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John Steiner Travel Blogger – Challenge Player

#15 of the Challenge Interview Series

Hi, I’m Marsha Ingrao and my blog is Always Write. Welcome to the Challenge Interview Series.

In addition to meeting the hosts of writing and photo challenges, this series also includes some of the wonderful participants who make the challenges successful.

Today I want to introduce my friend, Lens-Artist Photo Challenge player, John Steiner. He loves to travel and participate in photo challenges.

The Interview Process

I sent John a list of questions that I often ask Challenge hosts and their participants. He studied the list then we spoke for over an hour by Zoom, which we both recorded. The result is that what you see in quotes is really a paraphrase written by me, reviewed and accepted by John. 

This is a wonderful tool for interviewing because as he spoke, we both would go to different posts on his website and scan them as we talked. Since I always spend about two or three hours on the interviewee’s website anyway, this was like getting the free guided tour.

I am linking different some of my favorite posts to his name if you’d like to check out his blog. You will also find links to the host challenges he plays.

Please welcome John Steiner, better known as Photo by Johnbo.

My son started me blogging in March, 2013. We wrote guest posts for each other. One of my most viewed posts to date was one that he wrote in 2016, Changing the Face of the American South. I don’t know why it’s so popular, but I get about five views per day.

When I started blogging, I wanted to write about our travels.  I started participating in Photo Challenges in 2014. That gave me some fun focuses so that I could blog more than once a week. I started with the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, and then I stayed with that when it went to the Lens-Artist’s Challenge. Mostly I follow other photographers, and see what they post and learn skills from them.

John Steiner

A few years ago I started posting Cellpic Sunday which I used to highlight my travels. I used to invite people to join me, but it didn’t catch on. I still post it anyway. 

John Steiner

I notice you have a lot of “But I Digress” posts. Did you intend “But I Digress” as a challenge also?

No, it’s not. But I digress… means that I’m writing about something other than travel. For example, after Josh wrote the highly popular post about Siler City, I followed up with But I Digress… Siler City’s Improbable Tie to Hollywood. This post highlights the history of the career and retired life of Frances Bavier, the character actor who played Aunt Bee in the Andy Griffith Show. 

John Steiner

I loved the post on how to do twirls. John, after we talked, I was so stoked I had to follow your step-by-step illustrated instructions and try it for myself! This post opened my eyes to all the possibilities of editing you can do in Photoshop and more importantly to me, Photoshop Elements. 

As anyone who has ever tried to do it, writing directions is very difficult. Here’s my attempt at twirling after reading John’s excellent instructions.

Twirl of tulips

Of course the main benefit I get from photo challenges is getting acquainted with people. But I also have a place to share the things I love, traveling and sharing what I am doing and what I know. I learn skills from other photographers I follow.

John Steiner

Of course, I organize everything by location. If I go to a destination more than once, I add a date to differentiate between the two. I used to get on my teachers for not backing up things. (John chuckled – I’m a teacher) Primarily I keep three copies of my pictures: one on the computer, one on an external back-up drive, and one online. I use Code 42 online, which is $10 per month.

I do all my processing and organizing in Lightroom 6, which I purchased as a stand alone program. Lightroom has great macro tools and records data like the camera used and the date. This helps when I’m processing photos for my website. 

Organizing my challenge photos is a challenge. I like Lightroom because I can add keywords to my photos. That helps me search for them. For example I might use the keyword “details” to identify my recent Lens-Artist Challenge photos. That gives me another way to find those “certain pictures.”

I like to avoid subscriptions. I also use Luminar 4.

Note: You can’t buy stand alone Lightroom 6 software anymore through Adobe. I did find some DVDs available through Ebay for about $127. So if your DVD lasts for more than a year, you save money. The subscription for both Lightroom and Photoshop costs $10 per month.

John Steiner

I get that, John. I was a teacher. I back my photos on the computer, online using both ICloud and OneDrive. The external drives I used – both of them are corrupted. I have some photos on a thumb drive as well, and some on Google Photos. I’ve still managed to lose quite a few photos. 

Mostly I participate in the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I look at Cee’s Photo Challenges as well, but I don’t usually participate in them. I follow quite a few photographers so I see the challenges they participate in. 

John Steiner

I use my Samsung S20U cell phone and my Nikon D500 with a Tamron 16-300 zoom lens. It is pretty clear. I just purchased a drone. I’m in the Civil Air Patrol and we take drone pictures, so this should help me get better at taking pictures. I don’t do videos because they take so much time to make them really good. Jez Braithwaite uses a lens ball, so I’ve asked my wife to get me one for Father’s Day.

John Steiner

I post on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The rest of the time I’m looking at other people’s posts. This is one I posted for one of Cee Neuner’s Challenges.

John Steiner

I’ve already mentioned Photos by Jez. Another one I like is Chris at Milford Street. I also enjoy Hien Nguyen. One person who doesn’t blog, but I found him on Flikr is Fred Mast. He is an excellent photographer. 

(The link goes to one of his pictures that I like.)

J. P. Cox writes about WWII and the war in the Pacific. I enjoy his posts. 

The last person I’d like to mention is Rules Of Logic writes about classic and high performance automobiles.

John Steiner

Yes, I create a weekly theme and publish a picture each day on Facebook and Twitter. My theme last week was Rodeo. Of course, Facebook also publishes my blog. The number of followers stays pretty constant, but I want to give them something every day. 


John loves to travel, write, and take pictures and he found the perfect outlet in blogging. When he was young, John was a photo fanatic, even processing his own color prints. 

Eventually life got in the way of his photography hobby as he worked as an IT person for a school district. After he retired he considered working at photography as a profession, but now mostly gives his photographs to friends and family.

John also loves aviation, hiking, technology and history. Readers will find him exploring these topics as well on his website. 

Always Write Interview Widget
Challenge Host Interview Series

Thank you so much for visiting me, John. It’s been so much fun getting to know you better and learning about how to twirl other than on a dance floor.


Be sure and click on one or two of the links, leave likes and comments, and get to know John and his community better.

Do you or someone you know host a photo or writing challenge? Do you have certain challenge communities that you participate in that you want to share? I’d love to interview you and get better acquainted. Contact me.

48 replies »

  1. An interesting read – and put together rather differently than my own interview. I’m curious about the twirling effect, especially if it can be done in Elements as that’s what I use. Can you or John tell me more please?!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Marsha, Thank you for introducing us to John’s blog and photography and linking to #WeekendCoffeeShare. John’s photos of the landscapes and people in action look fantastic. I’ll visit the links you included in this post to learn more.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Terrific interview of one of my favorite bloggers Marsha. John’s posts highlight some wonderful photography and his variety of interests is amazing. He’s a terrific guy and I’m so happy to see him getting some well-deserved press!

    Liked by 3 people

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Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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