Workshop: Photographic Composition and Creative Vision

•September 16, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This workshop is offered by the Berkeley Arts Council and will be held at the Berkeley Art Works, 116 North Queen Street in Martinsburg, WV. Online registration is available one the Berkeley Arts Council web site at

Saturday October 19, 12:30-4:30; 4 hrs
Composition and Creative Vision Part One

What is it that makes one picture of a particular subject ordinary while another image of the same subject is a work of art? This workshop will explore how composition, light and shadow, form and texture can work together to express something beyond merely recording a scene. The workshop will start with a discussion of the basic concepts of composition and then, through an analysis of some of Smith’s images, will demonstrate how those concepts are applied in practice from conceptualizing the image in the viewfinder to the final adjustments on the computer.  In preparation for Part Two of the workshop, Students will be given assignments to put the ideas and techniques into practice.

Saturday November 2, 1:30-4:30; 3 hrs)
Composition and Creative Vision Part Two

During the two week interval between part one and part two, Students will take their cameras out to practice the ideas and techniques discussed in Part One. They will bring in a selection of images for discussion and “gentle critique” during the second session.

Information for Students

Age: 16 yrs and up; Level of experience: beginner through intermediate.

Students are not required to have any specific equipment or computer capability but putting the concepts and techniques into practice requires a digital camera and a computer with at least basic image editing software. For those who need it, recommendations will be given for software to enable the various techniques.

Tuition: Parts 1 and 2 $90
(Pre-Registration Required)


Shooting the Stars

•April 10, 2019 • Comments Off on Shooting the Stars

Last night I attended the meeting of the Jefferson County Photography Club in Charles Town. John Kracke presented some images and discussion about photographing stars and star trails, even under local light polluted skies. He offered some interesting ideas and inspired me to go back into my archives to see what I had.

Dark skies are one of the things that people say are essential for this kind of work and I had the good fortune to have some great dark skies in North Dakota when I was there in 2015.

People have seen my “Milky Way over Tunbridge, North Dakota” but during that shooting session I captured a few others that have been sitting on the hard drive for three and a half years. After going back and finding these, I really want to do more!

(Click on the image to see a larger version)

September is a great time to photograph the Milky Way in the Northern Hemisphere. Technical: Olympus EM-5 MkII, M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 lens; ISO 1600, 25 seconds @ f/2.


This image, with slightly different framing shows one of the most dense concentration of stars in the Milky Way. This was captured at ISO 3200. That extra stop of exposure enhanced the incredible cloud of starts near the center of our galaxy. Technical: Olympus EM-5 MkII, M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 lens; ISO 3200, 25 seconds @ f/2.


Just above and to the left of center is the great galaxy M31, glowing in the midst of the star field. Amazing to be able to capture it with a small digital camera and a “normal” lens. Technical: Olympus EM 5MkII, Panasonic-Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 3200, 15 seconds @ f/1.6.

Arches National Park: Hoodoos

•March 23, 2019 • 2 Comments

Deciding on a treatment for the images from our 2017 trip to Utah has been difficult. My lack of enthusiasm for getting up before dawn to capture that “Magic Hour” light means that much of my photographing is done during the middle hours of the day – not in the spirit of modern landscape photography.

Consistent with the title of this blog/web site, (“Light, shadow, form, and texture”) which does not mention color, I frequently lean toward finishing images in black and white. This is also related to the fact that long before digital cameras and printers could capture and reproduce great color images, I worked in black and white for any photography pursuits that I might have put in the “serious” category. Even today, I “see” in black and white.

You can see a print of this image at the Ice House Co-op in Berkeley Springs.

“Dark Mountain”

•March 3, 2019 • Comments Off on “Dark Mountain”

“Dark Mountain”

Image captured at 11,592 feet from the Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park in September, 2018.

I’m just beginning to sort through the images for that trip even as I am way behind on the images from Utah in 2017.

I’m not rushing (says “Captain Obvious”) to get these images finished and “out there”, where ever that is. I am going back and forth between color and black and white. At this time I am in a black and white frame of mind. But that is subject to change without notice.

As a photographer who admits that he is not a landscape photographer, I am feeling my way to make sense of the many hundreds of mostly landscape images from those two trips to magical places.

Prints are available of most of the images I post here. There is currently a print of this image on display at the Washington Street Artists’ Co-op in Charles Town WV. Or you can contact me by email at


2019 Cumberland Valley Photographers Exhibit

•January 5, 2019 • Comments Off on 2019 Cumberland Valley Photographers Exhibit

I’m pleased to report one of my images has been selected for the 2019 Cumberland Valley Photograpers Exhibit at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown. The exhibit runs February 3-April 7, 2019, with a reception and awards presentation on Sunday, February 3 from 2-4pm.

“Grand Canyon Abyss”

The image is from 2017, when Malinda and I toured the Utah “Mighty Five” and then the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde for seven national parks on that trip. All were spectacular in their own way but the Grand Canyon was another level of special.

I’m still working on sorting through all the images from this trip and hope to include some more of them in a future exhibit.

Canyonlands National Park

•November 18, 2018 • Comments Off on Canyonlands National Park

When we got back from this trip, I was asked which of the national parks did I like the best. It’s hard to ignore the  immense majesty of Grand Canyon, but Canyonlands was amazing in it’s vistas and other-worldlyness. It was a demonstration of the power of water erosion at shaping the landscape. It was here that I was prompted to ask “How can this even be on the same planet as West Virginia?”


Utah Sphinx?

•November 8, 2018 • Comments Off on Utah Sphinx?

It does not take much imagination to see an ancient beast depicted in this natural formation caused by millennia of wind and water erosion.

All over Arches National Park you can see formations where a little imagination can find a face or mummified creatures.

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