Since we are all likely spending a little MORE time on our computers and less time out and about shooting, I thought it might be good to compare notes on what everyone is using these days to edit, organize, and promote their photos.
Serious photographers seem to come in some combination of three varieties – those who love the medium and the experience it can bring through travel and interaction with the world around us, those who love using the camera as a tool to create artistic statements, and those who really -really- love tech. I am definitely more a combination of the first two types – but to really maximize your potential, you need to embrace all three to some extent.
I’m fortunate to have a staff to help me with the minutiae of all of these tools, and together we’ve come up with a list of some of the software applications and web services we use. If you have any suggestions for myself and fellow photographers, leave a comment!
Ten Tech Tools of the Trade (In No Particular Order):
AW: Lets get the most obvious tool out of the way first as I’m sure most people are familiar with Adobe’s tools. I spend most of my time in Lightroom, where I use it as both an organizational tool, and to add some post processing to my photos. Most of the tools you’ll find here keep photography at the forefront, simulating many traditional practices in a much more simplified and speedy manner.
AW Staff Note: Art rarely uses Photoshop, however when I’m preparing his photos in final edit for a book project or print, it pays to have more control over the fine details. There are lots of tips out there for things like enhancing sharpness, reducing noise, and much more.
AW: This is a tool I’ve just recently started using. In the past, most de-noise tools operated roughly the same, or at least to my eye seemed to have similar results. This app from Topaz uses a new process to remove nose, and so far it works great.
AW Staff Note: It does take some time to process however, so make sure you have the time to spend getting everything just right, and pack your patience! Not that Art is ever impatient. . .
AW Staff Note: These are tools we use to edit audio and video. It’s not a huge part of what we do, but as they can come packaged with the other adobe tools we use it doesn’t hurt to have them. Premier is used primarily for cutting and editing video clips; AfterEffects is kinda like photoshop for video, and Audition is for editing sound clips to remove things like echo, mic popping, etc. . . they are complicated programs but just simple enough that most things you might need to do, you can find a tutorial online to get you through it.
AW Staff Note: Yep. Art doesn’t use this one himself either, but when we are working with video files, they are often for the web and therefore require slightly less fidelity than if we were say, creating an HD TV show with all the Audio/Video bells and whistles. But you also want to start with the best possible quality. That means huge video files. Handbreak is a great (and free) tool for taking huge video files and turning them into smaller video files that still look and sound great, with a lot of tuning available to get the result you want.
AW: Ah! Now we are speaking my language again. Currently I’m living in Keynote working on Pathways to Creativity, a new series of seminars that will be divided into chapters and made available for download, aiming for this fall! These programs are simple enough. I create all of my presentations in Keynote, whether it’s for an epic stage or a slide show at home. Lightroom does have a built-in slide-show feature as well, but Keynote gives me more control.
AW Staff Note: Powerpoint and Keynote are similar so if you’re on a windows-based computer, PP might be your option. They mostly play nice together, but aren’t without some small issues if you’re going back and forth.
AW: I don’t personally use Photoshelter often, but I have their plug-in installed in Lightroom. When I export my photos it can be pre-set to upload automatically to Photoshelter assuming I have an internet connection, so staff back home can see my latest photos.
AW Staff: Photoshelter is a great way to store, organize, and share your photos online. We use it to drive our stock site and host innumerable images. We’ve had very few if any service interruptions or down time in my experience with it. There are a lot of options for sharing your work, and also protecting it with watermarking and small file downloads.
AW: This one goes without saying – if you’re taking photos, share them! And follow me – maybe you’ll get a follow back – in fact, if you leave your handle in the comments below, I’ll be sure to do so.
AW Staff: One thing you’ll notice about Art’s Instagram page is that we try to avoid the square crop when possible and aim to preserve Art’s preferred aspect ratio for his images. We accomplish this in a simple manner – a square background slightly off white (RGB all set to 251), and then size the image to fit within the square.
AW Staff: YouTube gets more traction, but I find Vimeo to be more user friendly. The best solution is to use both if you’re using these tools for promotion. Don’t forget about the Handbrake tip – you don’t want to spend hours uploading a huge video that is going to soak up your storage space!
AW: Having a place to dump or receive files on the road or while travelling is incredibly useful. Both DropBox and Google Drive are good options and easy to use. Photoshelter is limited to just photographs, so having another way to store and transfer other file types online is necessary.
AW Staff: Another shout out to wetransfer.com as well, a free service (with some paid options) where you can send files to people to download via emailed link.
AW Staff: Last but not least with everyone working from home these days, we use GoToMyPC.com to connect to the office. We’ve never had any issues using it, and after the initial setup it’s very easy to use. There’s also a file-sharing option to make transferring files between computers easy and painless.
AW: Well, that rounds out today’s list, though there are plenty of other tech tools out there. Comment below if you have any additions or suggestions for things we should be taking a look at while we have the time to do so.
Hello again from Seattle! Some of you may be wondering what I’m up to while we do our best to protect ourselves and one and other from the current pandemic. I’m better in front of a camera than I am a keyboard – so I’ll let it do the talking!
Watched it? Great! Feel free to leave comments below as to what you’re doing to keep your photography skills honed and your mind active; I’m sure we could all use various perspectives on how to use our time productively. I’ll be posting ideas to the blog on a regular basis as well, so stay tuned and most importantly, stay safe!
Greetings from Seattle! I won’t spend too much time talking about the elephant in the room, but I do want to wish each and every one of you the best through these difficult times and hope that you and yours are healthy and getting the support you need. In my limited excursions to get groceries and other necessities, I’ve witnessed nothing but kindness and support out there in the community, and that’s exactly what we need – we are truly in this together. I’m not one for standing still, and to that end I am working diligently to prepare some exciting new distance-based learning opportunities to unveil soon. Stay tuned!
One of my last trips before buckling down here was to Patagonia, with the primary goal of photographing pumas. These are notably solitary animals, whom rarely congregate or hunt with others until it’s time to breed. When cubs are born, they remain with their mother long enough to grow strong and learn to hunt before venturing out on their own. I was fortunate to capture not one but two such families on this trip – one with adorable young cubs, the other with rough-housing older siblings. To be able to follow these two groups and observe their similarities and differences kept me busy. They were surprisingly indifferent to my documentation of their days, whether they were lounging, scrapping, or enjoying some fine dining. Along the way I captured some other denizens of the area as well.
We are living in some crazy times, aren’t we? My thoughts are with you while we navigate all of this, and I’m heartened by what I’ve seen and heard of communities supporting one and other. How about just a little bit of bright news for the day?
The California Condor was down to just 27 individuals in 1987 due to lead poisoning (eating carrion containing lead shot), habitat loss and poaching. At that point an emergency was declared and every wild individual was captured and put into captive breeding programs in two zoos in California. Chicks were hatched and raised and several years later they began the delicate process of reintroducing them to the wild.
Today there are over 300 individuals in the wild with another 200 in captivity, and in 2019 the 1,000 chick was born in the wild in Zion National Park! This is fantastic news and shows just how powerfully we can impact the survival of species world-wide.
At this moment I am on my way to teach a workshop in Utah. We photographers who make travel our business are but a tiny subset of the overall tourism industry which generates 10.4% of global GDP and some 319 million jobs, but like everyone else we are closely watching this rapidly developing situation with the Novel Coronavirus. It is a huge understatement to say that getting the under control is critical.
While my life has been full of risk-taking, I don’t expect my clients to have the same threshold that I do. Already this month several of my speaking events have been rescheduled which I completely support. The health of my workshop participants is an absolute priority for me. My home, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, has become an epicenter, and is the location for my spring workshops
In light of this, I am postponing my photography workshops scheduled from later this month through the end of May. I will work with my students on rescheduling and deeply appreciate everyone’s flexibility and support as we explore options. If you are signed up for one of these workshops, my office will be contacting you soon with updates. In the mean time, feel free to email us if you have any specific questions or concerns.
My workshops later in the year are continuing as planned. For all workshops I strongly recommend travel insurance, and if you want the extra security, a CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) supplement.
While we’re all waiting for worry-free travel to return, I don’t want any of you to get rusty! Continue to hone your skills and prepare yourself for your dream trips. I will be releasing and streaming updated versions of my tutorial seminars. You’ll have the opportunity to get out in your immediate surrounds to practice and join our group review sessions. I plan to do the very same and it’ll be fun to do it together and challenge ourselves! Stay tuned to our newsletters and updates for these releases in the very near future!
Please take care of yourself, your family, and friends during this time of uncertainty and stress. We are all working to stay safe and healthy to travel another day. For up to date information on the Coronavirus, see the CDC and WHO websites.
2020 continues to fly by at a supersonic pace. Spring is just around the corner, and here in Washington things are starting to warm up. When I’m home and working in my garden I can definitely appreciate the longer days. Looking back at the past 15 years, photos from March tend to capture the colors and activity of those approaching spring months. With better weather and more hours to get things done, cultures world-wide begin to celebrate and festivals such as Holi in India have captured my attention over the years.
Enjoy the photos, and have a fantastic weekend – and for those of you in the affected time-zones, don’t forget to spring ahead this Sunday!
Happy World Wildlife Day! It’s also technique Tuesday, and today’s tip was inspired by a question from Lowell E., Who inquired via my contact page – how exactly DO photographers make things, like the sun for example, seem so much larger in a photograph than it does in real life?
Great Question Lowell!
The simple answer – use a telephoto lens! Now, it should be noted the sun itself is not getting larger, rather it’s an optical trick where your subject is appearing larger as your lens dials in on it. Photographing a subject a quarter of a mile away, for example, is relatively a short distance compared to the sun at 93 million miles away.
For more information, here’s an excerpt from The New Art of Photographing Nature:
AW: As I was driving down the Flathead Valley in the Montana Rockies, I noticed this homestead set against the distant mountains. The first shot was taken with a 50mm and most closely resembles what I saw from the car as I drove by. I recognized the possibilities, but this clearly was not it. It incorporated too much sky, too much foreground, and the dark furrow of earth leads your eye away from what was most important to me in the composition.
In the second shot, I zoomed in with a 300mm lens, creating a telescopic effect, and brought the mountains closer in relation to the farm. I knew this was what I wanted–the farm with the looming backdrop of mountains. I placed the farm in the bottom and cropped so only mountains were above it, creating a sense of dramatic vertical rise. For the last shot I used a 400mm with a 1.4 teleconverter resulting in 560mm focal length, bringing me even closer. By making the image a vertical I was able to emphasize the rise of the mountains, and using a polarizer allowed me to create a little more drama. For my money, this is the strongest image in the series.
MH: Here again is a good example of what the camera can do that the eye cannot. The only way we could approximate this image would be to hike a long way to get very close to the farm. But even then you would not have the same perspective, with the farm and the mountains so strongly juxtaposed. This sense of drama is created by the compression of distance only achieved by using a powerful telephoto lens.
Think you have a great question that might prompt it’s own Technique Tuesday post? Submit a question via the contact page!
Here are some other great resources relating to the subject: