David T Stephenson: Blog http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog en-us (C) David T Stephenson dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) Tue, 04 Aug 2015 01:30:00 GMT Tue, 04 Aug 2015 01:30:00 GMT http://www.davidtstephenson.com/img/s/v-5/u657800192-o504879266-50.jpg David T Stephenson: Blog http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog 80 120 Project Sky http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/8/project-sky  


I'd like to introduce "Project Sky" a photo project. The purpose of this project will be to collect photos of the sky from all around the United States. I'll be taking these photos and assembling them into a final image featuring as many images as possible from as many places as possible.

1. Photos must be one you've taken, no limit on how many you can submit. Upon submission you are giving permission for these photos to be used in the final product.
2. Photos must feature the open sky, stormy skies, clear skies, evening and morning skies, the more variety the better.
3. Cellphone photos are accepted but higher resolution images from cameras will have priority.  
4. When submitting, please include your name, location and website if you have one.


Submissions will close once enough images have been received.

A very important part of this project is to let others know about it so we can get images from as many places as possible. Even if you don't want to submit a photo please share with others so we can get the maximum number of photos.


Submit photos to



dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) project sky http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/8/project-sky Tue, 04 Aug 2015 01:29:42 GMT
The Fourth Up North http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/7/the-fourth-up-north This past Fourth of July I traveled up north to Traverse City, Michigan.  I spent the day on the bay and exploring town with an air show in the middle and fireworks to cap it all off.  As much as I'd like to find something eloquent to say about these photos I can't, they aren't pretty colorful landscapes they are just the world as I see it through my experience, an American celebration of an American Holiday. As I walked through the crowds lining the streets and shorelines it was good to see that despite our differences as a society, we can still gather and celebrate the birth of the nation we call home.




dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) 5dIII Fourth of July Independence Day canon michigan street photography traverse city http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/7/the-fourth-up-north Wed, 08 Jul 2015 17:08:17 GMT
Capturing West Virginia http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/6/my-favorite-shots-from-west-virginia Every so often I like to gather up a few of my favorite shots from the past year or so and put them in one place, most of these photos are fairly recent excluding a few from several years ago. 

Haddad River Front Park



Trivillian's Pharmacy


Lightning over Patrick Street Bridge


Black Water Falls


Sunset taken from Sunset Drive


Summersville Lake


Cathedral Falls- Gauley Bridge, WV.

Dolly Sods- Autumn 2014


Along Saturday Road in Fayette County.


The Kanawha River near South Charleston.

Along the Railroad Trail in Hawksnest State Park.


A tree in bloom taken over looking Charleston.


Another from Cathedral Falls

Trees in Spring

Stream along the Endless Wall Trail

Overlook at the Endless Wall Trail in the New River Gorge.

Looking into the Gorge along the Endless Wall Trail.

Early Morning at Dolly Sods


An older photo taken in Babcock State Park.


Interstate Flowers




Where the New River meets the Gauley River, A long exposure on a stormy evening.

dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) art beauty charleston colorful fine new photography prints river virginia west wv http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/6/my-favorite-shots-from-west-virginia Fri, 19 Jun 2015 18:00:06 GMT
Zomei Multi-Functional Filter Holder http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/5/zomei-multi-functional-filter-holder  The Zomei Multi-Function Filter Holder is a 100x100 filter holder for photographers with a budget in mind. This filter holder runs about 20$ from Amazon and it can be found in multiple variations depending on the filter ring size you're looking for.  This product as with many, is a good example of; "getting what you pay for", sometimes there are exceptions where you'll find an amazing product at an equally amazing price but this isn't one of those. This filter holder is made of plastic with the exception of the mounting ring which is made out of aluminum. It has two filter slots with the addition of a circular slot on the front side of the mounting ring which allows the attachment of a circular filter between the lens and the square filters.

The main downfall of this filter holder is the amount of force that it takes to slide the filters into the slots, the plastic retainers apply far too much force making it hard to slide the filter in and out of the holder. Aside from this flaw, the holder does work but I'd definitely recommend not using this with expensive filters. I modified mine by placing cardboard spacers between the plastic bits that hold the filters. This helps but increases the chance of vignetting.


I'm not saying this filter holder is down right bad, it just isn't the best you are going to find. Aside from the issue with the excessive force needed to install filters, this holder will get the job done. I'd consider this product as a stepping stone, it'll work for now but you'll definitely want to upgrade when it becomes possible.


dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) 100x100 big cokin filter function holder lee multi stopper z-pro zomei http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/5/zomei-multi-functional-filter-holder Tue, 26 May 2015 01:42:59 GMT
TriggerTrap DSLR Remote System http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/5/triggertrapsystem A while back I was in the market for a cable release capable of doing exposure ramping for time-lapse projects, during that search I found a little device called "Triggertrap" I'm not totally sure how I stumbled across it but this little cable turns your smartphone into a full featured remote for your DSLR and at a cost of only about 30$.


Once you order the correct kit for your camera model, all you have to do is download the free Triggertrap app, attach the cable to your phone and then to your camera then you're ready to shoot.

The Triggertrap system is very affordable and it works with over 300 different cameras, the best part is, that if you get a different camera, all you need is a different adapter cable for the new camera. The Triggertrap system comes in two parts, the main portion that connects to your phone and a camera specific adapter to attach the cable to your camera. Rather than needing a different remote for each camera you can just buy one trigger trap and get the corresponding cable to match.


The complete system cost about 30$ and additional adapters run about 11.00 shipped.

Visit the Triggertrap website for more information.

Some of the features offered by this cool little tool, almost verbatim from straight from the application.

Cable Release Modes

  • Basic Cable Release- tap the button to take a photo
  • Quick Release- Release the button to take a photo
  • Press and Hold- Touch to start, release to stop
  • Press and Lock- Touch to start, touch again to stop
  • Timed Release- Set a shutter speed and hit just tap the button, the exposure ends after the selected duration.
  • Self Timer- select a countdown duration. 3....2....1...     

Timelapse Modes

  • Timelapse- Basic intervalometer
  • Timewarp- Timelapse with adjustable speed
  • Distancelapse- Take photos by distance traveled.
  • Star Trails- Timer for taking star trails- set exposure time, number of exposures, and time between exposures.
  • Bramping- Bulb ramping mode allowing the exposure to gradually change for shooting timelapses at sunrise or sunset.

Sensor Modes

  • Sound Sensor-
  • Vibration Sensor- shoots on vibrations
  • Motion Sensor- shoots on movement
  • Peekaboo- Facial recognition     

HDR Modes

  • LE HDR - Long Exposure HDRs
  • LE HDR Timelapses- Allowing you to create HDR Timelapses.

Remote Modes

  • WIFI Trigger


  • ND Calculator- calculates exposure times when using ND filters.
  • Solar Calculator- provides sunrise and sunset times.  

dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/5/triggertrapsystem Mon, 18 May 2015 20:16:11 GMT
The Endless Wall Trail http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/the-endless-wall The Endless Wall Trail is a 2.4 mile hiking trail that follows along the rim of the New River Gorge, recently named one of the best national park hikes by USA Today. This trail winds through the forest from the Fern Creek Parking Area out to the edges of the gorge where it offers an abundance of beautiful overlooks nearly 1000 feet above the river. For more information about this trail check out at the National Park Services Website




dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) endless hiking nature new river gorge trail wall http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/the-endless-wall Mon, 27 Apr 2015 19:10:14 GMT
Adobe Releases Lightroom 6 http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/adobe-releases-lightroom-6 Adobe has released a new version of its popular photo developing software, adding several great new features.  This new update is available to subscription customers and stand alone license holders. This new version is referred to as "Lightroom 6" for stand alone license holders and "Lightroom CC" for creative cloud subscription members.

There are several new additions to Lightroom 6 along with quite a few small changes. In this post I'll be touching on the most significant changes released in the new version.


Performance Increase

Probably one of the most welcome new additions is an increased level of performance.  Anybody who has used Lightroom can attest to the sluggish performance that often plagues the software. Adobe accomplished this performance increase by tapping into the video card to boost performance, this allows the GPU to alleviate some of the processing burden from the CPU.  During this time I've spent many mind killing hours clicking and waiting for images to load, hopefully this new change will remedy the terribly slow performance for good.

After spending a little time using the new software, I have found image loading to much quicker than it previously was though I still run into some of the typical snags and non-responsive fits that I had before.


New Features

  • HDR Merge - Lightroom now allows you to merge multiple exposures directly within Lightroom. Merging bracketed exposures previously required either exporting to Photoshop or using an alternative HDR processing program such as Photomatix. This new feature is very simple to use and produces good results. This features is accessed by either selecting the images you'd like to merge and either right clicking and choosing the "Photo Merge" option or alternatively accessing it from the "photo" menu at the top of the Lightroom window. The HDR merge feature has a simple interface that allows you to select the strength of the deghosting effect while leaving most of the processing adjustments to the develop module in Lightroom just as you would any other image. If you're looking for that hyper HDR look, you won't find that with this function. This feature creates very natural results leaving you with an image with an increased dynamic range.

    You access this feature by either pressing CRTL + H, right clicking and choosing "Photo Merge" from the menu, or from the drop down photo menu along the top of the Lightroom window. After choosing the desired settings within the dialog box below, just click merge and Lightroom will process the image and save it as a DNG file in the same folder as the source images.

HDR Merge PanelHDR merging dialog.


  • Merge to Panorama- Multiple photos can now be merged to create panoramas within Lightroom, the feature is accessed from the same "Photo Merge" menu that HDR Merging is found or by pressing CTRL+M.


  • Facial Recognition- The popular technology of facial recognition has now been introduced in light room.



  • Filter Brush- Adobe has introduced a filter brush, this allows you to apply a gradient filter then edit out portions that may be covering objects within the scene.



dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) Adobe Editing HDR Panorama Photo Raw lightroom 6 http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/adobe-releases-lightroom-6 Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:51:30 GMT
A Town Called Thurmond http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/a-town-called-thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia was a town that sprang up around the coal industry in the New River Gorge around the end of the 19th century. Until 1921, the town was only accessible by rail, despite the remote location, it once featured two hotels, two banks and a population of almost 500. Modern day Thurmond is a ghost town for the most part only having about five residents according to the 2010 census.

According to Ripley's Believe It Or Not; Thurmond was the home to the world's longest running poker game which lasted for 14 years.  It also served as the location for the 1987 film "Matewan". The Thurmond train station can be seen in the background of the film poster below.

I've taken this collection of images over the years showing the present condition of the town. If you are close enough to make a visit it is well worth it.  Check it out on Google Maps

Today, you'll find a landscape still dominated by the railway, a collection of houses perched along the slopes, a renovated train station, several remaining commercial buildings, a coaling tower and various remnants of structures from the town's past.

Historical Images Credit- http://www.nps.gov

Prints of these images can be purchased at the following link. Proceeds from the sale of prints help me to keep capturing new images such as the ones you see here. Thank you!  -Print Gallery



The Thurmond train depot, this building serves as a visitor center and is also an active Amtrak boarding location.


Thurmond StationThurmond Station


Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond   Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond
Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond

The Thurmond Post Office was established in 1888 and served the community till 1995. Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond


  Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond

Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond

Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond


Near the end of town sits the house used in the filming of Matewan, despite being stabilized by the park service, the house is in drastic need of repair.

Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia The Town of Thurmond     



If you watch the film, you'll notice the same pink wallpaper seen here in the background during the dining room scenes.







Source of Historic Images:


dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) Thurmond West Virginia new river gorge trail http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/a-town-called-thurmond Tue, 14 Apr 2015 17:05:02 GMT
Getting Sharp Long Exposures http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/getting-sharp-long-exposures If you are new to long exposure photography, and you are ending up with blurred shots, these tips will help you get sharp shots no matter how long you leave the shutter open. The key theme of all of these tips is the reduction of motion, when it comes to long exposure shots, the slightest motions can ruin what may have been a great shot.

The main points of this guide will cover the following;

1. Tripods

2. Remotes and Timers

3. Mirror Lockup Mode

4. Image Stabilization

5. Shooting Modes


1. Tripod

Your tripod will be one of the most important parts of the long exposure process. Mount your camera, frame your shot and tighten down your adjustments. If you are shooting in a windy environment you can attach a small weight to allow for a little added stability, many tripods have hooks for this exact purpose.  When shooting outdoors, depending on your location, you may not always have the most solid places to put your tripod so just do your best to find firm footing for your tripod to avoid blur from a shifty tripod. I usually give the tripod a little shake to firmly plant it to the ground. 

If you don't have a tripod, they are one of the best first camera accessories as well as one of the most affordable. Starting out, just about any tripod will work. Amazon has a great selection of affordable tripods if you're in the market.

Shop for Tripods




2. Remotes and Triggers

If you don't have a cable release, set your Drive Mode to "2-Second Delay", This will allow you to press the shutter and remove your finger before the shutter fires, giving time for any vibrations to cease.

If you do have a cable release, you can eliminate the need for "2-Second Delay" and you can also utilize "Bulb Mode" on your cameras dial, bulb mode allows you to take shots longer than the typical maximum of 30 seconds the camera allows without a cable release. This mode is great for getting super long exposures when using dark neutral density filters such as a Lee Big Stopper.

Shop For Cable Releases


3. Mirror Lockup Mode

Within your menu settings you'll find "Mirror Lockup Mode", this setting allows the mirror to open prior to the actual exposure which gives any vibrations caused by the mirror box to subside before the image is captured.


4. Image Stabilization

This one is pretty important, no matter how secure your tripod is, if your image stabilization system is enabled you will end up with blurry shots.

 Image stabilization is great for getting sharper shots as slower shutter speeds while shooting free handed but if enabled while on a tripod it can have the opposite effect. As seen in the photo below, significant blurring can occur.


5. Shooting Modes

When shooting long exposures, you'll be best served and have the greatest level of control by using either Bulb Mode or Manual Mode. You'll use manual mode for exposures up to 30 seconds which happens to be the maximum most cameras allow. If you wish to use shutter speeds longer than 30 seconds, you'll need to use Bulb mode in conjunction with a cable release. You can also use "Shutter Priority/TV mode" as well, this mode allows you to choose your shutter speed while the camera chooses aperture. I've found it best to stick with full manual mode as I always need control over the aperture. The camera if left to decided on its own, will almost always choose the largest aperture available when the light is low. This can cause you to have soft photos due to having a shallow depth of field. 

6. Getting in Focus

If you are having trouble focusing, try using live view. By using live view, you can utilize the magnification feature of your camera and you'll then be able to manually peak your focus. If you are shooting a static subject such as a landscape, you can turn on manual focusing once you've found the sweet spot and keep shooting till you zoom or change subjects.

Tip: Most DSLR lenses will need to be refocused once you zoom in or out as they do not hold focus when zooming.


A good thing to remember about shooting long exposures is unlike shooting freehand, you aren't limited by the shutter speeds needed to avoid blurring from camera shake. This gives you the freedom to try various settings that you'd not normally be able to use while hand holding your camera.

I'll be posting little guides like this from time to time, for corrections, suggestions and questions please use the comment section below the article.





dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/getting-sharp-long-exposures Thu, 09 Apr 2015 17:59:30 GMT
Affordable HSS Capable Flash http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/turtle-head Recently, I was in the market for a second Flash that was HSS (High Speed Sync) capable. My equipment budget is often very tight so I'm always looking for good deals on useful gear that won't leave me broke. There are many "off brand" flashes out there so it can be a little tricky to wade through the many Chinese built offerings that saturate the market. After a good bit of research and comparisons, I decided to go with the "Triopo TR-988" which I first found on Amazon for 75$, with a little more research I found the same flash with a set of Godox Triggers and a pack of Godox Flash Gels for only 5$ more, the triggers alone go for 25$ on Amazon. This is a significant savings over the more well known HSS capable Yongnou 586 flash that goes for 125.00 or the Yongnou 600 for 150.00

This flash is built fairly well, comparable to my Yongnou 565 but like the Yongnou, its not a Canon or Nikon, the battery door is a bit lack luster with what seems like a design that won't take much abuse. There are very few reviews online for this flash so aside from the product specs I had very little to go on as well as the price that is hard to beat. My goal was simple, add HSS capability to my lineup, this flash will do that job and with time I will update how well it holds up.


dvid3k@gmail.com (David T Stephenson) http://www.davidtstephenson.com/blog/2015/4/turtle-head Mon, 06 Apr 2015 17:49:15 GMT