Cider Mill Studio Selected to show in Juried Exhibition

See the events and announcements page  on the Cider Mill Studio website for full details, show card downloads, driving directions and more.

Cider Mill Studio is exhibiting at The 12th Annual Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area Juried Art Show and Sale. The theme for the show is Scenes of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. Specifically chosen for this show is Dawn at Split Tree, an original fine art image with a unique atmospheric quality.

The exhibition and sale is at Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus Art Gallery, Pottstown, PA. The gallery is open to the public and offers free admission. We hope you can attend and enjoy some of the finest art the area has to offer. Show Dates are November 9 to December 11, 2015.


In addition to showing at the Schuylkill River Heritage Art Show, Dawn at Split Tree was specially selected by the Jurors to continue on with an elite group of fourteen other artists’ works chosen from the show’s field of over 190 entrants. This exclusive exhibition can be seen in the Visitors Center at the Valley Forge National Historical Park in Valley Forge, PA from January 13, 2016 to February 25, 2016. More information to follow. Please bookmark this page or sign up for our mailng list to receive updates.

If You Plan To Go


Montgomery County Community College
West Campus
North Hall, 16 High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Gallery Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Closed Weekends

What & When:

The Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area
Juried Art Show and Sale
themed “Scenes of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area”
Presenting Original Art Work and Photography
Monday, November 9, 2015 to Saturday, December 11, 2015.


Posted in News & Events

Cider Mill Studio Announces Invitational Art Exhibition

Cider Mill Studio is exhibiting two, never before seen select fine art pieces, The Wind Catcher which is a specially presented, certified closed edition of 150 featuring one of the Natural Land Trust preserves and Framed in Magnolia, an open edition piece. These are shown in a juried art exhibition sponsored by the Natural Lands Trust and Montgomery County Community College.

We’ll be part of an elite group of regional artist in a mixed media art exhibition. The theme is “Embrace Open Space” and the show runs from September 9 to Sept 25 in the Art Gallery at the Main Campus of Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, PA. The gallery is open to the public and offers Free Admission. We hope you can attend and enjoy some of the finest art the area has to offer.

If You Plan To Go


Montgomery County Community College
Central Campus
340 DeKalb Pike
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Gallery Hours:  Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. & Saturday, 9 a.m.-5p.m.
Closed Sunday

What & When:

Invitational Exhibition, themed “Embrace Open Space”
Presenting Original Art Work – Photography, Paper, Canvas and Sculpture
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 to Friday, September 25, 2015

Please visit Cider Mill Studio for full details

Posted in News & Events

Just Give ’em What They Want

This cartoon  came across my cyber desk today. Various versions have been circulation around for some time now, certainly long before the Internet came into being. I found it fun and had a good chuckle over it and thought I’d share it with all of you to enjoy as well.

It tells a story of an epic failure in communications and how too many chefs can spoil the broth. The key take-away is listen closely and give the customer what they want, not what you or  everyone else thinks they want. This should be required reading for every high school and college graduate. Just take some time out of this hyper-speed world we live in and simply listen. -33-


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Introducing ClickNotes!


Today Cider Mill Studio is excited to introduce ClickNotes!

ClickNotes is a new, free service on the Cider Mill Studio website offering eveyone a gathering of tutorials and tips on various subjects in photography. Many of the Tuts we offer are taken directly from our field notes. Hopefully you will find ClickNotes helpful in growing your photography skills.

Look for our distinctive Yellow and Black ClickNotes logo. Whenever you see it on Cider Mill Studio’s Home page and on this blog, you’ll know there is an new tutorial just waiting for you to download. Check it out now at -33-

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ClicksNotes Tutorial ~ Six Simple Steps to Creating Panoramas


Mysic harbor Panorama

Panoramic view of Mystic Harbor of the Mystic River in Mystic, CT USA

Since we exhibited the panoramic image of Mystic Harbor we received many letters asking how we made it. Panoramas are nothing new to photography. They have been around for a long time. When I started out in photography I thought it took an extreme wide angle lens to capture such a wide view but I soon found out that was not the case. Simply, it is done by panning the camera horizontally and taking several shots in progression. As a matter-of-fact, one can even do a vertical panorama but they are not as common as horizontal.

In The Beginning

Film was the popular medium when I started my journey in photography. The method of making panoramic scenes was to keep one’s camera as straight/level as possible while turning (panning) the camera on an axis and snapping pictures, maintaining a slight overlap between frames. A tripod helps but it can be hand-held as well. Snap-Pan-Snap-Pan-Snap… I’m sure you get the idea. I soon learned that the amount of overlap between frames was important as was matching the exposure from shot to shot as I panned my camera.

Once the group of images from the scene was captured, the film would be sent out to a Lab to be processed and prints made. After the prints came back they would be carefully selected, laid-out on a table-top and assemble like a jigsaw puzzle. I would trim the assembled images from frame to frame with a razor knife and then trim to square-up the finished grouping all around. The mechanically crafted scene would be re-photographed on a copy stand for reproduction. Sometimes it was pretty ugly and every once in a while it worked and I came up with a nice image but that took a lot of trial-and-error to achieve.


There were other options available like mechanical wonders called panoramic cameras. Panoramic cameras have either a wind-up or a battery powered motor that rotates the focal point of its lens 180 degrees against the film plane in a single shot. These devices revolutionized the world of panoramic photography. No more cutting and sticking photographs together. Dedicated panoramic cameras captured great images of scenes and did it with ease but they were expensive to own and the resultant image could only be printed by a small, specialty group of labs.


Fast-forward to the digital era. The basic field capture remains the same but the post processing has changed considerably. Today, you would think that all the photographer needs to do is to pan her selected scene using the same Snap-Pan-Snap-Pan-Snap method described above and drop the image files into a “stitching” program or app, then, with an Abracadabra and a puff of smoke an instant panorama appears right before your eyes! Well, that’s how people who sell you these apps and programs would like you to think but it takes a bit more effort than that.

Let’s Do This!

1. Capture

If you can hand-hold your camera while keeping a level horizon, by all means do so. If you are just beginning or if your scene is particularly critical you may want to use a tripod. Take some time and set it up with a small bubble level. You’ll want to keep the scene straight and level or things might get flaky later in your post processing.

2. Overlap

As you are panning your scene keep in mind that you want to overlap by about 25% from shot-to-shot for a horizontal panorama and about 50% for a vertical panorama. Just pick a “landmark” in your viewfinder and do your best to overlap. This will help whatever program you select to create your panorama do a better job of generating your final image.

3. Exposure

Rehearse your panoramic capture. Do a dry run first and pan the camera from point-to point as you will be shooting so you can set the proper exposures. Don’t be lulled into the comfort of automatic exposure. Meter your scene carefully from “snap-to-snap” and shoot in Manual Mode. Shooting in Auto may cause a noticeable difference in exposure as you pan across light and dark areas in the scene.

Some of this can be corrected in post processing but you can save yourself some work if you take a little time to set your exposure correctly in the first place. I like to call this the ICE method of image creation with I.C.E meaning In Camera Editing. This is a throw-back from my film days but a good rule of thumb to follow any time.

4. Depth-of-Field

You’ll want your scene to remain in focus after the software you use assembles your final image. There is nothing worse than one shot in the panorama having a more shallow depth-of-field than the others. Strive to keep your aperture between f8 and f11 for each exposure. I would also consider using Manual Focus.

5. How Many Captures?

The image of Mystic Harbor was done with eight captures. It spanned about 200 degrees. Use as many as necessary but a good rule of thumb would be about six to eight. Experimentation is the way to go and learning is fun, so try different approaches.

6. Magic

Now you are ready to make magic. Once you have your completed digital image files, open them in your favorite image editing software or app and follow its instructions. There are several options out there and suggesting one would be beyond the scope of this tutorial. Do an internet search for Photographic Panorama or Stitching software and you’ll be awarded with several from free to expensive. Use what is right for you.

I would enjoy hearing from you about your panoramic adventures. I’m also happy to answer any of your questions. Just use the Cider Mill Studio contact form at and drop us a line. -33-

A full PDF copy of this tutorial is available for free download on the Cider Mill Studio website in our Resources section on the Tips  and Tricks page

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Check out the new Cider Mill Studio Website

Newly designed and easy to use. Take a look at the new improved Cider Mill Studio website at

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Picture Your Perfect Wedding Day

Behind the sparkling lights, comfortable attractive furniture, beautifully framed wall-sized photographs, custom produced wedding videos being played-out on 60” flat screen televisions and custom bound wedding albums there is a business. The studio’s viewing salon might be all about glitz, glamour and selling to your heart but the back office is all about contracts and the business side of wedding photography. How does someone who knows little to nothing about buying wedding services find an honest professional?

Someone recently e-mailed me about choosing a wedding photography service. I do not practice in this area of photography but once did professionally. The following is from that conversation:

  • One thing to think about when choosing any service is do not buy-in to the hype.

Many studios will try to up-sell you and will target right to the heart of your emotions. You don’t want to short change yourself but you don’t want to spend a fortune on stuff you don’t or won’t need either.

  • If you feel like you are being ripped-off walk away.

If the deal sounds like it is too good to be true it probably is. There are too many reputable service providers to waste your time on fast-talking sales people.

  • Go in with a budget and stick to it.

Again, don’t allow your emotions to drive your choices.

  • You should have some idea of the style you want your images to show (journalistic, romantic, free-style, retro and so on)

Be sure your studio knows what style you want your photographs to be presented in.

  • You should ask to see the photographs of the person who will be shooting your wedding.

 A studio may show you their “Master Work” but sends out some inexperienced kid with a “point n’ shoot” camera on your wedding day.

  • Be sure you meet your personal photographer face-to-face way before your wedding day.

You want to know you are comfortable with the photographer and that s/he will follow your instructions.

Buy smart, do not buy with your heart. You are in charge. Be a smart consumer.” -33-

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Get Taken and Love It!

To make sure you are not the one with the gawky grin and closed eyes in photos this holiday season, or any time for that matter here are some tips on how to get taken and love it:

  • Think of really happy and funny things. That way your smile will be natural and your eyes will look like they’re laughing too
  • Blink halfway through the count of three. Your eyes are sure to be open when the camera clicks
  •  Don’t face the camera head on. Turn slightly sideways to slim your outline
  •  Focus your gaze just above the camera. It will make your eyes look bigger -33-
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Great New Stuff on Cider Mill Studio’s Website

NEW WORK — You can find our latest and most recently posted works in the Cider Mill Studio New Works Exhibits 

NEW FEATURE – WE’RE ON FLICKR — We will be using our Flickr postings to show interesting and unique items and special projects. These are mainly (but not exclusively) images that might not make it onto the Cider Mill Studio Website We invite you to visit the Cider Mill Studio photostream on Flickr and check out what we are offering there.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE 2015 FINE ART CALENDAR — Cider Mill Studio is happy to present our Cider Mill Studio’s 2015 Fine Art Calendar featuring twelve select images from our works over the past year. Available as a free PDF document for a limited time only

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Fall for Photography


ClickNotes Tutorial ~ Ten Ways to Help You Take a Fall

Put down the rake, turn off your leaf-blower and grab your camera. Here are ten tips from Cider Mill Studio to help you take better pictures of fall foliage.

The Golden Rule

Take your snapshots in the “Golden Hour.” This magical time is when the sun is close to the horizon and shadows are long. This will give you markedly better pictures than if you were snapping when the sun was higher in the sky.  Mid-day pictures can be nice too but the sun usually is very intense and the glair factor is highest so stick with early morning or late afternoon.

Opposites Attract

Keep a watch for good color contrasts with complimentary colors like red foliage against a background of evergreens.

I Don’t Smoke so Why do I Need a Filter?

Use enhancing filters with a film camera. Enhancing filters are doped with rare earth elements such as Didymium which have selective absorption bands in the visible spectrum. The effect of these absorptions is to enhance red, orange and brown subjects to give more color saturation and contrast, while having very little effect on other colors. These filters could also work if you are using a digital camera but not as well as when used with film.

Sing the Blues

You may want to give a Polarizing filter a spin. These are designed to give a rich, deep blue to the sky and to cut glare. They are most effective when taking pictures in the northerly direction. They can also enhance contrast between blue sky and white puffy clouds. Be careful if you are using a wide-angle lens as larger sections of the sky will be in your frame which can cause varying amounts of blue saturation. There are different types of polarizing filters and using the wrong type may prevent your auto focus from operating as designed. Check your camera’s manual for which to use with your particular camera.

Grey is Great

Don’t pack-up and leave if the weather is dull and grey. You can still get great snapshots in the softer, lower contrast lighting that an overcast sky provides. Just cut back on how much sky you include in your picture.

Singin’ in the Rain

Laugh at the rain. Some of the best foliage images I created were in the rain. Water coated leaves can add sparkle to an already beautiful natural element.

Color with Muscle

If you have a camera that you can boost the color (or saturation) or if your point and shoot camera has a “Vivid” color mode, you can experiment with bumping it up slightly to make your colors stronger. Use this effect carefully though. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Tidy Whities

Don’t be afraid to fiddle with the white balance settings, setting your camera to indoors when outdoors or visa versa can offer interesting effects that you might not have originally planned for. Be different. Think outside the box and you may get better than average snapshots that you will be proud to show.

Face the Light

The common rule is to take pictures with the sun at your back. This post is all about thinking outside the box so why not try something a little different this time out? Move around your target and watch how the light acts against the foliage. Take a few pictures against the sun. Put your subject foliage between you and sun and take your pictures that way. Done properly this can give a very pleasing effect.

Lay Down on the Job

It is a nice fall day. You are out communing with nature so why not lay down… Oh, while you are there point your camera up through the trees and take a few snaps. Approaching a subject from a different and unusual angle can make a good picture a great one.

There you have it, ten easy ways to take better snapshots this fall. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or even a tutorial, heck it may not even be accurate. It is just a small gathering of words on things that worked for us and you may want to try. Good shooting! -33-

You can download a PDF copy of this ClickNotes Tutorial and more on the Cider Mill Studio website.

Click Here for your free copy of This ClickNote, Ten Ways to Help You Take a Fall.

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