Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Watch What You Say

I really don’t like ticking people off and risking friendships so I’m not going to identify the source, but I just read a blog post that stated – quite authoritatively and unequivocally – that “you are wasting your time photographing landscapes in the middle of the day under direct sunlight.”  Wow, those are strong words.  The writer goes on to say that “no matter how dramatic the subject matter is, the pictures will never be successful.”  Really?  Never?  As in not ever?  To the writer’s credit he goes on to name several exceptions, but I’m inclined to take exception myself. I agree that it’s easier to take good photographs in the morning and afternoon, but it is certainly not impossible to make good photographs in the middle of the day.  It just depends on how creative you are and how hard you want to work.  I think the writer does photography and photographers a huge injustice to make such a claim.

November Wallpaper Calendar

I’m sure it’s just me (it usually is) but there is something weird about kids going around and trick-or-treating while they text on their cell phones.  Seems like if you are old enough to have a cell phone you shouldn’t be out begging for candy.  Like I said, probably just me….

Let’s kick November off with another waterfall image.  On our recent club outing to Brevard someone mentioned that they thought it was interesting that there could be 20 photographers standing in front of a waterfall and I would be the only one with my lens pointing away from the waterfall. Well, not always.  In this case I was pointed at the waterfall, but at a really small part of it.

This is a detail from Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC.  Not too many people get this shot, most of them don’t even see it.  But sometimes I do actually shoot waterfalls!

Fancy Colours

(Reference to an old Chicago tune)

I spent last week in the NC mountains photographing in fall color.  On several occasions people mentioned that they thought that “the colors are lousy this year” or “this fall is one of the worst I’ve seen.”  I even heard someone say something like “this fall sucks.”  While I admit that there were places where you might have to isolate the colors a bit, I didn’t think it was all that bad.  As I review my images on the computer this week I’m not all that disappointed with the color.  Could it be that we have gotten so used to looking at our images through Viveza-colored glasses that we can’t appreciate reality when we see it?  Just a thought.

October 2010 Calendar

My, how time flies!  October already, the busiest time of the year for nature photographers.  Kathy & I have a big month coming up, although we won’t be running around quite as much this year as we have in years past.  One big week starting with a CNPA outing in Brevard and ending with Kevin Adams’ Fall Photo Tour, plus a few random day trips thrown in, will be a great time and should make for some productive photography.

Fall can be so easy that it ends up being hard.  When the color starts to show it can be tempting to just point and shoot.  The trouble with that is that it’s hard to go beyond the obvious.  And that is really going to be my focus this year – to go beyond the obvious.  I intend to photograph mindfully and intentionally, seeing lines, patterns colors and relationships.  We’ll see how how I did a month from now.

I liked the photo from my last post so much I’ve decided to make it the October wallpaper calendar.  It’s a little bit different look at Hooker Falls in Dupont State Forest.  This photo illustrates what I mean by “beyond the obvious” and is the kind of photograph I hope to make a lot more of.

I hope you enjoy this month’s calendar, and hope you all have an excellent October.  See you somewhere along the way!

A Glint in the Eye


This past weekend I attended a presentation by noted nature and wildlife photographer Bill Lea. During Bill’s presentation he showed a number of excellent wildlife images – bear, deer, fox, wolf and more. At one point he made the statement that a successful animal photograph should always include a “glint” in the animal’s eye. I agree completely, but to take it a step further, I feel that a successful photograph of any kind is one that puts a glint in the photographer’s eye.

Anonymous American Photographer


I subscribe to receive e-mails from Christie’s and Sotheby’s with results from various art auctions. Sotheby’s recently had an auction of photographs, many of which were historical photographs by famous photographers. A large number of them were daguerreotypes from the 1840’s. There were a few Westons, a Cunningham or two. Adams, Strand, Stieglitz and Steichen were among the names listed. But what struck me was the number of photographs – primarily the daguerreotypes – that were listed as being by “Anonymous American Photographer.” I couldn’t help but think, “is that our fate? Are we either famous or anonymous?” Scary thought.

Shopping and Photography


This is my 101st post – some kind of milestone!

I was having a conversation today with a friend about my approach to photography, and it caused me to think about the fact that although we make dozens if not hundreds of photographs each time we go out, the percentages of “keepers” can vary dramatically depending on our approach, our intended result and our ability to make tough editing decisions. It occurred to me that our approach toward what and how many images we keep is a lot like our approach to shopping. Some people buy lots of “stuff” even if it isn’t really something they need. They like it, it’s on sale or something caused them to want it so they bought it. Sometimes they buy these things and keep them forever, even once they decide they no longer want them. Others buy less frequently but what they do buy is well thought out, the purchasing decision is fully analyzed and the item purchased is exactly what they were looking for.

My approach to shopping made that transition long ago. I rarely shop, but when I do it is for exactly what I want, I get it and I go on. My photography is headed in a similar direction but is far less developed. My approach toward photography seems to be evolving from one of quantity to one of quality and as it does, I find myself keeping fewer images. The ones I do keep are ones I am happier with and that I will probably hold on to for a lot longer period of time. I feel like I am making better choices and that the resulting keepers are much stronger than when I was keeping a lot more. I wonder if this is because I am thinking of my images as prints instead of just pictures on a hard drive. Somehow thinking about and making prints forces me to take a harder look at an image. I find that a lot fewer of them are making the cut. Something to think about.

Dust


I’ve about convinced myself that the time I spend cloning dust spots would just about pay for a camera with automatic dust removal.

Now I just have to convince The Boss….

She’ll probably tell me to clean my sensor more often.

Image is a combination of 5 photographs of a tree that I shot during our visit to Hilton Head this past February. It was shot in different kinds of light with different sky backgrounds. I’m trying to figure out what to do with it.

Priorities


In my last post I mentioned how much progress I have been making on a lot of my goals, so I thought I might elaborate a bit on what those goals are and what has been keeping me busy. I still won’t be able to get into the details in this post, but I’ll lay things out in a little more detail here and try to outline some of the specific activities in future posts.

Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I have been trying to use my time to my best advantage, and have developed what I call a three-pronged approach. I have every hope of jumping back into a banking job soon, so I have made a list of things that I want to accomplish so if I end up with only a few more weeks off I can feel like the time was well spent. Understandably a lot of my activities have been centered on photography, since that is my passion, but also being a realist I know that there are other things to take care of as well. My activities have centered around the main topics of (1) finding a new job, (2) catching up on and furthering my photography and (3) taking care of me.

As far as finding a new job, I have set up a list of contacts and have been working them regularly. I set up a system of checking websites and applying for jobs I find there, and I have been working any contacts of contacts I come across. Once my severance runs out I’ll have to jump on the Unemployment bandwagon, and there will be a certain amount of work associated with that. Like everything I do, I go 100% on the job search stuff in the time I have allotted for it. I have a system and a routine and I do it. Nothing scientific, but in this economy there isn’t a lot of point trying to spend more than a few hours a week trying to find banking jobs, because there aren’t a lot of new ones being posted and there are more productive things to do than check the same websites 5 times a day. Chances are whatever job I land won’t come from surfing websites anyway, so while it’s something you “have to do” the contacts are the most likely source of success.

I’ve had photography goals for a long time, and have developed a pretty elaborate system for laying them out and keeping track of my progress. When I was working a Day Job I really had to be careful to not try and accomplish too many things, because it is tough to do as a part-time venture. Despite the fact that I was putting a lot of time into it I was often frustrated by all the things I wanted to do that I didn’t have time to do while working a full time job. The main thing holding me back has been that there is barely enough time for taking and processing photos, let alone all the business things that you really need to do in order to have a successful photography business. What has amazed me over the last several weeks is how little time I have actually spent taking and processing photos! I’ve been networking, I put together a submission for a juried art show, I’m working on another submission for another art show, I’ve submitted a number of images to various magazines (many of them successful!) and have for the first time registered my images with the Copyright Office. I’m writing an article/tutorial on how to use Lightroom to prepare images for copyright registration, I have a couple of critique/review sessions coming up with pro photographers, and I’m in the process of developing a marketing and business plan for a photography business in the event that the banking thing doesn’t work out. I’m working with our local REI store on doing a paid workshop on Lightroom & Digital Workflow, am leading an outing for our local CNPA chapter for this fall and I am looking to expand my marketing of my stock portfolio and magazine submissions. I want to work on my writing and am hoping to take some writing classes at the local community college. Oh yeah, I also need to take and process more images and write more on my blog!

The “taking care of me” part is not just me personally, but taking over some of the things at home so Kathy doesn’t feel like I am just sitting at home “playing photographer.” I have been walking every day – 45 minutes or 1.5/2 miles, working on getting some long-overdue maintenance projects done around the house, running errands, making phone calls and generally taking a lot of the burden off of Kathy since she is gone all day. It’s hard on her and I have been trying to ease the load as much as I can. The nice thing is that since I don’t have to spend all evening working on my photo stuff, I can be with her and we can do things that are relaxing instead of trying to play catch up.

In a nutshell, that’s where I am and what I have been doing. I’ve got a lot on the calendar for this week and am hoping for some more progress. As I process more images I’ll have some fresh ones to post, but in the mean time I’ll keep digging into the archives!