Fuji X30

After qualifying from an Art Secondary School, in my hometown of Bath, I intended to pursue a career in art or design.

However, at that time, 1971, the opportunities were very limited, so needing to earn some money I found myself working in a shop, and that just happened to be a camera shop!
It wasn’t long before I was bitten by the photography bug!

Many years and many cameras later, film and digital, I continue with my love of photography, and art, with a greater enthusiasm and passion than ever.

I take photographs primarily for my own enjoyment and pleasure, from seeking out a subject to post processing.

Since becoming a Fuji camera user, I have fallen in love with photography all over again. The compactness, yet specifications and features of the X30, provide pretty much all I need (though am saving for a bigger sensor model) and the quality and tolerance of the Jpegs mean less time and effort in Lightroom.

In fact, though I shoot RAW + Jpeg, I find I a lot of the time I prefer what the Jpeg engine produces over an edited Raw file!

I try to be creative and look for the unusual in the usual, working towards my own style while experimenting within the various themes.

As mentioned, I use a Fuji X series premium compact camera plus Adobe Lightroom. I’m shooting a lot of street/urban since using the X30 and have the film simulation set to B/W+R with a preference for dark blacks and shadows using the in camera settings and then some tweaking, usually dodging and burning, in Lightroom. When shooting colour I set to Classic Chrome.

The joy of photography, for me, is that it’s something I can do when and where ever I want, I can be as creative as I as like, and though appreciation from one’s peers is always welcome, if I like it then that’s all that matters.

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The Sensational World Of Snow Photography

In today’s world where almost everyone has access to one or more cameras on the go, we have started taking photography as an art for granted but the fact is that a good photo is still a work of art. It is a matter of getting the composition of the lighting and shadows as well as the colors in the photo right. While it is possible for many to click a passable photograph, getting to click one that is exceptional can take a lot more than good equipment and chance. Many good photographers take clicking pictures of nature as a big challenge and this can indeed be one. The vistas of nature like snow can be both fascinating as well as fantastic to click but it may not be difficult. You will understand what we mean when you look at fascinating photographs of forest paths to another world.

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The Sensational World Of Snow Photography

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On the one hand, you have photography as an art and on the other hand, you have these breathtaking examples of photorealism. If you think snow photography is not your thing because it is too stark and cold, then we ask you to think again. But if you are still particular about not doing it, then you should consider the exciting world of sunset photography.

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However, Since This Article Is All About Snow Photography, We Give You Some Tips And Hints On How To Prepare For It And Get It Right.

Be warmly dressed: You are going to step out in the cold and sit around waiting for the right opportunity to click a photograph in the snow. This means that you should be prepared to sit out there for the right opportunity that means you have to be properly dressed to wait it out.

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Keep the equipment cold: It is not such a good idea to keep your camera hidden in the warmth of your clothing when you are out in the snow. This is because if the camera is too warm, there will be fogging of the lenses and this could hinder  your quest for getting the best shot out there.

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Have warm batteries: This next tip is contrary to what we have said because we are asking you to keep the camera cold but the batteries warm. You can do this by simply placing them next to your body under the warm clothing and doing so will ensure that the batteries work, as they should.

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Don’t start deleting or editing on snow: When you are out there clicking pictures in the snow it is better to get shots of different angles and visuals instead of moving towards editing or deleting. This will ensure that you do not lose good images, which will look bad out there in the glare of snow but may turn out better when you look at them indoors.

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Keep all equipment at hand: When you are out there in the cold, it is best to ensure that any equipment that you need to click quality photos are right at hand. This will ensure that any photo clicking opportunities that you have will not be missed.

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The other important point that you should remember about photographing out in the cold snow is that you should ensure that your own footprints and movements do not mar the landscape. This is very important to ensure when you are shooting photos, that you preserve the integrity of the image.

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Apart from the tips that we have given above, we are also leaving you with a lot of images to give you an idea about what to click and how to do it.

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The #1 Way Photography Can Change Your Life

There are a lot of obvious ways that photography can change your life. It can take you to exotic locales. It can connect with you people. It can be a way to help others. It can make you money.

And then there’s this one subtle way, and I’d argue it is more impactful than all the others combined.

It’s not flashy. It won’t win you fame and fortune. But it can completely change your life – every single minute of it. 


This is a concept that’s been swirling around in my brain for some time now. I’m nervous about sharing it with you. Not because I don’t think it’s an important idea. But because I feel like I only have scratched the surface. It’s a profoundly simple concept with unbelievably far reaching potential. I wanted to have a better handle on it, and I thought I needed to be an expert before I could share it.

But I’ve realized that the most important part of this idea is simply to be aware of it. Where it takes you (and me) from there is up to us. The essential thing is that we start to think about it.

So here we go.

The way photography can completely transform your every waking moment is that it can help you to become more aware of each of those moments. 

It’s About Presence

This is the concept of presence – paying full attention to your present experience. You aren’t worried about tomorrow. You aren’t dwelling on yesterday. You are here, now, 100%.

It’s the easiest thing, and the hardest thing. Try it right now. Take 5 minutes to just be present. Go!

How long did it take for your mind to wander? Your attention to be pulled elsewhere? If you’re like me, it’s approximately 10 seconds. Maybe 30 seconds on a good day.

But put a camera in my hand, and once I start shooting, I’m in it. I’m focused. I can go for ages without ever thinking about email, my to-do list, or even food (and that’s a big deal for me!).

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Photography brings me fully into the present, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about capturing that moment in front of you, and figuring out the best way to do it.

Here’s How It Changes Everything

So how does that change your life?

Here’s what I think. I think that one of the easiest (and hardest) ways to enjoy your life more is to simply be more present in it. 

How do you do that? Try this out.

Can you see the sunlight where you are? Can you marvel at it’s beauty and life-giving power? Or maybe it’s raining. How does it sound? Are there puddles creating amazing reflections? Rain drops splashing?

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Maybe you’re in an office. Can you see all the lines around you? Can you spot a great composition that they create?

If there are people around you, can you take 2 quiet minutes to observe them? Can you comprehend the amazing complexity of your fellow human beings?

Is there music playing? Don’t just tune it out. Can you stop and appreciate not just the beauty of music, but all the work that went into getting that music recorded and into your room?

How about your clothes? Consider their colours. Really feel the textures that you normally ignore. Then take a second to think about the journey that they took to get to you, from growing the cotton, picking it, transporting, designing, sewing, distributing, marketing, selling…

If you took a few minutes to try out any of these exercises, I hope you were filled with some mind-blowing wonder. There is so much to be aware of in our present moment that we usually ignore. We live in our minds, instead of in the physical world around us.

Photography can change that.

When you pick up your camera, you’re getting a top-notch exercise in being present. When you put your eye to the viewfinder, you stop thinking about anything but what enters your frame. You study the light. You notice the lines. You hunt for colours. You see all of the people, their expressions, their postures, their interactions.

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It’s incredible. Try it. Bring your camera up to your eye (or use your hands as a makeshift frame if your camera isn’t in reach). See how your attention changes when you’re shooting. Everything becomes an object of potential – the potential to add beauty or meaning to your photo.

Take It Outside of Your Photography

But you don’t need to wait until your camera is in your hands to be present. You can take what you do when you’re shooting, and learn to apply it to every moment.

Photography gives you an amazing way to practice. One of the best ways, I think. When you’re shooting, really work on your attention. Be sure that you’re completely focused on what you’re capturing.

Then take that skill out of the photography world, and into the every day. Start to pay attention to where you are, what you’re doing, and who is around you.

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Hey, at the very least it will help make you a better photographer.The more you can recognize remarkable light, lines, colour, shapes, scenes, moments, or action without your camera, the faster you’ll be able to notice and capture them when you are shooting.

But, the big life changing thing is that if you’re spending your day noticing, experiencing, and appreciating these things, well, I think you’re going to find you enjoy your day a whole lot more. Each and every day.

The days that go just as planned, and the days that go off course – they’re all filled with beauty and wonder. They all take place in this truly remarkable world.

We just have to learn to notice.

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Capturing Enchanting Landscapes

“I don’t just shoot the landscape I see but put my own interpretation of the scenery through interesting my point of view and photo editing.” says Emil about his landscape photography.

Photographer Emil Rashkovski is a 38 years old landscape photographer. Born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria, he is an engineer and loves to shoot on his off hours. Upon browsing through his Behance profile, you wouldn’t think that Photography i just a hobby that he devotes his free time. He caught the photobug more than 10 years ago and combined that with his affinity for nature and its beauty.

“My pictures have been published in photo magazines both in Bulgaria and worldwide.” Emil tells us. “A photo of mine was published as a front cover of the most popular Bulgarian photography magazine together with a featured publication about my work.” But beyond this, I am one of the winners of Sony World Photography Awards winner for Bulgaria.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

Photography is my hobby and passion. When I look back, I can find some childhood memories related to the photography. My uncle was a photographer and had a dark room laboratory. Part of the post processing of family photos was happening in front of me. This memory remains in my mind even today.
I like watching art – movies, fine art works, music, books. The good art is food for the soul. I feel a necessity to consume and do art.

A mountaineer and avid skier, I first started photographing the sights, which had impressed me with what I could produce using a point and shoot camera. Over time I started to feel a stronger need to make interesting photos and finally completely devoted to it.

Photography makes me look for beauty and creativity. I love the creative process, in which I put my own interpretation of the subject trying to express my feelings about what I see.

Phoblographer: What made you want to get into shooting landscapes?

I am fascinated by nature and its beauty. Photography is the instrument that helps me to express the way I perceive it.

I like walking and skiing in the Bulgarian mountains, the nature of Bulgaria (I was born and raised in this country). The Alps are also not unknown to me. I have been in the Dolomites, climbed mounts like Gran Paradiso (4061m) and the highest one – Mont Blanc (4810m).

I am also attracted to the sea, lakes, fields, rivers and waterfalls, changing seasons and the different moods that they bring, everything in nature that surrounds us and can be source for creative inspiration.

When I see such landscapes I feel the need to captures a of picture them and show to the public.

Phoblographer: When you’re composing scenes, what specifics do you try to go for each time? What’s your thought process like when you shoot?
I like to focus on the fleeting but also most beautiful moments of sunrise, sunset, night lights, starry sky. These transformations are truly magical, showing the eternal cycle when the day dies but is always born again.

I also like to put some dreamy/mystical elements in my works – e.g. misty forest, dreamy long exposure seascape or night scenery lights.

I don’t just shoot the landscape I see but put my own interpretation of the scenery through interesting my point of view and photo editing.

I like wide lenses and panoramas. Many of my works are actually made by a number of individual shots which are stitched into panoramas. When I shoot wide, I like to include interesting foreground together with the background. I am happy when I make the spectators feel as they are in the scenery.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.
I will not mention the point and shoot cameras I used in the past, except one that was really favorite – Sigma DP1.

Most of my works are done with Nikon D7100 and Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens. From a few months I am using Nikon D750 and Samyang 14mm f2.8. Neutral density filters Lee and Cokin for long exposures, especially for water, tripod Benro and remote control are also in use.
Phoblographer: How do you go about finding the locations to shoot? It must involve lots of footwork.

Yes, finding locations to shoot is not always easy. There are different type of locations – from mighty mountain panoramas through seascapes, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, forests, fields, interesting and/or famous objects like churches, chapels, different landmarks both nature and man mage, nightscapes. Everything mentioned can have completely different look and feel when shot in the different seasons or time of the day/night.

I also like to find interesting places near my living area. This way I can react fast when there is promising weather forecast.

When I am searching for places and planning my trips I am using Internet/Google to find the location. I review many pictures from favorite authors or from just a people went there. I am using also applications like Stellarium and The Photographer Ephemeris (TPE) to see how the Sun/Moon/stars will make the place attractive or not. Weather forecast sites are of the most important instrument too.

When I go on ground I often do research by foot before I choose the perfect position. This sometimes takes me several times to one and the same place before I find the perfect POV and/or time/weather conditions. For that reason I have to be in a good body shape to carry the mountaineering and photographic equipment with me which is not always easy job.
Phoblographer: Lots of photographers only want to shoot during the golden hour, but it looks like you break that rule often. What are you favorite times to shoot?

I like shooting during the golden hour too, but also during the blue hour and night. When there are suitable conditions I can even shoot almost all day, e.g. when I am in a dark and/or misty forest. It is also possible to shoot in the morning or in the evening outside golden hour (especially in the winter), e.g. when there is interesting light and/or moving clouds. I like to play with the long exposure.

When there is a good light that shapes the objects the magic is happening even outside the golden hour.

 

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PRACTICAL APPLICATION, STREET PHOTOGRAPHY STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: AN OLD GENRE’

Many of us have seen photographers whip out their camera and snag a candid photo of someone walking by, or doing something that somehow records a slice of life. It could be an expression, a hand gestures, or a combination of things that got their attention. The thing about street photography is that it requires a bit of boldness, and a constant eye for what is going on around you. Your camera [must] be ready instantly to take a photograph, and the settings you use are your choice. Many Street Photographers use “Aperture Priority” mode to control “Depth of Focus” (DOF here after), and a higher ISO to allow a fast shutter speed under most conditions. You will encounter sunlight, open shade, deeper and shaded areas where people are milling around. ISO 400 is favorite among many film photographers, and ISO 400 can be very useful as long as your camera has shutter speeds to at least 1/2000s. In a bright area, shooting at f/11 with a wide angle lens mounted, and a shutter speed between 1/500s – 1/1500s in not uncommon at ISO 400… But, many readings will be around 1/125 -1/500s. And in the shade, open up to f/8, this will still give an action stopping shutter speed of 1/125 – 1/250. If you go below 1/125, you risk a little motion blur. Which could work also.

The history of Street Photography goes back to Henri Cartier Bresson (Many call the Father of Street Photography), from around 1940’s or so. A French man, who, as a child had an interest in Photography and also sketching. He dabbled with 4×3 camera . When he was 19 in 1927, he entered a private art school to learn Classical French Painting. Although he learned the art of painting, he was moved by the Photographic Realism movement of his time. The Photography Revolution began, “Crush tradition.. Photograph things as they are”. By 1930’s, after a few life’s experiences, Henri, returned to the Photographic Surrealism movement, he became inspired by a photograph taken by Martin Munkacsi, of 3 naked African Children caught in a near silhouette. Henri said after this photo, “The only thing which completely was an amazement to me and brought me to photography was the work of Munkacsi. When I saw the photograph of Munkacsi of the black kids running in a wave I couldn’t believe such a thing could be caught with the camera. I said damn it, I took my camera and went out into the street”. (Quote from Wikipedia)

From that day on, he took photography seriously. He finely understood that Photography could fix eternity in an instant. Picking a Leica with a 50mm lens, he took the next several years working along side Martin. As time passed, he was a reporter for WWII, and had many excellent photos that where published all the world. HCB also worked with other media companies, and his work was becoming recognized. By 1952, HCB had achieved international recognition, and published a book. “Images à la sauvette”, the English Title was “The Divisive Moment” which came from a 17th Century Cardinal de Retz…”Il n’y a rien dans ce monde qui n’ait un moment decisif” (“There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment”). Cartier-Bresson applied this to his photographic style. He said: “Photographier: c’est dans un même instant et en une fraction de seconde reconnaître un fait et l’organisation rigoureuse de formes perçues visuellement qui expriment et signifient ce fait” (“Photography is simultaneously and instantaneously the recognition of a fact and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that express and signify that fact”) (Quote from Wikipedia).

A quote from HCB about the difference between Painting and Photography…”Photography is not like painting,” Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever”. (Quote from Wikipedia). I think this quote sums it nicely, you have an instant to react and capture the moment, if you miss, it’s gone forever.

I have to be candid with you about this “Decisive Moment”. By the time you react to a situation, it is gone! You have to “read the scene ahead of time”, and try to predict what may happen in the next few seconds. I’d say that most of our best photos, are a surprise to use when we see what we [really] captured. My 1st photo in this article was a surprise to me, because when I was ready to take it (just a millisecond in response time), the man on the right was looking at me!, Not to the right. But, the less than 1 second response time was not fast enough. (and I was using a Nikon FE in Aperture mode, Focus was preset for 5′-INF). So, the moral of this story is that you keep taking photographs. You are bound by the odds that by the more you try to get that “Divisive Moment”, the more keepers you will have. Even, if, the moment is a tad late.

The E-M5 can can make a great Street Camera. The AF is super fast, and the added aid of the touch scene to use as a shutter release along with the focus point [you] want in focus is a big plus for candid street photography. And, add, that the E-M5 can follow focus with Face Detection on… is a double plus. I guess I should mention the 9fps is available to you can get you more keepers… I recommend short bursts though.

Different laws are in effect in different countries, so, make sure you know the laws in area for photographing people in public places. I do not recommend, and it is illegal in all countries, taking candid photos ON PRIVATE property.. (That is, without permission from the owner) that is, you are physically standing on private property while taking candid photos of others on private property. That is trespassing. (An Outside Mall is Private Property, In the USA, this is Strip Malls and Malls that build their own little shopping quadrants with 2 or 3 private roadways that cut through it) Public Property is property that is owned by the Town or City or State or Government. Malls, (indoor and outdoor), Parking Lots, are Private Property with public access, just as other Privately owned bushiness’s are.

Keep Downtown, and on city streets and you should remain hassle free, photographically speaking on your day out.. mostly… they’re always a few over aggressive officers looking for trouble, where non exists. Always Nod to an officer when you see them, and don’t try to be stealthy. Wear casual cloths, that don’t scream “Hoodlum or “Drug Addict”.

Have fun, and remember to be friendly and meet a few new people while you are at it.

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Why We Do It: Photographers and Photo Editors on the Passion That Drives Their Work

The people who make up today’s thriving photographic community are our eyes to the world. Whether established artists and journalists or passionate emerging voices, they inform us, they inspire us, they amaze us, they put our world in the broader context of history.

But that community also faces great challenges — dwindling sales, increased competition and a fragile trust in photographers’ mission to inform. Too often, those factors can make those of us in that community, photographers and photo editors alike, lose sight of what drive us.

For this post, my last as editor of TIME LightBox, I asked 13 of my colleagues – some of the many photographers and photo editors who have influenced and inspired me over my last ten years in this industry – to answer these essential questions: Why do they do it? Why do they wake up every morning ready to take photographs, to edit them, to publish them? Why is photography important to them and, by extension, to all of us?

Here are their answers.

Kathy Ryan, Director of Photography, the New York Times Magazine

Photographs are the universal language of our era. Everyone has hundreds, maybe thousands in their pocket. Weightless, they turn the scale when the argument is: What happened here? Images don’t age or warp. A great photographer’s strings never go out of tune.

It is for this reason that we need photographers. They are the ones who sort all the chaos of the world into images that bring clarity to the free-for-all of life. They are the witnesses and artists who can distill the mayhem and beauty that surrounds us. They call our attention to the things we miss in our everyday lives and they call our attention to events and people at a great distance from our own patch of the universe. When they direct our eyes and hearts with precision and honesty, we know what we know differently and better. Photographers teach us to look again, look harder. Look through their eyes.

Ruddy Roye, Photographer

I shoot because I see. I shoot because if I don’t, I don’t know who will. Activism is seen as a dirty word. I shoot because I find peace in being especially active, and being a vigorous advocate for a cause.

How does one define what a “cause” is? According to Webster, it is “a person or thing that acts, happens, or exists in such a way that some specific thing happens as a result; the producer of an effect.”

I wish that every image I photograph reexamines and redefines the image of the black man, the black woman, and the black child. My photography is first and foremost a catalyst or reason to motive human action. Every picture I take asks the questions, “Who am I and what is my role here on this earth?” It is my way of seeing. It is my way of saying this is another way of seeing me.

Sarah Leen, Director of Photography, National Geographic

I have spent my entire professional life creating, editing, critiquing or teaching photography and working with photographers. It has been the way that I have experienced much of the world. In a deeply personal way I feel an image is a poem about time, about “staying the moment.” Photography can defeat time. Images can keep the memory of a loved one alive, hold a moment in history for future generations, be a witness to tragedy or joy. They can also change behavior, stimulate understanding and create a sense of urgency that will move people to action. Photography is the universal language that speaks to the heart.

Photographers are the dedicated, passionate and sometimes half-crazy individuals who are willing to give their lives, too often quite literally, to show us what needs to be seen, what needs to be known. I can think of no greater honor nor privilege than to have lived a life surrounded by images and the amazing individuals who create them and share them with us.

Stacy Kranitz, Photographer

For me it began with this fear of myself as a hermit and a search for a tool that would put me in a position to have to be out engaging with the world everyday.

Then it became this portal to and catalyst for reckoning with the other and how the camera can be used to breaking down barriers between the photographer, subject and viewer.

Now that the image has become devalued as a truth-revealing mechanism, it is free to own its subjectivity and becomes an ideal medium to navigate ideas around humanity, connection, identity, memory, presence, experience and intimacy.

Stephanie Sinclair, Photographer

Why do we do it? I think we all ask ourselves this question, especially as the industry becomes ever more volatile, with colleagues losing their jobs, and even their lives, more often than many of us ever expected when we went into this profession. Not to mention the steeply declining pay for those of us who manage to eke out a living doing editorial work… But for me, it comes down to the people in my photographs.

I still believe in the power of journalism and photojournalism to spark positive change — in a world where the pursuit of self-interest is prioritized by so many, its role speaking truth to power when all other avenues fail is unparalleled. And beyond the big-picture role of journalism, it can also be a revelation at the personal level. I’ve seen that from both sides of stories. For example, not long ago I was a story’s subject when my mother lost her life to medical malpractice in Florida hospitals; and, of course, I’ve been behind the camera interviewing hundreds of girls during my 15-year Too Young to Wed project. From both vantage points, I’ve learned how personally cathartic and validating it can be to share injustices suffered with a global community.

MaryAnne Golon, Director of Photography, Washington Post

Why is photography important? Photography speaks. When I discovered and later understood photographic visual language, I saw that this language could inform, educate and move audiences worldwide without the need for a shared spoken language. A successful photo story, when well-authored and edited, is universally understood. I once presented a photo story in China in silence to a professional photography group where the audience smiled, laughed, and fell quiet in all the right places — without a word in Mandarin or English. After the last frame, we all just beamed at each other. It was so thrilling.

I believe in light. Photography is light. That light is often shined into the darkest of places by the world’s bravest and most talented photojournalists. I have been most honored to support and publish work by many of them. I intend to continue nurturing, encouraging, supporting, cajoling, helping, counseling, appreciating, celebrating, and paying for professional photojournalism for as long as I am able. I believe in its power.

Aidan Sullivan, CEO and Founder, Verbatim

Photographers will tell you it’s almost like a disease, an obsession, a condition that drives them to tell the story at any cost, suffer hardships, isolate themselves and take extraordinary risks, all in an effort to capture and convey the story they are passionate about.

I have been there, as a young photographer, and I understand that passion and drive — and now, as my career has taken me through so many levels and roles in our industry, I feel compelled to support and nurture those storytellers, to help them continue to produce important work and tell those stories, often uncomfortable ones, so that we can, sitting in the comfort of our homes, be made aware of the darker side of our world.

This art, this madness, this compulsion to convey a story we know as photojournalism will not die, storytelling will not die, it will change and evolve but it is human nature to want to learn, to be educated and to understand our world through narratives.

I think photojournalism and the skills required to become a photojournalist are an inherent trait, genetic, it’s built into the DNA, it’s a need to be first to tell a story or pass on knowledge visually, like storytellers through the ages, when storytelling was deemed to be a gift and an important way to educate, when memory was a key requirement for learning.

Early cave drawings were the beginning of the visual narrative, all that has changed really is the method to capture those images and now, with a mobile and digital world, the way we disseminate them, instead of access to a few in our inner social circles, now it’s to hundreds of millions of people within the blink of an eye.

Laura Morton, Photographer

I first became interested in photojournalism primarily out of an interest in history. One day, while studying the Industrial Revolution, I found myself very saddened by a photograph of a child in a factory. I remember realizing in that moment that both the child and photographer were likely no longer alive and I became fascinated by how the photograph could make me so upset for the hard life of someone who lived so many decades before me. In a way both of them became almost immortal through the photograph and there was something very compelling about that.

I believe it’s incredibly important for photographers to document everyday life and even sometimes the seemingly mundane, not just for a better understanding of our times, but for individuals in the future to be able to reflect on who they are and how they got there. A photograph is particularly powerful because it is accessible to most of humanity. There is no language barrier in photography. I pick stories and pursue the projects I do with the goal of documenting not only important issues of our time, but ones that will also be relevant or perhaps even more vital for our understanding of humanity in the future.

Simon Bainbridge, Editorial Director, British Journal of Photography

Twenty years ago, I took a formative road trip across the Southwestern states with my sister and my best friend. She was studying literature at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and he was a film school graduate who was just beginning to take his experiments with a still camera more seriously. We planned to cross the San Juan Skyway, then head West to Canyonlands and Monument Valley, looping through New Mexico and back across the Colorado border, but we ended up taking the circuitous route.

Every few miles my friend would point excitedly at the horizon or some mark on the map, and suddenly we’d be veering off-road, heading for some rock or mountain or strange sounding name. Soon we’d be crossing “no entry” signs into reservation land, or knocking at the door of some crazy who’d spent years on a diet of marijuana and aloe vera, building a five-story tower made from Budweiser cans, or detouring up the aptly-named Oh My Gawd Road, or into Cañon City, “Corrections Capital of the World.” At first frustrated by these diversions, my sister and I soon gave in to the adventure, and over the next two weeks let ourselves be led by our random guide, in search of Kodak Gold. I would stand next to my friend, and see what he saw. But somehow he captured something ethereal and profound that I hadn’t recognized. We came to see the world differently; not through some new point of view, but by giving in to our heightened sense of curiosity.

Two decades later, this is still the Holy Grail. The photographers I most admire go out into the world with a sense of wonder and freedom and, yes, arrogance, challenging our apathy, making us see it afresh, for better or worse. Today, I am as willing and eager as ever to wade through the endless repeated themes and subjects to find those rare works that provoke, challenge and thrill me through their brave and insightful perspectives, or their sheer visual sublime.

Alex Potter, Photographer

When I left Yemen in August 2015, the place where I learned to photograph, build a story, and really love a community, I felt very lost. For over a year I tried to seek out a new base, a new story and group of people that had meaning to me, for something I felt connected to, without success. By November I was asking myself that very question — why am I still trying to do this?

I arrived in Iraq in November 2016, looking for stories having nothing to do with Mosul, yet I felt with so many other journalists around, I needed to find meaning elsewhere. I’m a registered nurse, so I sought out a small group of foreign medics working with the Iraqi military medics to treat people wounded during the battle. Living with this tight knit group, I began photographing our surroundings, the Iraqi medics whose job was so morbid, but who were so jovial in our downtime.

By working side by side with them and photographing what we went through together, I was useful, needed, and passionate about something again: I felt the desire to photograph for the first time in over a year. For me, photography is something I’ll always come back to, having assignments or not, to process my reality, to document the world around me, and to remember small details in difficult times that may have otherwise been forgotten.

Jeffrey Furticella, Sports Photo Editor, the New York Times

A favorite childhood memory is of my father driving us to a hobby store, purchasing a few packs of trading cards and me excitedly ripping them open to see what was inside. The bulk of what I’d find were mainstream releases, but what kept me tearing apart those cellophane wrappers week after week was the hope of unearthing something unique, something beautiful, something rare.

That same rush is what propels my belief in picture editing. In a time when our global awareness is under siege by an increasingly insular perspective, the responsibility of empowering photographers whose mission is to not just capture but to investigate, to enlighten, to excite, is one of the great privileges of our time.

Today there are more photographers producing more photographs and populating more platforms than have existed at any other point in our history. With that ubiquity has come an evolution in our audiences, which are more sophisticated and demanding than ever. What a thrilling time then to be tasked with looking through the mainstream releases in the hope of unearthing something unique, something beautiful, something rare.

Peter Di Campo, Photographer

Why is it important? Look at where we are right now. The world today scares me, frankly – people, cultures refusing to understand each other, and the results are frightening, and it’s to the benefit of the people at the top to keep it that way. So I have to believe in a more diverse and inclusive media (yes, to believe it’s dangerously problematic that the world has been predominantly visualized by people who look like me), and I have to believe in the innovations that allow for people to share their own stories with a wide audience. I care deeply about both investigative journalism and user-generated forms of storytelling, and I’m naive enough to believe that those two genres can coexist.

Everyday Africa recently had a big exhibition opening in Nairobi. It was wild, a full house. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A lot of the contributing photographers came in from across the continent, and we all met for the first time. You should have seen how the African photographers were treated – like celebrities! – by the fans who have been following them on social media for years. They’re seen as role models in the African art, photography and social-media circles because they’re black people imaging black people, and that’s Power. Anything I can do to continue supporting that – that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Is it odd to be a white American man saying all this? I don’t let it bother me. We all have to care about this.

Jean-François Leroy, Director, Visa pour l’Image Photojournalism Festival

I’ve been doing what I do for 40 years because I’ve always had the same gluttony to discover, among all the proposals I receive, the pure nugget, the young photographer whose photographs are a slap in the face, the young photographer that has that rare talent. Today, to see established photographers, recognized by everyone, whom I exhibited first – I’m beyond proud.

Even if it can be difficult, at times, to work with photographers, I love to reveal them, to help them edit, to build, with them, a story. After all these years, I have the same passion for this witnesses of what we’re living through. They are our eyes. They show us what’s happening. They astonish us. They move us. They make us smile, sometimes. Cry, as well.

I can’t imagine my life without all these encounters, so enriching, so surprising, so astonishing. Life!

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Nature and Wildlife Photography Tips for Beginners

If you have an interest in wildlife or nature photography there is a good chance you have seen an image at some point that has completely taken your breath away. Maybe it was a photograph of a sweeping landscape washed in the golden light of the dying afternoon sun or close-up of some small natural miracle that you had never noticed before that moment. You might even have asked yourself, “How did they do that?”

Well, the majority of those incredible photographs came about through a good deal of physical hardship, practiced patience, and a healthy amount of self-made luck.

Here are some tips to help you become stronger at wildlife photography and better at recording of the natural world.

Do your homework before heading out
Be as educated as possible before you ever make a photo. Doing your homework is one of the most important, yet loathed parts of wildlife photography. It never pays to walk into a situation and be completely clueless. Though you can never be totally prepared for every challenge you will face (that’s part of the fun) you can educate yourself so that you safely make the most of your outing.

What gear to pack
Advanced gear is not a requirement, however, patience and perseverance are essential. You don’t need the latest and greatest zoom lens or space-age gadgetry in order to produce outstanding nature and wildlife photos. At the same, you must also understand any limitations of your kit, so that you will have realistic expectations and avoid disappointment.

Gear up for what you’ll most likely be shooting. Packing for a photographic outing can cause a lot of anxiety. It’s easy to over pack due to fear of lacking a piece of gear. Over packing though, can be even worse than under packing. You become weighed down and uncomfortable. You find yourself not enjoying what you’re doing which is one of the most preventable of all mistakes, made by photographers. Research the animals and scenes you are likely to encounter. Decide what is most and least important to you. Make choices, commit to them, and then let it go. It will make packing a lot less stressful.

If you plan on photographing wildlife, such as birds and animals that scare easily, then pack your best zoom lens so you can keep distance between you and your subject. Shooting landscapes or scenes where stealth is not a concern? You might consider taking along a wider angle lens to better capture your scene. Ultimately, there is no secret formula and no true all-in-one lens to cover every situation. Be informed before you leave so that you can make the best use of whatever lens you have.

A good bag is worth its weight in gold
All the planning in the world isn’t worth much unless you can comfortably carry your essential tools with you. Find a camera bag that can carry the gear you need easily, and is equally comfortable on your body. Bags range greatly in price and quality but you usually get what you pay for. For added piece of mind, you might consider a bag
that is semi-weatherproof or water resistant.

My go-to lightweight bag for wildlife photography, shown with and without the handy rain cover deployed.

Read reviews and find a bag that fits your body, your gear, and your planned outing. You will have a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Speaking of comfort…

Comfort items
Shoes: A good pair of hiking shoes or boots is one of the most important pieces of gear for any wildlife photographer. Grit, dirt, mud, water, insects, rocks, and creepy-crawlies – you need a pair of shoes or boots that can handle all of these elements. Your shoes should be well fitting and suitable for walking long distances. If your feet become uncomfortable it won’t be long before you start thinking about cutting your trip short.

Prepare a checklist
It’s always a good idea to have a mental checklist before beginning any shoot. Before your outing ask yourself the following questions:

Are any special permits or permissions required? Some National or State Parks and wildlife sanctuaries require special permits for access to certain areas, especially those deemed as backcountry environments.
Where will I park my vehicle? This is very important. Believe me, if you park your vehicle in an unauthorized area you will be stuck with a sizeable fine or worse, return to find your vehicle has been towed.
Are there time restraints of any kind? Most natural areas and parks have hours of operation just like a business. You might arrive expecting to shoot a great sunrise only to find out the location you chose isn’t accessible until after daybreak. Also remember that wild creatures and critters are usually most active in the early morning or late evening.
What are the expected weather conditions? This is a biggie. Know what to expect as far as the weather is concerned. Check the forecast the day of departure and keep tabs on it throughout the day if possible. NEVER chance endangering yourself or your equipment by venturing out unprepared for bad weather.
What are the times for sunrise and sunset? Again, be sure the places you want to capture a sunrise or sunset are accessible during those times. You need to also be aware of the schedule so that you can allow enough time to reach your location and set up your gear before it’s go time.
Are there any commonly photographed animals, landmarks, or structures? Research what is usually photographed around the area you plan to visit. Find a park ranger or staff member and ask about lesser known spots that are less travelled by tourists. Knowing what’s popular will save you time and help to avoid shooting a scene the same way it has been done time and time again. Look for ways to be creative and set your work apart!
So, you’ve researched your location and have a good idea of what to expect. Here are a few basic tips that can help you after you’ve reached your destination.

Shoot RAW

If possible, set your camera to capture images in camera RAW format. RAW image files are basically unprocessed, one might say uncooked, straight from your camera’s image sensor. They contain a massive amount of pixel information when compared to JPEG and take up a lot more memory card space. However, this additional information allows more latitude for adjustments in post-processing.

Use the lowest practical ISO
The ISO number of photographic film and image sensors relates to their sensitivity to light. The boiled down explanation is, everything else being equal, the higher the ISO number the less light is required to make an image. Unfortunately with higher light sensitivity comes increased image noise. In most (but not all) situations you will generally want to use the lowest ISO possible. That is not to say you should be afraid of bumping up the ISO. A fast shutter speed is often needed to capture the quick movements of wildlife and increased noise is far less noticeable than a blurred image.
Use AF continuous (AI Servo) mode when photographing wildlife

Autofocus (AF) can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When it comes to photographing most wildlife, however, autofocus is a great tool! Animals and birds, especially the wild variety, are almost constantly on the move. They shift positions and move closer or farther away selfishly, with little regard for the photo you are so carefully trying to compose. This is when AF-Continuous and AF-Servo modes come in handy. Though called different names depending on your camera’s make, they both accomplish the same objective which is keeping a moving subject constantly in focus. Place your selected focus area over your subject and half-press the shutter button to engage the AF. Focus will be tracked for as long as you follow your subject while maintaining pressure on the shutter button. Read your camera’s manual (you’ve done that already, right?) for detailed information concerning specific autofocus capabilities for your model, and how each mode can be selected.

Don’t forget the tripod
“I really didn’t think I would need my tripod” are words that usually begin a sad story about how a potentially great shot is missed. In most wildlife and nature photography situations a tripod is always a good idea. It’s better to have access to one and not need it than to need it and not have one available. Find the lightest and most compact tripod that is sturdy enough to handle your camera setup.

Learn so you can prepare. Prepare so you can photograph. Photograph so you can grow.
Photographing wildlife can be difficult but it can also yield huge artistic, personal, and even spiritual rewards. So go out and have fun doing what you do, but don’t forget to put the camera down every now and then to enjoy the world around you.

“Nature never goes out of style.”

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