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Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina.jpg
Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina on a scouting trip for a future workshop. We arrived just at sunrise and fired off several shots. This image is again a 5 shot HDR. Meta data = 28mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/8 sec exposure. Ed Heaton

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Travel Photographer: Ed Heaton

Ed Heaton spends his days shooting and teaching others to do the same in workshops that span the entire country. With all those frequent flyer miles under his belt, he knows a thing or two about how to make the most of your photos when you’re away from home.

How did you get into professional photography?

** **I started out in high school and it was a nice fit for me. Eventually, I got away from it, though. Life got in the way. Then I got back into it and with the onset of digital, I could get instant feedback. I’m very technically oriented and it really made sense to me.

What is it that draws you to travel photography?

** **I like to get out. I live out in Lancaster, PA, which is the heart of Amish country, so I don’t have the big mountains and grand landscapes that a lot of the guys have out west. I started going out and shooting barns and buggies and it escalated from there. Now I go all up and down the east coast trying to get what I want. I have been out west to the national parks, too. I love getting around.

Is there one place that stands out in your mind as your favorite place you have shot?

** **The Grand Tetons are my all-time favorite place to photograph. It was one of my first trips out west and when we landed, it was just gorgeous. It was something I was never used to living on the east coast. A close second would probably be the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.

How do you pack when you’re headed into the mountains?

** **People laugh at me, but I like to absolutely load up my bag. I have a pretty big backpack that I carry all the time. I only shoot Tamron lenses now, but I carry everything from fast primes like the 14mm f/2.8 IF to a super zoom like the 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD. I’m looking for everything, though and I like to have everything that I need. It’s getting harder, though. The airlines are really cracking down. I don’t care how much they crack down, though; I never leave home without my tripod.

As zoom lenses got better, have they helped you consolidated a little?

** **I still carry a lot of primes, but I have added the zooms, too (laughs). But, I recently took an instruction group down to South Carolina and I shot the majority of the trip with a Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD zoom lens. It did everything for me. It’s very convenient, especially when you’re walking around town. I’m very methodical about how I do things. I regularly use a tripod with a cable release. It may not be an f/2.8 piece of glass, but it looks just as good.

Your photographs of moving water look fantastic. What is your approach for shooting them?

****You want to get out on a nice overcast day. It’s hard to make good water scenes in the bright midday sun. I use a slow shutter speed and a polarizer to cut the glare off of the water. A lot of my water stuff is actually shot while I’m standing in the creek. I don’t stand on the edge a lot if I don’t have to. I tend to shoot with a wide angle, mostly the Tamron 17-35MM F/2.8-4 Di LD now that I have moved to a full-frame body. A nice wide angle really helps exaggerate the scene. A lot of those creeks aren’t nearly as big as they end up looking in the photos.

Have you ever dropped any gear in the drink?

****I sure have [laughs]. I can laugh now, but at the time I definitely wasn’t laughing. I dumped a body and lens into the creek one year and it was tough to swallow.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make when they’re shooting?

****A lot of people really don’t look at a scene. They’ll get to a spot, up comes the camera and they start firing off images. Many people just don’t see the light and don’t know how to capture it. They also won’t work a scene. It’s one shot and done, then they’re on to the next place.

Do you tend to spend a lot of time trying to get specific images out of locations?

****I do. I’ll do repeats. I may go to one place four or five times before I get the best light and the best location. I, like many photographers, have sat for hours in a scene just waiting for the light to be right. I have a stool that I carry with me so if I need to sit and wait for a scene, I’m comfortable.

Sunrise at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC.jpg
Sunrise at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. I left my house 3:30 am in order to be in DC at 5:30am to get a good location ahead of the masses shooting the cherry blossoms. I waited an hour and a half on location for sunrise and was happy with my image! Meta data = 42mm, ISO 100, f/22, 1/6 sec Ed Heaton
Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.jpg
Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Again I had a workshop group all setup shooting this scene. Shot with a Tamron 18-270mm lens. Meta data = 32mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1 sec exposure. Ed Heaton
Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.jpg
Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN, during a workshop last spring. I was on the very edge of the creek waiting for the light to soften and glow. I used my Tamron 18-270mm lens. Meta data = 30mm, ISO 100, f/22, 15 sec exposure. Ed Heaton
Tulip Walk at Longwood Gardens.jpg
Tulip Walk at Longwood Gardens. I made this image in light rain last week. Most photographers don’t shoot in the rain but I get some of my best images in the rain and foul weather. Meta data = 85mm, ISO 100, f/22, 1/2 sec exposure. Ed Heaton
Eastern Pennsylvania at sunrise.jpg
This was made in eastern Pennsylvania at sunrise using my Tamron 28-300mm. I had a great sky which really helped to make the image. Meta data= 28mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/2 sec exposure. Ed Heaton
Lancaster County, PA.jpg
Lancaster County, PA as a storm front was rolling through. I sat and waited for the best clouds for over an hour. Come to find out there was a tornado just north of where I was during this shot. I used my Tamron 18-270mm lens. Meta data = 46mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/30 sec exposure. Ed Heaton
Clingman's Done in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.jpg
Clingman’s Done in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I had a workshop group on location before sunrise and waited until the sun started to make an appearance. This was a 5 shot HDR (high dynamic range). I use my 18-270mm lens. Meta data = 130mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/6 sec exposure. Ed Heaton
Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina.jpg
Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina on a scouting trip for a future workshop. We arrived just at sunrise and fired off several shots. This image is again a 5 shot HDR. Meta data = 28mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/8 sec exposure. Ed Heaton

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