"Greetings and Salutations" as a favourite movie character once said. 

And "Here's my blog. Welcome to it." said another.

I'll be posting random thoughts, some photographs, and possibly even some information and discussion about some styles and techniques and locations.

Stop by from time to time when you have time to kill ;)

 

-always learning,

Jeff

'tis the season

September 29, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Well, for a photographer (at least myself, anyway), there are two 'seasons' that I wait for. The hoar frost days of winter, and autumn in general. Sure, people have told me I'm a bit kooky for loving the smell of the leaves/forest in the fall ("that's the smell of the leaves dying!"), but it really is my favourite time of year.  It also allows for some great photo opportunities. Sometimes I can find summer a bit 'boring' with its bright sun and everything green green green.  Sure, where I am in Southern Saskatchewan, there aren't a lot of trees around but the ones that WERE left behind from the glacial swath do a nice job of showing their true colours as they wither and die.

But I look at it more as rewarding us. The trees are providing us with some nice zen eye candy before dropping all their leaves to reveal more of the open sky around us for the remainder of the year.

I've been up early a couple days this week for sunrise, hoping to catch some fog over the creek in my area but unfortunately, so far Mother Nature has not rewarded me for my early alarm-setting.  However this particular shot was worth the hour-long wait for the sun to creep over the trees to light up the leaves. I'm hoping to get back to this spot to compare a nice foggy morning and I'll very likely get it on Thursday if the high truly is 8 degrees C !!!

Autumn Creek

It truly is my favourite time of year and yesterday was a very 'active' fall day with the leaves raining down. I almost wish I had taken some video footage.  Enjoy what's left of the fall colours! Because, soon enough................. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....

 


Focus on the focus

August 14, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

It's not what you think for that title. While 'focus' is important... FOCUS is more important. Motivation and goals.

I just attended a two day PPOC Super-School workshop with Tim and Bev Walden, masters of their craft.  And as with any time I get to watch someone extremely talented and gifted at what they do, I feel both inspired...and dissuaded.

So this is where the 'focus on the focus' comes in. Mindset. The way you think and approach a 'problem' in order to solve it.

Set goals for yourself, personally, business-wise, etc. Even little ones--keep you 'achieving' and feeling like you're moving and accomplishing. We all get jaded (I think? hahaha) with photography from time to time, whether it be thinking we're shooting the same thing all the time, edit the same way all the time, use the same lens all the time, not feeling as creative as 'we should' (how creative do you THINK you 'should be'?), etc.

Tim and Bev really drove home the 'focus' and the 'narrowing' of application/style. I'm currently having to select some images for an exhibit at the end of the month. So, for me, today's focus was to go look for some of my favourite recent images that give me a good feeling and throw them at the wall to see what sticks. 

So this is my first entry into Kent Weakley's "Sweet Shot Tuesday" blog posting--I hope you enjoy looking at some of these!

Halcyon Solitude Herringbone

 

-Jeff

 


Why 'settings' don't matter...much.

July 24, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I say it often. "A good image is a good image." Frankly, I don't "care" how it was made or what it was made with. That's just my own personal take on things. A good image is a good image, shot with your $6000 DSLR, or your Blackberry (though, iPhones take better photos LOL), processed with actions, presets, or by hand.  Tools are tools. It's the final piece that is of more interest. That said, sure, sometimes there is curiosity as to how an image was created.

Was the following image shot with two different capture devices? Or same shot processed differently? Is one image 'better' than the other? Which one, and why? 

What people that haven't taken classes, workshops, or just played around with software enough on their own (I'm 90% self-taught in the Photoshop world FYI) don't realize is that EVERY image (ok, I'll qualify that by adding 'shot with a DSLR') is processed. The only person that sees the 'SOOC' (straight out of camera) image is the person shooting it and anyone who sees the LCD screen. And, surprise, if your point 'n' shoot or iPhone or DSLR has any 'modes' set on it, congratulations, you've just processed your image. PHOTOSHOP!!!!!!!!! (I still have that scream echoed in my mind)

There are basic JPEG conversions that automatically get done to RAW images in certain software upon import and export. It's just the way it is. That's 'processing' whether you like it or not. So we should just relax on that topic and enjoy a photo for what it is. If we weren't there when it was shot, as the subject, or a viewer, we don't know how the image looked as it was clicked. And, again, does it matter?

I believe I'm a technically strong photographer; I've been trained well. I know rules and then apply them or toss them out the window as I choose. The same goes with processing an image. For me, it's about making the best image possible; to tell a story with a frame, to (attempt to) elicit emotion. To make corrections, changes, or improvements.  You know the deal: everything from blemish correction, "laugh line / life line" softening (wink wink nudge nudge), to adjusting contrast, brightness, saturation, or (gasp!!!) HDR.

Sunrise on Regina Beach

So when people wrinkle their nose or get out the torches and scream 'PHOTOSHOP!!!!!!!!' about an image (I'm going to link to a great image shot by Regina Photographer Chris Graham here that has been getting a lot of comments in general and enough 'PHOTOSHOP!!!!!!!!' comments to drive a photographer batty: Chris Graham Lightning Photo), I just wonder "do they understand what they're saying?" I use Photoshop on every single image.

Every one. I add metadata and my name stamp in Photoshop. So I'm not lying when I say I use it on every single image. And on some images I even TWEAK THINGS! (gasp!!!)

Rainbow Windmill

Regarding my topic of "settings don't matter"---I read a blog post this morning by Kent Weakley with a great quote that I wanted to pass on.  Sometimes I get asked what settings I used for a particular photo, or when taking a shot, someone will ask what settings I'm using.  The quoted response from (someone with a lotttttttt more experience than myself) the person was essentially "fx, 1/y, ISO z, and 40 years of experience!"  So when someone asks what settings I used, (I once got complaints on my website that I don't list settings used for the shot. That's a choice.) I sometimes just ask 'why'? Not because I'm being elusive or protective or 'a jackass', but because...really... I could shoot at f8, 1/250, 200 ISO, or I could shoot f5.6, 1/500, 200 ISO. Or I could get crazy and shoot ISO 800 and _________________. Basically, that's the thing. The settings are 'somewhat' irrelevant because they're all related. HOWEVER, yes there are creative choices made to create an image. Do you WANT to blow something out? Make something appear 'less in focus'? Do you want something to blur but something else to stay sharp? That comes with experience.

The blog post was about 'the most important photo accessory to have'. And that's "experience". Not a tripod, not a polarizing filter, not the best camera you can afford (or pay high interest on). I've had friendly competitions with my photo-friends where I take photos with my DSLR and iPhone and without showing side by side, post one and people guess which a photo was shot with. Or I'll have competitions using ONLY our iPhones, etc. It's not the tools. It's what you do with them. Give a master carpenter some power tools or hand tools and the product will still turn out better than an apprentice.  Expensive paint or cheap paint for Picasso? Gross examples, yes. But truthful. My photo instructor has been known to say "don't show me your camera, show me your images."  Thanks, Lori!

And it is sooooo important to GET OUT THERE AND SHOOT! Keep practicing!!! A very lucky few are just able to 'shoot and make things look great'. Just like any artist or person talented at anything---it's either lots of practice and DOING or they're a prodigy. I'm not a prodigy.

 

And, for reference, for those still reading: the caterpillar? Left image was my DSLR, right image was my iPhone. I should have aperture-matched the two shots if I was actually thinking I'd use it for instructional purposes.  The windmill and rainbow? Sure, I'll tell you my settings: I use a Nikon D7000, shot at ISO 200, f/5, 1/2000, 17mm focal length. I could have bumped up aperture and slowed shutter speed. Settings don't matter... much.

-Jeff

 


Storm Chasing Bucket List

July 02, 2012  •  1 Comment

I accomplished a 'Bucket List' checkmark yesterday, July 1, 2012.  I was able to ride along with Greg Johnson (twitter @canadogreg) the Tornado Hunter in the Storm Spotter F150!  I'm still wired from the adrenaline and have finished reviewing my photos from the afternoon / evening.  Not as good as his lightning pictures but I'll take 'em.

A Lowering

I have been fascinated with storms since I was a kid, and also with tornadoes. The power and the fury, and also the beauty, of storms has intrigued me as a photographer as well.  Other than a few lightning storms and eerie cloud formations I have never willingly gone TOWARD a large thunderstorm before.  This past Tuesday my friends Paul and Tamara decided to go out and intercept the large tornadic storm that was heading toward Regina just off the #11 and #2 Highways and got some great photos.  They will appear in my 'Tempests' album to view full-screen as soon as I upload them.

Wall Cloud Descending

These images are from the official storm chase today with Greg. It was truly a thrill (literally) to be in the vehicle and have access to the tracking technology and the knowledge.  And we had GREAT opportunities for some very interesting cloud formations.  No tornadoes were spotted but warnings were issued as we were chasing a storm in the Mortlach/Caronport area -- eerily near the site of Tuesday's tornado touchdown in the area.

Clouds over Shamrock

Not many people get the opportunity (nor...would they want them?) to get in the path of a storm on purpose to get images of it.  Once again, thank you to Greg for extending the invite to go along today. I'm kind of happy that I didn't get to run out and twist the large dog-tie-out spike into the ground with the GoPro camera mounted onto it like was planned in the event of a tornado nearby today...  Driving through the green grey wall of loonie-sized hail was enough. For today.

Unstable Bridge

The Razor's Edge

Enjoy the frames; the outing was well worth it (even if I DID leave my tripod behind in a hurry to get going). Totally wired on adrenaline, up until 5:30 editing photos and then just tapping my fingers waiting to get tired. Happy Canada Day 2012!

 

 


Seeing the light.

May 11, 2012  •  1 Comment

Really, that's what it's all about in the world of photography. Seeing the light. Finding the light. Knowing how to control and use the light.

And then putting it onto your media with whatever device you have at hand.
 

 

This morning I had a crazy idea; I'd set my alarm for 5:15 and get up with the sun.  Tired as all heck, I'm GLAD I did. Perfectly cloudless sky, which is usually the bane of a photographer's existence. But that allowed for a nice orange red glow as the sun was coming up before it actually hit horizon.

Then I went to a location I had been thinking about for awhile to see how the sun was hitting things. What do you think?

Into the light

 I snapped a few other shots (please note: AS-SHOT) to illustrate how interesting the light is at different times of day and in different weather conditions. I have to thank Douglas E. Walker  for really driving home for me the importance of just LOOKING at what you're thinking of shooting. If you have any control at all over what you want to shoot, do it. Don't just make it a snapshot. Those are fine, but "all good things to those who wait"

 

These are for illustrative purpose: just look how interesting that lighting is! Beats showing up at high noon doesn't it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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