Sunday, June 1, 2014

Taking pictures of lightning

The whole idea is to have the camera taking a picture all the time. That way you will get the lightning whenever it strikes randomly.

To do this, you have to set the camera to take very long exposures. You set the ISO very low, 50-200, the F-stop very high F16 or higher, and the speed to 30 seconds or if your camera has it bulb. If you're using bulb you can to hold down the shutter button for one or two minutes.

The reason this works it's because lightning is brighter than the Sun. And you are taking the picture for a very long time. So when the lightning strikes, you are already taking the picture, and since the lightning is so bright you get the lightning. If the exposure is a real long time, say a minute and it hasn't lightning'd yet, you just stop the exposure by letting go of the shutter release and then you start a new exposure. Most cameras do not have speed settings longer than 30 seconds. That's why I use bulb. I have a shutter release that has a lock on it so when I press it in bulb mode the exposure is continuous until I release the shutter.

You can test how your exposures are doing by stopping the exposure after one or two minutes and take a look at the picture. My picture includes a house and trees across the street and you may want to see them but I like to keep them dark.  So adjust the exposure by adding more/less time.  A good lightning shot can have some sky showing.  So adjust exposure accordingly.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Try it, it's not rocket science, it's just technically setting up the camera and some luck of the strike.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Shooting wedding advice I recently gave a new wedding photographer

I know you have a good Nikon camera although I don't remember which one.  So I assume you have a good Nikon flash that you are using.  Remember that the flash is on top of the camera.  I also assume you don't have one of those stroboframe flash holders to keep the flash top centered when taking vertical pix.  So ALWAYS make sure the shadow from the flash is in the back of the head for verticals.  Horizontals are always good.  I've considered always taking horizontals so the flash shadow was always good and then cropping the real verticals later.  Never had to cause I broke down and bought the stroboframe thingy.

ALWAYS have the flash on (indoor and out) and be mindful of flash recycle times.

With the Nikon D300 I use iso 800 for everything, besides higher apertures for more infocus, you get faster flash recycle times.

If you're doing indoor and outdoor shots then use program ("P") not my usual aperture("A") mode because then the camera and flash won't screw up the exposure in either place.  Screw ups usually take place outside on a bright sunny day.  If only indoor, the I use aperture like I always do at 5.6 or 8.

I DO NOT change any of my settings during a wedding because I'd forget and screw things up later.

I only use my studio lights for the alter shots, that's it, no time at the reception or you'll miss important stuff.  It does make a huge difference at the alter.  I used to allow customers to request me set up a portrait studio with my studio lights at the reception, but no more, I missed the cake cutting once cause I did what the bride said and then she complained.  Keep your eye on the prize, the BRIDE and the groom a little, mostly the bride, follow her around all night.  And shoot the little kids playing around, they are sooooo cute.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm Beta Testing Photoshop CS5

Here's a sample of something I did with Photoshop CS5.  It didn't work with CS4 so this a a great improvement.  I know this is not an extreme example, but it's nice that the CS5 team has improved this result.


3 source files:

Monday, February 15, 2010

CrashPlan -- Multiple Automatic Backups

When owners of Apple Time Capsules suffered widespread failures of the device after a year and a half of use, the company replaced the out-of-warranty machines for owners with an AppleCare contract covering their Mac. A faulty power supply rendered the hard disk inaccessible.
But the solution didn't recover the data, just replaced the Time Capsule, proving that your Plan B disaster recovery strategy is only as good as your Plan C.

CrashPlan ( offers you a Plan B like any other online backup service, but it also offers a Plan C, Plan D and more through its free backup software. We chatted about the service with Elvin Loomis recently to learn just how it works.


As Code 42 Software, the company has been in the enterprise backup business for about 12 years, Loomis told us, providing secure backups to companies like Apple and Target. During the last year, the company has expanded into the personal backup arena, primarily to stress test their systems for large customers.

To do that, it is giving away its Java-based backup software. You can download it from for Mac, Windows, Linux or Solaris systems. Any machine built within the last four years should be able to run it, Loomis said, although it requires 500-MB of free RAM to run quickly in the background. The code also includes a software daemon that runs in the background.

While you can use the software locally without charge, there is an annual service plan available for backups to the company's cloud of servers. The servers are safely lodged in an underground vault, which is growing at 100 terrabytes a week at the moment, Loomis disclosed.

The plans include the unlimited Individual Plan for $54 to backup unlimited data from one computer for a year and the unlimited Family Plan for $100 a year to backup every computer in your household. The company also provides a CrashPlan Pro solution for corporate enterprises and builds backup appliances (high-capacity RAID servers, that is) for onsite deployment.

In short, this isn't beta software from a startup. It's a mature application from guys who know this business inside out.


What most interested us about the free CrashPlan backup strategy is that you aren't restricted to backing up your critical files to one location.

You can use the software to automatically backup to an external drive, a network attached server, a friend's computer or anything else you can see on your desktop. That's Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and so on.


The software itself is particularly straight-forward for a backup utility. Backup utilities tend to be so technical and confusing that you feel you should take a few college courses in the subject before setting any preferences.

But the CrashPlan software is nicely arranged in Backup, Restore, Settings, History, Friends and Destinations panels.

Backup asks for your destinations and which files you want to copy there. You can indeed backup everything (although the program is designed for file backups, not bare metal system backups). Typically, Loomis said, users just backup their data files.

If you have over 100-GB to protect, CrashPlan will send you a 1-TB hard drive for $125 (or $145 with two-day delivery) so you can expedite the first, long backup.

That huge RAM allotment is used to intelligently parse and encrypt changed data using a 448-bit Blowfish cipher so it can be immediately and automatically backed up. Loomis explained that the program does not backup the entire revised file but only the parts of it that have actually changed. That's unlike most backup programs which note the file was modified and backup the whole file.

While the program does a lot work, it also can get out of the way quickly, Loomis said. The Settings panel lets you decided how quickly, letting you set CPU usage when "user is away" or "present," bandwidth limits and what priority it has over your connection. Being able to throttle CrashPlan's performance is better than crippling your backup strategy, which is the only option with most software.

Restore options include the ability to immediately overwrite current files which, Loomis noted, saves him a reboot when he changes a code library for the worse. He simply restores the library and gets back to work.

The FAQ ( explains everything from the program's color scheme to the type of encryption used and even includes advice on backing up Aperture files.


We downloaded the 14.4-MB program and installed it for a brief test. It impressed us, from the start, as well built and attractive (although it does display a couple of small ads unobtrusively).

On startup, we were prompted to create a free account (our password strength was reported in a small but effective graph) which includes a 30-day free trial to the company's online backup service.

After creating an account, we were taken immediately to the Backup panel where our home directory was scanned. Destinations included CrashPlan Central (free for 30 days), Friend (free), Another Computer (free) and Folder (free to an external drive). The Backup Sources option lets you invite friends to backup to you, generating a backup code automatically.

The program does access CrashPlan's servers to find your destinations, otherwise a local connection is straight-forward. Scanning our home directory took a while, but no longer than our usual backup process takes.


The automatic aspect of the program is one of its more compelling features. As the FAQ puts it, "The problem with traditional, manual backup is that it is, well ... manual. That means people forget to do it and inevitably lose data." This is backup you don't have to think about.

CrashPlan isn't the only automatic backup program, of course. Western Digital also ships automatic backup software with its latest generation of hard drives.

But CrashPlan's automatic multiple destinations is special. We may have qualms about connecting to the server to manage destination addresses, but otherwise we were impressed by the program's design and robustness. Not to mention the company's expertise.

In short, CrashPlan sounds like a Plan. More than one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Canon 5d shutter super slo mo!

If you've ever wondered what a slr looks like inside when you take a picture, take a look at this.  Or if you're just curious.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Entrance fees at 147 national parks and monuments will be waived on three weekends this summer

The National Park Service is looking to stimulate summer vacations at national parks.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Tuesday that entrance fees at 147 national parks and monuments — including the Grand Canyon and Yosemite — will be waived on three weekends this summer. The weekends are June 20-21, July 18-19 and August 15-16

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Plainfield Art League and Plainfield Township Joint Press Release



The Plainfield Art League and Plainfield Township are proud to announce that the work of eight members of the Plainfield Art League is currently on exhibit at the Plainfield Township building located at 22525 W. Lockport Road in Plainfield. 


The exhibit is comprised of 30 works including pottery, photography and paintings done in watercolor and oil.  All of the pieces are available for sale.


"The quality of the artwork is outstanding.  There is so much talent right here in Plainfield Township," said Township Administrative Assistant Monika McMillen.


The exhibit will be up through the end of May.  At the end of May, new art pieces will be hung throughout the Township's administrative offices.  We encourage you to come visit the Township building during our normal business hours of 8am to 4pm to take a look at this fine art.


For more information on the exhibit or the Plainfield Art League, please contact:


Sheryl Jones

President, Plainfield Art League





Monika McMillen

Administrative Assistant, Plainfield Township


(Note: Photos of the artwork on exhibit are available from Sheryl or Monika upon request.)
Plainfield Art League
24114 W Chicago St
Plainfield, IL 60544

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mike Bessler exhibit

Mike Bessler is exhibiting his photography on canvas "Crabapple in spring" 12ftx2ft and "Nocturnal Pinks Oranged" 5ftx6ft 3d photo sculpture at the Plainfield Township Administration Office located at 22525 W. Lockport Rd, Plainfield, IL from March thru May 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Congratulations to Lyn Tietz for winning a Special Merit Award

Congratulations to Lyn Tietz for winning a Special Merit Award in Du Page Art League's January Show, "The Heat is On", for her oil "Dead River Falls".  Now this is very special for me since she asked for and I gave her permission to paint my photograph from Dead River Falls Michigan.  Lyn's oil is a wonderful interpretation of my print.  Lyn is a talented painter and I personally congratulate her on her award.

Mike Bessler

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Question about flash slow sync

Hi Mike!

Hope you had a nice Holiday!!! I've been playing around with my camera and wanting to do some more photography stuff. Anyways, take a look at this pic I must have moved the camera (which I normally don't do) . I was using tripod on some shots and others I wasn't. But I think this turned out cool!

What are your thoughts on why this occurred?

Karin Fox


It's called slow sync on your flash. It lets you take a pix with a long exposure (in a dark room) and also the flash fires at the beginning or end of the exposure. So your dog is mostly sharp because the flash stops action, and the lights were bright enough to show their multiple positions because you hand held and moved during the long exposure. Good thing you didn't have it on a tripod. Oh my gosh, did I just say that!

And yes very cool, it could be very useful to me. I've never thought about how that effect would get a better image, but this one is better.

The setting that controls if the flash fires at the beginning or end of the exposure is called "rear" or "2nd curtain". On my Nikon D300 it's called rear and automatically sets slow on also. Use rear when you want the motion to be before the main image lighted by the flash. Experiment, I shot my Christmas train coming at me and in rear mode so the Engine was perfectly sharp and the rest of the train a blur. Cool effect.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Naperville School District 203 Teachers discount

20% discount to District 203 teachers on the first print from their digital image.  I will print your picture using the same care and technique I use for my award winning prints.  See  This discount expires 08/31/2009.

Mike Bessler
630-667-5174 cell

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Backing up using external drive enclosures

If you are not backing up your hard drive or are using cd's or dvd's for your backups, then read this:
You can buy products like this:
that include the hard drive.  This one is 250gb, enough for most people, but you may need a bigger version, there are many.
Or you can put your own together.  This enclosure is for an ide hard drive, the older type. 
SATA's need a different model, like this one:
You can put in your own hard drive and then plug into your usb connection and install the software and backup your precious data.  I do this every day.  Yes every day because I don't want to take the chance of a hard drive breaking and my precious data not backed up.  In fact I use my old hard drives and move all my data to my friends house (any off site location in case of fire) every 6 months in case my house burns down.  I then insert another old hard drive and start the daily backups again.

Mike Bessler
630-667-5174 cell

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The color and resolution are beyond my expectations

I got the prints.  I didn't unroll them completely, but I peeked at the corners and know I will be very pleased.  The color and resolution are beyond my expectations.  Can't wait to get them framed and up on the wall.  Thanks again.
Scott L.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Daylight Savings Time Dates

In 2008, daylight time begins on March 9 and ends on November 2.

In 2009, daylight time begins on March 8 and ends on November 1.

Passport photo requirements

The US requires passport photos to have a size of 2 x 2 inch (visit US Department of State).

The important thing to remember about passport photos is that they should allow border inspectors to recognize you when they look at your passport. These guidelines will help you shoot and prepare photos that can be used in passports.

  • Include a full face, front view and open eyes
  • Make sure photo presents full head from top of hair to shoulders
  • Take the photo in a plain white or off-white background
  • Avoid shadows on the face or background
  • Face in photo should have a natural expression (closed mouth)
  • Photos should not include sunglasses or hats
  • The contrast and lighting in the photo should be normal

Monday, September 29, 2008

question about aperture priority

Hi Mike,
I took your Starved Rock class back in August. I actually went back there with my husband and took more pictures! The reason I'm writing is that your son Scott said that he recommends only using the aperture priority setting, never the shutter speed setting. At the time his explanation made sense, but I forgot now why he said that. Can you please refresh my memory on why it's not worth using the shutter speed setting?

Thanks and I hope you're doing well,
Jennifer R


Thanks and yes we are doing well.

Shutter priority can cause your camera to make mistakes at high and low light. Aperture priority does not. The mistake is over or under exposure.

For example, on a bright sunny day, if you are in shutter priority and you set your shutter speed to 1/2 a second to blur a waterfall, your camera would set your f-stop (aperture) to the highest number it can, say F32. However even at ISO 100 and F32, the shutter speed will be too long and the image will be over exposed. If you use aperture priority, the image would be properly exposed, but the waterfall would not be blurred because the shutter speed would be near 1/1000th of a second.

Another example, on a cloudy day at Starved Rock in any of the canyons, where it is very dark, if you are in shutter priority, and you set your shutter to 1/1000th of a second to absolutely freeze the waterfall, your camera would set your f-stop to the lowest number it can, say F3.5. However even at ISO 800 and F3.5, the shutter speed will be too short and the image will be under exposed. If you use aperture priority, the image would be properly exposed, but the waterfall would not freeze action because the shutter speed would be near 1/2 of a second.

The important thing here is to control the image to your liking. Use aperture priority to control depth of field and blur. Depth of field is how much is in focus, ie is the foreground and subject and background in focus.

Use a high F-stop to get a lot of depth of field and a slower shutter speed, like when shooting a landscape and you want everything in focus. Use a low F-stop to get little depth of field and a faster shutter speed, like when shooting a flower and you want the background out of focus to isolate the flower.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Starved Rock photo question

Mike, how could I have made this shot better?
Chuck G.


First off the shot is pretty good as is. And I do like the variations of greens in the leaves.

Since the tree trunk was being used as a frame on the right side (nice idea), maybe zoom out a little so there is a tience more room to the left of the falls.

Or maybe just crop off the tree trunk and then the falls would be closer to being in the 1/3's location

I also like the fallen tree at the bottom, it may have made a nice frame there.

Even though the canyon was dark, you could brighten up the entire shot and maybe add a bit of contrast, not sure

Also looks like it could use a bit of sharpening, but don't oversharpen, then edges get to looking flat.

And something we failed to mention much was scale, grand landscapes look even grander when there is something in it that shows just how large the falls are. You could have had someone in the shot at the bottom looking at the falls. Oh, I just saw the kid sitting on the dead tree on the left, almost perfect, maybe have the person be a bit more conspicuous, but to the side like he is so not to distract from the falls.

And the sharpening may not really be necessary as what i'm looking at is only 152k, very small.

One thing I've never done but wondered about was using a low f-stop to try to get the trees in the foreground out of focus, probably wouldn't look good, not sure

Hey just some ideas, it's a great shot just like it is.


Starved Rock Class Sept 27, 2008

I just wanted to be sure and tell you that Kathy and I really enjoyed our session with you and your team at Starved Rock.
We really enjoyed it and I learned things that I can apply, every time that I use my camera!!
Thanks again

Chuck G

Thanks and a question re Nikon or Canon

Hey Mike,
I just want to say thanks again for all the great information you have provided us when it comes to photography.  Photography is something that I have always been interested and wanted to pursue further, however time and income always seemed to prohibit that.  Now those two items are slowly becoming less of a problem, and I am looking forward to finally going forth with this.  I did have questions in regards to purchasing camera's and accessories. 
I noticed that you used a majority of Nikon cameras.  I got a chance to use your extra camera yesterday and was pleased with it.  However I have always been interested in Canon's.  What I am wondering is what you see to be pro's and con's of the Nikon SLR's over the Canon SLR's.  I read somewhere that the Nikon's can use almost any lens that the company has manufactured dating back to 1956 or something like that, where the current Canon's can only use lenses manufactured as far back as 1986 or around there.  Seeing as I have no collection of lenses, this does not concern me too much.  I suppose this will be a good start to my decision of which camera to purchase. 
Thanks again for all the help and advice you and your helpers provided.  I look forward to hearing from you and will keep in touch with questions and comments I acquire over time. 
Erik P


Hey thanks for coming the the workshop and I'm very glad you learned and had a good time taboot.

When I bought my first digital slr I did not have any lenses that would fit either nikon and canon.  I did have a bunch of pre 1986 canon's, but they wouldn't auto focus and now-a-days you very much need auto focus.  I also had some of the best glass made, it was a 60mm macro for my film Minolta 7xi, probably the most advanced camera ever made, nothing today does what it could do so long ago.  The current batch of slrs depend on autofocus so they do not give you a focus screen worth anything.  My canon ftb, ae1, and a1 all had great focus screens.  But none of my digital slr's nikon d100, d2x, and now d300, have good focus screens, although in the d2x you could replace the focus screen.

My opinion is that both Nikon and Canon make excellent cameras.  Look at features per dollar that you care about.  Also look at the lenses you expect to buy over the next few years and price them.  Then let it be an economic decision.  OR figure out the canon you'd buy and play with it at the store.  Then figure out the nikon you'd buy and do the same.  Then play with them side by side.  There are basic differences in the design of each, but you have to feel them yourself.  What's important to the reviewer may not be important to you.  AND MAKE SURE you thoroughly review the cameras, look at and  Look at the images they produce, they should be the same quality now-a-days.

It's important that the viewfinder is as large as you can afford.

There is a canon slr that does movies now, and the Nikon D90 does too, so look at them even if movies aren't important.

Megapixels are for enlargements, a 6mp camera can do 8x10's perfectly and I have a 40"x60" detailed print of a scene at Yosemite so megapixels aren't necessary anymore, think features and cost.  Here's the Yosemite image over my fireplace:,%20Yosemite%20Valley,%20Yosemite%20NP,%20CA%20fireplace.jpg

Your very welcome to call me to discuss this further.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mike Besslers' Fine arts exhibit at Oakbrook Center over Labor Day weekend

By Ann Piccininni | Daily Herald Correspondent

A field of brilliant red and yellow tulips dazzles visitors' eyes as they trek across the concourse at Oakbrook Center this weekend.

The image, captured on film by Bolingbrook photographer Mike Bessler, is as striking as the beds of living flowers, fountains and gardens liberally sprinkled throughout the outdoor mall.

"That's 14 exposures that I stitched together," said Bessler. "That's why I can have it all in focus."

Bessler, exhibiting at the 46th Annual Invitational Fine Art Exhibition, a show where he won Best of Show honors in 2005, said he prints many of his digital photos directly onto canvas.

"I have a printer the size of a queen-sized bed," he said.

Several of his works feature fine, detailed close-ups that invite the viewer to see the subject in novel ways. There's an eagle's face, a pink flower, a pond's shoreline turned upside-down, the image suspended inside a raindrop clinging to a dogwood branch.

The vertical motion of a waterfall is juxtaposed with the craggy lines of a cliff and the horizontal sweep of water current below in a photo taken at Starved Rock State Park.

Sometimes, Bessler said, he embellishes his photos.

"I paint on texture," he said, pointing to the purposely broad brush strokes layered onto a photograph.

An artist who also teaches his craft, Bessler said he exhibits at only one show each year.

"This is the only show I do. I like this show. It's local for me," he said.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

BesPhoto Photography Workshops in Plainfield Illinois - wheelchair accessible

NEW to the BesPhoto Photography Workshops is a workshop in Plainfield Illinois.  The class is sponsored by Plainfield Art League and begins September 4th.  This class is for high school and middle school age children. It will be held 4-5:30pm on 4 consecutive weeks.  This is a great opportunity to learn about your camera and photography close to home.  This workshop will be located at the Plainfield Art League Gallery and School, 24114 W Chicago St, Plainfield, Illinois 60544 across from the Village Green Park in downtown Plainfield.  We will start in the gallery, and weather permitting, walk to the Village Green Park across the street from the gallery to practice what we learn.  All the while learning how to make your camera do what you want it to do.  This class is wheelchair accessible.  To register for this class go to:  If you have any problems with registration, then please contact me at

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

AWARD WINNERS FOR “In the heat of the art” - Plainfield Art League - Jun - Aug 2008 members show

Best in Show: Pete Quimby "Ring of Fire"

First Place: Mindy Donahue

Honorable Mention: Mike Bessler "Kaanapoli Sunset"

People's Choice award: Sam King”

Friday, August 1, 2008

AWARD WINNERS FOR “FREEDOM, FRAIL AS GLASS” Naperville Art League - July 2008 members show

Best of Show: Merike Adams —“Tomorrow”

Best Theme: Bill Baykan —“Our Future Is In Our Past”

Merit Awards:

Glen Hoffman —“Simple”

Zaki Knapen — “IX/XI”

Valerie Lorimer — “Freedom”

Mike Bessler — “Eagle in Alaska”

Jane Pearson-Strack — “Once Upon a Time”

Judged by Susan Winebridge

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

BesPhoto Photography Workshops in Plainfield Illinois - wheelchair accessible

NEW to the BesPhoto Photography Workshops is a workshop in Plainfield Illinois.  The class is sponsored by Plainfield Art League and begins July 15th.  There will be 2 classes, one for children to age 14 at 9am-10:30am, and one for adults at 11am-12:30pm.  The workshop will be held on 4 consecutive weeks.  This is a great opportunity to learn about your camera and photography close to home.  This workshop will be located at the Plainfield Art League Gallery and School, 24114 W Chicago St, Plainfield, Illinois 60544 across from the Village Green Park in downtown Plainfield.  We will start in the gallery, and weather permitting, walk to the Village Green Park across the street from the gallery to practice what we learn.  All the while learning how to make your camera do what you want it to do.  This class is wheelchair accessible.  To register for this class go to:  If you have any problems with registration, then please contact me at

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

AWARD WINNERS FOR “JITTERS” - Naperville Art League - June 2008 members show

Best of Show: Blaine Bradford —"Dance of the Caffeinated Jitters"

Best Theme: Zaki Knapen —"Your Time Is Up!"

Merit Awards:

Sue Keller —"The Red Dress"

Jill Lawrence — "Necklace II"

Leon Krejci — "Second Prisoner"

Mike Bessler — "Lava Falls"

Catherine Gregory — "Nervends"


Judged by Bart Gunderson

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mike Bessler was awarded 8th Place at the Best of the Best Show

The Alliance of Fine Art held the Best of the Best Exhibit 2008 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St, Oak Brook, IL March 15 to May 18, 2008. The awards reception was Sunday, May 18, 2pm-4pm.  Out of 120 participants, Mike won 8th place.  His piece  "Glowing Forest" also sold during the show.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mike Bessler ARTWORKS

May 9, 2008
By Denise M. Baran-Unland Special to the Herald News
Full article:
To fully grasp the immensity of the art pieces fine art photographer Mike Bessler fabricates, click twice on the red and yellow tulips image on his home page online at  There, Bessler, 57, of Bolingbrook, stands proudly before the 16-by-6-foot tulips photograph that permanently resides at Naperville's Edward Hospital outpatient center in Plainfield.  "This is my favorite image right now," Bessler said. "I like to keep going back and looking at it and I bring other people to look at it, too."

To create this wide-angle image, Bessler took 14 different shots of the tulips, cut them into 10 36-inch square images and stitched them together.

He then printed them on canvas and created visible brush strokes on the flowers by painting them with clear acrylic. Because the photograph has so much detail, Bessler said he can print it again in any desired size.

"To me, this brings out the richness of the picture and makes it look more three-dimensional," Bessler said. "Some day -- maybe a long time from now -- I'll be able to print 3-D, but the best I can do right now is to add my texture on the outside."

For other photographs, Bessler "sculpts" them, by photographing many separate pictures of the same object and assembling them into one photograph by layering them. He used this technique with the images he took of his new pink rosebush.

"Sculpture has more depth, more shadows," he said. "Your eye just puts it all together and you don't see the spaces at all."

Bessler has shown his work at the Oak Brook Invitational and he has sold his pieces to both individuals and to corporations. Each year, he teaches photograph workshops at Starved Rock State Park in Utica.

Although both Bessler's father and uncle loved photography, Bessler said his call to the craft came at Lockport West High School (now Romeoville HS) when someone put a camera in his hands and told him to go take pictures.

"I didn't have a clue what I was doing, so I had to learn," Bessler said. "There weren't all those photography classes then." He apparently caught on fairly quickly. "I was the photographer for the 1968 yearbook. Almost all the photographs in there are mine and my friend's and we did all the layouts."

A full-time programmer and a part-time wedding photographer, the nature-loving Bessler evolved into a fine art photographer after he visited and took pictures of the Grand Canyon. He couldn't wait to get those images developed and relive that visual experience. But the resulting pictures disappointed him.

"The awe was just not there and that is when I resolved to learn how to bring home the awe," Bessler said.

He experimented first with enhancing the colors of his realistic pieces and later by creating impressionistic renderings of his images to give the feel of the original scene. Many of those images are quite large and have a sculpted feeling. Bessler now prints those images on either fine art paper or canvas.

Since he retired two years ago, Bessler has limited the number of weddings he will shoot each year to concentrate more on his fine art work. These are mostly nature pieces, especially flowers and waterfalls. The process of creating them gives Bessler immense satisfaction.

"My images are mine from the first look through the viewfinder of my camera, through the enhancing process and the printing," Bessler said. "Now I am feeling the awe."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Naperville Art League Award Winners for “MEMORIES OF THE PAST”

Best of Show:
Kirk Kerndl —“Portrait of Juan Morales”

Best Theme:
Pat Young —“Past Vacation Memories”

Merit Awards:
Mike Bessler —“Mayan Monkey Pot 400 AD”

Susan R. Wilson — “Iris Gardens”

Marilyn Polivka — “Isabella in the Garden”

Bill Baykan — “Charlie”

Ed Massart — “Mom’s Bike”

Judged by George Liebert

Friday, April 18, 2008

Naperville Art League - AWARD WINNERS FOR “OVER AND OVER” - April 2008

Best of Show

: Maureen McKee —"Over and Over Street"

Best Theme:

Glen Hoffman —"Metal Over"

Merit Awards

Lyn Tietz —"Rocky Coast"

Leon Krejci — "Oil/Photo" (Pictured)

Linda Evans — "Cosmic Pinball"

Bill Baykan — "Over and Over and Over"

Carol Baumrucker — "Creekside"

Judged by Jim Weren
Lyn Tietz is painting Mike Bessler's image "Dead River Falls"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

PDF Creation for free

CutePDF Writer (Freeware)
You can create professional quality PDF files from almost any printable document. FREE for personal, commercial, gov or edu use! No watermarks! No popup Web ads! Now supports 64-bit Windows.

     Free Download (1.6MB)  (Vista Ready)      Learn More

Click on the Free Download above and Install CutePDF.  To use it, create your document in any software you already use like MS Word.  Then print, but instead of choosing your epson or canon printer, choose "CutePDF Writer" and the dialog boxes lead you through where to save your new pdf.

The only issue I've had with it is that if you try to save a second time to the same name, the save says it worked, but doesn't work.  You should delete the PDF file before saving a second time.
Mike Bessler

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mike Bessler SOLD his "Glowing Forest" photograph at the Best of the Best show 2008

Mike Bessler SOLD his award winning photo "Glowing Forest" at the Best of the Best Exhibit 2008. The Alliance of Fine Art is holding the Best of the Best Exhibit 2008 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St, Oak Brook, IL March 15 to May 18, 2008. The opening Preview Reception was Thursday, March 20 at 7pm and the awards reception is Sunday, May 18, 2pm-4pm.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Feature: CHDK: A Shot of Power for Your PowerShot

 Volume 10, Number 8                                  11 April 2008
     Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.
We've often wondered why digicams only get firmware updates to fix embarrassing problems that should have been caught in the prototype. Why aren't there any firmware updates that actually add cool new features?

A few Canon PowerShot owners must have been thinking the same thing. Lucky for the rest of us, they also write software. And the really fortunate part is they've started an open-source software project (free to use, free to modify) called the Canon Hacker's Development Kit to update PowerShots with, well, cool new features.

All you need is a PowerShot that uses a DIGIC II or DIGIC III processor and an SD card.

One of CHDK's coolest features, however, is how it works. You just load it on your memory card and activate it when you want to use it. It isn't technically a firmware update at all -- it just acts like one.

It only changes the code in the camera's memory (which disappears when you turn the power off), not the actual firmware burned into the camera's programmable memory chip. So you can't hurt the camera and you can always return the camera to its original behavior just as if nothing ever happened. Cool.

So what cool new features are we talking about? How about 1) a live histogram, 2) a battery status display, 3) a Raw file format and 4) the ability to run scripts written in a version of BASIC? For starters. There are other tweaks (like faster shutter speeds up to 1/10,000 second, depth of focus display, auto bracketing, higher compression Movie mode, long exposures up to 65 seconds, ability to use the USB port to trigger the shutter), too. More about those later.

It's all made possible by the ability of these guys to write new code for the DIGIC microprocessor in the camera.


Format an SD card in the camera to wipe it clean in a format the camera understands.

The first trick is to determine the current firmware version of your camera. There are different CHDK downloads for different cameras and firmware revisions.

To do this on a PowerShot you create an empty file called ver.req (version request) in the root directory of your SD card. There are various ways to do this but the FAQ gives ( explicit instructions for Linux, Windows and Mac systems. Just make sure you don't create a text file.

Then turn on your camera in Playback mode (you can't switch to it, you have to start from it) and hold down the Set key while you press the Display key. You'll see a line like "Firmware Ver GM1E."

Once you know your model number and firmware version, visit the CHDK download page ( to find the builds available for your camera. If there isn't one, you can check the Developer's page of the project to see if one's under development (

Among the possible CHDK builds, there's a standard one with the basic features but there may also be a special build ( that implements extended features like syncing two PowerShots to take a stereo image ( or firing the shutter when motion is detected.

Once you've found a build, download it and copy it to your memory card. There are two small files (about 110K each) to each build: PS.fir and Diskboot.bin that should be copied to the root directory of your SD card. There may be other folders and files to copy, too (hiding even more goodies like scripts).

With the card in the camera, start up in Playback mode and press the Menu button. Find the Firm Update option and confirm with the OK button. Your PowerShot will reboot.

If you get a splash screen, the firmware enhancement has been successfully loaded. If the camera hangs or does not respond to the Power button, the CHDK version isn't compatible with your camera. Just open the battery door and remove the batteries to turn the camera off, stick them back in and restart. No harm done.

You can set up the card so CHDK loads automatically any time you start the camera by using the program itself to make the card bootable and then locking the card. That won't prevent images from being stored on the card. But it only works on cards up to 2-GB in size.


To access these features, once CHDK has been loaded into memory, you have to slip into Alt mode by pressing a special key (configurable in the Alt menu), usually the Print or Shortcut key. Once in Alt mode (a small ALT tag is displayed at the bottom of the screen), press the Menu key to see what you can do.

Alt mode itself is only necessary to configure your options (but you'll want to do that; even the live histogram has lots of options), starting a script and other shortcuts.

An illustrated and comprehensive list of the functions available in CHDK is available at

Here's a quick list of features (some available only in special builds):

- Raw file format. Capturing the raw data from the sensor without processing it in the camera let's you make decisions with your image editing software that are usually automated in the camera. These .CRW Raw files are not always recognized by other programs, but in a pinch you can use Adobe's free DNG Converter to change them into DNG files, which are generally supported.

- A live histogram. Based on Raw data from the sensor, the live histogram feature shows you if your highlights and shadows are properly exposed at the current shutter and aperture settings. You can use EV compensation to shift the histogram to one side or the other to improve the exposure.

- Zebra mode. In this mode, your preview will flash the shadows or highlights to indicate either insufficient or excessive exposure.

- A battery status display shows you how much power is left. Very handy as you learn about CHDK because, well, you'll be using your battery much more as you play around <g>.

- Loading a custom grid.

- The ability to run scripts written in UBASIC (see below).

- Faster shutter speeds (like 1/25,000 second).

- Long exposures (like 65 seconds).

- Depth of field calculator. When you press the Shutter button, the screen will display the depth of field and hyperfocal distance.

- Miscellaneous functions include a Calendar, Text Reader, games and more.

- Exposure bracketing. You can set both the number of shots to take and the difference in exposure between each. That lets you capture shadow detail in one, for example, midtones in the next and highlight detail in the last. Then, using any number of image editing programs, you can combine these images into one that displays a wider dynamic range than any single capture can show. You will need a tripod to do this.

- Focus bracketing. In Macro mode, depth of focus is usually very shallow. By taking a series of shots in which the focus is slightly altered, you can extend focus beyond what any single image can capture by using freeware to combine the images. You will need a tripod to do this, too.

- Higher compression Movie mode.

- Increased video recording time and length (to one hour or 2-GB).

- Interval Shooting. Take photos automatically at set intervals. Even with long exposures. You can combine the images into a time lapse video.

- The ability to use the USB port to trigger the shutter.


With CHDK running, you can automate your PowerShot with scripts written in UBASIC ( There are a number of scripts you can download ( to do things like bracketing exposures by number of exposures and step size, focus bracketing, intervalometer, zoom and shoot, zoom video, tele-macro mode, macro DOFstacker, HDR shooting and more.

When you've found a script you want to run, download it and copy it to your card in a folder named CHDK/SCRIPTS. Then, with CHDK running, enter the script menu, load your script and set the options before leaving the menu. In Alt mode, pressing the Shutter button starts the script (just like recording in Movie mode). Pressing the Shutter button again interrupts the script.

Want to write your own scripts? No problem, just visit the UBASIC Tutorial ( to learn the language.


Besides the CHDK Wiki (, there's a forum ( where you can discuss everything from the specifics of a release to feature requests. There are sections with help on using the stable releases, creative uses of the program, script writing and shooting and processing Raw images.

In fact, the forum isn't a bad place to start your exploration of CHDK.


Use at your own risk means just that but the CHDK site posts an interesting email from a Canon tech support rep which says, "After researching this software on the Internet it appears that CHDK doesn't make any actual changes to your camera. If you delete the CHDK software from your memory card or if you choose not to activate the CHDK software on the card (or remove and replace the batteries), then the camera will behave absolutely normally -- nothing has been (or ever is) changed, so the warranty is not affected."

That's the key point. CHDK is not firmware. It's simply software that loads into memory where the DIGIC processor can execute the code on demand.

But use it at your own risk. There are no doubt good reasons Canon itself chooses not to implement some of these features.

Of course, most of these models are probably out of warranty anyway, so the issue may be moot for you.


If nothing else, CHDK breathes new life in your old PowerShot. But it isn't just for old PowerShots, with support for a number of currently available models. By providing an architecture for extending the capabilities of your PowerShot, it can keep on breathing new life into your investment. You can even do it yourself, if you learn UBASIC. And you can't beat the price, either.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stop pre-approved credit and insurance offers

You can stop the pre-approved credit and insurance offers by calling 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688). Or
you can do this online at This will stop most of the offers, the ones
that go through the credit bureaus. It's good for five years or you can make it permanent.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Full Moon rise on March 21 at 7:21pm cst

March 21 2008
Sunset at 7:06pm
Moon rise at 7:21pm at 96 degrees Azimuth or mostly east.
Full moon at 1:40pm
This should be some very good shooting of the Moon.  Find a good location and get ready.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Alliance of Fine Art Best of the Best 2008

Art exhibit showcases local talent

More than 100 pieces of local watercolor, oil, photography, pottery, jewelry and mixed media will be showcased during the Alliance of Fine Art's Best of the Best Fine Art Exhibit.
By Jessica Young,
Suburban Life

Story Tools: Email This Email This Print This Print This
Western suburbs, IL -

Dianne Martia has found herself mesmerized with exhumation lately.

"I'm not sure why. I've only been on archeological digs in my dreams, but it has been occupying my imagination," the Darien resident said. "I'm fascinated with finding things that belonged to another era or culture."


Local artists featured...

• Mike Bessler for the photograph "Glowing Forest"
• Bill Baykan for the watercolor "Illusion"
• Corrie Tameling for the oil "Looking at You"
• Abhi Ganju for the photograph "Sugary Snow Shadows"
• Zaki Knapen for the acrylic "Summer Breeze"
• Maggie Kruser for wool-needle felt "Ugandan Couple"
• Valerie Lorimer for the graphite "The Witch Wore Hightops"
• Laura Lein-Svencer for the collage "My Darling Doris"
• Dianne Martia for the mixed media "Exhumation of the Ring"
• Dennis Salaty for the mixed media "The Prize"
• Dick Shipley for the watercolor "Splintered Light"



Martia has done a series of mixed-media canvasses exploring the intersection of past and present. And the gamble paid off with her piece "Exhumation of the Ring." Her work will be featured in the prestigious 16th Annual Best of the Best Fine Art Exhibit, a show sponsored by the Alliance of Fine Art for the creme de la creme of local artists guilds and leagues.

The exhibit, which will appear at the historic Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, will run from Friday, March 21, through Sunday, May 18, when it will culminate with a reception and award presentation. Artists, special guests and local dignitaries are invited to a special sneak preview gala Thursday, March 20.

The Alliance of Fine Art is a nonprofit professional association comprised of local artists groups including the Downers Grove Artists' Guild, Elmhurst Artists' Guild, Addison Art Guild, LaGrange Art League, Lemont Artists' Guild, Naperville Art League, West Suburban Artists' Guild and Midwest Collage Society. More than 100 pieces of watercolor, oil, photography, pottery, jewelry and mixed media will be showcased. Entries were chosen among award winners at the guild or league level, so organizers call the selections stellar.

"My piece is a composite mixed media collage," Martia said. "There's a combination of images that represent artifacts that might be found during an exhumation. There's a picture of a ring, a landscape that shows where the site might have been and a partial writing from a notebook that describes what a person found."

The ring is displayed against a ruler to appear like a specimen being measured.
"Exhumation of the Ring" received recognition at the Naperville Art League show, and a second piece, a mixed media waterscape called "The Passage," won second place at the Downers Grove Artists' Guild contest.

"None of my pieces are very literal, and I try to allow the viewer to come to their own conclusion," Martia said. "I use symbolism and ambiguity to evoke a sense of timelessness. It often raises more questions than it answers."

Nancy D'Agostino, "Best of the Best" chairperson, said the show highlights prominent notable local artists and promotes art in the suburbs.

"Generally you'd have to go to Chicago for something of this quality, so there's quite a buzz," she said. "The caliber of artists out here is phenomenal, and exhibits like this show people how much talent is in their own backyard. I think the public will really enjoy this, and all the artwork will be for sale, so it's a good chance to get something more unique than a mass-produced print."

The Alliance of Fine Art has secured Rolf Achilles, curator of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier and art history and theory professor, to judge the show.

"He's top-notch," D'Agostino said. "Critique for an artist is an important thing, and it'll be nice to have feedback from someone at his level."

According to Martia, the exhibit is a huge honor for featured artists.

"This is a big deal. It's such an opportunity," she said. "And the chances for networking are endless."

The Alliance of Fine Art supports cultural events which stress awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of quality art and contribute to community enrichment. The organization is staffed entirely of volunteer artists.

"We're running around making badges and tags, measuring the room and figuring out how to hang the show," D'Agostino said. "It's a really exciting time backstage to see this all come together."

For more information, visit

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mike Bessler invited to participate in the BEST OF THE BEST fine art show

Mike Bessler was invited by Plainfield Art League to show his award winning photo "Glowing Forest" at the Best of the Best Exhibit 2008. The Alliance of Fine Art is holding the Best of the Best Exhibit 2008 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St, Oak Brook, IL March 15 to May 18, 2008. The opening Preview Reception is Thursday, March 20 at 7pm and the awards reception is Sunday, May 18, 2pm-4pm.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Data Recovery - Picture Recovery from your cameras memory card or computers hard drive

BesPhoto is proud to announce our new service open to the public where I may be able to recover your pictures from your cameras memory card or computers hard drive.
So you're in the middle of your honeymoon and your camera stops working.  You've taken a bunch of pictures that you do NOT  want to loose. What do you do?

You copied your pictures onto your computer and your computer stops working. Where do you go?

You format your memory card or hard drive, and then remember you forgot to copy your pictures to a safe place before formatting. Who can help?

I use state of the art software and hardware tools to recover your pictures from failed memory cards and hard drives. When needed, I can send the hard drive out for a higher level of recovery.

Many times the failure is temporary and caused by not formatting your memory card. Many people just delete pictures off their card and then reuse it. Over time, this causes the memory card to fail. I've been asked to recover pictures where the failure was caused by problem many times. Often the pictures are still there, but the camera and the computer cannot get to them. That's where I use my software and hardware to recover the pictures.

If you are experiencing problems with your camera from time to time and you can get your pictures off, then format the memory card with the camera (not the computer) and that may solve your problem.  You should format your memory card once a month. But be sure to copy your pictures to a safe place before formatting. I am a professional photographer who takes 10's of thousands of pictures each year and I have not had any memory card failures. I expect that is partly due to using brand name equipment and regularly formatting the card.  In fact, I format each card directly after copying the pictures to a safe place and then backing them up to a second safe place.

Anybody can make a mistake and format a card before getting all the pictures to a safe place. If you do, STOP! do not use the card for any purpose.  Contact me immediately for recovery. If you do not use the card after formatting, there is a very good chance the pictures can be recovered.

I have a minimum $30 charge to look at your memory card or hard drive and recover your pictures. I will ask approval if it turns out that additional time is needed and I feel success is possible. Picture recovery is never guaranteed since many conditions can cause catastrophic failure of memory cards and hard drives.

Many times memory cards can have pictures recovered if you do not take additional pictures after the failure or formatting.  Sadly, hard drives mostly have catastrophic failure but there are times when pictures can be recovered. Email or call me with questions.


Many people think a computer is a permanent safe place to store your pictures.  That is partially true.  I've been using computers since 1970.  And I can tell you that computers break, hard drives break, and memory cards break. If that happens to you, then your pictures may be lost forever.

You need to have all your data/pictures in 2 safe places in case one of them breaks.  When I talk about all your data, I mean all your pictures and anything else you hold dear on your computer like favorites...  You can always reinstall your software, so that is not included, but always keep your cd's/dvd's/download instructions in a safe place so you can reinstall easily.  I keep a list of all software installed so I can recover quickly. To be honest, I keep a complete copy of my "C" drive up-to-date so recovery is very quick. I've had to use my backups and even though it's no fun, they do work.

I recommend purchasing an external hard drive for your computer along with software that backs up your beloved pictures. You can view my Equipment List to see what I use. Email me with questions.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Plainfield Art League's grand opening

PAL - February 22, 2008 is the grand opening of the Plainfield Art League's at their new location at 24114 W Chicago St, Plainfield, Illinois, on the Village Green Park, in downtown Plainfield.

Monday, February 11, 2008

BesPhoto Fine Art Copy Service now can create your jury slide

Do you need slides of your paintings to jury into a show or for a presentation?
The current price to create a slide from the digital file is $30 for the first slide, and $10 for subsequent slides of the same artwork ordered at the same time.
If you do not have a digital file, I can copy your artwork, see my BesPhoto Fine Art Copy Service page for details:

Mike Bessler appointed as webmaster for Plainfield Art League

Mike is succeeding Sandy Shuck as webmaster.  Sandy found a free hosting site from a friend for the past few years.  That really helped the Plainfield Art League.  She diligently kept the site up to date and recently created a new look.  Thanks Sandy.
The URL has now been changed to and any previous blog entries will have to be updated.  The previous URL will have a "please change your favorite's" message added after the new site has gone thru it's riggers.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Equipment List added to BesPhoto web site

The equipment list is much of the photography, printing, computer, and web publishing equipment and software that Scott and I use in all phases of the BesPhoto business.  More details will be added over time. You can go directly to the Equipment List by clicking on this sentence. 
Mike Bessler

Friday, February 1, 2008

Wireless Shutter Release for my Nikon D2X plus other cameras

With the wireless shutter release, you can control the shutter of your camera from as far as 15 meters away.

The package comes with a handheld wireless transmitter and a wireless receiver to be plugged into the the shutter release port of the camera.

Different from the infrared remote control, the radio-triggered wireless shutter release can work as half-pressed button. In other words, you may let the camera auto-focus before finally taking a shot.

Another improvement over the infrared remote would be the support of the bulb mode. You can obtain an exposure for as long as you wish.

This wireless shutter release has strong anti-interference function and has 16 channels for you to choose. It is extremely useful if there are several photographers working nearby. Each photographer could choose their own channel to trigger off the shutter release of the camera they are going to use without triggering others' because of overlapping signals.
Compatible models: Nikon D300, D200, D100 (via MB-D100 battery grip), D3, D2H, D2X, D2Xs, D1X, D1H, D1, F100, F90X, F90, F6, F5; Kodak DSC-14n; Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro, S3 Pro
$29.95 + $5 shipping

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I added Google Analytics to my web site

Google Analytics - learn where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site.

Jerry Strub delivered 3 paintings for me to copy

They will be available for sale on his web site

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Calibrate Dell 30" ultrasharp and Nvidia GeForce 7600 GS

  1. Start Nvidia Control Panel , move to bottom left of screen
  2. click on Display
  3. click on Adjust desktop color settings
  4. make sure you are in Advanced view
  5. notice Color channel on right
  6. Start calibration software
  7. You may have to alt-tab to get back to the Nvidia Control Panel to make the adjustments
  8. Use all channels for brightness and contrast adjustments
  9. use red or green or blue and adjust the brightness to add to the appropriate color channel
  10. Your monitor should be good
  11. I use 6500, I know that other color temps are good too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mike Bessler wins Merit Award at Naperville Art League

The January 2008 show at the Naperville Art League was titled "LIVING COLORS".  Mike Bessler won a Merit Award for his embellished photograph on canvas "2047 The Single Gaillardia". The announcement was in the February Naperville Art League newsletter on page 2.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I joined Plainfield Art League

I joined PAL - Plainfield Art League - tonight. A nice group of people. They have a grand opening of their new location at 24114 W Chicago St, in downtown Plainfield, on the Village Green Park on 2/22/08.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Opening reception for Graue Mill show

Opening reception for Graue Mill show - see below for details.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Naperville Cultural Centers show

Mike Bessler will be participating in a benefit fine art show for the Naperville Cultural Centers 2nd birthday party. It will be held at White Eagle Country Club Thursday, September 27, 2007. During this event, Mike will donate $60 and a print for auction.