Thursday, January 30, 2014

Using the Tool

Autumn shoot in the Eastern Sierra

Al Weber (a well known photographer and important mentor for me) once wrote:

 "Never allow some tool to get between you and your work."

One reason I generally shun clubs and gatherings of photographers is that the conversation is rarely about photography - it's about their cameras.  Endless babble about specifications, and features, and one up-manship about how wonderful their toys are.


The camera is a tool.  As such it has strengths and weakness that influence how you approach your work.  But in the end, the important thing is your work.  What you create and why you create it - that is what interests me.  Let's talk about that!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Editor's Choice

Negatives (developed in pyro) on the lightbox for editing.
I was talking with my good friend T.H. tonight and we got on the topic of editing our work.

As a film and darkroom photographer, careful editing comes part-n-parcel with the business because I have to make the best use of limited time and can't waste energy on mediocre images. In fact, the same is true for any artist producing fine art prints, regardless of the media.

But it can take extra effort for the strictly digital photographer who only shows their work on electronic platforms.  Let's face it, it's just too easy to rack up thousands of images.  And with storage media so cheap there is little incentive to clean things up - at least from the hardware view.

But there are some very important reasons to "clean things up."  Editing one's work is a skill that takes time to master and requires that you take a hard, objective look at your image making skills.  Are you setting too low a standard?  Are you getting images you want or simply settling for images you just happened to get?

I was very impressed with T.H.'s editing efforts.  In addition to cleaning out the stuff that did not make the grade, his standard for "making the grade" keeps getting higher and higher.  T.H. takes his photography seriously and he knows that objective editing is one of most important tools in the serious photographer's toolbox.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let There Be Light

Photography is about light.  Light is the photographer’s lifeblood and without it we are nothing! 


To be a good photographer is to be always aware of the light.  Always aware of its qualities, continually attentive to where it is coming from, constantly looking for how it interacts with the world around us.  You could say a good photographer has to be able to “feel” the light. 

In Northern California where I live, Winter light has a special quality unlike any that I have seen anywhere else.  A soft, glowing quality that lends itself to crafting photographs any time of day on subjects that at other times of the year would be too harshly illuminated.  I’ll bet where you live the qualities of the light change throughout the seasons, lending itself to particular subjects at different times of the year.

Light is the fundamental building block for the images we create.  It is easy to get distracted and think photography starts with the camera, but that is not true.  Photography always starts with the light.  

If it is not about the light, then it’s not photography.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Congratulations - Now Go Take Pictures!

Congratulations on your new camera!

(Go take pictures! So that when you travel to Death Valley
this winter you are comfortable with your new camera.)
I know there are many of you who received a new digital camera for Christmas.  Maybe it replaced your previous model, maybe it is your first digital, maybe even a DSLR (digital single lens reflex).

Whatever the circumstances, if this is new to you then you might be feeling a little intimidated. All those buttons, and menus, and features, and strange abbreviations - it can all be rather daunting.

I am often asked for advise on how to take better pictures.  My best first advise to beginners is always this:

Go Take Pictures!

I cannot tell you how many times I've been introduced to someone with a new camera and all they can do is brag about the features - but they have not taken any pictures!

Go Take Pictures!

The camera is a tool and you have to get comfortable using it. And the only way to do that is...

Go Take Pictures!

There is time enough to learn more about the craft of photography.  I want to share hints, tips, and  ideas with you here (I am even putting together a workshop just for beginners).  But until then...

Go Take Pictures!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Being willing is not enough; we must do. ~Leonardo da Vinci

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Nouveau Year

The New Year is upon us and with it comes an honorable attempt at sharing thoughts, ideas, news, info ... you know, blog stuff.

Last year saw several very enjoyable and productive trips to the high desert, participation in two group shows, and a partnership in Georgiana Gallery.  Connecting with wonderful artists in different media and getting to know the Walnut Grove community were particularly rewarding experiences in 2013. 

Work on The Lonely Places continues into 2014 and I have recently acquired a Petzval lens, circa 1870's, that I am looking forward to experimenting with.  What else lay ahead for 2014?  Well, let us find a star of inspiration to guide us, set full sails, and find out!

Wishing everyone a wonderful and creative New Year!  May it be challenging in all the right ways!