go pet friendly

Go Pet Friendly – Book Session

I don’t often share my commercial work on Successful-Photographer. I probably should.

So I will.

I received a call from a pleasant voice asking about a photography session for a book cover. Images needed would include an RV, two people, and two dogs. The owner of the friendly voice is named Amy Burkert. She and her husband Rod have been on the road for about six years traveling the country in an RV, looking for pet-friendly places and sharing their findings via their blog https://blog.gopetfriendly.com 

The main photo Amy for which Amy was looking was her back cover author’s image. Especially for the book, she has written, the image should make her appear open, friendly, and inviting while telling a bit of her story. I always ask plenty of questions before coming up with a plan for the capture.

What is the layout of the book? Do you need a horizontal or vertical photo/ Have you considered your wardrobe? What background would you like to have, studio or environmental? What story do you wish to convey?

amy at the wheel of the winnabagoAmy at the wheel of the thirty-seven foot Winnebago

After all the questions were answered, we ended up with Amy behind the wheel as she does most of the driving while they are on the road. There wasn’t a lot of room for supplemental lighting which made me reach into my bag for LED lighting bricks from Fiilex. With three of the bricks, I was able to add some fill light and get some background separation. These battery operated lights are color and brightness tunable and can be tucked into tiny spaces.

I choose a high angle from which to shoot to enhance Amy’s friendly and open feel. When the subject is looking up in an image it makes the viewer feel they are looking down on the person. It didn’t hurt that the camera likes Amy and she was entirely comfortable in front of the camera.

I supplied a horizontal and a square version of Amy’s portrait. Additional support images were made of the RV with Rod and the rest of the crew including the two dogs Ty and buster which I’ll share in a future post.

Images were made with the Lumix GH5 and the Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 Lens

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

having a muse

It’s Good To Have A Muse

muse2/ mjuːz/ noun 1.a goddess that inspires a creative artist, esp a poet
Word Origin: from Old French, from Latin Mūsa, from Greek Mousa a Muse

Having a fellow artist who encourages you to explore new areas and ideas within your specialty is a fabulous tool to supplement your creativity.

Meet Pash.

She is my muse.

pash gabalvy musePash Galbavy – Learn more check out her website 

Pash is a life model, dancer, mask maker and performance artist. Her tagline is ‘Masks, Movement, Modeling and More.’ She often is performing new concepts and pushing boundaries that inspire and inform new work for me. Just yesterday Pash asked if I would cover a life posing event for her with her artist group. This day would find Pash and her group at the gallery of John and Ruth Waddell in Cornville, AZ. The Waddells have created a magical space with bronze sculptures dancing and cavorting around the property. A truly magical area that Pash enhanced with her interaction while the artists sketched and drew their interpretations of the scene.

pash in a pose at waddells galleryPash in a pose integrated with John Waddell’s bronze

Pash PosingPash asking me to photograph and document her event had me make this image

cutout of pash and sculptureWhich led to me isolating some areas in moving toward a new piece of art

pash waddell working imageWorking sketch experimenting with beginning textures

pash galbavy art pieceA picture I am currently calling ‘Merge’ (working title)

Images such as this are put together utilizing multiple photos of textures blended using Adobe Photoshop Layers, Color Modes, Blend Modes, and Masks. I sometimes will experiment with ten to twenty different versions before settling on a final image. This one is getting pretty close.

Images in this post were captured with the Lumix G9 and the Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4 lens.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob


blackwater national wildlife refuge part three

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge – Part Three

If you have followed my work for any length of time, you know that I enjoy moving my work into a more painting-based look. I have taken a term I heard from Julianne Kost and adopted it for my new business. “Lens Based Artist.” I have decided to start promoting my more art based images and have begun gallery representation and selling my work as art.

More on that in future posts. (things are starting to take off. YAY!)

Back to Blackwater images and the post-processing. Here are a few photos of which I have played using the PhotoSynthesis process I have been working on over the years.

geese in flight art bob coates photographyGeese in Flight. Love the wing positions and pattern of the birds in the sky.

I worked on this image on the plane while en route back to Arizona from my speaking engagement in Maryland where the images were captured. My seatmate was fascinated by the process, and I talked him through my thinking as I worked on the photo. There are several layers of multiple images blended using Adobe Photoshop’s blend Modes and masks. The geese in flight created their art with all the different wing positions. I was able to capture their flight using the **Lumix GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm lens. The reach of this lens with the stabilization in the camera are making captures such as this easier than ever.

heron art bob coates photographyGreat Blue Heron on the shoreline.

After working on the piece and adding layers of textures, I pulled the image into Skylum’s Focus CK (part of the Creative Kit or available as a stand-alone) to add a bit of selective sharpness to the subject and vignette and slight blurring to the rest of the image. I use this tool in the Macro setting quite often. I could do the same thing directly in Photoshop, but it would take much more time and many more steps to accomplish the same thing. Plugins are very handy. I decide whether to purchase plugins based on how often I perform specific techniques. When I find the plugin saves me the time or makes it possible for me to do something I would not be able to accomplish otherwise, I buy.

heron in flight art imageHeron in Flight – All images are © Bob Coates Photography – All Rights Reserved

I don’t think any of these images are ‘ready for prime time’ as yet. I think of them as sketches testing ideas and pointing to the direction I wish to go.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

** I’ll be using the Lumix G9 in the future for most of my wildlife shooting. Designed with the stills photographer in mind, it adds 6 1/2 stops of handholdabilty (GH5 has 5) along with a better grip and button design for still photographers.

kazm radio show tech talk

Kazm Radio – Tech Talk with Tom Taback

tom taback & bob coates on the radioSedona on-air personality Tom Taback and Bob Coates (That’s me!) recording a program for later playback

Twenty minutes of conversation with Tom about photography, cameras, my recent travels teaching, and art. Tech Talk is on KAZM radio Wednesdays. I had the opportunity to share ideas about new technology in photography. Fun show! Listen now.

kazm radio logoYours in Creative Photography,       Bob

columbus skyline

Skyline of Columbus Ohio

I was off teaching outside of Columbus, Ohio in Dublin this past weekend. These days when I travel for business, I try to schedule some time for doing some photography on either side of the event. Weather doesn’t always work out for the best as plans are made in advance! But you take what you can get.

I was planning on photographing the Columbus skyline from the bridge at night with the river reflection. There were recent floods which left the banks mud-stained, the wind was blowing about twenty mph and, the skies were less than desirable. Other than that it was excellent! ; )>

The nasty weather didn’t stop me from making a few images from the area. I got to the Main Street Bridge and did the best I could. I’m still testing the Lumix G9 and its 80MP capabilities, and it impresses me.

columbus ohio skyline photo. bob coates photographyThis is a panoramic crop from an 80MP file. After cropping, the photo is ~ ten inches by thirty-six inches at 300dpi. A file size I could print to approximately seventy inches wide with no problem.
Lens 12x60mm Leica f2.8-4.0

columbus skyline photo cropThis is a tiny section of the skyline cropped to give you an idea of the detail.

I thought it might be fun to try and get the bridge in the foreground with the city in the background through the supports.

mian street bridge columbus ohio photoThis was made using the 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens.

detail of 80MP capture lumix g9 captureCrop section of moving car. The repetition is due to the multiple captures being made to create the 80MP file.

This image shows that capturing a moving subject during the exposure is not such a great idea. Or is it? I’m thinking about some creative possibilities in making a scene be devoid of people. Or just giving the hint of people in a scene. What about water photographed with a slow shutter speed?

I’ll be playing (er I mean working with) this large MP capture feature and let you know how it works out. If you’ve got any thoughts, ideas or examples of your testing, this feature, let me know.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

lumix g9 large files

Lumix G9 and Mega Files

Panasonic recently released the Lumix G9 as the stills flagship camera. Just received mine and I am exploring new features. Here is an exciting treat that will get you some serious megapixels. It’s called High-Resolution Mode. You can double or quadruple the 20 MP files size. That is correct. The G9 can serve up an eighty Megapixel file.

Below you’ll see my first test shot using the red rocks of Sedona. It doesn’t hurt to live in a place with some beautiful scenery. ; )>

Pictured below is Courthouse Butte in the Village of Oak Creek where the red rocks begin.

straight out of camera photoAbove a RAW file straight out of the camera (SOOC) with no processing in Adobe Camera RAW. (ACR)

ACR processed fileThe image after a little massaging in ACR. Adjustment were made of highlights, shadows, blacks and whites, saturation and vibrance. All settings were changed sparingly, but that led to quite an excellent rendering of the scene.

image with additional processing in luminar 2018Here is the final image after a trip into Luminar 2018 software for a little image enhancement. Settings were adjusted (gently) for clarity, saturation, contrast, highlights, shadows and polarizing filter.

I wasn’t sure how much of much of a difference there would be with the added megapixels. There was a huge difference. With that number of pixels to work with, there is a lot of ‘headroom’ when making adjustments. The base file opens with an approximately 235 MB. That is twenty-six by thirty-six-inch file at 300ppi native. And it looks gorgeous.

You might ask, “How is this possible, Bob?” Here’s how. The camera makes eight exposures while off-setting each capture by one-half pixel then uses that info to render the larger file. Of course, that can be a drawback. You won’t be photographing moving subjects with an 80 MP files size. But… I will be trying that. I see possibilties of artistic captures with moving water, trees in the wind, people moving, or disappearing, in a scene.

I’ll report back with my testing in future posts.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

Photographed with the Lumix G9 and the Leica12-60mm f2.8-4 lens

g85 travels to new zealand

G85 Travels to New Zealand

My Professional Photographers of America friend Ken MacAdams has been traveling the world and offered to share some of his insights on the Successful-Photographer blog. Ken need to travel light and has been using the miriorless systems from Panasonic. He used the G85 on this last trip.

Here’s Ken with a little history and info about a land down under.

Paradise, some would call it.  Can’t say I’d argue, standing there while the sea breeze rustled through my hair.  The puffy clouds graced the skies, while azure waters lazed below.  Watercraft of varying description lay at anchor.  This is the stuff dreams are made of!

image copyright Ken MacAdamsImage © Ken MacAdams

This little slice of heaven is called the Bay of Islands, on the north eastern reaches of the North Island, of New Zealand.  The waters here belong to an island called Waewaetorea.  Sheltered from the large swells of the Pacific Ocean, this little piece of paradise is one the few islands among the multitude of islands here in the Bay of Islands, that is open to public access.  Often you’ll see an array of sailboats and yachts anchored here, as revilers swim in the calm waters, and bask in the sun.  It’s one of those incredible panoramas that is permanently etched into my memory!

In 1769 Captain James Cook anchored his ship Endeavor in a nearby bay as he explored the area.  A nearby historic seaside village called Russell, has been a haven for visitors since the 1700’s, and was a base for the whaling industry in the 1830’s.  The rowdy behavior of its inhabitants during the whaling years earned in the nickname “Hellhole of the Pacific”.  Today Russell is a sleepy tourist destination.

Russels bay photo ©KenmacadamsRussell Bay.  Where once whaling vessels lay at anchor, pleasure yachts visit today.  Once the “Hellhole of the Pacific”, Russell now finds its niche as a sleepy tourist destination. Image © Ken MacAdams

Other islands in the bay range from unusual volcanic basalt rock formations to wildlife reserves.  American author Zane Grey lived in Othehei Bay in the 1920’s, while he wrote his popular book, “Tales of The Angler’s Eldorado” – which made the Bay of Islands world famous as a game fishing destination. 

The friendly resort town of Paihai, which means ‘good here’ in Maori, says it like it is!  From the furthermost out island, Motukokako, or Hole in the Rock,  (which can be navigated through if the waves aren’t too aggressive!) to the smallest of islands, there’s history around each corner, and beauty along each cove.  It truly is good here!

bay of islands new zealand ©ken macadamsBay of Islands.  Islands from large to small dot this body of water.  Yachts and pleasure craft ply these vibrant azure waters. Image © Ken MacAdams

My go-to camera was the Panasonic Lumix G85, with the Lumix 12 – 60mm OIS lens affixed.  This combination proved both lightweight and compact to pack whether exploring on land or sea. 

Ken’s Bio: Ken MacAdams makes Farmington NM his home, when not on the road.  Growing up with a darkroom in his basement, Ken learned film skills early on.  In 2005 Ken switched to digital, and never looked back! Ken has shot architectural, weddings and portraits, but today concentrates on world travel photography.  Ken and his wife have been spending two months a year in China, while he concentrates on building a stock library from that rapidly changing nation.

I look forward to more of Kens travels being shared here on the blog.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

blackwater national wildlife refuge part two

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge – Part Two

While in Maryland presenting some photography programs to MDPPA I found some extra time to go in search of wildlife. I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with Chris Paulis as he took us to the wildlife refuge from Columbia a couple of hours away in Cambridge, Maryland.

You can check the first post where I shared some large avian creatures AKA the Great Blue Herons. Today I am going to show the world of ducks that we were able to find. There were lots of Northern Shovelers which show quite beautiful plumage. If you don’t know better, it’s relatively easy to mistake their feather patterns for Mallards. Since both were hanging around you can check out the similarities and the differences.

Onward to the duck photos!

male northern shoveler duckThese guys tended to stay right on the edge of being able to get beautiful photos. Male Northern Shoveler.

Both Chris and I were using Panasonic Lumix cameras, He had the Lumix G9, and I had the Lumix GH5. We both used the Lumix G Leica 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 lens. Having that reach at full extension (800mm 35mm FF equivalent) made it possible for us to capture many of the shots that would otherwise have been more humdrum. The five-axis image stabilization enabled hand holding even fully extended. It makes a huge difference in the tracking the ever-changing movement of our subjects.

male mallard duckThe reflection of the sunset light on the water warms this photo of a male Mallard.

male mallard duck photoMale Mallard duck in flight.

If at all possible I try to capture images that include behavior. Taken just after leaving the water droplets fall helping to add more detail to the story.

northern shoveler ducks in flight imageThis photo is one of my favorite images from the day. A couple of Northern Shoveler ducks take to the air.

It was a great day, so I probably have one or two more posts to share from our refuge adventure.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

blackwater national wildlife refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Last week I was speaking at the Maryland Professional Photographers Association. It was a great group, and we made a solid connection in what became an all-day program due to weather conditions that were a wee bit unusual for this time of year.

For this trip, I scheduled some extra time to get out and photograph wildlife. I had an excellent guide and companion for the shooting days in Chris Paulis! (check out Chris’ work here) Chris and I had a blast looking for photo opportunities in the area. On Friday we drove two hours each way to spend time at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Chris had mentioned he hadn’t had a lot of luck there in the past, but I think we did pretty well. We made the loop through the refuge eight or nine times discovering different wildlife situations on each cycle.

The majority of my images were captured with the Lumix GH5 (currently $200 off for a limited time) and the Lumix G Leica 100-400mm lens. Chris had the same lens and was shooting with the new stills flagship camera the Lumix G9. (mine came in right after I returned from the trip. More to come about that new camera)

I enjoy wildlife photography, and my goal is to have images that show either beautiful lighting or behavior images. I’ll share some below and in another post or two over the next week.

gret blue heron bob coates photographySometimes a simple capture featuring the environment works well and helps tell the story.

gret blue herons bob coates photographyStill environmental, this image has a bit more behavior. I laughingly title this Heron Airport.

gret blue heron bob coates photographyIt’s all about the light and shadow. Add in some lovely water reflections, and now we’re cooking. Getting photographs like this take time and patience. There are only a few minutes in the morning and afternoon when the light starts to work like this. And then there’s having the performer in place at the same time as the light.

Next time some intimate portraits of my heron budies. Til then go get ya some great photo ops!

Yours in creative Photography,        Bob




When the Elements Come Together

I’ve heard it called shooting on the edge. Edge of what you ask? Edge of everything. Edge of the weather. Edge of day and night. Any time there is a contrast from the norm it’s a great time to be creating images.

Case in point.

Here’s an excellent argument for always having a camera handy as Jay Maisel always coaches. I walked out of one of the galleries where my art is sold and came across this moment that was there for maybe three minutes.

us flag at sunset photoThe golden light of sunset sneaking through a hole in the clouds

It was the confluence of the elements that I think makes for an interesting photograph. A small shaft of light appeared and highlighted the flag which was lowing in the wind. The background to the flag was enhanced by the darkened and scattered storm clouds.

There is a tendency to go to ground when the weather is not sunny. Most dramatic photography occurs when the weather moves toward the inclement. Next time you see the clouds starting to form head out and see what you can see.

This image was made with the Lumix GX85 ** and the G Vario 12-35mm f2.8 lens. ***

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – ** I linked to what I consider a geat vacation and always have camera and lenses. Bang for the buck as far as quality. *** Pro level quality lens