Here's a thought

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December 2022

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HT1398 - An Audience of Peers

For years now I've been critical that fine art photography is primarily aimed at other photographers. Who buys fine art photography books? Other photographers! And although I wish we could break out of this insular audience of each other, that doesn't mean we should ignore the obvious fact that our primary audience actually does consist of our fellow photographers.


HT1399 - Leaving the Camera Behind

Going out with the camera is an exciting time. It can also, however, apply a subtle stress that pressures us to "get the shot." After all, that's why were there. That pressure can be unproductive in the creative process. Sometimes, we need to leave the camera behind and just experience the world unincumbered by the compulsion to capture it.


HT1400 - The Difference Between Structure and Rules

Orson Welles advised that "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations." I am an advocate of structure and working within the limitations of a structure. This is not at all the same thing as blindly following the rules.


HT1401 - The Unexpected Scene

The other day we had a massive storm with huge waves here on the southern Oregon coast. I was excited about the possibility of doing more work with the big waves crashing into the rocks offshore. The most interesting subject, however, was not the one I expected. Thinking back over my decades and photography, I realized this is a very common occurrence.


HT1402 - Anti-Vibrance, Anti-Saturation

There is a part of me that is decidedly contrarian. When the flock all turn left, I'm likely to want to turn right. The current trends in photography are to increase the saturation and vibrance to make photographic colors unlike and intensity we can actually see in nature. That makes me want to explore pastel renditions and a soft color palette.


HT1403 - Georgia's Hands

There is a history of photographers photographing their loved ones, not as family snapshots, but rather as an artistic pursuit. Stieglitz photographing Georgia O'Keeffe's hands; Harry Callahan and those portraits of Eleanor; Edward Weston and his portrait of Charis. This idea intrigues me.


HT1404 - The Future of Cameras

This last week, Panasonic introduced their latest camera that is getting rave reviews. As I often do, I took a look just to see what new features were being introduced in this camera and whether or not they would have any interest to me, or not. This has made wondering about the future of cameras.


HT1405 - The Three Biggies Really Aren't

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I now realize that the most valuable thing about attending a workshop was never the techniques I learned and especially not the photographs I made during the workshop. Even here in the age of the internet, I still think the most valuable thing to accomplish in a workshop is to look at excellent prints.


HT1406 - Those Damned Blobby Blobs

I'm not an engineer or a scientist, so I don't understand the optical reasons why small apertures enhance certain flaws. As a pragmatist, all I know is that when I stop down to f16 or f22, previously invisible dust on the sensor or dirt on the lens will manifest in my photographs as an ugly, dark, fuzzy blob in the sky.


HT1407 - Is Color Space Important?

Maybe, but probably not. I say this because your photographs will not be viewed (or measured) by a machine, but rather by the human eye. Human vision is adaptable, imprecise, interpreted by our brains, non-linear, and biased. And "what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over."


HT1408 - Side-by-side Comparisons

Yesterday I was talking about color space and that reminded me of another impracticality I see frequently in photography, side-by-side comparisons. For example, theoretically there may be a difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB (1998), but if that's only visible in a side-by-side comparison, no one will ever know. The same could be said about one camera and the next, one lens and the next, etc. In the real world, only photographers make side-by-side photographic comparisons.


HT1409 - The Proper Magnification for Sharpening

The recommendations in Photoshop are that we should do sharpening and spotting to clone out unwanted dots at a magnification of 100%. That means each pixel in the image is represented by one pixel on the monitor. I have a different recommendation based on hard-won experience.


HT1410 - Archival for How Long

It seems that lots of photographers are a tad obsessive about the archival properties of their prints. A number I repeatedly see is 175 years for today's generation of inkjet printers. But do we really need our prints to last 175 years?


HT1411 - Photographing in the Rain

Yesterday, I was out photographing with a friend. We almost cancelled when the weather forecast showed rain all day. But then I remembered some months I spent on the Oregon coast back in 1983 when I was hibernating on the coast writing my first book. Every day, I was able to take a walk on the beach with getting rained on. It never rains every moment, all day.


HT1412 - Special Use Cases

A characteristic of typical camera reviews that bothers me is how a camera will be disparaged because it fails in some special case scenario. The camera might perform with an exceptional feature set, but if it fails to do underwater macro photography in the Arctic, it gets downgraded. Every camera fails at something, but every camera available today is a miracle of capabilities.


HT1413 - Out of the Creative Rut

If you ever find yourself in a creative rut, and don't we all from time to time, the surefire way to break out of the rut is to pursue a very narrow challenge. For example, try putting together a portfolio of pine needles, or mason jars, or smoothly rounded pebbles, or landscapes that include the moon. Just pick something, anything, and explore it consistently and with depth. The mere challenge will enliven your creative spirit, and more importantly, build some creative momentum.


HT1414 - Not a Critique, but a Response

A common activity for photo groups is to do critiques of each other's work. In my experience, however, most critiques boil down to, "If this were my photograph, I'd....." The problem is it's not your photograph, and what you might do or might suggest could entirely miss the point the photographer is hoping to communicate.


HT1415 - Processing for the Black Point and White Point

First, not every image has to have a black pint and a white point. That said, most photographs need them. Fortunately, it's an easy thing to accomplish in processing and definitely something worth looking at early on in working with a digital file.


HT1416 - Blue, the Bad Boy of Color

Perhaps this is just me, but I find blue to be a particularly troublesome color for several reasons. An image whose color balance is slightly too warm seems acceptable, but if the color balance is slightly too blue, it looks awful. Blue skies can easily be a bit too cyan. Aggressive processing deteriorates blue skies into the blotchies.


HT1417 - What Professionals Worry About

A friend shared a maxim of bumper sticker wisdom that I think is pretty good. Professionals worry about things that amateurs never think of. A companion bit of wisdom is that amateurs practice until they get it right, whereas professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.


HT1418 - 10,000 Hours, Sort Of

You've probably heard the popular notion that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I do know from personal experience that my photographs of a given subject remain fairly trite and insignificant until I've photographed and finished 50 to 100 images. It takes that long to work through the obvious and the cliché.

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HT1419 - The "Across the Room" Test

Years ago, I was visiting Oliver Gagliani and we were talking about gelatin silver paper. He was testing a new paper and looking at a series of prints from across the room.


HT1420 - Has Photography Improved?

The other day, my friend Joe Lipka asked a fascinating question. There is no doubt that in the last 60 years that cameras have improved, lenses have improved, printers have improved, and by miraculous leaps and bounds. But have photographs improved with all these technological advances?


HT1421 - The Next Exotic Location

Fads and trends exist in photography like they do in every other walk of life. Exotic locations are a great example. I wonder where the next exotic location will be that will attract workshops, photographers by the planeload, and portfolio submissions to LensWork by the dozens.


HT1422 - The Grandiloquently Refulgent Image

When someone compliments me on my use of Photoshop tools for the subtlety of tones in my image, I know I've missed the mark. The photograph is not supposed to be the point of the artwork, but rather the photograph is supposed to point the viewer to something beyond the photograph, something about life and feeling.


HT1423 - Compromise and Trade-offs

The series that I do over at my personal website at is titled "Every Picture Is a Compromise." That is so true. But what does that mean? It means that photography is a constant dance of trade-offs. For example is it better to have a noiseless capture at a low ISO that might be a little blurry, or is it better to use a faster shutter speed and have a sharp photograph that exhibits a little noise?


HT1424 - That Genre You've Not Tried

Each of us have a type of photography that is our favorite. Instead of constricting ourselves to just that one type of work, what can we learn from other types of photography and adapt to our work?


HT1425 - The Opposite Direction

In general, most of us want more sharpness, more color, more clarity, more vibrance, in our pictures. Curiously enough, there can be benefits in the exact opposite direction by making images that are blurry, desaturated, less clear, and have dull colors. Creativity, like human emotions, points in every direction imaginable.


HT1426 - Seven Basics of Color

With every image, one of the fundamental and first decisions that needs to be made is about its rendition in color. Is this image better in natural color, pastel color, hypercolor, psychedelic color, neutral black and white, toned black and white, or as a hybrid rendition.


HT1427 - Pay Attention to the Edges

I know I've mentioned this before, but it's been a while and a reminder might be useful. It is far too tempting for us to pay attention to the central areas of a photograph and forget about the problems the creep in around the edges


HT1428 - Landscape Lens

Why do so many photographers automatically think that the idea landscape lens is a wide angle or even ultra-wide lens? Isn't the idea landscape lens the one that allows you to compose whatever image you are trying to make at the time? For me, three quarters of the time that's going to be a telephoto lens.