Thursday, April 9, 2015

Working on Painting - Namib Desert

18x24 Oil painting

So I mentioned earlier this year that I was going to be painting this year. I've actually made a few that I kind of like now, including the one above. (ignore the shadow at the middle top of the painting - it was being cast by the easel). 

So what do you think? Anybody else out there working in multiple mediums?  Do you think it helps or hurts to work in other mediums than photography?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Plans for 2015

So it's almost two full months in 2015, and it's about time I start working towards my goals for the year. Last year was a rough one for me with things going on in my personal life. I didn't get my goals accomplished. I suffered from a dis-interest in photography for much of the year, and even thought about giving it up. It was still my best year yet in photography sales, but I didn't do much photography. Two very short trips, to Ely, MN, and the North Shore of Lake Superior were all.

Since I was actually thinking of giving up photography, I spent some time thinking about what was important to me. Sometimes, especially if we sell our art, the pressure can start to be a bit much. You feel like you always have to be at a certain level, and if you aren't at that level - self-doubt can kick in. Especially, if you are already having a tough time.

To make things easier on myself, I decided to scale back some. This year I want to focus on writing some. Here at my blog, and hopefully, I'll be writing some guest articles. I've got one in the works, and will let you all know when it's published. I'm also looking for other opportunities if you know of them!

I'm also planning to finally finish some of the photography e-books I've been working on. I've been asked before to teach photography, and in my quest to make things easier on myself I will be doing that through books rather then workshops or classes at this point.

My biggest goal of 2015 will be to bring back fun to my photography. With the pressure of selling my work, and wanting to create something meaningful, sometimes I forget to have fun with it. A little secret - I tend to be weirdly competitive and have high expectations of myself - which sometime takes the fun out of things. So in that effort I got a lensbaby camera for Christmas that is a lot of fun to use, and hoping that when the weather warms up a bit, I'll be out using it.

I do have travel plans this year, and am extremely excited about them. Of course, the photographs will make it here to the blog.

So here's hoping for a great 2015! Do you have plans this year?  Improving, or simplifying? Or both?

2014 in Review

So 2014 was a slow year for me. I only went on two short trips for photography. Lake Superior and Ely, MN(strangely enough I haven't posted any photos from Ely on here yet). I was able to take a few photographs that I'm happy with, but not as many a I would on a normal year.

I did have a couple gallery shows, a group show in Soho, and and a solo show in Fargo. I signed up with stock agency, OFFSet.

So at least I did a couple things to review! How about you? How was your year?

Friday, February 6, 2015

What's your photography style? - Shooting Style

Have you ever seen someone with super expensive gear, long lenses and heavy duty tripods who holds down the shutter and seems(to me at least) to be trying to figure out how many frames their camera can take in a second? Now if they happen to be photographing a cheetah at full speed or a bird in flight that totally makes sense. But what if it's a landscape or a still life? I really sometimes wonder what they are doing? If you know, please explain it to me!

I have heard that shooting in bursts can help with camera shake. For example you take three frames, and the one in the middle is supposed to have less shake then the first one and last one. I personally don't really subscribe to this.

First, if you're using a tripod and are that worried about camera shake, then you should consider using a remote rather then your finger to fire the shutter, anyway. Or if you are hand-holding your camera, one would assume you're probably using 1/60th or faster shutter speeds and if your hands shake that much that you need burst mode to compensate, then use faster shutter speeds or use a tripod. I've done slower hand-held then 1/60th, but you do need very good technique and burst will not help, as the movement of the mirror will probably cause as much shake as the force of your finger on the button. Especially, if you aren't using a nice gentle squeeze but are jabbing at the button!

I don't know, maybe I'm in the minority here, but I hate having to go through lots of photographs at the end of a shoot, and I really hate going through photographs that are too similar! I can't imagine if I used burst every time I clicked the shutter! I probably would never go through my photographs and post process them! I actually usually have my camera set to single frame anyway, just for this reason. I know megabytes are cheap(or whatever the phrase is to justify taking many photos) but time is not.

I've never really compared my frames per day to another photographer, and I don't know what's normal, but I like to think that my shots per keeper are relatively low. Of course it always depends on the place, time and subject. If it's something I'm super excited about or a place I've never been before, I am likely to take a lot more frames then I would if I went some place that I've photographed before. For example, on my trip to Namibia in 2010 I got to photograph their desert horses. I was so excited that I took an obscene amount of photographs. The amount of photographs I published from that day are pretty low, though.

So while I would recommend making each photograph, considered, well-composed, and thought out, I know that's not always easy, and not something I always do. Sometimes, some of my favorite photographs from an outing will be what I call a "grab shot" something I took in passing, didn't overly think through it, and didn't "work the subject". If I had been worried about wasting film/megabytes then I wouldn't have the photograph.

Example of a "grab shot"

So what do you do? Are you a "pray and spray" photographer? Keep taking photos hoping something turns out? Or do you have to plan every single shot? Or do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What's your photography style? - Camera Gear

Minimalism or excess? What's your photography style?

Today I'm talking about photo gear. Something we as photographers tend to love, especially new gear. Anybody else love the smell of new electronics?

As photographers we are in the somewhat unique position where our tools are important. But sometimes I think we can treat them as if they are a little too important. What do I mean? Let's say you are a painter, how often do you think you would wax poetic about the latest design of paint brushes? Or a new paint? I suppose if they were amazing paint brushes you might have a few conversations about them lasting all of about 5 minutes. You probably aren't spending your days dreaming about them. Probably aren't imaging how much better your painting would be if you just had that new canvas, or easel.

With modern digital photography we do spend time waxing poetic about the newest camera our particular brand offers(or even dreaming of changing brands because the grass is always greener...). We do spend time dreaming about how that new lens will improve our photography. While some photographers might be dreaming of the newest latest cutting edge gear, the next photographer might be saving their money for a large format film camera, and putting a dark room in their house. Gear is just that fun.

I'll be the first to say I love new camera gear(I even got a new lensbaby for Christmas - another post on another day about that). But I think that love has to be seriously tempered with thought, restraint, and a knowledge of our artistic vision. If you are just starting out then, yes, you do need the basics. A camera of some type, a lens or two, CF or SD cards, maybe a tripod. Yes, you do need those, but after that you need to start using what you have. Develop your sense of style. What is your photography niche? What fills you with passion? With this kind of thought and deliberation, you can start thinking about whether or not that new camera is necessary.

I don't think anyone should tell you what your style is. If you want to own all the gear on the planet(and have the budget for it), then go for it! However, I would like to caution that all the gear on the planet will not make you a better photographer. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is no gear you can buy that will make you a better photographer. If you have a need for something specific - say, you like shallow depth of field, but you don't have any fast lenses - then you will like your photographs more if you get a faster lens. But your photographs will not suddenly turn into masterpieces. Bad photographs with good gear do not suddenly get good! Boring compositions don't become awesome simply by paying more for your lenses!

I personally dislike spending money(unless it's a really good deal). I will often try to make do with less then I need. Fortunately, my husband thinks that's ridiculous, and will encourage me to get what I need! I also dislike carrying a lot of gear with me. Lugging gear, and constantly switching lenses on site tends to hamper my style and get in the way of my creativity. So what's my photography style? My style is definitely minimalism, whenever possible.

So my advice is, learn to use the gear you have, make do with it, discover your style, and use your current gear. Really use it - learn it inside and out. Then, you can make informed decisions about what gear can actually give you the results you want. The added bonus - your wallet will thank you, and you won't have to drag so much gear around!

So what's your style? Do you like the latest and greatest? Or do you hate lugging gear around?