Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seeing Anywhere (w/iPhoneography)


I started this morning reading a quote from Ernst Hass,”The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to see “.

Later I was accompanying my wife and daughter to a clothing store. Not having much to look at myself, I started to see the palettes of color around me. Thinking of a new app, “Slow Shutter” (I had just loaded it on my iPhone), I decided to play with the colors around me and create color abstracts using iPhone pans and swipes.

This is what was there:


The opening blog image and those that follow are what I “saw”.





This next image was created from several black tops hanging on different color hangers. Again you can see what was there and then what I saw. Now you may say, how can one “see” those things? The answer is simply imagination, practice and experience. I  looked for pleasing color schemes, individual colors mixed with opposites, used oblique lines for more energy, etc.



Was all I saw abstract colors? No. Here are a couple more images from that store visit. One indoors and the other out waiting in the truck.



Blog images: As noted above the first images were all created using an iPhone with the “Slow Shutter” app. For the images here I varied the shutter speed from 1/4sec to 4sec. In some cases I just moved the camera up and down or along the dominant lines, in others, I would twist the camera while moving it forward or backward (with the  longer shutter speeds). I tried a variety of motions seeing what patterns I could create.

The last two images are straight shots using the standard iPhone camera app, the later being shot through a rain drenched window.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Power of the Oblique

Blue Moon at Night

While out shooting nighttime shots this past week I was reminded of the power of using oblique angles when composing an image. Look at the two blog images. The subject was interesting, but a straight up and down composition was less than exciting. Is this an original idea for a neon sign? No. But it definitely made this image have a lot more punch.


Blog Images: This was shot in downtown McMinnville Oregon while I was HDR Christmas window shopping. These are not HDR images – didn’t really need the wide luminance range. All adjustments were done in Lightroom 3.2. Both images were burned and dodged in basically the same way for comparison purposes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All About the Eyes


Just a quick blog entry with a couple of shooting tips for the holidays. As you gather with your families during this holiday season and maybe take some family pictures, remember the eyes. When people view an image they are immediately drawn to faces. And specifically the viewer will focus in on the eyes. So if you’re shooting with your DSLR and maybe a large aperture in a dimly lit room, remember that the eyes need to be in focus.

Personally I try to use flash as little as possible and take advantage of window light. Open the drapes and let whatever light is outdoors flow into the room. Catch people when then are facing a window. Get in there, get intimate shots. Have fun and don’t sweat it. Use a flash if you need it – sharp with flash is better than blurred without.

By all means put down the camera at some point and just be there – you know what I mean.

Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Unknown

 Blog_20050506_1 We just had a loss in our family – a 3rd grandchild that we will never know on this earth. While we didn’t get to  know this child, the loss is definitely felt. A place in our hearts that looked forward to meeting them, getting to know their unique personality will for now remain empty. It is not until one has experienced a miscarriage or closely know those that have that you can understand the loss. Not many people talk of this and you don’t know how many have experienced this loss until this happens. You then find there are many around you who have. Maybe we try not to make a big deal out of it –after all we really didn’t get to know them or raise them for any period of time. This is likely what most of us who have not personally experienced this think. While this never happened to my wife and I, we have known many who have – parents, friends, siblings and now our children. All I can say is that if this happens to someone close to you, be patient, kind and understanding. It will likely take time and grace to heal the pain and loss of one who will remain unknown.


Blog Images: I selected the first image for its sense of something missing, emptiness or loss. The second image is one of hope – it is entitled “Resurrection”.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just Say No


I am not sure what the person in this house was saying NO to, but part of being a good photographer is knowing when to say no. No to taking an image, no to processing an image, no to the subject matter and no to some sales venue. Why do I say this? Because we are finite. We don’t have infinite time and resources. And as one photographer I respect put it, you just can’t shoot everything.

What this is all about, is becoming a more mature and refined photographer. Hopefully over time, if we critically evaluate our work, we learn not only what makes for a good photograph, but what doesn’t. We pass on shots we might have once taken. Maybe we need to wait for better light, the subject just isn’t that strong, or there isn’t any way to create a strong composition from the elements. In reviewing our images, we learn which ones are worth saving/processing and the ones that should be deleted (so hard to do). Maybe a sales venue consumes a lot of time with little in the way of real sales (low return on time invested).

I suspect learning to say no is harder when you don’t make your living from your photography. Because if you do, you have to learn to make the best of your time. Learning the discipline of saying no might make or break you.

Now does saying no mean you don’t take risks, try new things or explore new opportunities? No, just the opposite. The time you saved should give you some of the time you need to explore new things.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Christmas Nostalgia

Trees For Sale

Last year I captured a similar image to the one above and decided later that the picture really needed to have a person in it (see the image below). I wasn’t bold enough last year to ask one of the workers to pose (that is different now). This year I went back and took someone along to pose. Fortunately the tree stand was in the same place and I caught it just before closing. I think it is a definite improvement. Maybe you have images like that. You might have to wait a while (like a whole year) to reshoot, but it can be worth it.

Trees for Sale

Note that my post processing of this years image is much more subdued and more natural. Which do you like better?

See my previous blog for the basic post processing steps used to create the images above.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yuletide Nostalgia


It is time to shoot another round of HDR Christmas images. I like looking for scenes or window displays that have a nostalgic feel to them. The HDR illustrative look really lends itself to this type of image.

Basic steps for this look:

  1. Shoot for HDR – likely a five stop range for these – three in some cases.
  2. Adjust the white balance in the HDR image set using your RAW processing software before you start the HDR processing. Lightroom or ACR for example .
  3. Process for a grunge look with something like Photomatix. I tend to keep the light smoothing set mid to max, max strength, max microcontrast and max luminosity. Set the color slider to your taste (you can correct it  in step 5 as well).
  4. Save the image after adjusting tone settings.
  5. Reopen the saved image in Photomatix and process it with the sliders set as they were for step 3. Fine tune the color. Save again.
  6. With your standard post processing tool (Elements, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) correct the contrast (almost always required), add a vignette, burn/dodge, clean up the image if needed, etc.


I was fortunate to find these images in my town of Forest Grove. Check out antique shops in your area one night.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Train Car


I have shot images of this old train car a couple of years now. Different light, different times of year, different angles, from the inside out, from low angles, wide angle and telephoto. This is just one my latest captures from this past fall. The lighting was great and so was the color. In this image the train car is just one piece of a bigger picture.

Blog image: Post processed with Nik Soft Color Efx Pro and Viveza 2. Filters included  “Color Contrast Range” and “Darken/Lighten Center” from Color Efx Pro. Hue/Saturation adjustments were also made in Photoshop (toned down the reds).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snow and patterns


Well we had our first snow this past week. It didn’t amount to much so I decided to play with the patterns the snow created on our back patio. While I tried lots of variations, the lead blog image is my favorite. As luck would have it a few new leaves fell on the patio and I was able to find this nice triangular formation – No I didn’t place any of these leaves. Challenging yourself to find strong composition elements or patterns like this is part of training your eye to create pleasing compositions - ones that play off the fact that our brains like patterns.

Blog_20101124_1-2The second image shows a simpler less dynamic shot, but it too was created with composition elements in mind. While the leaf is centered, notice that the background consists of a three by three grid with only three full bricks shown. This was no accident  - the shot was carefully framed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trees in Fog


I was once told that the best selling photograph of all time was the picture of a fence zig zagging to a tree in the fog – you may have seen it in frame stores, etc. I don’t know that that is true, but I can definitely understand the appeal. A copy of that photograph hung in my office for a while as an inspiration piece. Maybe that is why I shoot so many trees in the fog? The blog image is a recent example that I shot in the vineyard near my home. There are vines out there in the distance, but you can’t see them (and you weren’t suppose to).

Blog image:  Sepia toned with some burning in (darkening) of the sky/fog around the tree. A little contrast added to the tree to make it pop out a little better.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Orchards


Can you resist an orchard on a foggy day? I know I can’t. On the way to work this past week I noticed there was a nice fog in the local orchards (I vary my drive many days just so I can see what is happening in different areas). No matter how many times I shoot in the orchards I find there is always some composition I haven’t tried before.

Blog_20101116_4 Do you have some subject you shoot over and over? Do you press your self to come up with something new and different? Some times it can be really hard (frustrating even) and other times it just flows. This particular day was somewhere in the middle. In some ways it can be like exercise, some days its easier than others. But either way you come out stronger  and maybe feeling better.


These image were all taken that morning.


Blog Images:

  1. Looks straight forward but I did use a focal composite (in CS5) to get the detailed depth and compressed view I wanted.
  2. This is a simple slightly wide field shot – 35mm focal length equivalent.
  3. This shot had a Polariad Transfer filter applied to if from Nik’s Color Efx Pro during post processin.
  4. As always, I have to grab a pan shot to add to my Seasonal Immersions portfolio.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Golden Portal

Golden Portal

Ever been to a place you know has been photographed a million times before and you are looking for a way to do something new?   That was the case when I shot this classic image under the Siuslaw Bridge in Florence, Oregon. While I caught it at a nice tide level and at sunset, I wanted more than the classical image (I still shot that though). Applying a technique I learned from Tony Sweet when shooting under a pier, I put on the vari-ND and set up the tripod. This exposure was 25 sec. After about 10-15 seconds, I slowly zoomed in on the image for the rest of the exposure. This allows for the arches to be very distinct and transparent at the same time. When during post processing I found that the image felt unbalanced (because of the lighting from one side) I decided to apply a “Dreamscape” mirror. (See my video on this by clicking here for more on that) This made it balanced and enhanced the surreal feel of the image.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Preparing for Print Sales


It is the holiday bazaar season and I thought I would take up an offer form a client to sell some prints and cards at her holiday shop. Perhaps you are getting ready for a sale yourself. There is more than meets the eye in getting ready (beyond all the details that go into preparing your artwork – printing, signing, mounting, framing, etc.)

Here are a few questions you might want to ask the shop owner before you show up with the prints.

  1. What is your commission rate?  Typically 30-50% depending on the venue (bazaar to fine art gallery).
  2. Do you have a way to display matted prints, cards, etc or do I need to provide that? You may need to provide bins, racks, etc.
  3. Do you advertise?  This may determine whether the venue is a good use of your time and effort. You may also want to do some advertising yourself – maybe a postcard mailing to your contact list.
  4. What is the price range of products or art that typically sell in your shop or bazaar? Not a good idea to put $300+ prints where most buyers are only spending  less than $200.
  5. When do you need my artwork delivered? Day before, week before, etc
  6. Do you have room to stock any inventory? You may need to hold prints and be ready to restock if sales are good.
  7. To what level of detail do you track what sells? A shop owner may only know that you sold 20 cards or 5 prints, but not which prints or cards.  You should have a detailed inventory so you know what is selling (market research).
  8. Do you need an inventory list? They might require this given you are leaving valuable goods in their hands. You may want one so there is not disagreement or mistakes later on the payment you should receive.

This is just a short list of items that you need to address , but not an exhaustive one.

If you live in the area and are interested in one of my prints you will be able to find them every weekend until Christmas (Dec 19th) at Willakenzie Lavender Farm in Yamhill, Oregon. For a map – click here.

Blog image: This is a multiple exposure (9 exp) image of leaves blended with one single exposure image of the leaves. Using a brush and mask layer in Photoshop I brought out the one single leaf.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fall Fog


We are into the foggy season here in the Northwest. It comes on with the transition from fall to winter. We only have a little moisture in the air out here in the Northwest (really) so it is easy to get days where the air temperature drops enough to create fog (technically speaking when the temperature and dew point are within about 4 degrees).  But don’t worry about the technical definition. If you see a change in the weather forecast from a warm trend to a cool trend and you have moisture – look for fog.


I love to shoot on quiet foggy mornings. It is so peaceful and the subtle hues of color are great. This week I had another chance to go back to the vineyard near my home. The blog images were taken there.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Around the Yard


As I was coming back from a fall color shoot I noticed there were still a couple flowers blooming in the yard. I had been itching to create some additions to my “Floral Fusion” portfolio.  Unlike the past, I left these flowers in place (vs. bringing them into the studio). The wind was calm enough and a pop out diffuser provided shade when needed. As in the past these images are a blend (or fusion) of multiple exposures. Sometimes they are blended in camera and sometimes in Photoshop using layers and a brush. I used the later for both of these images. As you can see they both proved to be great subjects and the color mix of the backgrounds was great.

Kaffir Lily Blend

Blog Images: Both of these are textured glass blends: morning glory and kaffir lilies.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just Next Door


In the search for fall color I have driven around a bit, but it turns out there was some great subject matter right next door – well more like the other side of the hill. David Hill Winery is just a couple minutes from my home (I live on part of the hill). A while back I asked the owners about being able to photograph there outside of their regular hours. They said sure, no problem. So the last couple of days I have taken them up on that – late evening and early morning. It has been great fun shooting in and around the vineyard. All the vines are bright yellow and seem to glow after sunset. Unfortunately the grapes have been harvested, so no grape images but I am more than happy with what is there.

What do you have next door waiting?


Blog Images:

1) This is just a straight shot taking advantage of the evening glow just after sunset. The quality of light was exceptional.

2) This was taken the next morning just as the sun was starting to light up the tops of the vines. This is a 0.4sec pan where the camera is moving along the angle of the vines.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall Again


It is fall again and the effort to find new and exciting images is well underway. While color has been sparse in some areas, there is still great color to be found in others. I visited one of my favorite fall locations again this year – the Portland Hoyt Arboretum. There is one particular group of trees at the arboretum that tends to have the best color and groupings. I have shot there multiple times now. The blog image is a 0.4sec pan with a branch from the front tree close to the camera on the left and around the top. A wide angle (17mm) let me get this perspective. The image has only had tonal, color saturation and touch up work done in the post processing. The rest of the “look” comes from the camera panning action.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Now and then we are fortunate enough to witness a sunburst in the fog - where the sun breaks though a span of trees and magically we see sun rays shooting off in every direction. That was the case Friday morning this past week as I was driving to work. The phenomenon actually went on for quite a while as I stood there with my tripod trying different compositions as the sun rose up the trees creating various sunburst patterns. Sometimes I kept the sun behind a tree trunk and in others I let it peak out as in the image above. As with most back lit shots the exposure had to be adjusted off of that indicated by the auto exposure. I also used auto bracketing to generate HDR image data. This image was processed with Nik’s new HDR Efx Pro – keeping it very natural.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

HDR Side Effects


As I prepared for a talk this week on HDR photography, I started thinking about one of the issues I have personally dealt with when it comes to HDR photography. No not the “it’s not realistic” debate, but a side effect of shooting HDR – you can become photographically lazy. What do I mean by that?

You can allow it to effect you in many ways:

  1. You may not look as closely at the quality of  light in a scene. After all you can change the look of the lighting later in processing. You may not wait for the best light.
  2. You may not take the time to determine the best exposure. After all you can just shoot your set of HDR exposures and as long as you capture everything (per the histogram) you can deal with it later.
  3. You may take an image you should delete and try to process your way out of it. You know the images I am talking about.
  4. You can get hooked on the surrealistic HDR looks you can create (which are great fun) and forget the subtle enhancements you can do for that realistic look you wanted at the start (better highlights and shadows). This is not unlike the first time a photographer gets their hand on a saturation slider!

Am I saying not to shoot HDR? Of course not. But just beware and check yourself to make sure some of these side effects aren’t settling into your work. Try shooting non-HDR for a short time if you need to. Focus on honing your basic light observation skills and exposure skills again – they come back quickly.

Any of you know what I am talking about? What has been your experience with HDR?

Blog Image: This is a simple sample of using HDR to bring out very subtle detail in shadows and highlights but keeping it natural.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Empty Chair Emotions


Looking through a friend’s images on Flickr, I was reminded of how much impact an empty chair can have in an image. I just presented a brief talk at my local photo club on shooting and processing for emotional impact so I am thinking about it this morning.


I have shot quite a few empty benches, picnic tables, etc in my time. They seem to draw me in. Perhaps they represent  loss or grief, loneliness or maybe a place we wish to be. I know one client feels the later about the second image; so much so she ordered a large framed print. What do they say to you? What do they make you feel?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Floral Fusion


Before the flowers are all gone,I wanted to create a couple more floral fusion images from my garden. One of my favorite flowers is the Windflower, shown above, that blooms late in the summer. Using moving textured glass techniques I created this  image by blending a straight high depth of field shot with one where the shutter speed was around a 1/2 sec with a moving piece of textured glass in between the camera and flower. No paint programs are involved.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Blog_20100929_1As I have noted in previous blogs it pays to hang around after sunset. Once the golden hour has passed the blue hour begins. I continue to be amazed at how many photographers pick up their tripods and leave once the sun sets. That was the case at my recent sunset shoot at Bandon beach. Not to be critical, but they are missing out. Some of the most spectacular orange and blue tone combinations occur during this time. The blog image is just a taste of what can be seen. It was taken a good 30 minutes after sunset. Tripods required.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Face in the Sun

Face rock on Bondon beach at sunset. This image required a bit of footwork to get to the place where the sun would set in the eye of Face rock. I had hoped to get a star burst on the eye, but multiple attempts failed. Instead I went with this look. It makes me think of a how it feels to put your face in the sun after a long period of cloudy days, which happens a lot in Oregon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Tranquility

In my search for tranquility on a recent road trip, I found some at Bandon beach (Oregon) on a quiet morning before sunrise. Shooting on this highly photogenic beach you can feel a bit of pressure to create something totally new (hard to do at a place so photographed). I shot one sunset session a couple nights before in which I just got my feet wet (figuratively and physically) and found compositions weren't flowing all that readily - at least not ones that intrigued me. I found the morning light much more to my taste.

The blog image is just one from that morning.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Take a Look


Today I was introduced to the work of  a young (19 old)  photographer, Evan Sharboneau. He has a different and creative approach to photography. If you need to be inspired by some very unique images take a look at his work on the web. It can be found in multiple places:, blog at and

His work will just give you a taste of some of the radical things that can be done with all the tools available to the young photographer in the digital age. Just imagine the images that will be produced by the next generation of photographers.

Blog image: One of Evan’s images. See his blogs to see how it was made.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Good News


I thought I would share the good news that I have been awarded  an exhibit next year at the Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center. This was a situation where my work was competing against art from many disciplines so I am very pleased. If you are in the area (Hillsboro Oregon), my work will be on exhibit all of June 2011. There will be two bodies of work on exhibit: Floral Fusions and Seasonal Immersions.

So how do I feel about it? This will be my first formal exhibit so I am grateful for the opportunity, excited and nervous. There will be a lot of work to do – I have been awarded the whole lower floor (20-30 prints needed). I will need to finalize my selections, print, matte and frame them. If things go well, hopefully there will be a couple of prints sold.

Leaves and Trees, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Oregon

The blog images are samples from Floral Fusions and Seasonal Immersions respectively.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Footwork and Dunes


One of the keys to finding good compositions is footwork. Using the zoom alone doesn’t cut it. Not fancy footwork, but just plain walking side to side, backward and forward, etc.  But when you are in the sand dunes, that footwork can be hard work. That was the case as I was shooting at the Oregon National Dunes last week.


The blog images illustrate one other thing. When shooting dunes, white balance can make a lot of difference. Even when shooting in the late afternoon with a warm sun, if you have a blue sky you can shift blue. I find that I like some images better warm and other with the cool blue shadows. Do you have a preference?