Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Never give up on your photography!

Never give up on your photography!
A rallying cry which I often see from others and say myself to those who think that their work isn't good enough. I can not begin to tell you all how many times I have heard someone say "I am just not good at this, I should sell all my camera equipment", or "I get no comments, no favs, no feedback on my work, it sucks". If anything we are blind to out own work, we never see it as others do and never will. When I was majoring in illustration, my illustration professor taught me a little trick. See, when you are drawing, the problem of not seeing how your work looks in your own eyes is compounded. Our creative brain literally needs refreshing and sitting working on a drawing or painting takes it toll. The same is said for photography, not only when shooting but editing as well. What I was taught from my professor is after about 30 minutes, rotate the canvas or paper a full 180 degrees. get up, walk away, take a 10 minute break and come back and look at it. Mistakes are more pronounced when it is flipped upside down and refreshing the left side of the brain works to notice things in far greater detail, things like mistakes which you may have missed earlier on.

Remember, we should be shooting for ourselves first and foremost. For our own enjoyment. These days many people post their photography online. From personal websites to huge communities like deviantART and flickr. All in hopes of learning more and bettering themselves as a photographer. Sadly, many times these sites also have a profound impact on the people who are just starting out with harsh comments which helpful and people believing that because nobody comments on their work, it is therefore bad. WAKE UP! It greatly disturbs me that people honestly feel this way in that they give value to something so completely superficial. This mentality didn't exist 10-15 years ago. Then, people learned photography not by posting it online but by actual education of reading books, taking classes, joining local art and camera clubs and last, reading their manual. Sure these days some of these same principles apply however in this electronic age, everyone online is an "expert" it seems and i have seen many people who have put their camera down only to never pick it up again because of comments someone has said to them and this makes me incredibly sad...

Look, everyone wants a little pat on the back, a little boost in their ego, I get that, I imagine most get that but there will come a time when you move on if you really decide to chase things with your photography. We all do, we all move forward, we all evolve. In moving on we grow as artists and as photographers, we stop putting so much value into what our fellow photographers think and what some "expert" on the internet thinks of our work and start to concentrate more on what the general public thinks. Your fellow photographers won't be the ones buying your prints to hang above their fireplaces. Sure it does happen but let's be realistic, they have their own body of work. Who will be buying your images is those who truly love and support your work, those who accept it for what it is and those who think what it is you do is nothing short of beautiful. If you are one of the types I mentioned above who values what kind of feedback you receive online on a website community, you WILL get there. If you keep at it. Growth is bound to happen, as sure as the sun will rise. It does take time though and you need to patient.

One of the things I learned in my photography classes while in art college was something my teacher said. "Shoot as much as you can. If you put the camera down for a week, it is like not shooting for 2 months". Now think about that for a minute, nobody ever got ahead because stopped building their house, nobody ever got ahead because they stopped their race car half way through the race. If you want to get better you have to work at it. Chase it. Want it. Strive for it. Immerse yourself in it and it will happen all the more quicker.

These days I concentrate more on reaching the general public with my work, through my facebook photography page  where the majority aren't my fellow photographer but clients and potential clients. People who may not be artistic yet like my work for what it is. People who support me as a photographer and you my friend will get there too. It just takes time. No matter what the haters say, keep practicing and keep at it, you are in this for yourself after all.

Geneva Creek cuts through the colorful Aspen forest at the height of Autumn in Colorado. 
John De Bord Photography © 2012 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Schedule for week 2 of the Fall In Colorado photo meetup!

Greetings all!

We had a blast with week 1 of our Fall In Colorado photo meetup and now it is time for week 2!
Oct 5,6 & 7
Basically I have been tossing and turning with mixing it up some and I am going to do just that. I have also been paying very close attention to the weather and it looks like we may be in for some snow this weekend. I am all for being able to photography Elk bugling against snow covered Aspen trees. This can make for some great conditions!

What I am going to change around is this--- Friday, Saturday & Sunday mornings we will meet on the shores of Lake Estes at 6:30am and go from there. For those of you who attended the first week on Friday, it will be at the same spot. This makes logistics much easier than everyone trying to meet in Rocky Mountain National Park or other places. Basically the GPS coordinates are 40.376418,-105.503399 roughly. A map can be found here through Google Maps http://goo.gl/maps/zQdpW

I am determined to get you all some shots of Elk swimming in the lake. From here we will venture into Rocky Mountain National Park each day to photograph Elk and foliage. I plan on wrapping things up by 10am each day of course, things can always run later as we have no real set time table. You all may wish to dress for winter and maybe bring a change of clothes for later in the day. Make sure you check the weather as well.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone and we will have us a blast! Down below are a few shots from the first week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tips For Fall Photography

I thought that I would take a second and write this in hopes that maybe it helps some of you out.
Each and every year we see a lot of people write what basically is "make the most for your Fall photos" with hints, tips and tricks and what I have noticed is that much of it is the same. Polarizers, tripods, etc etc. So I thought that I would show you a little glimpse into how I shoot things. Granted, tripods and polarizers are certainly a mandatory affair. No questions asked there.

When it comes to shoot foliage such as Aspen trees and such, I think my method is probably different than a lot of peoples. This is aimed at shooting more intimate scenes, not sweeping landscapes, though it certainly can me used for that however I would say it really is dependent upon the scene itself (then again isn't everything?) Basically I start with an image that I can later correct in post work. I pretty much use Lightroom for everything these days and Photoshop only for resizing and sharpening, along with layer masking when it is called for.

When I am shooting an intimate Fall scene, I generally choose the preset of "Sunset" for my white balance on my Sony A550. I also generally underexpose by 1/3 to 1/2 a stop. Depending upon the lighting, that can drop down to much as a stop. There are a few reasons for this and for me, personally, this is one of the rare times I don't ETTR (Expose To The Right) Highlights can be easily blown within foliage especially when it comes to a scene which involves backlighting and such. The dynamic range within Autumn photography can be gigantic at times and by underexposing, this allows me to retain those highlights. When doing this the darks naturally will be darker so using a low ISO is essential which later doesn't introduce a lot of noise into the image when I am editing it in post work. By using a "sunset" white balance, the images come out very gold. Some may like their images looking like that, some may hate it, however it ensures that the saturation is generally dead on.

In postwork inside Lightroom, I will generally go ahead and just the white balance, finding the whitest point and selecting that. From there I can make adjustments and fine tune the temperature of the scene. Using the Luminance controls, I will then go in and fine tune the highlights to give the image a certain degree of "glow" in fine areas. After that I will adjust the curves and levels accordingly.

Down below is a Lightroom screen cap of the same image side by side. (it isn't finished yet and is a work in progress) It compares what I have in the camera to how I adjusted it mentioning the techniques above. I hope this will help some of you and make you think about your cameras settings this Fall.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Announcing The Fall 2012 Colorado Fall Photography Meetup!

Each and every year we get together photographers from near and far to experience Colorado in all of it's Autumn glory and this year once again we are doing the same! The cost is free and if you want to learn more about photography, we invite you to join us.

For this year we are mixing it up some with doing 1/2 days instead of all day long. From roughly 11am onwards, you will be your own to wander around Rocky Mountain National park and it's surrounding areas. This makes it easier on us and you as well.

The dates for this years meetup are as follows;

1st group Sept 28-30
2nd group Oct 5-7

Be on the look out in the next week or so for the schedule for group 2.
The schedule for group 1 is as follow:

Friday, Septemeber 28th
630am -- Meet on the shores of Lake Estes. http://goo.gl/maps/zQdpW Geo coordinates are 40.376418,-105.503399 roughly. Look for people with tripods set up and for a green Jeep Wrangler (John Sperry's Jeep) We will photograph the sunrise here and hopefully get lucky photographing Elk as they cross the lake. Afterwards, we will swing into Moraine Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park to photograph the Elk rut. We have to be in the area early as possible due to road construction along Bear Lake Rd. The road is technically closed from 9am-4pm however once you are in, you are in and can leave. You can not however re-enter until after 4pm when the road reopens again. We will also photograph the Aspen cages deeper in Moraine Valley.

Saturday September 29th
630am ---Meet on the shores of Brainard Lake. http://goo.gl/maps/1iY4E Geo coordinates 40.078209,-105.572426 We will photograph the sunrise here and explore the area as well. The Moose here have been very active. There is an entrance fee of $9 into the area unless you have a federal recreation pass. The whole area along here is known as the "Peak To Peak" highway and is draped in full Autumn color with gigantic Aspen stands, we will explore & photograph the area. From here, depending on the time, we will head over to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sunday September 30th
630am --- We will meet in Moraine Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park specifically here http://goo.gl/maps/1Zwxt along Moraine Rd where it meets Bear Lake Rd. Just remember, along Moraine Rd, not along Bear Lake Rd. We will photograph the sunrise and the Elk rut from here and afterwards we will head over to the Horse Park area of RMNP and into the area of the Alluvial Fan and Endo Valley areas to photograph the Aspen cages.

We look forward to seeing and meeting you this Fall!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review! --- TheVestGuy.com Safari model photo vest.

Review! --- TheVestGuy.com Safari model photo vest.

Ok I admit it. I HATE photo vests with a passion. I think they are the most absurd looking thing around. I think vests should be reserved for the likes of SWAT teams and fly fisherman, not photographers. Nothing screams geek to me like a photo vest does so when wildlife photographer and custom photography vest maker Rob Daughtery contacted me asking to review one of his vests I was rather skeptical. I have known Rob awhile now and his photography is simply amazing, mind blowing in fact. I sort of figured "ok what the heck, why not" and was expecting another run of the mill generic looking photo vest. 

He asked me which model I would like to review and I decided to check out the Safari model photo vest. I received it a few days later and immediately it got my attention. I was expecting some flimsy cloth thing and what I received was something that was anything but. It is like a mix of canvas and nylon that feels as though it could withstand just about everything. Think of something similar to the material which your backpack is made of. This isn't clothing, this is straight up armor. This thing LOOKS and FEELS like it would outlast a dang nuclear war. Was I impressed? Yes. Was I shocked? Very. 

It is seriously heavy duty stuff. If you set this thing leaning against something it would probably stand on it's own. It is strong and very rugged. I wouldn't consider this something that say someone shooting sports would wear or portraits, weddings, that sort of thing but rather something you would wear while in the forest when you are down low trying to get the shot. This puppy is made for down and dirty wildlife photographers. This is the sort of vest one wears when they are down on their belly to protect themselves. It is like a SWAT vest for photographers. 

One thing which I found very unique about it is how it is completely modular and the customization options which come with it. Yes it has pockets. Yes pockets can be ordered and custom made as wanted by you It has pockets that are huge and ultra strong, enough to hold my 50mm lens and my 200-400. Rob has the ability to imprint your website address and your name on the vest and anything else for that matter. These pockets though get me. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before and the only way I can try to describe it is having the ability to walk around with camera bags tacked to your body. Literally the only thing this thing is missing is a built in tripod strap which I am sure Rob could make for you. 

This goes beyond a vest and really is more like a wearable camera bag. Looking at it, comparing anything, sans laptop compartment, it can hold as much and in some respects even more than my go to photo backpack camera bag! Is there anything which I really didn't like? 

Well I will be honest, this thing is huge, is that good or bad? It depends on your POV. If you are going to be out in the field for a long time and need to carry stuff but don't want to lug around something like a camera bag, it is perfect. It is stiff, I will say that but I guess that's the sacrifice for protection from the elements. It is bulky, this isn't one of these vests which is light weight and made of trench coat like material. No, this thing is like an iron tent. It is breathable but does get very warm. 

You certainly get what you pay for. each one is hand made by Rob and the quality really shows. I like that, I like that time is really taken in something which will last me years and you can just tell it will too. While my Dad was playing the model wearing it while I photographed it, he made the remark "this thing is really well put together". You know that right away from the instant you put it on that you won't need another one a few years down the road. 

So my closing thoughts? 

Honestly, if you are looking for a vest? Get one. You won't find a better one. Ever. As much as I can't stand photo vests my opinion has now changed at least when it comes to TheVestGuy.com They don't look like any other photo vest and that is for good reason. As I said, this really isn't a vest but an entire camera bag replacement! 

Rob also sells beanbags and other style vests too. You can purchase his homemade gear from TheVestGuy.com  Go buy one, you will be glad you did!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who cares what others think about your photography

Just as the title states folks. Seriously, who cares what others think about your photography.
I woke up this morning and grabbed some coffee, turned on the TV and was surfing around and happened upon this recent image by Peter Lik over on his facebook page. For those of you who may not know Peter, I think it is probably safe to say that he is the most famous landscape photographer of our time. His work hangs in collections all over the world and he has several galleries strewn across the globe. Famous defined. Anyways, what got me wasn't the image, an image which I personally like myself, but the comments on the shot itself.

I know a few of the photographers who are posting those comments. Not in a personal sense but in the internet sense in that they frequent a few of the sites which I am on or once was a member of. The whole "if it isn't out of the camera or appeared anything like that, it is fake" kind of train of thought. Those who are insecure in their work and not able to understand that art is art and feel the need to constantly criticize and argue with other photographers the stupid endless debate of "what is photography". You know what photography is? It is something that makes you happy, it is something which you capture with a camera and something that you create with that camera. The keyword here is "create" and I think a lot forget that. Looking at Peter's image, it does look pretty wild, I don't have any idea how he shot it and it is possible he used a very long lens and I also know that he does use film and double exposures are completely legitimate. So who cares how he took it in all honesty. Why should you care what anyone says about your photography?

You shouldn't and here is why.

Recently I read what I can only describe as the best article on any photoblog that I have ever read, Guy Tal's article "The Value and Futility of Critique" is simply amazing. (Guy is also one of my favorite all time photographers who's work I deeply admire and and am inspired by) If you read it, you will come upon this paragraph;

"Most mature and accomplished artists who embraced their own creativity no longer have much use for critique. From that point on, the critic is but a voice representing the tastes of others, who may or may not understand the work, and whose opinion is not likely to make an impact on the artist's direction. The exception, perhaps, is when the artist considers the critic a better artist than they are."

That is some seriously pretty amazing stuff and boy does he hit home with it. I mean honestly, think about it for a second. Really take that in. he is very much right and in that train of thought you also find happiness.

In this day and age it seems that many are always chasing the acceptance factor of their fellow photographers. Why? Are they the ones actually buying your work? Chances are the answer is no. Case in point, look at the work of Trey Ratcliff  who's HDR photography is quite famous yet he is quite a polarizing figure among photographers; people either love or hate his work. You know what though? He is happy with what he creates and he makes a living that puts 99.9% of us to shame with his images (sans Peter Lik maybe) he is living the dream that every single photographer has, traveling the world photographing it. he has stuck to his guns and done what he loves all along and has batted and eye lash in any of it and look what all that focus has gotten him.

Can you hear me now?

Don't give in to the haters and don't be so concerned about what others think, especially those who shoot themselves. It isn't to say that you shouldn't ask for advice, you most cerrtainly should at every second you can, rather think outside the box, think how something looks and if it is something you would hang on your wall. Perhaps more importantly is it an image that someone else would hang on their wall who isn't a photographer. Think about it, you'll get it.

"Leaning In The Light" - Captured on the eastern plains of Colorado at dusk