Tequila Time Recap & Pathways to Creativity Season 1 Preview!

In case you missed it, Tequila Time #8 is in the books. It wasn’t without some technical snags, but I’m doing my best stuck at home! I was told there were a lot of messages relaying how much everyone’s been enjoying our weekly chat, and that means a lot!

If you missed the episode, here were some of my top travel moments and some photos to illustrate:

1) 1972: Ptarmigan Traverse
2) 1983: Everest Ultima Thule
3) 1992: Emperor Penguins
4) 1994: Baltoro Glacier
5) 1993: Yanomami,
6) 1995: Omo River Valley
7) 2001: Kumbh Mela
8) 2001: Mount Etna eruption
9) 2016: Nyiragongo Volcano


Next week I’ll be taking a deep dive into my top ten images. I’ll be giving away a print of one of them to a lucky watcher, so tune in for your chance to win!

Another understated but very big deal is that the first episode from season one of my new online streaming series, Pathways to Creativity will be available for streaming this coming Tuesday, June 2nd! Check out the free 15 minute series preview below for a sneak peak at the first three episodes. Nearly five decades of experience experience and travel along with a traditional art background and approach means I have a lot to share! Pathways to Creativity can be purchased on a per-episode basis, or own the whole first season for a discount and two free bonus episodes. Visit the events page to pre-register to be notified when it’s available!


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#TechniqueTuesday – The Elements of Design

Happy Technique Tuesday – I shot this one down on South Georgie Island a while back, but good design is good design! Technology and style may change – what captures the eye does not! Staying on the topic of learning and teaching, stay tuned over the course of the next week or so to my social media and the blog, some exciting announcements about my new streaming lecture series, Pathways to Creativity are coming soon!

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#TequilaThursday – Easy Instagram Quick-Start Guide!

My life will always be about travel and explorations. When restrictions are relaxed – and both myself and my staff have done our due diligence to assess risk factors to ensure we travel safely – you can bet I will be back out there in the field leading workshops in the safest manner possible.

That brings us to the question:“What becomes of Tequila Time with Art when Art is travelling again and not always home?” 

The answer? I don’t intend to stop doing Tequila Time, and in fact, time zones and connections permitting, I’m truly fascinated about the possibilities of sharing what I can while I’m on the road.

I need your help though if you’re tuning into Tequila Time via Facebook rather than Instagram!

The fact of the matter is that going live on Instagram is a much more convenient tool for the format we use on Tequila Time. When I’m traveling again, I simply can’t add more equipment to my pack or steps to my setup to support multiple platforms. I am aware there is both hardware and software that exists to make this easier, but I don’t need one more process to deal with on my travels. To that end, we’ve created a quick and simple guide to getting started on Instagram for everyone willing to make the transition!

Enjoy the guide and drop your Instagram handle in the comments so we can trade follows! We will follow this post up with one focused on publishing your own content next week. For now, lets just get you started!


 

STEP 1: Creating Your Instagram Account

The good news is that if you are already on Facebook, joining Instagram is easy as they are owned by the same company – you can use your Facebook login information to sign up for Instagram. First you’ll need to choose which platform or platforms you’ll need Instagram on. The most popular method is through a smartphone app, and here you will also do the majority of your uploading of images.

iOS/iPhone App download
Android App download

You can also create an account through any web browser by going to www.instagram.com.

TIP:

When you create an account, be sure to create a username that is unique, memorable, and easy to type for others so you’re easy to find!

STEP 2: I’m in, Now What?!

If your only goal is to view Tequila Time then the only thing to do is find me, follow me, and wait for Thursday’s at 5:30 PST!

What you should be seeing on your smart phone should look somewhat like the left side of the image blow – it might differ slightly from the Android app or the web browser version, and since you may not be following anyone just yet your feed is likely not populated. The color coding on the right will help us break the interface into four sections explained below.


Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up:

Main Menu Navigation:


The yellow section is your navigational bar that will take you to the various parts of instagram. The house icon is your home screen, and it encompasses what you see in both the cyan and green areas above. The magnifying glass is where you would go to search for members, posts or other content. The square with the + in the center of the menu is where you do your own personal uploading and posting of photos with comment. The heart is where you can see your interactions with other members whether that be someone’s like on your photos, a comment, or more. Finally, the circular icon on the right represents your personal Instagram feed, and you can go here to see what your personal page looks like to others whom visit you.

Your News Feed:

The blue area is your feed, much like your news feed in Facebook. Again, it’s accessed via the house Icon on the lower bar. When those you follow post new photos, they will appear in your feed. Here you can see my good friend Daniel Dietrich has posted an owl that is apparently also an exercise enthusiast. Under the photo you can use the heart icon to quickly “like” Daniel’s photo, or hit the text blurb to leave a comment. The paper airplane would allow you to share Daniel’s post either to your story or to other people directly. Finally on the right you can bookmark the image to visit later. this feed can slide up to reveal more posts.

Activity Feed:

The green section is where you can see recent activity from people you follow who are most active. This is an important section – when I go live, you’ll see my icon in this list with the “live” tag on it. This is where you’ll want to go on Thursday’s at 5:30 to join me! This section slides horizontally to reveal more folks you follow.

Title Bar:

Finally at the top of the page is the red section. On the left is a camera icon, and you can go here to take photos and videos with various filters, but most importantly this is where you would also start your own live broadcast if you wanted to! Again you have the paper plane icon on the right where you can share the page to others.


With this info you should at least be able to create an account and find me, as soon as this evening at 5:30 for today’s Tequila Time! This post is already long – next week we will follow up with instructions and tips for uploading your own photos and getting some followers.

See you tonight!

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Technique Tuesday – Shooting in Bright Light

Here in Seattle, the days are getting brighter and longer so I figured I would share a quick tip on maximizing that bright, direct light that can be difficult to deal with – but can in fact be turned to your advantage. Enjoy, get out of the house if you can, but by all means stay safe!

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#TechniqueTuesday – Freezing the Action & High ISO Cleanup

Happy Technique Tuesday!

Canon EOS-1D X, EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT, 1/6400 ƒ/5.6 ISO 5000

If you’ve been paying attention to the blog or caught last week’s livestream, you already know I’m keeping myself occupied lately working on a new series of educational videos releasing very soon. If you follow me you know that I’m an artist first and a technician second – I learn to use technology as I need it, but unlike many photographers my background lies in fine art.

That being said, my upcoming lecture series will touch on many of the technical aspects of photography as well, for example using a high shutter speed to capture water droplets around the high-speed movements of this small painted bunting.

Freezing the action here requires a fast shutter speed – in this case I’ve chosen 1/6400th of a second. I’ve achieved my goal – the droplets and the bunting are sharp! However one problem you may run into depending on the available lighting is the high ISO required to get enough light from such a brief exposure. In this case my ISO was bumped all the way up to 5000 – well beyond what most photographers are comfortable with.

Personally I have always pushed my use of ISO; if the photo truly requires a high number to get the effect and freeze the action like I want it to, I am okay introducing a bit of noise. Much of that can be removed later in post. As an example, here is a close-up of this image with one side using Topaz Denoise AI, and the other the original image:


As you can see, Topaz does a great job of removing much of the noise in the image while retaining details. I highly recommend that regardless of the software you use to remove noise, that this is your first step in your edit. As you tweak levels, colors, and other attributes of your image, they may overly enhance the noise making it harder to retroactively remove. After you remove the noise, you can then go back and re-introduce some sharpening where needed, selectively avoiding areas with large swaths of color that will just end up looking noisy.

That will have to be a lesson for another day – enjoy your week, stay safe and healthy!

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#TechniqueTuesday – Ten Tech Tools of the Trade!

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):

1.) Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop

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: And speaking of reducing noise:

2.) Topaz DeNoise AI

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: Moving on. . .

3.) Adobe Premier / Aftereffects / Audition 

AW: I’ve got nothin. . .

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: Video stuff!

4.)  Handbrake

AW: Sitting this one out again!

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.

5.) Keynote / PowerPoint

AW: Ah! Now we are speaking my language again. Currently I’m living in Keynote working on Pathways to Creativitya 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.

6.) Photoshelter

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.

7.) Instagram

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.

8.) Vimeo/Youtube

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!

9.) Google Drive / DropBox

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.

10.) GoToMyPC

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.

Stay safe and healthy!

-Art

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#TakeCareTuesday – A Message From Art

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!

Don’t forget that you can also catch Travels to the Edge streaming on Amazon Prime, and Tales by Light is available on Netflix!

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#TechniqueTuesday – Compressing Spatial Relationships

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:

COMPRESSING SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS: TELEPHOTO LENSES

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:

How to Get Giant Sun Effects in Landscape and Portrait Photography

How to Photograph the Sun

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#TechniqueTuesday – Picturing Success Podcast with Rick Sammon


I recently joined award-winning photographer, creator of his own books, and fellow world-traveler Rick Sammon on his podcast recently with an interview that begins with some general wildlife photography advice, and goes on to talk about upcoming book projects.

Check out the interview on Rick’s site for The Picturing Success Podcast – enjoy!

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#WildlifeWednesday – Monarch Butterflies in Mexico and Their Protectors


Today is “Monarch Butterfly Day” according to whatever mystical powers-that-be control the hashtags! I’ve had the pleasure of photographing Monarchs over the years at many of Mexico’s renowned preserves that harbor millions of butterflies as they migrate.

It’s with a heavy heart, then, that I make this post – one that should be about the beauty of this creature and the symbolism and joy it brings world-wide. However, tragic events that have befallen a pair of conservation heroes in Mexico should be taking center stage right now until answers are found.

As you may have heard, activists and outspoken critics of the illegal logging activities in preserved areas of Mexico, Homero Gómez González and Raúl Hernández Romero were recently found deceased, both under mysterious and possibly malicious circumstances.

González was an agricultural engineer and the manager of the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve. Growing up in a logging family, he was a skeptic of conservation efforts and their possible impact on contributing to poverty in the region. His background and education gave strength to his voice when, in the early 2000’s, he became an advocate for curbing the deforestation he was seeing first hand.

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