It’s been too long!

Hello…how you doing?!?!

It’s been too long, way too long since my last blog post…..there is so much to tell you! I’m going to start this long overdue post with some how to information on panning. You may ask what is panning AND why would I want to do that?!?!

Panning is the horizontal movement of the camera as it scans a moving subject, proper panning implies motion.  No one can guarantee perfect pans, but with practice, patience and an understanding of the basics, you can create some beautiful, artistic images.  Panning is not about movement, it is movement. It’s the following of a moving subject along its plane of motion. Most often it’s a horizontal plane with the subject a horse, runner, bicyclist or a race car. But it can also be along a vertical plane; such as panning with a diver or surfer as they glide into the water.
It sounds easy right? Set your shutter speed to freeze motion or blur it, follow the action and click the shutter. Be sure to remember that it’s unlikely that your main subject will ever be completely sharp and in focus. This technique is about getting a relatively sharp subject in comparison to it’s background. Some blurring of your main subject will add to the feeling of motion in the shot.

All The White Horses

White Horses of the Camargue/F22 Shutter Speed 1/25 ISO 100

  1. Select a slightly slower shutter speed than you normally would. Start with 1/30 second and then play around with different settings. You may want to use Shutter Priority.
  2. Position yourself where there are no obstructions between you and the subject. Also, where you have a clean background if possible.
  3. As the subject approaches track it smoothly with your camera, if it’s a horse my focus point is on the eye. For best results you will want to set yourself up so that you’re parallel to the path of your object.
  4. Once you’ve released the shutter continue to pan with the subject, even after you’ve heard the shot is complete. This follow through will ensure the motion blur is smooth from start to finish in your image.
  5. Panning is most successful on a camera and lens with fast focusing.


Love the Shadow on this one! F22 Shutter Speed 1/25 ISO 100

These images were all taken in broad daylight so to slow my shutter speed I needed to use a lower ISO and small aperture.  If you’re going to try panning for the first time have fun with it and if at first you don’t succeed try, try again!  It can be a lot of fun but can also be quite frustrating (for me as well). Don’t just use this same technique all day – instead also shoot some shots at fast shutter speeds. This way you’ll end up with a variety of shots.  Hope you get a chance to try some panning, if so…..I’d love to see what you get, send me an email at with yours!

Running Horses in Snow

Winter Horse Photography Tour

Dates:  Friday, January 29th – Thursday, February 4th 2016
Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming

 Judi Hagen and I would love to have you join us in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming for horses and Cowboys in the snow! 

It’s a new location, never photographed by other groups so your images will be the unique!

For more info:

Colorado Ladies Ride 2015

 I’m so excited to say that we just completed my first ever Colorado Ladies Ride/Photo Retreat in the beautiful Flat Top Wilderness of Colorado, where we stayed at the wonderful Wildskies Cabin owned by Lisa and Chip Bennett. Shana Devins of Someday Outfitters provided us with our fabulous backcountry guide, Diann Haynes and horses for the week. Our dinners were catered by Charlie and Christine Epp, who kept us well fed and very happy. A big thanks to Elise, Trudy, Alisa, Joy, Shannon, Wendy, Kelly and Dene for joining me this year! Stay tuned for more tours like this in 2016!!! 

2016 Dates for Iceland have been announced: 

June 24-30, 2016 Iceland Equine Photo Tour

For more info: 2016 Iceland Equine Photo Tour

AND for those who have asked….YES, there will be a Spring Workshop at Greer Farm in Hampton, Georgia. Dates to be announced later!

If you have any questions about my tours/workshop OR panning please don’t hesitate to contact me at Thanks and have a great day! Phyllis



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Shoot For Yourself

In 2001, on a trip to the Canadian Rockies, our guide had a Nikon N65 Film Camera. I came home smitten with photography and bought one for myself….thus began my love affair with photography. I don’t come from a photography background, I never had friends that were interested in photography.I have no formal training in art. I love to create but never thought of myself as creative.

Pink Camillas

My very first Personal Project began when my Mother passed away in 2003. My Mom was an avid gardener and I was obsessed with documenting every living thing in the beautiful yard that she created and worked so hard in over the years……that is how my journey began.

Pink Dogwood

 Shooting personal work is a way for you to have complete creative control. It’s also a great opportunity to test out new ideas and techniques. Personal Projects can help you beef up your portfolio. They can keep you passionate about photography by stimulating your creativity. Think outside the box, the great thing about shooting personal work is there are NO RULES (unless you want them). The only person you need to make happy when shooting Personal work is yourself…..YOU are the client.

Eastern Bluebird Female Ruby Throat Hummingbird Cedar Waxwings

Set a goal…..improve your skills and your vision through your project. The best way to separate yourself from the sea of photographers out there is to put your personality and life experience into your work. What are you passionate about?

The Chair

Oh, I forgot to add that all of the images above were taken in My Mother’s Garden……memories of her.


Quickie Tutorial on adding a texture to your images:

1. Open the background image you’d like to apply a texture to (this should be a finished image
with any needed adjustments already applied).

Wind Chaser_Original

 2. Open the texture you would like to use, Select All>Edit>Copy Then go back to your background image and Select Edit>Paste

(this will apply the texture image on top of your background image and if you look at the layers panel you will see the second layer added)


  3. With the texture layer selected go to Select>All then Edit >Free Transform (Ctrl T)

and you can adjust the size of your texture layer to match the background layer by dragging the

edges in or out as needed, when finished click enter.

layer styles_web

 4. Go to Layer Styles (box above the top layer that says “normal”)….and you can scroll through to see which style you prefer.

Here I chose Linear Burn. I also use darken, multiply, overlay and soft light quite a bit.

You may need to brush some of the texture effect off your subject/background image so you would add a layer mask to do this.

Choose a white brush to reveal or black brush to conceal. Flatten your layers and you are done!

Wind Chaser

Here are a few companies that sell textures/backgrounds or you can get on their email list for freebees. Also, you can just Google textures for Photoshop, there are 100’s or you can go out and photograph your own textures. (templates and textures)

 Hope you will join me May 23, 2015 at Greer Farm in Hampton, GA for my next Cowboy and Horse Workshop….it’s almost full so sign up soon to reserve your spot!

We just completed the WOW Workshop at LearnToTakePhotos,

thanks to everyone who signed up for class!!!

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Happy New 2015!


The soul can not think without a picture.  ~ Aristotle

I think like Aristotle! That is definitely a stretch but I do need something to help me visualize ideas. I guess that’s why I love sites like Pinterest, where you can pin ideas to a board to use later.

You can follow me  at I’d love to see you there and I will try to follow you back!


Occasionally I will let someone borrow my camera to take a quick picture.

When I tell them that I use Back Button Focusing, they want to know more. So I thought I’d do a quick review to answer that question.

What is back button focusing?

It’s a very simple thing that might change the clarity of your images forever.

When you auto-focus with your DSLR default settings, here is how it basically works: you press your shutter half way to auto-focus, and when your focus is OK you press your shutter a second time to take the picture. There is an alternative to this focusing method: you can decide that another button (the famous BBF, or “back button focusing”) will handle your focus.

In short: Rear focus involves focusing by pushing a button on the top right back of the camera (rather than by pushing the shutter button).

Why would you do that?

Simply because it separates your focusing from your shutter. Instead of asking your index finger to deal with two different things one after the other, you give it one single task (pressing the shutter at the perfect moment) while your thumb will deal with focusing.

Making the change from the shutter button to rear focus requires a big commitment and takes lots of getting used to; it takes a bit of retraining of the brain and the thumb to get used to rear focusing.

If you mainly photograph landscape or still life, it’s very likely that BBF won’t change your life. On the other hand, if you are a portrait photographer, and if your model is potentially moving fast BBF is probably going to be your best friend.

This is why BBF is very often used by sports, equine or wildlife photographers. Don’t forget that to get a crisp image with a fast moving subject you also need a high shutter speed in order to freeze motion, at least 1/500s or higher depending on the speed of your subject.

Another interest of BBF is that it locks your focus. If you press your thumb on your back button and release it, your focus won’t change until you press the button again. This will allow you to focus and then recompose a picture.

You need to change a custom function or two to set up rear focus. With most systems you set up rear focus via the camera’s menu, please consult your camera’s user manual or even do a web search on “Back Button Focusing” for your camera model. Depending on your camera, you will use the AF-ON button for Canon users and the AF-L button for Nikon users.

Both these images would have been very difficult to capture sharp focus without Back Button Focusing.

Try it and see if you like BBF but remember that it takes a while to get used to!

We still have two slots left for our Alaska Bear Tour in June….send me a message if you would like more information.

My 2014 Iceland Equine Tour is full, thank you to everyone who has signed up! We are going to have a fabulous trip! If you are interested in joining me in 2016 send me a message.

My Spring Workshop Date has been announced it is May 23, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia:

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