Book Review . . . ‘Chesapeake Views’ Captures Shore Beauty


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s a pleasure to receive a review by James Dissette, publisher of The Talbot Spy (go to:

He writes:

Sometimes we have to see through someone else’s eyes to newly appreciate the world at hand. Our workaday lives can dull our appreciation for the rich visual palette the Shore has to offer: the omnipresent Bay; the web of tributaries twisting through panoramas of forest and field; its vast array of marine, field and forest wildlife.

Good photographic images reintroduce us to the world around us.  They are both a re-visiting and a discovery, and leave us wanting to explore with a refreshed curiosity. Wilson Wyatt’s collection of Eastern Shore photographs, “Chesapeake Views—Catching the Light,” is an invitation to rediscover the Eastern Shore, and sometimes discover facets of it for the first time.

December Reflection - Click on image for larger view

December Reflection  – Click on image for larger view

While there are many wonderful wildlife photos, from soaring osprey to graceful mute swans, fawns silhouetted by orange dawns, along with a gallery of exquisite macro-images of butterflies in a section Wyatt calls “All the Little Live Things,” the spirit of the book glows within its selection of purely Eastern Shore motifs—fog-shrouded waterman tonging for oysters, fiery sunrises spilling gold across still rivers, a sailboat limned by the setting sun or a heron poised like a sentinel on the bow of a fishing boat.

Tonging for Oysters II - click on image for larger view

Tonging for Oysters II  – Click on image for larger view

Each image has a caption—some with technical advice for fellow photogs—poetically describing the image. The distinct captions become a helpful narrative for the reader. It’s a bit like walking through an art exhibition with a friendly and articulate tour guide.

Sunrise at Thomas Point Lighthouse, by Wilson Wyatt jr. - Click on image for larger view

Sunrise at Thomas Point Lighthouse (cover photo), by Wilson Wyatt jr.  – Click on image for larger view

Thank you for a delightful book review on The Talbot Spy! For more about the book, see “About,” on this blog.

Join us for two Holiday Book Signings . . . “Authors’ Nights” on the Eastern Shore


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Because books make great gifts!

CHESAPEAKE VIEWS - CATCHING THE LIGHT, on its way to two Authors' Nights

CHESAPEAKE VIEWS – CATCHING THE LIGHT, a tabletop photography book by Wilson Wyatt Jr., on its way to two “Authors’ Nights”

My photography book, Chesapeake Views – Catching the Light, and The Delmarva Review will be among the many books presented at “Holiday Authors’ Nights” at two libraries on the Eastern Shore.  I’m delighted to join with other authors to sign and sell books for the season.  Refreshments available. You’re invited!

Authors’ Night in Centreville – Wednesday, December 11, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Queen Anne’s Free Library, 121 S. Commerce Street, in Centreville, MD.

Authors’ Night on Kent Island – Wednesday, December 18, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Kent Island Library (Queen Anne’s Free Library branch), on Kent Island, 200 Library Circle, in Stevensville, MD.

Join us . . . we’ll talk about books, writing, and photography (in my case). Nothing is formal . . . just a festive evening.  Books are the lasting gifts of words and images.

Meet the authors, including: Robert Bidinotto, Nick Hoxter, Susan Jones, Kenton Kilgore, Brent Lewis, Mark Lidinsky, Susan Reiss, Joseph Ross Jr., Jerry Sweeney, and Wilson Wyatt Jr. (me).

Just bring your good spirit!

A wonderful task for an editor. . . Pushcart Prize nominations!


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



The Delmarva Review nominated the writing of six authors for The Pushcart Prize. It’s one of the greatest pleasures an editor can experience, recognizing the writers among the best, all in contention with other selected authors around the nation, their work competing for the coveted Pushcart Prize.

Being nominated for a prestigious literary prize gives authors more than recognition.  It propels their work to another level of discovery.  It’s a powerful incentive for writers to seek the best in literary writing, one of the primary purposes of the Review.

Personally, this caps a long year of hard work.  A gifted team of editors, all skilled volunteers, can appreciate our selection of poetry and prose, all over again.  We’ve gone through the difficult task of reading hundreds of submissions, making tough choices, accepting and rejecting the words that so many authors have labored over, sometimes for years.

The selection process was followed by the careful eyes of our copy editor, proofreaders, and designer.  All of us felt an obligation to print a quality journal that respected the words of our authors.  This often goes unnoticed, but a fine literary review is not just glued together and haphazardly sent to readers or posted online.  It takes time, and a creative, caring hand.

The pleasure we feel today is from knowing that our authors appreciate their opportunity. It’s now up to another set of editors to make their choices. We’ll know next year.

The Delmarva Review nominations include:

–       “Writing My Way Home,” a personal essay by combat veteran Ron Capps

–       “Melissa,” a poem by William Peak

–       “Immigrant,” a poem by Holly Karapetkova

–       “November Morning,” a prose poem by Devon Miller-Duggan

–       “Dioscuri,” a poem by Paul Otremba

–       “Flowers Scarcely Withered,” a short story by Nancy Ford Dugan

Thank you to Pushcart Press for its continued support of literary work published in the small presses.  And, thank you to a gifted team at The Delmarva Review…and to our sponsor, the Eastern Shore Writers Association.   For more about the Review, copies, and submission guidelines, please see the website:



The Delmarva Review’s sixth edition honored by a reading at The Writer’s Center


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Delmarva Review, Volume 6 - print and digital editions

The Delmarva Review, Volume 6, 2013 in print and digital editions – Cover photograph by Christopher Woods   click on image for larger view

There wasn’t an empty chair as five authors took to the podium and read their writing from the new edition of The Delmarva Review, a journal publishing compelling literary prose and poetry. The venue was perfect. The Writer’s Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, is known as a special “home” to many writers. As one of the premier writers’ centers in the country, it welcomes and supports literary work (

The authors had never read together before, but their performances were so complementary that, taken together, one might think they were choreographed.  They read to an attentive, responsive audience that packed the house.  It was a memorable literary event.

As executive editor, I am thankful for our five reading authors: fiction author Margaret Adams, of Baltimore, poet Judith Bowles, of Chevy Chase, MD, fiction author Ru Freeman, of the Philadelphia area, poet E. Laura Golberg, of Washington, DC, and essayist Ron Capps, Of Washington, DC.

There is something magical to all of us as editors when we experience a reading. The words jump off the page as we hear the author’s unique voice…live.  It often reveals a new dimension of the author’s deepest intentions.

The event was Sunday, the day before Veteran’s Day.  Appropriate to the occasion, the last presenter was Ron Capps, a soldier, Foreign Service officer, and a combat veteran of five recent wars. He founded the Veterans Writing Project (  Mr. Capps delivered his stirring personal essay, “Writing My Way Home.”

The Delmarva Review, Vol. 6, is published by the Eastern Shore Writers Association to encourage and inspire literary writing.  Print issues can be ordered through the website:  A digital edition for download to popular electronic reading devices is available at

The submissions period for Volume 7 is open until February 28, 2014.  All writers, please see the Guideline page on the website.

Ron Capps, founder of the Veterans Writing Project, reading his essay in The Delmarva Review

Ron Capps reading his personal essay, “Writing My Way Home”                                    – photos by Wilson Wyatt

Fiction author Margaret Adams reading "Undertow"

Fiction author Margaret Adams reading “Undertow”

Fiction author Ru Freeman reading "Departure"

Fiction author Ru Freeman reading “Departure”

Poet E. Laura Golberg reading "The Solitary Farmer"

Poet E. Laura Golberg reading “The Solitary Farmer” and “Lockport Caves for Vita”

Poet Judith Bowles, who read "The Instrument" and "My Parkinson's and I attend my 50th Reunion"

Poet Judith Bowles, who read “The Instrument” and “My Parkinson’s and I attend my 50th Reunion”

Today’s book signing…the final stretch of publishing


, , , , , , , ,

Book signings are akin to opening night at the theatre. Theatre is involved, with a few opening lines…and there is a set, of sorts: a draped table with one’s books spread out for viewing, a pen, and there is a simple wooden chair for the author. Props are sparse.

Author-photographer Wilson Wyatt at a book signing for "Chesapeake Views - Catching the Light," at The News Center, in Easton, MD. Photo by Katie Wyatt

Author-photographer Wilson Wyatt, Jr. at a book signing for “Chesapeake Views – Catching the Light,” 2013, at The News Center, in Easton, MD. – Photo by Katie Wyatt

The real likeness to theatre comes when the curtain is raised. For the first time, the book is presented to the public. All the hard work of writing…or photographing, in my case…the editing, proofs, design, printing, and finally the promotion and distribution, it’s all done, waiting for the first public viewing. The author sits at the table waiting for the audience. Imagine what actors feel, that tumbling in the gut, before the lights. Will they engage their audience?

Yet, when the curtain is raised and the lights are turned on, the energy transforms us. It’s a special feeling. The hour has arrived.

Today was that special time. The audience trailed in, composed of friends and strangers, alike. They picked up the books, opened the pages and sampled my photography. Some read the descriptive narrative. We talked about the unique qualities of the book and how the images were taken. Then, the magic words…I want your book. Will you sign it for me? 

It was a good day for an opening. I take a bow to all who bought my book and hope you enjoy Chesapeake Views-Catching the Light. Its 82 images are from my interpretation to your imagination, now and for years to come. Thank you.

Signing "Chesapeake Views - Catching the Light" - Photo by Katie Wyatt

Signing “Chesapeake Views – Catching the Light,” 2013 – Photo by Katie Wyatt

Celebrating “The Delmarva Review’s” sixth year


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Delmarva Review

The Delmarva Review, Volumes 1 – 6

Writers gathered on the Eastern Shore for poetry readings and a special thank you to the 135 authors published in The Delmarva Review over six years. As executive editor, I was pleased to announce the official opening of the submission period for the 2014 issue, Volume 7 (see the website to submit work:

Last night’s festive crowd of writers met the editors and the publisher, representatives of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, at a public reception held at The News Center bookstore, in Easton, Maryland.

All of us at the Review believe the best writing has no borders. We have published compelling new literary prose and poetry from 135 authors over the first six years. In all, writers have come from 23 states, the District of Columbia, and eight other countries. About two-thirds are from the Delmarva and Chesapeake region. Twenty-four have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Primed with cider, light refreshments, and home-baked cookies, the audience was treated to readings from the Review’s Poetry Editor, Anne Colwell, from Milton, Delaware, and poet William Peak, of Easton, one of the contributing authors to the 2013 issue. It was a delightful way to start the new writing season.

The literary journal is published in print and digital editions. The Delmarva Review, Vol. 6, downloadable edition is now available on The link is:

For those who could not attend the celebration, I’ll share some photos by my photographer wife Katie Wyatt:

Poetry Editor Anne Colwell reading at the Review's Sixth Annual Celebration

Poetry Editor Anne Colwell reading at the Review’s celebration of six years of publishing – click on photo for larger image

Author William Peak reading his poetry in Vol. 6, The Delmarva Review

Author William Peak reading his poetry in Vol. 6, The Delmarva Review – click on photo for larger image

Co-Fiction Editors Margot Miller and Harold Wilson discuss the current Issue of the Review

Co-Fiction Editors Margot Miller and Harold Wilson discuss the new issue of the Review    – click on photo for larger image

Co-Fiction Editor Amy Abrams talks to poet Sue Ellen Thompson, a contributing author to the Review

Co-Fiction Editor Amy Abrams, left, talks to poet Sue Ellen Thompson, a contributing author to past issues of Review – click on photo for larger image

Editorial Advisor Gerald Sweeney, president of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, welcomes writers to the event

Editorial Advisor Gerald Sweeney, President of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, welcomes writers to the event – click on photo for larger image

Executive Editor Wilson Wyatt with Kimberly Bushey, Manager of The News Center bookstore

The Review’s Executive Editor Wilson Wyatt with Kimberly Bushey, Manager of The News Center bookstore – click on photo for larger image

The Delmarva Review Announces Sixth Literary Journal


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Delmarva Review, Vol. 6 - 2013

The Delmarva Review, Vol. 6 – 2013

The Delmarva Review announced its sixth annual literary review presenting new prose and poetry from 23 authors. In all, they come from nine states and the District of Columbia.

“From the hundreds of submissions, we selected stories and poetry expressing the human themes of healing, aging, independence, loss, love, and a sense of place,” said Wilson Wyatt, executive editor. “The cover photograph, Coming, Going, by Christopher Woods, suggests a metaphor of opening the door to imaginative writing.”

The nonprofit literary journal publishes distinctive poetry, short stories, and nonfiction in print and digital editions. It also reviews a selection of new books.

The editors selected Ron Capps, founder of the Veterans Writing Project, as this issue’s featured writer for his powerful personal essay, “Writing My Way Home.” The essay will relate to the many thousands of veterans who have returned from combat with physical and psychological wounds, while it shows how writing can help everyone to heal from the scars of adversity.

Poetry editor Anne Colwell expanded the poetry in this issue. Thirty-one poems from 11 poets represent a wide range of poetic voice and form. Many of the poems are about how life experiences, art, or even age change the way a person perceives the world. “They lead us to unexpected moments of beauty and insight,” said Colwell.

The fiction section contains seven short stories. Beginning with “Undertow,” by Margaret Adams, readers are offered a penetrating view of self-esteem and misunderstanding. A flash fiction piece probes the subject of personal identity. In all, the stories explore freedom, aging, loss, and life’s unanticipated consequences.

The editors selected three books by regional authors to review, including a current novel by John Barth, poetry by Jehanne Dubrow, and a trilogy of stories by Sophie Moss.

In addition to Wyatt and Colwell, the editorial board includes: Harold Wilson, Margot Miller and Amy Abrams, as fiction editors, George Merrill, nonfiction editor, Mary Ann Hillier, submissions administrator, Melanie Rigney and Gerald Sweeney, editorial advisors, Jeanne Pinault, copy editor, Charleen Marcum, proofreader, and Laura Ambler, for layout and design.

The Delmarva Review is produced with the support of subscribers, contributors, and the publisher, the Eastern Shore Writers Association. The association is a nonprofit organization supporting writers and the literary arts across the Delmarva Peninsula.

“We are indebted to the remarkable talents and spirit of the writers, editors, and designer as we present this volume to the eyes of your imagination,” said Wyatt.

The editors encourage writers to consider submitting their best work. The next submission period opens November 1 and closes on February 28, 2014. Submissions are competitive. Publication of an author’s work in The Delmarva Review represents a significant literary achievement.

Single issues of the Review are $10 each plus $2 for postage. Two-year subscriptions are $20 postpaid. An order form is available on the website:, or by writing: The Delmarva Review, P.O. Box 544, St. Michaels, MD 21663.

A digital edition of The Delmarva Review, Vol. 6, for download to electronic reading devices, is available on

A man ahead of his times…Adlai Stevenson


, , , , , , , ,

Adlai Stevenson, candidate for President, later U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations - cover of LIFE magazine, August 4, 1952

Adlai Stevenson, candidate for President, later U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations – cover of LIFE magazine, August 4, 1952 – Click on image for full view

His greatest fear for the civilized world was atomic weapons in the hands of “dictators and chieftains” in the Middle East and other parts of the world. My short story in the previous post carries his actual message.

A Student Meets U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. . .a short story from years ago


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Viewing the world through innocence, a youth hears a prophetic message to be remembered as an elder man. This is a short story I wrote years ago, based on a true event. The characters have changed today, but the story continues.

The Student and Ambassador Stevenson                                                             by Wilson Wyatt Jr.

The United Nations building stands as a gated oasis on the edge of New York’s East Side. It is a tall, timeless shining light with its glass exterior reflecting the busy life of people and ports below, a mix of languages and humanity.  Inside, on one of the top floors, is the U.S. Ambassador’s suite of offices.  There is a large reception area suitable for dignitaries and representatives of state from around the world.  Secretaries and assistants are clapping and shouting praise as they gather around a small, oval black and white television screen, encased in a large polished wooden credenza.

“That’s it, Adlai! Hold their feet to the fire!” one cries out.  The large room echos with jubilant cheering, like fans in Yankee Stadium.  The television screen shows an animated U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson displaying aerial photographs of missiles and warheads lining a construction site in Cuba.  The Ambassador leans into the microphone, his eyes fixed on the Russian Ambassador, who is looking away.

“Do you deny these are your Russian missiles, your atomic warheads, being assembled in Cuba, as I speak?” Ambassador Stevenson’s voice is clear and distinctive.

There is no answer. The Russian folds his arms and looks into space.

Adlai slams down both his fists on the table in front of him with an audible thud and says, “I await your answer, sir.  I will wait here until Hell freezes over.”

Cheers ring through the reception room.

“He did it,” one dignitary shouts out. “President Kennedy will be elated. He’s forcing the Russians’ hand, in front of the world.”

A tall, lanky student dressed in a navy high school blazer, tie, and gray slacks sits awkwardly on a couch across the room from the television assembly.  He tries to forge a knowledgeable appearance, fidgeting with his tie. He thumbs through a current issue of LOOK magazine, waiting for his appointment with Ambassador Stevenson.  He won a national high school essay contest, and his reward was a meeting with the Ambassador at the United Nations. He turns a page of the magazine and looks at his watch. An hour has passed.  He doesn’t understand, perhaps the secretary hasn’t told the Ambassador he’s there. He waits.

Amid the cheering, the professionally attired receptionist catches sight of the boy out of the corner of her eye. She knows he couldn’t understand.  There is another round of loud cheers.  She rises from her desk with a hint of a smile on her face and walks over to the boy.

“Mr. Young, can I get you something, perhaps a Coke-a-Cola,” she asks. “Ambassador will return soon. These days are most unusual. I’m sure he’ll tell you about it.”

The boy feels gratified. He accepts her offer of a Coke.  Moments pass slowly. There is gravity in the air, importance he has never felt before. He finishes LOOK and selects LIFE.  An ominous picture of an ICBM taking off with a fiery fury against a darkened sky fills the cover.

There were regular bomb drills at his school in Connecticut.  The alarm bell would sound, echoing through the brick halls, piercing all other sounds. The students became practiced at quickly jumping down from their chairs, sliding on the floor under their desks. They would look away from the windows and cover their eyes tightly with their hands, preventing the anticipated flash of light of an atomic blast from scorching their eyes. Their desks would be protection against broken glass from shattered windows by the first shock wave of an explosion miles away.

At first the bomb drills seemed phony in a student’s world, so far away from shores of war.  At school, there was more fear of zip guns, chains, lead pipes, and stilettos, the weapons of gangs. Later the phoniness turned into comic relief, a forced intervention from the teacher’s lessons, a time to play games under desks.

As time passed, the drills took on more meaning. Nighttime television broadcasts showed films of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and atomic blasts in the Nevada desert. President Kennedy addressed the nation from the Oval Office with news of a standoff with Russia over atomic warheads. When the drill bells rang, a shiver of fear would eat away at play.

The United Nations office of Ambassador Stevenson seems distant to the young student’s world.  The boy sits uncomfortably on the couch as the professionals watch the Ambassador perform. One of the secretaries turns off the television. The room empties as they walk back through a door down a long corridor to their offices. For a moment the large reception room contains only the boy and the receptionist. There is silence, except for the receptionist’s typewriter methodically keying letters on a page.

The silence is broken.  The two large glass entrance doors open, and a huddled group of men and women pass quickly through the room. One is shorter than the others, in the middle. He is Ambassador Stevenson, in a dark gray suit, his thin brown hair slightly disheveled around his oval balding head. He is busy talking to the others in the pack as they parade through the room and disappear down the long corridor.

The secretary rises from her chair and follows after the Ambassador with her notepad, leaving the boy alone in the room. He feels small, insignificant, and he thinks about leaving, sneaking out through the double doors. Now that his time with the Ambassador is approaching, reality sets in and words escape him.

“Mr. Young,” a voice breaks the silence. A slightly built, distinguished looking man with black hair and a mustache wearing a tailored dark suit walks up to the boy and extends his hand. “I am Mr. Adams, Ambassador’s assistant. Ambassador will see you now.”

The boy jumps up from the couch, fidgeting with his tie. Mr. Adams sees the boy is flush and uncomfortable.

“Ambassador has been looking forward to meeting you,” he says with a warm smile. “He was once a student as well, you know.”

The thought is comforting.  Mr. Adams leads the boy through the door, down to the far end of the corridor to an open door. The entrance is larger than the other doorways. A three-dimensional red, white, blue, and gold seal is fixed to the wall reading “United States of America.”

“Ambassador, I introduce you to the fine young man who won the national essay contest, Mr. David Young,” he says.

Ambassador Adlai Stevenson is facing the expansive water view from his office window. He turns with a warm smile, his eyes sparkling with energy.

“David, I’m so glad you could come. Please come in,” Ambassador Stevenson says. He offers the boy a chair, asks about his school. Then he takes off his jacket, flings it onto another chair with a casual gesture, and loosens his tie. The boy feels more comfortable.

“I have to tell you, David, I’ve had a difficult day. We live in dangerous times,” says the Ambassador.

The boy fumbles for words and asks what happened during the day.  Ambassador Stevenson gives him a brief version of the Cuban missile crisis. The boy seems to understand although his knowledge feels insufficient in the presence of the Ambassador, the way he speaks, his velvet voice, and his choice of words.

Ambassador Stevenson sits back in his chair, in a relaxed posture.

“David, as you grew up, who was your favorite king?” asks the Ambassador. The boy considered the question nervously.

“King Arthur, I suppose, in literature,” the boy says.

“Fine choice, young man,” says the Ambassador. “He was a good king, one of principle and courage. There are other kings living today, but the principles of your king will far outlive all the other kings combined.”

The boy feels elevated by the recognition of his king. The Ambassador fixes his eyes directly on the boy’s eyes. The sparkling energy disappears, displaced by a dark look of concern.

“We should not focus our fear of atomic weapons in the hands of the Russians,” the Ambassador says. “My greatest fear is atomic weapons in the hands of these other kings, dictators, and the tribal chieftains in the Middle East. It is not a matter of if they will acquire atomic weapons but when. They will buy them with oil. They will use them. That is my greatest worry for the future of the civilized world.”

“Mr. Ambassador, can I quote you for our school paper?” the boy asks.

“Yes, I wish you would,” says Ambassador Stevenson. “But you should leave out the parts about the Russians, dictators, and tribal chieftains.”

Ambassador Stevenson laughs. “Of course,” he says, “that doesn’t leave you much to write about.”

Mr. Adams enters the office and announces the next appointment.

“Remember what I said, young man,” the Ambassador says. “It is the greatest challenge of your generation.”

Ambassador Stevenson and the boy shake hands. Mr. Adams escorts him out of the office, down the long corridor, into the large reception room.  There are other men sitting huddled in one corner, speaking intensely to each other. One looks at his watch.

“May I offer you another Coke-a-Cola before you leave,” Mr. Adams asks the boy.

The boy looks at him, shaking his head no, and thanks him. He puts his hands in his pockets, lowers his head, and walks slowly out of the large double glass doors.

Photography. . .Painting with light in New York


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

"City of Motion" - New York Skyline at dusk from Brooklyn

“City of Motion” – New York Skyline from Brooklyn as three boats pass on a misty evening – Click on photo for full image

You become the light, in a good portrait photograph.

“Chance favors only the prepared mind,” Louis Pasteur wrote.  Applying this wisdom to portrait photography, advance preparations for background, foreground, composition, and lighting give photographers a much better “chance” to create a great image.

This is part 2 of my summary about the Mentor Series lighting workshop in New York City this summer.  I promised some “photo tips” and an assortment of images taken with the professional models.  The primary sponsors of this specialized lighting workshop were Nikon and Popular Photography magazine, on behalf of Mentor Series (

The more we learn, the more we want to learn. I wanted to sharpen my lighting skills for portrait photography. The workshop objective was to refine the use of flash photography and portable lighting equipment (soft boxes, umbrellas, grids, etc.) to achieve excellent portrait photographs…indoors and outdoors. We used Nikon Speedlight flash units. The program was primarily for advanced amateurs and professionals, but the information would be helpful to all photo enthusiasts.

I am posting some of my portraits from the workshop below, followed by eight “photo tips” for aspiring photographers.  Working with experienced models was a pleasure.  I’ll also post a photo of our Mentor group in New York, at the end.  We learned from each other, as well as from three excellent Nikon Mentors: Lucas Gilman, David Tejada, and Paul Peregrine, all mentioned in my last article. A special “thank you” goes to the Mentor staff, who created a flawless workshop experience.

Nikon Mentor Lucas Gilman photographing model Rachel M. Woods

Nikon Mentor Lucas Gilman photographing model Rachel M. Woods (photo by iPhone)

My portrait of Rachael. Her professional website is

My studio portrait of Rachel. Her professional website is – Click on photo for full image.

Portrait of professional model Richelle Oslinker

Studio portrait of professional model Richelle Oslinker – Click on photo for full image.

Nikon Mentor David Tejada explains "Four Square" soft box lighting while photographing model Richelle Oslinker.

Nikon Mentor David Tejada explains using “Four Square” soft box lighting while photographing model Richelle Oslinker.

Portrait of professional model Andy Peeke

Studio portrait of professional model Andy Peeke – Click on photo for full image.

Outdoor portrait of professional model Christopher Rex Stone, with MetLife building in the background

Rooftop portrait of professional model Christopher Stone, with MetLife building in the background – Click on photo for full image.

Portrait of professional models Andy Mizerek and Nastasia at night with New York background, taken from Roosevelt Island.

Outdoor portrait of professional models Andy Mizerek and Nastasia at night with the Manhattan skyline in the background, taken on Roosevelt Island. – Click on photo for full image.

Outdoor portrait of professional model Nastasia at night against the Manhattan skyline, taken on Roosevelt Island.

Outdoor portrait of professional model Nastasia at night against the Manhattan skyline, taken on Roosevelt Island. – Click on photo for full image.


Model Andy Mizerek with background of New York skyline at dusk.

Outdoor portrait of model Andy Mizerek photographed against the New York skyline in the background, at dusk. Taken on Roosevelt Island- Click on photo for full image.

One of the keys to taking effective portraits is the choice and color tone of the background, which can make an eye-catching contrast to the clarity and natural color tones of the subject.  This is a photographer’s choice and an advantage afforded by using flash to assist ambient light. Simple changes in white balance were used to alter the background colors in the outdoor images above, in contrast to the models’ natural skin tones.

Here are eight “photo tips” I’m pleased to share:

Tip #1 – Always choose the background first. Consider the ambient (natural) light, the desired focus (or lack-of-focus), and the color tones you want in the background.

Tip #2 – Rule: shutter speed controls ambient light and motion; the aperture controls light from the flash.

Tip #3 – Therefore, the shutter speed controls the natural light of the background. Light on the subject is altered by the flash and, therefore, it is controlled by aperture.

Tip #4 – A basic principle of lighting: Exposure = Aperture + Shutter Speed + ISO.

Tip #5 – Subject lighting: The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. Think of the three points of a triangle as:  light source – subject – camera.

Tip #6 – To blur the background of an image, use a high-speed shutter synchronization with the flash, allowing for a larger aperture, changing depth-of-field.

Tip #7 – For critical control of skin tone, use a gray card to set the camera’s white balance.

Tip #8 – “The eyes make the shot.” Paying special attention to the eyes gives intimacy to a portrait, as seen above. Catching the blink of the flash in the eyes brings life to a still photograph.

Factoid – Regardless of a camera’s advanced technology today, for every increase of 1/2000 sec. shutter speed, the camera loses some degree of light accuracy.

Our happy group of experienced photographers for the Mentor Series Lighting workshop: