7.1 ISO 100.  VC off (lens stabilization motor), Mirror Lock-up, 2 Second Timer, One Shot Autofocus (near the middle of the grass), and Auto White Balance.

I think the crescent moon has a really great distinctive shape, a shape I generally associate with a peaceful sky.  The grass that I have included within the frame is typical vegetation of the mid-Atlantic shoreline, so this gives a nice sense of orientation for the viewer.  For others, the grass may be reminiscent of a prairie or meadow.  The back and forth motion of the blades of grass tell us that time is passing, and also gives the photo a much softer edged appearance than a motionless capture.  I did shoot several similar frames, but in the other images I actually felt there was too much motion and not enough definition on the grass.