Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Wildlife Photography

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Hey Folks,

Huge congratulations to all those who did so well in the recent BBC and Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Overall winner Greg du Toit has a remarkable image in “Essence of Elephants”. The winners of all the various categories should be proud of some fantastic photography.

I saw an interview with Paul Souders, winner of the “Animals in their Environment” category on BBC here. Congrats to Paul for an incredible image, and a great job in the interview. Paul deserves huge kudos for getting out their, on his own, and doing the work. He doesn’t simply trek off to a well known and much favored hot spot and follow the hordes with their long lenses to do his photography. Sure, Churchill is one of the great polar bear photography meccas, but no tundra buggy and over-sized group for his trip. Just himself, his boat and hours upon hours of exploration trying to find a subject; it’s worth noting Paul spent over a week on his trip and saw only 2 polar bears, after spending 12-14 hours riding up to 30 miles a day on the ocean; the first of the 2 promptly raced off never to be seen again.

This should be inspirational to so many of us who do this work. We don’t need a dozen bears in the vicinity, and we don’t need to follow the footsteps of the masses and we don’t need to shoot gigabytes of images to make a great image. We need to be creative, diligent and persistent. And, of course, having your own boat doesn’t hurt either!

Congrats all.

Cheers

Carl

On Selling Stock photography

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Grizzly bear, Brooks River, Katmai NP, Alaska.

Grizzly bear gives me the once over, Katmai NP, Alaska. Click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Reading a recent post from someone on facebook reminded me of my start in stock photography, and I thought it might make a good subject for a blog post. How’d you make your start in selling stock photography? Every photographer wants, or once wanted, to be “published”. It’s the hallmark for aspiring photographers, I suppose.

I guess every photographer has their own story about how this happened for them. Here’s mine.

I received an email from a magazine editor in Europe requesting the use of this image, at left, for the cover of their magazine. They’d seen the image on the website, and wanted to license it. The email included the fee they pay for the image usage, and asked that I ftp the high-res file to them if that was acceptable. It was.

I dug the file (a tif file, scanned from a slide) from my external hard drive, saved as a high quality jpeg, and ftp’ed the file right away. I got a nice check and 2 copies of the magazine son after, with my photo sitting ever so proudly on the cover. My first ever sale, a cover photo for an international magazine. And it took my all of about 2 minutes to negotiate. “Wow; this is TOO easy”, I thought; “I’ll be rich before I’m a month older”. (more…)

John Cleese on creativity.

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Hey Folks,

A great talk on creativity by John Cleese; definitely put some time aside and check this out.

(more…)

The power of Command Q.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
Mount Sanford in Black and White, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A black and white version of Mt Sanford and reflection, from one of my favorite viewpoints in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

The secret to a productive day of creative work on the computer, for me, is Command Q. Tweet Deck, closed. Mac Mail, closed. Fetch, closed. Safari, Firefox and Chrome, closed. Dreamweaver, closed. Capture NX2, closed, Photoshop closed, Text Edit, closed. iTunes, open, and Photo Mechanic, open. 35 minutes of initial photo sorting/editing and keywording and I get an awful lot done.

Then, Command O and Capture NX2 opens up. Select the images from Photo Mechanic, and hit Command E. Those images open in Capture NX2. Command Q again, and Photo Mechanic shuts down. I do my basic RAW editing, conversions, etc, and open the images in Adobe Photoshop. Command Q and Capture NX2 shuts down as well.

(more…)

Brown bear photo and place

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
A large male adult brown bear, or grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), stands and stares at the camera. Male brown bears may reach weights of over 1200lbs and easily stand 9' tall. Brown bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A large male adult brown bear, or grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), stands and stares at the camera. Male brown bears may reach weights of over 1200lbs and easily stand 9' tall. Brown bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

One of my main goals last year, photographically, was to shoot more ‘bears in the landscape’ style shots; images such as this one were what I was really after. Of course, that doesn’t mean I would pass up an opportunity to fill the frame with a bear like this, either.

This kind of image is all about the bear; power, size and vitality. The bears in the landscape speak a little more about place. Fascinating subject, place.

I just got back from a trip to Denali National Park and Preserve, where I spent some time in a cabin in the woods, by a fire, trying to stay warm. The day we skied in to the park, the temperatures plummeted, from the 0 to – 5 degreeF range to minus 40 and minus 45. The experience of the Alaska backcountry at that kind of temperature is something else.

It was a  cool experience, hanging out with my friend, Erik DeLuca, music composer from Virginia, while he concentrated on doing some soundscape recordings and trying his best to experience a ‘sense of place’ in a landscape like this. We chatted a lot about what that means, what it does for us, and why it might be important. I commandeered Erik’s book, Place: A Short Introduction, (author: Tim Cresswell) and read over it during the long dark nights. It’s interesting stuff.  (more…)

BBC – Wildlife Photography and full disclosure

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Coyote pup sitting beside yellow daisies, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Coyote pup sitting beside yellow daisies, Jasper National Park, Canada. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

BBC = bBS

Hey Folks,

Here’s an interesting article from the UK Telegraph; the first paragraph pretty much sums things up: “The BBC is accused of routinely faking footage in wildlife documentaries, by using studio sets, sound effects and tame animals to portray creatures in the wild.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: yes, indeed, the UK Telegraph commenting on any media source of ‘faking’ anything is pretty sad. Let’s disregard tabloid integrity for a moment and consider what this is really about (and what’s WAY more fun); wildlife photography.

Wildlife photography does not include zoo and game farm animals; shooting captive subjects, given that some folks are perpetually going to choose to do this, should always be labelled as such, even if only via context (see Darwin Wiggett’s bear photo for an example; and notice that he captioned it regardless).

I have yet to hear anyone explain how photographing a bear in a cage is wildlife anything. The root of the word ‘wild’ is free-willed, not Free Willy. I understand, for certain, there are degrees of what that might mean. Is a zebra migrating hundreds of miles across the plains in Africa before being hemmed in by a fence really free willed? *

The fact that there are indeed myriad shades of gray, woven through every possible facet of our world, does not make charcoal black any less black. We might differ on where 18% gray is, but we know what black is.

(more…)

Creative thinking; it’s not what you th…

Friday, December 16th, 2011
Grizzly bear lying on the ground, rear view, (Ursus arctos), Katmai National Park and Preserve. Alaska.

Grizzly bear lying on the ground, rear view, (Ursus arctos), Katmai National Park and Preserve. Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I generally avoid articles built from numbered lists. The Top 8 anything is generally little more than billboardian nonsense.

That said, I read with some interest 12 things you were not taught in school about creative thinking: I’ll ignore the perfect opportunity to comment about the very clear LACK of creative thinking in the article’s title. For now.

The article is by Michael Michalko, “one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Business Creativity), ThinkPak  (A Brainstorming Card Deck), and Cracking Creativity (The Secrets Of Creative Genius)”  – hhhmmm …. I’m seeing a pattern here.

I think perhaps the biggest ‘myth’ we hold about creative thinking is something that comes from this article and others like it. (more…)

To see the sea

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Massive storm surge raises the high tide and creates crashing waves along the coast of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The sun breaks through right at sunset and provides some spectacular light.

Massive storm surge raises the high tide and creates crashing waves along the coast of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The sun breaks through right at sunset and provides some spectacular light. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Why do we stare at the sea?

Cheers

Carl

What’s in a word; just what is a professional photographer

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
Brown bear, Ursus arctos, standing raised upright and rubbing her back against a birch tree in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska .

Brown bear, Ursus arctos, standing raised upright and rubbing her back against a birch tree in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I can’t imagine my father ever calling himself a “professional University lecturer” or my brother referring himself to as a “professional math teacher”.

The word professional means many things; but when it’s followed with a vocation, such as “photographer”, it doesn’t mean that you enjoy photography a lot, or that you speak politely about it, or that someone bought a print from you. It doesn’t even mean that you have a website. It doesn’t mean you teach workshops and lead tours, either.

Show me a professional photographer, and I’ll wager a dollar I’ll show you someone who’s struggled to pay their rent, who’s sold gear to make their car payment (or sold their car to make their gear payment), someone who’s eaten peanut butter sandwiches because that’s what was available to eat.

A professional photographer has made real sacrifice to do what they do (there are always exceptional cases, with trust funds, a wealthy spouse, etc). It’s a risk. It’s giving up an awful lot to choose to pursue a particular vocation. It’s losing on that risk, picking up, and swinging the stick again. And again. And yet again. Repeat, infinitum.

It sounds much more glamorous than it might be. It means you take the bus sometimes, it means you sit in the rain and wish you were somewhere else. It means you sometimes take a lower price for a sale because you need shoes. Pardon my French, but it means you’ve been sh** on. It means you’ve wished, cursed and swore that you had chosen some other manner to live by. It means you say ‘yes’ when you think ‘oh sh**, that gig sounds like hell’. It means you say ‘yes’ and then that gig actually IS hell. And you then say ‘yes’ again. Still you pursue it.

(more…)

Art and How to Live

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
Boreal forest and reflections in a small kettle pond, Copper River Basin, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Boreal forest and reflections in a small kettle pond, Copper River Basin, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

It’s often said that art can teach us how to live. This is true, yet it’s also commonly misinterpreted. The product of art, what we call the photograph, or the lyric, or the dance, doesn’t teach us how to live. The product of art, these artifacts, can show us how someone ELSE lived.

On the other hand, the making of art (which is REALLY where art is), can teach us how to live.

This process, the making of art, illustrates how we might live; how we might be fully present, engaged, conscious. More fully alive. (more…)