Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ramblings from a photographic junkie

I am gearing up for Fall and it has been far too long since I wrote anything on my blog. In all honesty I just have been so busy with everything that I haven't had the time. A lot of stuff has suffered like social networks, photo sites like flickr, 500px, deviantART, etc. BUT (yes that's a big BUT) there's a good reason for that too....I have been spending my time wisely with getting out as much as I possibly can with my camera. The result? Doing what I love to do like no tomorrow. I also had a lot of downtime shortly after January 1st due to a massive surgery that kept me in the hospital nearly a month, from which I am still recovering. Only until very recently have I been medically cleared to go to the mountains.

It's kind of funny however. You tend to really start to notice your immediate surroundings a lot more when you shoot close to home. Luckily I live in an area where I have endless amounts of photographic subject matter like state parks, national refuge's, amazing city parks, all of which have kept me incredibly busy.

Anyways....

I recently came across another photographers photo blog (wish I could remember who and I didn't bookmark it...doh!) where he basically explained "how to suck at photography". It was a very interesting read and I didn't agree with it all but it did make me think. One of the things he mentioned is paying too much attention to social media and basing your own self worth as a photographer on how well an image does, how many "retweets", "shares" and "likes" something gets. It's a very valid and good point and many times I have personally witnessed photographers basically give up because they don't get the attention they want, seek, or in some cases deserve on social media sites like twitter, G+, facebook and the host of others.

Let me throw you a bone. If this was 2005 what would you do? better yet, if this was 1998 what would you do? Before the entire world was online, before facebook, before twitter, before flickr. What would you do? We often see things in a negative light from the get go and that is one of the problems. A change of vision is in order and a change in how we perceive things is in order.

When I was recovering from my surgery I rekindled an old flame and I began to remember why I love the internet when it comes to photography. That fame was the love for seeking knowledge when it comes to photography as an artistic medium. The study of a picture, the ability to get lost in an image and admiring for what it is, a piece of art. Not how many comments, favs, likes, share it has but rather the inquisitive nature of how the photographer took the shot, why he clicked the shutter at that very moment, how he composed and framed it and how it was processed.

In a way, many of us have become cynics when it comes to photography on the internet and other photographers. We really have. You look around and you see a lot of posts posted by photographers which are subtle but very snarky. We've lost our vision and creativity due to over consumption of photography on the internet and we've changed our point of view from a learning process to one which sees every other photographer not as a friend but as a foe and a competitive enemy. It is hard to move forward when you have that monkey on your back. It's even harder when you stop learning and instead begin concentrating on how many page views and favs something has.

Create. Learn. Explore. Envision. Most of all, click the shutter not for someone else or for social media recognition but YOU. The roots are calling, it's time we get back to them and rekindle our love affair of what brought us all here to begin with!
---John

Here's a selection of recent work, as always prints are available, please inquire.

 Skies Of Eden

 The Beauty Of The Morning

 Summer In The Garden

 August Dusk

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Major schedule changes for the annual Fall photo meetup

After much thinking and much talking with others, I need to make changes to the annual Fall photography meetup. Many of these changes are big switches from the original schedule which should now be completely disregarded. As many of you know, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park were hit very hard by the recent flooding we have had here in Colorado. As such, access to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park has been severely limited due to the usual highways, HWY 34 and HWY 36 being all but destroyed. The only way to access Estes Park is to come in from the west side and go over Trail Ridge Road which can close at any time due to weather this time of the year or take 6th Avenue west to HWY 119 out of Blackhawk, to HWY 72 to HWY 7 which leads into Estes Park. I have mapped out the specific routing for getting there via Google maps http://goo.gl/maps/zgztC

I am going to cancel the second week all together, sadly. Right now it appears that our Government will be shutting down which would in effect close Rocky Mountain National Park all together during that time. I am also cancelling Saturday the 28th of September as it is a free day in the park and with much of the park & its roads closed due to flooding, it will an absolute zoo and very bumper to bumper. Not an ideal situation. All alerts, conditions and closing, along with openings for Rocky Mountain National park can be found here http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/flood_alert.htm

New Schedule-Where, when, times; 

Sunday September 29th 6:30am
We will meet in the parking lot of the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center inside Rocky Mountain National park at 6:30am. This is the west side entrance in Estes Park. See map here http://goo.gl/maps/zgztC It is where mark "B" is located. Please, don't be late as we will need to leave quickly to get in position to photograph the sunrise over Longs Peak. Afterwards we will look for Elk to photograph along with other wildlife within the park. Please be advised that all trails on the Estes Park side of Rocky Mountain National Park are currently closed. I will be in a silver Dodge caravan with a black and white dog. So keep an eye out! I will have my tripod out behind the car so I am easily recognized.

If you plan to stay overnight in Estes Park or have made previous reservations, I would call as soon as you can to check and see if those are indeed still good. Many hotels and motels have closed due to the flooding.
I hope to see some of you out there! Just allow yourself enough time if you are coming from Denver as it is longer to get there. 3am may seem to early to leave but I can promise you, in the end you will glad you did!
---John



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park meetup!

Well, it is hard to believe that Fall is almost here and with that comes our annual meetup in Colorado's beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park! This is something I put together on a yearly basis and everyone is welcome regardless to what you shoot and there is no cost involved to join us all. It's always proven to be a wonderful time and we have always had a lot of fun. It is also a very relaxing type of atmosphere, lots of fun with the ability to also learn from your fellow photographers too. More or less, it's just a time to unwind and enjoy Fall in a way which you may have not before if you haven't joined us in the past.

Last year we witnessed many amazing things, from a spectacular sunrise along the shores of Lake Estes overlooking the famous Stanley Hotel, to seeing and photographing bull Elk crossing the lake to working on more intimate nature scenes with macro photography in Moraine Valley. The sound of Elk bugling fills the air early in the morning and it makes for a magical experience. Get ready to see, hear and photograph things like you never have before!



The dates;

Week 1---Saturday  Sept. 28 & Sunday Sept. 29
Week 2---Saturday Oct. 5 & Sunday Oct 6th

Place & Time;

We will meet at 6:30 am on the shores of Lake Estes in Estes Park, Colorado. GPS coordinates are 40.376418,-105.503399 roughly. A map can be found here through Google Maps http://goo.gl/maps/zQdpW  Don't be late and allow yourself enough time to get there, we wouldn't want you to miss anything after all. It is very easy to get to and I will be there early with my tripod set up, just look for a tripod on the shoreline pointing east along with a silver Caravan. From here, we will shoot the sunrise and then move on to Rocky Mountain National Park to photograph the Elk rut in the morning light of Golden Hour. You are of course also free to do your own thing too, naturally!



What To Bring;

*A change of clothes. Dress warm for the mornings but also bring a change of clothes for the warm temps mid day. Temps swing wildly this time of the year and going from 20 degrees to 70 is commonplace. That means gloves people! I can't stress this enough.

* Food & drinks. There aren't many places in the park to get a drink so be sure to stock up on bottled water and the like which also helps with the altitude. Same can be said as far as food goes.

*Lenses. Generally you will want something in the 300mm range at minimum to be able to photograph the Elk. Though we have been known to lend out a few lenses while on location to fellow photographers who don't have that focal length depending on what system you shoot.

*Money for entrance into Rocky Mountain National Park. Be aware that Saturday, Sept. 28th is a FREE day into the park. As such, no admission is charged however that also means that the park becomes very crowded by late morning. Fees are $20 per car and is good for a full week. More about the fees and annual passes can be found on the website of RMNP here http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm



Lodging

I highly suggest inquiring about reservations as soon as possible if you plan to stay over night. 

*KOA Estes Park.  http://koa.com/campgrounds/estes-park/  Several people have stayed here in the past and have had good experiences. They offer quite a variety as far as lodging goes including cabins with showers. The rates are quite affordable.

*RMNP Campgrounds http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/camping.htm Many are first come, first served this time of the year and don't take reservations.

*Saddle & Surrey Motel. http://www.saddleandsurrey.com/ One of Estes Parks best kept secrets.

*Comfort Inn Estes Park http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-estes_park-colorado-CO406 has very high reviews with competive rates.

Bring on Fall in the Rocky Mountains!
---John.






Thursday, August 8, 2013

Staying Down Low

It's been a crazy summer and it's hard to believe that Fall is just around the corner. My camera, a Sony A550 gave up the ghost while on a photoshoot outside of Breckenridge. The circuitry went adios and it is now sitting at the Sony repair headquarters in TX waiting to be fixed. Shortly before that happened, just weeks, I got incredibly ill with a very serious skin infection which lead me to being hospitalized for almost a week. I was in a bad, bad world I tell ya. Needless to say I have an incredible amount of medical bills  which I need to pay and my camera being repaired? Well...I wasn't sure what i was going to do. I decided to try and drum up print sales through my site on deviantART  and it's actually been going pretty good. I also have a nice enough friend who let me borrow his brand new, basically still in the box, Sony a65 for a few weeks that I could shoot and try to make some cash with my images. I owe him let me tell you!

Anyways, this year I have stayed down low. Most photographers when they visit Colorado, or are from here, tend to go to the mountains but I did this rather intentionally. I wanted to be able to focus on Colorado locally and concentrate on my state, county and city parks and wilderness areas. I have found many new areas to photograph, met some wonderful fellow photographers who I now call friends and have seen some great wildlife.

Wildlife though was another reason. I wanted to better myself as photographing animals. I spent a lot of time watching, observing, learning and being patient. Not taking a million photos but just a few. I intentionally limited myself to try and get the shot that I wanted right away. Some times I was successful, sometimes not. However, I taught myself and I learned a great deal. It's proved a very valuable lesson.

I guess in 6 weeks time we'll see how much I learned when I head up to Rocky Mountain National Park to photograph the annual Elk rut. I'm excited and I think this year I will see things like I never have before with putting what I learned to maximum use.

Onwards and upwards!
---John
A white-tailed deer fawn as seen in the grassland of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife refuge in Colorado. 

The landscape of Red Rocks Park shows off it's prehistoric beauty as the soft light dances across the land and the colors of sunrise paint the sky a brilliant shade of pink and blue

A Red-tailed hawk keeps a watch out against a blue sky in Colorado. Such stunning birds with an incredible magnificence about them.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR-A Little Known Jewel

This year I haven't been up in the mountains a single time. I know most people will probably think "What! Are you insane! You live in Colorado!" but in reality it has been by choice. In January this year I discovered Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge & their recently opened auto tour. Located in Commerce City, Colorado (a suburb of Denver) it is a huge area which could almost be a national park, a former superfund site which was once a weapons & munitions manufacturing facility, much of the area is still closed and deemed to contaminated for humans. However, it is beaming with wildlife in a way which I have never seen anywhere else. Now a USFWS refuge, wildlife here rules to roost and has taken over since the days of the past when it once produced chemical weapons.




Bison, Eagles, hawks, songbirds of all kinds, deer in both white-tailed and mule variations and more Coyotes than I ever seen in one place. Honestly, it's never a question if you will be able to photograph something but how much. For wildlife photographers this place is absolute heaven but there is something here for landscape shooters as well. It offers a unique landscape which one usually doesn't think of when they think "Colorado", more of a forest meets prairie feel which can offer up some great images backed up by several lakes. If you are willing to take the time and really explore the environment here, you will find that there is an absolute ton of things to photograph and that is why I have been keeping to the low land so far this year.



It's really an interesting place and one hardly anybody knows about. In fact much of the time I am here I pretty much have the entire place to myself. Even on the weekend mornings, there's hardly anybody here and those who are seem to be a hand full of other photographers or fishermen. I guess that is also another reason why I like it, it is utterly quiet here, only the sounds of the Coyote's singing at dawn. It's hard to believe that Denver is only minutes away yet you hear nothing, no traffic, no hustle and bustle....just peace. It's also free to get in but the hours I have to say are a tad on the wonky side, 6am-6pm which I am not fond of as it basically kills being able to photograph both sunrise & sunset here during summer. I really wish that they would re-examine that and keep it open 24-7 just as National Parks are.





For more information on this fantastic location, please visit the website of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge or checkout their facebook page  and while you are there, be sure to look for my work as they feature my photography quite often. So the next time you are in Denver or just passing through, I highly suggest making this place a "must see" destination! You won't regret it!
---John








Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let's Cut The Crap Already

I am not sure where abouts this whole thing originated from (I have a few ideas) but one of the things which I have noticed lately over the last several months is the absolute arrogance and ego coming from some of the what I call "The 1% Photographers Of Privilege". I'm not going to mention names here but if you are on any social media sites like G+ then you know who I am talking about. It disturbs me that is still after many months discussion on why some think their images are better than yours because they don't add a signature to their photos.

Say again?

Yes you read that correctly. Apparently a few of these people see photos that have a signature as being unprofessional. They argue that it takes away from a photo and all this jazz. I can understand that train of thought WHEN it is something which it is a tangent or obstructing the image itself. I don't see something small in the bottom right hand corner of an image as being bad and heaven knows I basically sign all my work. I am after all proud of my work, a signature is the finishing touch to a piece. What bothers me however is the sort of bashing attitude that many of these folks have. I also find it almost hypocritical that in reality, many of these photographers don't have to rely on a signature to get web traffic to their site. This is also one of the reasons why I sign my work, I include my website address so people can go there and see more of my work; they know where it came from. However when you have a following that is essentially larger than a army in some countries, it is irrelevant. For those of us who though scrap to get by with our photography, it is an essential piece of the promotion game and make no mistake about it, most of us do struggle to get by who do this full time and to hear the bashing coming from people who are more of a marketing person than a photographer is an insult.

Look, many of us also can't afford to stick our high resolution photographs without signatures on the internet free to download. Wallpapers are one thing but to stick a full on high res file online? These "1% Photographers Of Privilege" need to understand that to us, this is a financial issue. If I made millions with my work or a very cozy and comfortable living, I would be able to offer such things and I imagine many of us would be able to do that as well. However as it stands now, this only serves to compete against ourselves directly. It must be nice to be able to offer such things for free and not have to worry about where your next check is coming from to pay for your groceries, power bill, etc.

We get it. You make a ton of money with your photography, you have a massive following, cool deal. I am happy for you. Just please don't trash the rest of us who don't and who bust our butts just as hard as you do and often more so.

Let's cut the crap already.

Photographed at Chatfield State Park, Colorado



Monday, February 25, 2013

Introducing the jdebordphoto.com Lightroom presets-Volume 1

For an awfully long time now I have wanted to do this; release a set of Lightroom presets which I designed on my own. It's one of those things which has been on the back burner for a long time and today I am happy to announce that I am releasing my first collection of 19 different Lightroom effects in this collection.
This is, more or less a test run to see how well it is received and to see how people like them. It is more of a feeling out process for me to see what people think, so I would encourage you all to leave your feedback here on my photoblog entry. I tried to mix it up as much as possible so that there was essentially something for everybody.

These were created inside Lightroom 3 so I imagine that they will work with both version 3 and 4 of the program. From B&W to retro color effects, have at it and enjoy! They can be downloaded  here and are in WinRAR format. You may need a copy of WinRAR which is free in order to extract them and that can be had on the WinRAR website  If you need help in understanding how to install presets into Lightroom, then I will refer to this simple and very short tutorial on Digital Photography School