Macro Photography with a Light Table

Macro Photography with a Light Table

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March 22, 2020,
     Have you tried macro photography with a light table?  It’s a great way to explore and enhance your photography skills while cooped up in quarantine.
     Did I hear you say “I don’t have a light table!”  I bet you do!
     An iPad or any other computer tablet will make a great light table. I use an app on my iPad called Trace Table. It’s almost free–it cost me $0.99.  There are free apps that will work but I bought Trace Table because it has features for tracing and transferring hand drawings to digital drawings which I use in my artwork.
     Last night I used my Canon 80D DSLR camera with my Canon 60mm macro lens to shoot a bunch of macro photography shots using my iPad as a light table.  I used my good tripod where the center post can swing out and form a horizontal boom.  Here is an iPhone photo of my setup.
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My setup of Canon 80D camera on a Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod with center post that swings to horizontal boom.
I have attached my camera on the tripod with a focusing rail. You can see the cable release and iPod as light table as well.


        Since the camera is mounted on a horizontal boom, I find it very convenient to use the focusing rail.  Without the focusing rail, one would need to adjust the length of the three tripod legs everytime one wants to move the camera up or down a little bit.  With macro photography, one likes to adjust the camera’s height often!  My focusing rail is Velbon’s “Super Mag Slider” and it allows me to adjust in two dimensions–up and down and side to side.  For macro work, you could easily get by with a less expensive focusing rail that adjusts only in one dimension–up and down.  Here is a close up of the focusing rail with its two knobs for adjusting in the two dimensions.
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Camera mounted on Velbon “Super Mag Slider” focusing rail.


    Since I want high quality, I shot at an ISO of 100. To maximize the depth of field, I set the camera’s aperture at f/22.  I used manual focusing. You might be tempted to shoot the camera set at Aperture Priority (Av on Canon) but don’t!  If you do, you get a shot like the following:
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Shot at ISO 100, f/22. The camera in Aperture Priority mode selected a shutter speed of 1 second.


On Aperture Priority, the camera’s metering system will read the strong light of the iPad and your subject will be in silhouette.  Great if you want a silhouette!  You want to set the camera to M (Manual),  You adjust the shutter’s time manually until you can capture the light that is coming through the subject, for example, as shown in the next image of a similar flower cluster.
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Shot at ISO 100, f/22.  Shutter speed manually set at 10 second.


   Note the following interesting fact: with the long exposure time in the above image, the white background is still just white, even though I blasted the highlights in the second image to the extreme.   This is an important fact to understand when using high key lighting, i.e., white background.  Highly overexposed white is still white!
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Another shot of the thin slice of a clementine that we saw in the very first image.


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A shot of a leaf of Wild Mustard, a nasty invasive weed that you probably have/hate in your yard.
Leaf is about 1 cm across. Note that you can see the grid of individual pixels in the iPad’s display.


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Macro shot of a feather I found in yard. Probably of a Blue Jay.
I tried to make it look like the underbelly of a spaceship from Star Wars.


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Part of a pen lying on the iPad to show you how close I can get with my macro lens.
Note: you can see a cat hair.  They are everywhere in our house!


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I shot a clear plastic ruler with my 60mm macro lens as close as it can focus.
From the “5” to the longer line to the right is a half inch!


     As you can see, the iPad as a light table is great source of light for objects that are translucent, such as an orange slice, a flower, or a bug.  Many of us knew that!  However, you may not have realized the following use.  It can make solid objects look like they are floating in the air!  What??  Look at the following image of a cat toy (Used with Gandalf’s permission).
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A cat toy floats by.


For the cat toy shot, I used a different set up.  Rather than shoot straight down on the object lying on the iPad, I moved the camera off to the side and turned on the overhead ceiling light,  The cat toy was lying on the iPad that was still lying flat on the dining room table.  Because our brain expects the light to come from above as in the sky and expects to have shadows near the bottom of an object, the cat toy appears to float in midair!  Any shadows from the above ceiling lamp are canceled by the strong light of the iPad underneath.  If you look closely, you can see the temperature of the light on top of the cat toy is slightly warmer (more yellow) than underneath.  I made no attempt to balance the temperature or intensity of the ceiling light to the iPad.
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Matchbox toy car tumbling.


     Same setup as the cat toy before but with a Matchbox toy car.  It looks like it’s flying through the air tumbling.
     With a bit of creativity, your iPod as a light table can help you create many interesting macro photographs.  Have fun!
     Stay safe and healthy.  Use the extra time you have to improve your photography skills. ☺
Posted by Dan Hyde in Community Outreach, Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments
Lewisburg Arts Festival’s Annual Photo Show April 24-May 8, 2020

Lewisburg Arts Festival’s Annual Photo Show April 24-May 8, 2020

The Lewisburg Art Festival’s 2020 Annual Photography Show is from Friday April 24 to Friday May 8, 2020 at the Himmelreich Memorial Library, 18 Market Street, Lewisburg, PA.


Here are the Official Info Packet and Entry Form:


   Note that drop off is at the Pubic Library for Union County on Friday, April 10, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., or Saturday, April 11, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
   The Reception for the Show is April 24, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., in the William D. Himmelreich Memorial Library.  Awards will be presented at the Reception at 7:30 p.m.


    See the Info Packet for the details.


    I encourage all photographers to submit entries to the Show.


    Also please share this message with any photographer that you may know.  A photographer is not required to be a Photo Club member.


Posted by Dan Hyde in Announcement, 0 comments
Taking shots of Snowdrops and other Spring Wildflowers

Taking shots of Snowdrops and other Spring Wildflowers

February 5, 2020


      Yesterday I noticed that my Snowdrops were blooming.  On February 4th!  A bit early for central Pennsylvania.


       It feels strange to be shooting wildflowers this early in the season but why not.  Above is a shot of one of my Snowdrops that I took this afternoon. The Snowdrop is about 3 inches high. I took the shot at ISO 400, f/22, and 0.4 seconds shutter speed. Shot on my “macro” tripod with cable release.


      I used my Canon 80D DSLR camera with my Canon 60mm macro lens.  Since I wanted to get close to capture the whole plant and have a deep depth of field, I shot in Aperture Mode at f/22.   For a good quality image and low noise, I shot at ISO 400.  With these settings, I could not hand hold the shot.  Everything was blurry!  I soon discovered that the shutter speed needed was 0.4 seconds.  Way too long for a handheld shot!  Back into the house for my “macro” tripod.


     I call it my “macro” tripod because it can get very low to the ground which is needed for wildflower shots.  This tripod is made by Manfrotto and it’s their 190XPROB model.  I don’t think they make this particular model anymore but they do sell very similar ones, e.g., Manfrotto MK190XPRO3-BHQ2 Aluminum Tripod with XPRO Ball Head and 200PL QR Plate that costs $255 at B&H.  You can get different tripod heads. You can use the tripod’s rapid center column in standard vertical mode or swing it into horizontal position like a boom. The three legs can adjust out to be almost level with the ground (3 settings).  See picture below.
My “macro” tripod with center column horizontal as a boom.


         For years I struggled with a cheap tripod with little capability.  Very frustrating!  As a result, I hardly ever used my old tripod!  BIG mistake! Now that I have my good Manfrotto tripod I use it often and my photography has seen a significant improvement!  A good tripod is worth it!  If you don’t have one, consider purchasing one.


Posted by Dan Hyde in Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments
How to make decorative lights twinkle like stars

How to make decorative lights twinkle like stars

December 16, 2019
     How to make Christmas Tree Lights twinkle like stars as in the above image?   Decorative lights are so pretty at night but it can be hard to recreate their sparkle in photographs. Here’s the technique for achieving just that—the secret is in the aperture!  Here are the instructions to make the lights appear like starbursts.
      First make it dark by turning off the room lights and shooting at night.  Mount your camera on a sturdy tripod and use a cable release to reduce camera shake.  If you don’t have a cable release, you can use your camera’s two-second timer to release the shutter.  I set my camera’s ISO to 1600.  Use aperture mode or Manual mode and set the aperture to f/22 (The camera’s aperture is a very small hole.).
      In the dark your camera’s autofocus feature may be confused and continually search for focus or not work at all so set your lens to Manual Focus and focus manually on the lights. On my Canon 80D camera, I use Liveview mode so I can view the image on the screen on the back of my camera.  Liveview helps me to compose the image and focus when the camera is on the tripod.  Start with a long time exposure of 5 to 10 seconds and check the picture for exposure.   Adjust the shutter speed if you need but leave the aperture at f/22.  Experiment with different shutter speeds.
      The key to the starburst effects is using the very small aperture of f/22. If you use an aperture that is narrow enough, e.g., f/22, the image captured will have obvious rays of light extend out from each light source, making them appear like stars. This is known as the “starburst effect.”  The number of “points” that your starburst  has (i.e., the number of rays of light that extend from the light source) is dependent on the number of aperture blades in your lens’ aperture diaphragm. An even number of aperture blades results in the same number of starburst points, whereas an odd number of blades results in twice the number of starburst points.  My Canon 18-200mm zoom lens has six aperture blades which creates starbursts with six points as seen in the above image.  Any lens you have will work.  However, your lens may create starbursts with a different number of points.
       Enjoy taking photos of decorative lights such as Christmas lights and candles.
Posted by Dan Hyde in Community Outreach, Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments
What’s a Macro photo?

What’s a Macro photo?

Several members have asked “What’s a macro photo?”  It is a closeup shot of something small, e.g., an insect such as the bee above, parts of flowers, stamps, coins, and paper clips.


    Technically, a macro shot is one where the object’s image on the camera’s sensor or negative is larger than the object.


     I like to relax the definition to the following: A macro shot is one where the object’s image when printed 4 by 6 inches is larger than the object.  This way the photographer does not need to know how big the camera’s sensor or negative is. This also allows more photos to be macros in line with what most photographers consider macro shots.


     This month’s Photo Quest is a follow up of last month’s excellent talk on Macro Photography.  Here are links to Wayne Palmer’s talk:

PDF version of Wayne’s slides, six per page, of his presentation  Macro Photography-6 – Great for printing.

PDF version of Wayne’s slides of his presentation Macro Photography – Great for viewing on screen.



Posted by Dan Hyde in Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments
Images of Photo Walk down Market Street, Lewisburg, PA

Images of Photo Walk down Market Street, Lewisburg, PA

May 11, 2019

Some of Dan Hyde’s images taken along the Lewisburg Photography Club’s Photo Walk down Market Street, Lewisburg, PA on May 11, 2019.

Can you identify the location of each of the images?


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“What’s a Photographer?” Dan’s Talk at Milton, PA Rotary

“What’s a Photographer?” Dan’s Talk at Milton, PA Rotary

February 18, 2019

Today I gave a short talk “What’s a Photographer?” at the Milton, PA Rotary.  I thought I would share pdfs of my Powerpoint slides.   The slides have been modified to include extras slides with notes on what I discussed during my talk.

Rotary Talk with notes  – PDF version of Dan’s slides – best for viewing on screen.

Rotary Talk with notes-6  – PDF version of Dan’s slides with 6 slides on a page – best for printing.




Posted by Dan Hyde in Announcement, Community Outreach, News, 0 comments
Using colored gels on your Speedlite flash

Using colored gels on your Speedlite flash

February 1, 2019

Today was the first day of the “Hearts of Lewisburg Ice Festival” in Lewisburg, PA.  Many of the stores downtown have ice sculptures in front of their storefronts. I thought it would be a great opportunity to experiment with colored gels on a Speedlite flash.  This note explains how to use colored gels on your Speedlite flash.

For the colored gels, I used several in my Vello EZ-FLIP GEL SET ($20).  The set has 30 assorted colored gels that fit in a plastic holder that’s held on by velcro to the head of the Speedlite.  The set comes with a small case.

First, you want control of the direction of the flash.  That means getting the Speedlite off your camera!  To achieve this, I used a RF transmitter/receiver setup between my Canon 80D DSLR camera and Canon 430EXIII-RT Speedlite.  The transmitter (Yongnuo YN-E3-RT) fits on the hot shoe of the camera.  The Speedlite fits on top of the receiver (Yongnuo YNE3-RX).  This transmitter/receiver pair is a little more expensive (together $135) because they are compatible with Canon’s E-TTL (Through The Lens) protocol.  This is the same protocol used by a Speedlite when it’s on top of your camera.  This means the amount of flash will be determined by the light measured Through The Lens (TTL) by a pre-flash.  Cheaper transmitter/receiver setups mean you have to control the flash manually with lots of trial and error.

My Canon Speedlite came with a little plastic stand.  I mounted the Yongnuo receiver on the plastic stand and attached the Speedlite to the receiver as shown above.  For my ice sculpture pictures I placed the stand with receiver and Speedlite on the sidewalk near the bottom of the sculpture usually at a 45 degree angle on the right from where I stood with the camera.  I pointed the head of the Speedlite approximately at the center of the sculpture.

Here is the plastic stand, the receiver, and Speedlite with a red gel inserted in the Vello EZ-FLIP gel holder.

The Vello gel holder easily flips up so you can shoot without the gel.

Here is example ice sculpture without a flash or gel.

Same sculpture with flash and a blue gel.  The stand, receiver, and Speedlight setup was off to the left at 45 degree angle.

Dog sculpture without flash or gel.

The same dog sculpture with flash and red gel.  The Speedlight was on right side. This sculpture is smaller than the previous one so I was able to get the flash closer and throw more red light on it.

Ice sculpture in front of Bucknell’s Bookstore without flash or gel.

The same sculpture with flash and red gel on right side.  I think this image shows the real creative power that one can achieve with colored gels on a Speedlite.

If you live in the area, visit downtown Lewisburg and see the ice sculptures before they melt!


Posted by Dan Hyde in Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments
Total Lunar Eclipse occurs January 20, 2019

Total Lunar Eclipse occurs January 20, 2019

January 13, 2019

Night Sky Photographers,

A total Lunar Eclipse will run from 9:30 p.m., on Sunday, January 20, 2019 until 2:45 a.m. on Monday, January 21, 2019, for those on US Eastern Standard Time.  A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Earth cast a shadow on her Moon during a full moon.  The Moon doesn’t go completely dark but a blood red.  A great photography opportunity if we have clear skies!

For more information, see the following website:


Posted by Dan Hyde in Announcement, 0 comments
Holiday Lights at Weis Soccer Field in Shamokin, PA

Holiday Lights at Weis Soccer Field in Shamokin, PA

December 22, 2018

This afternoon Mary Jane, our son Scott, and I traveled to Shamokin, PA to see the Lower Anthracite Model Railroad Club‘s display.  This is the best model railroad display in the region!  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must!  Here is their Facebook page:  Note that they are only open to the public in December.  And there are only two days left to see the display: Wednesday December 26 from 2-6 pm and Saturday December 29 from 1-7 pm.

On our way back after visiting the Model Train display, we visited the LARGE outdoor Holiday Lights displays at Weis Soccer Field in Shamokin, PA. The Holiday Lights alone are well worth the drive to Shamokin!  It’s about a 40 minute drive to Shamokin from Lewisburg.  From Lewisburg you drive to Sunbury and travel Market Street (Route 61) and continue on Route 61 south to Shamokin.  At the first red light just before Shamokin turn left and after one block turn left again. Just before you reach the red light, you can see the Holiday Lights off and down to your left.

Here are seven shots I took of the Holiday Lights tonight.

Have a safe and Happy Holiday!


The whole soccer field and more are covered in Holiday Lights!

This shot gives you an idea of the size of the displays.

Scott taking a shot with his smartphone.


Posted by Dan Hyde in Announcement, Exhibit/Show, Photo Opportunity, Photo Trip/Tour, 0 comments
Photography Tricks Advertisers Use to Make Food Look Delicious

Photography Tricks Advertisers Use to Make Food Look Delicious

December 6, 2018

Watch this 3-minute video on nine photography tricks advertisers use to make food look delicious.

Don’t try these photography tricks at home or the kids and your spouse will revolt!  🙂

Have a safe and happy holiday season!    Dan

Posted by Dan Hyde in Announcement, News, Technique, 1 comment
What’s ICM?

What’s ICM?

November 28, 2018

Neat image isn’t it? How did I do it?  I used ICM!  Here are the details on how you can do it!

ICM or Intentional Camera Movement is when the photographer intentionally moves the camera while he or she presses the shutter. This is done for artistic reasons or special effects.

    The first shot is an ICM image of our Christmas Tree.  The camera was set in Manual mode, ISO of 100, aperture of f/3.5, with a exposure of five seconds. I held the camera in my two hands, pressed the shutter, and during the five seconds moved the camera in a circular motion.  I had pre-focused on the lights on the tree and placed the lens in manual focus before I took the shot. That way, the autofocus mechanism didn’t try to find the focus in the dim light.

    With ICM, start with a five second exposure.  I find an exposure of five seconds to be about the amount of time for one to smoothly move the camera through the pattern one plans.  You may need to adjust the camera’s aperture or ISO in your shots depending on your situation.

    The first shot also demonstrates a common ICM problem. A jerky start! If you look at the top of the image you will see little “hooks” where I started the motion after I pressed the shutter.  The way to avoid these jerky starts is to begin the motion of the pattern then gently press the shutter.  I did that on the other three images. Performing a clean start and moving the camera in a smooth motion takes practice!

    For this next ICM shot, I zoomed in closer to the middle of our Christmas tree.  Again, I used a five second exposure where I moved the camera in a circular motion.  Because I was closer to the lights, I needed to change the aperture to f/5.0.  Actually I took a bunch of shots at different aperture settings and I liked the f/5.0 one the best.

    Note: The dashed line effect is due to the blinking of the LED Christmas lights that we use on our tree.  LED lights are like fluorescent lights, they blink 60 times a second in sync with the AC power.

   The next shot is another ICM where I moved the camera in a circular motion during the five seconds but with an aperture of f/11.  They look similar in exposure because I adjusted both in Lightroom.

   The last shot was taken similar to the previous one–ISO 100, aperture of f/11, exposure for five seconds–but I moved the camera in a figure eight several times.

Use the holiday lights in your own home to take some ICM photographs!  They are easy to take and lots of fun!  And when you show them to your friends and relatives, they will be impressed by your photography skills! 🙂

With ICM photos, one needs to do a  lot of experimentation. Typically one takes many shots and selects only a few good ones.  But the results can be amazing!

Have a Happy Holiday Season!


Posted by Dan Hyde in Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments
Watch great documentary movie on Street Photography.

Watch great documentary movie on Street Photography.

November 22, 2018

Cheryl Dunn’s excellent 2013 documentary about street photography, “Everybody Street” is available for free on YouTube.

The one caveat to this free stream of “Everybody Street” is that there are about a dozen, skippable short commercials sprinkled throughout the movie but they’re not too distracting (most of the ones that popped up in our stream were photography related).

If you care at all about street photography, or any type of photography, “Everybody Street” is a must-see movie. It is very impressive!

The movie is 85 minutes in length so make sure you have the time to watch it with the care it deserves!

The link to the free version of the movie can be found at

I highly recommend you watch the movie “Everybody Street!”


Posted by Dan Hyde in Announcement, Technique, Workshop, 0 comments
Before Sunrise at Penn Commons Wetlands

Before Sunrise at Penn Commons Wetlands

November 12, 2018

A beautiful clear, crisp morning for photography!  I was up before 6 a.m. and drove to the Penn Commons wetlands near Giant Foods in Lewisburg, PA.  Temperature was 22 degrees with a heavy frost on everything.  Nippy but very still!  With no wind, it was very nice outside as long as one dressed warmly.

Here are some of my shots this morning.  All the shots were taken with my Tamron 100-400mm zoom lens on my Canon 80D digital camera.


Skyline of Lewisburg  taken from Penn Commons wetland. The glow in the sky at 6:18 a.m.

Some clouds had formed by 6:49 a.m.

The sky over Montour Ridge in the east just before the Sun rose.  Taken at 6:56 a.m.

Sumac tree with frost on its leaves.

Since the next five images were almost monotone, I converted them to Black and White using Lightroom.

Frost on a plant on the gravel path.

Grasses sticking out of the ice on one of the ponds.

Neat reed sticking out of the ice and its reflection.

Large ice crystals have formed on the surface of one of the ponds.  Some are more than a foot long!

Large ice crystals have formed on the surface of one of the ponds.  Some are 6-8 inches long!

Posted by Dan Hyde in News, Photo Trip/Tour, 0 comments
Calibrate your computer monitor!

Calibrate your computer monitor!

November 11, 2018

Do you print your own photos? Do you sell or share your images with others? Have you calibrated your computer monitor lately?

I had read “Calibrate your monitor before you print your images or share them with others!”  I have an iMac computer and the colors on the monitor’s screen looked fine with me.  So why bother?

However, since I was having trouble with colors when printing my images, I decided to take the plunge and buy a device to calibrate my monitor.  I purchased a Spyder5pro from B&H on sale for about $100.  After I ran the software to calibrate my iMac’s monitor, I was amazed by the difference!   First, like many people I had the monitor’s brightness too high which means when I adjusted my images in Lightroom they would print too dark.  Also, the colors were slightly off!  And, the calibration solved the weird colors that I was seeing when I printed an image!

On the left is a sample image that I had adjusted in Lightroom before the monitor was calibrated.  On the right is the same image adjusted again in Lightroom AFTER the calibration.  The one on left should appear a little dark with a slight change in colors. Of course, the appearance depends on if the monitor you are using is calibrated properly! 🙂










The bottom line:  You need to calibrate your monitor before you adjust them in a program like Lightroom or Photoshop if you plan to print them, sell or share your images with others. It really does matter!


Posted by Dan Hyde in Announcement, Technique, 0 comments
“Monster on the Stairs!” – Storytelling

“Monster on the Stairs!” – Storytelling

November 9, 2018

What do you do on a dark and gloomy rainy day?  Why not take a sequence of photos to tell a story?  Here is one I photographed today. Try your hand at storytelling!


I saw a monster on the stairs!!

Oh! It’s only Socks!

Posted by Dan Hyde in Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments
Halloween Spirits in Lewisburg, PA

Halloween Spirits in Lewisburg, PA

November 1, 2018

Good morning Photographers,

I hope you all had a chance to photograph some Halloween Spirits last night!  Here are several I took Tuesday evening (October 30th) in Lewisburg, PA.  I used a sturdy tripod and cable release with my Canon 80D on Manual setting.

Keep taking pictures!



Posted by Dan Hyde in News, Photo Opportunity, Technique, 1 comment
Did you see the sundog this evening?

Did you see the sundog this evening?

October 16, 2018, Lewisburg, PA

Did you see the sundog this evening?  I was on my walk around 5:15 pm and I saw a sundog or mock Sun in the west and ran for my camera.

I took the images with my Canon 80D digital camera and Canon 18-200mm zoom lens. I also used a circular polarizer filter screwed on the front of the lens.  The polarizer brings out the rainbow colors.  The first image was shot with the lens at 50 mm.  In the later images, I zoomed into the swirling clouds at 70, 90, or 200 mm!

“A sundog is a concentrated patch of sunlight occasionally seen about 22° to the left or right of the Sun. Sundogs often form in pairs on either side of the Sun when sunlight refracts through icy clouds containing hexagonal platecrystals aligned with their large, flat faces parallel to the ground. Technically known as parhelia (singular parhelion) they are often white but sometimes quite colorful, looking like detached pieces of rainbow, with red on the inside, toward the Sun, and blue on the outside.”

Sundogs typically means snow is on the way!

Keep your camera handy!


Posted by Dan Hyde in News, Photo Opportunity, Technique, 0 comments