Whose Vision Are You Chasing?

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Alabama Hills –  Yes the sky was working this day!

Whose vision are you chasing?  Chuck Kimmerle’s latest post is excellent, stop now and go read it.  No really, go read it, it is essential reading.  Alright, now that you’re back, his post validated what I have been teaching in my new lecture “Discovery and the Creative Process”  The last slide in the presentation is a quote from Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  My commentary is typically something like…. in the end we need to be confident in our own vision, in our ability to discover worthy images that make our hearts sing.  We should not be worried about what others think, rather we should be worried about how we feel about what we are creating.  As Chuck says, and I agree, we are human so positive feedback is good and oft times welcome.  BUT, it should not be why we make images.  My friend Donnie Fulks said this when responding to Chucks post, “when I joined 500px, it took me about two days to figure out what kind of image will garner 5,000 views. Yes, I admit that stokes the old ego.”  Then Donnie went on to talk about sharing a “personal favorite image” that only received 50 views let alone any likes.  What now?  Does he abandon his vision?  Does he post only images that will resonate with others and get him to the front page, lots of hits?  Or does he continue to create images that comply with his unique vision?

Might I ask why you photograph?  Is it for the joy of it?  To create images to sell?  To create images so that you can earn a living?  To create images that feed your soul?  To create images that others like that make you feel worthy, stroke your ego?  To create images that remind (memories) you of the journey you are on?  Why?  There is no right or wrong answer, however, I think it instructive to understand why we do what we do.  I photograph because it feeds my soul.  I don’t print many images.  I don’t actively market my images for sale. I love the process of making and processing images.  Yes, I enjoy the positive feedback, however, ultimately I’ve come to a place where I don’t need others approval to like what I produce. 

So, whose vision are you chasing?

 

 

Posted in B&W, Chuck Kimmerle Tagged , , |

One last roll in the dunes

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I can’t help it, one more from the Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley.  How I love these dunes!

I’ve been spending more and more time with the Perfectly Clear plug-in, trying it on all of my images just to see what I get.  Never tried it on B&W but did on this.  I felt I had it just right, however, Perfectly Clear gave it another bit of “POP” that I really liked.  It was just a tad heavy handed, so I simply created a layer to put it on and then blended it at about 60% opacity.  If you would like to try Perfectly Clear or save 20% just click this link.

Posted in B&W, Death Valley Tagged , , , |

The rest of the story….

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A high school friend reminded me of an image that was on my old site but not part of this one.  It is a personal favorite and one my Mother has hanging in her house. I used it as part of a blog post back in November, but today I wanted to share the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say.

The image was made in South Africa in 2004.  I was there with mentor Nancy Rotenberg and friends Dee Whittlesey and Ferrell McCollough attending a Freeman Patterson workshop. Freeman has been a major influence from the beginning of my photography journey.  It was Freeman who inspired me with his creative techniques such as multiple exposures and slide sandwiches.  Both techniques were used to create this image.  All this is well and good, but the more important thing is the impact an image can have.  This image is meaningful to me because each time I look at it, I am transported back to this magical moment and reminded of the important life lesson learned.  I was there during a time when my business was not doing well.  I didn’t feel I should go because I could not afford it, but my loving wife demanded I go.  It was a “trip of a lifetime” she said, and “I needed to be there to learn from Freeman.”  I was excited to photograph the flowers in the fields, the “secret waterfall” and other iconic scenes I had seen in Freeman’s books.  And then Freeman said, we would spend a day in Nourivier, a small town of 300 people and 90 homes.  I was disappointed, I had no interest in photographing people in a small desert town, but reluctantly I went.  And then, after spending about an hour with the people, especially the youth, (who giggled at how tall I was) I found myself in tears, sobbing actually.  Nancy asked if I was okay?  I said I think so, but I’m not sure what is going on.  Then on our “free day” later in the week, I had to go back! Yes, at first I didn’t want to go at all, but now I had to go back to understand that was going on. On the return trip, I realized what it was. I was there in this poor town surrounded by people who had nothing. No electricity, no running water, no shoes, tattered clothing, etc,.  And here I was with $20,000 of gear on my back. I was feeling selfish for even thinking I had it bad because my business was floundering.  I had a very nice roof over my head, nice clothes and plenty of food. I had all I needed, but was feeling anxious, stressed, worried, etc. Yet these people wore big smiles and were happy with what they had.  Indeed, I realized I was needy and selfish and ashamed for being so, thus the tears. I was not sad for them, I was sad for m.  It is this lesson I am reminded of, each time I see this image.  

The woman is from Nourivier dancing at sunset on the rocks surrounding her town.  I montaged (put two pieces of film in together in one slide mount) this image with a multiple exposure I made in the fields of flowers making a slide sandwich. This image sums up the essence of my journey to South Africa where I was able to learn from my hero AND from the wonderful people of Nouriver.

I find it interesting that this image resonates with so many other people. Once again this confirms that when we get in touch with our feelings and attach them to our work, we will create images that make our hearts sing!

And for my high school friend Suzanne, the image is now part of the “Others” folio on this site!  :)

Posted in Abstract, Inspiration Tagged , , , |

Lectures, Tours, Workshops and thoughts on the Fuji X-T1

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Fonthill – Fuji X-E2 and 23mm 1.4 lens

Its been a busy couple of weeks.  I had the pleasure of speaking at the Churchville Camera Club meeting on Monday as well as the Digital Image Makers last week. This coming Monday, I’ll be at the Doylestown Camera Club presenting my program “Discovery and the Creative Process”.  

Next week, Dan and I are looking forward to leading a group in the Smoky Mountains!  I am so looking forward to this tour after this LONG cold winter.

Speaking of tours, due to cancellations, we now have a spot open for each of our Palouse Tours.  We know the Palouse very well and would love you have you along!  We also have a few spots available for the fall Colorado tour.

Just a reminder that I’ll be in Hawaii co-leading the “See the light” workshop with National Geographic Photographers Jonathan Kingston, Dewitt Jones and Rickki Cooke.  Who doesn’t want to be in Hawaii the first week of December?  Very excited about this workshop!

FUJI NEWS AND THOUGHTS

Lightroom 5.4 was released yesterday along with ACR 8.4 which now supports the Fuji X-T1!  Good news.  A tip, you can now apply the wonderful Fuji film presets to your RAW images.  In both ACR and LR simply go to the camera calibration module and then click the profile drop-down dialogue.  There you will find the film choices.  COOL!

Really Right Stuff will start shipping “L” brackets for the X-T1 next week!  WOO HOO!

I am loving the Fuji X-T1.  Was playing with the face recognition with Abby and its pretty darn good. (see below) Always tracking her face allowing me to not worry where the focus point is.  Its not perfect, but I would venture to say it allows me to capture more “keepers” than if I were not using it.

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The EVF on the X-T1 is CRAZY GOOD!  So big and bright.  It really is as close to an optical viewfinder as I’ve seen. And when you rotate the camera to vertical,the data in the viewfinder rotates too.  A first for a digital camera I believe. For handholding I’ve been using the optional grip along with a Gordy’s Strap, really great for folks with big hands like mine.  The images coming out of this camera are really quite stunning.  The image below of Kara was shot with the 35mm 1.4 lens shot at f/5, click on it to make it bigger. This is a jpeg straight out of the camera, no post processing applied, NONE, okay I cropped it.  Look at the skin tones and sharpness!  Crazy.

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The image below is another made with the 10-24mm f/4 Fuji lens from ESP.  I’m in love!  I love to shoot wide and have been waiting patiently for this lens.  A comment about the files I’m capturing with the Fuji X-T1 and X-E2 which this image was captured with, the dynamic range is very good.  Imagine the range in this particular image.  Bright light from the skylight streaming into a dark cell at the prison all captured with one shot. With the limited time I’ve had with this lens, I would say it out performs my Nikon 16-35 f/4 in terms of distortion and sharpness. Oh there is some minor distortion at the edges but most wide angle lenses do.  Overall, I’m a very happy camper!

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Posted in Fonthill, Workshop Tagged , , , , , , |

First Shots with the Fuji 10-24mm Lens – Weekend Workshop wrap up.

This past weekend was the Eastern State Penitentiary and Fonthill workshop.  The group was very talented and lots of fun, I was sad to see them go.  The images they showed at the beginning of the workshop were incredible!  

As is my style, I don’t shoot much during a workshop, however, I did manage to snap a few as I was anxious to try my new 10-24mm lens.  For my Fuji friends, you might be interested to look at the notes on the images.   The new 10-24mm lens is quite good.  And of course the 35mm 1.4 continues to SLAY me.

For the processing on Kara the operating room and the door, I used the amazing Alien Skin Exposure 5.  If you have not spent time with this great plug-in, you really need to.  Their film presets are so good AND from there you can modify with lots of control with the slider.  And I mean LOTS of control.  

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Fuji X-E2 – 10-24mm at 10mm at f/10

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Kara – Fuji X-T1 – 35mm at f/4

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Fuji x-E2 – 10-24mm at 10mm at f/16

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Fuji X-E2 – 10-24mm at 12.5mm f/13

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Fuji X-E2 – 10-24mm at 15mm at f/10

Posted in Fonthill Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Trona Pinnacles

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I mentioned Trona in my last post.  This image is from what is called the Trona Pinnacles.  There you will find Tufas much like those at Mono Lake but without the lake.  For this image I used two Singh-Ray filters, the 10 stop Mor-Slo along with my LB warming polarizer.  Using a polarizer with a Mor-Slo can be a challenge as you can’t see what is going on.  To get this to work, I simply held the polarizer in front of me and rotated it as I looked through it until I saw the desired effect.  I made note of where that was by a reference on the ring of the filter.  I then screwed the filter on and rotated it to the pre-determined reference mark.  Using the polarizer achieved two things, one it polarized the sky and two because its a LB (Lighter Brighter) polarizer, it gave me another stop plus for a much longer mid day exposure.  

Posted in B&W, Long Exposure, Singh-Ray Filters Tagged , , , |

What is the subject?

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As we traveled from Trona to Death Valley, I saw this sky developing.  The problem was finding a foreground worthy of putting with it.   We drove for a few miles and I finally decided that the foreground was not near as important as the sky.  The sky was the subject.  As such I filled the frame with it and let the small strip of land give it a base.  Oft times I’ll find myself suggesting this concept to those on a workshop.  Ask yourself, what is the subject and if it is the sky, make it so.  Sure it would have been nice to have an old abandoned building, rusted car or some other great subject to put with the great sky, but I’m okay with this just the way it is.

Posted in B&W Tagged , , , |

Zabriskie Point – Death Valley

When we were in Death Valley, our focus was the dunes, however, we decided to take one run at Zabriskie for sunrise.  It is an iconic spot not to be missed.  We picked the right day as we were treated to a great moment.  By far the best sunrise light and clouds I’ve seen there.  I’ve included a color and B&W version.

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Posted in B&W, Color, Death Valley Tagged , , , |

Dreaming of Spring

With the threat of another snow storm in the air, I decided to immerse myself in some images from Longwood Gardens taken a few years ago.  I can’t wait to spend a day there next month when the tulips are placed along the fabulous garden walk.  Its been a tough winter here in the northeast. We are ready for some warm weather!

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For the bottom picture, I used Alien Skin Snap Art to give it the painterly feel.  Snap Art ROCKS!

Posted in Alien Skin, Color Tagged , , , |

Mesquite Wave

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Fuji X-E2 – 18-55 lens at 18mm

The mesquite wave sounds like something fans would do at a football game.  In this case, I was doing the Mesquite wave in Death Valley!  I just fell (literally on my knees to get low) in love with this shape and am thrilled with the result.  I cropped a bit off the top as there was just too much negative space.

Posted in B&W, Death Valley Tagged , , , , |