Livermore Falls, Campton, NH.
I’ve always loved the patterns and colors in the ice along the cliff and now I’m finally getting around to doing something with this image.
I’m coming to realize that winter might very well be my favorite time of year to make photographs.
Original date of capture: 2/6/2010
Camera body: Canon EOS 40D
Lens: Canon EF 17-40 f4L
iso 100, 40mm, f16 @ 1/4 second.
From late October through most of November, the most gorgeous golden light passes through the woods on the side of the road to my house. So far this is the best I’ve done to capture it. Taken back in 2008, only a few months after I bought my first camera, this is also my first attempt at HDR, not half bad if I do say so myself.
Canon EF 24-70 f2.8L
ISO 100, 45mm, f8 @ 1/100
Canon EOS 1D Mk IIN
Canon 16-35 f2.8L
16mm, iso 100, 0.6 seconds @ f11
Today? The weekly challenge theme this week is “Today.” What am I going to do with that?
What to photograph on a rainy day in New Hampshire? Too wet for any outdoor shooting, what do I have lying around just waiting to be photographed?
I’ve been eyeing the vase full of peacock feathers I keep for tying flies. Just like a lot of other things close by, they’ve been overlooked for subjects farther afield. Looks like a good excuse to play with the new 7D and 70-200 f2.8L. Throw in a 25mm extension tube and there you have it.
Decided one wasn’t enough for “Today,” so I added another.
Attempt Number One.
I love living on a lake, no surprise there. When I got my first camera, four years ago this month actually, one of the first things I knew I wanted to photograph was a sunrise over the lake. So one morning I grabbed my camera and tripod and went down to the beach closest to our house. There are a few boulders just a few feet from shore that I knew would be just the thing for that all important foreground element.
Being new to photography then, I figured all I needed to do was be there around sunrise, point my camera in the general direction of the rising sun, and wa-la, award-winning sunrise. Well it didn’t take long for that bubble to burst and realize that it takes just a bit more than that.
This is my first attempt, more of a “blue hour” photo than a true sunrise, but the clouds came in and this was as clear as it got.
It’s also pretty obvious, to me at least, that at this point in my journey to becoming a photographer I needed to learn a thing or two about composition as well.
My second effort didn’t turn out much better. If it wasn’t for the fisherman in the boat I’m not sure I would have kept the two images from this particular morning that have so far escaped the delete key. Not the most horrible photo I’ve ever made, but I don’t see any awards or sales orders in its future either. I do love the golden glow on the rippled surface of the lake though, so there is that going for it.
Third time’s the charm. I was all set to head to the seacoast in the morning, but just didn’t feel like getting up early enough to make it for sunrise. So I settled one more time on the lake.
One of the biggest reservations I have about putting much effort in shooting this lake is the utter featurelessness (is that even a word?) of the far shoreline. It looks like someone took a giant pair of hedge trimmers and went nuts. Not a hill or mountain in sight, just a straight, flat treeline. I was going to need a great sky, along with my already chosen foreground element to make it work to my satisfaction.
Yesterday morning it happened! And I almost missed it, can you believe that? I got up at 5 a.m., stepped out on the deck, looked up, seeing mostly clouds I seriously considered going back to bed. Then, while having my coffee I looked through the trees toward the lake and saw the horizon to the east was open. Not much, but enough to make me grab my tripod and camera bag and make a fast walk to the closest of our beaches. Knowing that with only a sliver of open sky at the horizon, things could be spectacular, but they would happen fast and be over quickly, I didn’t waste any time getting to the water’s edge.
Mother nature did not disappoint, and the sky lit up just as I had hoped. It also came and went as quickly as I had anticipated, so I was glad I picked up the pace when I did. At best, I had 7-10 minutes of the most glorious sky I have yet to photograph over “our” lake. And the reflection on the surface of the lake, I’ll just let the photograph speak for itself…
And to think I almost drove an hour to the coast…
Show your work, show your work, show your work. If there is one common piece of advice voiced by almost every professional photographer whose opinions I respect, it is this. If you want people to appreciate and possibly buy your work, you need to show it. And to paraphrase Rick Sammon, “you never now who may be looking.” I happily came to realize just how true that last statement is, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
I have set up a fan page on Facebook (go ahead and “like” it, you know you want too), I’m on Flickr , and recently I’ve been sharing what I consider some of my best work on 500px. I’ve also been testing the waters over at Google+, though I haven’t really jumping in with both feet yet. And let’s not forget, if you are reading this, my name and images have now reached you!
Most of my efforts have been centered on getting my actual framed work in the public eye, with my biggest effort put forth at the Portsmouth Open Market in Portsmouth, NH. This has also been my most productive outlet for image display. While I have only sold a few prints at these outdoor markets, I have noticed a big jump in image views on my website. I’ve put a business card in the hand of anyone who will take one, and at my second market I was fortunate enough to catch the eye of a local real estate agent who also happens to write a blog. A mention on his blog was also good for a boost in image views! All leading to potential future image sales.
Here is where “you never know who might be looking,” worked out for me. My last market of the season also produced the biggest potential benefit to my beginning photography business. I was approached by a very nice woman asking if I would be interested in creating 8-12 images to decorate the walls of their soon to open dental practice. How cool is that?! For pros who make their living from this kind of thing it may not be a big deal, but for me it is a huge boost to both my ego and potentially my bottom line. To think, my photographs will be seen by every patient and employee who walks into the office.
The most recent success from the results of my shameless self promotion, someone who saw the above image on my fan page, loves it and wants it. They want it on canvas, and they want it big! Social media does work!!
I have also found another good source for potential outlets to show your work, and this goes for almost any type of artist. Craigslist, that’s right, Craigslist. In the community section under “artists,” there are always several people/business owners/galleries looking for artists to display their works. I found the Portsmouth Open Markets this way, and now have my own personal gallery hanging for sale at MusicalArts Hampton, NH location. I’ve seen everything from “Mom n Pop” craft stores to larger office buildings. It’s worth a look in my opinion.
The moral of the story: If you want people to see and hopefully buy your photographs, you have to get out there and show it. It won’t do you any good sitting unseen on your computer. If you insist on waiting for people to find your work by accident, so be it. I’ll be enjoying the fruits of my labor, soaking up every last compliment, and enjoying the increased image sales.
I was in Newmarket, New Hampshire this past Saturday participating as a vendor during the town’s Olde Home Day celebration. The weather was perfect for an outdoor market, and the people were great. But as the day wore on, I was repeatedly asked two questions, both of which make me cringe every time I hear them.
“What kind of camera do you have?”
Possibly number one on my list of annoying questions. Until I put a little thought into it though, I didn’t realize why this question bothered me so much. Then it hit me, at its core this one questions my ability as a photographer. The idea that you can buy your way into creating great images is quite prevalent among the general public. To me this says they think it’s the gear that made the photograph, not my skill, vision, and creativity as an artist. Not to mention my effort to be at the right place at the right time. I’ll bet no one ever asked Picasso what kind of brushes he used, or Stephen King what kind of typewriter he created The Stand on. I’ve decided I’m going to start telling people who ask, that I use a Kodak Easy Share, the look on their face will be priceless.
“Is that photoshopped?”
I went into this in more depth in an earlier post, so I won’t go too deeply into it again. I consider that what I’m creating is art, and not photo journalism, so I make no secret of the fact that I use Lightroom3 and several plug-ins to achieve the result I envision for an image. The fact of the matter is, do you like it or not? If so, does it really matter what I did to the image during the editing process to get to the result you see? Buy it, or not. Like it, or not. The process shouldn’t matter.
Another question I get asked a lot has to do with the perception that, as someone serious about their photography who uses a “real” camera, I know everything about the features and operation of every camera ever produced since the dawn of time. The question can take many forms, but usually goes something like, “what does this mean?” or “how do I get my camera to do this?” Usually asked by the owner of their new point-and-shoot. My standard reply is almost always, RTFM,* and I think most of you know what it stands for. However after this smart-ass reply, I do try to help when I can because, one, I’m not a total ass, and two, it is usually asked by a family member or close friend at a family gathering or some other social occasion.
Well that’s it for now, I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting at the moment, so in the mean time why don’t you tell me, what photography related questions most annoy you.
*For those who can’t guess it’s, Read The F—-n Manual!
How do you use your camera? Are you a spray and pray, fill up the memory card, and hope for a few good photographs photographer? Or are you methodical and contemplative about your photography, planning the shot knowing exactly what you want before you even think of “pulling the trigger?” I confess, I am a reformed machine gunner myself. When I purchased my first DSLR in the spring of 2008, I went nuts. If my memory card held 300 raw files, by gosh I was going to fill it! If I hadn’t decided early on I was only going to shoot raw, I could have come home with almost 1,000 jpegs, woo-hoo! I had studied long and hard on the mechanics of photography before I even had my first camera in hand. I could recite f-stop this, shutter speed that till the cows came home. I knew my Canon 40D and 100-400L inside and out before the big brown truck even dropped off the packages. But when it came to artistic side of it, the actual making of a photograph, I fully embraced the “digital is cheap, lets fill that 32 gig memory card” way of shooting. I put little thought into composition, lighting, etc., and relied heavily on “if I take enough shots I’m bound to get a few good ones.” You know what? It worked, to a degree. I could count on the camera to be pointed in the right direction, at the right time, in the right light, often enough that I did manage a few good images. But this created a workflow nightmare. Having to go through ten almost identical images to pick the “best” one, over and over again was brutal. Not to mention the plain crap that was there as well.
Now I push the shutter button less, a lot less. The more I fell in love with making images, and not just taking snap-shots, the more I thought about the images I was making. The more I took my time to creating my photographs, the more I realized I was actually pretty good at it. And good on purpose, not good by luck. I no longer hope for the best when I press the shutter button, I have a plan. That plan doesn’t always lead to a great photograph, sometimes not even a mediocre one, but I do have something in mind when the shutter clicks besides the hope that I’ll get lucky. I am a bit of a mad scientist at times, and experiment a lot with my camera, which leads to more than a little “what the hell was I thinking?” when I get home and download the images into Lightroom. But I no longer rely on luck, hope, and sheer numbers to increase the odds I got a keeper.
The funny this is, the less often I press the shutter, the more good photographs I make. The more serious I become about my photography, the more I know exactly what I want to come out of my camera, and how to go about getting it. I’m also putting more time and effort into being in great locations during great light. I’m also not afraid to not press the shutter at all. Many times I’ve been out with my camera and just didn’t see a photograph waiting to be made. I no longer feel that just because I’m out with my camera, having gotten up long before sunrise, that I need to take a picture. When this happens, I just enjoy the time outside, knowing there is always the next time.