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Featured Testimonial and Student Image

The following is a testimonial from one of my students, Kim Murphy. Kim has done a few of my seminars and lots of private lessons with the bulk of our discussions centering around landscape photography. Her work is superb and is even giving mine a run for its money, as you can see with the sample photo below taken by Kim.

Here's what she had to say about my services...

I first took Nick's Landscape Photography class which is jam packed full of information. Soon after that I started taking private lessons to learn to gain control of my camera. In a short period of time, with Nick's help, I went from auto to full manual control. My snapshots became photographs that actually resembled the landscape that I was seeing. From that moment on, I was hooked! Nick awakened in me a passion for landscape photography. I absolutely love it! Nick has taught me everything from manual exposure to setting up Lightroom. Nick is an excellent teacher. He is very laid back and not intimidating. He has an abundance of knowledge and experience which he is very gracious in sharing. I feel very fortunate to be a student of Nick's. He is an amazing talent and person. I have two of his fine art pieces in my home...they and he inspire me.

- Kim Murphy

Photo by student Kim Murphy

For information on private lessons, click here. For a list of upcoming seminars, click here.

Macro at the Fullerton Arboretum

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

We have a great arboretum out here in Orange County on the campus of Cal State Fullerton called, you guessed it, the Fullerton Arboretum. A student of mine and I went there yesterday for a lesson in lieu of our usual beach landscape sessions and had a great time doing some close-up work with the variety of plants. The weather was working in our favor for once with lots of clouds to block out the sun and send us some nice, diffused light.

We started off shooting the daffodils towards the center of the park. There were a lot of blooms out and it's only February. Can't wait to see what this place looks like this Spring.

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

The arboretum has a fantastic desert section, too, where we concentrated on the patterns and colors found in the unique flora. This first plant is called Parry's Agave (agave parryi).

Parry's Agave (agave parryi) at the Fullerton Arboretum

Parry's Agave (agave parryi) at the Fullerton Arboretum

I couldn't find the name of these yellow flowers, but I really loved the look of them. For the horizontal shot, I placed myself so that a blue plant in the background would line up just behind the flowers. This blue gave some great color contrast with the yellow for a more interesting shot.

Yellow Flowers at the Fullerton Arboretum

Yellow Flowers at the Fullerton Arboretum

Last of all, I photographed this desert succulent known as Blue Finger (senecio mandraliscae). Very aptly named, Blue Finger has a gorgeous blue coloring that really stands out amongst the other desert plant life. I think it's my favorite shot from the day...

Blue Finger (senecio mandraliscae) at the Fullerton Arboretum

Low Perspective at the Beach

Crystal Cove State Park

I have some new beach landscapes to share with you. I'm going to talk a little more than I normally do about how I captured these pictures because it was something I'd never done before.

I've been a little burned out lately on Southern California beach landscapes. I'm kind of bored with the scenery and I feel like I've taken so many similar pictures that I have a hard time creating something fresh. I know, I know...you readers out in the central and eastern parts of the country are trying to strangle me through your computer monitor right now.

Yes, it's a little embarrassing to say because I know how lucky I am to live in Orange County, but I do get burned out with seascape photography. So when I went out last month to Crystal Cove State Park, I decided to break out of this creative slump by doing something I'd never tried, read about or even thought of before. I needed a new perspective. Something different. Something uncomfortable. So I came up with the perfect solution...

Seascapes from just an inch or two off the ground.

Crystal Cove State Park

I'd done pictures this low before in hillside landscapes with good results, but I wondered how it would make the beach look. Getting that close to the sand and water might show it in a way you couldn't see otherwise. It was sure to create something fresh. And since I'd never done it before, it was sure to get the creative juices flowing.

The only problem was getting my camera that low. I could splay out my tripod legs and lay on the ground with it, but that would make dodging the incoming surf a stressful endeavor...and I'd have sand in all sorts of uncomfortable places by the end of the night. Instead, I opted for a much safer but much less precise method.

I dropped my tripod to about 2 feet off the ground. Then I flipped around my center column so my camera was hanging upside down underneath my tripod. I estimated where to aim it, did a test shot, fine-tuned it, then did a couple more test shots. Once I had the placement right, I picked out my split ND filters and estimated where to put them, again doing test shots and fine-tuning. Once I had everything locked in, it was time to shoot. You can get an idea of how low my camera really was with this shot that included my tripod leg.

Crystal Cove State Park

One of the nice things about this set-up is it allowed me remain standing, firing the camera with a cable release, leaving me free to grab my tripod and camera off the ground in a split second when the waves came rushing in.

I took tons of shots, getting more and more brave with the advancing tide as the night wore on. I'd wait until the very last second to fling my tripod up into safety before the water engulfed it. I took several pictures with the goal of capturing the little bubbles left behind by the receding sea.

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Then, when the clouds really flared up with color, I took a more typical standing-height shot of these rocks.

Crystal Cove State Park

All in all, this new shooting technique was a ton of fun to experiment with and it did clear up my "photographer's block" a bit. Go out and give it a try! Just don't get too brave...