Wednesday, March 31, 2010

There and Back Again

Too many photographers visit one place take a few shots and chalk it up as being done.  I tend to visit and revisit the same locations over and over.  Especially if it is a location unknown by people and therefore not photographed as often.  I have had many people ask me why I keep going back to the same place or say "don't you get bored going back to the same location"?...  See the images below for my answer.

The first time I went out to Pine Glades Lake in the Florida Everglades I was impressed with the location.  The clouds were not cooperative but still I was able to get this panoramic of the area just as the sun set. 

My second second trip had the same issue with the clouds but a certain critter decided to show himself which gave me this shot.  It just screams Florida doesn't it?

The clouds decided to show themselves on the third trip.  This was a night where I was going to the Glades to get some star trail pictures and decided to stop off at Pine Galdes Lake on the way...  I am certainly glad I did.  The wind was up so the water was far from still. 
Trip number four I finally had all the elements I was looking for.  Ample clouds, very little wind, and calm still water.

Number five....  Wow...  Everything fell into place to give me this HDR image that is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
So, why do I keep going back again and again?  I would hope these images give you an idea.  I am sure I will visit this same place very soon and who knows what I will find.

Prints available for sale at starting at $50.00

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why we go.

I have posted on something like this before but I thought it warrented another visit.  Just the other day, despite extinuating curcumstances, I decided to go to Anhinga Trail (  The conditions were not perfect and the place was loaded with other people and photographers (one really rude one hogging the good spots).  Nevertheless, it was a great experience.  Check out this photo as an example:

Print available for sale at starting at $50.00

You can check out the "Gallery" section on my website for the full resolution of this and other photos from the outing.  Remember to get out there and take the lens cap off.  It is the only way you will continue to add to your collection.

Continuous Learning

There is so much to learn regarding photography. I have been seriously into it now for 9 years and still feel like a novice at times. Not only are there techniques for everything but you could spend years just becoming familiar with the gear. In this modern age with iPods and iPhones the learning opportunities are endless. There are so many “Podcasts” and videos floating around the internet for whatever type of photography that interests you. One of the great resources is called Kelby Training. Now, this is a service that costs 24.99 a month which may seem kind of steep until you realize that they have hundreds of videos with many world famous photographers. It is worth checking out if you get a chance. Kelby Training also produces a free Podcast called D-Town TV. This is a weekly podcast showcasing equipment, famous photographers, and technique.

Suggested websites:

Learning is the key if you want to grow in photography. Enjoy the websites and I will write again soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"I am in every picture that I take"

The Camera Looks Both Ways" is a quote often used by world famous travel photographer Rick Sammon. I must have heard him say that 20 times before I really got what he meant. When you click the shutter you are not only taking a picture but you are showing a little (or a lot) about yourself. If you just blast away to get "a" photograph then chances are the images you produce will show this haste. When you are photographing people and you wait until the individuals look stoic rather than excited then perhaps that is a reflection of your mood at the time.

I have a similar saying that really could be thought of in the same light. My parents often comment that there are not a lot of pictures of me floating around. I always say "I am in every picture that I take" and now this phrase will have a whole new meaning to me. Thanks Rick Sammon for bringing this idea close to home.

What are some things you think about when you work on your particular art form? Are there phrases you repeat to yourself or a ritual that you go through to prepare yourself? This question could relate to any form of art (music, writing, painting, drawing, etc...) I am interested to hear so leave a comment or two.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Post Processing

One of the first questions I get asked when people look at my photographs is “did you do something to the color in Photoshop?” The answer is always going to be yes. Why? Well, I shoot in a format called RAW. This format captures the most data when taking photos but leaves the photos looking “flat”. This is because the camera has made no color or contrast decisions for you. When you shoot JPEG the camera makes all the color decisions based on certain algorithms and what it thinks you are going for. You could say that ALL images go through color changes or contrast adjustments. Some the photographer has creative control over and others the camera has the control. I prefer to control this on my own using the RAW format.

When I shot film (Fuji Velvia) this question never came up and let me tell you, the images were very saturated with color. I think most people just assume that you use Photoshop to make a bad image good. One phrase that I repeat to myself often is “garbage in, garbage out”. It is vital that the image be the best it can be at the time of capture. This limits post processing time and ensures that you have a good product to start with. Photoshop is used to make a good image the best it can be. Generally, not always, if I have to spend more than five minutes on a photograph in Photoshop I just scrap the image.

What is the difference between Photoshop and the traditional darkroom? I say it is the amount of time you spend processing. In the traditional darkroom you could spend hours dodging and burning or playing with the paper exposure times for a single image. It takes a fraction of that time in Photoshop to make the same adjustments.

So, the line between an image being OVER processed is really up to the photographer’s vision and what he/she is attempting to produce. My goal, in most cases, is to render the image as close to what I remember seeing at the time of capture as possible.

Ansel Adams, one of the greatest photographers of all time, used what he called the Zone System and his final products looked nothing like his starting images… He would have loved Photoshop!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Relativism and Art

If anyone really knows me then you know that I do NOT prescribe to the notion of relativism. In fact, I consider it a tool of the weak willed... However, as it pertains to photography I completely agree with its definition: any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments.

The word Photography literally means Painting with Light... What one chooses to paint, whether with light or some other medium, is their own choice. How an individual decides what is pleasing to them is completely up to them. Is there absolute truth? Yes, but not in art. For example: I am not a fan of Picasso but does that make him a poor artist... I say yes but so many more treat him as a master. Who is right? Well, I say both. Art is defined as: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

Why do you take the photographs you take? Why do you spend so much time creating images? For each individual it is is all relative. I am a fan of landscape and nature photography which shows a created world as it is for just a fraction of a second; never to be the same again. I take portraits because for just a moment you get a glimpse at a unique individual who will never be the same as they are in that moment. Again I ask; why do you do what you do?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Best Camera

You have Nikon and Canon that control the majority of the camera market with Sony moving on up. You have Pentax, Olympus and Panasonic that make some really great products. You can get a camera that costs any were from the low hundreds to around about ten thousand with lenses, strobes and many other accessories that cost extra... So, what is the best camera? Easy, the one you have with you... No matter how much or how little you spend on a camera it only counts if you carry it with you.

What about bad weather?

So, you plan your photo trip for the week and on that one day you have set aside it rains. What do you do? This is a question that I have to ask myself way too often. The first thing is to go anyway. Some of the most dramatic photographs I have seen were taken on the edge or during a storm. Most modern DSLR can handle some rain but you can always wrap it in a plastic bag. If it turns out that the weather is just too bad then run to the store, buy some cheap flowers and set up for some quick macro work. Another option (not my favorite) is spend sometime on your computer going through your backlog of images to make sure they all have key words. You can also make sure that they are all post processed and ready to be displayed or printed. If you have Lightroom you might consider spending time creating presets that make your post processing easier. Again, these are just some ideas to keep your focus on photography and spend less time complaining about the weather.