Story behind the image

Some folks think that the great nature photography is largely a matter of
(1) Having a nice camera (which is only partially true -- I have had images accepted into competitive juried shows taken with my little point and shoot camera)


(2) haphazardly stumbling across a nice scene and clicking the shutter (otherwise known as being lucky!).

Rarely does it happen that way.  Some photo shoots are carefully planned ahead of time (e.g., photographing migrating sandhill cranes at sunrise in March at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in southern Colorado).  Other images are somewhat more happenstance as far as what the exact subject matter might be (e.g., hiking mountain trails in June and July, seeking out wildflowers).  But even when a good "candidate" subject is found (planned or not), it can easily take an additional 30 minutes or more to set up the shot, wait for "good light", adjust tripod and general camera location, set up diffusers and/or reflectors, change the camera settings for optimal exposure and depth of field, tweak the camera position (sometimes by fractions of an inch), wait for the wind to die down or clouds to move, etc.

For the image that I titled "Dance of the Columbine", the tripod set-up probably took 15 minutes (including the use of a "plamp" anchored to a small aspen tree to hold the columbine stem still -- see image below), then another 10-15 minutes to fine tune the camera position to get to exact relative spacing that I wanted between the two blossoms (leaving a small gap between them), another 10+ minutes with trial exposures using different diffuser configurations to reduce the harsh lighting, and then waiting for the constant breeze to let up to capture the final image.  Total time: 40-45 minutes.  Total photos taken: 33.

This image (one of my favorites of many columbine photos taken over the last 10 years) is now available on various print media on my website at

Let me know of any questions about this image by commenting below or emailing me directly (!

Thanks for reading - stay safe.