Here's a thought

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March 2023

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HT1488 - Ideas and Action

Which comes first, the idea for a photograph or the action of taking the picture? Does anyone take a picture before they have an idea of what they hope to capture? If ideas come first, then isn't it possible to "practice photography" everyday by being aware of our ideas and jotting them down so we don't forget them?

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HT1489 - A Real Color Photograph

I received an email from a fellow who was promoting his photography as "real color photographs." I assumed what he meant by that was that his processing did not artificially change or enhance the colors from nature. I'm not sure that is even possible.


HT1490 - Easy or Difficult

Which do you enjoy more, the easy photograph that just falls successfully into your lap without much effort? Or, do you enjoy the challenge of making something from nothing? Every time I find some gem-in-the-rough in my Lightroom catalog that I can coax into an exciting image, I get a bigger thrill than I do with the easy ones.


HT1491 - A Mission of Discovery

Some photographers set out with the purpose of making a photograph that fits their objectives. I'm always amazed and impressed by such organized and purposeful photographers. I always set out with no purpose in mind. For me, photographing is a mission of discovery — and surprises.


HT1492 - I Love Panoramas, I Hate Panoramas

Remember banquet cameras? Remember the Widelux? Thanks goodness we now have the ability to make panorama images so easily with digital stitching. Every digital camera can now do panorama images. I love them — right up to the time I need to mat them, frame them, or publish them. Then I hate them.


HT1493 - Your Camera for the Rest of Your Life

Photographers are dependent on gear. What would happen to us fine art photographers if professional new cameras were no longer available? What if the telephone camera becomes the only cameras that are being manufactured? What if the camera you currently own is the only camera you will have for the rest of your life?


HT1494 - Worrying About Printers

It's not just camera gear that might disappear. What about printers? What would happen to fine art photography if we couldn't purchase printers or inks? This might seem far-fetched, but my favorite gelatin silver papers are now long gone as are my favorite films.


HT1495 - Give It a Fair Shot

I remember reading advice about approaching a novel. The advice was to always commit to read to the first 50 pages, even if they are a grind. After that many pages, if you are not engaged, you've at least given it a fair chance. I think the same can be said for a photography project. Carry it through to a fair amount before abandoning it.


HT1496 - The Element of Surprise

Not infrequently, while processing an image, I discover some previously hidden option that I'd never thought of. Assuming that processing with change A will imply a change B, I'll be surprised that A implies something other than B that emerges and an idea from nowhere. Or is it nowhere?


HT1497 - More Pixels or More Dynamic Range

If I only had enough influence to push sensor manufacturers to produce more dynamic range rather than ever more pixels! More dynamic range would be more exposure latitude, more detail in the shadows, which would allow us to better control highlight exposure. But alas, the megapixel wars still ruled the roost.


HT1498 - More Than One Way

One of the philosophical premises to Lightroom's virtual copies feature is that any give RAW capture can be processed in different ways to create different images with different moods and intents. This is not at all what I learned in the wet darkroom.


HT1499 - Heaven's Breath

During my college years when I was studying Chinese calligraphy, I learned one of the key principles of that art is encapsulated in the phrase "Chi Yun Sheng Deng" — Heaven's Breath Vitalizes Movement.



HT1500 - Roadside Frustrations

Have you ever noticed, as I have, that the number of roadside pullouts and parking spaces is inversely proportional to the photographic potential. I can't recall how many terrific photographic scenes I've come across which I leave unphotographed because they're simply no place to park the car. Damn. Why don't these road engineers keep us photographers in mind when they plan their pullouts?.


HT1501 - Diagonals

As an overly generalized assertion, photographic compositions tend to consist of either right angles or diagonals. Right angle compositions emphasize stability, solidity, timelessness, or rectitude. Diagonals emphasize movement, life, change, the flow of time.


HT1502 - The Puzzle

I'm not a particular fan of jigsaw puzzles, but I am sensitive to the fundamental philosophy behind them. In fact, I kind of think the paradigm of the jigsaw puzzle is akin to doing project-oriented photography. It's a matter of fitting pieces together in an order with a larger objective that creates a whole that is bigger than the sum of the pieces.


HT1503 - Project Clusters

Yesterday, I was out shooting in the Olympic National Forest. I spied a composition in a grove of red alders and made the exposure. Then I saw another composition. At that point, my mind flipped into project mode.


HT1504 - Not the End of Fine Art Photography

This last week, one of the YouTube photography gurus announced the impending doom of fine art photography. He had observed that during his travels in the last year he hardly ever saw a serious (i.e., interchangeable lens) camera being used. Everyone was using smartphones. And for some reason, he concluded that the disappearance of a particular kind of equipment would bring about the demise of a certain way of life.


HT1505 - Weather and the Ideal

Last week I mentioned the Utopian ideals that are the basis of so much of photography. Perhaps that's why we see so much photography capturing idealized weather. A lovely snowfall, instead of the remnants left is the snow melts; the distant cloud burst rather than that drippy rain that soaks us through and through; thin fog that allows us to see a distant tree, rather than that socked in fog that obliterates everything beyond 5 feet.


HT1506 - What Makes a Picture Bad

In this age of digital processing, we have the flexibility to work an image with incredible finesse and in microscopic detail. This power has changed the concept of a "bad picture." Now, almost any image can be salvaged, well, quite a bit of them anyway. If every image has some potential, what makes a bad picture?


HT1507 - Doing or Practicing

In athletics and music, practicing is the best way to improve performance. But when it comes to art making, the best way to improve is to stop practicing and start just doing the work, completing as much of it as you can. It is the process of doing that is the fertile ground for learning.


HT1508 - Transition Points

I've often proposed that photography is about relationships. Perhaps that is why transition points often make great photographic potential. Where the water meets the land, where the day meets the night, where stream meets the sky in a waterfall - - just a few examples of transition.


HT1509 - The Better Version Dilemma

What do you do when a software enhancement makes it possible to improve one of your processed images? Ignore the potential improvement, or make a "second edition" version? This is a challenge for original prints, but is an even greater dilemma once an image has been published in a book.


HT1510 - Stalled Out

Everyone gets stalled out from time to time. There are just no good ideas, no motivations, no momentum, no desire to go out photographing. When this happens to me, I find it best to let go of the camera. Stop trying to make photographs. Let yourself become interested in the world. The photography will naturally follow.


HT1511 - Fellow Travelers

It is valuable and even important that we find fellow travelers from whom we can learn, with whom we can challenge each other and grow. There is a contrary philosophy that proposes photographic celibacy. Ok, then find fellow travelers who are poets, or philosophers, or nature lovers.


HT1512 - The Cost of Production

A while back a friend of mine let me know he was offered a 1-person show at a local venue in his town. He was excited about the invitation - - right up to the time he calculated the cost of matting and framing 30 images for the exhibition.


HT1513 - 200

Let's talk about 200. I could use 200 frames. I could use 200 sheets of photo paper. I'd love 200 days to photograph in Japan. The one thing I know I definitely don't need is 200 megapixels in my camera, especially if that camera is in my phone. I guess Samsung disagrees with me.


HT1514 - Another Reason to Never Delete Your Digital Files

The future is unpredictable, or as Lyle Lovett proposed, "Life is so uncertain." With the introduction of the new Denoise AI in Lightroom, I sure am glad I didn't delete those noisy files from yesteryear.


HT1515 - YouTube Video Compression and Denoise

I've watched a flurry of YouTube videos about the new Lightroom Denoise AI feature and have noticed that in those videos I basically can't see any difference between one example and the next. I see dramatic differences when I'm in Lightroom on my own computer, but the YouTube video compression makes visual comparisons almost impossible.


HT1516 - Size Complicates Everything

Part of the reason I love 8x10" images is that they are technologically easier to produce with excellence and leave me free to concentrate on content and heartfelt emotions. The minute I try to make a larger print, complications multiply and my energy is shifted to solving technical problems rather than maximizing the feelings and mood of the image.


HT1517 - Time to Appreciate

Minor White famously said that if you haven't looked at a photograph for 30 minutes you haven't really seen it. I'd like to believe he was right, but my observation is that no one ever does this. A photograph is more like haiku than a novel. We tend to appreciate them in a fleeting moment.