Archive for the ‘Update’ Category

Why You Need a Tripod: Advantages of Using a Tripod in Photography

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

When I first started taking photographs, I thought a tripod was something that I could do without. It would be too cumbersome to carry, unnecessary in most situations, and another expensive gadget to purchase. However, that changed once I began to take my photography seriously. As my standards rose, I realized that a tripod is close to indispensable for getting the high-quality images I wanted to create.

Why Photographers Need a Tripod

What difference can a tripod make in your photography? Here are just a few of the ways:

It slows you down


Central Park in NYC is always an amazing place to make photos. It was an incredible snow storm. The temperature was in mid-30’s, the snowflakes were huge! I dashed out of my apartment knowing I had to get to the park fast. Using a 70mm-200mm lens to compress the scene and a slow shutter speed to create a vail falling snow. Waiting for the red jacket to appear in my composition was worth the wait.


The soft foamy flow of this stream in Dominica was achieved by placing my camera on a tripod so I can use a very slow shutter speed of 6 seconds.


Shooting a high school dance group on Knoxville, TN I decided to create the semblance of movement by placing my camera on a tripod so I can use a slow shutter speed of 2 seconds.


Filter Tips by Allen Rokach with Anne Millman

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Filter tips

Despite the many ways we can improve our images with after-capture software programs, it’s still a good idea to get the best possible results while you’re shooting. It will save you lots of time and energy and you’ll wind up with a stronger final product.

One of the simplest ways to get those better images from the start is by using filters and other add-ons that should be part of your regular photographic tool box. They are small, light and easy to take along. They vary in cost but will repay your investment many times over. (If you’re shopping for new filters, buy the thinnest ones you can afford).

Here are some of suggestions together with photos I took with this gear during my recent trip to Scotland, posted at the Adorama Learning Center.

What’s In My Gear Bag

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Allen's gear

[Originally posted at Adorama Learning Center]

One of the biggest challenges I face as a professional photographer is deciding what gear to take along for a foreign trip. I want to have a wide range of equipment but I’m limited by what I can fit into a carry-on bag for the flight. Each trip is a little different depending on the subjects I’m likely to encounter and the kinds of shots I anticipate taking.

For my current trip to Scotland, Ireland, and France, I knew I’d be photographing lots of gardens and landscapes; street scenes in some cities and quite a few towns and villages; and a host of people who cross my path during my travels.

Here’s what I took along to get the job done: (more…)

What’s New

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Summer 2017 update

Dear Fellow Shutterbug,

I hope you didn’t think that I’d stepped off the planet for a while. I know I’ve been delinquent about updating this website but I’ve still been running a full schedule of workshops, including “Wildflowers of Texas;” “Cuba: People and Places;” “Landscapes of the American West;” and “Birds and Landscapes of New Mexico,” with many of you in attendance.

In addition, I hope you’ve been reading the articles Anne and I have been writing for the Adorama Learning Center. We’ve gotten lots of good feedback and would love to get more so let me know what you think or send us your requests for subjects we can write about in the future.

I have a great line-up of workshops in the coming year with more of an emphasis on travel and nature destinations, though flower photography is still very much in the mix. In fact, my first summer workshop will be a brand new one to photograph lotuses and waterlilies at two magnificent aquatic gardens in the Washington D.C. area. Now that I’m based in New York City, I’ll also be teeming up with Fotocare to run some local weekend workshops that explore special destinations around the city, some in each season starting this summer.

I’ll be off for some personal travels this fall, but I’ll be back in time to offer “Birds and Landscapes of New Mexico,” which went very well last year. Then the new year begins with another incredible India workshop, a 3-week odyssey which focuses on the people and places of the Hindu region of South India. Please note that this workshop is already nearly full.

The spring months will feature a Color & Light workshop in Key West, Florida; another very exciting new workshop to explore the diverse landscapes of Death Valley; a return to Texas for its glorious wildflowers; a great opportunity to photograph Holland at the peak of its phenomenal bulb bloom; a new twist on Cuba that will bring us closer to its people and let us visit iconic locations in Havana and beyond; and a brand new exploration of the fabulous Chicago Botanic Garden, this time in the spring.

Scroll down to read more about all these offerings. I hope you will join me at one or more of these exciting opportunities to learn, have fun and meet wonderful people who share your interest in photography.

All the best and hope to see you soon,
Allen Rokach

How to Plan a Photography Road Trip

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

How to Plan a Photography Road Trip - Allen Rokach

[Originally posted at Adorama Learning Center]

We’ve taken more than our share of road trips, almost always with the idea of gathering images.

Sometimes it’s been for specific projects, like filling photographic gaps in a book, as we did when we were working on Focus on Travel. Other times, we’re on a personal mission, like getting to see all the U. S. national parks. And then there are road trips we take just to explore an area and see what we find.

Whatever prompts you to take a road trip, you’ll want to come back with interesting photographs, not just to document what you saw but to capture the spirit of what you experienced.

Here’s some advice to make the most of your upcoming road trip: (more…)

Wild About Wildflowers

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Wild About Wildflowers by Allen Rokach

[Originally posted at Adorama Learning Center]

Anyone who enjoys being in nature knows the special thrill of coming upon a field blanketed with wildflowers. These swaths of brightly colored flora usually emerge starting early in the spring and generally last only a week or two before yielding to the greens of summer.

Among the many places I’ve photographed wildflowers are the deserts of Israel and the dry foothills of Death Valley, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the coastal meadows of Maine — even the outskirts of Cape Town. But the region I’ve returned to most often is the hill country around Brenham, Texas. The flowers in this area of Texas are so easy to get to and so reliably beautiful that I’ve led at least ten photography workshops there — with one coming up this spring (April 6-9, 2017). But the lessons we learn apply to any wildflower location so check out what you can find near your own home and start your photographic outings soon. Here are some suggestions to help you come back with stunning images of wildflowers: (more…)

How To Achieve Sharper Images

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

We have gotten so used to looking at images on television, in newspapers and on smart phones that it’s often a shock to see a truly sharp print at an exhibition. A sharp image can dazzle the eye so unexpectedly that we may feel we’ve never really looked at things that way.

That’s why professional photographers and serious hobbyists devote considerable thought and energy to achieving the sharpest image possible. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to achieve a sharper image.

Continue reading at Adorama Learning Center.

Sand dune - White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Receding lines, using a very small aperture of f/22 plus converting the image into black & white give this image a sense of sharpness and great depth. Shot with a Fujifilm XT-1 with 10-20mm Fujinon lens.


Stan Hywet Garden in Akron, Ohio
Sharpness is created with a very small aperture of f/22 and the lines of the pathway. Shot with a Hasselblad with a normal 80mm lens at f/22.


Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
I spotted this meadowlark as we were driving so we stopped the car to assess the situation. (Stopping the car always helps.)To get maximum sharpness in this image, I locked my long Nikkor 28-300mm telephoto lens between my driver’s side window and the car frame to minimize camera shake and I focused very carefully. Luckily, the bird was a very cooperative subject and didn’t move. I didn’t want the background sharp so I used f/5.6 with my lens at 300mm.


Trinidad, Cuba
Receding lines. V shapes on path and on wall (left). Fast shutter speed (1/500sec.) to freeze workman’s motion gives this image sharpness and appearance of great depth. Fujifilm XT-1 with 18-55mm Fufinon lens set at f/11.


Death Valley National Park, CA
I stopped the car, framed the shot through the car window and used the curve in the road to lead into the frame. The multiple colors and the receding rounded hills have the appearance great sharpness and depth. Nikon D800 with 24-70mm lens at f/16.


Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Creating a high contrast of light and dark gives the image clarity and depth. The slight diagonal line running from right to left help create a better sense of depth. I focused on the point 1/3 into frame from right and used a tiny aperture of f.22 to give this image clarity and drama. Nikon D800E with 28-300mm Nikkor lens.


South India
Insisting that the subject not move was critical. The subject wasn’t sure where to look so I asked him to look directly into my eye. I waited patiently for the “right” expression on his face, using the time to focus accurately on the subject’s eye. A small aperture of f/11 and the warm background helped keep the subject’s white stubble and mustache sharp.Nikon D800E with 24-70mm lens.


Bosque del Apache National Wildlife refuge, New Mexico
Again, I stopped the car — feeling lucky to be at the right place at the right time. However, having my camera ready and close by and set on burst mode with a super fast shutter speed (1000/sec.) was not luck but good planning. Nikon D800E with a 28-300mm Nikkor lens set at f/5.


White Sands National Monument
Mindfulness and photographic seeing were necessary to craft this composition. Optical deception, large and small wiggly receding lines plus the decision to convert into a moderately contrasty b&W was helpful. Including photographer on right was brilliant. Hand held. Shot with a Fujifilm Xt-1 with 10-20mm Fujinon lens at f/22.


Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona
Making sure I did not get too close to the wall of this slot canyon was important. If I got too close to the wall and focused on the front part of the wall I would not have enough depth of field to get the background sharp. The receding curved lines on right and left of frame and the lightening of the image on both the right and left side helped me create a decent composition. Camera on tripod. Shot with Fujifilm XT-1 with 10-20mm Fufinon lens at f/22.

Aerial Photography: Alaska

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

A few years ago, we traveled to Alaska to visit the state’s numerous national parks — eight in all. As we planned our trip, we realized that only three of the parks — Denali (which we had been to before), Kenai Fjords and Wrangell-St. Elias — were reachable by road. And even those are so huge that we wouldn’t get to see much of their interiors unless we ventured further by boat or air. (Denali NP, which gets the most visitors, offers organized bus tours and allows private cars into the campgrounds but no further except by foot.)

Since we were determined to experience even Alaska’s most remote national parks, we booked boats and flights so we could see more of these magnificent wild areas and photograph them. In all, we took nine flights to explore five of Alaska’s most remote national parks: Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic, Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark and Katmai NP. We got to them on small planes of various sizes, including bush planes that can land on water.

Continue reading at Adorama Learning Center.

Holiday Parties: How To Capture The Good Times

Friday, December 16th, 2016

The end of the year is filled with celebrations — Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, office parties, and more — and that means a busy time for shutterbugs. We all want to capture those fun-filled moments with our cameras. Just like the holiday parties themselves, planning is the key to success. Continue reading at Adorama Learning Center.

How to Lighten Up Your Camera Gear

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

As a professional photographer, I always wanted to use the best equipment. Quality was foremost and quantity was not an obstacle. I had cabinets full of Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Hasselblad, Rolleiflex and Sinar cameras with an assortment of lenses to go with them.

But over the years, I faced more and more situations that required me to limit my equipment. There were weight limits on some flights, especially on small planes going to remote places. Or I had to hike into a location and could only carry so much. Or I was taking a trip with many stops and I wanted to simplify my load. And — I’m sure this is familiar to some of you — lugging a lot of heavy gear just wasn’t fun any more. Usually, I just took less of the equipment I had. But as I began replacing gear, especially after cameras went digital, I started looking at lighter models that still lived up to the quality requirements I had. Continue reading at Adorama Learning Center.

Exploring Acadia National Park and Coastal Maine

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

The coast of Maine is one of the most dramatic, rugged locations on America’s Atlantic shore. A good chunk of that coastal expanse, plus adjacent mountains and cliffs, were pieced together to create Acadia National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi River.

While it’s a great place to enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding and boating, it’s also a wonderfully challenging location for photographers. Here, within a relatively small area — its nearly 50,000 acres make it the fifth smallest national park in the system — you can find a diversity of landscapes: 26 mountains including the tallest on the east coast; 26 lakes and ponds; 17 stone bridges; a sand beach; a lighthouse; and a fjard (not quite a fjord!).

Here are some tips to help you come home with striking photographs of this wealth of visual riches.

Focus on Flowers: Backgrounds

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Flowers are so inherently beautiful that it takes extra effort to create a photograph that is even more striking than the flower. When I began photographing flowers, I basically took what I call “floral mugshots.” They were reasonably accurate but they didn’t say “Wow!” Gradually, I learned how to take better images of flowers.

One of the most important things I realized is that the flowers are just one element of the image; the rest are its surroundings, especially their backgrounds. How you handle those backgrounds can make the difference between a dull and a divine shot. In this article, I’ll discuss a variety of situations you’re likely to encounter in your flower photography and how you can best handle them using your DSLR. Continue reading at Adorama Learning Center.

Photographing Incredible India

Friday, August 12th, 2016

When people hear that I’ve been to India at least ten times, they often react with disbelief and say something like, “Isn’t it awfully poor and crowded?” Undoubtedly, there are areas of poverty and the big cities can be crowded — but those things can be found all over the world. What I’ve found in India is a unique mix of architectural marvels, fascinating people and displays of bright eye-popping colors that are made to be photographed.

If you’re curious and daring enough to venture a journey to India, here are some pointers to make it a photographic success.

Landscapes of the American West: A Photographic Guide

Friday, July 15th, 2016

With the 100th anniversary of the national parks, this is a great time to visit some of the amazing landscapes found in the American West. Between us, we’ve spent time and photographed in every national park in the system and we can definitively say that few landscapes — in the national parks and beyond — are as awe-inspiring as those found in our western states. And who can resist taking lots of pictures?

Here are some pointers to help you bring back images you’ll be proud to share.

Tips for Shooting Cuba: A Photographer’s Guide

Monday, June 20th, 2016

For photographers, there’s no time to waste to capture the special character of Cuba and its people before things change. Now that Cuba is no longer off-limits to Americans, a steady stream of visitors is coming to this Caribbean island less than an hour’s flight from Miami. Expectations are that the stream will soon be a flood, with the likelihood that this sleeping beauty will awaken and soon be transformed by globalization and the forces of homogeneity.

Having led three photography tours to Cuba in the last year, here are some of my suggestions for serious shutterbugs, posted on the Adorama Learning Center site.

What’s New

Thursday, January 28th, 2016


Dear Fellow Shutterbug,

A belated happy new year and wishing you a successful 2016 photographically.

I have a great line-up of workshops coming this year with more of an emphasis on travel and nature destinations, though flower photography is still very much in the mix.

The spring months will feature a workshop in Key West, Florida; a return to Texas for their glorious wildflowers; a great opportunity to photograph Holland at the peak of its phenomenal bulb bloom; a wonderful chance to visit and photograph four the best public gardens in the mid-Atlantic region; and a new twist on Cuba that will bring us closer to its people and let us visit iconic locations in Havana and beyond. (I’ve run two photo trips to Cuba in the last year and learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t so you can benefit from my experience.) And that’s just the beginning.

I’ll be back in Chicago twice this year. First, I’ll be there in July with a brand new exploration of the fabulous Chicago Botanic Garden plus four other amazing gardens in the vicinity, all at the peak of their summer bloom. Then I’ll return in October to offer a multi-faceted program consisting of a lecture, a workshop and a symposium on digital flower and nature photography. Lots of learning in Chicago this year.

The year will wind down with a few favorite destination workshops. In September, by popular demand, I’ll be taking a group on a photo adventure called “Landscapes of the American West,” which will explore some of this country’s prime western locations, including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Monument Valley and much more. I haven’t offered this trip in quite a while so don’t miss the opportunity to come along.

Then in November, I’ll be returning to Big Bend National Park and in December, I’ll be offering “Birds and Landscapes of New Mexico” following our sold-out expeditions to these locations last year.

Scroll down to read more about all these offerings. I hope you will join me at one or more of these exciting opportunities to learn, have fun and meet wonderful people who share your interest in photography.

All the best and hope to see you soon,

Allen Rokach

What’s New

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Allen Rokach Photography

Dear Fellow Shutterbug,

It’s hard to believe how quickly this year has flown by and how much has happened photographically.

The year began with another amazing travel photography experience in India, a fabulous opportunity to see and photograph this colorful, diverse and fascinating country. Each visit gets a little better as we gain familiarity with each location and develop relationships with various communities. That’s why I will again be offering a travel photography adventure to India in January 2016. Scroll down for more information.

Our visit to Burma/Myanmar was filled with magnificent Buddhist temples and the beautiful people of this newly-opened country. Let me know if you’d be interested in a workshop to this destination.

The spring months brought me back to Texas for another sold-out wildflower workshop. This popular offering will be repeated next April so look for it in the listings below. Then I returned to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for a fun reunion with friends in Virginia and a fruitful workshop applying digital techniques to the art of flower and garden photography.

The highlight of my spring was my first workshop in Cuba. This is a fascinating country with many economic challenges but warm and friendly people. Our group had many opportunities to photograph in Havana and in towns and villages around the island, even getting into some beautiful stretches of countryside for a glimpse of life in a variety of environments. Having learning from this first exposure, I have organized what promises to be an even better travel photography adventure to Cuba this December. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity before Cuba goes through changes that will surely come now that its political isolation has ended.

One wonderful development that occurred this spring, thanks to an introduction by one of the participants on the Cuba trip, is a new collaboration with Foto Care, a provider of equipment to the photographic profession in New York City’s photo district. Foto Care co-sponsored a one-day workshop on photographing roses, which took us to the New York Botanical Garden. I also have been invited to offer a series of lectures, free and open to the public, on travel photography. One presentation took place in July and the next one is scheduled on September 17 from 3-5 pm. Click here for details and to register. (BTW, Foto Care’s owner and his wife will be joining me on the December trip to Cuba!)

I recently returned from a sold-out weekend workshop at Chanticleer Pleasure Garden outside Philadelphia and now have my bags packed to take a vacation to southern Africa with Anne. We return in early September and I’ll be ready to run another series of exciting workshops this fall and beyond.

It’s been a pleasure to see and work with many of you throughout 2015 and I look forward to meeting even more of you in months ahead. You’ll find many great opportunities to hone your photographic skills, develop your creative potential, explore the ever-changing dimensions of digital photography, become more mindful and aware of the wonders around you, and learn with like-minded people who enjoy growing through personal interactions with the worlds of nature, flowers, gardens and cultures. So look below at the workshops I’ve lined up for the coming year.

Whether you are a returning student or a new participant, I hope to see you at one or more of these workshops to learn, have fun together and renew or build our connections.

All the best and hope to see you soon,

Allen Rokach