Author Archives: MB

About MB

Author, award-winning photographer, and educator. Mary swims with wild dolphins in Hawaii and we are not talking about in a tank, this is in the ocean. For more inspiring solo adventures go to Amazon to see her books here,

Kauai Hawaii, Things to Do, Helicopter Tour

Kauai Hawaii, Things to Do, Helicopter Tour

Flying in a helicopter is the most sparkly thing I’ve done all year.

My heart lifted into my throat. I was floating.

I busted free of gravity.

Soaring over the Jurassic Park movie locations my brain was bombarded with actual reality.

I live here!

Kauai is one of the most amazing places in the world to photograph and doing it from a helicopter was breathtaking. I had to force myself to capture the photograph while quickly hovering over magnificent waterfalls and gasp-worthy emerald green cliffs jutting over blissfully cobalt fathomlessly deep ocean water.

My soul was in overdrive.

And I appreciate this 25 by 33 mile wide island like I never have before. After 2 years of living here it rocked my world.

Photo Tip: don’t bring a long lens, its too hard to focus while flying. Use your iphone 6+ like I did to shoot this video and the photo below.

You can take a DSLR but make sure you get the front seat. I didn’t but I had special arrangements. More advice? Go to my photography advice playlist on YouTube here.

Bring any camera you have. Learn photography and yoga with me on Kauai. Check it out here.

Secrets of Kauai

Anini Beach

You can’t help but relax and recharge on Kauai.

You know that sleep, eating healthy, and breathing fresh pristine air gives you life.

And not just any life, but a life that sparkles.

This retreat on Kauai is guaranteed to change your life.

Learn photography and yoga on the best beaches in the world.

Check it out here

Discover the Power Places of Kauai, sleep late or get up early, read a book, eat incredibly fresh food and hear the ocean waves all night long in your luxury oceanside accommodation.

There is no where to drive in the morning, walk downstairs, and we’ll do yoga and meditation on the lawn in front of your enchanting luxury studio under swaying palm trees.

Join me.

Call Mary 808-542-4566

How to Get Stunning Photographs

Hawaii, Lanikai Beach

Hawaii, Lanikai Beach

10 Tips: How to Get Amazing Photographs with Any Camera

You can learn how to do it, even if you’ve never picked up a camera before.

Lets dive in.

1. It’s all about your vision not your pixels. An iphone can get stunning photos. And so do many point and shoots. I shot the above photo with an iphone.

2.  Four things to remember that robots can’t do yet. It all comes down to this: Light, Angle, Composition, and Timing. This is what makes a photo incredible.

3. You are painting with light. Your canvas is the viewfinder or LED screen, what will you put inside it and what will you take out of it? Check all four sides of the viewfinder/LED screen and ask yourself is there anything else I want on my canvas? Or something to take out on the edge?

4. Your camera adapts to you, you don’t change for your tool. Ask a photography expert about cameras not a photo store sales person. Learn what your camera can and can’t do, if you have a DSLR learn how to use it in manual settings, call me I’ll show you.

5. ANGLE lay on the floor, shoot up into trees, get up high and shoot down. Ask yourself before you click the shutter, how can I show this view in the best possible way? Then let your intuition guide you.

6. If you don’t have manual settings, concentrate on angle, composition, and timing. That’s what I did with my first Diana camera from my Grandpa when I was 7 years old.

7. Go on a photo walk. Give yourself the gift of golden light, go out shooting at sunrise or sunset. You’ll see magic!

8. Awareness, feel your environment, listen hear and taste it, you’ll know what to photograph by paying acute attention to your surroundings. Don’t think about it. Be like a child and go for the gusto.

9. Patience. Slow down. Let the photograph come to you. As you practice you’ll see the photograph before you capture it. If the light is perfect start shooting, it won’t be the same when you get back from the bathroom. Shoot now!

10. Perseverance, don’t give up, get the best angle and don’t let anyone take it from you. Most importantly, play and be happy while you are shooting. Don’t stress out about the controls, put it in auto and gradually learn the manual settings.

Get to know your point and shoot or phone like it’s a part of your body, like your arm.

Join us on Kauai

How to Get Better Photos

What People are Saying and I am Loving it

Photography Tutorial for Beginners

Myanmar Pagoda

Myanmar Pagoda

One thing about traveling worldwide is this, it will sharpen your focus on yourself and the culture you are immersed in.

Yes this is about taking pictures but what no one tells you about photography is that it is a journey of your self through the eyes of the world we live in.

It’s all about your vision not your pixels. 

You can pick up any camera and capture an amazing photograph with it.


By getting to know yourself.

Don’t pay attention to what is HOT, or what is current and endlessly spoken about. It’s just fluffy gossip. Pay attention to your breath, your heart, and your body.

What is it telling you?

My gut speaks to me, and when I listen my life works magically.

It is the same with photography.

One of my dreams was to travel the world and take photographs of it. I wanted to learn how the world worked and what was my place in it. I felt the seeds of greatness in my soul and knew I had to water them myself. I discovered at a very young age that I had to do it.

I remember thinking in kindergarten, I wonder why the teacher doesn’t really get who I am. She was a good teacher in her saddle shoes worn with a pink suit that I thought was a poor fashion statement. But not everyone understands us. And I equate understanding with love.

So  back to photography.

The world emphasizes the equipment when it should be on the heart and soul. What do you like to photograph? Discover that!

How? By going on a photography walk.

I most often carry my iphone and use it daily to shoot but when I want to get something I know will be amazing I get my other cameras out. My heart led me to a Hero 3 Go Pro to shoot dolphins in the wild and a Canon DSLR to get the best photos of people and nature. But the most important thing is my enthusiasm.

That’s what led me to move from Oahu to Hawaii Island, I wanted to live down the street from the wild dolphins in Kealakekua Bay.

It is what led me over oceans to the Himalayas to visit my son in Nepal and volunteer teach photography to the staff of the Nepal Youth Foundation.

Enthusiasm is the fuel. When you listen to it, you see the path before you and then the universe brings the rest of it to you. So don’t start with the camera, start with your heart.

What does it say? what do you want to shoot?

So, back to the walk. Go out in the morning before the sun has risen or at sunset when the sun is about to disappear in the horizon. After it sinks into the cosmos the light in the sky will be deafening you with color and sparkles. Stick around for another 20 minutes for the real show. It’s magic!

Do you like to take portraits?

No it isn’t easy to get authentic photos of people in India and Nepal. Or anywhere for that matter. But when I am in a new culture, I shed the outer me and become someone new.

Mostly I’m a chameleon. Its like acting. You get into the costume and pretty soon you forget you’re playing. You start to be this person.

Drop your preconceived notions and connect with people. Maybe you will get a chance to photograph them but you might not. You might get an amazing photo tomorrow of the same person, so give your self time. Don’t be in a hurry.

Tip: wear the clothes that they wear. People love this. Usually.

Go out today and try a Photo Walk. Take pictures of what moves you.

Tell me what you got in the comment box.

And to get you started with practical advice find out all my photo secrets here.






How to Stop Action

Photo by Kresta Painter

Photo by Kresta Painter, Anahola, Kauai 2015

Yes you can freeze a second forever in your photography.

Last week, Kresta, my brilliant student shot this photo of me, she is a rising star in the surf photography world. She consulted with me to improve her chops.

Here is how to stop motion.

On your camera, switch off Auto and onto Manual.

Find your Shutter Speed Setting. Usually this corresponds with exactly where your right index finger will land on the body of the camera – on a well designed camera like a Canon this will be true.

But you might have to consult your Camera’s manual.  Just look for Shutter Speed.

Set the number of your shutter speed at 250 or higher.

Set your ISO at 800 or higher if it is less sunny.

Aperture, set it on how much you want to be in focus, the entire frame? High Aperture – 16 and above.

Take your shot. You can use the continuous shooting mode or motor drive option that we film users employed in the last century, it allows you to shoot many photos in a row.

Go For It!

Advice: You can speed ahead fast when you work with a mentor, when you have the basics in a nutshell you don’t have to struggle to learn your camera, you learn how to shoot expertly and can get amazing photos instantly. Guaranteed results.

I’m driving, you can relax and have fun! Call me. Learn More at the link below.


Photo by Kresta Painter, Anahola, Kauai

Shooting in a Watery Realm

Yes, after 27 years of being a photographer on terra firma, I have now descended into the deep blue sea.

Want to have your mind jolted? Here’s what to do down there.

I discovered immediately that my housing (the plastic bit that goes around the camera to keep it watertight) was blurry. Go Pro said that particular housing model for Hero 2 made a few years ago is not made anymore. They figured out it was not sharp. Well.

I calmly bought the Hero 3+ and am seeing splendid improvements. For one thing the lens can be changed to three different settings so if you don’t want ultra wide angle you can notch it down to regular wide. That’s how your eyes see the world.

3 choices!

I recommend ultra wide when swimming with wild dolphins.

 My new friends were so close they were almost touching me and I had nothing to do with it. In Hawaii there’s a law you have to stay 100 feet away from wild dolphins but no local person worth their Himalayan pink salt would follow that one.

I’ve never touched a dolphin and will not. They are wild. Let them be untainted by human hands. We have been known to give them diseases.

You can use other cameras, I’ve seen photos from the Lumix underwater camera and it’s sharp. You just have to wait for pauses when shooting and I am not a fan of waiting. This way you lose valuable seconds. But the photos are clear and focused.

If you buy a housing for your existing camera make sure it’s guaranteed to be sharp, watertight, and clear. No inept substitutes are acceptable.

So now we are underwater with camera in hand. Mostly you don’t want to have to bring lights with you.

This is supposed to be fun.

 I don’t want to swim with bulky gear like those surf photographers who get in the waves with their heavy cameras and don’t mind being tossed in 12-foot waves.

4 meters for those of us who are metric.

I clutch my camera in one hand and make sure the wrist strap is securely on my wrist then I start swimming.

Get ready. Turn it on. And soon you’ll be seeing wild dolphins. They come over to me and say hi. Be ready. The nuances of their expressions are priceless.

Hardest thing is to hold the camera still, when your heart is pounding with excitement.

I stop breathing until I get the shot.

Come to think of it, I hold my breath shooting on land too. Being underwater is the same strategy.

It takes practice to get good at underwater shooting. I don’t use the Go Pro backpack so I can’t see what I’m shooting. Pointing the camera at swimming dolphins takes practice and patience.

If you get one amazing shot from the shoot the whole thing was worth it. Keep going.

Wait until the dolphin is close, so you don’t have to crop later. And you have a better chance of capturing the expression in her eye.

Make sure your fingers aren’t touching the edge of the wide-angle lens. This is a common blunder.

Use only the recommended photo card that the camera company suggests. Lexar and Extreme Sandisk for the Go Pro. I used the one that the dive shop recommended and it was jittery for video. It was fine for photos but not for HD video. Don’t use the Sandisk Ultra, what a waste for $50.

Relax and enjoy being with the dolphins.

Now that I live here, I’m not taking my camera every time. Yes I miss some shots but it’s better to miss a few shots and enjoy being with the dolphins.

Don’t chase the dolphins like the crass guy this morning who was swimming rapidly holding out his camera to capture them.

It’s a little like being a wedding photographer. You can’t really be a guest when you are being paid to shoot it. Yes, you have to act like a guest but you can’t be giving toasts and rocking out in the center of the dance floor flirting with everyone. No.

Same thing with shooting dolphins. It’s a blast to shoot them but also be sure to get in the water and look carefully at what you see. This morning I saw yellow tangs eating and was amazed at how they swayed in the stellar light.

Dolphins like to interact and play catch with leaves.

But sea turtles are more aloof. You can swim with them but they will slide away if you get too close so be sly when you get that photo. And be quick.

If you shoot near the surface of the water with the sun just rising it will be at the most exquisite low angle to light up your photo underwater. Try to get both the dolphins lit up by the sun and also the sun behind the dolphins. It looks like the alternate universe that it is.

This is so much fun you won’t want to get out of the water. You can always come back tomorrow. Or move to Hawaii forever.

That’s why I’m here!

Join us on Kauai and the Big Island for my Photo Safari and Yoga Retreats in 2015 to recharge and invigorate your spirit

Check out the details here



How to Capture Amazing Light in Kauai

You have to get up early in the morning to get incredible light. There is a mystical quality before the sun rises into the sky. The magic happens before the sun shows up so that means you have to be there before too. Yes you can wait for sunset - but the quality of the light is different at that time and you may prefer it. Or you may prefer to have a cocktail in your hand which I often don’t because I’m usually photographing and since I started traveling I’m high on life. No shit sherlock. Traveling all the time is the best thing I’ve ever done besides having a fully formed human being and great spirit born from my own body. That’s the only thing that aces it. But back to light. There is a tiny amount of time when the morning light is sparkly and stunning. It’s elusive so you have to be fast. There are a few minutes or 30 seconds when everything goes pink and you can get it if you’re there and ready to shoot. Showing up before the magic happens is one of the secrets of my success with photography. Set your camera on manual and try this ISO – 400 Aperture 13 – 29 depending on how much light you have on hand Shutter 60 to 125, don’t drop your camera in all the excitement. Tell me how it goes with your own shooting. Don’t forget to check out my new photo course Amazing Photography Secrets here with a 50% discount on a very cool and easy platform. If you have questions, you have immediate access to me while taking the course. It’s a one-hour course with all my secrets from the last 27 years of pro-shooting. Check it out now. Use the code secretsofphotography to get the 50% discount.

Magical Timing, How to Get it in Your Photography

www.bartnikowski.comIncredible portraits are caught like a 20 meter pass in football.  Yes you gotta be Fast!


Myth: the high-end camera gets the shots for you.

No this is not true. It is your ability to flow in the ethers of magical timing. That’s how you capture a split second of divine timing. And you can do it with a point and shoot if you have the flash turned off.

But it takes practice. And in this speedy world, people want it to happen yesterday.

Magical timing takes years to develop. Maybe it will take you less time.

It takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at anything. I’ve put my time in.

 And it’s a spiritual quest.

It requires:

Forgetting about yourself, problems, and issues.

Letting your thoughts float away.

You are in the moment so fiercely that there is nothing else. Stay there.

Connect with the exquisite person. Baby or elephant. Nothing else exists but you and the dragonfly. Then.

There is joy and also a raw tenderness that is so fragile it’s like a droplet of water trembling on a wet flower petal after a rainstorm – it’s just about to drop and you must catch it falling in the air.

It’s an exquisite slice of a second – this is what we are after.

Feel the being of this spirit in front of you. Let them tell you things that words can’t describe. It’s all in the vibrations of that person/rhino/or tiny tot. Let them speak to you.

This all happens in about 2 seconds sometimes less.

 It isn’t seize the moment – it’s seize the split second!

So you wait patiently, and then pounce.

You forget who you are, your name, and phone number.

You just are.

See what this does for you picture taking – you will be amazed and astonished how this changes things for you.

Write and tell me.

The above photo was caught in Peru on a windy mountaintop not far from Machu Picchu. I bought a water bottle carrier from her and then gestured to my film camera, her eyes said yes so I went to work.

Boom! Fast, Now, and In the Moment.

It has all the elements of magical timing: connect, shoot, be like the wind, FAST.


You Don’t Need a DSLR

Teaching Photography in India

Teaching Photography in India

Yes you can use your point and shoot.

You don’t have to buy a big fancy camera with too many bells and whistles. After 25 years of shooting film in my professional photography career in Silicon Valley I am qualified to say these little cameras kick ass! So listen up, if you want some dazzling shots that will impress your friends. If you don’t want to spend $1000 on a swanky camera, you don’t have to!

Yes, not all point and shoots are created equally.

My two favorites are Lumix (Panasonic) and Canon – the one I liked was a G-11. Get the smallest Canon you can find with 9 to 12 MB high resolution files and you’ll be fine.

The point is both of these cameras have superior lenses and that is the most important part of the camera not the body. Major point: just because the camera is highly evolved does not mean it will take the photo for you.

No, you actually have to compose your shot.

When I see tourists mindlessly holding up the camera from too far away, using the wrong angle, and over-zooming, I know their pictures are not worth looking at.

Also these people take photos of other people eating. This is a breach of bad taste. Don’t take a photo of anyone eating if you care that they might never call you again.

No one likes a photo of themselves with mouth wide open and a huge portion of fries going in. Don’t do it.

If you have control, ask your subject questions and be sneaky – don’t ask them to pose. Everyone hates posing. Except for Vogue models who get paid to be skinny. Be more smooth and strategic and trick them into it.

Here’s what I do: Set your camera to intelligent auto or set your camera manually but get it ready don’t do anything with the controls when you are in the presence of your subject. If they see you fiddling with your camera they won’t forget you are taking their picture. Yes it is that simple. Don’t draw attention to yourself by playing with your aperture or muttering I wish I knew how to use my camera just take my course which is the easiest and best way on how to learn fast what took me years to figure out. Amazing Photography Secrets on Udemy

All you need is one good photo, not 100. You only have 2 seconds or less to get it so this gives you time to practice your timing. Be fast. Magic waits for no one. Get the shot or at least try to get it. Talk to your subject, get them to think about something other than the fact that their photo is being captured.

Check out my intro video on how to do this here.

It’s important to look at your shots afterwards so you can visually comprehend where you failed and where you succeeded. The failures teach you more than the good ones. When you miss a shot that is amazing of a person or animal you feel a tinge of regret but this is what will get you out shooting again. You have to try again! Go ahead and keep practicing.

Easy and Fast photography course. Read the reviews from my 1249 students. 

Check it out and Click Here. You will get incredible photos with your point and shoot, guaranteed.