Archive for April 2012
This will be a little different than the usual post I have been writing for the past few months. But I figure that a little variety never hurts, right?
Anyway, I like to talk about the memoir I wrote a year or so ago entitled “Granddad and the Kid”. I have published it as a Kindle book, a Nook book and a downloadable PDF file. You can read a free chapter by going to this link, Writer-R-Me and following the directions.
“Granddad and the Kid” is my story of growing up, most of the time without a father in my life, in Michigan during the 40s and 50s. It is a story that will both make you laugh and cry as you follow the events that shaped my life. And a lot of that life was inspired by the real man in my life, Granddad.
Granddad was the one who taught me what being a man was all about. He had health issues, but was still an avid fisherman and though he couldn’t hunt anymore he taught me how to respect a gun and what hunting was really all about. His love for baseball inspired me to develop a love for the game (even though I was never that good at it). The memories of those years have stayed with me all these years and even now I can see him sitting in his Morris chair in the family kitchen, reading the latest copy of Field and Stream or building something in his woodshop. Granddad was a special person and this book is my tribute to him.
“Granddad and the Kid” can be purchased for just $2.99.
After looking at the color shot in the previous post I decided I wasn’t real happy with it. Not that it was terrible, it just didn’t have the look I was going for so I decided to try something a little different in the post processing.
This time I kept the color tones that were captured in the camera’s raw file and do a three-step HDR effect from the one photo. I took it into Photoshop and made two more copies, one for the highlights and one for the shadows. I then processed all thee files (the two that I adjusted plus the Original) in Photomatix to produce a tone-mapped copy. A few tweaks back in Photoshop and this is what I ended up with.
Any comments would be appreciated.
I took a series of twilight photos the other evening (the night the muskrat came swimming by). There were a number of clouds and I was struck by this one that almost looks like the Genie of bottle rising from the trees on the other side of the lake. I like the way it works in black and white after playing with it Topaz Black and White. But I know there are some (Hi honey) that would prefer to see it color so I’m posting both of them.
Enjoy your Sunday.
I’ve been going down and making photographs of the lake for two or three years now and last night was the first time I’ve seen this muskrat or any muskrat for that matter. I was shooting the twilight after the sunset from a dock when I happened to look down and saw this creature swimming by, totally ignoring me standing there. I wasn’t sure as to what it was, but the neighbor who lives next to the cottage I was shooting from had just gotten home so I took the camera over and showed him my image. He said, “Oh that’s just one of the muskrats that have their home under my dock. They’ve been there for all the years I’ve lived here!”
Not the greatest shots, but you get the idea….Enjoy your weekend!
Monday morning I found this post from Skip Cohen, (founder of Marketing Essentials International and past president of Rangefinder Publishing Inc. and WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International). when Photographers Become “Togs”.
Since I had just written a post entitled “You Are Artists, So Photograph Like One”. The thrust of the post was to encourage photographers, including myself, to not always follow the rules, but to feel free to produce photographs that move you. I also implied, if not stated, that having the best, newest equipment was not going to make you a better photographer, especially if you don’t have the passion and the eye to go along with it.
That being said, I read Skip’s post with interest as he started it out by saying, “WARNING: It’s a Monday morning rant…” And that sure got my attention. You really need to go to his blog and read the whole article, but here are a fes of the things he said that make a whole lot of sense.
“I recently recorded an upcoming podcast for GoingPro with buddy, Michael Corsentino and the topic was the trend of the “Good-Enough Attitude”. You know the mentality…”It’ll be good enough for my client.” “It’ll be good enough to fix in Photoshop later.” A couple of days earlier, over dinner, Michael and I got into a conversation about photographers who think they can simply capture and create great images even though they’re completely lacking in the skill set.”
“Here’s the issue and it seems to be in the social media news a lot lately, there are photographers out there who honestly believe that passion for your dreams trumps the logical steps in learning to be a photographer. Passion is a key, but nothing trumps understanding the craft and your business.”
“The saddest part of this shortcut attitude, shoot and burn mentality is how much these people are missing and how easy it is to pick up the knowledge you need to become a better photographer.”
“But it takes work to capture and create images that “wow” people. It takes work to really build your business on a solid foundation that promotes repeat business. I’ll close this little rant with a quote I found that says it all:
“It takes less time to do something right the first time, than it does to explain why you did it wrong.””
And I agree. Passion doesn’t trump knowing what you’re doing and there is no excuse to produce inferior photographs. You have to learn the rules, you have to know you’re equipment, you just plain have to know what you’re doing before you can chart your own course and produce quality images that not only move you, but move your clients also.
For example, the attached photo of a couple of my wife’s tulips was shot with my 3mpg cell phone. and while it looks okay here on the screen and would probably be okay as a 41/2″x6″ greeting card image, there is no way that I would try to market it as anything larger. I know the limitations of my equipment. On a great day I might get an image that would print as a 16×20, but not often, 9×12 or 11×14 is the largest that works for me. And that’s just fine.
Thanks for stopping by.
Just read another interesting post entitled
A Beautiful Anarchy by David duChemin, a world and humanitarian photographer, best-selling author, and international workshop leader. He makes this point about getting so involved on following rules that we, as photographers, often forget we are artists.
“Your art, the thing that stirs from your heart, mind, and soul, the thing that moves you, and I hope, moves others, is a free agent, and the moment you begin to ask “What should I do? or “How should I do this?” you allow you art to teeter, to lean towards conformity and away from authentic expression. Unless it’s the muse herself to whom you direct the question.”
He later goes on to say, “We need more anarchists in photography, more people willing to abandon the stupidity of megapixels and brands and red stripes on their lenses and get back to making beauty for the sake of its joy. We need more people that make photographs that surprise us, not mimic others, and more people creating simply to create, and to share their work as a gift, not a request for praise. We need a resurgence in pinholes, film, wet plates, and any damn technique that makes you happy and in which you find your muse. We need to scrap the word “professional” because it implies authority, and simply allow everyone to be an artist, their work judged by its own merits not the camera used to create it or the clients that paid for it. We need people who understand how composition and light makes us feel, not which third of the frame to use, or which light is ‘bad light.’”
There is nothing wrong with rules, with having equipment that helps you produce your vision. But lets face it, it’s really the vision that counts. The vision that “feels” right, that moves us to create. To me, that’s what art is all about.
This month’s Outdoor Photographer focus on Landscapes with several great articles, including Dewit Jones’ column Realizations – What is photography for you? (A subject I want to address in a future post). But one article really caught my attention, The Forgotten Intimate Landscape by Tom Till.
It is based on his inspiration of the work of Eliot Porter and his “less can be more” theory. It is the idea that between the wide sweeping landscapes of various well-known photographers and the macro photographs of others there lies another way to photograph, “The Intimate Landscape”. And boy, did this ring a bell with me.
For various reasons, including health, I will never have the opportunity to visit those famous Southwest locations, watch the bears frolic in Alaska or see the sunset across the beaches of Hawaii. They were dreams that for one reason or another were never realized. And that is okay. The past can be learned from, but it can never be changed. So, today I live in the present, the area that I call The Acker Woods.
We live in a semiprivate location seven miles from any town. The dirt road that leads back to about 15 year-rround homes and summer cottages is boarded by two small lakes, Acker Lake and Little Acker Lake, one on each side. This dead-end road turns into a two-track and ends up with lakefront cottages on one side and about 40 – 60 acres of woods on the other side. When we step out of our back door we are in the woods.
This, then, is where I photograph. There are no broad, sweeping expanses, no majestic mountain ranges or sweeping valleys to shoot. There are trees, and leaves and ferns and stones and dead branches and all the other little things you would expect to find in a West Michigan woods. In the broad view, not much to get excited about, but…
There are the little things, the way one fern lays across its brothers, The way a leaf seems to draw my eye, the crooked tree weaves its way into the sky, the fungus growing from the side of a tree and more. These are the things I can bring to life in a photograph, share with others and feel a sense that I have brought some beauty, some appreciation of nature into the lives of others. These are my “The Forgotten Intimate Landscapes”.
Just thought you’d like to know that we have a well-educated woods here in West Michigan. Not only do we have some very smart animals, we have very smart foliage – even leaves can read!
This morning Duke and I decided to check out the lake before we headed into the woods. As we got to the yard we walk through to take photographs of the lake I noticed a cat I hadn’t seen before. I shot a picture of it as it stood beside the cottage and another one as it sauntered over behind the cottage to the west of where we were. I figured it had gone home, wherever home was, and concentrated on making some photos of the reflections on the lake. After a few shots I happened to look up at the deck on the other cottage and there was kitty cat looking down at Duke and me. I made three shots then tied Duke to a post and walked up the steps to the deck. The cat calmly looked me over, sauntered to the edge of the deck and slipped between the boards in a fence evidently to continue his morning routine.
Sure is a cute cat and probably not feral as he never really got spooked at either Duke or me. Maybe we’ll meet again some other morning
Just read a great post at Phil McDermott’s Blog entitled “My Priority as an Outdoor Photographer.” I urge all my readers to check out his blog and read this post. He talks about the ethics and morals that he feels in each photograph he makes. And to me, makes two important statements. He first states, “There is no shame from walking away from a potential image if it prevents causing distress to an animal or damage to a sensitive environment.” He then follows it up in another paragraph by stating, “As an outdoor photographer I have over the years developed an empathy with natural details and pattern believing them to be the building blocks of the natural world.”
Could we all make that one of our important goals with our photography.