Art is not a competition


I don’t know about you, but lately more than ever I sense for many, photography has become a competition. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram all feed us images in what feels like a never-ending stream. Sites like 500px seem to promote competition for Likes. I’m not sure this is healthy, at least for those aspiring to do more with their photography.

Back in ancient times when I used film, I felt more connected to the subject than the technical aspects of photography. When photographing, I was immersed in the experience, many times not seeing developed images for a week or more. Without Facebook, there were limited avenues to share images. The focus was on the experience and image making.

Digital photography and the “internet” offer value, especially for learning. But, I fear they have changed the “focus” to immediate gratification, and foster competition. I have no desire to participate! I photograph because it feeds my soul. I love and cherish being in the moment. And that is what separates the average photographer from the great ones. Connection. Connection to the experience, connection to subject, connection to others, life, etc.  The photographers I admire, Dan Sniffin, Chuck Kimmerle, Cole Thompson and Guy Tal to name a few, all speak or write about it, and live this idea. They are not out to make the next wall hanger or to achieve front page status on 500px. No, I believe they are more interested in being part of, and connected to, the experience of photography. The images they create are a by-product of that intimate connection. When I look at their images, I sense this connection and feel I am looking at a part of them. Don’t misunderstand, I am human. I enjoy having others like what I do. I just don’t want that to drive my photography. So my question to you is: Where are your boundaries? Is this something you’ve consciously thought about? Is it even important to you?

Posted in Inspiration Tagged , |

Tuscany & Venice Through Their Eyes

Once again, it’s time for “images through their eyes.” This time from our recent tour to Italy. I think you will be amazed at the quality of the photographers on this trip!  Remember to click on the links to view more of their fine work.  Enjoy!

Barry Wolf – Belvedere: We had gone to Belvedere the previous morning but there was neither any fog nor nice light. We decided to return the following morning because the weather forecast was favorable for fog. The forecast was accurate because we were greeted by fog everywhere. It was one of those magical mornings that you hope for and was an experience that I’ll never forget not only because of the location but the great group that I was with.

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Laurie McCormick –  This is one of my favorite images because I love color, reflections and capturing the essence of place.  ‘Life in Burano’ I believe has all three ingredients and gives the viewer a small peek into the lifestyle of the people who live on the Island of Burano, Veneto Italy.  Facebook  Check out Laurie’s National Geographic “Your shot” gallery here too!



Louise Shoemaker – A Solitary Stroll—I wandered off the edge of the map and got thoroughly lost in a neighborhood far from the busy tourist streets of Venice, and came back with this.  It reminds me that every photograph doesn’t have to be extravagant or dramatic.  It speaks to me because it is understated and quiet, and it evokes that part of Venice where residents simply live their lives.

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Mark Stevens –  While others went off to capture the iconic “Belvedere” image, I choose to stay at the IL Rigo that morning and walk the dirt road to the north. I was confident that something would present itself to me and that I would be able to capture it to my satisfaction. This is a four shot stitched panorama made with a Canon 6D, 70-200mm lens, combined in PS CS6.  Website

_84A7553 Tuscan pan 5  b  border copyLinda Russo – This image of St. Marks Basilica, in the Piazza San Marco, I like in particular because I’m not familiar with night photography and quite honestly I was surprised that I captured what I saw in my camera’s viewfinder.

My Nikon D810 camera was on the tripod and during the long exposure, my friend Linda K and I had to block people from walking in front of the camera. I took multiple images, but this one I like best.

The reflection in the puddle of water adds balance to the composition and creates a more dazzling image.  I think this one is a keeper!
Pat Sweeney – This stands out as my favorite for two reasons: It speaks ITALY to me with it’s vivid color, it’s agelessness and it’s food.  Secondly, working in soft focus (Fuji XT-1 in-camera) as well as square format was a new experience.  Stepping out of the box was challenging and lots of fun!
Robin Harrison –  She told me she was especially fond of the two rainbows we were treated to on this trip and thus this is one of her favorite memories.
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Dan Sniffin – Co-Tour Leader – I can’t say that this is my “favorite” image from our tour.  But I know that the simpler the subject is, the easier it is for a viewer to understand the intent of the maker.  Here, it is easy to see that this is a study of color, textures and shapes, with the shadows adding a strong serendipitous element.
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Posted in Italy, Tour, Workshop Tagged , , , |

Yellow – I’m back!


The late day light was soft and yummy as I rounded the corner and found this wonderful scene waiting for me. Yes, cars are probably over photographed in Cuba, but come on, tell me you wouldn’t have stopped?  Seriously, would you have passed this up?  Didn’t think so. Another take below.

Sorry for the lack of posting in the last few weeks.  The cycling accident banged up my fingers and knuckles and its been hard to type!  All is healing nicely and I’m good to go again!

Thank you to all who came to one of my three lectures at the NECCC Conference. Wow, what a great event that is. So well organized with a plethora of choices in classes you can attend. Lots of great teachers too. Very grateful to have been part of this wonderful annual event.

My most recent Topaz webinar is now available to watch at your leisure here.

My most recent Perfectly Clear webinar is now available to watch here. 


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Day Lily – Lensbaby Sweet 50 Optic

Its been awhile since my last post. With the 4th of July holiday, I figured it was a good time for a break. That break got extended as I had a pretty serious cycling accident. I’m happy to say that I am healing well and on the road to a full recovery. So grateful for all the support and prayers expressed on Facebook! THANK YOU! 

The Day Lily’s have been “turning my head” this year. I can’t stop making images of them.  This time I used my Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Sweet 50 Optic. I love this!


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New Zealand in their eyes

Today I continue my series of posts that feature recent tour participant images. These images are from our April trip to New Zealand. Remember to click on the links to view more of their fine photography. 

Louise Shoemaker –   Having difficulty finding appropriate subjects at the site of the Moeraki Boulders, I was disappointed by selfie-taking tourists and footprints in every stretch of sand and cold winds and flat light.  So I had begun the trudge back to the bus, when a member of the group pointed to the area of the beach I had just scouted and said “Look at THAT!” So I turned around and looked and walked back and looked again.  This is the next photo I took.  It reminds me to look, then look again, and give my eyes the time to see


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Ken Arnett – Our evening at Curio Bay was overcast and moody, with fabulous waves extending over the dark coastline.  It seemed perfect for long exposure blending!


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Dan Sniffin –  I was drawn to this image due to its simplicity of design — and visualized smooth water with contrasting  textures of the rock..  Although both color and B&W versions worked well I felt that the B&W version best suited the subject.


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Terry Schroeder –  “New Zealand was a really rich visiual experience from start to finish, and I came back from the trip with some landscapes that I consider keepers. But landscapes are high on the list of things I’m still learning. Although this particular image might have been taken almost anywhere, it offered the opportunity to compose and shoot in my “comfort zone”.  For me, it will always be a strong reminder of the companions on the trip, the places we went, and a host of other New Zealnd images that please me almost as much as this one.”



Victoria Porter – This type of irrigation equipment is everywhere in Wyoming and Montana where I grew up and I’ve tried to find a scenic shot that included it for years. I find it somewhat fascinating to see, especially when it is in action as it sometimes creates miniature rainbows in the spray. When our group went to photograph elephant rocks, I spotted this scene on the roadside a short distance from where our bus was parked. So after photographing several views of the elephant rocks, I wandered back down the road to capture this scene. I like how all the elements came together to create a pleasing composition: colorful fields, cows, irrigation equipment, and the cloudy sky.




Fine Art America:  <<< photographic art for sale
Posted in New Zealand Tagged , |

More Lensbaby 56 Images – Interview – Topaz Webinar

Topaz Webinar Today

Today, I will be presenting another webinar for Topaz.  Be aware there are 2,000 signed up and only 1,000 can be on at one time.  If you really want to attend, you’d better log in early!

Candid Conversations with Jo Johnson 

My friend Jo Johnson invited me to spend an hour on the phone with her.  She has a wonderful blog series called Candid Conversations.  She has interviewed a number of fine photographers and decided I was next!  If you’re interested, you can read it by clicking this link.





_DSF9086Lensbaby Velvet 56

The images above were shot with the Lensbaby Velvet 56. I really am enjoying this wonderful lens! The middle flower image has a low opacity layer of Topaz Impression applied to it.  I will cover this idea in my webinar later today.


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Somewhere Over The Rainbow


This image was made in the front yard of the agraturismo where we stay in Tuscany. We had just returned from a long day. It looked like the shooting was over so we headed “home.” Then, as we came to dinner this happened! Needless to say, dinner took a backseat for about a half hour. Even the owners of the agraturismo said this kind of situation does not happen too often. It was pretty special. Both the light and the double rainbow.

A reminder about my Topaz Webinar next Tuesday June 30th at 5PM est.  You can sign up by clicking this link.   I hope to see you there!


Posted in Italy, Topaz Software, Webinar Tagged , , , , , |

Belvedere #2 – New Newsletter


Another take from Belvedere (click image to view larger.) I think I might like this one even more.  

I now have what I hope will be a monthly Newsletter. Many of you have received it, however, I wanted to make it available here with this link.  If you’d like to subscribe, you’ll be able to do so by clicking the link, opening the Newsletter and then finding the link to subscribe. Or you can send me an email and I can add you.

NECCC – Conference. I will be presenting my Dream – Believe – Create program three times at this highly esteemed event. I am looking forward to finally attending this event that many friends have attended for years!  

A reminder about THE BIG DEAL, it ends on the 25th at midnight.  Many have purchased and the feedback has been very positive. Click anywhere on the ad below to get to learn more about and get the deal.


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Belvedere – Tuscany


Our most recent tour was to Tuscany and Venice Italy. The last time we were there, we were told about an iconic view called Belvedere. This year, with the help of our hired drivers, we went right to the spot only 10 minutes from where we were staying. On our first attempt, there was no ground fog, however, after checking the weather, it looked like the next morning might provide fog. We decided to make another run at it and were rewarded. It was one of those mornings where you didn’t want it to stop! Yes another image that might make it into the lifetime category.

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New Zealand – MT Cook

I mentioned in my last postthat I was distracted on my way to the “Lifetime Image,” This was what distracted me. I loved the sky, fresh snow on the mountains and the mossy foreground with the big rock. I chose to make the mossy foreground look like snow in the conversion as I felt it added the contrast necessary to make it pop. Remember to click on the image to make it bigger.


Posted in B&W, New Zealand Tagged , , , |