Photography Courses at Cuesta College

by Kerry Drager

Thinking about Spring 2016? And you live in San Luis Obispo County, CA?  Great! I’ll be back teaching through Cuesta College’s Community Programs.

In addition to Get Creative with Your Digital Camera, I’m excited to offer a second Cuesta photography course: Advanced Perspectives in Composition, Design and Color.



My New Book on the California Coast!

By Kerry Drager

As many of you know, I’ve been the author and co-author of a number of photography books published by established publishers. Well, I’ve just entered the world of self-publishing. And I’m really excited — and proud — of my first venture!

It’s a small softcover picture book that features 36 of my favorite color photos of the California Central Coast — specifically, Cambria, Cayucos and San Simeon. This 5×8-inch, 24-page book is the perfect size to flip through for inspiration or to give as a gift. Check it out at the publisher’s bookstore page — Coastal Visions — where you can also see a preview of the entire book.

NOTE: All photos in the book are in full color, as is the Preview seen on my computer. However, on my iPhone, the Preview pages are in B&W — some sort of mobile-device mystery, I presume 🙂


Also check out my website —

Capturing Coastal Drama: Sunset Colors and Beachgoers

by Kerry Drager

Lots of good things were happening the other evening! That included cool-vs.-warm color contrast as well as folks enjoying the coastal drama AND stopping in the best spot for my photo! 🙂 This image, by the way, is the latest in my “figures in the scenery” series in which people (or animals) serve as design elements, rather than identifiable subjects.


Details for Above Photo: Photographed at Moonstone Beach, a part of Hearst San Simeon State Park, California Central Coast. Nikon D4. F/8 @ 1/8th second. 400 ISO. 24-85mm zoom lens. Tripod.

By the Way: The camera settings were no accident. I chose a high ISO and a middle aperture, which resulted in a 1/8th second shutter speed. Now, that’s certainly not a super-fast exposure by any means, but it was fast enough to “freeze” distant people standing and gazing at the sunset. I shot a number of extra images for “insurance” purposes — to ensure subject sharpness and to also make sure I caught them in good body positions.

See Photo Below! This “blue” image was captured just FIVE minutes BEFORE the above “warm-and-cool-color” photo. Great cloud formations and people-as-accent subjects in both images, but what a difference. It really pays to stick around when the late-day clouds and colors are in action.


Getting Creative with Composition: Big Sunset, Small View

By Kerry Drager

This sunset reflection photo is a favorite of mine, and it’s led a charmed life 🙂 … First, it was published in one of the books that I co-authored a couple of years ago — The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography. Currently, it’s on display in the gallery of the local Cambria Center for the Arts.


Before moving to California’s Central Coast (Cambria) last year, our country pond was a favorite go-to spot of mine for  sunset photography. I often armed myself with a telephoto zoom lens, which is ideal for zeroing in tight on distant things — in this case, the colors, reeds and grasses.

As always for stationary scenes, I used a tripod for camera steadiness and for careful composing. And to accurately capture the colors, I set the White Balance for Direct Sunlight (my default setting for natural light from dawn to dusk).

Tech Stuff: f/13 @ 1/8th second. ISO 400. 70-300mm zoom lens set at 220mm. Tripod with cable release.

Take Your Photography to the Next Level at The Arcanum!

By Kerry Drager

Hi Everyone, and great news! I have returned to online photo education! It’s an honor to be one of the photography masters at The Arcanum — the extremely cool and extremely unique online mentoring program.

My own Arcanum group involves dynamic composition, natural light, personal vision, artistic expression, etc. … an exciting creative adventure!

Interested? When filling out your Arcanum application, be sure to specify me as your preferred mentor (master) … and it also …wouldn’t hurt to send me an alert via email — kerry.drager(at)

Thanks, and I hope to see you on board at The Arcanum!

Light, Color & Abstract Pattern

by Kerry Drager

“Discover the world around you” is great creativity advice for photographers. And sometimes that means going no further than your own front door. Literally! 🙂

The other day, our home’s entryway — with the textured glass — came alive with sunlight and color in late afternoon. I then moved in extremely close with a macro lens in order to catch the scene’s graphic-design elements: i.e., line, pattern, color and repetition. The colors, by the way, resulted from the outside welcome mat. :)))

Following are two different versions, and I like them both!



More Info: The details and settings are the same for both photos: Nikon D4. F/22 @ 1 second. 100 ISO. 105mm macro lens. Tripod.

Shooting Notes: The small aperture (f/22) helped achieve as much depth of field (front-to-back sharpness) as possible. With stationary macro scenes, a tripod is a must, along with a shutter-release cable and, if possible, mirror lockup (a feature found on many DSLRs, although a self-timer works too).

Here is a quick snapshot showing the overall (“before”) view of the entryway.


Like what you see? Check out my website: … Also see a listing of classes, mentoring and workshops…

Graphic Design and Recycled Junk Art

By Kerry Drager

While looking for graphic-design scenes one day, I ran across something totally artsy and totally off-beat … a pattern of old light bulbs lined up in metal mesh 🙂 I captured this unique image at the wonderfully creative Junk Girls shop in Cambria, CA.


A big “Thank You!” to owners Jenny and Melissa! As often happens after capturing an in-store shot, I then discovered some other very cool Junk Girls items to purchase for a future home macro project … so stay tuned… :)))

More Details: Nikon D4. I chose a small aperture of f/22 to capture as much depth of field (front-to-back sharpness) as possible. 1/10th second. 100 ISO. 105mm lens. Tripod.

Note: Here’s a bigger view of the scene.


Liking what you see? Check out my website.  Also see my Learn Photography page — a listing of classes, mentoring and workshops.

Exploring Color, Line and Pattern

by Kerry Drager

A lineup of rental ocean kayaks caught my attention the other day — for two very good reasons:

1) Color contrast: Check out the warm tones (mostly yellows) vs. the cool greens.

2) Graphic design: Lines and patterns were the attractions here. Also, I slanted the camera slightly to make the already strong lines even stronger — as diagonals.

With my telephoto zoom lens, I zeroed in tight on the best parts of the scene, while leaving out surrounding distractions (see the overall view below). A tripod, by the way, let me frame my composition precisely (no need for post-cropping!), while also letting me get a deep depth of field (via f/22 for maximum front-to-back sharpness) and use a low ISO (100) for the best in image quality.


As always, lighting was just as important as subject. Here, the light was just right — soft and diffused from an overcast sky.

More Info: Photographed at San Simeon Cove, William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, California Central Coast. Nikon D4. F/22 @ 1/6th second. 100 ISO. 70-300mm zoom lens set at 170mm. Tripod.

By the way, here’s a “before” image that shows the overall view:


Like what you see? See my listing of exciting classes, mentoring and workshops…

Surf, Sand and Shadows

by Kerry Drager

A high vantage point is often a unique photo viewpoint! From atop a coastal pier, I pointed my camera straight down in order to catch these long diagonal lines created by the low-angled sunlight of early morning. The sudsy ocean curve also made a very nice contrasting element in this light-and-shadow show. In addition to shadows, a low sun — whether early or late day — also creates great texture in sand.


More thoughts:

– A telephoto zoom let me zero in tight on the best parts of the scene, while letting me keep out any distractions. BTW, I don’t post-crop, preferring instead to compose the image just the way I want it at the time of shooting.

– I took multiple shots of this scene, since with the ever-changing surf, it’s hard to predict exactly what you’ll get. Some images had too much water, others not enough, but this picture — to my eye — was just right

All the Details: Photographed at San Simeon Cove, William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, California Central Coast. Nikon D4. F/22 @ 1/15th second. 100 ISO. 70-300mm lens set at 145mm. Tripod.

Like what you see? Check out my website: … Also see a listing of classes, mentoring and workshops…

Learn to Get Creative with Your DSLR Camera!

Hello, California photographers in San Luis Obispo County!

I am teaching an exciting photography course this fall! For more information, go to my website:

Or, for additional details and/or to sign up, go directly to the Cuesta College Community Education website…