Skagit Eagle Festival 2018

copyright Karen Ulvestad

It’s this weekend! I’ll be speaking Saturday, January 27th at 11 am in Concrete, WA.

“Creating Magical Moments With Bird Photography”

at the

Concrete Historical Theater


Happy Shooting. . .Karen

The Best of 2017

These are my favorites I took in 2017. . .from the amazing Othello Sandhill Crane Festival to the Solar Eclipse on the Oregon Coast. Hope you enjoy. . .


Winter Light & Photography


The light through the winter changes in both color and intensity. The sun drops lower on the horizon, and travels through more of the Earth’s atmosphere. This changes the colors that we and our cameras see.

The photograph above is trumpeter swans in January at dusk. The light in the sky is soft and diffused. The swans reflect the color of the blue sky on their wings, and remain neutral colored on their underside.


The colors change in the landscape. Everything appears more pastel, and with less contrast. Even the blue of the sky changes to a softer hue. The clouds add interest to the photograph, and are perfect to include into the composition.

The photograph above was taken during the winter months. The soft light of late day is diffused by the broken clouds in the sky, offering a soft light bathing the scene. The colors are rich, yet softer than the summer months.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Winter can bring starkness of color with its snow, frost and/or over cast sky. It is a great time to explore monochromatic images. Enjoy the season!

Happy shooting. . .Karen


Simplicity or Chaos?


Composition is a direct reflection on the photographer. Certain aspects can be learned, yet your personal viewpoint seeps through in every photograph we create.

Our photographic vision reflects our inner self, and where we are emotionally at the point of the photograph. It is basically impossible to separate our inner turmoil from showing in our photographs.

Photography is the immediate recording of the environment, both in the physical world in front of the camera lens and our inner self. One does not exist without the other.

Like all other life adventures, photography is part of the journey to ourselves.

Tip of the Day. . .Even if the chaos in our lives shows through in our photographs, look for the qualities shown in the images that reflects a “story.” The best images show or trigger an emotion in the viewer. Remember, we are our own worst critics. . .

Happy Shooting. . .Karen


Focus. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Focus is a key to a successful photograph! I mean focus on the subject and the idea behind the image. What message is the photographer trying to convey through the visual medium of photography.

Beyond technique, a great photograph shares a story. Otherwise, why would we want to look at it, share it, have it in our homes (or office), or purchase it?

The message could be peace and tranquility. It may show the chaos of the inner city. What is it that drives the interest in the photograph? What is it’s story?

As photographers, we can all take beautiful photographs. The digital age make accessibility to quality equipment available to a wider range of people. There are so many choices – phones, point and shoots, mirrorless, or DSLR.

So, what story do you wish to tell? It is a question to ask yourself as you compose your photographs.

Happy Shooting. . .Karen


It’s All About the Light. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Photography is possible because of Light. Without light, the image is black. With too much light, the photo is white.

How do we control this light? It is controlled through exposure.

Exposure = ISO + Aperture + Shutter Speed

It is the photographer along with the camera settings that creates the photograph. Every photograph is a reflection of the photographer’s intent for the image.

The use of light affects the subject, story, and quality of the photograph. It is the choices of the photographer!

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

It’s Time for the Birds!

copyright Karen Ulvestad

August is the month I teach The Art of Photographing Birds locally. It’s one day of classroom instruction, and in-the-field shooting in a diverse series of eco-systems.

Students learn photography tips, etiquette, exposure, and more. It is a great class for beginner to intermediate photographers who use a DSLR or Point and Shoot camera.

We will work on stop-action, portrait, and environmental types of bird photography. Students will learn verbally, visually, and hands-on. There will be ample time to photograph birds, ask questions, and have a quick critique or two.

The class is through the EdCC Continuing Education. Click here to learn more information or sign-up.

Copyright Karen Ulvestad

Sunsets and Vibrant Color

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Sunsets and color seem to go together. It’s hard to show the character of a sunset in black & white.

The sun isn’t always yellow. The Earth’s atmosphere affects the color of the sun, and the colors reflected in the sky.

The photo above was taken on the Oregon coast looking out over the Pacific Ocean. I love how the sun came out with 3 main colors, the sky was such an intense orange, and the small clouds in the top left side of the image.

Each sunset is unique in color, cloud formations, and the color of the sun.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Then, there is the pastel colors that can be produced at sunset. I love the pastel pinks in the photo above, and the way the color reflects off of the ferry boat. Adding a subject to the frame adds to the composition and interest in the photograph.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

My favorite time to photograph a sunset is after the sun sets. Usually, most photographers and people leave after the sun dips below the horizon. I find that the color may intensify after the sun sets.

I love the dramatic colors, and the ability to capture the stars / moon. Again, I added a ferry boat in the image above. I like how the lights on the ferry help define the boat, while maintaining to color of the sky.

Tip. . .under-expose sunset photographs. . .

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

Excerpt from Summer Photography: Beaches & Sunsets. EdCC Extented Learning Program – July 12, 19, 26, 2017. 

The Oregon Coast in Black & White


This workshop is happening the first weekend in July (1st & 2nd) on the Oregon coast. There is some classroom time, then it’s off to photograph the amazing coastline and wildlife.

Workshop description –

Capture the dramatic and rugged Oregon coastline in classic and timeless black and white. Whether shooting film or digital, the coast beckons to the dynamics of black and white photography. Layers of clouds and headlands, frenzied ocean waves or tranquil sand beaches offer endless possibilities for composition, exposure, and amazing images. This workshop offers a short classroom orientation, photo critiques at the end, and plenty of time in the field. Dress for the weather and walking/hiking.

As I write this, there are only 4 spaces left. To learn more or register, click here.



Visualize ~ Create ~ Evoke


Remember the Sky

copyright Karen Ulvestad

The sky is an important composition element. When included in the photograph, it can be a solid blue or grey, have texture from clouds, or have importance (depending on how much is included). Each of these composition choices affects the “feeling” of the photograph.

In the image above, the clouds are an important part of the composition. Their shape reflects the patchy snow on the meadow below.


In this photograph, the clouds come in two distinct textures. One is puffy and closer to the water’s surface. The others are higher in the atmosphere, and are linear. The puffy clouds mimic the headland, and islands (sea stacks). The higher clouds create a diagonal line, which draws the views eye through the image.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

In this last image, the sky is without clouds. The interest in this photograph is the flowers and building, without the sky competing with the subject for attention. A clear sky helps a specific subject stand out, or it simplifies the composition.

Happy shooting. . .Karen

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