It was one of those weeks where the highs and lows come and go with breakneck speed. Leaving the house at 05:00, Jake and I drove ten hours through the desert to arrive in Mesa in time to jump on the lift and go up 45 feet to shoot at sunset. Then we went to this marvelous party with all our pilot friends knowing we’d be on the field at 06:00 to continue shooting at sunrise. After an amazing day at the Wing, we were up in the air again, this time in the back of an A36 Bonanza photographing an event not seen since 1949 and what we were told would never be seen again. We then spent the next day at the hangar shooting, talking and laughing and then packed up all the gear, said our good-byes and Happy New Years and drove the 10 hours back through the desert to home. Other than a couple of UFOs over the desert, it was a quite drive ending at 03:00 back in Mammoth.
Photography is this marvelous pursuit where we gather up all these magical black boxes and tubes in padded bags, travel to some location and make marvelous images and then come home until the next adventure. When the photographs turn out great, it was a great trip. If the photos don’t turn out so good, the trip tends to be not so good. And if there is any business involved in this process, a whole new set of pressures can come or go. But in all of this, was the end photograph really the reward, what is it that brings the high and low? Or rather, is it the process where the photograph represents in a tangible way our feeling for that process?
We’re coming to the end of another year and I hope for you all, it was a great year. It was for us no matter how you add the plusses and minuses. And there are plenty of both and depending which happened last, you’re pleased or not pleased. And at the end of the year, we tend to reflect and ponder how we did and as photographers, that means our photographs. And while Monday will come and it will be a new year, in the scheme of things, it is really just the next day of our life. But we tend to reflect so how can we reflect, photographically and put our best foot forward for 2012?
While I tend to do it on a weekly bases, looking forward with the crystal ball can provide some direction. Being rather old fashioned, I try to remember the saying, “Those who don’t learn from the past tend to relive it.” For example, I shot my first two seat cockpit pano a month ago and at the camera, it didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked so made changes so when I did them this week, that issue was resolved. But as it is with photography, those old issues solved so in moving forward, new ones arose now to be solved. By not making the same mistake over again, I did move forward if only to find new problems. That pretty much sums up photography, and life. And that I think this is to be celebrated!
As you might imagine, I have a few dates on a calendar with some parts of my life planned up until 2015. While I feel very fortunate to have that small slice of security in my profession, when those dates set so long ago are now passed, I tend to wonder where the time went. I try to reflect back as I ask myself, “Did I do the most with that time?” And all of this reflection, there is actually a way I find I can find a tangible answer, one that no matter how you mentally add up the columns, always brings a smile to my face.
It’s the photographs! Going through the 710k images filed this year isn’t practical but those I have finished and deem as my favorites (not all the same images as I put out for the public) tends to instantly put on the rose colored glasses and make the world all right again. Yeah, one or two bring back the memories of disasters that had to be dealt with but since there is a photograph there to represent that moment, in the end it all turned out for the best.
2011 was a year of evolution for Moose and WRP as some adventures closed their doors and other new ones opened for the first time. But 2011 was no different really then the thirty-one years that came before it for the business. Probably though why I’m poor is that like all photographers, my measure of success isn’t that check book but the images. This is a pursuit of passion and not money so no wonder photographers don’t have any money but have lots of passion since that’s what we chase.
This is the time of the year when we gather the family, tell stories of the past and create the new to then reflect upon next time we gather. Embrace this same approach to your photography and it will grow as you grow. As I sit here scrolling through my year of images, I reflect on what went into those images as I take notes how I want to improve them the next time out. And at the end of next year as I’ve done for the last three decades, I will look back again as I plan forward to the next click. It’s been a very good year and I expect at the very least, the same for next year. I wish you experienced and will experience the same and that your photography is your portal to this marvelous world we are so fortunate to explore. Share your adventures, share your photographs all year long but right now especially to light up those around you with the wonders photography can bring. It’s the best way to reflect on year!
Happy New Year!
We’ve had a whole lot of folks contact us since the posting of Moose’s Print Lab seeking printing assistance. Some are looking for actual, push the button make a print help. I regret I don’t have a big classroom full of printers that I can help folks, right now there seem to be a real need for that. I hate not being able to help folks but in these regards, I’m pretty limited. All I can offer you is the Print Lab here on the site, our Photoshop for Shooters which covers everything up to pushing the button on the printer and our PTs. A Private Tutoring session is a one at a time class in our office. Those who want help printing, we could do it this way which would be the usual PT cost plus the cost of materials. I will work on a more “mass” class but right now, that’s all I can do to help. I really want folks to share their images, printing is a great way to do it so don’t get frustrated, you can do it!
These to amazing aircraft, Race #57 (F2G-1D Super Corsair) and Race #74 (F2G-2 Super Corsair) haven’t flown together since the Thompson since 1949! For a very special moment in time, yesterday, they flew together again over the desert of AZ. I was incredibly fortunate to be asked to come down and be part of this aviation history. The day start long before the sun rose and finished long after it set. I spent the whole day with my good friends the Odegaards, Robert & Casey, never stopping for lunch, just doing planes and photography basically 16hrs. The story of the day will appear in Flight Journal in the near future. It’s a helluva story and I very incredibly honored to be asked by Robert to be a very small part of it!
It would seem 2011 was my year to become immersed in corsairs. This is the famous F2G-1D Super Corsair #57 which first appeared as a raced back in 1948. It was last seen in public in 2008 at Reno Air Races and right now for the first time since 1949, it has been reunited with fellow racer #74 F2F-2 Super Corsair. I was invited to come down and photograph the reunion so Jake and I are here for three days of bigtime fun. We started off with a sunset shoot in the desert twilight and continue with a sunrise shoot and then some cockpit time and finish off tomorrow with a bunch of air time. Couldn’t think of a better way to finish off my year of working with corsairs!
Photographically, this is a pretty simple click. Dialed in -1.7 to squeeze some color out of the dusk while trying to not have the candle apple red of #57 burn a hole in the sensor. Finishing is no more then a little slider action in ACR. I like simple, I can do simple.
Calibration of monitors is important, but I do it for reasons, like most things I do, for reasons different then most. Here’s a reposting of a video I did on calibration and here’s a new blog posting on my take on calibration. Hope it helps a little. mtc
The Peterson Herd wishes one and all a Very Merry Christmas!
I’ve posted a big PDF on printing that I hope will serve some of you. You can find it at the bottom of the Moose Print Lab page. mtc
I had a couple of panicked emails last night wondering if the office would be open today (I answered your emails). A couple of folks doing last minute Christmas shopping. We’re around 9-5 PST today (and perhaps an hour or two tomorrow morning) to take care of you. There’s no time to mail you a gift card for a K&M Adventure, Air2Air Workshop, print or book but we can email you a gift card that you can print out and stick under the tree. If you’d like to do that for a loved one, friend or yourself, best bet would be to call 760.924.8632 and we’ll be happy to take care of you!
The question of the day, “Will I be teaching a class on printing?” The answer is, I already am! Photoshop for Shooters is all about creating the best possible image/file for printing. The picture taking process is directly related to the printing process. The photo finishing process is directly related to the printing process. The act of hitting P and setting the printer to work is just the proof that everything you’ve done prior to that moment was correct. Just understanding that the statement “You profile your monitor so your prints match” is a myth which we talk about in class might solve all of your printing problems. You print to match your heart, not your monitor and we talk a lot about that. We spend two days talking printing!
This wintery scene I wish was taken recently but we have no snow. Ba Humbug!!!! This scene was taken earlier this year at the Firehole River. I knew I was going to print this B&W so the challenge was getting the clean black while keeping the clean graphic nature of the photo. This is a graphic so the lines of white (blurred water) had to be in harmony with the black of the rocks, logs and shadows. Since the water has this funky yellowish-green cast to it because it is an active hot spring, B&W was another way of dealing with that color cast. After that, it was a simple processing in ACR and then Silver Efex Pro 2. Then, a little tweaking on the file to print and understanding the right paper to print on and one of my best selling B&W gallery prints was born. Wanna learn how to do that, come to Photoshop for Shooters, I’ll give you all I know!
Every so often I get into conversations that I know from the start, I’m going to loose. Just too many myths to kill, too many ingrained bad habits to overcome. To my great surprise, my last dialog with a couple of photographers, I beat the odds. The point of the conversation, who is in control in photography, the photographer or the subject? I’ve always thought and worked under the assumption the subject is in complete control. With wildlife photography, that sentiment is generally accepted. Normally the first example used to counter this contention is the studio shoot. This is where the photographer has complete control of the lighting, camera, background and in theory, the subject. After this example is fully dressed by whomever I’m talking to, I then simply ask, “Who is in control of the facial expression?” Conversation stops. Then they usually comeback with, “What if it’s a product, no smile to worry about.” I usually say, “Ah, then you have the AD (art director) to make smile.”
My point is not to argumentative but rather make the point that photographers need to be not only flexible, not only a problem solvers, but in this entire process, creative and imaginative. How do you make that model express the emotion you want the compliments the lighting you set up? How do make that AD smile with that “simple” product shot? What tools do you have at the camera and behind the camera (that’s you) to pull off the photograph? The vast majority of the time, those tools to make it all come together come with time. You’ve gotta put the time in to get the results out.
I wanted a shot of the F2G-2 at “sunset” but it wasn’t sunset yet. In fact, we would be on the ground when it was sunset. So how do you get that photo? Underexposure shooting right into the sun came to mind. What’s the first problem with this solution, when you shoot right into the sun? The damn sun, it kinda over powers everything let alone that little thing known as flare. But what if you ask the pilot in the F2G-2 to fly so he casts his shadow on me in the photo plane? First, you need to have a great pilot in that subject plane. Next, you have to realize the subject is in control. Lastly, you need to make the underexposure, put the subject in the right part of the frame and go click.
I guess the point of this mini rant is to have photographers lighten up, flex their creativity a little more and not beat themselves up when the photograph fails. Photography among many things is the art of having fun and when you’re trying to be in control in an environment when you really aren’t in control, fun tends to go out the window. Photography is about a ton of illusions and one of those illusions is that of control.
OK, I’ve added a PDF for my Moose’s Print Lab page on Sharpening for Content. I think it’s damn important. It’s for you to decide if it is to you. mtc
I’ve received a whole bunch of email in regards to the new Moose’s Print Lab. To be totally honest, the response has been quite overwhelming, the response. I really wasn’t prepared for it. It would seem I totally underestimated the desire of folks to print. The common thread in all the response is the desire to learn the “KISS” methodology to printing. I hear ya and I’m working on some material for you put.
One thing I heard a lot about from folks is they don’t have and can’t find the profiles for the Epson 4900 for the Signature Worthy Papers, the Hot & Cold. I went looking for a download and like folks had reported, I didn’t readily find them either. So here are the profiles I have. I’m a PC guy and honestly don’t know if they work on Mac. But it’s all I got.I gotta get back to writing, mtc.
We want to say Congrats to Kai, a participant in our Lone Star Flight Museum Air2Air Workshop. Here’s what he just sent us
I have won the front cover competition for Flight International and the B17G Thunderbird and Skyvan are the stars. I mentioned Air2Air Workshops and more in the brief they wanted but as I have only seen the cover I do not know yet what they wrote.
I learned a lot at the workshop, but what Moose said about light and how important it is really struck a chord with me.
Attached is a thumbnail of the cover.
P.S. The price is 100GPB and a framed copy of the front page. That is not really why I entered but it is nice to get something.
Kai was simply a hoot to have along and I admire his passion. Here’s a gentleman so passionate about aviation photography that the fact he has to use a cane didn’t stop him. That’s right, he was shooting air to air with that hardship. That’s just damn cool! And he’s a great listener because he heard me get on my soapbox about sharing his images and he did something about it. Check this out:
Again, congrats Kai on doing a great job!
Printing is such a fun thing to do. Sharing your photographs is such an important thing to do. Printing is a win win and I would like to help you do more of it. So I created a new page that with time, if I hear from folks, I’ll expand it. Hope it help!
I’m so wishing for the white stuff because right now, our front yard meadow is just brown. Argh! So I went skiing through the files to find some of the white stuff from days past. I didn’t have to go far, Feb in Yosemite. I found these two images which I hadn’t processed yet. I know why they weren’t processed, they are a reminder that I still haven’t got this one shot I’ve always wanted from Yosemite.
When you walk into the Mountain Room on the far wall is this sweet photo of cedars in the fog. I’ve always admired and wanted that photo but have never been presented with the opportunity to create my own version. But I’m always looking and when I see the fog mixing with the trees, my lens points in that direction. Now there are three elements in that photo in the Mountain Room I like. First is obviously the fog. Next are the trees and lastly is the color contrast of the trunks of the trees in the fog. Now the top photo is a total looser in my book. While it has the three elements, they just aren’t working. I like the bottom image better but it’s missing that color contrast which I’m looking for. So, if it ever starts to snow again, I’ll be out looking.
Now when it comes to the camera capture end of this process, exposure is the first thing. This is one instance where I overexpose in the camera and then yank back the blacks in post. This is the first time I finished images using the improved Graduated Fog in CEP4. It did a really nice job enhancing the fog that was present without increasing the noise or blur. So while I don’t have the image, I a camera and finishing battle plan. But dang, where’s the snow?!
Our annual Night of Lights here in Mammoth was this past weekend. You bundle up in warm clothes, grab some xmas spirit and head up the mountain to Canyon Lodge for the show. It’s always a great time and a good place to have a camera. I headed up with simply with a D3s and 24f1.4AFS, shooting at ISO 3200 and f1.4 the whole time, making it simple and fun. Now us mountain folks do this Christmas lights thing a little different then most. The first thing you should notice is the groomers have their cats in the shape of a Christmas tree (a fat, short one). Then with the fireworks, the top two images, you’ll see the Christmas tree shape again. The last image, it’s just a big explosion, I like big explosions. All the images were taken handheld at around 1/200. The one element I was trying to capture but really didn’t were all the folks with their iPhones up in the air trying to take pictures. You can see some glows from them in the foreground. It was a lot of fun with a lot of friends, great way to start off the week!
I’ve had a couple of emails asking if HDR really has the image quality to be valid. It’s a question that kind of took me by surprise. I realize some think of HDR as a fad, some think even worse or it. But a photographer who makes a living from their images, if they put out an image that is of lesser quality, they are simply going to be out of business. My personal standard in determining image quality for a body, lens or technique is the 24×30 print. It’s gotta stand up to that for me to incorporate any tool or technique in my approach to photography. The above is a perfect example. This is a HDR shot of Kermit Week’s P-51C that is in the current issue of Flight Journal. It’s a double truck, two page spread in which the image quality along with content were worthy enough to be used as the opener to a marvelous piece on a courageous group of aviators from WWII. I was honored to have my image selected and so prominently for this piece. I don’t think of HDR as a gimmick or fad but a valid tool when wanting to express photographically what my eyes and mind communicate to my heart and the camera can’t in one click.
You guys crack me up! I’ve been jumping like a mad man from one fire to another, the blessing of being busy with business to which we are very thankful for. Last night, rather then having time to get today’s blog postings up, I was writing and updating Moose Camera Bag which was only a year behind (yikes, and still not finsihed). Then my plans went out the window today when I realized I only had two of my three classes for Photoshop World ready to send out (and they are do, now). My Dang, I Want to be a Wildlife Photographer and The Art of Aviation classes were all done. But my Blessing of the Pixel I hadn’t even started. So, rather then write a blog, I’m creating teaching content, writing recipes and creating screen captures for the workbook for next spring. Have a great weekend, make a click or two and then share them!
PS…I’ve received a whole bunch of emails asking where we’re going for the PreCon. As always, the location won’t be announced until Photoshop World but I can tell you, I’m incredibly excited about this one. NO ONE has ever done this shoot before which means we’re not heading to the mall or monument. Hotdogs, big time fun!