Long Exposure mini workshop, Sep 7, Twin Falls, ID

Long exposure mini workshop, Twin Falls, ID
Long exposure mini workshop, Twin Falls, ID

In this mini-workshop, learn the techniques and nuances of long exposure photography. We’ll cover exposure settings, looking for and predicting patterns, making long exposures in direct sunlight, in shade, late afternoon, and night, and we’ll spend time practicing the technique while photographing in the field. You’ll need a camera with manual exposure capability and a tripod. Optional equipment: remote shutter release, polarizer filter, full neutral density (ND) filters (ND filters will be available for you to use). We will meet for a short classroom discussion then go into the field. Our field location will be determined on the day of the workshop based on local conditions. Optional meeting afterwards for dinner, drinks, dessert, etc. and discussion.

To register: http://www.blueplanetphoto.com/dir/index.php/workshops/long-exposure-mini-workshop.html

Upcoming Photography Classes

Here are my upcoming classes for July and August. Classes are held in Boise in a classroom setting or outside. click on the class title to register. Most classes and modules are also available on an “On Request” basis if you would like to schedule a class on a different date. Please Contact Me to arrange it.

Photography 101
8/5 – 26
8/22 – 9/12

Composition 101
8/8 – 14

The Business of Photography I
8/6 – 27

Before You Buy
7/16
8/1

Basic Camera Operation

8/3
8/24

Light & the Light Meter
8/7

Aperture & Shutter Speed
8/21

The Exposure Equation
8/28

Domain Names For Sale

I have the following domain names for sale. Group discount, make offer.

cowboystockimages.com $400
cowboystockphoto.com $400
cowboystockphotography.com $400
All three domains: $900

braggingpages.com $125
braggingpage.com $125
bragginpages.com $125
bragginpage.com $125
All four domains: $300

idahoinabottle.com $250

flashsolo.com $250
flash-solo.com $250
Both domains: $400

thequeenstreatment.com $250
thequeentreatment.com $250
queenstreatment.com $250
queentreatment.com $250
All four domains: $750

Maria Piscopo comes to Boise, August 16 – 17, 2013

Maria Piscopo, Photographer's Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion
Maria Piscopo ASMP program, August 16 – 17, 2013

Register Today

Marketing is one of the more difficult tasks we face as creatives. Making contacts and establishing relationships can be intimidating. Luckily, we have just the program for you! Join us for a presentation on Friday evening and portfolio reviews on Saturday by artist rep, author, lecturer, and instructor Maria Piscopo.

Based on her recent book, 4th edition, The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing & Self-Promotion, this program has been updated for today’s commercial photography client. Maria’s new marketplace overview will give you the information you need to find and keep clients. Her techniques are specific, efficient and cost-effective for every area of photography.

Topics include: identifying your direction and updating your marketing message, improving responses to your ad and direct mail, email and web marketing tips and techniques, reducing rejection when calling clients, dealing better with voice mail, “no-fail” selling scripts, planning different presentations to get your work in the door and using new follow-up techniques to give you an unbeatable edge over your competition. Even experienced professionals will get new ideas!

Maria Piscopo (www.mpiscopo.com) is the author of the 4th edition Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion and Graphic Designer’s and Illustrator’s Guide to Marketing and Promotion — both published by Allworth Press — and she has been an art/photo rep for twenty five years. She writes magazine articles for industry publications such as Shutterbug Magazine and Communication Arts and teaches marketing classes at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Maria’s topics have been successfully presented to industry associations such as AIGA, ASMP, APA, ICON, CAPIC and PPA.

Private portfolio reviews with Maria are available on Saturday, August 17, for a separate fee of $150.

Friday, August 16, we will begin at 6pm with a social and networking hour at the MK Nature Center Auditorium. The program begins at 7pm. Refreshments and door prizes.
Saturday, August 17, portfolio reviews are scheduled in 30-minute sessions from 8am – 6pm.

Admission:
Program Only
ASMP Member: Free
IMP Member (Idaho Media Professionals): $10
Non-Member: $15
Student: $5

Portfolio Review:
ASMP Member: $75
Non-Member: $150

Register Today

What’s in Your Camera Bag?

Our camera bag is our mobile office. Especially these days when camera bags have compartments for our laptop, smart pad, smart phone and other devices in addition to our camera gear. Our camera bag can also become our mobile storage facility, accumulating various bits of flotsam and jetsam we add thinking we’re going to use or forget to remove after a shoot. But, sometimes that detritus comes in handy when you least expect it. What odd or unusual thing have you had in your camera bag that unexpectedly came in handy during a shoot?

Here are three lists, starting with unexpectedly useful items, things you might not generally consider but might be useful in certain circumstances, and items you probably should include in your camera bag on a regular basis.

Unexpectedly Useful Items

1. Altoids
2. sewing kit
3. rubber bands
4. mini flashlight/headlamp
5. bandaids
6. hand sanitizer
7. Aspirin/Tylenol/Advil
8. allergy medication
9. makeup brush
10. safety pins
11. Velcro
12. zip ties
13. candy
14. clothes pins
15. baby wipes/wet wipes
16. shower cap
17. tweezers
18. permanent markers
19. squeaker from a dog toy (attention-getter for babies, kids, pets, and adults)
20. scissors (small, collapsible)

And a humorous suggestion

My camera, I hardly use anything else in there and I’m starting to wonder why I drag the damn bag around.

Might Be Useful

1. clear gift wrap tape
2. bug repellent
3. gaffer tape, blue painter’s tape, electrical tape
4. bubbles
5. gray card
6. crochet needle
7. alarm clock
8. hairspray
9. external light meter
10. lint roller
11. squeeze blower
12. GPS
13. sunblock
14. chewing gum
15. Vaseline
16. spring clamps
17. body tape
18. glitter
19. hand warmers

Should Consider as Regular Additions

1. hand towel (for wiping off moisture from lens and camera or sweat from your brow
2. Leatherman or other multi-tool (for various equipment maintenance, cutting/trimming stuff)
3. trash bags (impromptu rain cover, damp clothes/towel storage, quick and dirty flag/gobo, for trash)
4. lens cloth (microfiber) or Lenspen
5. screwdriver/allen wrench/flat wrench for tripod/quick release plate maintenance

Again With The Watermarks

In response to the ongoing debate of “To Watermark or Not To Watermark?”:

If a photographer is a photographer because that’s their chosen profession, career, and livelihood, their desire to protect their work should not be lessened by this debate. Why not also decry people who lock the doors of their homes or their cars? I don’t know of any restaurants, doctors or auto mechanics who “brand” their services and products then allow free use (theft) without pursuing some recompense if it does happen. If they do offer free stuff, it’s on their own terms, just as it should be with photographers and other artists. We shouldn’t be “required” to give up or give in just because people love our work so much they’d rather not pay to have it. While I also agree art is an important component of a healthy society, why are artists compelled to “gift” their livelihood to that society and others are not? Honestly, I (and other artists, probably) would do this for free if I could live without money. Perhaps artists should be exempt from paying for anything in return for gifting their work to the world. I’d go for that.

I know this is an old, old debate, and there are photographers and artists who are consumed by it, which impacts their ability to do their work, blunts their creativity, and generally makes them grumpy. I do watermark my images so people know who the maker is, not really for theft avoidance because, as you say, if they want it they’ll take it. Just like locking your doors when you go out doesn’t deter the determined thief. I do agree that obnoxious watermarks are overkill (Would you like a photograph with that watermark, sir?). During a workshop I attended in 2001 led by Jay Maisel, during an image review session I showed some images with watermarks (during a workshop, yes) and Jay stopped and told everyone he didn’t know why anyone who posted their work online would not watermark their work, simply for the ability to be able to identify the owner, if nothing else. So, I see no downside and I don’t really care if someone doesn’t like it. It’s my work and if they want to purchase a photo for themselves I’m happy to provide them with one minus the watermark. The watermark also becomes the only identifying, traceable, means to find the owner when embedded metadata is removed (by services like Facebook, for example).

There is the distinction between professional and amateur photographers as it relates to watermarks and interest in copyright protection. But more often these days companies are approaching amateurs, using their work, for the very inexpensive fees (if any at all) amateurs are willing to accept (because they are uninformed).

I’ve also wrestled with the “clients hate watermarks” issue. Some art buyers hate to see them (just like they hate websites with black backgrounds). Again, if the mark is obnoxious, I understand. But I feel less inclined to remove them from my website display. If they want comps they can have a watermark-free image via the download process.

There will always be two groups in this debate. I prefer to be identified for my work when the purpose of my posting work is to easily identify the work as belonging to me. Watermarking might afford some small amount of theft protection, but even if the photo is used and the watermark retained, I am still identified as the owner of that image and that is more important than “sharing”.

The First Gate

Some time ago, I received an email from someone I didn’t know out-of-the-blue asking if I’d provide some feedback on an attached photo. I like to help out photographers by providing feedback on their work when I have the time. I had the time, so I looked at the photo and replied with some detailed comments.

Artists, regardless of the media worked in, need feedback to improve. It’s extremely difficult to know if your work is appreciated if nobody gives you feedback about it. It’s hard to improve your skill if others don’t comment on your style, technique, materials, and other aspects of your work. Artists put their work “out there” in art shows, galleries, informal and formal exhibits, contests, clubs, associations, on their personal websites and online forums like Flickr and Facebook. But, the feedback you receive from those outlets and forums is not always from qualified sources or of any real use. How many comments of “I Love It!” does it take for you to believe you’re the next Ansel Adams? So, it’s not unusual to seek out someone whose work you admire (or at least they appear to know what they’re doing) to ask their opinion.

The next day, I received a very gracious thank you email from the person. They greatly appreciated my thoughtful comments and wondered if I’d look at some other photos. Attached to the email were about 30 identical variations of the same photo previously sent.

My first reaction was, honestly, “Are you kidding me?” and a bit of a laugh. My next reaction was a little angry that this person thought I didn’t have anything better to do than look at a pile of similar photos of the same subject and compose an essay of critique for each of them. I wondered if they even comprehended what I wrote to them about the first photo (which was a better photo and the comments I wrote applied to this second set as well). I could have reacted like I’ve seen others do, in a condescending and overbearing, “holier-than-thou” response full of wisecracks and veiled (and not-so-veiled) put-downs, asking them in certain terms if they thought I sat around all day responding to requests for free reviews of buckets of similar photographs. Responding in such a way doesn’t do anyone any good, neither the reviewing photographer nor the requesting photographer. And, it furthers a stereotype of the condescending professional who thinks everyone “below” them is unworthy, even though that person started out on the lowest rung of the ladder sometime in their life. We tend to forget that. Even if I chose to ignore the request and just not respond, I would be essentially doing the same thing.

So, I composed a friendly reply explaining, that while I’m happy to provide feedback on the occasional photo, I have other duties required for maintaining my business and I’m unable to review and comment on such a large number of photos outside a formal, paid, session. As a professional artist I understand the desire for feedback, validation, a kind word, a helpful hint, etc. from someone who appears to know what they’re doing. I was there once and I’m sure most, if not all, artists of one stripe or another have been in the same boat….nervous and eager to approach the “local pro” to have them peer at your work and pronounce their judgment, either letting you pass through the “First Gate” or send you back to try again.

I hope I wasn’t a pest as I was starting out. Getting through that “First Gate”, the first time you have someone other than family or friend evaluate your work, is a first step to moving forward with your work. Asking a stranger to look at your work is a request for validation as much as it is for actual constructive feedback. “Am I good enough?” you’re asking. Am I good enough to keep trying?

My first formal request for a review was to a local photography gallery owner. I’d been in the gallery a few times and the guy seemed to know what he was doing, so I gathered up my courage one day and asked him if he’d look at some of my photos. We set an appointment and I brought back a book with some prints and slides (back way before digital). His review, as I remember it, wasn’t detailed. He didn’t give me suggestions for improvement or tell me specifically what he liked or didn’t like. He did tell me he liked my work, though, which was enough incentive at the time to continue making an effort. At the time, I didn’t really know what I was doing with my work, didn’t know what I wanted my work to be (fine art or stock), or what to expect from the review. I figured this guy who had his own business would know what to tell me. He’d obviously reviewed other work, right? And, he was good at what he did so he must have some sense of what a good photograph is. That was my First Gate.

Some First Gates are large, ornate, sturdy, with an intricate lock; difficult to get through unless your work is the right “key”, and more like a “last gate” than a first. Others are similar to a rickety garden gate; most of the time propped partially open so you can walk through with little effort. The rest in between pose varying challenges. Your task is to select the First Gate that will do you the most good (at least how you perceive that to be at the time. You may actually pass through several First Gates throughout your artistic career, especially if you change your style, media, or artistic or professional focus. If you change from an editorial photographer to a commercial photographer, you might need to pass through a commercial First Gate to move forward. So, how do you get to, much less through, the First Gate?

How best is it to approach someone to ask for their feedback/review? It’s simple, really. I tried to do as much research as I could first. I found a photographer that did work similar to mine and lurked around his gallery for a while until I was more or less sure he was “qualified” and until I had enough guts to ask. Now, I would be more specific, and suggest you be, too.

Research the people you’re interested in getting feedback from. Do they do similar work? An architectural photographer might not be the best choice to review landscape or wedding photography. Is there any indication on their website or other materials that they’d be willing to review work? One indicator might be that they teach. Call, stop in, write a brief email, introducing yourself (briefly), get to know them if possible, and when you’re ready ask if they would be willing to review one or two (only) pieces of work before you dump a portfolio on them. Remember, this is your First Gate, not your 4th or 9th or 20th. You can always go back to them later and ask if you could arrange a more detailed review.

I must stress something here. If you’re going to seek out someone, a professional, to review your work, you must show the best work you’ve done to date. This is work you’ve spent time with, and used your equipment and skills to the best of your ability. I can honestly tell you if you aren’t presenting your best work you will likely only get a brief and perhaps brusk response, although only somewhat encouraging, to “keep trying”.

But, I must also stress something else. Don’t take unfavorable feedback (in your opinion) personally. You have to distance your attachment to your work to receive feedback properly, so that it’s beneficial to you. Because you’re going to get feedback you don’t want to hear, no matter how good you are. The feedback about your work is not about you, but about the work. Receive that feedback with the same enthusiasm you would receive praise because it will help you grow. Be respectful of the person’s time and willingness to help you. Don’t make excuses about your work. Don’t berate the reviewer or you won’t get any more help from them.

Getting through the First Gate is a big step. You’re announcing to yourself and the world your intention to be serious about your work. Challenge yourself and avoid the propped open garden gates.

I also encourage professionals who are asked to review work to do so (or decline to do so) with respect. If you aren’t comfortable giving feedback, tell the person. Recommend someone you know who might be willing. If you respond like an asshat, regardless if it makes you feel superior, it only makes you look like an asshat. And the world could do with less of those. Reviewers as well as reviewees learn from the experience. And the world could do with more quality art and artists.

A very short list of locations near Boise very suitable for Nature and Landscape Photography

I gave a program this week at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge about Nature and Landscape Photography. I was asked by a few of the attendees to repeat the list of locations I put up near the end of my program. So, here they are. You can easily search out the specific location and directions from where you are as well as additional information about the area. Good luck and happy shooting!

Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, Nampa ID
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Celebration Park, Melba ID
Shoshone Falls/Perrine Coulee Falls, Twin Falls ID
MK Nature Center, Boise ID
Stanley/Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Stanley ID
Wilson Ponds, Nampa ID
Jump Creek, Canyon County (Marsing) ID
Hulls Gulch, Boise ID
Bogus Basin, Boise ID
Arrowrock Reservoir/Atlanta Road, Boise – Atlanta ID
Eagle Island State Park, Eagle ID
Idaho City ID
Silver City ID
McCall/Ponderosa State Park/Little Payette Lake/Lick Creek, ID
Warren Wagon Road/Warren (NE of McCall) ID
Camas Prairie/Centennial Marsh, Fairfield ID
City of Rocks National Reserve, Cassia (S of Burley) ID
Castle Rocks State Park, Almo (same area as City of Rocks)
Craters of the Moon National Monument, Arco