Thursday, February 26, 2009

One scene-many images

This is one of my experiments in creativity. The first image is a standard photo of a pretty scene. The rest use various techniques for the sheer fun of seeing what appears on the camera sensor. These were all made at the same place with the same trees!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Photographer's Canvas

I've had a lot of fun the last couple of years playing with in camera motion images. Each one is unique, it is impossible to repeat the same image twice.

I came to Colorado to photograph "winter." So far most of my photos are "photographer's canvas" images. This one mimics a water color painting.

I've been encouraged to try photographing water using these techniques. It will be interesting to see what shows up on my camera sensor these next few days.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sprites, Blue Jets, Elves, and Tigers . . . Oh, my!!!! has an interesting article about Natural Explanation for UFO's. Apparently some thunderstorms produce a pheonomenon that has been named "sprites" that appear as dancing lights above thunderstorms.

Live Science has a video.

Photo of a sprite

From Stanford University comes information and photo about blue jets, a related phenomenon.

Astronomy Photo of the Day

Matt Heavner from Alaska has compiled an impressive list of links with more information about sprites and blue jets.

Live Science notes that these events are called transient luminous events (TLE). There is also a Transient Ionospheric Glow Emission in Red, or TIGER, event.

Elves are still another form.

Live Science has even posted a video.

What is amazing to me is that only with the newest high speed video equipment are we even able to see these fleeting phenomena because they appear and disappear so fast. It makes me wonder how many more mysterious wonders God has created that scientists will continue to discover as our technical equipment gets more and more sophisticated.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Art Show Information

One of my breakout sessions today was with Mike Moats entitled "Making a Living on the Art Show Circuit." Mike Moats is a macro photographer, check out his book Macro Photography - Tiny Landscapes.

I have not tried art shows yet, but I have come to believe that I probably need to add them as part of the income pie as a nature photographer. I'm posting these links as both a reference for me in the months to come and for others doing research as to what they will need to set up an art show booth and where to purchase this specialized equipment.

Places to buy the tents

Light Dome Canopies



EZ up makes tents that are less expensive. What I've heard is that many people start with the EZ Up Tents and then when they are more established buy from Light Dome or Flourish. What is very important is to order your accessories such as the awnings when you order the tent, because you will need the correct zippers, etc.

Furnishings for your Booth:


Armstrong Products

Dick Blick for Canvas Print Racks

You will need some kind of cart to get your materials to and from your vehicle or trailer:

Rock n Roller Cart

Since I know that many of my photographer friends also sell greeting cards, I googled greeting card racks and came up with these:

Display Warehouse

Clear Displays has some interesting acrylic tabletop card displays.

Displays2Go even has some "on sale" right now.

Argonaut Displays

I think that I may want to have lights to make my photos stand out. I found these:

LED Battery Picture Lights

Lighting Universe

Trade Show Products

I also found an ezine article on Lighting a Fine Craft Trade Show booth

I have not bought my art show supplies yet. The upper links are ones that other people have recommended. I don't have any recommendations as to which greeting card rack company is best.

In addition to buying your booth and furnishing it, you are also going to have to have your prints ready to sell. You have to decide whether to mat and frame them. The recommendations I've heard so far are to have a few framed prints on the walls, but that the unframed photos sell better. If you are going to mat them, you have to decide whether to buy ready made mats or learn to cut your own.

Precut Mats

EZ Mats

I bought a Logan mat cutter which has served my purposes very well. I've seen a much nicer mat cutter that I'm sure is easier to use, but for now I'll keep using my Logan.

Luminous Landscape has a great article on all the different levels of mat cutters out there up to the very expensive computer models similar to one that a framing friend I know has.

After you have printed your work and made the decision to mat or not mat, you still need packaging materials.
For clear plastic bags in every size you could possibly need:

Clear Bags

Uline Uline also carries boxes of every size and description, as well as sales type bags.

I've used both of these companies - and it pays to check the pricing, because depending upon what size and how many you want to order, sometimes one is significantly cheaper than the other.

On first glance, it looks like there is a big initial investment to get started with Art shows. In addition many are juried so you must plan ahead. However, for many photographers it is one of the ways they can consistently make money with their photography.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The NANPA Summit

A NANPA Summit is an amazing event. It is so amazing to watch the truly great photographers of our time present their images in either the large auditorium or the Breakout sessions. Not only do your eyes get a visual treat, but hearing about the images - how they were made, why they were made, the story behind them . . . I find myself inspired to go back out there and find those images that will be uniquely mine! I find myself educated about not only the techniques in making better photos, but also the photography business itself.

My schedule so far:

Darrell Gulin: Marketing Your Work in an Ever-Changing Photographic World
The good news - while stock photography has had its downward pricing pressure, there is still a market for those truly unique images.

Kathy Adams Clark: Professional Tips for Workshop and Tour Leaders
I've been to Kathy's trainings before - she is always knowledgeable and teaches effectively. One of my long term goals would be to lead workshops or tours. She really covered all the issues and things that you need to think about and prepare for to do this successfully.

Art Wolfe: Keynote Address: Between Heaven and Earth
One of the best nature photographers of our generation, I got to hear him talk about his early work climing Mount Everest and traveling through the Himalayas. His mountain photos are stunning. His portraits bring you face to face with people who live in such a different world - happy, sad, worshipful, clean, dirty . . . What opportunities he has had and what he has done with those opportunities! WOW!

Les Saucier: Macro Secrets: Advanced Tools and Techniques for the Macro Photographer
I've been to Nancy Rotenberg's macro workshop and learned a lot. He added a different perspective and slightly different tools. I learned when to use the 50D closeup lens (which I have) and when to use the 250D closeup lens (which I don't have) He also uses some interesting flashlights that I want to think about adding to my tools.

Grover Sanschagrin: Capture the Photo Editor: Best Practices in Photographer Websites
Grover is co-founder of PhotoShelter - I was most interested in his results from a survey of photo buyers as to what they like in a website and what they don't like. What keeps them checking your photos, what sends them away from your page perhaps never to return. The good news for me - my new website is close, but I've got to work more on it.

Bill Fortney - Keynote Address: America from 500 Feet II - the Rediscovering America Project
Another WOW! I was fighting tears as I watched this presentation. I found out at the lunch table that I was not the only one. His books: America from 500 Feet and America from 500 Feet II have incredible photography. The first was photographed from an ultralight, the second from a parachute plane. But what was so touching was how he told the story of these great adventures. He used music and shared the thoughts that went into the dreams and execution of this great project. Well worth ordering the sound track from NANPA. It can be downloaded as MP3. Get your hanky out and have one of the books nearby. As a Christian photographer, I was especially moved by how he was able to tell his Christian story humbly and movingly and appropriately for the setting.

Nancy Carrizales, Danita Delimont, and Jain Lemos: Textbook and Educational/Editorial Licensing in 2009: What Photographers Should Understand about Licensing Terms
This was somewhat technical, but it provided much needed information about licensing photographs in the educational/textbook markets - one that is still a valuable income stream for photographers. ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) has been working for a number of years trying to standardize wording in licensing photographs. The Plus (Picture Licensing Universal System) is an invaluable resource in understanding what all the words in a 14 page legal contract mean. These ladies are truly experts in their field - well worth my time!

Bill Clark: Taking the Next Step: Bylines and Publications on a Part-Time Basis
So much what I needed to hear right now. This one will also be worth paying for the MP3 download. Using humor and practical ideas, he really spells out what to be doing in the current economy, to be ready when the demand for photos comes back. He gives good strategies for getting started as a professional photography and how to build a career - one small step at at time. I love his saying: "Don't just talk about going home and getting started . . . go home and DO it!" He's right, it is all too easy to get fired up at NANPA with great ideas for what we want to do and then get home and have the mundane world or procrastination keep us from accomplishing what we are capable of.

See what I mean - I get such a great education every time I come to a NANPA Summit. And . . . I still have one more day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What does it mean to be a professional photographer?

People ask me if I'm a professional photographer. I always find that hard to answer, because I have not reached my own goals . . . yet.

These are common questions when determining whether one is "professional."

Does it mean that I have sold a photo?

Does it mean that I've been published and paid for the usage?

Does it mean that I've sold portraits?

Does it mean that I've been exhibited at a gallery or museum somewhere?

Does it mean that a certain percentage or the majority of my income comes from photography in a given year?

Do I work on photography in addition to a full time job - or is photography my only "job?"

Is my photography more a hobby that occasionally earns money?

Am I a member of professional organizations?

Am I consistent in making submissions? Do I get work back to clients in a timely fashion?

How much time and energy do I spend marketing my work?

Am I teaching other people how to do better photography? Am I being paid?

Yesterday I noted that I had had my first "pro" look at my new website. Then I realized that it was not a true statement. Why? Because I had friends at the Digital Image Cafe check my site over to catch the little things that I might miss - a critique. Several of the people who critiqued my website probably meet the most of the criteria of being professional - they sell their work, they are hired for portraits, they've been published, they're working their way up to being in the major leagues. So, yes, I've had pros looking at my work. There was a thread at the Cafe that talked about most of the participants being amateurs. While that may be true, there are many that fit the criteria of being professional as well - whether emerging professionals or full blown professionals. A professional photographer that does make his living at photography once told me the big difference between a professional and an amateur is NOT the quality of the photography - rather it is the amount of marketing (both themselves and their photography) that they do.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Fraser Gallery Reception

I have not exhibited a lot, but I have been regularly submitting photos for exhibition with some success. I'm in Bethesda, Maryland tonight after attending the reception for the Fraser Gallery's 8th Annual International Photography Competition. At this stage in my photography career, I'm just happy to make the exhibit. I like to go to the reception for several reasons. For one thing, once I frame one of my photos, it takes on a new life. Somehow a beautifully framed print is more "real" than an image on the computer. When I view it on a gallery wall, it becomes even more real. I also truly enjoy seeing the other images on display. I'm still learning about how to present my work professionally, so I really study not only the photography techniques, but also how the master photographers present their work.

When you attend the reception, you get to hear the juror talk about how and why they make the choices as to which photographs make the exhibit. Since I occasionally get to do photographic judging, that is useful and beneficial in helping me become a better judge. When I look at the wining photographs, they usually stand out above the crowd. Tonight was no exception. You can view the images in the exhibition online at the Fraser Gallery's website." If you live in the Washington, DC area, it is well worth your time to go and see this exhibit. Viewed full sized and well lit, they are not only a delight to the eye, but also an inspiration as to how photography touches the artistic elements of our psyches. The winning images are outstanding.

The other advantage of being there at the reception is the people you get to meet and talk to. I enjoyed all the people I got to visit with, but a special visitor to the reception was Lida Moser. I was so blessed to spend an hour or so listening to her stories. I so hope that someone is writing her life story, because it is fascinating - from her work in the military during World War II to stories from her photography career. I consider this evening to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to sit at the feet of a great photographer and soak up her wisdom.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Alaska's Mount Redoubt Update

RSAM stands for Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement. It summarizes seismic activity during heightened volcanic activity. RSAM calculates and stores the average amplitude of ground shaking caused by earthquakes and volcanic tremor over 10-minute intervals. RSAM values increase as tremor amplitude or the rate of occurrences and the size of earthquakes increase. Because it tallies all the signals from all the events during the 10-minute interval, it provides a simplified measure of the overall level of seismic activity. (From the Alaska Volcano Observatory's site AVO)

This is today's posted chart of RSAM from AVO. While I'm no volcanologist, it is easy to see that there is some sustained vibrations that are well above the activity from earlier in the week. I wish that I had saved some of these charts from the last week or so, because I think it would be interesting to compare the changes.

Other reports from the AVO twitter, there has been a steam plume, but no actual eruption.

I suspect for the scientists who are studying this volcano, it is a little like waiting for the arrival of a baby. You know it's coming, you just don't know when. And for a volcano, you may know that something is getting ready to happen, but right now I don't think we have any way to know in advance what level the eruption is going to be or how long it will last. But it must be very interesting to be a volcanologist in Alaska right now.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Galveston's Featherfest

Galveston's Featherfest will be held April 2-5, 2009. I just checked the Schedule of Field Trips. This will be a great event!

While the bird populations are different after the hurricane, this is a great opportunity to observe and learn about the changes after the hurricane. In addition, the presence of birders will bring much needed tourist revenue to help Galveston area businesses as they get back on their feet.

If I get to go it would be my first visit to this birding festival. I've learned that bird festivals are a great place to get better at identifying birds, learning where to look for the different species, and to meet interesting people.

Mark your calendar, register early to get the field trips you are most interesting in, and enjoy a great weekend!

Earthquakes in the News

In my morning reading, I found this story: Small Earthquake rattles New Jersey. A 3.0 earthquake hit New Jersey last night. It takes at least a 2.5 or 3.0 earthquake to be felt. Apparently in addition to the seismological evidence, there was a flood of calls to 911 after the quake. Interestingly, the 911 callers heard what sounded like an explosion as well as feeling the movement.

To me this story is interesting, because we expect earthquakes on the west coast. We don't expect earthquakes as much on the east coast.

On the sidebar for this story was a video about an earthquake near Seattle. A quick google search yielded this story from the Fox News No reports of damage from 4.5 Magnitude Seattle Earthquake and from the USGS: Magnitude 4.5 Seattle-Tacoma Area that occurred last week.

I'm guessing that I'm just noticing these more since I started paying more attention to earthquakes after the swarms of quakes around Yellowstone. Yikes: I checked the home page at the USGS - and there was a 3.0 earthquake in Oklahoma last night! Three miles southeast of Centrahoma, Oklahoma. Apparently there is a Centrahoma aniticline in the Arkansas valley geosyncline. From Wikepedia: In structural geology, an anticline is a fold that is convex up and has its oldest beds at its core. Also from Wikepedia: Geosyncline is a term still occasionally used for a subsiding linear trough that was caused by the accumulation of sedimentary rock strata deposited in a basin and subsequently compressed, deformed, and uplifted into a mountain range, with attendant volcanism and plutonism.Wikepedia

In surfing for more information as to whether this quake was associated with either the Ouachita Mountains or the Arbuckle mountains, I found that there was a 2.7 quake near Oklahoma City in early December.

Looking at this weeks' USGS Latest Earthquakes - Last 7 days there has been a lot of activity along the west coast, Alaska, and even a very small one west of Carlsbad, New Mexico. SInce I have not been monitoring quake activity, I suspect this is all within the normal activity. I am certainly finding it interesting.

Monday, February 02, 2009

More Volcanoes in the news

Japan's Mount Asama erupted today. It threw a plume of ash about a mile high above its crater. It apparently had a minor eruption in 2008 and a more major eruption in 2004. The article also noted that Mount Sakurajima had a minor eruption a week ago.

The latest news from Mount Redoubt - "A high intensity burst of volcanic tremor occurred from about 2:44 through 2:50 AST this morning at Redoubt. The tremor episode appears to hve ended for now. There was no eruption associated with this tremor. " from the Alaska Volcano Observatory. The ASO has posted recent photos of the volcano.

Photo by Chris Waythomas from the ASO site taken January 31st

Photo by Kristi Wallace during an ASO observation flight taken on January 30 - also from the ASO site

The ASO also has two webcams of Mount Redoubt -one from the "hut" and one from Cook's Inlet. With the long Alaskan winter nights, they are dark for much of the day, however, they do give a great view during daylight hours. With the images from the hut we are likely to get some amazing views if the volcanic eruption starts during daylight hours.

The Central Texas Drought

I tend to measure droughts by how low my pond is. While my pond is pretty low, it was much lower in the early 1990's. I knew we were short on rain, but until the last few days I did not realize how dry we are. We ate at the Oasis overlooking Lake Travis so I knew the water levels there were down as well.

Last week I saw KXAN Weatherman, Jim Spencer's Blog that notes that we are now the worst drought area in the United States. He mentions a D4 drought. So I googled and found National Drought Mitigation Center site from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. One page has all the classification of drought with the effects that go with them. They also have a page with a US map that looks to be updated weekly with area information and forecasts.

At Sparrowfest this weekend, one of our leaders commented that we had a new level of drought - Extreme used to be the driest, but now we have "exceptional." And we are in an "exceptional" drought right now. I'm hearing that it is the driest it has been since the 1950's. For the sparrows, it means their food sources are very scarce. Last summer it was so dry that the grass did not make seeds - so most of the migrating sparrows have had to winter elsewhere this year. I grew up in the 1950's and remember the dust bowl days. There was so much dust in the air that it would find its way in under the closed windows.

Tonight we have a cold front coming in. I saw lightning in the distance to the east, but when I checked the radar, it is a long way from my house and moving the wrong direction. A cold front is coming in which is going to drop our humidity down. Our severe weather alert says that fire danger is high from the low humidity and the winds that are coming through with the cold front.

According to the weather reporter in the Galveston Daily News, the La Nina pattern that contributes to our dry conditions is also likely to bring a strong tropical storm season.

While I know that weather is always cyclical, sometimes when it is this dry, it is hard to believe that it will REALLY rain again in sufficient quantities. For some of our wildflowers it is already to late for moisture to help. However, if we could get just a little rain in the next few weeks, there are other wildflower species that would still bloom if we can just get some rain.

As for my pond, when my pond has water and the other ponds are dry, I get waterfowl in the winter. But, the bad news, when my pond gets really really low and the rains do begin, mine is one of the last to fill because there are at least two or three other ponds above it in the water channel. I'm hoping that we get more rain so my pond does not get down as low as it was 15 years ago - when there were only 2 small puddles where the springs are.