My Photo Gallery

Interesting Quotes

Sontag, Susan. “On Photography.” 

Why I Do Photography

I enjoy capturing a special moment in time, one that people can view at their leisure.

I love nature, the water patterns in a pond, a loon taking flight, the northern lights...  If I can share what I see with others, I feel good about that.

Being a decent athlete, I understand the dynamics of sports, and I have the ability to capture critical points in time.

Photography is expensive, but I enjoy it, and isn't that good enough reason? Life is short.

Professional Photography

For now this is a hobby for me.  Time and resources permitting, this may change, e.g., most of the real estate photography I see in this area is marginal at best, but I've not tested the market and willingness to pay for better quality.

Digital imaging has made photography and videography more accessible, and while there are a few great photographers and many very good photographers, the continued improvement of cheaper digital cameras and phone cameras has resulted in a glut of amateur photographers.  The stock photography market is now flooded with average to above-average photos, and news media is more than willing to use them as they are usually cheap, often free, and often faster to market thanks to social media.  (This is part of the overall degradation of news media where the basic grammar is often atrocious as is the quality of the reported news.)  The commercial market is extermely competitive - marketing one's work is at least half the battle for success.

If somebody creates a decent photo/video or happens to be in the right place at the right time, they may sell it for a few dollars or perhaps just give it to a TV station for the notoriety of having their name associated with it.  Publications, print and online, often settle for lesser quality as they find it cheaper and quicker --  good enough to sell with the rest of their content.  It's too often these days more about instant publication/presentation than quality.

Professionals, who've committed huge amounts of time and money to their craft, have seen their market shrink.  It is a tough way to make a living.  Still, you get what you pay for. If you want the best, pay for it.

Documentary Photography Vs. Creative/Fine Art Photography

I lean more towards the documentary side, preferring to capture a moment as it is; however, RAW photos tend to initially appear a little flat by default, so I'll usually tweak the "contrast" (using a simpler term for a more complex process) to add a bit of "pop" to the photos.  

Creative photography is not my specialty or interest, but there are times I dive into it, e.g., restoring an old photo when there are fading colors, dust & scratches, tears, etc. to deal with.  I've done just enough of that to appreciate what it takes to do a good job of it.

Another example is northern lights (aurora borealis).  While the human eye can see a range of light (highlights & shadows) better than most digital cameras, a digital camera is very different from our eyes in that we process light instantaneously, whereas, and camera uses shutter speeds that many cameras can extend to 30 seconds or longer for one photo.  In doing so, a camera may capture much more quantity of some colors in a color range that the eye does not perceive.  I typical northern lights photo may require a 5-30 second exposure, depending on the weather and the strength of the lights.  When processed, photographers are able to bring out those colors that we cannot see.  Some photographers push this to far, and their photos take on a highly saturated and possibly pixelated appearance.  And there are a few that understand how to work with them and turn them into works of art (e.g., Shawn Malone of Lake Superior Photo).

Cameras, Software & Hardware

I'll keep this simple; I'm using primarily Canon photo gear.  The camera bodies are semi-pro level, while the lenses are in the lower- to mid-range pro level.  Mixing brands of gear often results in mixed results, so I picked Canon and have been, for the most part, satisfied with it.  I've not moved into mirrorless camera bodies as the shutter-based bodies I have still work fine, and I can't afford to replace them anyway.  

The image quality with the gear I have is good enough to usually avoid having to apply external light sources.  The concert photos I took for the Dennos Museum Center were all taken with available light only, although they required considerable post-processing time and expertise.

For software, I use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), doing most of my image processing in ACR.  I've a few other specialty apps.

One critical item is my monitor (screen) calibrator that enables me to produce images with accurate colors.  This is something no serious photographer should go without.  In fact, it should be one of a photographer's initial investments.

The State of Photography

You've seen "HDR" photos (High Dynamic Range), most often applied to skies and landscapes,  They often seem surreal.  That's 'cuz they are, usually created through poorly applied tone mapping, resulting in over-saturated colors to extremes.  HDR processing can result in some incredible photography/artwork, but it's being overused, and worse, too often poorly applied. 

And now, it's standard issue in most smartphones and point-&-shoot cameras/action cameras.  Often, it's "on" by default, oversaturating colors, yet these same photos receive accolades.

Recently, I viewed some product sales photos; they looked fake. Actually, they screamed fake. Helluva message to send to prospective customers.

Here are some posts to read (links open in new windows):