Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24, 2013

I hope everyone has a Great Holiday Season! And a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013

Love of what you do creates momentum and a willingness to spend more time and effort working harder to be the best in your chosen field.  This motivation to be better at something is your calling in life. This calling challenges you to improve your skills and raise your standards as you mature in your chosen profession.

Photography does this for me.  I just can't help myself,  I must make images.  When I am shooting, I feel complete.  I am in tune with my environment and I am experiencing my subject on a personal level.

There is a freedom, a letting go of your past influences, being present in the now and creating images that can be a real high. Searching for a subject can bring a nervous energy, this increases your heart rate and brings with it an anticipation of something special, as you zero in on your composition.  You begin to lose those petty distractions, those mundane rituals of life that chain us to the details that mean nothing but redundant images of dull commonality.  We see the subject in a true sense when we experience our inner world externalized in front of us.

When you are ready to make your photograph, stop and think whether you have looked at your subject on a deeper level, more conceptually.  This pause can gain you better insight into your subject that could make a big difference in the quality of the final image, rather than just the literal composition you might have started with.  For instance, you might see an image forming that is a metaphor for your feelings. This new composition could connect to a wider audience. Subject is found, ideas are earned and willed into existence and a deeper meaning is gained by your image creation.

I have never taken a perfect image. I always see something in the final image that I could improve upon. This is good, because it makes me focus harder and see deeper into why I chose this composition over another.  Why did I choose this lens under this light?  Why didn't I wait just a few minutes longer as the light got better to show my subject?  All these reflections will prepare me next time to be aware and present to take advantage of my past mistakes and show my new subject in a better composition that will give my intent a more expressive image.

With every image you create, you will get better at spotting important details in the scene that might have been missed before. These opportunities could enhance the final image with a stronger purpose.  Through trial and error you will become a more perceptive photographer, your compositions will show similarities that begin to define you and your unique creative tendencies. 

What is your definition of success in photography?   I suppose success in photography could mean just making a few pennies on your images every month, or it could mean mucho bucks, working with a big production studio, pumping out typical imagery researched as marketable and sellable.  However, success for me is enjoying the moment and being present and focusing on my subject and working for an image I can be proud of even if no one will ever see my photograph. I am happy creating and being passionate about my image creations.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7, 2013

From birth we are trained to see the world in certain ways.  This conditioning is called socialization and it makes our lives easier when society is all on the same page.  This usually works well through the first years of schooling and then an individual begins to see different ways to accomplish and solve problems that others have missed or ignored.

Obviously this conditioning applies to photography.  We all know about the Kodak instamatic camera that claimed you could get perfect pics as long as you shot the subject a certain way... their way.  Usually this meant the sun had to be coming from behind you, over your shoulder and the person had to squint into the plastic lens.

Freeman Patterson said that a major barrier to seeing is labeling.  And Monet, the painter said,"That in order to see, we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at".  We infer from the label of a thing its essence and we then think we know this subject perfectly.

In todays fast pace and overwhelming bombardment of information, it is no wonder people have shut down and lost interest in going deeper into their inner sight.  If we were to react to everything we wouldn't be able to do anything.  So we condense our experience into a quick tweet and an ignorance of substance waiting to be discovered.

If we can open up and truly reflect on our conditioning which imposes a narrow band of consciousness in our lives we can begin to open up to our own feeling and ideas we want to express photographically.

It is rare that one finds a true voice, a true calling in the beginning of his/her career. You must work at it constantly and through trial and error, likes and dislikes, you will grow as a person and as a photographer and slowly but surely you will find a unique way to photograph your subjects through  light and composition that begins to feel right, begins to say this is who I am.  And this will lead you to the realization that you are not  going to shoot and shoot frivolous pics that have no depth or meaning beyond your nose.  Why add to the glut of the usual suspects, why not create an image with purpose and bring a new vision that can stand out from the billions of images being taken on a daily basis.

As we learn and mature in our new sight awareness we find ourselves attracted to new subjects. We begin to look for light that creates the impetus for us to the show the subject our way, an expression of self rather that a imitation of others struggles and experiences.  

Your mind having been trained to organize reality a certain way always wants to impose old patterns of seeing on your subject.  This old model is a combination of your conditioning to see imagery a certain way and to look for the casual easy redundant image over the more personal ones. We all have pressures in our lives and we sometimes try and do too much, which leads to shoddy exposures of film.  We feel the pressure to hurry up and move on to the next subject so we can conclude the image taking process and to feel somewhat satisfied that we took some pictures.  We are all guilty of this and there have been times when I have taken images knowing that I didn't put all my energy and inner sight into the exposures.

Preconceiving an image before you even get there limits your ability to find your real subject. You must let yourself open up to the subject once you are there. You absorb the environment you are in, becoming aware of light and its effects on the subject present in front of you and allowing the light and composition to move you in a new direction which connects you with your subject.  Only then do you make an image.  The preconception of your image is not imprinted on you before arriving to your destination but is there once you have explored your subject fully and found the self awareness between what the subject is in your eyes only.   

I am not saying you go to an environment completely blind and ignore the qualities of that place that make it unique and photographable.  I always do my research and have a want list in mind before I get to a destination. But once there I try and open up to the surrounding possibilities and begin to look deeper into my own reactions to the landscape.

As you grow as a photographer, you will gain valuable travel experience and craftsmanship.  You will become more aware of lighting, composition, lenses, and the freedom to bring all that together to make a great image.  You will be open to serendipity and chance encounters, looking for unusual compositions that were brought about by knowledge of camera and your high intuitive nature now resisting the casual approach of past conditioning.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28, 2013

Black Friday is fast approaching and consumerism reigns supreme.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!  Wishing everyone all the best as we move into this Holiday Season.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 2013

It is amazing how compact cameras and phone cameras have changed the image making process and the ability to capture easily and instantly events that happen. These small hand held cameras are excellently adapted to making people shoot only one way.  Follow the arrows to the sign at the monument, where it states best view here!  

Prior to the small compact cameras and phone cameras, taking images of yourself (other than from a reflective surface) with a bulky 35mm camera was difficult, because it was hard to hold with one hand and awkard at best with two hands (the weight would surprise you) and keep it steady and then press down on the shutter while trying to maintain focus.

We all want a physical memory of where we were at moment in time, especially on a vacation trip, but how to get a clear image and also include some of the scenic background that states: "Yes, I was here!"  Well, a lot of the time you had to rely on strangers to take the photo for you. This interaction was part of the photo taking process.  Sometimes this asking, relying on another, became frustrating because you never knew if the helpful stranger understood what he was doing with your camera.

The conversation would go like this: stranger, after studying your camera quizzically, "Are you ready? I'll  count to three and take the photo, 1.. 2... and...."  [click went the shutter]
It was a little exciting, since you never knew exactly when the helpful stranger would take the photo.

Later, when you picked up your pictures, you always look tentatively for that image. Invariably you would get images back with your eyes closed or tongue out or looking away,  but that was the fun of it, seeing that image and all the memories it brought back, however embarrassing.

This interaction with others also made one aware of the community we all live in, no matter where you were.  The important thing was, a stranger's response to your needs and the willingness to help out with that picture. There was an anticipation and nervous energy that fed each others enthusiasms for photography.

These days it seems, a self portrait is taken with your arm extended at a high angle looking down, with you and your friends smiling up at the camera phone. The click of the shutter means the image making process is done.  This ability to "do it yourself" empowers a person not to rely on anyone else for his/her photo needs but also reaffirms mans adaptation to new technologies.

Once the image has been taken, it is immediately sent out to friends and family on the web. These pictures are taken not for the purpose of self realization or to witness and document an event, but to have the world look at you and see that you are having fun in that nano second of exposure. It seems that to slow down and actually "see" the subject in front of you is secondary to the neediness to be seen.  And there is this willingness to exchange real communication with others for this self delusion of feeling wanted and appreciated through this overpowering social media experiment.

I was out shooting a while ago in a pumpkin patch and a couple actually walked up to me and asked me if I would take a picture of them standing in the field full of pumpkins.  I was totally amazed when they handed me their cell phone.  It felt like the old days and I thanked them before they thanked me.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2, 2013

What does it feel like to be a photographer in today's topsy turvy stock photo industry?  Can we actual see a visual of ourselves that represents the fast past advances in technology that seem to happen every week that drive us ever forward to an information overload?  The stock photographer is a dinosaur left out in a field replaced by forces beyond their control. These forces have overwhelmed her/him and made photography content so accessible that pricing standards became obsolete.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26, 2013

When we make good images, we listen to our inner voice and we block out the noise and clutter of our day.  This daily grind of seeing and hearing so much information that doesn't relate to our lives dulls us in our appreciation of subjects that are demanding our attention.  We need to deepen our heart and rise above this chaos, the over saturation of imagery, that is wasting our time and energy distracting us from creating good photographs.

We don't have to contemplate our subject anymore. All we have to do is run and gun and let the tech minds fix our bad imagery for us.  We might as well send drones up and remote control our input in making images.  All we ultimately get for our remoteness is less and less interaction with our environment and a shallow reflection of the depth that is there waiting to be discovered. These shallow images will only appeal to the small screen eyes that never study an image but always anticipate the next click that will satisfy their souls.

Most image shooters today have never experienced the thrill of developing their own B/W film, making contact sheets of their efforts and finally printing the image and seeing their vision all the way through the print making process.  This hands on approach deepened our sense of accomplishment and connected us with the entire history of photography and the photographers that blazed a trail before we were even born.

It is not the camera's bells and whistles that create great imagery, but the mind behind the viewfinder.  Cameras nowadays can pretty much shoot the scene for you without you having to think.  On some of these new smaller compact cameras they have a built in merge function.  All you do is take one image and then the camera will duplicate that image underexposing 1 stop and overexposing 1 stop and then merging it with the original image.  The result is a perfectly exposed image with highlight detail and shadow detail.  For me, this merged image looks unreal and out of sorts with how a naturally exposed image renders the subject.  These merged images are devoid of a human personality.  I like the contrast in an image, it boosts the play of highlights and shadows, making for a more dramatic photograph.  

When you are not present in the image you will not be satisfied with your results.  There will always be the nagging questions.   Should I have looked deeper into my subject and explored more of the potential present, that deeper connection instead of being satisfied with a quick look, click and gone approach that seems rampant now.

The ultimate threat to photography is the mechanical nature of the means for production.  Can an individual photographer rise above technology and express a creative idea?  Or is he limited in vision by the need to follow the machine that now seems to dictate to him how a subject should be presented.  The camera imposes its will over the photographer and doesn't allow for freedom of reflection on technique that could make the image better than a limited exposure.   The photographer must tame the new technologies and use them for his own personal expressions.

We live in constant separation from the world.  Easily distracted by a bright screen.  We further widen the gap between us and our inner landscape by allowing the camera to dictate to us how to present this shared world we live. We have the world of entertainment, bad actors and worst imitators.  But there is a secret world, a deeper world that is waiting to be seen.  There is an intimacy that is lost now in photographs and a complexity that is reduced to mundane objects of desire or derision. We must tune in to these old undercurrents that are trying to surface and inspire us to think and feel more before we can express ourselves fully through photography. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20, 2013

It felt good to rant against the machine.  I let out a lot of frustration and emotions.  For me, it is still  about creating the best images I can.  Thinking before I trip the shutter. I need to calm down, so I will go out and shoot some dew drops on spider webs and rake some birch leaves that have fallen to the ground.  You don't have to travel far to find good images to create. Photography keeps me focused and calm in rough seas.

October 19, 2013

Today photography is not photography in the older sense of image making.  There used to be a separation between the family photo book, the mundane consequences of living a normal life and the inspired craft of creating powerful images that made us really think about the world.  These images had purpose and they spoke to the human condition and tried to change society for the betterment of all.

Photography has become an assembly line of mass production for venture capitalists who have doubled down on investing in social media websites.  It was estimated that in 2012 over 380 billion images were made around the world.  In that year 350 million images were uploaded to Face Book each day alone.  These statistics will only grow exponentially as more and more people get their hands on smaller and cheaper cameras that can virtually shoot the image for them.

The social media websites are the perfect vehicle for the crowd sourced image making frenzy.  These companies get free imagery, most of which are snapshots of people's everyday lives. Let me repeat... that content is free. Can you imagine any other business where a company doesn't have to pay for inventory to be sold on their shelves or at least guarantee a return on sales when a certain volume of supplies are sold?  Can you imagine a business that can set pricing for its suppliers and sell the product to others without maintaining a decent selling price, and then does not share the profits with the very suppliers that created the inventory in the first place?

These social websites not only receive pics of people's lives but also written keywords about their personal inner likes and dislikes.  It is like a petrie dish of scientific laboratory testing.  All this blood sweat and tears is free to be analyzed by statisticians eager to mine the data to direct specific ads to the captive lemmings.  It seems that reality TV and social media sites have become "bare it all" brawls with no social redeeming value but to hear ones own shallow voice cry, "look at me!"

Making a living off your photo making efforts is becoming nonexistent.  Photo buying clients (a dying breed in an ecosystem being washed away by image flooding)  now bargain with impunity, making their case for lowered fees by letting the photographers know that any overpriced image quote (above free) is unacceptable.

Images are becoming stage props to be shown as teasers in front of the main show, ads.  Is the image really that important when any photo exposed to shallow eyes for a split second on a small hand held device doesn't register a meaningful view, but the next more important image, a  product, stops those eyes cold, their mouths begin to drool with envy... "I got to get me one of those!"

Visual content is king.  Paying for visual content is peasantry.  Words are becoming less and less important as papers shrink and minds shrink right along with them. Short sound bytes make perfect sense.  Keep your words tweetful and generic and no one will get what you are truly talking about.  Truth in six words or less.

It will take a strong focus to swim out of this tsunami of imagery that is destroying the photography landscape. These currents are strong, backed by bean counters making huge sums of money off the masses and their personal inventories.

Putting you imagery in free stock, penny stock or royalty free stock is also a no-win situation. These stock agencies could care less about your return on your investment.  Your time and energy are just part of the image content submission process.  It is your responsibility to shoot what they tell you to shoot, upload and size the images, color correct the images and then caption and keyword them on the promise of volume sales.  Huge volume sales, not for the individual photographer, but for the venture capitalists owning these stock agencies that are demanding a return on their investment at the cost of the lowly photographers.

What goes around comes around.  Stock photography undermined the assignment photographers income foundation and the new crowd sourced images have destroyed both professions simultaneously.

The tech companies make money, the manufactures make money, and the social media websites make money and the photographers run on treadmills thinking they're going places, but in this new reality of hand held media devices handcuffed to young eyes, all they are doing is running out of breath supplying a nano second of data to a kid skateboarding on the street cutting off an old geezer in an old Saturn because he is too busy looking at his damn phone as if nothing else existed!!

October 18, 2013

The photo industry is a facade.  It isn't image creation with purpose that is important now for businesses, it is finding a snapshot, a shallow expression that will fill a small screen for less than a few seconds and sell a product that won't be around next year. It is no longer about the image, but the technology that feeds social media.  That is where the money is made.  Photographs are secondary, less than secondary, they are fillers, party favors, cheap, plentiful and dumb, put up on websites so ads can pop up and sell you more technology or some other personal item or service you never knew you needed.

We have in the photo industry lost absolute control over our product.  And because we have lost control of our product we can't price the image for its true value.  We can chase a moving goal post and claim small victories as we keep losing the ability to our pay bills.  But the bottom line is that photographs are now a zero sum investment for the money men.  It is the new wow technologies that are the real money makers for the venture capitalists.  Photography is a numbing visual redundancy.  An imitative boring expose of "here I am, look at me and what I just did".  It is beyond embarrassing it is vulgar and exposes us to the existential reality of the absurd.  

In these board rooms I can hear the money men with their slick smiles telling investors, "don't worry about the photogs, they have already signed over their rights, so we can use and sell their images cheaper and cheaper.  And guess what, we will have them pay for their own storage on our websites by this new gimmick called the Cloud and we can give away their images at whatever price we deem necessary to increase volume".  A good deal all around for the titans of the venture capitalist market.

This drive to exploit imagery, in turn exploits the people taking these pictures, it becomes an addictive cycle of photographic abuse.  Seeing these images, becomes the motive to imitate them or take it one step further on up the ladder of obsession.  You must ask yourself what is the purpose of uploading every detail of your ordinary life.  There is only one reason, human frailty.  The need to be seen at any cost.  This fixation on social media doesn't allow us to slow down and see the world through our own unique eyes.  Social media is a distraction to inner reflection.  There is a special quality in all of us, and that is what needs to be expressed.

We seem to be born followers, and will follow the herd mentality right off the cliff of exploitation.  We now see the world through technology, losing the memories that we had of actually living in this world and experiencing things first hand and not through a small window of dull expressions.  In our lives are constant distractions from making the world our own.

We live trying to keep up with the ever expanding technology that makes image taking easier and easier but in the long run reduces the intent of photography to an artifact of bygone days. We have an artificial product now exploited by big business. But how often is an image made nowadays, that a human mind actually reflected longer than a split second to find a composition, a perspective that made an image worth taking.  We tend to ignore the real world and focus on surface glitter, this new fast paced run and gun crowd sourced slop that overwhelms our senses and our ability to see the babble that is dominating our lives in a negative way.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13, 2013

Denis de Rougemont said, "The superstition of our time expresses itself in a mania for equating the sublime with the trivial."  And Henry Holmes Smith added to the quote, "and to take whatever is lower to be more real.

We have been conditioned to see resemblance in an image as a connection to the real and when there isn't a sure foot to view the picture on, a sure simple conclusion of an image's intent according to our own shallow view then we disconnect from the image and don't think of it as important or worthy of study.

The hard part in photography is to have a vision of your purpose in creating art.  Your inspiration can come from many extremes, even from ordinary resemblances.  The subjective image is one such extreme.  When you feel intensely and want to express that feeling visually can you rely on mundane objects to get that intent across to the viewer.  Or are you forced to create a new world of objects that comply with your expressive goals?  This new world of objects are still resemblances but are now part of an internal dialogue of purpose.   These objects can be abstracted to create an intent to express your deep revelations.  You might decide to light them in an extreme way to bring out harsh details instead of nuances in your subject details. You may decide to shoot through something,  that gives the illusion of barriers to your subject as in a relationship that is unbridgeable etc...

The key to personal imagery is to not go to such an extreme that only you can describe what the image intent is.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 28, 2013

"The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between this profusion of matter and the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness." Andr'e Malraux's Les Noyers de l'Altenburg
We all seem to know and understand what photography is.  Robert Frank wrote, " Mass production of uninspired photojournalism and photography without thought becomes anonymous merchandise.  The air becomes infected with the "smell" of photography".
Photography is now a commodity to be bought and sold from the lowest common denominator, free.  When someone contacts me now from the many sites I have my images on, they will invariably ask me if I would "let" them use my image for a project they are working on.  They will then give me the hard luck story that they are a non-profit organization and have meager funds and will not be able to pay for the image usage.
 I could ask them how much are they being paid for their services at this non-profit organization, but really, why bother.  Everyone knows and understands that photography is cheap, it is plentiful and it can be given away for free.  I am always respectful and grateful that in their search on the web one of my images interested them.  I always send back a license fee for the usage they want and rarely do they accept the charges.
 How low will photographers go to make a sale?  Given the pervasive quantity of images in the photo market cage arena, we have hit bottom, they will give away I presume, their hard fought efforts to create a meaningful image, for nothing.   
Images are easy to create if you don't have a thought, a purpose behind the shutter release.  What will it take to enlighten image creators that a lack of finance undermines inspiration, and to maintain a creative economy we need to stop the incessant saturation of laissez faire image making. In other words, the combining of consumer generated content will continue the degradation of intentful image creation pricing.
Why go to all the trouble to fight for an image, making sure we have delved into the subject and have exhausted all possible emotions, to find that your return on your effort is nothing.  What is the incentive to work at your craft if everyone else is undermining the very foundation of economic value, a worth measured in an acceptable price for your efforts?  What happens when the lemmings follow the gurus of the industry and accept the pattern of spiraling down pricing?  We are left as small actors looking for bit parts along Hollywood Boulevard.  There is a value to Art. Art is precious, it is a necessity that inspires us and makes this over commercialized physical world we live in bearable.
I believe if you love creating images then nothing will stop you from your goals.  Persistence under extreme pressure should make you more determined, not less.  You might have to find other avenues of revenue and balance your obsessive need to create images with love of family, friends and your local community.  Alot of my friends in the photography business began looking for other outlets for their creativity as the photo industry collapsed.  In some cases these outlets were their first loves.  My friends are now back to writing comedy, playing and performing music, writing essays, writing books and poetry, teaching and painting.  We as creative humans must express ourselves and this expression is not limited to just photography. Keep making meaningful images but also don't get obsessive about just one means of expression. Fulfill your lives in as many ways you can. In other words, it is a good idea nowadays not to put all your skills in one basket.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 2013

Can you still create images and work full time?  I think you can.  I have been doing it now for over three years and yes, it is exhausting but I still feel rewarded by making an effort to get out and create imagery.  I have been in the photo business for 35 years and have been taking photos since my younger brother got a Polaroid camera for Christmas and I got a reel to reel tape recorder.  When I saw that camera and the images he created, I knew that is what I wanted to do. So I would take his camera when he wasn't looking and shoot images I felt were interesting.

Working two jobs takes alot out of you and when you add in the hardest job you will ever have, raising a family, well, time management becomes so important in order to get everything accomplished. Success will come in little steps and small victories by being focused, disciplined and taking action.

Here are some things that help me:

  1. Shoot every week.
  2. Edit the images down to the very best
  3. Do post production on the images ie: cropping, color correcting and spotting. 
  4. Caption and keyword your imagery. This is a must.
  5. Get them out to as many outlets as possible to make sales.
  6. Get a website of your own, I use PhotoShelter
  7. Have patience
  8. Have fun and don't get caught up in the newest and greatest.  Don't take yourself too seriously. Just be yourself and enjoy family, friends and creating imagery you can be proud to share with others.

These are just a summary of what it takes.  We all have our priorities. In the early 90s soon after the birth of our second child, my wife and I decided to sell our house and travel in an RV (our first child was grown and out of the house). I was lucky enough to have my wife's support and we traveled in that RV for ten years.  We raised our second child in the motor home and she saw some of the great places this country has to offer.  When we finally decided to settle back down in a house (she was turning thirteen and the RV was getting alittle crowded) our daughter mentioned one day that she wished we were back traveling! That made me grateful we had done what we did and took a chance and it paid off.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

September 1, 2013

Distractions build barriers to constructive purpose.  As an image maker you must focus your intentions and pursue great imagery with passion and quiet resolve.  If you get too caught up in photography's high and lows your energy level can't sustain itself.

Sometimes life interferes with our true calling and we get caught up in its flow and lose our inner foundation and the goals we had set for ourselves in our youth.  We lose sight of the shoreline and drift where ever the current take us.  We can't do everything we want.  We have responsibilities and family and side jobs.  But, we still can pursue our image making little by little, step by step and as the years fly by, you will find, that you have created a body of work you can be proud of, and you will have an inner peace because you did your best and accomplished your goals of making meaningful images.

You open your eyes and there is the material waiting for your personal style to give it meaning and then to share your vision with others, to inspire them.


September 1, 2013

I have posted before about the fun we have creating our haunted Halloween porch.  Last year, I had a hard time coming up with an idea for how I was going to create a humorous image of the carved pumpkins we used on the steps leading up to our mysterious and scary porch.  Here is what I came up with.                                                    

                                                       Pumpkin Escape

Halloween Images from 2012

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013

I have often wondered about the camera being a crutch to suspend fear when shooting subjects that are intense.  We lift the camera to our eye, meter, compose and shoot.  All the while there is an activity happening in front of us but the camera is a filter, a barrier that allows us to remain objective and not to think too much on the drama unfolding before us.  We are in a sense, disconnected from the reality we are photographing.  The scene becomes more manageable this way and we have what seems like more time to reflect and act as if a play were being performed and we are in the audience.

I was up in a small airplane last week and was photographing aerial images around Seattle. In order to shoot photos from this airplane we had to open the canopy 8 to 12 inches while in flight.  The big question was, would the air current push the canopy open more and expose us to real air turbulence and an early landing?

When shooting from a small aircraft I shoot at the fastest shutter speed possible.  In this case, I pushed my ASA and made images using a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second.  I used a 105mm and 50mm lens with hoods.  This cuts down on side glare as the sun sets.  I kept my arms and hands away from touching any part of the plane to cut down on vibrations that could blur my images.  My pilot was great and did a good job turning the plane so I had a better angle to make images of my chosen subjects.  One of the hardest things was keeping the right distance from the opening and sides of the canopy.  Too close to the opening I had wind turbulence, too far away and I had the canopy edges cutting into my frame.  It took awhile for me to get in a groove and maintain a good shooting distance.

I started off talking about the camera as a barrier from experiencing a intense situation.  I do not like to fly!  Having the camera in this case wasn't as much a barrier but a mechanism that allowed me to remain objective and focus on my composition and exposure.  I still experienced the fear and excitement of the flight, but because I was shooting, I was able to enjoy the moment without over thinking of my fears.  If the camera ever became such a crutch that it didn't allow me to experience  the real world I was photographing live, I wouldn't pick up the camera at all.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

July 29, 2013

Are we settling for casual imagery as the new substitute for images that touch a nerve in us and make us think and react in deeper ways?  A great photograph communicates an underlying connection to all humanity, it articulates a purpose, exposes a wrong or instills in us a love for our fellow human beings.   A great image is not just a localized smile or hands up in the air dancing.  We love to imitate because it is fun to be part of trends.  Social media's ever growing control on the image process and distribution makes it easier for us as photographers to play to the masses and not to our own inner voice.  Our everyday lives are broadcast over the Internet to others, exclaiming that I am here, look at me and see what I have done today.  We are like Pavlov's dog getting up each morning and checking our e-mails and social media sites.  We have to see what everyone else is doing and then we have to respond and make our voices heard in words and imagery.  It is addicting but it is it really communicating?

A great image expresses a true deep sense of the subject and what the photographer felt when he made the image.   This feeling can be shared with others through the common good/morals we all try to live by. A great photo can effect us in a profound way if we as the viewer are mind present and really looking at the subject and not letting our minds wonder over to the next local news trauma of the day.

I believe we are seeing a moving away from imagery of depth and powerful emotions to a more lazy approach to image making.

There is this casual/shallow quality to content now.  A willingness to just be there and shoot and what ever happens happens and those images will be marketed as authentic because we are being conditioned to see the world only as a quick expression and not on a deeper level with meaning and purpose.

We must slow down our visual overload.  This tsunami of images and words is numbing us to be more apathetic to a bigger picture of the world we live in and we are not creating worthy imagery but hoarding stuff that ultimately is meaningless.  We have to and should live life on a deeper level than this constant need for attention, any attention.  This need to be seen is pushing us to do and say more and create more careless stuff.. and this in turn is causing more people to become indifferent to any quality in life.

Slow down your life.  Slow down your creativity when making images.  What does all this flood of information have to do with your life.  This minutia of details bogs down your thinking process. We don't have to be everything and take images of everything.   You can limit your social media intake and be more selective and purposeful in your image creation.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7, 2013

I am in the process of editing, cropping and spotting images.  It is a never ending battle to get new work out into the world and yet live a family life.  This close up image of a maple leaf reminds me of why I love macro photography.  Macro photography is analogous to an inner dialogue physically manifested.  When I saw the Japanese Maple tree I new their was an image present.  I took some images further back but something wasn't clicking.  I moved closer to the subject and began to see details lining up.  As I moved tighter and closer to my photo goal this image presented itself.  My inner dialogue didn't allow me to just shoot an over all scene and move on.  I was mentally present and listened to my inner voice and created this image.

This was a very difficult image to take.  When you are shooting close to your subject any wind or breeze plays havoc with your focus.  In this image I needed both the dew drop and leaf to be sharp.  I had to twist and turn my body to get in a position so that the upper leaf and the dew drop was on a parallel plane for focusing.  And I had to make sure that the background enhanced the main subject.  Many, many frames later I hit the jack pot so to speak.  I think my sore back was worth it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

July 27, 2013

I like getting up early for sunrise.  It sets the direction of the day on a good path.  I decided to drive down into the Snohomish Valley.  Timing is such a intricate part of photography. We sometimes miss out on the potential for great images by not making an effort to just get out and do it, make photos.

If you are driving down Highway 9 heading south as you get closer to the City of Snohomish you can get a glimpse of the valley floor.  Here you will see whether your choice of possible subjects was worth it. This morning the fog sat low over the fields.  At these moments you have a rush of excitement because the potential is there for good images.  I drove along the South West road that winds along the valley floor.  This road is elevated so at times you can be alittle above the fog.  Beware, always drive slower and keep one eye on the road at all times you never know when a working farmer will be out on the road with his tractor or a raccoon hurrying home for the day.  That advice has saved me many times.

As I was driving I kept seeing potential images but I was looking for that aha moment when all the elements come together to make a great image.  Well, it looked like I was going to have to work for any good photograph.  As I passed an opening between a line of bushes and a farm house I spotted a row of electrical towers standing in low lying fog and moving off into the distance toward the Cascade Mountain Range.  Sentinels of our communication obsession.  So I pulled over and set up.  I used a variety of lenses to get the best composition I could given my limited area that I could shoot from.  Once I went through my normal routine of choosing wide, medium and telephoto lenses I realized that I had milked this particular scene.  And my interest here was done.  So I packed up and moved down the road.  As I passed another barn I saw a dirt road that went down into the valley and believe it or not, it didn't have a no trespass sign on the entrance.  So I went down the road and parked.  I took some images of the fog and sunrise behind a large tree and then as the sun rose higher in the east sky I hiked further down the road and found a community vegetable patch.  I stayed and photographed it for a long time shooting the different vegetables people had planted and taking images of some of their tools and large water containers they had set up.

We start in one direction and end up in another.  In a matter of a couple of hours I was able to see the beautiful valley fog and shoot some interesting subjects along the way.  If someone would have told me that when I started out this morning that some of my favorite images would be of a community veggie patch in Snohomish Valley I would have been surprised.  But that is why we seek out good images and let our instincts and luck sometimes take charge and guide us to interesting subjects that were not even on our photo radar..

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 27, 2013

I went to see the United Indians of all Tribes annual celebration last weekend.  What a great time.  The Native American traditional clothing was amazing.  There are some etiquette tips to keep in mind if you happen to be at one of these beautiful celebrations.  Ask first before you take a picture of the performers.  Some performers don't want their picture taken while others welcome it.  I guess the main etiquette when photographing people is to be friendly and respectful and when necessary ask before you leap.  During the Grand entry stand and remove your hat.  Don't pick up any feather that has fallen to the ground, ask one of the staff to pick it up and return it to the owner.  Don't block others from viewing the tribal dancing.  I like to sit or kneel in front of a standing crowd, that way no one gets irked and frustrated with me.

When you are taking photos look at the background as the Tribes circle and dance in front of you.  Try and position yourself in an area where the background is neutral and won't distract from the colorful clothing.   If it is a sunny day photograph with the sun behind you.  This way you won't have your subject in deep shadows.  Use a fast shutter speed to stop the subjects movements.  Capturing the facial expressions can be very powerful.  You will need to use a longer lens.  I brought a 105mm lens plus shorter lenses but next time I will also bring my 180mm lens so I can get a tighter close up of the traditional clothing and face painting of the dancers.  I will also experiment with slower shutter speeds for movement and color when using the longer lens.  I will pan with my camera following the dancers as they move though the frame.  You will have to decide how abstract you want to take your final image.

It was very powerful and impressive to see the Native American Tribes parade into the dance circle with the drums beating and the voices chanting keeping their culture alive and well.