Better Photography Self-training Guide

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Training | Posted on 06-03-2014

Better Photography for those of you with no time for training classes…


For many years I’ve had friends express an interest in learning how to take better photographs, but they are so busy juggling a career and numerous other things in their lives that they lose familiarity with their Camera. Others want to work towards going full-time in Photography. As part of a series of training booklets I have put together a guide to help do just that – Take Better Photographs!

Yes, it’s all been said before. I agree. But it hasn’t worked! I think many will find this guide more helpful than purely technical books, and it’s easy to come back to as a reference.


Better Photography Topics


Covering the basics of photography, camera settings, and creativity, the booklet is written in a fairly non-technical style with examples. Here is what it covers:

  • The Camera
  • Digital Sensor Technology
  • The Shutter
  • The Aperture
  • ISO
  • Lighting and Flash
  • Camera Settings (Auto-ISO, White Balance, RAW vs JPG, etc.)
  • Creative Photography
  • Natural Light and Camera Limitations

The booklet is available as a downloadable PDF file, and at a discount during the introduction. To purchase the guide, click on the following link, choose Add to Cart for the Better Photography Guide, and Paypal will process your credit card payment.

Click the PDF icon for a sample






Creating a Camera Startup Checklist

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Gear, Workflow | Posted on 07-12-2013

You travel hundreds, or thousands of miles to a location, typically in a rush before leaving, and arrive late afternoon. You’re at a magnificent location and the lighting is perfect. You see your subject, whatever that might be, and you quickly pull out the camera and start doing the easiest thing in the world – tap the shutter button. What could possibly go wrong.

The other day I took a snapshot of my wife while testing the flash with the built-in neutral density filter on my Fuji X100s. (She’s used to it!) I took a few shots, and moved on. Some minutes later I had the chance to zoom-in to inspect these shots when I realized that my subjects were almost all out of focus. Then it dawned on me that I had left the camera in Manual-focus mode, but I was shooting as if the lens were set to auto-focus. The camera doesn’t warn me because the focusing electronics have been turned off . That’s the point of Manual.


Manual-focus mode – oops

I wanted to share my rules for solving this – might as well show it alongside my own failure. It wouldn’t be so funny on a professional gig. In this situation I didn’t use my own rules because it was a snapshot, and not critically important. But, it reminded me again how problematic this is with modern electronic and highly configurable cameras. Picking up your camera to shoot, with no idea of the state of the settings is just a roll of the dice. In this case I DID go through a basic setup, but I missed one important item. Don’t trust your memory!

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Having a Plan B when shooting Landscapes

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Color, Fall, Fine Art | Posted on 21-10-2013

Over the last couple of weeks I was scheduled to photograph the fall colors in New Hampshire. The way things turned out reminded me once again how important it is to have a Plan B, or a second location to explore.

We drove from Dallas Texas to Lincoln New Hampshire in my trusty Toyota Prius – 50mpg! (More on that in another article, but 1850 miles one way at a cost of $114) That kind of a drive is a big commitment of time, and not one that I want to see wasted. On the other hand, in Landscape Photography there are no guarantees even when the best plans are made.

Ansel Adams, in his Autobiography wrote, “Fortune Magazine asked me to make a survey of Los Angeles in about 1945. They wanted pictures of the exotic indigenous architecture such as the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood. There were many such awful examples around Los Angeles, and I drove hundreds of miles in pursuit of them. I was completely frustrated by a continuous drizzle; no shaft of southern California sun ever touched the difficult scene. The deadline was in three short weeks. … Early every morning I drove out onto the wet streets, trying my best to find and capture the architectural obscenities that loomed through the drizzle; but even these objects needed sunlight.”

In his case there were no options for a Plan B, but often there are, as I found during the trip to New Hampshire. I had been monitoring the fall foliage reports on a smartphone app. Many of the states with great fall foliage have web sites dedicated to reporting their conditions for visitors. Smartphones are enormously helpful in Landscape Photography. New Hampshire has a wonder fall foliage smartphone app and webpage.

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New Portfolio Pages are Live!

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Fine Art | Posted on 18-09-2013

Since going full-time earlier in 2013 I have redesigned the portfolio pages on the main web site. I’ve also had time to process, mat and frame lots of new work.

I’m calling this blog a Tech Blog now that it’s completely separate from the Art-centered web site. That means I can address issues around Art and Technology, which is appropriate considering that this is the reality of Landscape Photography.

Comments on the new Portfolio pages welcome.


The Landscape Bounce!

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Composition, Light | Posted on 17-09-2013

Horseshoe Bend
Buy this print

Before I head out to a location to shoot I always do some research about the sunrise/sunset times as well as the position of the sun relative to the subject. (Azimuth, equinox, etc)

Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona, shown above is tricky, as are many canyon subjects. The sun rises to the front of the subject, but because it is so far below the horizon most of the subject will stay in shadow for awhile, and then the sun will get more harsh. That’s not the composition I wanted. In Landscape Photography we never want harsh light, so the middle of the day is out.

That left sunset. The logical thinking then is that with the sun behind the subject, (backlit) coming right at the camera, the front of the subject would again be too dark. As you can see, that didn’t happen. Why not?

Fortunately, and something I didn’t plan on, the light bouncing off the canyon wall beneath my feet illuminated the subject just perfectly with beautiful soft light. Predicting the light in canyons is not as easy as it would seem. Not that it would have solved this problem, but a couple of excellent programs that I use on both iOS and Android are shown below. (LightTrac and Sun Seeker) Set the location and date and they will show the sunrise/sunset times as well as the angle of the sun relative to your subject.

LightTrac – Android
LightTrac – iOS

Sun Seeker – iOS only

lighttrac sunseeker