Here's a thought

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September 2023

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November 2023









HT1671 - Title Cards, Part 2

Yesterday, I was discussing whether or not the title card on the wall in the gallery is part of the artwork. There is one more aspect of this discussion that deserves our attention.


HT1672 - Burst Mode

The most obvious reason to use Burst Mode is to capture the fleeting. It's useful for sports, animals, facial expressions, and for finding just the right moment in a sequence of events. But there are two other reasons to use Burst Mode that aren't so obvious.


HT1673 - Your Photographic Checklist

People who are interested in birds will often keep a checklist record of the birds they've seen. I've known photographers like this, too. They'll keep a checklist of the images they need to have in their portfolio as some kind of indicator of their success as a photographer.


HT1674 - Do Not Disturb, Artist at Work

I've said for years that a camera is one of the best excuses for going out and exploring the world. Most people, when they see you pull out your tripod and your dark cloth, will be exceedingly courteous while you do your serious artwork. Announce you are gathering images for a book project, and strangers have set up crowd control so that I can do your work. Restores my faith in humanity.


HT1675 - Kertész and the Self-portrait

In a very real sense, every image André Kertész made was a self-portrait of one kind or another. Very few of them include his physical appearance, but all of them reflect his psychological state of mind. In some small measure, isn't that the strategy for all our photographs, even our landscapes?


HT1676 - For Ever, and Ever, and Ever

One of the ever-present themes in my early days of photography was the importance of archival processing. Now that I look back on it, I'm not sure I understand what's so important about making sure our work will be available to future generations. Will they really care? Or will they have contemporary art that will draw their attention?


HT1677 - Every 20 Minutes

Let me propose an odd experiment that I first heard about from my friend AlIan Bruce Zee. It has to do with timed photography stops.

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HT1678 - How Many Images

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is how many images should be included in a project? Is there a minimum? Is there a maximum? How do you know when there's too many or too few?


HT1679 - Every Picture Has a Background

Finding subjects is relatively easy. Lots of things capture our attention. But every time we aim our camera at a subject, we also unconsciously aim it at a background. More often than not, I find it's the background that can ruin a photograph, although it rarely makes the photograph great. The best we can hope for is that the background does not compete with, distract from, or diminish the subject.


HT1680 - Prioritizing the Flaws

As the bumper sticker tells us, "Poo-poo occurs." But not all problems are equally problematic. If we can prioritize the flaws in our images and apply a ranking to them, that can help us determine which areas need our attention most urgently.


HT1681 - Defining the Audience for your Work

Whether you are conscious of it or not, you make your work for someone. It might be for yourself, for the elite audience of fellow photographers and collectors, for strangers on Instagram, for the general public, or for your friends and family. Knowing which audience is important to you is a critical step — and might very well change everything you do.


HT1682 - The Root Deception in Photography

Every human-made photographic image is composed of dots. The world is not.


HT1683 - The Myth of the Photograph Collector

Bill Jay once speculated that there were only 2,000 important collectors of photography in the world. I've come to realize he was overly optimistic.


HT1684 - What Our Print Borders Communicate

I've been around photography long enough to realize that how we treat the border of our photographs is a fashion that changes over time. For example, when I see a scalloped border with a month and year date in it, I know it was printed in the 1960s, probably by a drugstore. But that's just the beginning of what we learned from the borders of a photograph.


HT1685 - KeyLines, Drop Shadows, and Over-printing

With digital processing, photography is creeping closer and closer to graphic design. For example, we can now easily modify our photographs to include keylines, drop shadows, and printed textures. For some, this may seem like photographic blasphemy, but for others it opens a new world for us too creatively express ourselves.


HT1686 - Which Comes First

Does new technology inspire our creative ideas, or do our ideas demand that we pursue or learn a new technique? Is this just a chicken or egg scenario? Perhaps there is something deeper to this question that's worth thinking about.


HT1687 - Photography Is More About Editing Than It Is About Photographing

Clicking the shutter is easy. If that was all it took, we'd all be Master photographers. The hardest part of making our artwork is what follows, after we click the shutter. I think of editing as the completion of the process that follows the exposure — image selection, processing, sequencing, and final presentation.


HT1688 - Ready at the Drop of a Hat

What would you do if a gallery called today and asked if you could exhibit your work this weekend? Would you be ready to accept such an invitation? Do you have work ready to go at the drop of a hat? If not, might this be something to consider in a world where opportunity meets preparation?


HT1689 - Judging Our Own Work

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, we are the best judge of our own work, we are the worst judge of our own work.


HT1690 - You Will Fail

Ah, those fickle beholders. They just can't be pleased all of the time. There will always be people who don't like any image you create. It is part of the process. The issue is not will you fail, but how you handle that failure that counts.


HT1691 - Small Prints

There is a substantial difference between looking at a large print and looking at a small print. Sometimes it's best to make an image small so that it can be visually digested in a single gulp. My long-standing love affair with the 2¼ x 3¼ contact print.


HT1692 - A Few Thoughts About Metadata

Believe it or not, 70% of the entries to this year's Light, Glorious Light book project arrived without the photographer's copyright information in the metadata of the file.


HT1693 - Previsualizing the Finished Size

I stopped using the Ansel Adams idea of "previsualization" years ago. His idea was to mentally predict the tones you want before you expose the film. The next step was to develop the negative to achieve those tones. As far as I know, Adams never discussed previsualization relative to print size.


HT1694 - Even Winners Produce Losers

Can we all agree that not every Ansel Adams, or Edward Weston, or Wynn Bullock image is a winner? Sometimes even the great photographers would produce a questionable image. When I produce crap, I find it comforting to remember that.


HT1695 - Avoiding the Seduction to Catalog

Whenever I find myself in a location that offers lots of different compositions, a rut that I easily fall into is what I characterize as "cataloging." This invariably leads to a shallow collection of repetitive images.


HT1696 - Increase the Flaws

William Blake said , "The fool who persists in his folly will eventually become wise." Can we apply this to our mistakes? The new Lens Blur tool in Lightroom is an example.


HT1697 - Bootscreen Brainwashing

Every morning I boot up my Windows 11 laptop and am greeted with a beautiful photogenic scene from somewhere in the world. Every damned day. Is this what people think of when they think of fine art photography? Certainly artistic photography is more than saturated colors and idyllic landscapes.


HT1698 - Take Your Time

Perhaps this is more about me than anything like a general principle, but I just can't hurry when I'm making art. Hurried art is messy art. I have to allow time or I just end up disappointed.


HT1699 - The One That Sparks an Idea

With some frequency, I have an image that haunts my imagination. It's often an odd duck, with no other images in my Lightroom catalog that are similar to it. But somehow this lone image sparks an idea that grows into a much larger project.


HT1700 - A Simple Habit That Saves Hours

I love big band music. I don't love hip hop music. Similarly, I love classic landscapes of the 20th century, but I'm not crazy about New Topographics or socially aware photography that is all the rage today. By definition, that puts me out of touch with so much of contemporary photography. As I get older, I'm having a harder and harder time determining whether or not I am an old fuddy-duddy or a preserver of historic values. What should be our response to artwork we don't like?.


HT1701 - Going Through the Motions

Sometimes, I just don't feel it. I'm there with my camera, the subject is lovely, the light is gorgeous, and I've got nothing. My inclination is to not photograph, but doing so anyway is a great way to break the momentum of ennui.