If you caught the recent episode of Tequila Time, I shared images from our recent Olympic Workshop and also discussed just a few of the many lessons we teach in this beautiful location. Sure, there are the typical scenic shots to capture- but anyone can set up a tripod and take the same old shot. This doesn’t help us grow our visual vocabulary, however. Fine if all you want are the token travel photos!
A keen eye that’s trained to find the beauty in the less-obvious is going to come away with the more interesting and unique shots. While each one may not be a masterpiece unto itself, every shot in which you are mindfully seeking compositions that hold the viewers eye in the frame represents a cognitive effort to improve your artistic eye.
Much like a truly invested fine artist will more often than not have dozens of sketch books of incomplete works, never intending to see the light of day, it’s through this practice of finding a shot where others don’t see one that will translate to taking ALL of your photos to the next level.
In the video above are just a few examples of learning to see beauty and something worth capturing in scenes that others might quite literally walk right by. While you may want the big picture of the old-growth forest, it’s really the misshapen lumps of knotted limbs saturated in moss that show the verdant and wild nature of this location. What appear to be simple shots of limbs and trees are intentionally composed to frame the leading lines to keep the viewer’s eye engaged.
Again, not every shot you take needs to be in consideration to sell as a fine art print. On the contrary, most of your shots, much like the sketches of master fine artists are simple tools to train your eye over time.
Hard to believe it’s been over a year now since we all buckled down to distance in an effort to curb the pandemic! When this whole thing began my staff and I put together this post of some tools that might be useful to help you continue to be productive and creative at home.
Since we aren’t quite out of the woods yet, I figured we could re-heat this post and also solicit YOUR comments below about the tools and processes you’ve been using to stay busy and continue to enhance your photography tool kit – and I can pass your tips along in a future blog post!
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.
2021 Update: Check out Petapixel’s article on Adobe’s new “Super Resolution” tool for their Camera RAW app – create images 4x the resolution with virtually no loss in quality!
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. Handbrake 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.
It’s been a trying year for everyone, but it’s been nice to see the signs of a slow but steady return to normalcy as more folks receive their vaccinations. I for one have received my vaccine and am champing at the bit to get back to what I love – traveling, teaching, and connecting with our workshop participants!
We have a number of workshops coming up – both here in the Pacific Northwest and abroad. I highlighted our upcoming Port Townsend and Majestic Redwoods workshops with a Quick video slideshow on the blog last week. I also talked about the upcoming Mongolia Journey.
To ensure safety of all participants we will ask for proof of vaccination or a COVID test within 72 ours of the workshop. Safety first! As always, if you have any specific questions regarding the workshops I’m offering, head to our contact page for a number of ways to get them answered!
Here is a current list of all our upcoming workshops, excluding several that have already sold out – sign up today to ensure your spot!
A couple days ago I posted some photos from Mongolia in anticipation of an upcoming workshop there – and now I’d like to share a couple closer to home! I’ve got several upcoming West Coast workshops with space available to join us on these safe & inspiring locations.
The two I’m highlighting today are newcomers to our workshop rotation. For starters, Port Townsend and the surrounding area provides the backdrop for a new abstract workshop – the perfect follow up and expansion to the ever-popular Abstract Astoria. Here we will visit the port as well as Fort Worden State park, hunting for abstracts to exercise our creative muscles!
Later on in May we will head down to Crescent City, California to photograph the beautiful coastlines as well as the nearby Majestic Redwood forest. I’ve assembled some photos from these locations. Enjoy! Space is limited – click the links below to sign up today!
As mentioned onTequila Time, I can’t wait to get back out in the field for our upcoming slate of workshops and tours! Of course we will promote safety first, as I’m sure we are all anxious to put a tumultuous year behind us. I’m even more anxious to get back to doing what I love – teaching workshops, and joining friends new and old for amazing experiences both in our Pacific Northwest workshops and abroad.
On the subject of workshops abroad, there is still room to join me for the photographic journey we have slated for July of this year. Space is limited, so if you’re interested let us know today!
In the video above, I share some images of the things we will see on this epic adventure to one of the least-densely populated countries in the world, where in total there is only a population density of five individuals per square mile. Vast landscapes, interesting wildlife such as the yaks famous in the region, and of course the culture are all aspects we hope to capture in the remote areas we will visit.
Today is World Book Day, so it seemed appropriate to repost the list of my Top 10 personal favorite book projects of my own! If you missed it the first time around, an early edition of Tequila Time covered this topic. It’s interesting to see how Tequila Time has evolved over the past year! Without further ado, the list!
If you happened to catch last night’s episode of Tequila Time, you may have heard about the slate of upcoming COVID-compliant workshops we have available. Now that spring is here, you might be anxious to get out and shoot, and we have two workshops happening this month with a few openings yet available for those able to get tested and get to the Pacific Northwest!
In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be leading my signature Olympic Peninsula workshop. Last night on Tequila Time, I shared some of the photos I took this past weekend while scouting the area to refresh myself and find some new places to explore. Check out the video at the bottom of this post to see the photos and hear me talk about what I look for in this beautiful old-growth forest and all of the features it encompasses and it’s surroundings.
Abstract Astoria still has a few spots left, although I anticipate we will fill these quickly! I still continue to mine this location for all it has to offer, both in terms of a top-notch place to simply spend a weekend, as well as a time-worn historic beacon of the West Coast that provides so many subjects and themes to photograph.
If March is too soon, check out the full slate of 2021 workshops, and I hope to see you in the field for a safe and inspired year of getting back to doing the things we love!