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I’ve been taking some time off from writing and photography in general to spend more time on other projects and also recharge my creative potential. This is something I’ve learned to do over the years, and it’s immensely helpful when things feel stale.

I’m also speeding more time with my family, especially my kids, which are my most important priority for now. That’s also why my field workshop schedule is rather thin, and will likely remain that way for some time. But I am working on some overseas workshops for the future, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ll be giving a talk entitled “From Composition to Print – The Creative Workflow” at the B&H Event Space on Tuesday July 24th from 1-3pm. You can attend in person, watch the live stream, or watch a replay on youtube at a later date. More info here!

Thanks as always for your support!

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Olympus E-M1 Mk II, 1/100 sec @f/8, ISO 200, 24mm, no filters

If I had to compare my approach in landscape photography to another art form, the one that immediately comes to mind is jazz, and specifically jazz improvisation. That’s no surprise considering it’s what I listened to most as a teenager and studied in my four years at the Berklee College of Music. After graduation, I shifted more towards music production since it combined my interests in both technology with music, plus it paid the bills more easily.

But my love and appreciation of improvisation is stronger than ever and certainly influences how I capture images. It’s based on a few key ideas which I mentioned in my previous post, namely that:

  1. I’m open to any possibility without being attached to the outcome.
  2. I remain engaged with the light and the landscape as fully as possible.
  3. The “rules” of photography (whether part of the art or craft) serve as a guide, but nothing more. Any rule can be broken if it leads to a stronger image.

What I like most about this approach, however, is that it encourages a “beginner’s mind,” because there’s always room for improvement, for growth, for a better response. No matter how many times you’ve played the same song or visited the same location, a new creative possibility is available every time—and that’s exciting indeed!

Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll discover it every time, (or even some of the time), but you can be sure that the effort is always worth it. You have to be on the path before you can discover what the path has to reveal.

This image is very much the result of that approach. I simply walked into the landscape without any preconceptions of what to photograph. Other than being aware of what time the sunrise would occur, I didn’t think of much else aside from giving back to nature what it gave me; attention and gratitude.

As I walked further into the desert I noticed a small sand dune that sparked my curiosity, so I headed towards it to see what I would find. I reached the top of the dune about 10 minutes before sunrise and simply waited for the light to arrive as I contemplated my surroundings and how great it felt to be in the desert once again. The sky was totally clear, the air fresh and cool, and the silence inescapable.

Before long, dramatic light was everywhere creating saturated colors, interesting shadows, and a sense of visual acceleration. I was immediately taken by the lines and textures that appeared in the sand in front of me that lead my eye all the way to the distant rocks and mountains beyond.

I started with a basic vertical composition emphasizing the strongest lines and shapes I saw in order to create a sense of depth. From there I improvised, changing the orientation and position of the camera as I considered how best to capture the moment. This is where a tripod really becomes critical. It provides an anchor to a compositional idea and lets me explore it thoroughly before deciding to move elsewhere.

This is not so easy to do without a tripod, and I rely on this restriction to help me hone in on the best possible composition. Sure you can crop afterward, but if you can make more confident decisions in the field, why not take advantage of that while the raw materials are available? I feel most creative and emotionally connected when I’m in the field improvising with the light, not afterward in front of my computer wishing I had looked and seen more deeply.

From Initial Idea to Final Image

The sequence below shows how I adapted my composition to find what I thought worked the best. Constant attention to the light and the edges of the frame are what help most here, and I simply wanted to make sure there were no weak areas in the image.

I start with the camera low to the sand. trying to use the lines to lead the viewer into the image. But even as I press the shutter button, I’m struggling with the lone bush and the bright rock walls on the right. But I’m engaged visually and creatively, and that’s where it all starts.

I move the camera slightly and try to simplify the bush, but again still struggling with the bright distant rock walls. I realize the bush is not really adding to the image, so…

I adjust my position again and remove the bush – much simpler in the foreground – now I have to resolve the image in the background…

As the light becomes stronger, I decided to play to that and change the background to pick up the distant bushes that now have light and provide a nice diagonal, plus introduce a “cooler” shape, the distant mountains. Much more depth now…but the horizontal orientation adds too much of a good thing…

Switching back to a vertical orientation brings the emphasis back to the foreground lines and simplifies the background to simpler shapes and a better balance between the warm rocks on right and cooler mountains in the distance. This is the original raw file before editing.

This whole sequence lasted about 3-4 minutes, but it felt much, much longer. The time span isn’t important—that’s highly dependent on the available light. But it shows how important remaining engaged with changing conditions is to the creative process,  refining an idea until it feels right. 

RAW Developing

Developing the image in Lightroom Classic 7 was rather straightforward, with most of the work being done in the Basic Panel. Setting the proper white and black points really optimizes the tonal range, adding saturation and depth in the shadows. I was careful not to add too much Clarity, as I find it has a tendency to remove the subtlety in an image if overused. I wish I could share more, but really the light and simplicity of the image make editing both easy and fun.

The Print

There was little question in my mind that a textured matte paper was the ideal paper to convey both the texture and the warmth of the image. In fact, the whole experience of making the images was rather meditative, and while there is strong contrast, the sense of place and the way I felt, what I heard, and certainly what I saw is the most important part of the print.

I chose Canson Infinity Printmaking Rag for its subtle and dimensional texture, as well as its ability to hold detail and black density to the degree I feel is needed to make the print work. I printed it on my Canon Pro-1000, and the color is both saturated and organic, and the detail is evident without looking “digital.”

Hope this helps you in your quest to make better images and prints. None of this implies my image is perfect or can’t be improved, or that it appeals to everyone. What matters to me is that you adapt ideas for your own work and that you remain willing to continue to seek improvement.

This image is in the past for me—what matters now is the next experience to grow and learn from my mistakes.

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Olympus E-M1 Mk II, 24mm

I’m finally back home after two weeks in Utah leading two consecutive workshops with an amazing group of human beings. That explains in part why I haven’t been writing much here recently. Workshops are highly immersive for me, and so I basically block out everything else that isn’t directly related to the students and the environment I’m in. But that’s part of a much broader approach to life I’m trying to adopt that revolves around the idea of focusing on what’s essential, and eliminating the rest.

Focusing on the essential is an idea I will return to in the future as it has slowly permeated all aspects of my life, and there’s a book on how it relates to photography in the works as well. In a world full of limitless distractions and shallow activities, I want the opposite; meaningful growth and experiences, and increased creative potential.

That was certainly evident during this month’s workshops in the incredible southwest. Even after endless moments of wonder in an awe-inspiring landscape, what moves me the most is the human experiences. We arrive as strangers with common interests, but we depart with a deeper connection to nature and each other that transcends both camera and images made. It’s only when the images become secondary that meaningful creative growth becomes possible.

For me, that involves a commitment to what’s essential about landscape photography: an emotional connection to the landscape and a willingness to let go of outcomes.

The opposite of success isn’t failure, but an unwillingness to try things that will probably fail. When the outcome isn’t the goal, curiosity can lead us to new ideas—ideas about composition, about subject matter, or how to approach a familiar or iconic landscape.

Those are also my only goals for a workshop; making sure students find that space which allows them to be curious—which by definition means they can be themselves without self-judgment or external criticism. The technical and mechanical aren’t forgotten, they play an essential role in making images. But those are finite, and what I’m interested in sharing most is what comes after – the path of creativity.

Q+A

While I usually answer all reader questions in the CreativePath Newsletter, I decided to answer this particular question here because I think it directly relates to what I’ve been discussing so far.

What’s your thought process when you arrive at a site and you want to make a nice composition?”

First, my thought process begins before I even get to a location. So much of success in photography involves attitude. Having an open mind to any possibility is critical otherwise truly seeing what’s in front of you becomes difficult and obscured by expectations and judgments.

As I say in my Eight Principles of Nature Photography, the worst question to ask is “what’s wrong.” Better to seek what’s right and follow that thread wherever it leads. For me that starts with light, and how it’s interacting with the landscape. That might be as far as my eye can see, or just a small part of the overall landscape – perhaps a flower, or the shoreline in front of me.

If the idea is to make a composition as strong as possible, then we must include only what adds strength, and remove what doesn’t. To know what makes a composition stronger, you must study the basics of visual design; lines, shapes, curves. texture, and pattern. You also must study light and all of its qualities.

So if I were to make a list of my mental thoughts when I venture out to make images, it would look something like this.

  1. Make sure I’m in the most grateful state of mind – receptive to whatever nature offers because there is always something positive when you’re spending time in nature.
  2. Try to “see” what inspires me, which is much different than looking.
  3. Analyze the light and where it’s having the greatest effect on the landscape and my curiosity.
  4. Look for interesting shapes, patterns, lines, and tones that can make an interesting composition.
  5. Only press the shutter when I feel inspired, and remain focused on the first 4 items above. If I capture something, it becomes irrelevant at that point because it’s in the past—what matters most is what’s happening at the moment. The “past” I can review later when nature is no longer in front of me. The more time you spend judging the past, the less receptive you become to the present—the path the leads to better images.

To read all of my answers to questions, be sure to subscribe to the CreativePath newsletter.

Thanks as always for reading! Leave your feedback or additional questions below.

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A recent discussion in the CreativePath Community forum centered on the issue of trying to figure out the best aspect ratios for printing an image on standard paper sizes. This also happens to be a common question in my printing workshops.

I suppose the question stems from the desire to maximize the use of paper so as not to waste any unnecessarily. For example, printing an image from an M4/3 camera onto an 11” x 17” paper (A3) with 1” borders on one dimension leaves 2.5” borders on the other. In an attempt to use more of the paper, you might be tempted to crop the image to fit the paper.

I vehemently disagree with this idea—here’s why. Composition is the most important aspect of any photograph, so why compromise that simply for an arbitrary paper size? I know fine art paper is expensive, but why are you printing your images if not to share your very best with the world?

Is your investment in paper more important than your creative vision?

My approach is to capture the best possible composition I’m capable of in the field. I rarely crop—not because of any ideology, but because I don’t want to lose any resolution that might compromise print sizes. Of course if it strengthens the image, then I’d be foolish not to crop. I’ve also found that this approach actually compels me to look and see more carefully in the field, which is the most important thing you can invest in.

Once I have a composition I am happy with, it gets printed that way regardless of the paper size. If the borders are uneven, I happily trim the paper. That may not use the paper most efficiently, but a viewer could care less about how efficiently you used the paper—only that the composition is as strong as possible to convey whatever it is you want to convey.

The only exception to this situation I can think of is in portraiture where the subject is centrally located and the background is often a fade of some dark color. In this case, cropping is much more forgiving and doesn’t change the composition much at all.

But when there are elements that go to the edge of the frame and beyond, they cannot be ignored simply because they may seem less important. Every part of the rectangle plays an important role in composition, whether it’s positive or negative space.

Don’t compromise your vision because of some standard that doesn’t help the message in any way.

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Printing your own work is one of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of photography. It adds a physical experience to your images and may give you insights that are difficult if not impossible to achieve any other way.

Another benefit of printing is that it helps you look more deeply into the things that inspire you photographically, and in the process help you develop your vision; your unique way of seeing the world.

I’ve seen this first hand in my printing workshops where students become inspired to pursue a particular subject or idea because a print made it more tangible than a digital display ever could. This is especially true when sharing your work with others.

While it’s true that you can have your prints made at a print lab, it eliminates the main reason I advocate for printing: the exploration and experimentation of printing. You remove yourself from the creative journey of printing and miss out on insights that can open a whole new way of approaching your photography.

You may also be afraid of the costs involved and whether you think it’s worth the expense. Maybe you think it’s prohibitively expensive or you’re not sure what to buy. So the following is my recommended list of basic equipment you need to get started making fine art archival prints on a limited budget, without any compromise in quality.

Printers

There are only two manufacturers to consider, Canon and Epson. Both produce equally good prints in terms of quality, use the latest archival inks, and have excellent support. I suggest you choose one based either on brand loyalty (if you have one), or on the best deals available when you decide to purchase.

Both Canon and Epson printers can use paper from any manufacturer, so you’re not limited to the brand’s papers. They are well supported by all paper manufacturers and inks are readily available from a huge number of sources. (Always use original OEM inks.)

Here are my top choices:

Epson SureColor P600 – 13” wide (max print size 13” x 129”) – currently $500 with rebate

Epson SureColor P800 – 17” wide (max print size 17” x 129”) – currently $850 with rebate

Both offer great print quality, mature software drivers, and lots of connectivity options. Epson also offers the largest print size for panoramas.

Canon Pixma Pro-1000 – 17” wide (max print size 17” x 25”) – currently $999 with rebate.

Monitor Calibration

A monitor calibrator is essential to ensure a consistent viewing environment and color managed workflow. Monitors vary greatly in their ability to display colors and contrast levels, and proper calibration makes sure that the adjustments you make on-screen will translate to your print as faithfully as possible.

The Spyder5Express is a great entry level calibrator from Datacolor, and comes with excellent software. Datacolor has been around for a while, and they offer advanced models like the DataColor5Pro that add additional features. But to get started, the Spyder5Express is a great way to go.

Software

Adobe Lightroom

There is no better platform to print from that Adobe Lightroom. here are some of the most important features:

  • Full-featured RIP (raster image processor) – can print a whole series of images at one time, create contact sheets, layout many images in a single sheet of paper with total control over individual size, cropping, and placement.
  • Printing templates (or presets) that let you save almost every aspect of a print layout for future use.
  • Prints your RAW files directly, ensuring the highest quality possible and less fussing with files and variations of files.
  • Built—in interpolation which considers image size and resolution and lets you enlarge your images right within the print module.
  • Print sharpening that also considers the type of paper and the interpolation amount.
  • Soft—proofing helps make sure your image will look its best on the particular paper you’ve chosen – again improving overall workflow.

While the latest version of Lightroom requires a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, you can still purchase a stand-alone copy of Lightroom 6. But considering you get free updates and a copy of Photoshop CC as well, the subscription is well worth it if you’re serious about photography and printing.

Paper

Canson Infinity makes some of the finest art paper in the world and has been doing so since 1557. Introduced in 2009, their digital papers build on their heritage and offer a wide range of smooth and textured matte papers to fiber papers reminiscent of dark roomprints

Pricing is on par with other fine art papers on the market, so while not inexpensive, quality makes a difference. In particular, the coating that Canson uses for their papers means detail and sharpness are second to none, regardless of whether you use a matte or fiber type paper.

They also provide great ICC profiles which reduce the need to make your own expensive custom profiles.

Paper Recommendations:

  • For a limited budget, I recommend starting with PhotoLustre Premium RC, which won a TIPA award for best paper in 2016. It’s a smooth satin paper that offers great contrast and detail, with a high-quality finish. It works well for a variety of subject matter which makes it a great all-around paper.
  • To experience a true fine art paper, and start to consider an image-centric approach to paper selection, I recommend Printmaking Rag, which offers a subtle but distinct texture and great contrast for a matte paper.
  • For a more economical alternative, I recommend Red River Paper which is a great option when you’re learning the basics. It’s also good for proofing and less critical applications when you don’t need a museum grade archival print.
Conclusion

Of course, there are more expensive options and upgrades depending on your goals (like a wide-gamut monitor), but this list provides you with all the basic gear you need to start making the highest quality prints.

You can build on this as your experience and confidence grows, and enjoy the many benefits of seeing your work in the real world. It sets you apart from the crowd and lets you share your work in the next way possible. Of course, simply having the gear doesn’t guarantee success. Understanding the art and craft of making expressive prints is the foundation for using the tools to your advantage.

The Printmaker Masterclass can help to make sure your investment pays creative dividends for a lifetime.

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At a recent workshop I was asked how I use social media to promote and market my work as a photographer. I had to think carefully about my response because I use social media primarily as a medium to help and inspire others, as well as to promote my workshops. Yet that is intrinsically tied to me as an individual.

Still, my daily use has changed dramatically over the last year, and especially the last few months.

It’s also especially relevant since so much photography is shared and consumed online these days. And if you want to market a business, I’d argue it’s worth having a good social media strategy.

This article has been in my “drafts” folder for some time, but a few recent articles made me revisit it and finally decide to share it with you. It’s also a coincidence that social media has been on the front page news, though I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.

I’m going to make some controversial points here, and perhaps you will disagree. That’s totally fine, because my goal is not to convince you of anything. I simply want to share a perspective of what works for me and my goals. You may find your goals are similar.

The Age of Distraction

I’ve grown to see social media as a potential black hole of distraction for me, one that I want to avoid. You don’t have to go very far to see people everywhere staring at their mobile screens like zombies, whether in a restaurant with friends (or their spouses,) at the playground with their children, or while hiking in a national park. I once photographed sunset on the shores of Jordan Pond in Acadia while a young couple stared at their Facebook feeds well into twilight.

For many it’s the first thing they engage with in the morning or the last at night before they go to sleep. And it remains an endless source of shallow entertainment throughout the day.

Numerous studies have shown that there is a significant cost to multi-tasking and subconscious distractions in general. The more you interrupt your concentration for these seemingly pleasurable distractions, the more you actually diminish your overall creative potential.

And all of us know how precarious creative moments can be, sometimes balanced on a knife’s edge between a true insight and a dead end. The more we participate in the attention economy, and in essence become the products of the companies that entice us with “click-bait,” the more we sacrifice our precious ability for deep work as Cal Newport so well examines in this great book.

I want to do deep work in the areas that matter to me, namely my creative pursuits. But most importantly, being the best father and husband I can be. And in all instances, I have found social media to be a subversive obstacle to each of these.

A Healthy Balance

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s a loss-loss scenario. In fact, used judiciously, social media enables me to do what I enjoy most: helping others in their creative pursuits. Judicious use is the key, but so difficult since the services are specifically designed for anything but judicious use.

I cannot deny the many benefits of reaching many more people than ever before in human history. That for me is a privilege I do not want to trivialize or undervalue. I will continue to focus on Youtube as my preferred medium to share info and inspiration.

In fact, I’ve become a Youtube Red subscriber for this very reason. I’d rather use it without the ads and make it tool that gives me a bit more control over what I see and when. As for the others (Facebook, Twitter, etc,) I have an assistant that handles the actual posting based on what I provide, freeing me to focus on what provides the greatest value for me – making images, writing, and working with students.

The more focused I can be every day of my life, the more I can create and produce effectively. I want to spend as much of my time engaged with the things that matter to me, not what others think should matter to me.

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Death Valley Light / Olympus E-M1

I’ve been deep in the final production stages of the Printmaker Masterclass, which launches next Monday on March 19th. It’s my first on-demand workshop that is completely self—directed. Students can take the course whenever they like with lifetime access, and I will be updating and adding content to the course over the coming year to increase its value as a resource of information for printing in general.

I’m super excited about it, and I’ll have more detailed information later in the week. But for now, I wanted to share one of the lessons in its entirety here for your benefit.

It’s a Capture to Print workflow of a panoramic image I made from my recent trip to Death Valley, CA. There are seven of these videos in the masterclass, so this gives you an idea of what I cover in terms of developing your images for print. Even if you don’t print, I detail every adjustment in Lightroom including my creative approach to local adjustments.

I also show soft-proofing in Lightroom, settings in the Print Module, and photos and video of the final print including paper choice decisions. Enjoy!

Capture to Print Lightroom Workflow - Panorama - YouTube

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I’ve written about photographing familiar locations many times, yet it remains a challenge for many, including myself. Novelty is, of course, one of the main reasons we think better photographs are available elsewhere, instead of in the same familiar places. I know the feeling well since I’ve been guilty of thinking the same thing.

The excitement of visiting a new location is real, and there’s nothing wrong with travel and discovery. In fact, travel is one of the things I enjoy most in general, especially when photography is involved.

New places inspire us to look more closely and see with fresh eyes. There seems no end to the immense variety and depth of nature’s beauty when you explore this beautiful planet we live on. It’s the reason I continue to do workshops in inspiring places like the southwest. It’s easier to connect with nature when you’re surrounded by it in it’s most pristine state.

But nature is everywhere and “seeing with fresh eyes” is more about your mindset than what’s actually in front of you. I also think that what we want most of all is to be able to capture what we see and feel, regardless of where we are.

We want to be better photographers and better storytellers. Novelty helps, but “seeing” is what makes the difference. This is why I continue to visit familiar locations over and over again. It increases my ability to find another perspective, another viewpoint, another way of seeing light.

It also gives me yet another opportunity to get lucky. We can’t predict nature, and you can be sure that there will always be a unique combination of circumstances at some point that isn’t quite like what you’ve experienced in the past, regardless of how often you’ve visited.

That’s how this image came about and why I could never have predicted it even though I’ve visited this shoreline hundreds of times. In fact, I often avoid this spot since the opportunities are limited most of the time.

Arriving right around sunrise, the light was strong and direct, and I focused on the scene away from the sun out towards the opposite shore of the Hudson River. At some point, however, the light changed. I looked back towards the sun to see that many clouds had suddenly appeared creating a dramatic backlighting effect in the sky and also along the surface of the river.

What had been up to that point totally familiar to me suddenly became unfamiliar and exciting. I saw shapes, and texture, and an interesting pattern and rhythm in the ice floating on the water leading up to the sky. I forgot about where I was and simply reacted to the visual stimulus and how it made me feel.

“Wow. that’s interesting…Never expected this.”

That sudden shift is all it takes. A sense of curiosity about a creative possibility, no matter how small or unclear it may seem at first. How do I simplify all these shapes on the river? How do I diminish the shoreline and all its distractions? How do I unify all the different elements in the scene?

The answers require simpler questions: What am I most responding to visually? What am I truly noticing? For me, it was the light reflecting on the water and its effect on the ice in front of me—the tension between warm and cool. Energy, movement, dynamics, depth. The opposite of static.

Composition

Composing the scene horizontally made it more complex, adding more shapes (ice) that would distract. They didn’t add anything to the scene—all I needed was right in front of me. So I switched to a vertical orientation, which simplified the scene and strengthened the composition from top to bottom. Then I anchored the foreground with the two large blue shapes starting at the bottom left.

This is critical. It simplifies the foreground and allows the eye to travel up the diagonal until it reaches the warmer light which then carries the viewer up to the middle ground and then the sky. Elimination is the key here, or as the saying goes, less is more.

I’m also aware that the light in the sky is getting brighter, so I need to work fast before the sun returns and the opportunity is over. I check every edge and corner of the frame to be sure it’s all in balance. I cut the bottom piece of ice at it’s left edge, but the larger piece needs to be whole to compete the leading line up towards the right and back left again.

I also want to make sure I include some sky to get the brightly lit clouds away from the top edge, otherwise, it leads the eye out to the frame. Finally, I check exposure, allowing a slight amount of the light in the sky to clip, focus at the edge of the second block of ice, and use an aperture of f/11 on my Olympus E-M1 to generate adequate depth of field.

I used a prime 12mm lens (24mm in 35mm format) so there’s no decision about focal length—I work with what I see through the viewfinder, and move the tripod forwards or backward to refine the composition. I also try to avoid falling into the cold water!

This is the path I want the viewer to navigate – there are other things to explore, but this establishes the center of interest (large bock of ice) and the tension between warm and cool.

The green shows the major repeating shapes in the image, and the yellow the minor shapes that continue that pattern, adding to unity.

Developing

Back in the studio and in Lightroom Classic, I’m underwhelmed by this image at first, preferring some others which seem better. It’s not until I return to the images a few days later that I realize this image more closely conveys what I remembered from that cold morning.

This is not uncommon for me, and I’ve grown used to it—in fact, I rely on it to provide some sense of perspective. Time lets me relinquish my desire for a good image, my attachment to an outcome, and I can simply look for something that resonates.

It’s taken many years to do this, and I still get seduced by my own bias – after all, it’s my image. But it gets easier. Thinking of every photo opportunity as an experiment is a great way to let go of desired outcomes.

Aside from the basic adjustments, I add important dodging and burning adjustments to emphasize the elements I want the viewer to see, and the path I want them to follow. Letting the deep shadows in the foreground go to almost black is also very important—it simplifies the image and makes the light that much more dramatic. Once again, less is more.

Print

This image is about light and about drama. It needs rich shadows in order to emphasize that, and so a high-density paper like Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag is ideal.

A textured matte paper would indeed complement all the textures in the image, but the lack of density would leave the light less supported; weaker. The higher density of Platine provides a deeper, darker foundation for the mid-tones and highlights, conveying the sense of backlight I experienced.

I printed it at 13” x 19” (A3+) on 310gsm Platine Fibre Rag on my Canon Pro-1000 and was very happy with the results.

There was more shadow detail in the image, but I left then “unseen” in order to simplify the seen and clarify what I saw and felt.

Here you can see the very subtle but beautiful texture that Platine provides, adding just enough surface detail that adds dimension to the print.

Thanks as always for reading and letting me share my experiences of image making with you. I share the details because I think they are important—it’s the subtle details that often determine how successful we are as photographers. I always appreciate your questions and feedback – leave them below. 

I’m working on a book that will consist of previous and new Photojournals — to be the first to know when it’s released. Join the CreativePath newsletter.

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“I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of not trying.” – Jay-Z

There are many things not worth the disproportionate amount of time we give to them; news immediately comes to mind. Time invested in oneself, however, especially when that investment is in exploring your creative potential, pays dividends not only to ourselves, but to those around us, and even the world at large.

This very short video highlights the importance of taking chances before it’s too late. This is especially true when it comes to pursuing a goal or lifestyle you think can only be dreamed of. I thought the same way too, then decided my limited thinking wasn’t actually helping. 

Watch, ponder, and reflect. Are you fulfilling your creative potential? 

In The Fall - YouTube

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Acadia National Park / Watercolor on paper

We’re four weeks into 2018. Can you believe it?

I started this blog in 2006 after a severe ankle injury left me couch ridden for three months. That seems like a distant memory now, and since then I’ve gone on to write nearly nine hundred blog posts and three books.

I never thought I’d become a writer when I started my photography career twelve years ago, yet I’ve embarked on new creative challenges that both scare and excite me.

Here’s what I’m doing this year.

  • I’m continuing to develop the new CreativePath Workshops website by launching new online courses.
  • I’m taking a 4-day plein air painting workshop in NYC in my quest (and experiment) to expand my creative horizons.
  • I’m developing a photo workshop specifically designed to help you improve and refine your compositional skills.
  • I’m finally hiring an assistant as I continue to expand my brand and business.

Growth only occurs on the edge of your comfort zone. Sometimes you need to go over the edge to see what you’re truly capable of. You might fail—in fact you should count on it. No shame there, it lets you know you’re on the right path, the creative path.

It’s the path where the destination is never quite clear, and the time of arrival is often unknown. But therein lies its hidden beauty, because unexpected surprises are always around the corner, if you’re willing to push through the fog.

The secret is cultivating and embracing a sense of deep curiosity. You’ll become less worried about where you’re going and instead appreciate everything you can discover in a single step.

Discovering what works and what doesn’t. Discovering exactly what makes you laugh, or cry, or feel deep gratitude. Discovering how you see the world differently from everyone else. Discovering how to make your voice a little clearer, a little more authentic.

What are you trying in 2018 that makes you scared?

How are you challenging yourself creatively?

What are you putting off because…?

Reply and let me know. I’m always happy to help.

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