Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop
– Ansel Adams
Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop
– Ansel Adams
This past year was a strange one for me photographically. It started with me unsure where I was headed, I had a couple of studio sessions where I flailed around with ideas trying to come up with some new body of work. I did continue my “On the Rocks” series but overall I felt directionless.
Looking back at the year and the photos I produced all of the work was sporadic and produced in March, May, September and December. I had months where I didn’t pick up a camera and had no motivation to, yet in those 4 months were I did pick up the camera I produced more and better images than I ever have in the past.
I took 38097 photos in 2016 which is almost 33% more than I did in 2015 (24,063).
Keepers – these are the photos that I actually edited and considered finished.
Portfolio Worthy – There are images that I actually exhibited or showed to others via my web site, social media, etc.
5 Star – These are the photos I consider my best work of the year. These are my “Harvest” or “Crop” for the year
When I was putting together this post I was concerned that I had so many I considered great images and wondered if I was just not being critical enough of my photos. But most have won awards or been published which seems to imply that other people appreciate them as well. Would love to have you feedback on the images.
I think it is interesting that the images fit into 3 categories, a continuation of my On the Rocks series, the Utah Adventure trips really helped with this, being able to spend straight 5 days shooting really helped me get into a great photographic mindset and really explore some ideas.
The second group are the studio shots and these predominantly part of the series I call Geometric Progression, and involve using black and white as the main theme in the images. There were was also one from the Blind Religion body of work, and a new one from my as yet untitled Room series. Except for the Room series all of these images were done in the first couple of months of the year when I still felt like I was flailing about.
The final group are the underwater images. I tried it on a fluke in August and was pleased with the results I was getting right off the bat so I decided to continue. I will definitely be exploring this more in 2017 as I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface (pun was unintended, but I liked it so I left it in, which I guess then makes it intended).
I believe it is because of doing these three disparate types of shoots that I have such a large number of keepers this year. Any one category would produce less than Ansel’s number of twelve. To further the analogy it’s like planting three different crops and getting a good harvest on each.
I would love to hear how many 5 star photos you shot this past year. So share with me in the comments below or on my Facebook page.
This is a list of what's packed in my camera bag for a recent photo shoot in Utah. I have 4 different bags and configurations I use depending upon the conditions of the shoot. This trip was 9 shoots over 5 days with 3 different models and involved a lot of hiking.
As with all projects the Thirty Self Portraits Project came about as the result of several different influences and directions.
The first influence came from watching the HBO documentary on Robert Mapplethorpe (Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures). There were several photos that he took where I really liked his lighting and decided to try to emulate them, I also really liked the very last self-portrait he did of himself.
A few weeks later I went to the Palm Springs Photo Festival (which I have written about here) and took a class with Howard Schatz. The class was all about experimenting with lighting and trying different techniques. I really enjoyed the play and learned a few tricks that I wanted to try myself. One thing I have learned about taking workshops, if I don't practice what I learned I soon forget it. So I thought taking self-portraits would be a great way to practice what I learned and to continue with the experimentation.
Finally I need more head shots of myself. For a lot of the gallery shows and publications I have been in over the past couple of years they are often asking for a head shot and I don't have that many. This works well with the practice I mentioned above. I need a subject and I need more shots of myself so the self-portrait project was born.
I just pulled a number out my ass and it happened to be thirty. I don't know if I will actually shoot 30, maybe I'll only do 20, or maybe I'll just keep going and shoot 100. I've put a stake in the ground, but am not absolutely committing to it. I currently have 23 ideas for self portraits, so I figure I will at least get that far.
Also this is not a self portrait a day, or a week, or a month. Every time I've tried a project like that is just kills the joy for me and makes me stop taking photos. So this is just doing it when I feel like it, some weeks I might do 3 or 4, then I might not do another for a month. No pressure, no commitment, just do it when the mood strikes me.
My subject in these portraits is an ugly son of a bitch.
Here is the lighting setup for this image.
I have a photo being exhibited as part of the 2015 International Juried Exhibition—A Single Photograph Competition at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA. The show runs from November 21 through January 09, 2016
For the past 26 days I've been travelling all over Europe taking photographs, a lot of photographs. In this post I wanted to share a couple of items that I took with me that I found indispensable.
On my last trip to Europe 3 years ago I took over 45 lbs of camera and computer gear. This trip I wanted avoid that weight so I went with the bare minimum.
Instead of my heavy Canon 5DmkIII I decided to take the Olympus OMD EM-1 with 4 lenses,
This gave me an effective range to 14mm-600mm which should cover every situation I was like to encounter. Normally I would not take the 75-300mm lens, but 1 week of the trip was a Mediterain Cruise and I wanted some reach from the cruise ship. In hindsight that was the right decision.
This was a harder decision. I needed mail/internet access, the ability to edit photos, and a way to backup photos. On several recent domestic trips I had taken my laptop with the plan of editing photos and then never got motivated to do so. So my thinking was I would just use the iPad for some light editing, and save all the heavy Photoshop work for when I got home. My editor of choice on the iPad is Snapseed (they also have an Android version) so I was covered for the editing. Now my only issue was backing up my photos.
I purchased a few extra SD cards so I would not have to reuse cards while on my trip. But I still needed to make a backup of them each evening. I did some research and decided on the Western Digital My Passport Wireless. This is a great little drive. It has a built-in battery, wifi, and most importantly a SD slot.
Each night I would put the SD card in the WD drive, push a button and it would copy the contents of the SD card to the drive. It has the option for to erase the card or leave the photos on the card, it is smart enough to not copy photos that it has already backed up. A great solution.
In addition using the wireless capabilities I was able to use my iPad to browse the photos and download the ones I wanted to edit and post on all of my social media sites.
Part of life these days are all of my electronic devices that I travel with that need to be charged, my iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, the WD My Passport, etc. One of the challenges is finding enough plugs in a hotel room to charge all of my (and my family's) devices. When travelling domestically I put a power strip in my suitcase so I only need to find one vacant plug in the room and can charge 6 devices, but that power strip won't work in Europe at 220V, so I needed to find another solution. I ended up with a Photive 50W USB Charger. This device is AWESOME, it has six USB ports and allowed me to charge all of my devices from a single outlet. It works at both 110V and 220V and has now replaced the power strip in my suitcase.
Overall this all worked great. I did have one small issue, I lost my iPad halfway through the trip but was able to borrow my wife's some nights to do some quick editing. I loved how light my camera bag was and carried it with me a lot more than I might have if I had my DSLR.
The only downside was not having my laptop to sort/keyword/edit photos each night. The result was I got home with over 6000 images and it took me a couple of days just to organize and keyword them all. Would have been easier to do a little bit at time each night instead of all at the end of the trip.
Next time I travel I plan to use the same basic strategy as outlined above, it worked very well.
Want a sure fire way to take better landscape photographs? Plan a photo trip. Every photo trip I have ever done has resulted in some of my top photos of the year.
The reason I get such great photos on photo trips is focus, and I don't mean camera focus, mental focus. Because I am there to take photographs and nothing else I immerse myself into the task. I get up before sunrise and finish up after sunset; I take my time at the location trying different compositions and angles; I experiment with long exposures, panoramas, and HDR. I plan!
This is probably one of the more important aspects of a photo trip. Before the trip I will map out my destinations, look at tide tables, and sunrise/sunset times. But even when my plans go awry I still get good shots, because I have time, I have a purpose, and I have a single task. Take photos.
This is why photo trips are so successful. You have time to take photos, you aren't rushed. When I am travelling with my family they are somewhat tolerate of me taking photos, but they expect me to get a shot in a few minutes whether the lighting is right, or the tide is wrong. When I am by myself or with other photographers there is no problem setting up and spending an hour at a location waiting for just the right conditions and getting the best shot I possibly can.
A photo trip doesn't mean that you have to pack your bags and book a flight. It can be somewhere local, somewhere you can drive to in a day. It's not the destination that is important it is dedicating the day to photography that is going to allow you to take better photos.
Do you need to travel for work? Perhaps add a day or two onto the end of the trip and go photograph the local sights. I recently did this on a trip to Portland. I was there with friends the beginning part of the week, after dropping them off at the airport I headed West and spent several days photographing the Oregon coast (where I took the photo of the Wreck Peter Iresdale at the top of this post).
I did the same thing when I went to the Palm Springs Photo Festival in April, after the festival I spent a day at Joshua Tree and then an additional day at the Salton Sea finishing off a project there. Airfare was already paid, the car rental actually went down because I was renting for a full week. I just needed a couple of cheap hotels for the extra night.
I'm serious. Stop reading this blog post and instead go out and create! Take an epic photograph! Pick up your camera and take a photo!
It has been a while since I completed my last photo shoots which were shooting a model at Joshua Tree and then a day at the Salton Sea taking photos for my A Place to Sit project. Instead of going out shooting, or planning shoots, I have instead been reading about photography, watching YouTube videos about photography, updating my photography web sites, and a hundred of other things that are about photography but are keeping me from doing what I love most, CREATING PHOTOGRAPHS!
It is very easy to get caught up in reading about photography, looking at others photos, sitting on the toilet watching CreativeLive videos on my iPad, and feel like I'm still a photographer, but that is an illusion. There is the illusion that I am making progress when I am being creative and coming up with shoot ideas, however without execution it is pointless. I'm procrastinating.
There are a lot of reasons why procrastination occurs. But for me is comes down to laziness and fear. Perhaps laziness is too strong a word, it is rather I take the path of least resistance.
It is much easier to sit at my computer and dream about photography than it is to actually do the planning necessary to do for the shot. A lot of my concepts involve building/aquiring props, recruiting a model, scouting a location, finding time on calendar to actually schedule the shoot. It's often daunting for some of the larger shoots. It is so much easier to just sit and think about the project. My solution is to stop thinking about photography and go shoot a damn photo!
Pick up you camera right now and go take a photo. Execute! Photograph! Then once you are done come back and share a link to what you shot!
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