Joyce is our student of the month for January, 2016.  Her work was all shot during 2015. For me, it is really interesting to see how she approaches a variety of different subjects with her unique perspective. And it's amazing to see how many experiences she packs in (did I mention she just came back from her second trip to Cuba?) Come see her work this month in our gallery!

We had an interview by Creative Photo Academy's Ryan Chambers with Joyce Cardwell  to hear about her work and what inspires her:


Where have you found inspiration photographically?
I love traveling and taking photographs is an important part of any trip. Without a camera in hand, I would be lost!

Who do you feel like you were making this work for?

Was there anything about yourself or something else that you discovered making these pictures?
Getting a great picture is a lot of work!!

Was there a class, instructor, pro talk or trip that really helped you connect with photography?
Boot Camp with Mark Comon started me towards getting quality pictures by design rather than by chance. I have taken all four Intermediate classes, the Night Hawks Photo Walks and most of the classes offered. I have gone with Mark to Kenya in 2014 and Cuba in 2015. I am also going to Tokyo with Creative Photo Academy in February 2016.

Is there a piece of equipment that you really love?
I am very fortunate to have great equipment. I have a Nikon D810 with the new 24-70 lens, the 200-500 lens, the 70-200 lens and the 105 Micro. My goal is to take pictures that sometimes warrant me to have such great equipment!

What thread do you feel ties these pictures together besides your taking them?
The name of my exhibit is "Looking Back: My 2015 Journey with Creative Photo Academy". These pictures were all taken for Creative Photo Academy classes/trips during the year.

What is your advice to someone starting in photography?
Take Photo Book Camp!!

Do you have any projects you're planning to do next?
I am looking forward to accepting the challenge of CPA's Advanced Class next year.

What's your favorite color?


See her work at our First Tuesday Art Opening on January 5th from 5:30-7:00pm. Learn More: HERE.

Photographing Holiday Lights

*This an update to our article "How to Photograph Holiday Lights."
ISO 200, 4 second exposure, F16, 70-200mm lens, ZOOMED during exposure. AUTO White Balance

Christmas is family, friends, cheer and goodwill.  The lights on our Christmas tree and in the neighborhood share these well-wishes with the world around us.  I love to photograph the festive Holiday lighting displays, indoor and out!

Most beginning photographer worry about shooting at night, it’s just like daytime except dimmer!  You just have to choose hand-held photo or tripod shooting.  For hand held pictures with a digital pocket camera or SLR camera is easy.   Choose a high ISO setting (ISO 800,1600 or 3200) and use your lens at the brightest lens opening (2.8, 4.0 or 5.6).  With a compact camera (film or digital) zoom to the widest position where the lens is the brightest, turn off the flash and shoot!  For better color, more creativity and all around better photos tripod shooting is best.  Use 100 or 200 ISO setting sturdy tripod and remote release.  You may find your camera making exposure from 1 second to 30 seconds on the average scene.  Choose aperture priority with F-stop 8 to have the majority of the scene in focus and shoot!  The longer shutter speed will creatively blur moving items and equalize the “twinkling” lights.

ISO 200, 8 second exposure, F11, 24mm lens.   AUTO White Balance

Check the light for color and effect.  White balance is an important control.  Daylight, tungsten or fluorescent settings will affect the color of your end result. Experimentation with white balance is fun and effective on all cameras

To make your photos more “festive” choose to add a star filter.  A ProMaster Cross Screen filter adds the “extra spark” to your Christmas Lights photos by turning every pin-point of light into a star!

Photographing your Christmas tree and light display is a simple way to share the Joy of the Holidays with family and friends…as well as sharing our skill and love of photography.

ISO 200, 1/2 second exposure, F8, 50mm lens. AUTO White Balance


Here’s a check list to make it simpler!

  1. Use a tripod.  Our exposures will be upwards of 1 second!  Make sure the tripod is level and steady
  2. Turn off the flash, use the ambient light only
  3. Matrix light meter
  4. Program exposure mode for beginners, Aperture priority (f 8 or 11) if you are comfortable, Manual if you’ve got game!
  5. Beginners- JPG files.  Advanced or Intermediate- shoot RAW baby
  6. ISO 100 or 200
  7. Test Auto and Tungsten white balance on digital cameras… see what looks best!
  8. Fill the frame with your subject.  Avoid lots of “dark areas” with no lights in the picture
  9. Check your histogram to verify exposure
  10. Take the picture and enjoy!