Anyone who frequents the Landscape Forum will be familiar with the Melman59 username. Tom is very active in the forum and posts landscapes that demonstrate what happens when time is taken in preparation for the shot. He attends to all of the details and capturing the scenes when the light is best. The result: spectacular images.
“My day job is as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Decatur, Indiana. I have almost 31 years in at the USPS and have walked well over 50,000 miles in that time. That would be over two times around the world. No wonder I’m tired! Retirement is just a few months away. Yeah!! Hopeful to venture out much more to shoot, once I don’t have to punch a time clock.
I live in the small town of Monroe, IN. This is farm country with corn and soybean fields everywhere. Landscape photography is my true love. I loved the quiet and peaceful benefits of exploring natural places. So as time went by I gravitated more and more to landscape photography though I had started with an interest in portrait photography.
Even if I don’t take one photo, I still count the time I spend in the wild as a positive experience that rejuvenates the mind and soul. I love to shoot mountainous regions of the country. My wife, Melinda, has her own camera and lens combo and likes to shoot along side of me.
I live near a Swiss community called Berne, Indiana. Sprunger is a Swiss name and almost anyone with that name has a connection to Berne. Berne, Indiana has a full-sized replica of the clock tower in Bern Switzerland. The tower can be seen for miles away. There is also a little village called the Swiss Heritage Village, a nearby covered bridge and we live in Amish country, so there are more possibilities for quaint photographs. A person needs to be sensitive though because they usually don’t like to be photographed. There are quite a few small nature preserves owned by ACRES Land Trust in our area. I photograph scenery in these preserves and donate my photographs to ACRES to use in their promotional material.
I signed up to take an online course by Bryan Peterson, internationally known photographer. After a few lessons I determined that I wasn’t going to be able to do some of the things Bryan was asking his students to do using my Nikon Coolpix 995. So I took the step of purchasing the Nikon D70 kit back in 2004. Taking Bryan Peterson’s course gave me a kick in the pants, so to speak, and got things on the right track. Since then I have been mainly self-taught, however, Nikonians has been an important part of that learning curve.
Landscape photography has become my preferred photographic discipline. I enjoy shooting wildlife too, but what really gets my creative juices flowing is photographing a beautiful landscape setting. Landscape photography is like a treasure hunt. Part of the fun is just looking for that ultimate shot. I love waterfalls. I could spend hours looking for different angles and compositions. Mountain lakes at sunrise or sunset are another favorite. I probably use my Nikon 24-70mm lens more than any other. Occasionally I will use my Nikon 16-35mm for the wider shots. Even my 200-500mm lens has been used on occasion for landscape shots. I incorporate a 3 stop ND filter and polarizer on many of my shots. Mirror-up with remote release is typically used. I almost always use a tripod to be able to obtain the sharpest images possible. A tripod also helps me to slow down and work out the best composition. I also enjoy panoramas, macro, and astrophotography.
I love being a Nikonian because there is such a wealth of knowledge from the members. Practically any question you might have can be answered from someone who has “been there, done that”. I appreciate how the Nikonians culture encourages members to support each other as we strive to become more proficient photographers. Members are kind and considerate to each other and realize that we are all at different levels of experience. Membership is a bargain!
The forums at Nikonians have been incredibly helpful. Viewing the work of others helps me strive to improve my own photographs and up my game. Constructive criticism by fellow shooters helps me to see things that I may have missed when I took the shot. Also, if I have a question about practically any aspect of photography, I can find an answer on one of the forums. The articles have been super beneficial also.
One tip I would have is to never pack up your gear too soon. A couple years ago my wife and I hiked to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were hoping to shoot a sunset there. But it was cloudy and the time had come for the sun to set, so, thinking our day to be over, we put our gear away and started to hike back to the trailhead. But for some reason I decided to turn around and take one last look. Lo and behold the sun had finally broken through and the mountains were ablaze. We hurriedly set back up and were fortunate to get in a few good shots.
This experience is kind of on the humorous side, at least for me it was and it carried an important lesson. I was in the Munising, Michigan area shooting a waterfall when a fellow walked up beside me with a Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head. I had been interested in one of their tripods, so I asked him how well the clamp system on the ball head held the camera. He said that it worked very well and demonstrated its quality by giving the tripod with his camera mounted a good shaking. The tripod bumped into his partially open backpack parked precariously on the ledge of a steep cliff causing the open backpack to roll over to the side and down the cliff with lenses falling out all the way down. Fortunately, he was able retrieve his gear without any significant damage. So, keep your backpack closed and situated in a safe place! I did buy that ball head and tripod after his real-life demonstration.”
Thanks for all you contribute to Nikonians, Tom.
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