Beautiful photography and magical art all created by John Haldane


Displaying: 1 - 8 of 8

The New Street Photography

September 12th, 2016

The New Street Photography

I have moved into a new realm of street photography that goes beyond photojournalism (wherein truth and reality are critical). My images become art of an entirely new genre. I have seen nothing quite like it.

I use professional equipment (Canon cameras (7D and 5D Mark III)) and lenses (70-200 f/2.8 and many others). I shoot people, buildings, animals, artifacts, and anything that seems interesting. I then take those images (RAW files) into Adobe Lightroom for developing. After initial treatments for exposure, lighting, clarity, artifact removal, etc., I import the image into Photoshop.

I have been a Photoshop professional for 23+ years, starting by restoring old photos before moving into artistic rendering. I have hundreds of brushes, textures, actions, and other tools I have created over the years in Photoshop. I also use plugin programs from several different vendors to enhance, touchup, or otherwise add effects to my art.

My art has attracted almost 1/2 million views in just over 4 years at It is currently selling in two local galleries and is hanging in 2 restaurants and a radio station. It has twice been shown at the regional airport and has shown in several other venues as well.

I call my street photography art "Uniquely Asheville" ( because of the unique nature of the art and the unique environment that Asheville, NC provides.

Street photography is no longer just recording events "as they are" but includes interpreting them into unique pieces of modern digital art.

John Haldane

Asheville, NC

Photographing through Glass

April 28th, 2014

The Western North Carolina Nature Center, located at 75 Gashes Creek Road in Asheville, NC provides a unique adventure where guests of all ages can discover and learn about animals and plants native to the Southern Appalachian region.

The Nature Center features over 60 species of animals including river otters, black bear, red wolves, and cougars, each with its own habitat area. Most of the large areas the animals have to roam are enclosed by chain link fences, but most also have information stations with dual pane glass for unobstructed, up close viewing. (For more information on the WNC Nature Center, please visit their web site:

The glass, of course, creates a challenge for photographers wishing to capture these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. No matter the time of day, dual pane glass creates reflections that can ruin an otherwise great photo. Additionally, the glass is continually smudged and dirtied by the hands of children wanting to get as close as possible. There are solutions that enable the good photographer to capture excellent images, however.

EQUIPMENT:  Along with your camera, I suggest both a 50mm equivalent lens and a zoom lens. The animals are sometimes a distance away and the zoom enables you to get better photos. When they are close to the glass, which is not frequent but does occur, a normal lens is better.

To help cut the glare, a circular polarizing filter can help a lot. This does slow the shutter speed a bit, so unless it is a bright day, action shots are a bit more challenging. I also use a UV haze filter.

A tripod is not necessary, but can be very helpful in lower light conditions. It brings one disadvantage that I will note in more detail below.

I strongly suggest that you also bring a lint-free cloth (or two) and a small bottle of glass cleaner. While cleaning the inside of the glass is not possible, the outside can be cleared of smudges and debris.

SHOOTING THE PHOTOS:  First, find the best spot for unobstructed views of the animals and then clean the glass. Next, adjust the polarizing filter to reduce the glare as much as possible. I have found the best way to shoot photos of animals at the Nature Center through the dual paned glass is to remove the lens hood and place the filtered lens directly against the glass. This isn't always possible as the animals are certainly not directly in front of you all the time. But when possible, this reduces the glare almost completely.

A tripod will preclude you from placing the lens directly against the glass window. If you do not have a stabilizer and do not have a steady hand, a tripod can still work. The best way to make it work is to bring extra equipment: a large shade and stand to block the sun and/or light from causing reflections. To me, this is too much to carry, so I never use a tripod. But it is an option for the dedicated photographer.

When I take my photos, I usually use auto-focus and initially set my camera at AV with the appropriate f-stop. Using f/2.8 is my favorite when focusing on a single animal but I will set it up to f/8.0 depending on the situation. I use this AV setting for one or two photos to see what the camera give for the auto-shutter speed and then I shoot entirely manual, adjusting the shutter speed for maximum quality. I have found that the auto settings are often too bright when shooting through glass, so I increase the shutter speed. Your experience may differ, so experiment!

The photos here are ones I took recently at the WNC Nature Center using these techniques. Happy shooting!


Grey Fox

Red Wolf

Timber Wolf

If You Never Ask ...

February 4th, 2014

If You Never Ask ...

If You Never Ask …
… you’ll never know.
It is easy to be shy. It is far more comfortable to keep quiet, stay at a distance, never take chances. We are taught from an early age that gambling is bad and loses far more than it wins. Yet the biggest success stories are from those who did gamble, took a chance, and won.
Remember the tortoise and the hare story? Well, there is another moral rarely mentioned besides the familiar “slow and steady wins the race.” That other moral is this: “you will never move forward if you don’t stick your neck out.”
Detroit Tiger fans all know Ernie Harwell. He was the voice of Tiger’s radio for decades and is a Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster. Growing up in Michigan, I listened to him every day during the summer, hanging on his words, loving his commentaries, and feeling like he was a friend of the family.
Fast forward to the 21st century. I am living in Arizona and Ernie Harwell is on his farewell tour with the Tigers. He is in his eighties and still broadcasting. I knew if I ever was going to meet him, I would have to do it on the Tiger’s trip to play the Arizona Diamondbacks. So I wrote to the Detroit Tigers organization, hoping against hope that I might get a chance to meet this man I admired so much.
I really didn’t expect anything to happen. After all, in 60 years of being the voice of the Tigers, Ernie Harwell had literally millions of fans. Nonetheless, I took a chance.
One day, a week or so before the Tigers were to come to Arizona, my phone rang. I answered it and the voice on the other end said, “John Haldane?” I answered in the affirmative and the next thing I heard floored me: “This is Ernie Harwell.”
Ernie Harwell, a man loved by millions, called me personally to invite me to join him in the Tiger’s broadcast booth during one of the games in Arizona. I could hardly contain my excitement. I called my brother, Mark, perhaps the world’s greatest baseball fan, and told him that we could both meet Ernie Harwell.
The Diamondbacks organization was fabulous. They gave us passes to the booth and we spent more than 2 innings with Ernie Harwell and the Tiger’s broadcast team, seeing and hearing the baseball game like we never had before and will never again.
If I hadn't taken the long shot and asked, it never would have happened.
This isn’t a story of becoming a Bill Gates or President of the US or any other spectacular story of taking a chance. It is better, I believe, to show that even little things can yield great results when we stick out our neck. Don’t be afraid. What do you have to lose?


January 21st, 2014


I got to reminiscing about college when I realized that I graduated 40 years ago. Time sure flies! I was remembering my last semester when I only needed one required course and could fill 9 more hours with electives. So I took fun class like “Science Fiction and Fantasy” and “Chess.”

How did I get to the point where I could coast through my last semester in college and enjoy it instead of stressing out? In one word: planning.
When I got to college as a freshman, I signed up for 18 hours of classes, all required courses. I used the catalog to plot out my entire 4 years, taking 18 hours every semester and maximizing required courses, all with the intent of having that last semester for whatever might come. I didn’t need anything more by that last 5 months, so was able to take it easy
This wasn’t new for me. When I was 12 years old, my brother was 15 and told Mom and Dad he wanted a car. They said, “If any child of ours ever saves enough to buy a car, we’ll support it.” I started my paper route that very year and kept it five and half years, saving enough to pay cash for my first car when I was a senior in high school.

When we were married, my wife and I planned our future: how many children, saving, retiring early, and much more. Each year, on our wedding anniversary (although we didn’t always remember), we listed out plans for six months, a year, five years, ten years, and lifetime. We planned ahead to make it possible to buy a house, take vacations, raise two boys, and retire early.

Not everything went according to plan, of course. But many of the diversions from plans were serendipitous joys – like traveling to China twice and career paths that weren’t ideal but gave excellent retirement benefits.

If I could give one piece of advice to each generation, it would be PLAN. Plot out everything. Set goals. Create the means to reach those goals. And when the path turns down a different road, adjust and keep planning. By working today for what you wish for tomorrow, many tomorrows will come true.
This holds true for every aspect of life, not just the “big picture.” When I go shooting photos, I plan where I will go and what I will shoot. Invariably some wonderful opportunity pops up in the middle of my plans and I take advantage of it.

It really is true that “luck” is mostly self-made. Luck comes from planning ahead and working hard. Those two things will very often land you in the right place at the right time. Luck isn’t having something fall out of the sky; it is creating situations where unexpected good things happen.
Plan ahead; you will never regret the effort and you might find enormous rewards.

Good luck.

Before you enter any photo contests

November 7th, 2013

Before you enter any photo contests, read the rules... … My latest blog at

What Do You Use To Get That Shot?

July 19th, 2013

What Do You Use To Get That Shot?

I am often asked how I “got the shot” that looks so good. The easy, smart-aleck answer is: I don’t “point and shoot.”

The honest, and complicated, answer involves years of experience, accumulation of equipment, and using the right stuff at the right time.

My equipment includes

Canon 7D camera
Canon 5D Mark III camera
Canon EF16-35 f/2.8 lens
Canon EF24-70 f/2.8
Canon EF70-200 f/2.8 lens
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 lens
UV filters
Polarizing filters
Neutral density filters
Remote shutter release
Motion detector
Cotton Carrier vest
LowePro backpack
Tripods (2)
Back up batteries and memory cards, chargers, etc.

Before Nikon users make any comments, I must say that Nikon is just as good as Canon – it is a matter of preference or – as in my case – what you started with and have added to. It is, however, my considered opinion that Nikon and Canon stand head and shoulders above other brands.

It would be impossible in a single blog to explain how I use all m y equipment, but I shall endeavor to share a few reasons why I have different cameras, lenses, and filters.

Cameras: I have one full-frame (5d Mark III) and one “crop sensor” (7D) camera that I use. The 5D is a better camera than the 7D, but that doesn’t mean the 7D is bad – on the contrary, it is very good! But a crop sensor cameras like the 7D adds focal length to a lens. That means that if I am shooting something a long ways off, I will use the 7D as well as a telephoto lens to get the image as close as I can to the target. For close images, wide angle, and other similar shots, I use the full-frame 5D.

Lenses: the 16-35mm lens is a very wide angle that allows shooting very close up to objects while getting it all in one image. At the widest (16mm), there is some shaping distortion approaching a “fish-eye” view. I like very much having the option of sliding between 16 and 35mm to get the shot I

The 24-70mm lens is my “in between” size that I can use for almost anything between wide angle and zoom. Again, the ability to choose between 24 and 70mm is a major benefit of this lens. A static length lens is not ideal for my wildlife and landscape images, with one exception (see below). I use this lens with both my 7D and my 5D, depending on what I am shooting. People, unmoving images such as buildings, animals that you can get close to like in a barnyard or zoo, trees, etc. are good examples for using this lens.

The 70-200mm is the most versatile and a wonderful tool for any camera bag. The wide range of zoom ability allows fairly close shots to distant photos taken with the full 200 zoom. I use this lens for wildlife, distant scenery, objects I cannot get close enough to because of obstacles or safety reasons, and – believe it or not – some flowers. Shooting flowers with the 70-200mm lens creates great opportunities for Bokeh (depth of field blurring) as well as grouping. I use this lens mostly with the 7D, but it works very well with the 5D, too.

The 400mm lens is the monster. Weighing almost 20lbs, is hefty and requires a special tripod. It can be used with either camera, but I use the 7D the most to increase the focal length of what I am shooting. This lens is excellent for animals that would otherwise spook such as bears, deer, elk, coyotes, and birds. By setting up at a great distance, I can still capture great images that look as though I was much closer. This lens is not for the beginner, however, as purchasing price new starts at over $10,000.

Filters: I use a UV/Haze filter on most of my lenses at one time or another to protect the lens from dust and scratches. It is far cheaper to replace a UV filter than a lens! I do not, however, use them all the time. Sunrise and sunset shots, in particular, are much more colorful and sharp, in my opinion, without the UV filter.

The polarizing filter acts just like the polarizing sunglasses you may have: it cuts glare. This is best for shots around water or other reflective surfaces including clouds. I use this sometimes for waterfalls, lake shots, and shy shots that might otherwise appear “blown out.” With sky shots, the clouds are sharper and the sky bluer with a polarizing filter.

I have several Neutral Density (ND) filters. Have you ever seen photos where waterfalls seem silky or oceans waves smooth? Most likely, a ND filter was used. The NDs reduce the light allowed into your camera. This means that the same lens opening (aperture or f-stop) can be used with darker results. ND filters come in various shades from slight to very dark. Generally speaking, the brighter the image you are shooting, the darker the ND filter you will want use. I also have split ND filters. These are darker on the top and graduate to clear glass on the bottom. The best use for these is sunset or sunrise, when the sky is bright and the land below very dark. By apply the ND filter at the top and the clear glass at the bottom, the image is much more balanced and much more in line with what your eyes see.

Well, that’s it for this blog. I hope this was at least interesting, if not helpful. Bookmark this blog for more yet to come!

Forest Fall

September 26th, 2012

Forest Fall

Today I'd like to take a hike
Into the trees and woods I like
With my two cameras in hand
To survey this astounding land

I'd see the birds and feel the breeze
Spot butterflies and colored leaves
I'd find the little bubbling creek
And all the little things I seek

A photo is not just a goal
It's part and parcel of my soul
And captures for the heart of all
The wondrous world of natures Fall

Today I'd like to take a walk
To hear the voice of nature talk
In quiet whispers to my heart
And with my camera, do my part

-jlh 9-26-2012

A View from Behind the Lens

June 15th, 2012

I vote on almost all contests at FAA including those I do not enter. I am very careful and make my best judgments as to which images I deem worthy of a vote. When I enter a contest, I vote for my own because I never enter I contest unless I believe my image is worthy. :)

I do find the process of voting very discouraging, however. When one person enters the same 2 photos in 2 different contests and almost immediately they have 4 votes each in each contest, something smells bad. Do they have four FAA accounts? That seems most likely. But is certainly is not fair.

In other contests,like one I saw today, a lousy image with lousy processing gets 68 "votes" and the next nearest has 24. WTF? Something smells very bad there, too.

Other contests are won by entries that not only are lousy images but don't even meet the criteria of the contest or have nothing to do with the theme. How do they win? Certainly not by the votes of careful, intelligent artists doing their best. No, recruiting votes and stuffing the ballot box does it.

The same happened with the FAA TV contest. It was disgusting. When one artist qualifies 3 photos and some super photos struggle to get 100 votes, the process is faulty at best and corrupt at worst.

I have run a few contests, too. I cannot believe how many people do not even read the contest guidelines! Entries that have nothing to do with the subject or do not meet the rules are submitted every day. I delete and they are resubmitted! WTF? Is it that people just toss anything out there because they can recruit votes and "win" contests they have no business even being in?

I do know that values differ. That is what makes art great. My decisions are not what everyone has to decide. But I would expect on a professional site that votes would at least be made with clear conscience and according to some standards besides "vote for your friends."

I have been on FAA for less than 3 months and have had almost 11,000 views of my photos. I have even won a few contests. But many contests I get 0 or 1 (my) votes. It is quite baffling to me.

I have had many photos published in magazines and newspapers, sold in galleries at at fairs, and sold from my websites. None have sold at FAA - not a single image. That, too, is baffling.

Perhaps this isn't the professional site I initially judged it to be. It certainly doesn't work for me in terms of sales, feedback, or contests.

And that is today's view from behind the lens.