Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's New?

When I posted in April, I had every intention of posting monthly.  Unfortunately, time got away from me again.  Over the last five months, I have presented five workshops at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center and have another one scheduled for the beginning of November.  The workshops have focused on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for the most part, although I also presented a workshop on Digital Fine Art Printing and another on Black and White Conversion of Digital Images.  This was the second time I have presented the printing workshop.  After explaining color spaces, calibration of monitor, printing presets (like black point compensation and rendering intent) and other technical aspects of fine art printing, I accept images from the participants and run them through the process to show improvements that can be made.  This process helps the participants understand tools that are available to take their prints to the next level.

In the course of preparing for the B&W conversion workshop, I came across an action created by Greg Gorman and Mac Holbert that was particularly effective in making the conversion.  You can download a pdf file that sets forth the action here.  Here is an example of an image created with this action.

I have begun to create more black and white images over the last eight months or so in an effort to refocus my attention on the quality of light in an image and on composition.  It is easy to become lazy with color images and have the color carry the day.  I have become enamored with Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro.  With its combination of presets and the ability to use its "control point" technology, it is possible to fine tune any image.  The software even allows you to apply grain characteristics of different film types to the image.  I highly recommend it for anyone seriously interested in creating the very finest B&W images.  Here are some images created with Silver Efex Pro:

While there are endless variations on methods for making the B&W conversion, I narrowed it down to the following techniques for my workshop (contact me if you want any details about any of these methods):


  • Desaturation
  • Grayscale
  • Desaturation
  • Grayscale
  • Gradient Map
  • Separate Channel Layers
  • Channel Mixer
  • Black & White Adjustment Layer
  • L*a*b Conversion
  • Twin Hue/Saturation Method
  • Grayscale/Color Channels Method
  • Greg Gorman/Mac Holbert Action
Third Party Plug-In
I have not had much time to concentrate on my own photographic skills, other than in preparation for the workshops.  However, I did participate in Scott Kelby's Third Annual Worldwide Photo Walk on July 24 by joining fellow photographers in the Mission District of San Francisco.  I have been back to San Francisco twice since then, most recently this last Friday to put my youngest daughter on a plane to Barcelona, Spain so she could attend the University of Barcelona for her entire junior year of college.  She is already fully acclimated in less than a week.  Here is a sample of the images I captured on these recent trips.  

 As you can see, I am trying to listen to Jay Maisel and start concentrating on people.  It doesn't come easy for me, but it is rewarding when a particular image conveys an emotion.

Well, I am probably done with juried competitions for 2010.  I entered ten competitions and was accepted into eight.  The Art of Photography Show in San Diego eluded me again this year, so I will try next year.  I already have an exhibit set for next year.  This will be my first exhibit outside California.  Chris Schiller and I will be presenting a joint exhibit at the Grants Pass Museum of Art in Oregon.  They approached me about exhibiting, which was a first.  Usually, it is necessary to put together a proposal and then send it to several venues in hopes of garnering some interest.  For galleries that are not limited to photography, there are often no more than two opportunities per year to exhibit.  The competition is fierce for those openings.  If you are in the Grants Pass area of Oregon during October or November of 2011, please stop in and see my work and that of Chris Schiller.  He is an exceptionally talented photographer.

Next up are trips to Avila Beach for a family vacation at the beginning of September and the workshop in Yosemite Valley in December, both of which should generate new images.  In the meantime, I will be updating my website with new images, so go take a look next week.  Happy shooting!

Next Post:  Avila Beach

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm Back!

After a very long hiatus, during which I concentrated on all things photographic (except this blog), I have decided to resume the blog, but to move it from a weekly occurrence to a monthly event. That is in keeping with a hectic and unpredictable schedule. Since I last blogged, I have made the switch entirely over to Nikon. I am the proud owner of the Nikon D3 and even prouder owner of the D3s. With its high ISO/low noise capability, I can now shoot handheld in situations that previously demanded a tripod. Recently, I captured images inside the Black Chasm Cavern near Volcano, California. Here is an image, unretouched, that was captured at an ISO of 12,800.

Beyond the equipment changes, I have been traveling a bit, starting with a trip to Cambria, California, to attend the annual Cambria Art and Wine Festival. It's a beautiful little community and the wine is very nice. If you visit, make sure you stop by the Lions Peak Wine Company in Cambria and try the Verignon wine with the stilton cheese and mango.

Last March, I had the privilege of visiting Jay Maisel in his Bowery building that serves as a gallery, workshop, storage facility and home. He was gracious as always and took my wife, Kathy, and I, as well as our good friends, Les and Emy Phillips, on a guided tour of this five-story converted bank building. I reciprocated by taking him and his delightful wife to dinner at one of his favorite restaurants. We also managed to take in "Wicked" on Broadway. New York City has to be one of my favorite places. It is vibrant, exciting, and full of surprises.

Next stop was Idaho for my brother's wedding. At his request, I acted as the official wedding photographer. This was my fifth wedding as a photographer and something that I now do only for close friends. Most brides and grooms seem to want the same set of stock group shots and for a photographer used to shooting what he finds interesting, it can be a stifling experience.

During May, I participated in a three-person exhibit of photographs entitled "Sense of Place" at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento, California. My contribution was of images captured during my trip to the Brazilian Amazon during April 2007. The other two photographers provided images of Venice and of Antarctica.

By the way, I am still waiting for the video promised by Michael Reichmann as part of the workshop. Each year around March, I send another e-mail to him, asking when we will receive the video, and each year, including this year, he says it will be soon. According to his most recent communication, it just hasn't risen to the top of his list of priorities, and he is surprised that it is an issue to me. He's probably right. It has only been three years since the workshop occurred. Of course, attending another of his workshops has not risen to the top of my priorities either, and likely never will, especially with so many other excellent providers out there from whom to choose.

July took me to Bandon Dunes in Oregon for golf and very little photography. Another beautiful area that I need to revisit when I can focus on photography, rather than a small white ball that has a mind of its own.

September brought a trip to Avila Beach with the family for our annual Labor Day weekend. I was able to both enjoy the scenery and capture it on this visit.

In October, I returned to Washington, D.C., where I attended law school over thirty years earlier, and also where I lived for six years in nearby Gaithersburg, Maryland. As much had stayed the same as had changed. It felt comfortable after only a couple of days, walking the streets and riding Metro.

I used 2009 as a year to work on my photography skills and become proficient in Lightroom. Toward that end, I presented numerous workshops on the various modules within Lightroom, as well as a workshop on digital fine art printing. These workshops are being presented by me again this year during April, May and June at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, and my goal is to become an Adobe Certified Expert in Lightroom this year.

I just finished framing thirteen prints for a joint exhibit with a very fine photographer, Chris Schiller, wherein we are pairing images based upon their graphic similarities, mine in color and his in black and white. This exhibit opens on April 17 at the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville, California, and continues for two months. It is entitled "Brilliant Earth" and is in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations. Two sculptors and a videographer are also part of the exhibit. I will also be exhibiting in the 2010 Kellicut International Juried Photo Show at the Coastal Arts League's gallery in Half Moon Bay this June. Unlike 2009, I have been accepted into five juried shows so far in 2010 and have high hopes that this will be the year that I am accepted into the Art of Photography Show at the Lyceum in San Diego, California.

I recently returned from my third Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures workshop, this one in Belize. In December, I will attend my fourth workshop with the Barefoot Contessa, Margo Pinkerton and her husband, Arnie Zann, in Yosemite National Park. They continue to maintain their high standards and commitment to participants. This month, I am also returning to take an intermediate fine art printing workshop from Stephen Johnson at his Pacifica studio, by far the finest printmaker I have ever met, as well as an amazing photographer and teacher of Photoshop techniques. He also happens to be an extremely warm and giving person. I have been very lucky to meet people like Steve, Margo, Arnie and Jay, as a result of my passion for photography.

Now that we are caught up, future blogs will concentrate on technical issues, current debates in the photography field, workshops, and recent photography trips. I hope you will come back each month and see what's new.

Next Post: What's New?