PreS (pre-script; not a postscript): Once I sat down to write this post, it became very long and clear to me that my idea of “first half of the year report” needed to be divided into smaller pieces (in half again) … 

I have a favorite podcast that I listen to entitled At the Movies with Arch and Ann … In a recent episode, each came up with a list of their top ten movies released during the first half of the year, hence “The Halfsies.”  I have adopted that title for this long-overdue blog post to share what I’ve been up to for the first six three months of the year.

In essence, the first six months was a lot of travel and lectures, scoping out places for potential b+w infrared workshops in the US around the same time of the year as they would be offered in 2019. You can always see what I am up to by viewing my posts on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter

My posts on social media don’t happen during my trips and sometimes not until months afterward. I have found that I need to put time and distance from any emotional (good or bad) experience tied to that trip to have a more discerning eye when choosing which images to process. I also like to post a series from a trip, not toss up random images I like from the archives…


Late last fall, I had a request from Hahnemühle Fine Art Paper for a digital file of this image taken one cold January day of the lighthouse in Cape May Point State Park, New Jersey. I delivered it to the capable hands of Hahnemühle USA’s master printer, Travis McConnaghy. Hahnemühle chose Torchon, a textured 100% cotton photo rag paper, to make an approx 30″ x 60″ print to hang in their exhibition booth at the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) annual conference January 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.

I’ve long admired the prints in Hahnemühle’s booth at the Javits Center (New York, NY) during PPE (Photo Plus Expo) every fall and I was amazed at the size of those prints. As my little Epson P800 printer can only handle up to 17″ x 22″, I just had to see how the Nikon D800 image held up enlarged to that print size so I booked a flight and a room to attend the mid-January conference. Hahnemühle asked if I would be interested in spending an hour to sign small prints for an hour one day, talking infrared with those interested — a “meet the artist” sort of event. I was flattered and happy to help; it was a wonderful experience and I was thrilled with the image quality produced by the camera and how fantastic it looked on textured paper! Many thanks to Kevin Graham and Carol Boss from Hahnemühle USA for the invite.

Nikon D800 720nm, Nikkor 24-120mm f4 lens, 4 min exp, 15-stop ND filter

I returned to Cape May (New Jersey) at the end of January, attempting to shoot the Lunar Eclipse “Blood Moon” as it set over the Delaware Bay. I rarely see people — never mind photographers — at that time of the year pre-dawn on the beaches in Cape May. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the location I deemed absolutely perfect for the moonset to find a line up of photographers at their tripods, cameras mounted with cannons for lenses, pointed due west towards the setting moon over the ocean. The biggest problem was the high (and bone-chilling cold) winds that were blowing. One of those “not much fun” experiences. I won’t share any shots, as they were all hideous (no way to stop the vibration of the 200-500mm lens I used no matter what I did). What I learned was I need more practice at shooting a full moon — it moves faster than you realize and you have to quickly bracket your shots much farther apart than 1-stop.

The morning was not lost — I did manage a couple infrared shots elsewhere in the state park. The funky winter sky (below) only lasted until the sun was above the horizon… the clouds were a beautiful shade of pale pink — ice crystals hanging in the winter sky.

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 lens

In the state park, there are several trails around natural freshwater ponds and this time of the year, the trees are bare of leaves. I love bare trees.

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 16-35mm f4 lens


In February, I gave a lecture at the Color Camera Club of Westchester (New York) … My Introduction to Black-and-White Infrared Photography seemed to be well-received by the packed audience. Thanks to club member Peter Nagy for being the glue.

At the very end of February, I headed to Charleston, South Carolina to see what early spring was like. Last time I had photographed in Charleston (2016), it was the end of March and the azalea bloom had happened in February … A friend’s sister lives within a few miles of Magnolia Plantation and in mid-February 2017 she emailed me to share the azaleas were blooming! Well in 2018, I was a couple weeks ahead of the bloom but there were lots of other things to shoot in IR.

The very photogenic dead trees (located on a beach in Edisto Beach State Park, south of Charleston) that appeared to grow out of the Atlantic ocean were destroyed after one of the coastal hurricanes came through the summer of 2017.  The shoreline had moved by 50 yds and the “bones” beach was completely underwater without a trace of all those dead trees. For non-coast dwellers, we forget how much and how often Mother Nature reshapes the coastline with every passing storm, summer or winter.

I had a hankering to shoot those former “plantation” trees so I drove a couple hours south to Hunter’s Island — not once but twice. Magical! Just be careful as the tide comes in very quickly and you can catch yourself in a jam if you don’t pay attention. There is also a lighthouse to be photographed just miles from this beach inside the state park.

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 16-35mm f4 lens, 3 sec exp, Kolari Vision IR ND 9-stop

One must visit Magnolia Plantation and Gardens when in Charleston. I have photographed a bamboo grove before in infrared so I was eager to work in the Bamboo Garden at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens… If you ever find a bamboo patch, do not hesitate to photograph. The interesting angles were made by the breezy conditions and the sound of the bamboo “rattling” around in the wind was so cool.

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 lens

In the Audubon Swamp (part of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens) I was delighted to find several trees in large ponds with nesting water birds. This “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” was home to a pair of cormorants and their nest (on the right behind the cormorant drying his wings) and another wading bird (perhaps a stork sitting on eggs in the nest, upper left). Different species happy to share a very small tree … humans could learn from inter-species relationships.

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 70-20mm f4 lens


In late March, I returned to a place that is quickly becoming an old friend — Joshua Tree National Park. I made arrangements with the Holiday Inn Express (a really nice, new hotel with an amazing staff) to host my first workshop in JTNP. We are in the books for March 22-25, 2019! Click here to request a prospectus. This trip I did some very early morning night photography (Milky Way) in infrared (started about 5 a.m.) and worked into the sunrise (approx 7 a.m.).

I was amazed at how much IR light is available long before the visible light appears. The five-second exposure caused the moving bushes (surprised how breezy it was before the sun rose and how still it got at sunrise), but I am OK with the blur for a first time try knowing nada… This was taken with my 16-35mm Nikkor at 16mm but I’ll be making a decision about a fast prime lens for my 2019 JTNP workshop — we will be returning to this spot. No light painting is allowed in Joshua Tree National Park as it is a designated International Dark Sky Park…

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 16-35mm f4 lens, ISO 6400, 5 sec exp

The sunrise (behind me) at the Cholla Cactus Garden … JTNP is the place where the Colorado Plateau meets the Mojave Desert. The joshua trees are found in the Mojave Desert part of the park. No jtrees? You are probably in the Colorado Plateau, like this cholla cactus garden featuring over 100,000 catcus plants.

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 lens

A formation called The Intruder … long exposure with clouds that did not last long as the overnight storm pulled to the east.

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 16-35mm f4 lens, 30 sec exp, 15-stop ND filter

The delicate Ocotillo Cactus … there is a single red furry flower at the end of each cactus branch … it is very tall (this one had to be 8 ft tall).

Nikon D850, 720nm, Nikkor 16-35mm f4 lens

And the reason I’ve been drawn to this national park: the Joshua Tree, spectacular in IR … what I learned about this handheld single-image shot was how much IR light wrapped around to the shadow side of the tree.

Nikon D750, 850nm, 16-35mm f4 lens

At the end of March, another full moon happened. Ventured out with friends (shout out to Eduard and Nina) to Fort Lee Historic Park in Ft Lee, New Jersey, located on the west side of the George Washington Bridge (over the Hudson River, north of Manhattan). This shot has long been on my bucket list. I did shoot IR, but the flare from the moon during bracketing made me switch to the Nikon D810 (my non-IR, ‘color’ camera body). Yes, this is a non-IR b+w image (gasp! color -> b+w). This time I was ready for bracketing, bound and determined to get this shot. There is something timeless about photographing the City that Never Sleeps (New York City) in black and white.

Nikon D810, Nikkor 70-200mm f4 lens, ISO 1100 (2 shots)

And that wraps up the First Quarter of my year … more t/k (it’s already written so part 2 will be along shortly) …

In Other News …

I continue to explore new infrared processing workflows and software … Skylum (former MacPhun) has made huge strides in short time with their PC+Mac Luminar processing software. It’s pretty clear they are taking on Adobe LR without the catalog system (which is one reason I don’t use LR) and you can work in layers all within Luminar. Pretty powerful for a small price. Use my discount code PTP10 for $10 off, if you don’t already have it!

Laurie Klein’s presets for Luminar called Infrared Mastery are pretty amazing and the combo of Luminar and Laurie’s presets makes processing raw files from 590nm through 850nm a piece of cake for those who don’t like to spend a lot of time processing. Of course, all of my new techniques and software that I use are demonstrated in every workshop (we spend half the workshop in the classroom processing) — you bring your laptop and work on your images with my help during our daily classroom time.

Kolari Vision has shared some really cool news with me (I can’t share yet) but new products are coming this fall. These guys work really hard at developing new technology for our cameras and they excel at customer service. If I can’t answer your question, they can. And the people I have sent to them make a point of telling me about their very pleasant and educational experience when they call Kolari.

I’ve got a few more ideas that I am pondering for educational weekend events so as soon as these are ready to go, you’ll be the first to know! Of course, it is securing hotels with meeting rooms that need to be sorted out. Next year I will offer four location three-and-one-half-day workshops (Joshua Tree National Park, Cape Cod, Rhode Island Coast, and Cape May NJ) and (hopefully) several weekend seminars.

I will try very hard to not let my communication slide 6+ months but choosing exact shooting locations and selecting hotels for my workshops has taken way more time than I thought it would. I feel that I must travel, shoot, and stay in the hotel that my clients will experience and THAT, my friends, has been an eye-opening experience. Places I assumed checked all the boxes, simply don’t. Thank you for your patience!