Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Reality check here. The more time and effort you put into making an image better before the shoot by lighting the subject properly and setting the exposure and color balance correctly, the better your end result will be. Although shooting in the RAW format gives you the ability to correct most of these mistakes in post processing, getting things right at the moment of exposure is still the way of the pro. 

I hear more and more photographers say “I’ll fix it in Photoshop” whenever they’re confronted with a difficult lighting situation. Don’t be tempted to take the easy way out and pray that software can save you — you’ll find that correcting the error before the shoot is faster than fixing it later. 

So, take the time to light your subject, cover blemishes, take a meter reading and/or use the right color balance from the git-go. This “old school” approach is still your best bet for success. A RAW image well shot always trumps a RAW image made without thought.

Read Full Post »

I had mentioned in an earlier post (June 16, 2008 ) the growing trend of photo contests stealing the rights to your work.  The latest culprit in this despicable practice is none other than the venerable Smithsonian Institution and its annual photo contest. Take a look at this paragraph buried in their contest rules:

By entering the contest, entrants grant Smithsonian Institution a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or subsequently developed, for any Smithsonian Institution purpose, including, but not limited to advertising and promotion of the magazine and its Web site, exhibition, and commercial products, including but not limited to Smithsonian Institution publications. Photographs may appear on the Smithsonian Journeys Web site as well as in Journeys publications. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit.  The Smithsonian Institution will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Ouch! Keep in mind that every ENTRY is subject to this, not just the winners! Steer clear of this contest! If you’re craving recognition for your work, do yourself a favor and start a Flickr account. Lots more people will see your work and you’ll get plenty compliments and feedback — without losing the rights to your images. 

You’d think they’d know better…

Read Full Post »

Every year month, it seems like digital camera technology, capability and model numbers make another leap forward. That fact makes it more important than ever for you to read that little (or not so little) booklet that shipped with your camera — the manual! Given the complexity of today’s camera equipment, it’s no wonder most folks are content to give up and set everything to the AUTO setting and fire away. Having earned my photographic spurs in the days of chemical darkrooms and manual film cameras, I’m telling you with confidence that the only way you’ll be able to control your camera and create the kinds of images you visualize is to thoroughly master your digital beast. Most cameras, by necessity, come with quick start pamphlets which get you up and running quickly and they do an admirable job in getting you shooting without a lot of reading. Unfortunately, these few pages do their job too well — causing many to toss aside their bigger brother with little, if any, regret. If you’re one of those who tossed the manual aside so you could get to the “fun” part quicker, you really should dust it off and make a point in reading it from cover to cover at least once. It is here you’ll learn how your camera really works so you’ll be better able to make it jump through the visual hoops to suit your bidding instead of whatever automated guesses the chip inside has made for you. So, make a point to sit down with the camera in one hand and manual in the other and go through ten or fifteen pages every day. It won’t be long till you’ll be in full control of your camera. Your photos will improve as well as your knowledge of your camera, believe it.

Read Full Post »

Newport News canoes

Here’s one of my favorite images from my “walk in the woods” posting mentioned earlier. It’s not art…but I like it.
I’ve also got a little secret for you: not everything is art. 
More often, photos can be classified as “interesting.” That opinion springs from my day job as a photo editor for a newspaper. On busy days, I see hundreds of images shot by pros (although lately, an increasing amount are being shot by amateurs). One of the hardest things I have to do is to sit down and edit long projects with photographers. I call this “kill their babies” sessions. These give and take discussions normally center around storytelling and technique — mostly storytelling. They almost always involve compromise and leave me with a better idea about what’s going on inside the photographer’s mind as he/she shoots the assignment.
This sort of constructive feedback is vital for a working pro and I do my best to make time for these face-to-face meetings. Amateurs are a different breed, however. Now that I’ve been editing pictures full time for more than a decade, I’m more convinced than ever that amateur photographers need the same sort of support system to stay energized and motivated to do their “thang” every day.
Feedback from others is nice. Positive feedback even nicer. That’s one reason I try to start my day in front of the computer looking at photos from the many amateur photo blogs and forums I frequent. When I see something I like, I let the photographer know with an “attaboy” or “great frame” comment. The business of photography can be brutal. It’s highly competitive and stressful for the working pro. That’s why going to these sites is so refreshing to me.
The digital photography revolution provided every aspiring photographer the tools to express him/her self at a much higher level than in the days of film. It’s absurdly simple to create images that are sharp and properly exposed. This has led way too many amateurs to believe that if every photo of their favorite car, pet, girlfriend (sometimes nude), tree (always nude), etc. is well exposed and sharp, it’s at the pinnacle of photo artistry.
Think that if it gives you comfort.
Great photography takes patience, creativity and the drive to communicate a feeling with others. Sometimes it is captured as a grab shot with a point and shoot or…shudder the thought…a cell phone, but most times it isn’t. So, challenge yourself to ask “what does this photo really say to me” before making the shallow “attaboy” or “great frame” comment. If it moves you, it’s art. If it doesn’t, say so, constructively.
My photo above? It’s just a picture of canoes. While they carry might carry others, this photo doesn’t move me. I’ll try again. There’s still room on my memory card and plenty of pixels left.

Read Full Post »