Writing with Light

Posts tagged “landscape

Heart’s Afire

If you look really carefully the rock formations become recognizable shapes and depending on how the light filters through the beauty reveals itself.

Click on the image to see a larger version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Arizona, Page, Antelope Canyon, slot canyon, landscape, nature, heart,



Antelope Canyon is one of those places that keeps calling to me whenever I would see pictures of it but being inside the canyon and seeing it with my own eyes is an experience all onto itself. The colours, the light…the crowds 😦

I am grateful that I took a photo tour. Without a guide holding back the crowds it would be impossible to get a decent shot. As it was we had approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to set up and shoot each shot. I’m glad that we had started with Rattlesnake Canyon first as it gave me an opportunity to try different settings in a less crowded canyon and at a more relaxed pace.

In the end it was worth it. Here’s the first image I come away with. More to follow.

Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Arizona, Page, Antelope Canyon, slot canyon, landscape, nature,

Rattlesnake Canyon

I just returned from a trip to Arizona and can now happily cross off one of my photographic bucket list items…slot canyons. I’ve been wanting to photograph Antelope Canyon from the time I first saw Peter Lik’s famous image. I know it’s been photographed by everyone but none the less its something I’ve always wanted to do.

The slot canyons are on Navajo land so the only way to access them is with a Navajo guide but even so if you want help with crowd control and be able to set up a tripod then your best bet is to book a photo tour which is what I did before leaving home. I’ll give you more information on the tour company I used and the tour I booked in a subsequent post.

I did two canyons that day with the first being Rattlesnake Canyon. This was a great canyon to start with as there were no crowds and a great way to start shooting and testing different settings and exposures.

Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Arizona, Page, Rattlesnake Canyon, slot canyon, landscape, nature

2015 My Year in Review

Every year Jim Goldstein runs a project on his blog, JMG Galleries, where he encourages photographers to post their best pictures of the year. It’s a great project and I’ve participated every year. When I started participating about 4 years ago I thought, “what a great way to have pictures seen by a whole new audience.”

That was me when I first started blogging but now there are so many other reasons that I participate. Yes I still like that fact that I may reach a new audience but more than that I find this to be a difficult and yet rewarding exercise. It’s tough to cull through your work and pick what you think may be the best of the year. It really gives me a chance to go though my images (some that I haven’t looked at for almost a year) and decide whether they’re good enough to make the cut of the top 10 or 15.  I try to review my images from a technical perspective and from a creative one. Certainly I’m drawn to certain images due to the circumstances of where and when they were taken. The picks may not always be perfect and certainly wouldn’t win any awards but art is subjective and what one person views as a masterpiece another make look at and dismiss entirely.

It’s been a busy and rewarding year both on the photographic front and from a family and work stand point. I’ve taken on a new role at work which was unexpected at the beginning of 2015 but I am loving it. The only downside has been that its been so busy that my photography had to take a bit of a back seat.

From a photography perspective I’ve continued to sell prints and license new work which is always very exciting and rewarding. I won’t make any specific commitments for the new year because I know that my day job will still be taking up a lot of my time but learning new photographic techniques and honing my craft is something that I know will always be important and I will find and make the time to do it.

If you have a chance jump on over to Jim Goldstein’s site here in or about the second week of January and he should have a list of year in review post listed for your viewing pleasure. There’s always a great list of photographers on there, you won’t regret it.

As always you can click on the images to enlarge them or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, Havana, Old Havana, street photography, travel photography, black and white


water drops, gerber flower, refraction, milkweed, macro photography

Refracted Water Drops

Havana, Cuba, Cuban Cigars, Cigar, Stogie, travel photography, cigar aficiondo, black and white


Hilton Falls, Ontario, Milton, conservation, waterfall, long exposure, trees

Hilton Falls, Ontario

Boston, skyline, Fan Pier, sunset, blue hour, travel photography, harbour, lights, Charles River


Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, Ontario, Muskoka Chairs, dock, sunset, nature


Lake Ontario, Toronto, Beaches, sail, sailboats, water

Lake Ontario

Old Montreal, Quebec, night photography, long exposure, historic

Old Montreal

Jerusalem, Israel, street photography, black and white, monochrome, man, beard

Jerusalem, Israel

Israel, Jerusalem, Western Wall, Orthodox, Man, Walking, Motion, black and white, travel photography,

Jerusalem, Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel, sunset, beach, family, photographer, golden, water, sea, Mediterranean

Tel Aviv, Israel


Sunset Solitude

I spent the weekend in Muskoka with my husband celebrating our anniversary. It was a wonderful, relaxing couple of days spent by the lake and exploring the neighbouring small towns. The resort we stayed at was right on Lake Rosseau and of course my favourite time to shoot is at sunset so how could I resist this scene.

Click on the image to view a high resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, Ontario, lake, sunset, silhouette, trees, landscape

Interview with Shannon Kalahan from Seeing Spots Photography

I think that one of the most important things that we, as photographers, can do to grow and improve our craft is to learn from other photographers. Whether you’re attending a workshop, reading a book about photographic vision or techniques or learning what makes a particular photographer tick, that knowledge will propel you forward and inspire you in immeasurable ways.

I am so pleased to introduce you today to Shannon Kalahan of Seeing Spots Photography. Shannon approached me a few weeks ago to see if I was interested in being interviewed for her blog and she on mine. I’d never done an interview but I jumped at the chance especially since I’d been following Shannon’s work for quite some time.

Shannon resides in Connecticut and is an incredible travel and landscape photographer, writer and teacher. Shannon has a keen eye for composition as evidenced by her beautiful photographs. You can see a selection of her images throughout this post but I do encourage you to visit her site and explore further.

Shannon Kalahan - Seeing Spots Photography

Shannon Kalahan – Seeing Spots Photography

How did you start out as a photographer and when did you know that this was something you wanted to do?

I think I’ve been excited about taking photos for as long as I can remember.  I remember many rolls of film passing through my hands when I was a little girl.  As far as what set me down my current path though…?  My first taste of travel photography was a trip to Spain and Portugal in 1999.  I loved being able to capture all of the beautiful places and moments I encountered while I was there.

My first serious attempts at photography came a few years later when I started volunteering for an equine rescue.  At the time, they didn’t have a website and very few images of the adoptable animals.  I knew that if people could see the animals, they would be more inclined to help – they stopped being some nebulous problem and started being living, breathing creatures that could melt your heart.  So, I picked up my camera (well…my Mom’s camera) and started shooting.  Having a structured project like that, including building a website, newsletter, etc helped teach me a bit about some of the discipline and skills I would need later when I finally started “Seeing Spots Photography”.

(The name, “Seeing Spots”, by the way, is an homage to the horse “Spot” I adopted from the rescue.  He was my favorite subject to photograph for a very long time! lol)

Shannon Kalahan - Seeing Spots Photography

Did you study photography formally?

I took one black and white film darkroom class, which went over the basics of composition and camera use towards the beginning of the semester.  The rest of the semester mainly focused on processing film and developing images in the darkroom.

From that class, however, I picked up a photo mentor who was a great resource when I had questions (still is!) and continued to teach myself with online resources, the occasional workshop, and by making lots of mistakes.

Your landscape and travel images are beautiful. What inspires you?

It’s a two-fold answer, I think.  I love the idea of putting something beautiful out there into the world and I love experiencing all of the awesome stuff that our planet has to offer. I have a strong belief that if more people could travel, as a whole, the human race would benefit from it.  It’s harder to ignore problems in other places when we have a vested interest or emotional connection with the diverse and beautiful cultures/locations around the world.

I am very aware of how blessed I am to have the opportunities and resources to travel, and equally aware that not everyone is as fortunate.  I love the idea of being able to bring beautiful images from the places I’ve seen into other people’s homes.  Again, the hope is that it will both bring them some measure of happiness to see these places, similar to the joy I get from creating the images…and that it will entice them to learn a little more about whatever the subject matter is.

Shannon Kalahan - Seeing Spots Photography

Shannon Kalahan – Seeing Spots Photography

As I was going through your catalogue of images I was blown away by your long exposures. Can you tell us what your process is in creating these images?

First, thank you so much for the kind words.  I really, always appreciate feedback. 🙂

So, long exposures… Most of those long exposures are either done in low light/overcast conditions or with simple ND filters.  I have used higher stop filters, but that isn’t the norm for me.  Most of my images involve waiting for the right light and going to pre-scouted locations when I think the conditions will be favorable.  From there, I tend to use basic camera controls to get the time value I’m looking for.

In particular, I like trying varying long exposures for water (waterfalls, streams, lakes and ocean) since we have so dang much of it in our state.  I am definitely not a “water” person (because…you know…sharks and such) but I am drawn to water as a subject to photograph.  It ends up in a lot of my images, preferably smoothed out with a long exposure.

Shannon Kalahan - Seeing Spots Photography

Shannon Kalahan – Seeing Spots Photography

As I was reading through your website I learned that you volunteered at an Equine Rescue and photographed the horses. Can you tell us a little more about that? Do you plan on pursuing animal photography down the road?

Well, as I mentioned a little bit earlier on, it was definitely one of the catalysts that put my feet on the path to photography.  The idea of taking photos of the horses started out as a way to help get them placed in permanent, loving homes but it turned into a huge learning process on so many levels for me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with horses, they are generally anywhere from about 800-2000lbs and are “flight animals” who have survived over the years primarily by running from danger.  Their eyes are very good at picking up movement (aka danger), and the only thing that usually tempers that is a strong hierarchy (faith that their alpha leader will keep them safe).  This boils down to very large animals that spook easily and can trample you if they get too afraid.

It created a unique environment for learning photography, to say the least. I learned a lot about patience, about waiting for the right moment and about the importance of good light (a camera flash is usually terrifying for a horse).  Since the idea was to get these animals adopted, I also learned a lot about the importance of flattering angles for the subject and how significant a beautiful landscape background could be.

As far as pursuing it in the future…I have no active plans for that at the moment, beyond the occasional request for portraits, but who knows where I’ll end up?

Shannon Kalahan - Seeing Spots Photography

Shannon Kalahan – Seeing Spots Photography

I love photography books so naturally I was excited when you offered your “Photography + Connecticut – The Nature and Landscape Mini Guide” as a free download. What inspired you to write this book and can we see more ebooks from you in the future?p1_cover

Ahh, now this is something I do see more of in my future!

As a lifelong Connecticut resident, I have spent a long time finding the beauty in our state and have also noticed it frequently gets overlooked by other photographers looking for locations.  It’s a damn shame, in my opinion.  I’ve felt for a long time that with a little more marketing, Connecticut could attract more “photo tourism” (because let’s face it, us landscape photographers are our own unique brand of traveler more concerned with good light and location than where we will end up sleeping).  I guess I finally just got tired of waiting for someone else to put out a good “Why you should bring your camera to CT” publication, so I decided to do it myself.

Plus, it was a great trial run for an educational ebook we have in the works for later this year.  It’ll have a lot of great tips, beautiful images and embarrassing stories in it…I think people are going to love it.

— You photograph, you write and you teach. (And I thought I was busy 🙂 ) You offer private sessions for photo editing, in field instruction and photo critiques and if that’s not enough to keep you busy I noticed that you and your business partner are going to be offering workshops. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Yeah, who needs to sleep anyway? Haha  Well, at the moment, we are acquiring permits for a few east coast locations so we haven’t announced workshop dates yet.  There will be at least one or two New England dates though, and possibly a third a little further down the east coast.  I have a newsletter which I will use to keep everyone up to date on that as it develops. (hint hint!)

Shannon Kalahan - Seeing Spots Photography

Shannon Kalahan – Seeing Spots Photography

What’s next Shannon? What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m currently working on another magazine article, and have an art gallery showing if you’re in the CT area.  Although, if you’re in the CT area, you know our weather has been awfully unpredictable lately and the opening reception just got postponed again.  I have a friend who photographs for a local newspaper, though he was allowed in to see the display and says it looks great. 🙂

We also have at least one educational ebook and workshops, and I’m hoping to put together at least one more mini guide in the next few months.

Beyond that, I’m always open to new partnerships, projects and friendships.  If anyone has anything in mind, contact me and we’ll see if it’s something we can make happen.

Shannon Kalahan - Seeing Spots Photography

Shannon Kalahan – Seeing Spots Photography

Where can people find you? or email me at

I’m also on 500px, Twitter, Instagram, G+, and Facebook.