Wednesday, October 26, 2005


As I started my drive today, I could see some blue sky peeking out from behind the clouds. I started my drive going down the Hudson River on the east bank. As I began to see the Catskill Mountains, they "called" to me. So as the sky was definitely clearing, I crossed the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and headed into the Catskill Park. As my elevation changed - so did my weather. I went from fall - to snow covered winter scenes-and then back to fall. My focus for the day seemed to be to find waterfalls and streams surrounded by fall foliage.

It was a good day.

New York

I woke up to rain this morning. Not unexpected, but still disappointing. Since taking photographs in rain is not a lot of fun, I decided to explore some new territory. I headed west into New York State. I crossed over the bridge at the far south end of Lake Champlain. The mountain on the west was beautifully colored -well worth coming back for on another trip in better weather. I drove north following the shoreline. I then headed into the Adirondack Mountains. As I went up in elevation, the rain turned to snow. I got a few winter pictures, but I was not really dressed for snow. While my suitcase was heavy, I really had packed light planning to layer. I was thinking fall, not blizzard. I drove through the Lake Placid area - seeing the ski jump site and some of the other Olympic facilities.

But hours driving in snow without my four wheel drive vehicle (think security blanket) left me a little tense. I made my mental plans to stop when it got dark. I made it to Utica just after dark.

Monday, October 24, 2005


While it seems a little strange to be in New England struggling with weather issues from a hurricane in Florida, such is life. I will be trying to find fall color until Thursday when I will fly back to Texas to attend a friend's wedding. Naturally the weather forecast all week is rain, snow, clouds, more rain. I am used to this. After all, while only the STRONGEST winter storms bring rain to Death Valley, it has rained on me every time I've been there!

I got up this morning to a gray sky. I took the time to rearrange my baggage so that each night I would only carry in small needed items - NOT the big bulky suitcase. I got all my camera gear out in easy reach in the car and cleaned the sensor and the lens I use most frequently. I had picked up some information yesterday at the Vermont Visitor's Center. After checking out the routes that still had color as of October 20, I headed north up highway 5 following the Connecticutt River.

I saw a side road marked "Old Connecticutt River Road" and took it. There was some lovely foliage with reflections on the smoothly moving water.

Closer to Windsor, I found a waterfall just begging me to photograph it. While I shot it from a couple of angles, looking at the shots closer tonight, I wish I HAD stood in the middle of the road . . . . On the other hand, from the middle of the road, you did not see the bottom of the waterfall. I DID want the fall foliage as part of the shot, but my nit with my favorite shot is that one of the branches crosses the waterfall. I have some new techniques to try on some of these shots, but for now I am posting my initial processing.

I followed the route listed in the brochure most of the day. After turning on Highway 4, I plotted the route again. The recommended route turned south on 100A. I had no need to make a loop and staying on 4/100 seemed to follow the river. I took another turn on some side roads and was rewarded with some shots that may work out. I had seen Texas falls on the map. I could not remember if Henry and I had been there, so I headed in that direction. Highway 125 is marked as scenic. I definitely agree, a narrow curving road through the mountains. While I got to Texas Falls while there was still light, I chose to enjoy them and not fight the fading light. But I also chose to spend the night nearby in hopes that the sky will be brighter in the morning.

I found my motel and my dinner at the next town. I've caught up with my blog and I'm hoping for clouds with only a little rain (I CAN hope, can't I?). I'm going to study the map a little more to choose a general route for tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

After the Convention - Heading for Adventure

After the Alamy meeting on Saturday, I walked around the Time Square area. Every other trip to New York, I have attended a Broadway show. I walked the theater district, but I did not find anything that jumped out at me. While I would like to see Brooke Shields, she is appearing in the musical "Chicago." I have seen the Broadway play once as well as the movie. Since I really don't like the premise, I was not tempted. I chose to eat at a French restaurant I had passed. Then I headed back to the hotel to finish the Photography blogs.

I tried to find a way to rent a car from the city to start my explorations. When the first car rental place said no to dropping the car off elsewhere, I was tired enough that the train ride to Connecticutt sounded like the best option. Sunday morning was the dreaded "moving day." I repacked my belongings - how did it get so heavy . . . . . . I must be more tired than I thought. Fortunately, Penn Station was one block away - two blocks to get to the entrance I thought was the right one. Stairs . . . . . I made it up stairs with those same belongings several days ago. As I stood there pondering whether to walk around to another entrance, a kind gentleman said, "May I help you?" With a sigh, I said yes and watched him walk those heavy bags down the steps. I got my ticket purchased and did not have long to wait. Down the escalators with those big bulky bags . . . . .Finally, on the train - one bag stored by the door, the other two in the overhead shelf. AHHHHHH. I pulled out the items I thought I would use - my Bible, my journal, my computer, my ipod . . . . About an hour down later, I realized that all I really needed was the IPOD. The station stops were short - so I loaded everything else back - so I could get off fairly quickly.

After the stop where they switched to a diesel engine (from the electric one I presume), I decided that lunch might be a good idea. I negotiated my way to the dining car (which was at the back of train.) While it was just a simple heated chicken sandwich, it tasted mighty good. At last we got to Hartford, where to my dismay it was down the stairs with the big suitcase to get off the train. The conductor was offering to help people . . . .sigh . . . . the big bag DID get off the train with me. From there it was not difficult to get to the taxi and then off to Bradley to get a rental car. My taxi driver was one of the most talkative ones I've ever had. He was from Africa and loves being in the States because we are free. He dropped me off at Budget. I asked for four wheel drive - they gave me a Trailblazer much like my trailblazer at home - complete with a Texas tag! Later in the afternoon, I realized that while it is a SUV, it is NOT four wheel drive. There is snow on the ground at the higher elevations in Vermont. But at least I have the ground clearance and the confidence to take this vehicle on dirt roads that I would not have wanted to take a car on.

I drove north through Massachusetts, enjoying the fall colors around me. I headed west in Vermont on highway 9. I immediately head out on those little dirt roads hoping for some little streams. All I found the first day was some very pretty foliage next to the road. I kept taking little roads - and finding myself looping. As it got dark, I headed back to Brattleboro for supper and a Motel 6.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Victory for Me

This is the third year I have submitted photos to the Hubbard Museum of the American West's Photo Exhibit. Last year I had two photos that made the exhibit. I received a letter today that notified me that four of my images made it this year!

While these are "baby steps" in the process of trying establish a career as a photographer, I am very grateful that my work will be displayed. It is a beautiful museum and the photos last year were outstanding. I am also eager to learn which photos were chosen. Hummmmm . . . when I can make it to Ruiodoso to see the exhibit?

Rights Managed vs Royalty Free

Well, before this event, I was sceptical of Royalty Free marketing. When I posted my first images at Alamy, I listed all of them as RIghts Managed. And while I still remain skeptical of the "penny" stock agencies, I am now more convinced that I need to market my photos both ways.

The panel I went to this morning had an incredible array of stock photography companies represented. I was especially thrilled to hear the representatives from Getty and Corbis talk about their company, their strategies, and how it works. But the entire panel was impressive - so much knowledge and skill to learn from at one time!

Interestingly enough, the sales price for Royalty Free images is going up - there is a big demand for this type of image. But there is still a demand for Rights Managed. Big companies sometimes want exclusivity for the images they use in an advertising campaign. Between Tom Grill's session yesterday and the information presented today, I have a better idea which of my images should be marketed as Royalty Free and which should be Rights Managed. And I have a plan to shoot several sets of images specifically for the Royalty Free market. To put it simply . . . . images that are unique, difficult to classify, and expensive to obtain should be Rights Managed. Images that are strongly conceptual, can be used in many ways for many products should be marketed as Royalty Free. Go to an agency such as Getty or Alamy and browse the Rights Managed and Royalty Free images. I think you'll spot the difference.

Turning Your Images into Gold - Marketing your photos to the Consumer

I found this session extremely informative. Because nature photography is my first love, I think this is a direction I would like to explore. I can visualize some of my best work framed on someone's wall.

The moderator was Jeff Sedlik. He runs his own business and distributes posters himself. He did a great job presenting the pros and cons of doing it yourself versus being represented by an agency.
Jeff Sedlik
Jeff Sedlik - Jazz and Blues Master

Martin Lawlor from Bruce McGraw Graphics (I'll add a link here when I find a good one for his company) and Phil Jackson from Bruce Teleky - American Vision Gallery (an art print poster distributor) both gave presentations using photos they market.
Bruce Teleky - American Vision Gallery

The highlights of information from this:I gathered that when you are marketing posters from these big entities - they would prefer to have an exclusive arrangement with you. They have many distribution channels and are already connected with the big retail chains, home interior networks, furniture stores, etc.

When targeting consumers, you are talking about posters, framed prints, greeting cards, mugs, t-shirts, calendars, mousepads, bags, etc. Branding your name will help increase sales of these products.

When thinking of prints for home decorating, one interesting aspect is thinking in terms of pairs of photos that can be displayed together.

One of the advantages of going into the retail market is that it diversifies your income stream. At Kathy Adam's Clarke's "How to Survive Your First Five Years", she talked about having many different ways of generating income (pieces of a pie so to speak) in order to earn your living with photography.

There will be a pdf that I am looking forward to receiving. While I won't pass much of that on - as I consider that it might be proprietary and was intended for those of us that paid to attend the seminar, you can get information about these kinds of companies from the book, "The Photographer's Market."

John Lund finished the presentation. I immediately recognized his work - think the dogs playing poker. He has done an excellent job finding innovative ways to market his work.
John Lund

While I don't know yet if my work is high enough quality, I am certainly planning to explore this area of photo marketing.

PhotoPlus Expo - More Interesting Booths

I’ve been doing some still life photography in various rooms of my house. When my daughter, Debra was away at college I used the desk in her room to set up flower shots. I had heard about special light “houses” or light boxes and I knew that some people constructed their own. I saw several lights at booths, but the one I liked best was at Phototek. I chose one 24X24X36. It came with a black and white liner and I bought the additional “wide angle” one so I could do horizontal shots. I already have two studio lights – so I did not buy their lights.

When I first bought studio lights, it was an experiment – so I bought just about the cheapest ones my local photo store (Precision Camera) had. I discovered that I would indeed use them. I also discovered the room I was working in got very hot. I tried bouncing the light off the ceiling, as well as shooting with them directly. I bought plastic diffusers (which never seemed to fit correctly) and I tried shooting through white material. So one of the things I was looking for was an upgrade for my lighting.
I did look at AlienBees, but they are strobe lights. The helpful staff there told me that I would need a flash meter to set my exposure. Sigh . . . . . one more thing to learn to use. I am spoiled by my in camera meters. I had been by the Westcott booth and drooled over one of the lights they had. They had a professional model and their rep was extolling the virtues of the cool lighting. She was cold. I priced it the first time and walked away . . . . . But after checking out AlienBees, and knowing there was a show discount . . . . . I went back and got their Spiderlight TD5. I bought one with a “kit” because I already have a reflector that I can use to balance the light. Perhaps next year I’ll get a second one. I got the light, a bracket, a soft box and a lightstand. And then of course I saw some portable backgrounds (made similarly to the fold up reflectors) that I would see myself using a lot.

AlienBees Flash Units
Whereas I looked at their lights and perhaps one day I will go that direction, the item they have that I do drool over is the portable power system. I did some bluebonnet portraits this year and tried to use my car inverter to power my lights. Something did not work the day I tried it . . . . but at least the sun cooperated. The power systems look like they might work with my existing lights and perhaps my new one. (And I did fill out the card to win a set of their lights . . . . . .)

Lee Filters
While I did not spend much time drooling here (I already have Lee ND gradient filters). I like their filters MUCH better than the Cokin filters I started with.
Lee Filters

Friday's Sessions

The first session I attended was "Your Picture How to Get Published."
The moderator was W.H. Hunt with panelists, Elizabeth Blondi, Kathleen Klech, Jodi Quon, and Kathy Ryan. One was photo editor for Conde Nast's Traveller magazine. One was photo editor for the New Yorker magazine. It was interesting that it is amazingly easy to get your portfolio in to these people. They all preferred prints (even prints you have made yourself) over CD's. They each presented photos from photographers that had impressed them and that showed how that led to an assignment with their magazine. I was impressed both by the creativity and that many of these photos would not win at many of the online contests where I have been participating. While most of my work does not really fit the needs of these publications, I learned about a new contest to enter at the Santa Fe Workshops.

Next on the agenda was: Turning your Images into Gold
Moderator was Jeff Sedlik, Panelists Martin Lawlor - Bruce McGaw Graphics, Phil Jackson - Bruce Teleky (art print, poster distributor) and John Lund (Animal Antics - everyone has seen his dogs playing poker images)

This session really fits the photography that I do. Jeff Sedlik got started when his first child was two - as a way to plan for college. You can market yourself - printing your own and finding distributors or you can license your work. It seems that many of the companies want to carry your work exclusively. And you get a better percentage if you go directly to them rather than through a stock agency. (You can have other work out for stock.) So I'm glad I learned that early in the process. Home decorating is a big part of this business model. So you want to think of photo pairs and "suites." I will certainly follow up on the information from this panel because I think my photos might fit with their needs.

My last session was "Maximizing Stock Photography Income" by Tom Grill
This guy was amazing. He conveyed a lot of information in a short period of time. Some of my friends and family will rue this day as I am likely to start bugging them to ask as models as I try to implement some of the ideas. While many of these shots may not be my favorite thing to do - they could certainly provide an income stream that would allow me to pursue the outdoor photography that is my first love. Concept photography has been mentioned to me before and is critical to getting your work used for advertising purposes.
Tom Grill

I took time to attend the special event: An Intimate Conversation with Three of Photography's Icons: Joel Meyerowitz, Douglas Kirkland, and Elliott Erwitt
Joel Meyerowitz spent 8 months documenting the cleanup at the World Trade Center. He went every day. His current project: he will be photographing all of New York's Parks. Like another professional photographer I have met, boldness is one of his characteristics - his story of how he was able to get in to the Trade Center site is a lesson in persistance. Douglas Kirkland is a celebrity photographer - you will recognize some of his photos of famous people. Looking at how he used lighting in his work is amazing. Elliot Erwitt's work shows the power in black and white photography. He was a street photographer and his photos are well worth studying.

I will come back and add more to this post when I have more time.

Friday, October 21, 2005

PhotoPlus Expo - More Interesting Booths

Interesting booths
A place to sell your images online. A form of stock photography – they charge you for a website to show your photos – within a network where buyers come looking. . . . .
They also allow you to showcase images from event photography – they will do the prints and ship them right to your clients.
Photo Stock Plus

Santa Fe Center for Photography
Project Competition Dec 1st deadline
Portfolio Reviews - a juried portfolio review event $495 Deadline for entries Dec 1st
The Singular Image

CPAC Imaging Pro
I met Susanne C - she was impressed with this program. It is designed for portrait photographers to do retouching. It had a nice system for changing out backgrounds. And of course, smoothing out facial skin, removing blemishes, etc. I liked the demo, but if I understood the salesperson – it was too high priced for me to buy right now.
CPSAC Imaging Pro

Portrait Weavers
I really enjoy the tapestry throws I have bought or been given over the years. Portrait Weavers allows you to take one of your photographs and have it woven into a throw, a pillow or a tote. You can even make wall hangings
Portrait Weavers

Palm Beach Photographic Centre
11th Annual International Festival of Photography & Digital Imaging
This is too near the NANPA event, but it looked interesting.
Palm Beach Photographic Centre

FastBack Creative Books
I got to look at a couple of their sample books. The quality looked very nice. They offer both hard bound and paperbacks. You can design your own book – or you can pay extra for them to design it.
FastBack Creative Books

ColorVision had a booth. Since a Spyder screen calibrater is in my future, I picked up their brochure.

Bergger Digital High Definition Fine Art Papers
I’ve just started playing with putting my images on textured specialty papers. So I was interested in their PN33 textured cotton paper. I also picked up materials on PN61, another textured paper and Pn62 – a cotton rag paper.
Bergger Digital

Premier Imaging Products
Premier Imagaing Products also had papers that captured my interest. My favorite was their Luster Rag. But I also liked their Textured 300g, the Canvass Matte, and their smooth velvet.
Premier Imaging Products

I’d already heard great things about this printing company. I got to see sample prints from their metallic paper. I will definitely try this out with some of my work. They will also mount photos on either canvas or matte which produces a nice finished product. I got small samples of their prints – which was nice so I can look at it more when I get home.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Aperture - Apple's New Photo Program

Henry, my husband had told me ahead of time that Apple was planning a big announcement at this photo conference I was planning to attend. He saw the informational releases Wednesday. Since I have been pretty disappointed with Iphoto at this stage of my photographic development, I was pretty sceptical about a "new" version of Iphoto. In my experience Iphoto was clunky, it did not like the number of photographs I shoot, everything moved so slowly. . . . . .

But when I got to the Exhibition Hall and saw the demonstration of Aperture - I have to say I'm impressed. It works right from your original RAW files without changing your original image (an important thing for some of the contests I enter that require the original!) It seems to work well to help you group your similar shots as well as shots from a given shoot.

My favorite part was the Loupe that is built in. I've been using Graphic Converter to run a slideshow to help me choose my best shots to work on. I usually take a sequence of shots - and then try to find the one that has the sharpest focus as well as the best exposure. With the loupe tool, it is very easy to get close into each shot of a series to find the one with optimal sharpness. You can also set up "Light Tables" with your best images.

The tool to remove those pesky dust specs was also very easy. With photoshop's healing brush, you must first sample an area and then remove the spot. With aperture you just choose the right brush size and click - the spot is gone.

There are built in tools for the RAW conversion - white balance, levels. And it is easy to move your shot over to Photoshop for additional processing or combining images.

I have a newer Mac laptop, so I am assuming it should run quickly on my computer, but I was impressed at how quickly the demonstrator could move from one image to the next - certainly not possible on Iphoto and certainly easier than going through an entire slideshow of shots on Graphic Converter.

With a $500 price tag, I am not rushing out to buy it right now . . . . . but I'm certainly going to go drool more tomorrow.

PhotoPlus Expo

For my photograhy friends, I am going to post some blogs from the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City.

I got into New York Wednesday and got settled into my hotel. I found my way to the convention center fairly easily and got my name tag. I headed off to my first eagerly awaited seminar only to find that I did not have my "ticket" nor was my name on the registered list . . . . . At the NANPA summit everything was included in the price except for the pre event and post event activities. So I went back to the main floor, found the additional line, priced it, swallowed very hard and bought my tickets! After all, the seminar topics were what made me choose to come to this event. In for a penny, in for a pound. Fortunately, I have a supportive husband who when called later in the day - confirmed that this was exactly what I should do.

I went to my first meeting - late, but really enjoyed George Lepp's presentation. While I have the Panorama Factory on my Windows laptop - it is cumbersome to transfer the files over - so most of my panorama sequence shots are still on DVD's waiting processing. He recommended Panorama Maker from - which runs on both Windows and Mac. I'll be looking into that program.

He also showed some of the features of Adobe Photoshop's CS2. Since I seem to be doing fine with the first CS, I had not been ready to upgrade . . . . .but the High Dynamic Range feature (HDR) that will take a minimum of three images with different exposures and combine them easily makes the new version tempting. And, of course, he also showed how to do something similar with layer masks - I did learn a new technique . . . . .

The other program that tempts me is Helicon Focus. Designed in the Ukraine, it is marketed in the United States for Windows machines. But it allows you to shoot a sequence of "macro" shots and combine them to get the entire flower in sharp focus - a much deeper depth of field than an lens setting. It can also be used on landscape shots. I was very impressed. However, it is an expensive program - and only for Windows - so it is not immediately on my buy list.

While I am not ready to buy a digital projector - I was certainly impressed with the Canon SX50 he was using. Amazing color and resolution.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Morning Flight

It was a beautiful morning to be flying at dawn.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Professional Progress

I'm excited to report that I have gotten my foot in the door with a professional stock photo agency. I currently have 13 images at Alamy Images:
Stock photography by Mary Ann Melton at Alamy

I will be going to New York City this week for the PHOTOPLUS EXPO 2005. While it will be fun to see all the newest photography equipment, I think I am more interested in the sessions. I am particularly interested in the sessions dealing with stock. With so many choices these days - Royalty Free Images, Rights Managed, and Licensed and with so many photographers out there trying to earn money, it will be interesting to hear what these industry professionals have to say.

Since I also love New York City . . . . . . I will enjoy this outing.