Some images touch us more than others. Some are technically better; some evoke a pleasant memory or emotion from the past. Some simply are beautiful to see. Whatever the reason, we enjoy looking at some photos more than we enjoy looking at others. This portfolio includes some of my favorites for all the various reasons, and you can view...
Welcome to photosonthego, a photography blog set in the Bloomington, Indiana, area. It’s a place to find images captured by James Haverstock, images of events, people and scenery from all over the area, the state, and the country. Check back to find new images and new information about photography of all kinds on a regular...
We all are so very privileged to enjoy the art and craft of photography, a pursuit that brings most of us so much pleasure so often. It is a blessing when that pursuit complements our love and appreciation of nature, this world in which we temporarily live. So it is an even greater pleasure and blessing to read the thoughts of a friend, Dr. Chuck Summers, and to view his inspiring photos. Dr. Chuck (as I know him) is the pastor at a church in Henderson, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River border with my state, Indiana. I met him through one of my dearest friends, Bill Fortney. And you can predict where this is going … Bill’s love and respect is high praise, indeed. And Dr. Chuck deserves all the praise and accolades said about him; he is a very, very fine photographer and an even finer man. It was a privilege for me to meet him and spend a bit of time with him.
I write almost all the time about photography, and I suppose today is about photography. But I want to recommend Dr. Chuck to you today more for his thoughts and writing than about photography in general. His is a gentle reading of scripture that often sees the glory of God and creation in nature. He is a compassionate advocate for our stewardship of this world, explaining through scripture and God’s Word how the beauty around us was created and how blessed we are to experience it (camera in hand). His writings soar, as do his images. And there is a Peace (with a capital P) within him that he translates for the rest of us, even when questions and doubts enter his own life. Add in the fact that he illustrates his thoughts with such inspiring landscape and nature images, and there is so very much to read regularly and keep firmly in mind in our own minds (certainly in my own life).
This is a very special time of year (for so many reasons). One reason is the natural inclination we have to look back over the year past, to consider the coming new one. There is the opportunity for especial emphasis on the birth of Christ, the meaning of this world and our lives. Dr. Chuck has the ability to remind us (me) of what is most important, all that our existence demands and offers. He does so beautifully (and regularly). Allow me the privilege of recommending him and his writings to you, especially when we consider the holiday season and all our blessings. I am sure you will become inspired.
Click here to bookmark Dr. Chuck’s site. And enjoy all that he and our wonderful world have to offer.Read More
Who isn’t excited about this wonderful, gift-giving season?
How does that classic Christmas carol go … ten photographers teaching, eleven videos playing, twelve gifts given? Just turn to creativeLLIVE today to claim the gifts you would like to open. Now. Today. For free. It’s that easy; it’s that simple; it’s that good.
creativeLIVE is giving all of us the opportunity to learn this Christmas season … from seasoned instructors who know what they are talking about. The sessions are live – and free. You can choose from fine art to food to finance. Or choose from experts such as Sue Bryce or Joel Grimes. What a deal! Just click here to see the daily offerings; then begin watching. This is a real deal, one we all should be grateful for. Thank you, creativeLIVE!
Then a bit of a preview of 2014 offerings from Nikon, cameras and lenses. Thom Hogan is really good at predicting what Nikon is thinking and where they are headed with their product line. So, if you are a Nikon shooter, I have a very interesting article from him on what you might expect in the coming year. Interesting reading (and reasoning), for sure. But wait! If you are not a Nikon shooter, this article has something of interest for you, also – something that just might save you some big bucks in 2014. Hidden in the article is Thom’s conclusion that Sigma (the lens maker) is beginning to outpace Nikon (the optical people) in the quality of lenses being produced. Wow! But the real message for you non-Nikon shooters is that it is perfectly reasonable and safe to go the Sigma route for your lens needs rather than being tied to Canon or Nikon or any other big brand name. And that, my friends, is a change from the recent past. And it is a chance for any of us in the lens market to just possibly save some big bucks on our purchases. Click here for Thom’s article (then scroll down to the middle of the 2013 Nikon Lenses section). Most interesting take on the camera industry. Thank you for your honesty, Thom.
And a little more for my friends who still are considering their non-Photoshop CC options (including those who just want some additional features). onOne Software recently released its Perfect Photo Suite 8, and it is garnering some very strong reviews (including one from my friend, software magician Matt Kloskowski). If you are interested onOne has a series of live webinars you can plan your calendar around (including one this Wednesday with that same Mattie K.). I have watched some previous training sessions, and they are most instructive (and very light on the sales pitch). If you are into plugins and Photoshop additions, click here to see the list of dates and times. You may find something you really like.
More snow for us as we speak. I remember ordering up a holiday season – sans snow and cold weather. Enjoy your day, no matter where you are.Read More
Piano Guys Instead Of Photoshop Guys. 2013 Photos That Will Stir Your Emotions. FREE creativeLIVE. Win A $250 Adorama Gift Card.
Whew! The big storm of last week has moved on, and its little brother spared us another round yesterday and last night. The snow and ice and wind and temperatures all combined to keep us close-to-home these past several days. But today is a new day, and this week is another joyous one. Let’s start it off with a sign of the season.
Beautiful, isn’t it? And fun. It is amazing what talent there is out there … and how blessed we are to share in it.
And Time magazine is sharing with us their choices for the Top 10 photos of 2013 from their publication. Even if you are not a Time fan, these images are sure to catch your attention. Some are not technically perfect; some are less than beautiful. All will stir your emotions, however, for various reasons. Some of these photos demonstrate the right-place-at-the-right-time concept of great images (I’m not gonna snap that Great White shot in my back yard); some are illustrative of our common bonds and the emotions that live within all of us. One thing is for sure: the power of photography and the photographer’s eye are on display. Click here to see these photos and review at least a part of 2013. And thanks to DP Review for first alerting us to this list of photos.
Then our good friends over at creativeLIVE have a holiday offer beginning today, free for all of us. It is a three-day training session from a very fine photographer, Tony Corbell, entitled Studio Lighting – The Power of Control. It is an intensive course designed to immerse us into the world of studio lights, all kinds of studio lights. If you have ever watched a creativeLIVE event, you know they do things right. You get first-rate instruction from accomplished instructors, complete and in-depth. This course begins at noon (EST) time and goes for three days. Make some time over that period to tune in and learn (just click here to get started). For free!
And is it too late for another holiday wish list? One of my favorite photographers, Lindsay Adler, just published hers. And attached to it is a chance for you to win a $250 gift card from Adorama! Click here to check out Lindsay’s suggestions … but don’t stop with her wish list. Hers is filled with things like $500+ audio recorders and $9,000+ portable light sets (maybe I can send her a card or something). Go on to her gift guide suggestions … not all cheap, but more in tune with the pocketbooks of many of us. It’s a fun list in any case, and there is that gift card to sign up for.
And, finally for today, let’s close with a favorite of mine – and gotta be yours, too, if you are even a casual fan of the Statler Brothers. I ran this little video last year and it is worth viewing again. It says fun and holidays and Christmas. Welcome back to work this Monday!
All my friends Up North (way up north, as in Minnesota and beyond) will think us faint-of-heart. All my friends in sunny Florida and California will think us crazy for even being here. But it is winter in Bloomington, snow and all. And by all I mean cold and blowing and drifting and icy. All this nastiness arrived overnight, and it continues as we speak (forecast to continue all day today, also). So, we are closed. Schools, banks, most activities in general were called off in the very early dark hours of today. So photosonthego can do no less than join the crowd. Join us Monday to see what transpired over the weekend (we are scheduled for more snow and icy conditions Sunday), and catch up on all the latest in the camera world.
Enjoy the weekend in your part of the country … weather permitting.
And I just received word that the closings now include Gallery 406′s opening reception for our Bloomington Photography Club’s holiday show (originally scheduled for tonight). The entire Gallery Walk sponsored by Bloomington’s downtown galleries has been postponed until next Friday (December 13th from 5-8 PM). Mark your holiday calendars accordingly, and we will see you then for sure.Read More
This camera wasn’t even on the dream list ten years ago.
We truly are living in a golden age of photography, at least when it comes to the technology part of it. Cameras, lenses, accessories – what they are capable of producing is mind-boggling. And we take most (if not all) of this for granted … 36 megapixels here and Wi-Fi there, instant upload here and mirrorless there. It’s what we are used to now; it’s what we demand. But it wasn’t all that long ago that we were coming to grips with five megapixels. In fact, there were more than a few gasps with Sony’s announcement of the breath-taking eight megapixel F828. Think of it – eight megapixels! Wow!
Now that the crush of Gray Thursday and Black Friday and Giving Saturday and Cyber Monday and what-the-heck Tuesday are finished, things in the photo world are just a touch quieter. So I thought it might be fun amidst the thoughts of all the incredible new equipment out there to take a look back at December of 10 years ago. DP Review has an archive of articles they considered newsworthy, and I went back and took a look. That’s where the excitement of the amazing eight megapixel camera came from (the Sony F828). Think of it … had we actually reached the upper limits of what cameras and lenses could handle? Or how about a trip back in time with a review of Nikon’s (then) flagship DLSR, the D2H with its four megapixel sensor (a teaser here – the review mentions using the camera for the first time literally will take your breath away). Or how about the rumors that Nikon was about to rain on Canon’s parade with a DLSR for all us non-professionals, the D70?
If you have a bit of time today, check out DP Review’s December 2003 news articles – 10 years ago that seems a whole lot longer given what we have become used to today. Click here to preview the D70 or review the D2H, cameras that paved the way for today’s miracle equipment. It’s a fun look back and a reminder of how fortunate we are today.Read More
A reminder today for all of you that live in or close to the Bloomington area: Kendall and Stephanie Reeves are hosting a holiday opening and reception this Friday, December 6th, at Gallery 406. This is a photo show of images that were juried last month, only those deemed show-worthy will be on display (and offered for purchase) Friday evening (though, if you cannot attend the opening, you may visit the downtown gallery throughout December and January of 2014). Downtown Bloomington is bathed in holiday lights this month, and there may even be a light dusting of snow to put you in the holiday spirit. Kendall and Stephanie will be furnishing light refreshments from 5 until 8 PM, and other nearby galleries will be premiering new exhibits and offering holiday refreshments, also. This is a fine exhibit (I have been privileged to sneak an early viewing), and the downtown truly is special at this time of year. Join us for a show that will make the season just that much brighter.
For more information about the gallery and for directions, click here. See you on Friday!
And I wanted to bring you up to date on a very unscientific poll I conducted regarding Adobe’s Photoshop CC (the best offer from them expired Monday, so I waited until then to gather some numbers). I respect the opinions and abilities of some really talented photographers across the country, shooters I have been privileged to call friends and spend time with. Most of them (and I) have offered our fair share of criticism of Adobe and their switch to a subscription model for Photoshop. In fact, several of us were vowing (or at least very strongly considering) not to do business with them again. But Adobe responded with a new (final) offer, and we all sat down to evaluate our needs in this photo world of ours. Un-scientifically, all but one person I am friends with swallowed a bit of displeasure and signed up for the CC offer. I’m not sure if Adobe has righted the ship completely, but they no longer are taking on water.
Now, if you have decided no more Adobe upgrades, you still might be in the market for a replacement program. Or you might simply appreciate an extra program to complement Photoshop. If so, I have no hesitation recommending the latest version of Perfect Photo Suite from onOne Software (now on version 8). I own and use version seven, and I have devoted some considerable time to researching and participating in webinars to evaluate the latest upgrade. It is improved; it works. And no less a personage than one of the original Photoshop Guys, Matt Kloskowski, heartily endorses it (and uses it regularly). And today I discovered that another of the shooters I follow and respect, Thom Hogan over at byThom, also makes sure he has the latest version of this processing, Swiss Army knife in his photo bag. If these two guys are pleased with onOne, the rest of us can’t go wrong in checking out what they are saying. The latest version is now on the market; click here to check it out.
Have a great Wednesday. I’ll see some of you Friday night.Read More
Thanksgiving week was spent away from Bloomington, visiting family in Northern Indiana. I am just catching up on all those un-done chores from that much time away from home, but I did find time to add one item to the Christmas list my wife has been asking me about. The item is a book, one I will keep as part of my photography reference library. A personal library is like a shelf full of workshops: these are the learning resources you go back to over and over again. They represent money well-spent, investments in learning. Spend time in making decisions on these kinds of books, but don’t hesitate to build a library of your own.
Almost all of us take photos of people (portraits). They may be formal or casual, set up or candid, planned or spur-of-the-moment. But we do take photos of people, whether it be the glamorous set or plain old family. Our goal? Make our subjects (or clients) look their very best. And that calls for at least a bit of planning and practice on our part. So allow me to recommend a book that will inspire and instruct, motivate and direct. It is by a very fine photographer, Lindsay Adler, who we usually think of in fashion terms. Lindsay is a good instructor, also (I have watched several of her training videos over on Kelby Training. The book is Creative 52: Weekly Projects to Invigorate Your Photography Portfolio (click here to look inside over on Amazon). And it is a reference book because it both challenges and instructs on how to shoot personal projects on a regular basis, something most of us should try to do more of. And Lindsay knows her stuff.
When we don’t shoot we get rusty (I say that in all confidence based on my personal experience). We get out of the habit of shooting; we lose that edge that makes a good image a great one. Lindsay’s book is designed to combat that tendency; it serves as both inspiration and guide. I had a chance recently to get my hands on a copy and see what was inside. It is now on my Christmas list. You won’t go wrong considering it for your library.
Oh, and one more book that gets some of the same consideration. I haven’t seen this one, so I am going on the fact that so many other reviewers have it on their must-add-to-your-library lists. It is another portrait book (this is the genre I have on my mind for next year). The title is 50 Portraits by the esteemed Gregory Heisler. No less a personage than David Hobby (a shooter who truly knows light) has it on his shelf, so the rest of us at least owe it to ourselves to check this one out. It is designed to instruct, from planning to the final print. Click here to take a look over on Amazon on what the book offers; the images alone are worth the price being asked. Again, I haven’t held this one in my hands yet. But it probably is going on my list. How about yours?Read More
New f/11 Issue With Fuji X-E2 Review. Last Day For Kelby Training Discount. And For Photoshop CC Subscription.
Okay … really. I’m not trying to sell anything on these pages (although we frequently talk about items you might want to buy). I don’t receive anything for recommending products or discussing them. There are no referrals or affiliations or associations between me and any vendor (other than those products and services I personally use and pay for). Today is no exception.
I have about worn out this discussion – today is the last day to take advantage of a nice discount on an annual subscription to Kelby Training. If you have limited training dollars for the coming new year and you want to use them as efficiently as possible, this is the place to do so. You have access to a broad array of topics from some of the absolute best instructors in the photo world. And all on your schedule and in the comfort of your own home. If you sign up for an annual subscription, instead of a monthly one, you receive a nice discount. Then, today, you receive another discount (call it a Cyber Monday discount if you are into those sorts of titles). I signed up last night, and I have been a member for some four years now. This training is the real deal. Click here to take advantage of a deal that will pay benefits all year long.
Today also is the final day to sign up for an Adobe Photoshop CC subscription at the best price ever offered and without any sort of eligibility restrictions. For so very many photographers Photoshop is the go-to program. And I say that knowing all of the false starts and mistakes Adobe has made in changing their business model to a subscription one. But I signed up yesterday to take advantage of this price. I’m not even making a recommendation here – this is a very personal matter for many of us. But don’t let the time deadline make the decision for you; decide what you want to do and decide today for sure. Click here to visit the website if you are at all interested.
And I have relayed for a while now how much the legendary Bill Fortney has enjoyed shooting with his Fuji system of cameras and lenses, most notably the X-E1. In fact, that camera has become the one he reaches for first, and he does the majority of his shooting with it. Fuji has come out with the X-E2, and I know for a fact that Bill has one in the pipeline. Good enough for me. But if you are interested, out of curiosity or because of respect for Bill’s abilities and opinions, then I have a nice little review for you today. f/11 magazine is one that I look forward to each month for its interviews and articles. This one is no exception, and the bonus is the X-E2 review. Click here to read the magazine, and while you are there give some serious thought to signing up for a free subscription. It is a recommendation I offer without qualification. Click here to do so.
Welcome back to a vibrant and exciting time of year. Even though it is Monday. Life is good.Read More
My mentor, Bill Fortney. Taken just before he took up with Fuji.
It’s Thanksgiving Week, a time for most of us to enjoy family and a shortened workweek. My very best piece of advice for this week (and every week)? Remember what is truly important in this temporary world of ours; live your life to celebrate those persons and activities. The lesson we have been working on recently at church is appropriate: Give, Save, Live. What a wonderful time to begin living out those thoughts.
And those sentiments allow us to enjoy all that God has provided, including some of the wonderful experiences associated with photography. It so happens that this week will offer some opportunities for all of us to take advantage of a few deals that otherwise don’t present themselves. Today is a small reminder that there are deadlines associated with these deals; give a thought to saving some money while improving your photo skills.
First is Kelby Training, which will offer its lowest prices of the year for annual subscriptions. This Friday through the following Monday you have the chance to sign up for the best online training out there. I say that as a subscriber of four years now. I am not an affiliate; I receive nothing if you decide to join. But training is essential to improving, and learning from home at your own pace on your own schedule is a luxury. The range of topics is broad; the quality and number of instructors is wide. Click here to bookmark the Kelby site and give yourself a reminder of the weekend time frame. This really is a good deal. I urge you to take advantage of it.
Then there is the Adobe deal on Photoshop CC and Lightroom ($9.99 a month for both, no qualifying restrictions). I’m not trying to push you one way or the other – that is an individual decision you should make based on your photo needs (not your emotions). But we aren’t going to get an offer this good again from Adobe; this is the deal on a subscription we have been looking and asking for (if we have to go the subscripton route). It ends next Monday; you make the call by then. Don’t let the offer run out without making a decision based on what is best for you. Click here for Adobe’s site and the deal.
Then one last fun one. You know how much I admire Bill Fortney, one of our country’s premier photographers. Bill is pretty much shooting exclusively these days with his Fuji mirror-less system – small, light, but powerful. He loves the image qualiity he is getting, and Bill knows image quality. I haven’t gone in that direction, but a whole lot of photographers are. The camera manufacturers are improving their offerings in this new area, both cameras and lenses. So, you might just be one of the shooters out there in the market for a top-quality mirror-less this holiday season. And if you are, and if you respect Bill’s opinion even a fraction as much as I do, take a look at this offer from Fuji. Buy a camera and Fuji will reach deep into their pockets to give you money back for additional lens purchases. If you are thinking of making the switch (or adding a smaller system as a second camera), this could be what you have been waiting for. Click here to see what I mean and check out the savings you have in store.
Okay, it’s Monday. welcome back to a short week. Enjoy it all, beginning today.Read More
I had lunch with good friend Kendall Reeves, owner of Gallery 406 here in Bloomington, yesterday (if you ever are in the area, come visit me. We are going to Bub’s for a great elk burger). Part of our discussion centered on Adobe and the various iterations of their Photoshop offers the past few months. It was good to rationaly discuss the pros’ and con’s of both the software and of the company. Kendall is a very accomplished photographer, retoucher and printer. He has a wealth of experience and a sound business mind. Long story, short – I am signing up for this (final) offer from Adobe.
There was a time when I was so disillusioned with the company that I was on the verge of never doing business with them again. But this new offer is reasonable for a product that, photgraphically, I just can’t see being without. There comes a point where my pride may be preventing me from making a decision that is in my own best interest (unfortunately, it wouldn’t have been the first time in my life). So, for all my friends who have been talkng with me, and wrestling with this decision themselves, I am signing up.
Yesterday I suggested an article by Thom Hogan that did a nice job of summarizing all the thoughts and feelings about this latest offer. And today Scott Kelby has some thoughts on the matter over on his website. If you still are on the fence, give them both a scan. Then sit down, take some time, and rationally decide what is in your best interest as you go forward with this passion of ours (photography). December 2nd will be here before we know it; Adobe’s offer expires then. Make sure it is you -not them – that makes this decison.Read More
Photomatix is not the only HDR processing program out there, but it probably still is the standard by which the others are judged. And today’s good news is that Version 5 is here, promising some new looks (more realistic ones) and improved performance. I upgraded yesterday, and it appears to me that the promised improvements are pretty much spot on. Now, this is not a new, from-the-ground-up refresh of this workhorse program; it is more of an iterative upgrade, with incremental advances. But if you are a Photomatix fan, I can state with confidence that the upgrade is worth the asking price.
If you have purchased your copy beginning with Version 4 (after October of 2010) you may upgrade to the new version free of charge. For those of us who made purchases beginning with Photomatix 3 the upgrade price is a reasonable $29 (assuming you purchased your copy from Photomatix itself; if purchased from a reseller, contact them for information and pricing). And if you are not sure of your status, click here to obtain super-fast, personalized information from HDRsoft. I always recommend keeping your software current; this version is no exception.
Some of the new features that Version 5 offers include a new tone mapping method for realistic-looking HDRs, a new method specifically tailored to real estate-type shots, and a new approach to single shot HDRs. I played around with some of my old images, and I found the new improvements worth the $29. Of course, I am a Photomatix Pro fan … if you are not you may need to do a bit more research. And, if so, I have a video you should check out (in fact, you should watch this one even if you are a fan. It is a very good summary of the new version).
I liked the honesty of this reviewer and the examples he provided. His misgivings aside, Photomatix 5 is worth its upgrade cost.
And this next piece can’t be new to you … Adobe has announced yet another change to its Photoshop CC subscription plan. Now, the upside is that anyone who wants to subscribe to the new plan can do so – no qualifiers about owning Photoshop previously or which version it was or if you were upgrading or downgrading. If you want Photoshop CC (along with Bridge and Lightroom) you can pay $9.99 a month and you get it. That simple. Adobe hopes, I believe, to appear fair and friendly at this point in the game. They have heard the uproar the original plans engenderd (there have been several iterations offered in the last few months), and they sure would like to move on. Also, I believe, they know onOne Software is ready to release its latest product, one designed to compete for disgruntled (former) Photoshop customers. Adobe isn’t going to issue some lengthy and emotional mea culpa, but this is about as close as we are going to come to one. So, you know all this; all Adobe has done is up the ante – $9.99 is a price many potential clients can live with. But … there is that ‘but’ you knew was coming … but Adobe has other issues (lost trust, hacked customer files, consumers who have moved on) that enter into the buy-or-not equation.
These considerations aren’t new; we have talked about them at length in the past. A writer that I check in with regularly, Thom Hogan, wrote a very cogent article on the pluses and minuses yesterday. He gives you some reasons for buying … or for not buying. Thom can on occasion be a touch on the crusty side, but he knows photography and all the in’s and out’s of the business side. Click here to read a very good summary of this latest offer from Thom. Then take a few moments to rationally assess your specific situation and decide what is best for you. This new offer ends December 2nd; you have a bit of time, but not all the time in the world.
To buy or not to buy … that is the question. One that most of us need to answer fairly soon.Read More
Find time in 2014 for the things you love. Photo compliments of my good friend Liz Smith.
I may be accused of ignoring the end of 2013 in a rush to usher in 2014. If so, I may plead guilty as charged. In my defense, however, you must have noticed that Thanksgiving has been trampled this year in the stampede of early Black Friday deals and Christmas ads. So, in for a penny, in for a pound – allow me to post what surely must be one of the first lists of Photographic Goals For 2014 (at least you will have plenty of time to do the necessary planning).
1. Sign up for a photo workshop. Begin now to research what the offerings are from those photographers whose work you have admired (and possibly tried to emulate). Workshops are filling up already, believe it or not. For the instructors you admire the most, in the locations you want to visit the most, you must make a decision and sign up soon. Trust me, these workshops are filling up as we speak; before too long all the seats will be spoken for.
And, the reason this recommendation is #1 on the list is that good training, training geared to your interests and needs, will trump new equipment every day of the week. And, face it … almost all of us are constantly scanning the horizon for what is new gear-wise. We have this at-least subconscious idea that this one new piece of equipment will solve all my photo problems, that this is the final piece that will put me over the top. The simple truth is that good instruction is much more likely to be the missing element in your shooting skills than is any new gear purchase.
2. Decide what you want to shoot in 2014. Perhaps I should have listed this item as #1 … the workshops you attend and the training you search out should reflect what you plan on shooting in the new year. And you should consider concentrating on what you love to shoot, because whatever gets you excited and out in the field is what will spur you the most to do your absolute best. It is a fact of life that if you narrow your focus a bit, from shooting everything all the time to mostly shooting one type of photography, you will improve faster than if you try to master everything. What’s that old saying? A jack-of-all-trades and a master of none? There is a statement in the Bible that says where your treasure is, so is your heart. That statement applies to photography – where you concentrate your efforts at getting better is where your photos will improve. Take a moment for some self-evaluation; what is it that you really want to spend your precious resources (time and money) on in the new year?
3. Stop obsessing on new equipment or the gear that you don’t own. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received is that you don’t need a new camera until the one you own won’t do something that you need it to do (no bracketing, for example, when you are trying to take HDRs). The same thing is true for lenses and tripods and all kinds of accessories. I have heard and read from several very well-respected photographers that if you own any sort of fairly recent camera and can’t take technically good photos, it ain’t the camera that is the problem. Time for another round of honest self-evaluation … what is the state of your equipment? If it is capable of taking the kind of photos you want to produce, you don’t need a new camera.
4. Find a mentor or advisor that you trust and respect. If you already have such a source in your life schedule some evaluation time with them. I am terrible at rationalizing almost anything that I want to believe (or purchase). Most of us are, unfortunately. We need a trustworthy source to keep us grounded. Strengths? I can rattle ‘em off. Weaknesses? Hmmmm … I can’t seem to come up with many. Whether it be what I need to improve or how to improve it, I need someone to offer advice (and encouragement when appropriate). Our goal as photographers is to get better (in addition to having a good time). Find someone to help you do just that.
5. Join a club or group of some kind that is centered on photography. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, and most photographers are only too glad to share what they know. Groups provide support and information to their members. Fellowship is an important part of shooting. Have you ever been out in the field and just wanted to turn to another photographer to express the beauty of your surroundings? Ever wished you could turn to a fellow shooter to get a quick answer to a shooting problem you are experiencing? Clubs can give you support and ideas and encouragement and inspiration … all the extras that go into shooting. And if you don’t have a club or group in your area? There must be others who love photography as much as you; give some thought to starting your own group in 2014.
6. Shoot more. Oh, there are demands and demands and even more demands for our time in this busy world. Shooting is like saving … if you pay yourself first, no matter how much or how little, you will discover you can indeed live on what is left. Don’t pay yourself first and you will discover that there is no money left at the end of the month for the piggy bank. Make time for regular shooting … and then go. Forget the weather or the light or the state of the world – go shoot something! Practice; learn; improve. All too often I find excuse after excuse for staying inside, always intending to go shooting soon. And at those times I find myself getting rustier and rustier. Perfect practice makes perfect. You don’t have to find time for photography in 2014; you have to make time. You deserve some time for yourself; use it doing what you love.
7. Make some prints. We are getting into the (lazy) habit of shooting and/or processing to throw images up on the internet. And we know that those social network images are small and compressed and seen only for a very short period of time, no matter who we are sending them to. So we know the photos won’t get a lot of close inspection and little or no critical evaluation. And that leads all too often to shortcuts and settling for less than our best. It’s good enough for (fill in the blank) becomes our thought process. The result is sloppy work, work that ill prepares us for the times when we really want or need to present our very best. The remedy? Regularly make prints, images that you will show others by putting them up on your walls (or the walls of others). Making prints puts you to the test – everything has to come together when you have a print as your final goal. Hone your skills; stay sharp all the time; be the best, most complete photographer you can be.
8. Remember that it is not all about you. Your photos are beautiful; you are a fine, fine photographer. You are garnering recognition and praise; you are making sales. You have reached many of your goals; life is good. And this wonderful world, all our talents and gifts, the beauty we are allowed to capture and experience is a gift from God. We are privileged to receive all that we have; our contributions are so incredibly small in comparison. Vow to use your photo skills and resources to give back somehow. Give thanks for all we have been given, all that we are privileged to experience. Life is good because God is good. Remember to give thanks to Him for that sometime along the way.Read More
Don’t hold my attempt at shooting night skies against the technique or process!
A couple of times His Light Workshops with Bill Fortney and Jim Begley have devoted some time to capturing images of night skies (some call such shooting star trails or nightscapes, but all put an emphasis on dark skies). I never got the hang of it, and most times the night sky around me suffers greatly from light pollution (you really need true darkness to shoot the stars). But there are some beautiful images to be made of the night skies and the stars … and under the right conditions it doesn’t seem to be all that complicated. The trick is to get some foreground to go with those wondrous stars, which probably means some multiple shots being blended in your favorite software program. So, is the effort worth it? Can I go out there and do it?
Yes. And yes. I recently read a great tutorial that answers all the questions I could come up with, accompanied by some beautiful photos of the process in action. One of the websites I check regularly, The Luminous Landscape, often features tutorials that get to the nitty-gritty of shooting. This latest one, Introduction to Landscape Astrophotography by Adam Woodworth, does exactly that. And the photos that Adam has taken are enough to make all but the most sedentary want to get out there and get started tonight. Click here to go over to The Luminous Landscape and read this article.
Now, when I say I never got the hang of the technique I don’t mean to say that it is inherently difficult or complex. We were shooting as part of a workshop, and the process was brand new to me. Time was a bit limited, and I have to admit that when it got really cold that night I got going … home. But I am excited all over again to see what can be done and how to do it. One timely reminder – winter skies are usually and more often better suited for this type of shooting than other seasons (at least where I live). So I now have another shooting opportunity for a time when traditionally I slow down a bit. Give Adam’s article a good look, and join me in some practice on a new technique.Read More
Wanna do this for a living? Read the article I am recommending.
I don’t want to rush the end of the year, but it is difficult not to spend at least some time looking back over what we have done and seen in the photography world during 2013 (and looking forward to 2014). Last week local photography club members spent time planning a calendar-of-events for next year; signs of the upcoming holiday seasons are everywhere; and 2014 photo workshops are being advertised from all the top guns out there. You probably have some good thoughts about the year-just-ending, and you possibly have some regrets and disapointments. But for many, many photographers there always is the almost subconscious thought of becoming a professional in the coming year floating around. Is this the year? Should I give it a try? If not now, then when? Won’t I always regret it if I don’t give it a try?
The life of a professional photographer seems to be almost without a downside. What could be better than being paid for what we all love to do? And perhaps garnering a bit of fame in the process? And you get to buy all that cool equipment that you always have wanted, because who can work without the latest and most-est? And if I can”t earn my entire living from photography, can’t I at least earn a lot more? Enough to pay for all the new equipment that I have been studying? How about this: I’ll dip my toe in the water by increasing my photo jobs, and then I can ease into full-time as the number of jobs grow. And I can do this; I’ve seen enough images and shot with enough other photographers to know that I am as good as they are (and better than most).
If we are honest with one another we will admit that at least some derivation of those thoughts has crossed our minds in the past (perhaps recently). And the approaching end of 2013 makes it easy to contemplate changes for 2014. If you find yourself with any of these various thoughts crossing your mind, allow me to point you to an article over on f/8 blog (a site I review with some regularity). The article lists ten things you might not know about professional photography (such as the fact that the best photographer isn’t necessarily the one who gets the most jobs. Or that the profession may be an emotional killer). There are ups and downs to every career; photography is no exception. And taking photos may not even be what most professionals spend their time doing! And this list of ten things to consider will apply to those of us who may be thinking about our part-time photo work, also. When you spend time considering 2014 and what it means for your shooting, spend time thinking about eveything that goes into shooting-for-hire.
Click here to visit f/8 and read this list. It’s concise, but well-written and well-thought out. 2014 is a ways off yet. Examine yourself and your ideas for that new year. It’s getting to be that time.Read More
Yesterday was a day spent looking at leaves … the ones on the ground in my yard. It is leaf season redux, this time raking instead of viewing. I spent all day in the yard – a long day in the yard. So today is going to be spent not raking leaves. Or doing much else (yesterday was indeed a workout). Enjoy an image of the last leaves of season (click on it to see it larger), and then go out to make the most of the weekend. Camera in hand.Read More