Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is Photoshop Cheating?

There are those among us who think if you do anything to your photo after you take the picture then that's cheating.

If one painter only has a dozen colors to work with and one has 64 colors to begin with, are they cheating to use the extra colors they have available?

Do I cheat? Yes, I do and I'm proud of it. I will lighten eyes, darken skin, remove pimples, increase contrast, increase color saturation, and occasionaly do something creative like this.

I create images to give an emotional response to the viewer. I consider Photoshop and other computer programs like it as tools of the trade. This arguement is not something new. I remember when some argued that it was cheating to use filters, or electronic flash. The only thing that I consider cheating in photography, is when the photographer closes his or her mind and stops trying to be as creative as possible.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Emotion of Color

I showed this photo to the mother recently and she said, "It kind of creeped her out." Keep in mind she had two miscarriages before this child and this one was a life and death struggle for the first several months.

The same mother had no problem with the B&W baby and a bright pink bow in the hair.

This made me curious about how color or lack there of can effect the emotional state of the viewer. Obviously personal history has a lot to do with it, but I post this shot with a general question.

How does it make YOU feel?

Monday, November 30, 2009

What Makes an Award Winning Photograph??

Having judged photos for over 4 years and having taken photos for over 30 years, I feel qualified to share some insight to what people who judge photos are looking for.

1.) Have a dominate subject or theme . . . that doesn't mean it HAS to be a single subject like this, but if you have to guess . . . that's not a good sign.

2.) The Simpler the Background the Better . . . that doesn't mean it HAS to be soft focus like this, but do NOT let it pull your attention away from the subject.

3.) Lines and Shapes Must Support the Subject . . .
too often and lines or shapes can lead your eyes off the page and or make you wonder what else is there besides the subject.

4.) A Great Image must have Emotional Impact . . . we all see 1,000's of images a day. The Greats Ones are those that stay in our mind. We can feel, touch, or smell that image in our mind because of the creative use of Texture, Depth of Field, or the Rule of Thirds. Great Images make us want to look again and again. Not all Artists are Photographers, but all Great Photographers are Artists!! Be aware of the Principles of Design. The Photo seen here was shot by Janet Daniel from Texas. It did not win our photo contest when first submitted, but . . . it easily could have.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kami Myles Wins After Dark Photo Contest

Thanks to all my friends who helped me be a winner in the After Dark contest. This contest was not really a best photo award. It was more about marketing game to get the word out about After Dark Education.

The prize was $2000 worth of tickets to go to Miami to enjoy the next After Dark educational event. If you are into photography like I am, you
will want to sign up now. They have an early bird special that knocks $100 off making it $400 for now. It's well worth the money. I have never seen so much photography talent in one place at a time.

Here is a link if you want to look at all the fantastic instructors.

This was a fantastic experience!! - Kami Myles

Monday, November 2, 2009

How to post to this Blog

It has been brought to my attention that the reason more people are not using this blog is that they don't know how. Therefore I thought I would solve that problem.

Step 01. Once at Blog site, go to upper left hand corner click on the “Sign in” link
Step 02. Enter your Google Account User Name and Password
Step 03. If you do not already have a Google Account click on the “Create a Blog Link” to create a Google account. It’s free and you can use any existing email address.
Step 04. Once signed in, it will pull up the Dashboard. On the left hand side you can create a profile about yourself, if you desire. On the right hand side you will see options like “New Post”, “Edit Post”, “Settings”, etc. Click on “New Post” link
Step 05. In the new post Tab you will see “Title” and a box to the side. Enter The Title of your post, example: “How to Post to this Blog”
Step 06. Across the top of the “Compose Section” you will see different options like: Font, Font Size, Bold, Italic, Font color, etc.
Step 07.
If you want to place a picture with the post, go to the third icon from the End (on the right hand side). This is the Add Image icon. Click it and a new window will appear.
Step 08. From there you can “Add an image from your computer” or you can “Add an Image from the web” You can also choose your layout. I usually use the default layout; (image to the left with text wrapping around it). I also usually use medium for image size. Click Add image, then click done.
Step 09. Back at the compose tab, type in your comments or questions as you desire.
Step 10. You can use the preview link in the upper right corner so see how it will look before you actually post. When ready click on the Publish Post button on the bottom left hand corner.

Just like a normal web page, it takes a little practice lining things up. That's why I use the Preview Link (a lot!) But now that you know how, give it a try and share all those wonderful photography experiences.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Save it for a Cloudy Day

When I run out of inspiration, which happens more often than I care to admit, I often go out and shoot clouds.

When I take pictures of clouds, I always shoot in both directions (vertical and horizontal). What I look for is something I can use in the background of another shot. Whether a portrait or another scenic shot; when the subject is great, but the background is blah, then the whole shot seems blah.

Some question whether or not this is ethical, using Photoshop to create the perfect image. My feeling is this . . . if I take the foreground, and I take the background, and I do the combining . . . it's still my work.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tree Silhouette

The original colour image of this shot wasn't bad, but I feel that the black and white version is a much stronger image. To me black and white seems to work especially well with images where there is high contrast and strong graphic lines.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Most Rescent New Subject

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and keep shooting the same thing again and again. Or worse . . . sometimes we get stuck in a rut and stop shooting all together. I have been in a town that has this "Skyfest" event every year for the last five years. I have nothing to compare it to as far as ballooning events go, because this is the first year I actually made it to the event. It was kind of cool. There were about 30 to 40 balloonist from all over, and several hundred locals attending the event. I had never shot an event like this before, but it was fun applying existing skills to a totally different subject matter. I recommend it to everyone. Not just shooting huge Balloons, but shooting anything you have never shot before. It might just surprise you, how fresh and exciting things seem all over again.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cloudy Moon

Hi All,

There hasn't been much action on this blog for a while, so I thought that I would post a night shot of the moon.

This image is composed of two image files: one expsosed for the foreground and one exposed for the moon.

All the Best, Jeff

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Responses to Comments

As I am starting to get more comments on certain articles, I find it easier to also respond to the comments in the comment section. In other words; if you had a question that was asked in the comment section under a particular article and the next day you see there are now two comments for the same article, it is very possible that is either me, or one of the others who also read this responding to your comments. I do get emails showing me which articles have comments on any given day. So just as a general bit of knowledge; if you ask a question, check back in the same section you asked it under to see possible answers. And if others, see my answers and want to add more, feel free to do the same. Some questions can very easily have multiple answers depending on your own experiences.

Depth of Field

Just wanted to put my two cents worth in on the depth of field question. I will not comment on what depth of field that I find most realistic, but I would like to state my opinion on what depth of field I find the most pleasing.

I find that a shallow depth of field not only isolates your subject, but also can give your photo an almost dream-like quality and a sense of wonder or mystery.
For me that's what photography is all about--creating a daydream that we can share with others.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Photo Favorite

As I said earlier, I am still new to "Blogging". I just figured out that I could also post photos here too. Actually any of us can, so I encourage you to do so. This is one of my favorite shots, and what most people do not realize is that the overhang in this shots is only sticking out about 1 foot.

If you want to give feedback about this shot, or post one of your own, feel free. The point of this blog is it is to be used as a tool for all of us, not just me. If any of you also have other photographer friends that might be interested in this invite them to view both the website and the blog.

I agree with Ansel Adams who said: "Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who motivates the motivator?

Some people have said that not only do I burn my candle at both ends, but sometimes it almost appears that I have a blow torch going in the middle. To those people I reply; "If I shoot for the stars and ONLY reach the sky; am I really a failure, compared to those who were too afraid to reach beyond their own limitations?"

I try therefore I am. Note; I did NOT say I think therefore I am. Many people think about what they want. Many people hope, plan, and dream to accomplish something, someday. I am all about trying new ideas, DOING something different. Some people would say I'm setting myself up for failure. If I try 10 new things; that nobody thinks I can do, and I only achieve 1 does that make me a failure? What if by some miracle I actually achieve 2 or 3? Since nobody thought I could do it to begin with, failure becomes kind of relevant, don't you think?

One of my heroes is Thomas Edison who stated, "I have NOT failed. I've found 10,000 ways that won't work." I treat my photography, my website, and my personal ambition to leave a positive influence on the world with the same attitude. If I offend any who think I spend too much time with my head in the clouds I reply, "Only my shoulders are in the clouds . . . my eyes are staring at the universe beyond."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wanted: Motivation

OK, here's the deal. Ezine Articles.com is having a contest. Write 100 articles in 100 days, win cool stuff. Prior to this contest, I wrote 80 articles in 2 years. Besides creating this blog to help interaction between our group of talented photographers; I was truly to hoping to get more feedback on the type of things, you guys as photographers wanted to know more about. Yes, in case you were wondering, I am talking about photography articles.

So far, I'm at 4 articles in 4 days. Only 96 more to go!! Besides the prizes, I was also hoping this would give me more material to update my current photo ebook. So let me not beat around the bush any longer.

If you were to buy an ebook on photography, knowing what you already know, what subjects would you want it to cover?? The goal of this ebook would be to take you to the next level in photography. This is NOT aimed at the beginning photographer, rather it is to help existing photographers to become even more successful.

I will continue to post here as ideas occur, but I am looking for motivation, ideas, inspiration, etc; not only for the contest, but so that I can create something that will benefit as many photographers as possible. I know I don't know it all, but I can research and find answers that people really need . . . if I know what the questions are to begin with.

As a side note; I am strongly considering promoting this next ebook through "Clickbank". What that means to you is, I will make this a money making venture for all of us. You can get a percentage of any of my e books that are sold from your website. But not to get ahead of myself. First, I need to write 100 more photography articles. Second, I will totally redesign my current award winning ebook. Third, together we will make a lot of money.

For now, just keep sending ideas my way please!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Group F 1.2

In 1932 a group of eleven American photographers formed Group F64 to promote a new direction in photography. The name referred to the smallest aperture available in large-format view cameras at the time and it signaled the group's conviction that photographs should celebrate the medium's unrivaled capacity to present the world "as it is."

These were some of the biggest names of the day, to include Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Weston to name a few. As most of you know, the higher the F-stop number, the greater the depth of field. So what their name sake implied was the greater the depth of field, the better.

In the world of photography these masters, were and are some of the greatest photographers of all time. I am not, and will NOT criticize any of their wonderful images; but I will ask this, "does more depth of field really show the world as it is?"

Try this experiment. Hold your thumb up and extend your arm out at full length. Focus on the tip of your thumb, then try to focus on anything 10 feet past that. You can not do both at the same time. The human eye does not have the ability to see everything sharp from edge to edge regardless of the depth of the image. If I were to form a group today, I would call it Group F1.2 .

A narrow depth of field has several unique advantages. A) It is much closer to how the human eye views the world. B) It forces the photographer to be very selective about what they want to show. C) Distracting backgrounds are almost nonexistent.

Obviously, no one rule can fit every situation, but . . . let me open this for discussion, which type of depth of field do you folks find most realistic??

Monday, August 3, 2009

To Pay or Not To Pay

Before I had invited anybody to join this blog, I got an interesting question sent to me through email. The question basically put was should this photographer spend $69.00 on one of those books that claims to have selected one of her photos as "The best photography of 2009"? Sometimes things like this come from photo contests; sometimes they approach you totally at random and state they are part of some national or international photography organization you may or may not have ever heard of. Here was my response:

Having gone through something similar in 2007, I will gladly share my opinion. This is very similar "xxxxxx" International Photo Contest. They will send you many ads that make it sound like it is such an honor to be chosen as part of this select group of photographers. All ads are created to appeal to your own self confidence and self esteem, but the bottom line is this . . . you pay them, not the other way around. Look at it this way, 300 pages x 6 photos per page = 1800 photographers paying them $69.00 each. That's $124,200 if each photographer only buys one copy. Make no mistake about it, if you are not willing to buy the book, you will NOT be included. The only way your family and friends are going to know about it is if you buy them copies too!

There are several thousand REAL photo contests on the internet, that if you win, they pay you (or at the very least they acknowledge you without you having to pay anything.) Is the book real? YES Is it a really good quality? YES Will it really help promote you as a photographer? NO. Most of those who got the book, got it to see their own work.

I'll be right up front with you. Yes, I got the book. But no one has EVER commented about seeing my work in it. I personally will never pay someone else to say my work is good enough to publish again. The longer I thought about it, the more upset I got with myself for doing it the first time. If it's that good, then the publisher should be paying me. I know it's not all about the money. But if they are willing to pay me for my work (regardless of how much), it sure feels like much more of an honor than if I have pay them.

One Last thought, for $69.00 you could print your own book with nothing but your photography in it. You can then use that as a very professional looking portfolio to show as many people as you want. There are several good print on demand publishers out there including either "LuLu.com" or "Amazon.com" that will print simply wonderful looking books about whatever subject you decide.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What Sets Us Apart?

In music; if you had to start at the very beginning, you would start with “Doe, Ray, Me” or so the song goes. In art it would be “Line, Texture, and Light.” Keep in mind that if you want to be a great photographer, you also want to be a great Artist. Anybody can go out and buy a cheap camera, and push the button. That does not make them a great photographer. But the truly great ones like: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Weston all had one thing in common. These people knew art and the elements of design.

It is hard to think of a 5 x 7 camera on a 45 pound tripod as the same kind of tool as a 2 pound 10 mega pixel wonder that we use today. They are as different as day and night, aren't they?? In my opinion, no. They are the tools we use to create. No body asks the carpenter what brand of hammer he uses, they look at the end result.

The end result comes from knowledge, insight and experience. Things like leading lines, the rule of thirds, and formal or informal balance goes beyond the tools you use to create them with. Some will argue that you can not teach creativity. Again I disagree. With over 30 years experience in photography, I find it is my background in art and concepts like the elements of design that sets my work apart. To be a great artist you do not need to know anything about photography, but . . . to be a great Photographer, you must be a great artist.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Consistant Change

Like many others I know, I often find myself resistant to change. When I first started shooting black and white film, I shot 400 speed film for a long time. When I first moved to Color I only shot Slide Film. I resisted going from a film camera to a digital camera for at least 5 years. I have used Photoshop 7 for over 10 years. I don't say these things to boast; in fact, it's just the opposite. When I first used a digital camera, I almost threw it away. Of course, shooting a soccer game with a standard grade SD card may have had something to do with that.

As time goes forward, so must we, if we want to continue to have any hopes of success in photography. I have a friend who collects digital backgrounds. She shoots most of her portraits on green screen then adds any one of several hundred choices after the fact. I'm not saying this is the way we should all start taking portraits, but I do admire her for thinking outside the box. She has no studio overhead cost. She can shoot her subjects almost anywhere, and she gives her customers choices they can NOT get with any studio in the area.

My current website, 700+ pages in size was all created with Front Page, which is not being supported by more and more web servers. In the next few months, I will be redesigning my site with Dreamweaver CS3. I will be learning the ins and outs of this "blog" stuff, and . . . believe it or not I will be moving up to Photoshop CS3. These changes will be a little overwhelming at first, I'm sure. But in the end I think it will all be worth it.

If we can share insights and motivation on this Blog, I believe we can all benefit. I thought at first, it was I that entered your email addresses to allow you to post to this site for example. I was wrong, you sign up with your own personal information in the section that says: "Join this Site". I invite one and all to do just that. If you will forgive my learning curve, I think you will find we can all grow and become more successful from sharing each others combined experiences.

What I want to do with this Blog.

Unlike a forum, where everybody and anybody can post things that may or may not have anything to do with what you originally said, a Blog has a limited number of authors. I would like to open this blog to photographers already submitting photos to my website www.betterphototips.com

To do this, send an eMail to: tedric@betterphototips.com and say "Yes, I would like to be included on your blog." Once you do this, I can add your name to those who can post on this blog.

The goal here is to make a community of photographers that can interact with one another on a regular basis. I would love, for example; for other photographers to be able to comment on the winners of our monthly photo contest.

If there is a particular subject that you would like to see an article written about, like; posing your subjects, then I could respond and give more information in that area. In other words, I want this blog to be a useful tool for all of us, not just me rambling on everyday like a public journal.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Next Big Step

I have been working on my website, www.betterphototips for the last four years. In most search engines if you type "photo tips" I am in the top 10. I have over 70 articles relating to photography published across the web. In my constant search to draw more visitors to my site, I have consistantly overlooked one area, until now.

For better or worse, this is my blog. I have no expereience in this part of the world wide web, but I have come to the conclusion that now is the time. Like many of you, I too dream of making it on the web. The premis for my website was this: Rather than competing with all the other photographers in the world, what would happen if I could find a way to help all the other photographers in the world? To this end you will find several hundred Photo Articles, Photo Tips, Photo Quotes, and Photoshop Tips available on my site.