Here's a thought

The most recent three commentaries are available below.
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February 2023

March 2023

April 2023


















HT1457 - Public Speaking

Here is the best advice I've ever received about public speaking: never speak about something you don't know about. It's just that simple. You will eventually be asked to talk about your artwork. It might be to a handful of friends or large audience. Either way, recognize that you are the world's foremost leading expert on you and your artwork. Remembering this might make the process of public speaking more comfortable.


HT1458 - The Complete Photographer

Have you ever seen the book The Complete Photographer by Andreas Feininger? I find that a particularly interesting phrase. What does it mean to be a "complete" photographer? In my way of thinking, that has little to do with technical prowess or photographic skill.


HT1459 - Pay Attention

When I was in grade school I had a teacher who would unexpectedly slap her desk with a ruler and yell at us, "Pay attention!" The funny thing is, I often think about her when I'm out photographing because her advice is actually pretty good.


HT1460 - The First Image Sets the Tone

In multiple image projects, the first image is critically important because it sets the tone for everything that follows. It's worth putting a little extra attention into that first image to make sure that it launches the viewing experience with precision.

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HT1461 - Landscape Weather

Although it's not necessarily true, certain weather conditions have developed a reputation for being difficult, namely bald blue skies and gray overcast skies. It seems as though most people favor those days of weather transition, e.g. clearing winter storms (ahem).


HT1462 - Invisible Processing

We all know that effective dodging and burning remained invisible and didn't look like you had dodged or burned at all. I think this rule applies equally well to composition, editing, sequencing, titles and captions, and even typography.


HT1463 - Aspect Ratio Habits

How often do you crop an image out of its native aspect ratio? I'll bet most of you don't do that very often. Why? Should we compose to fit the aspect ratio of our camera? Or is it better to crop the aspect ratio of our image to fit the subject?


HT1464 - Website as Content Delivery

So many photography websites are based on the same premise and structure. They show a series of small thumbnails that you can click on to see a bigger version. From there you can then click on the buy button to make a purchase. This is website as brochure and online store. But that is not the only way to strategize your website.


HT1465 - How Many to Tell the Story

As you probably know, I'm an advocate of multiple image projects. Seeing in SIXES, Trilogies, and the projects we publish in LensWork are examples. That does not mean, however, that I'm against the singe, stand-alone image. The right number of images to tell a story is the right number of images. That might be one image, it might be a hundred. Knowing how many are needed to tell the story is a large part of sensitive editing and sequencing.


HT1466 - Creative Looking in Lightroom

When we look at something that doesn't change (like the artwork on your living room walls), eventually we cease to see it. To bring it back to consciousness, we need to stir things up from time to time. The same can be said of looking at your images in Lightroom. Stir the pot and you will invariably find images you didn't remember you had.


HT1467 - Basic Shooting Strategy

I've talked a lot about my strategy of just gathering assets while I'm in the field. That does not mean, however, but I'm just randomly shooting. I do have a basic shooting strategy that has served me well over the years.


HT1468 - Photoshop Less and Less

As the processing tools in Lightroom have gotten more and more powerful, I find myself spending less and less time in Photoshop. Occasionally I still need to use one of Photoshop's unique processing tools, but I find that rare these days. If Lightroom ever gets content aware fill that is as sophisticated as Photoshop, I wonder if I'll even need Photoshop anymore?


HT1469 - Tools of the Times

Would Dickens have been a better novelist if he had been able to write using a word processor? Would Rembrandt have been a better portraitist if he had been able to use a camera? Would you and I be better artists if we could use the cameras that will be available 100 years from now? Or is the brilliance of the artist independent of the tools they use?


HT1470 - Mixing B-W and Color

Can a project have both black and white and color images? "Never" is a strong word and I'm sure there are probably examples that succeed by mixing black and white and color images. I've never seen such an example. My temptation is to say that any given project should never mix these two media, but the minute I propose that as axiomatic someone will show me an example where it works.


HT1471 - The Willingness to Fail

Artists embrace failure. There's no other way to put it. If you are unwilling to fail, you will find your attempts at art making will be thoroughly frustrating and unproductive. Failure is part of the process, but what you do with those failures is what keeps art making sufferable. There is a thrill when failure magically morphs into a new idea.


HT1472 - To Be a Photographer

When you describe yourself as a photographer, what does that actually imply? That you take your camera out into the world and capture pictures? That you spend time processing your images to higher standards? Or does it describe a certain art making mentality that implies an interdisciplinary approach and numerous skill sets?


HT1473 - Long Lens, Close Distance

And often overlooked characteristic of a long telephoto lens is its minimum focusing distance. There's no reason why a long focal length can't focus very close, but most manufacturers don't consider this an important characteristic of a long lens. I disagree. The minimum focusing distance will determine how shallow the depth of field can become when using a long lens.


HT1474 - Necessary Ego

The role of the artist is to show the world something. But a preliminary step of doing so is that you must feel that what you have to share is important and valuable. This requires a certain amount of ego. Artists can be shy, but not about their artwork.


HT1475 - Two Years on the Road

On March 15th (a couple of days from now), I'll mark the second anniversary of my extended travels and RV life. I've learned a few things along the way.


HT1476 - Moonlight

Most photographs are made with sunlight. A few are made with artificial light, that is to say man-made light. I wonder why it is that's so few photographs are made with moonlight?


HT1477 - 9 to 1

There's an old rule of thumb in video editing that for every 1 minute of finished video requires 9 minutes of editing and production. I'm not sure what the ratio is for still photography, but it's probably at least 9 to 1.


HT1478 - Soft Blacks and the Printed Book

Not all blacks are black. There's some photographic media, for example platinum palladium prints, but have a soft black. Reproducing these tones in a printed book always present a unique challenge.


HT1479 - Mortensen Had a Point

In books on the history of photography, there is no doubt that the quintessential outcast is William Mortensen. He represented a kind of photography that the f/64 group rebelled against most vigorously. But Mortenson had a point, and one that we should not ignore.


HT1480 - When Realism Isn't Real

I visited Yosemite for the first time in 1983 expecting to find there the landscapes I had become so familiar with through the photography of Ansel Adams. That was my first experience in which I discovered that the realism school of f/64 photography was anything but realistic.


HT1481 - Photography and Idealism

We do not live in a perfect world, but if your only knowledge of life here on earth were from landscape photographs, you naturally conclude that this is a perfect world. Or, it's opposite. So much of photography is either pro idealism or anti-idealism.


HT1482 - Photograph as Conclusion

An interesting way to think about photographs is to perceive them as the conclusion of all the events that led up to the moment of photography, or as a beginning that will serve as a starting point for some as yet unknown destination.


HT1483 - What's Old Is New, Really New

It's perfectly natural for us to be most excited about our most recent work. That thing we finished years ago is, well, old news. But for an audience who has never seen that old work, it's brand new to them. Don't neglect those older, finished projects that might deeply touch someone who is new to your work, or has never seen that body of work before.


HT1484 - God's Own Softbox

I first heard someone refer to a high thin cloud cover as "God's own softbox" years and years ago. Because I never spent any time as a studio photographer, I didn't know what a softbox was. I did know I loved the soft shadows and lovely contrast that high, thin clouds create. It's an almost perfect lighting for landscapes.


HT1485 - Grand Landscapes, Landscapes, and Intimate Landscapes

The more we know something, the more we work with something, the more subtleties and variations we both see and understand. Thirty years ago I would not have differentiated between grand landscapes, landscapes, and intimate landscapes, but now I can't imagine thinking about all these landscape types as being indistinguishable from one another.


HT1486 - Potential Is Not the Same as Accomplishment

It seems to me that what a camera can do is not nearly as important as what you actually do with it. Come to think of it, the same can be said of photographers. Results always trump capabilities.



HT1487 - Money and Artmaking

We are told that money is the measure of success. I'm not so sure. In the world of selling art, money might be the measure of fulfilling expectations. But, in the world of artmaking, the cutting edge of creativity is rarely where the paying customers are comfortable.