Category Archives: Commentaries

New Website and Blog

I have created a new website (with the help of Rose Devlin) that incorporates my images, my workshops and my blog into one space.

Please go to Bill Campbell Photo to check it out and to sign up for blog notifications by scrolling to the bottom and checking the box “Notify me of new posts by email”

Let me know what you think about the new website and check out the new blog post on Shooting Sharp that I just posted


Can you shoot on vacation?

Well, if your wife is a biologist who loves to get her own camera out and walk around in the forest, YES.

My wife used to be my best scout for finding great things to shoot. Now that she has her own good camera (Sony NEX 5N), she shoots what she finds and tells me about it later. Actually, she’s pretty good about telling me about little things she has found (the tree frog in the forest, the banana slug on the trail). I don’t try to abuse the time I have shooting and try to make sure we do other fun things (stop at the museum, go wine tasting, not get up every morning an hour before sunrise) besides the shooting and enjoying nature. But we challenge each other by learning about the eco system we are in, whether it is the geology of the area, new wildflowers, animal facts, that glacial runoff has silt in it and is cold).

Our trips this summer have taught us a lot about new places. We learned that the Mountain Goats in CO are introduced, they think back in the 1920s. Oh, sure, there used to be Mountain Goats there (Mt Evans is where we were) but they moved from the region some 50,000 years ago. Who knew? I always associated mountain goats with the mountains of Colorado, but I was around before 1920. Or 1930. Or 1940. Or 1950. Or 1960. Oh, wait. I was around for the very end of the 1950s, don’t remember much, being less than a year old when the 1960s started.

My point is that, as nature photographers, we can share vacations with our loved ones and not drive them crazy with the desire to get all the great images. And they will hopefully learn to appreciate nature the way you do. I was just lucky to marry someone who loves nature as much as I do and has a background to enjoy the scientific prospects of learning along with the inclination to the creative process of photography.

My Nature Photography Day Shoot

To celebrate Nature Photography Day, I initially was going to Colditz Cove on the Cumberland Plateau. Then I realized that I had plenty of subjects in my own front yard in our wildflower garden. So, about 630am, I proceeded down the steps with a 200 Micro lens, Nikon D4 and my tripod.

At first, I was scouting and taking some rather standard flower shots.

Then I started framing different color flowers in the background for some contrast interest (I also shot some verticals after I shot the horizontals).


Then I played with Focus stacking.. I really liked the bud in front of the bloom.


After an aborted attempt to get a bumblebee in focus in flight ( I didn’t have my flash with me when he flew by), I was about to call it quits. I wasn’t satisfied with what I had shot so far. Just ho hum. Then I stood there looking at the flowers and wondered about using my multiple exposure techniques.

I decided to using the Multiple Exposure Monet technique because the flowers and the garden seemed to be calling out for that type of expression.


I also played with broader strokes of my Monet brush while making the image.

I had a great time and while I was downloading the images from my Nikon D4, I picked up my iPhone and went back out.

First I shot this image.

Then I opened it in ProHDR app on the iPhone and converted it to a sketch>

Then I Imported both to Lightroom and opened them up in Photoshop CS6 as Layers then used a Layer Mask and Opacity to paint in the color of the flower on the sketch. I think it’s cool that you can even see the little ant with the iPhone image.

I hope each one of you enjoyed your shooting during Nature Photography Day. If you haven’t, there is still time. June 15 doesn’t end until midnight!

Fear the Okra

Shack Up Inn

I just returned from visiting my Mom and friends in the MS Delta. These are my roots. I grew up walking and riding along gravel roads, cotton turn rows and the MS levee. My first introduction to the outdoors was through the eyes of my grandfather. He was a consummate outdoorsman. He hunted and fished about every season you could think of. But hunting and fishing was not his passion. Being in the outdoors, free to walk, listen, feel nature was his passion. He enjoyed watching the turkeys, listening to the ducks on their migration, watching squirrels hop from limb to limb in search of a better nut. Unfortunately he died too early for me to enjoy much of his company. I was 6 when he succumbed to a heart attack. But the memories I have of riding in the back of the jeep as we went to hunting camp and in the boat as we fished the little oxbow lakes off the Mississippi, these are what inspired me to love nature. Maybe the love of nature is in your nature when you’re born. Maybe my grandfather passed that down from his generation. I know that many people don’t have the same love of nature that I do.. That’s ok as long as they learn to respect nature..

My trip to the Delta brought back many memories. But I also made some new ones. I was able to travel to Cleveland to visit with my friend Henry Outlaw. Henry was my advisor at Delta State University. My mentor. One of the reasons I went to Delta State. When I called up DSU in the summer of 1977 and asked if their scholarship offer was still open, they said yes and someone would call me back. Henry was that person and the next day my Dad and I visited DSU all day long with Henry showing us all around campus. This is pretty unusual for the Chairman of the Physical Sciences Department. Except with Henry.. He is as much a people person and philosopher as he is a scientist.

Another stop along the way was out Highway 49 to visit Hopson Commisary and Shack Up Inn. After hearing so much about both, I thought it was time to go out and photograph these Delta landmarks. I had a great time and got to meet one of the owners of Shack Up Inn, Guy. As soon as he told me his name, I knew he was the brother of one of my high school classmates. So if you are ever in the Delta and need a place to stay near Clarksdale, look them up.. But my Mom says that you sometimes have to make reservations a year in advance. While you are in Clarksdale, there are now several great places to eat, but the one that has been there forever (1924) and we also go back to is Abe’s BBQ.. Abe’s is an institution.. You can’t go to the Delta and say you have visited without going to Abe’s. If you have a good appetite, order the Big Abe’s pork..  yummm!!!

Abe's BBQ

Ok, so why “Fear the Okra”? Well, we were the Delta State Statesmen.. But somewhere along the way they wanted to change the mascot to something else. Henry told me that the DSU Baseball team was thinking “Ok, what’s green?  Okra.. It’s prickly and green.. So we will be the Fighting Okra..”  It caught on, somehow.. And now my alma mater are the DSU Fighting Okra..


Christmas Cheer

Bill Campbell Creme de Menthe BallsA little deviation from thoughts of photography to thoughts of the holiday season. I remember when I was about 8 years old, my grandmother would receive a package from my aunt in Kentucky. It would always be some type of cookie tin. Fortunately it was NOT filled with fruitcake, but Kentucky Colonels. Well, these type of “Colonels” were also what we called Bourbon Balls because they were a confection flavored with good Kentucky Bourbon and covered with chocolate. My mother would never let me try one, but one day when I was with my grandmother and no one else was around, she let me try one. Ok, to an 8 year old, it was disgusting. So my grandmother told my aunt and the next year she sent a tin of Kentucky Colonels with a surprise. Some Creme de Menthe Balls for the teatotallers in the family. One bite and I was hooked. This tradition continued until I was in high school and the task changed to my hands. Ever since then, barring a few years in medical school or residency, I have made these gems of a confection for my family. Now my sons ask as to when I am going to make them. It has become a tradition. More so than even having Turkey or Ham for Christmas dinner.

So for all of you out there with a sweet tooth and maybe wanting to start your own tradition, these are reasonably easy to make. It takes several stages though. Maybe next year I will make cooking videos to post about my Christmas favorites..

Here is the recipe handed down from my Grandmother to my mother to me..

Creme de Menthe Balls

1 box confectioners sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts
5-6 T Creme de Menthe (you can find the fake stuff in grocery or the real stuff in liquor store…. I didn’t even know there was a difference until I was about 26)

Creme butter and sugar. Add Creme de Menthe (make sure mixture is fairly stiff and not “sticky”, add more sugar if necessary). Add nuts.
Form into 1 inch balls by rolling in your hands (takes a little practice). Place on cookie sheet and put in refrigerator of at least a couple of hours (I usually leave them overnight).
Once they’ve hardened, you are ready to dip in chocolate.
Melt 5 squares of semi sweet baking chocolate (sometimes I mix with unsweetened baking chocolate. Add enough paraffin (find in grocery store near canning supplies) to make a little runny.
Dip hardened balls into chocolate and take out with a fork and place on cookie sheet covered with wax paper (this makes it easier to take them off when hardened).
Put back into fridge until hardened.

Oh, MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Happy New Year to all!

War on Photography

IF you care about Photographers’s Rights and our rights as US Citizens, please read. You can go to the bottom for a call to action and a link to Photographers’ Rights.

All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke

BP Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico, 2010

I have been reading a fair bit about the recent “War on Photography”. I knew this was going on because I have had friends tell me about encounters recently that they have had. Remembering the first tale I heard about this. A friend of mine used to be an AP stringer in Kentucky. Hearing about a mine collapse/explosion, he went up to the gates of the facility, along with other photographers, and shot as the miners came out of the mine from the accident. He was standing on public property (the road) and shooting into the facility. Well, someone didn’t want the images to get out, so they instructed the law enforcement to confiscate the images. My friend had time to put his roll of film down into his pants (I never really asked him where) and put another roll of film into the camera and fire off several frames. When the officer told him to hand over his film, he replied by opening the back of his camera and strip the film out of the canister and then handing it over. No way for them to know that he had hidden the originals. The story went on to when a Pulitzer Prize. I probably would have stuffed film in my pants for a Pulitzer Prize. This was not recent, not even in the past 15 years, so law enforcement taking liberty with citizens’ rights is not a new event.

Flash forward to 2001. Specifically 9/11/2001. We all know what happened that day. Many of us watched in person or on TV the events that start the War on Terrorism. So why do I mention this? Because, since the advent of Homeland Security and the heightened sense of vulnerability to terrorism, many LEOs have quote the 9/11 Law as reasons to ask photographers from making images in public places in completely legal venues. There is no such 9/11 Law that prevents a photographer from taking images. There are certain places where photography may be limited for national security (certain areas of military bases, certain areas of nuclear facilities) but trains, bridges and buildings are not on the list. But photographers have been arrested for taking images of all of these. Almost all the charges have eventually been dropped and some of the people are bringing suit for false arrest.

Why would I, as a nature photographer, be worried about this? Aren’t these examples of people taking pictures of law enforcement or of oil refineries or trains or buildings? We usually don’t take these kind of pictures. Oh, but we might, depending on the story.

I was fortunate to photograph several different times along the AL and LA coast after the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. I was not accosted during the process and count myself fortunate. Places were limited at times, but I usually got access by going through the channels. I was even able to photograph the Fort Jackson bird recovery facility, even inside, with a Press Pass. But not everyone was as blessed.

I had friends who went to photograph the results of the BP disaster and were threatened with arrest for photographing on a public beach of the clean up process. They were told that it was against the 9/11 Law and could be considered an act of terrorism. I had other friends who were denied access to areas (that are public land). There are reports of photographers who were denied the right to fly over public land and public ocean during this time period of the BP disaster.

Which leads to me the reason that I started writing about this. Denali National Park has introduced a new Road plan. This plan regulates access along the road within the park. Historically, professional photographers could apply for a road pass and be put into a lottery for a pass that would give them access to the Park in a private vehicle for a certain period of days. Some of these photographers were part of a Pro Photographers focus group that met on teleconference with park officials to help the park understand the position and needs of professional photographers. It has been reported to me by several photographers on those calls that at least one park official stated that they saw no need for photography within the park as there were enough pictures of the park to be used for any needs. Also the park has denied any business permits for photography workshops within the park for several years.

Denali NP, AK

The Denali Road plan wants to take away road passes from professional photographers and give them to tour companies to run more buses through the park. I have been told that the Cruise lines have an active lobbying presence talking to the Park officials and have been requesting that the professional photographers’ road pass be done away with and the road pass permits be given to the tour companies to run more buses through the park.

The ProPhoto committee actually agreed to not have any road passes during the high tourist season (summer) in exchange for a couple of extra passes during the early summer and late summer/early fall periods in which tourist presence is diminished.

Here are comments from Tom Walker, professional photographer in Alaska and a member of the Workgroup:

Denali National Park Planning Change to Road Access that will impact Photographers


For almost two decades large tour companies, through the Alaska Tourism Industry Association (ATIA) have lobbied for increased bus access to the park. For over ten years, for example, they have pushed to have Denali’s Professional Photographers Permit System (ProPho) revoked, and that vehicle allocation replaced with tour buses. The new DRAFT DENALI PARK ROAD VEHICLE MANAGEMENT PLAN (DRMP) seems designed to meet these tour operators’ desires to the detriment to other visitors, especially photographers.

Since 1972, Denali has had a Professional Photography permit system that has allowed private vehicle access to the park for qualifying individuals. Last winter, at the request of Supt. Paul Anderson, a PROPHO work group met with the park planner, Miriam Valentine, to develop a win-win scenario for the program scheduled for change by the new plan. 

After hours and hours of work and tele-conferences the group felt headway had been made and expected reasonable adjustments to the current program. When the DRMP was published, the  group was shocked and dismayed to see its input completely ignored and the Alternatives identical to what Valentine outlined  the very FIRST day of the meetings.  The group determined from this experience, that once again public concerns are being discarded and the outcome of the “public process” is mere window dressing.

Also troubling, Alternatives B and C in the DRMP calls for maximizing bus capacity, in short filling every seat on every bus, making any photography from such a bus almost impossible.

What is most troubling is that if Denali adopts Alternative B or C, a whole new level of monitoring bureaucracy will be established that will cost at least $1 million more per year. A very problematic issue since already the park administration is concerned with next year’s budget cuts.

Alternative A, No Action, is the only Alternative favorable to photographers. Comments may be emailed to:

In addition to Tom’s comments, in reviewing the 300 + page document, it appears that Denali NP would decrease the number of Road Permits from current 610 to 448 in Plan B (but you only get to travel part of the road, so realistically divided the number in half) to 366 in plan C. What is interesting is that the ProPhoto group suggested 7 full road permits a day, but only in the early and late season for a total of about 350 permits, so more permits could go to buses during the peak tourist season in the mid summer.

I am calling on all photographers to go online and read the Denali Road Proposal and then respond to the request for input at the DNP website.

Since it is almost to easily find the Proposal from the Denali NPS website or even from the link that they have on the website to Proposed Plans, I have included quick links that will take you directly to

Denali Draft Vehicle Management Plan


Comment page for Vehicle Management Plan

If you want to read more about the War on Photography, attorney Morgan Manning wrote about this in the Tennessee Law Review for the University of TN, Knoxville, College of Law.  Morgan Manning, Paper on Photographers’ Rights in TN Law Review from UT, Knoxville, College of Law. Also listen to NPR interview with Morgan- NPR.

And attorney and photographer Bert P. Krages II has listed photographer’s rights, in general. Click Here from Photographers’ Rights.