scottsdale museum of contemporary art


Down in Scottsdale yesterday to meet up with some photographers and deliver a family portrait. I stopped by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and was reminded of how powerful art can be. I had no idea what was on display but just thought I’d get a quick lift.

Wow! A different experience awaited me within those walls.

Betye Sarr has been creating art about the black experience in the United States for over 60 years. And it was a poignant reminder of how terrible we were as a people. Even to having a constant ‘put in your place’ language that started with children. One piece especially moved me deep to the core.

It was very simple.

A dress hanging from the ceiling.

Hemmed with offending words suspended above a small child’s chair with a small framed portrait of a black child.

Two spotlights.

A corner.

betye sarr loss of innocence‘A loss of innocence.’

detail loos of innocence betye sarrDetail

detail loss of innocenceFrom ‘Loss of Innocence’ Dress detail showing the repetitive words hemmed into the dress – Tar Baby, Niggerbaby and Pickaninny.

I was moved.

From the SMOCA Description of Betye’s Show

There is a touch of alchemy to Betye Saar’s artwork: transforming the simple and mundane into powerful art. Since the 1960s, her compelling, astute and expressive works reflect on African- American identity, spirituality and the inter-connectedness between different cultures. This timely retrospective brings together recent work as well as historical pieces created over her six decade long career… more

I wonder if I will ever be able to create art that moves people as much as this installation moved me.I think we as photographers can find inspiration from many different places..

How about you? Where do you find inspiration??

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – images were captured with the Lumix LX100. I call this sweet little camera the ‘Pro’s point & shoot’. Solid magnesium body, all necessary exposure controls available on the outside on click stop dials. 24-75mm f1.7-f2.8 Leica lens.

miller and the other sinners

Miller and the Other Sinners Band

Take an electric guitar. Acoustic guitar. A bass guitar. A small sax… and a large one. Throw in someone who knows how to play the drums. Add in a voice that is pure magic and the namesake of the band. And what do you get?

A really good time listening to Southern Soul!

A sweet blend of blues/gospel/americana/r&b with a splash a cayenne pepper.

Saturday night Miller and the Other Sinners performed at Sound Bites Grill and I had the fun job of photographing them for the ‘SBG Wall of Fame’. This group really rocked the house with a bluesy sound that had everyone bouncing in their seats.

miller & the others band photoSound Bites Grill Wall of Fame image for Miller and the Other Sinners

I used two cameras for the event.

I used the Lumix GH4 with a 35-100mm Vario f2.8 lens for the individual band member captures. I generally shoot at ISO 3200 in aperture priority with a minus 2/3rds of a stop exposure compensation in RAW. This will generally get me an exposure between 1/60th & 1/100 of a second. Taking the images into Adobe Camera Raw with just a little push up of the shadows slider and a reduction of the highlights I am able to get the entire dynamic range of the scene.

The second camera is the Lumix GX8 with a wide f2.8 12-35mm Vario zoom. These images are of the whole band and used for press releases and marketing.  Same basic settings on the camera. A great feature of shooting with these cameras is the Live View function as you are seeing the image as it is being captured so it’s easy to make tweaks to the settings before firing the shutter.


Marketing images are created in color but I specifically do the BW conversion myself so the best quality will be printed rather than someone at the publication just pushing the greyscale button. NIK Silver FX Pro 2 is the go-to software plug-in.

Knowing how the images are going to be used dictates how images are processed. I always try to create the best image file for the job at hand. Remember to ask questions in order to be able to provide the best product.

Yours in Creative Photography,    Bob


sunday photo/art quote 1/30

Sunday Photo/Art Quote

Sometimes I think I am.

Sometimes I think I’m not.

An artist that is…

I’ll bet it’s the same for you and I think today’s quote might help us understand better whether we are… or not.

nizer quote“A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.” – Louis Nizer

Am I a laborer, a craftsman or an artist?

At any one time I am one of the three. I suppose it depends on the task at hand. I always aspire to be an artist but at the very least I hope to be a solid craftsman when I make my photographs and artistic images. Sometimes I am just a laborer. And I then try to either elevate the work on the next go ’round or not to perform that particular job again.

How much of yourself do you put into your work?

Laborer? Craftsman? Artist? Which are you??

And why do you think so?

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

Louis Nizer practiced law (successfully) for the rich and famous. In addition he wrote, spoke and advised some of the most powerful people in the world… Here’s another quote that you might not know where it came from and is attributed to Nizer, “When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”

hdr software

HDR Software

HDR. High Dynamic Range. AKA how to jam a whole lot of light into an image the way our eye would see the scene. I’ve always been a fan. As a matter of fact I was one of the first authors to teach this when I was making videos for Software Cinema. I showed how to use this process to make landscapes and real estate scenes look their best.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a catchy name for it. Nor did I design a software program or cause others to do so on my behalf that did most of the heavy lifting for the HDR process either… Oh well.

coca cola building hdr photographFive image sequence, handheld, processed in Aurora HDR software.

Even though there have been many iterations of HDR software it’s been a while since there was a new player with a different interface that included many new possible settings in and easy to understand interface and, wait for it, layers too! The new software is called Aurora and was designed by HDR travel image specialist Trey working in conjunction with Mcphun Software.

I was given the software to play with… And, I like it!

Atlanta weston hotelAnother 5 image handheld bracket using Aurora HDR software

atl weston hotel at sunset photoSame image as above processed differently from same exposures.

It gives you the ability to totally go HDR berserkers! Or, create a very natural scene with full dynamic range. Or somewhere in between so you can have the best of all worlds. An artistic, realistic representation of a scene that DOESN’T SCREAM HDR!!

All images were captured with the Panasonic Lumix GH4

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – At this time Aurora is only available for the MAC platform at the moment

time lapse imaging usa trade show opening

PPA’s Imaging USA Trade Show Opening Time Lapse

The Imaging USA trade show put on by Professional Photographers of America is always a popular part of attending the annual convention, especially the first day…

This was captured hand held with the Lumix GH4 and the 7-14mm Lumix Vario f4 lens at the bottom of the escalator in the Georgia World Congress Convention Center. Time lapse was processed in camera. Then it was downloaded to Adobe Premiere Pro for some massaging. Video was smoothed out. A little color correction was applied due to the extreme lighting conditions. Titles, slides and music finished off the video.

Thanks to Eric Miller for the use of the music!

Time Lapse Video captured at Imaging USA in Atlanta, Georgia January 2016

Time Lapse can be a great way to tell a story ’cause that’s a pile of people!! Approximately 560 images, with a frame fired every 3 seconds, were captured and combined. Output at 12 frames per second in 4K video.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – See you at Imaging USA in San Antonio next year??

sunday photo/art quote 1/24

Eat Pray Love

I feel like I’m catching up with an old very good friend who’s been away adventuring. You know, the friend when you first met felt like you’d known each other forever? The friend who’s been away for years but you sit down and begin chatting and it’s like you were never apart and just pick up the conversation where you left off.

I don’t normally share my personal reading material on the blog but I’m making an exception here because I think you will enjoy this book, find a new friend, and share thoughts with someone who’s art is in creating pictures of environments and stories with words.

Meet my new friend Elizabeth Gilbert.

I met Liz (figuratively) while listening to an interview with her on NPR about her book, Eat, Pray, Love. That night I asked my wife to order up a copy for my Kindle. I just knew immediately that I would enjoy it. I think you will too.

Shared Words from the Book

During the radio interview Liz read a couple passages from her book. I’d like to share a taste of her writing style so you can get excited and find a new friend, if you haven’t already.

“The amount of pleasure this eating and speaking brought to me was inestimable, and yet so simple. I passed a few hours once in the middle of an October night that might look like nothing so much to the outside observer, but which I will always count amongst the happiest in my life. I found a market near my apartment, only a few streets over from me, which I’d somehow never noticed before. There I approached a tiny vegetable stall with one Italian woman and her son selling a choice assortment of their produce – such as rich almost algae-green leaves of spinach, tomatoes so red and bloody they looked like a cow’s organs, and champagne-colored grapes with skins as tight as a showgirls leotard…

“I walked home to my apartment and soft-boiled a pair of fresh brown eggs for my lunch. I peeled the eggs and arranged them on my plate beside seven stalks of the asparagus (which were so slim and snappy, they didn’t need to be cooked at all). I put some olives on the plate, too, and the four knobs of goat cheese I’d picked up yesterday from the formaggia down the street, and two slices of pink, oily salmon. For dessert-a lovely peach, which the woman had given to me for free and which was still warm from the Roman sunlight. For the longest time I couldn’t even touch the food because it was such a masterpiece of lunch, a true expression of the art of making something out of nothing. Finally, when I had fully absorbed the prettiness of my meal, I went and sat in a patch of sunbeam on my clean wooden floor and ate every bite of it, with my fingers, while reading my daily newspaper article in Italian. Happiness inhabited my every molecule.”

From further in the book in the India section…

“The truth is, I don’t think I’m good at meditation. I know I’m out of practice with it, but honestly I was never good at  it.I can’t seem to get my mind to hold still. I mentioned this once to an Indian monk, and he said, “It’s a pity that you are the only person in the history of the world to have this problem.” Then the monk quoted to me from the Bhagavad Gita, the most sacred ancient text of Yoga: “Oh Krishna, the mind is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding. I consider it as difficult to subdue as the wind.”

“When I ask my mind to rest in stillness, it is astonishing how quickly it will turn (1) bored, (2) angry, (3) depressed, (4) anxious or (5) all of the above. Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind” – the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.”

I hope you enjoy this read as much as I have. As this Sunday Photo/Art quote often explores a slightly different path to creativity, may this inspire you to better photography as I believe it has me… Well written words create pictures in the mind. I think having more pictures in your mind enables you to create better images.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob


marketing through press releases

Press Releases & Marketing

Keeping your name out in front of your community is a very important part of running your photography business. This means getting out to networking meetings, getting displays in busy businesses, social media and using every possible way to have people think of you first when the subject of photography comes up.

red rock news articleThis story appeared in the Sedona Red Rock News

Press releases can play a big part in this area of your business. Many people say they don’t know what, or how, to write press releases. It is not terribly difficult. you can see some of my press from over the years and get some ideas on writing a proper press releases, that tend to get printed, here.

There are many reasons to send out a release. For example, your business has worked on a charity project raising money for your community. Or, you have trained and received a degree, certification, participated in Imaging Competition or won an award for your photography. Remember these releases need to be written in the third person, contain quotes from others about you and your work and quotes from yourself about what has taken place.

newspaper article in photography section kudosHere’s another article printed about my being named to the World Photographic Cup Team USA in the local entertainment paper Kudos.

In addition to the newspaper articles the story also appeared in the online edition of Kudos. I will also be linking this article on my blog to social media posts and sending out a release on LinkedIn etc. You can see how one event can be leveraged to get lots of exposure.

Remember people need to be touched anywhere from 7-13 times in your marketing before they will begin to remember your name. Get out there. Do good things. Share what you’ve done properly. Earn more business.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

nighttime photography

Nighttime Photography

Photographing at night can be a challenge. The dynamic range of any camera can be challenged by bright lights in a darkened scene. Trying to make that read properly usually takes some work with and HDR program but sometimes you don’t want to work quite that hard and want to just get a decent grab of a scene.

Before switching to the micro 4/3rds system by Panasonic I was never a fan of any presets on a camera. But after playing with some the results have been impressive. Several Lumix Cameras have presets that can help you with extreme situations. For example, the GH4 has an artistic setting called High Dynamic which can be helpful. The new G7 and the FZ1000 have a setting in the scenic menu called Handheld Night Shot where the camera is basically making multiple exposures and blending them together quickly for you.

Strangely enough I hadn’t tried the Handheld Night Shot preset until a fellow photographer I had recommend the FZ1000 to asked me if I had tried it. When I did I was quite happy with the results. Always fun when others share features that work really well with you. Considering I was shooting this through the window glass and doing a quick test this works. I’ll be trying it under better conditions soon.

handheld night shot photoThis was captured from my hotel room at the Omni in Atlanta during the PPA Imaging USA convention using Handheld NIght Shot setting on camera. Lumix FZ1000

In future posts I’ll be looking at leveraging other presets from the Lumix cameras as well as exploring some new HDR software from Macphun called Aurora…

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

photographing neon

Photographing Neon

I was caught by the message portrayed by the neon light. I think it’s a good one by the way!! Seen in the entry to the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia.

When we are shooting digital (and who isn’t for the most part?) we sometimes have what I call ‘Light Creep’. It is a phenomenon of different types of lighting and the frequency of the patterns or waves creating that light. In the neon example below you will see lines appear on the image indicted by arrows. This shows up when the pulsing of a light is slower than the shutter speed of the capture. It is very apparent in neon and florescent lighting situations. The pulses of light are slow but not apparent to the naked eye and shown by the camera. But, when a proper shutter speed is used for a lighting situation the camera will record a scene as the eye does. IE the shutter speed needs to be slower than the pulse of light…

hard rock cafe neonArrows show the dark lines where the light is not being recorded.

hard rock cafe neonProper shutter speed (slower) allows the entire lighting spectrum to show in the neon sign.

Be aware if you are capturing images under lighting conditions that are florescent, sodium, neon and possibly others. Slow down your shutter speed or add your own light to the scene or suffer the consequences.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – Remember, no nuclear weapons are allowed in Hard Rock Cafe! (a good rule!)

kazm tech talk january

Tech Talk on the Radio

Once a month I chat with Mike Tabback on KAZM Radio in Sedona.

This month we cover features that are coming out from Panasonic with the Lumix cameras FZ-1000 25-400mm f2.8-4. FZ-300 25-600mm f2.8.

World Photographic Cup – Team USA.

Time Lapse and leveraging those images in a still. Professional Photographers Association convention.

Backing up Images… And more.