tuesday painterly photo art – tumason

Tuesday Painterly Photo Art – Paul Tumason

It’s fun to find new art and artists (to me) once you start poking around. I’m happy to share Paul’s painterly photography work with you today on the Successful-Photographer blog.

Paul’s Thoughts on Painterly Portrait Art.

“A portrait describes what the subject looks like in a painting, a photograph or a sculpture.
Portraits might include other objects which help to explain the subjects, A portrait, like all art, is something to “read”.

© paul tumason photo artCristi & the Boys Painter Art – © Paul Tumason

© paul tumason photoCristi & the Boys before – Notice that Paul is starting with a very nicely posed and lit image before he begins the painting process.

I enjoy being engaged with the story of the subjects. Of course, so much is left to our imaginations, but the artist gives us clues about what the subject is thinking, what they do, or the emotions held deep inside them, what they feel about themselves, and of course, what they look like.

Some of us just think of the likeness that shall be portrayed, But to me, it’s what the subject tells us in confidence about themselves that makes portraiture so interested to me. Yes, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

© Paul Tumason An extraction from and image and treated with a pastel feel – © Paul Tumason

© Paul TumasonOriginal ballet capture – © Paul Tumason

On the creating my “painted” images, I start with my photograph, not always a formal portrait, as I like the candid type of unaware subjects. Like every one of us, we have particular likes and dislikes, and preferences.  We just like certain things. I find this hard to explain: but I’ll attribute it to human nature.
I try to make everything left in the image count for something.

The painting process for me is to soften some things, leave some sharp, lose some edges, define as little as possible while leaving as much as possible for the viewer’ imagination.

ellie © Paul Tumason‘Ellie’ – © Paul Tumason

© Paul Tumason‘Ellie’ before – See how the artistic treatment in the after image simplifies the scene and brings the subject forward. © Paul Tumason

Much of my work is for my enjoyment. I like to print images, sometimes to study, but often to show to prospects, hoping that they would really like them and commission me to do a portrait for them in this style. In a way, it’s a method of marketing and separating myself from the competition.”

Paul has taught portraiture, including composition and lighting to photographers since the 1980’s including some Corel Painter classes here and there. He doesn’t work at this as a regular gig. If you are interested in Paul’s style, let him know if you’d like to have a class. He would love to schedule something for you. Otherwise, you are always welcome for a brief phone conversation to talk about our painterly art, or if you’d like to hire Paul as a tutor.

Learn more and view Paul’s work at www.tumasonpaintings.com

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob



sunday photo/art quote – davinci

Sunday Photo/Art Quote – Leonardo Da Vinci

Today we’ll use the quotes of a couple of art contemporaries from around the 1400-1500’s. Both men are inspirational to me. We’ll start with a quote from Leo.

leonardo da vinci quote“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough. We must apply.
Being willing is not enough. We must do.”Leonardo da Vinci

I guess the short word here would be practice. A regular theme here on Successful-Photographer. I feel Mr. da Vinci says it in a more powerful, in-depth way. “…impressed with the urgency of doing.” I’m trying to extend my vocabulary and writing skills to be as succinct and powerful with words as these.

davinci illustrationThought to be a Leonardo self-portrait, Man in Red Chalk and his Virtuvian Man.

Many photographers, including myself, have the knowledge but have not put it into practice enough. If I may suggest that when you go to a seminar or program and you see, for example, a new lighting idea that you immediately upon returning from the presentation try to replicate the lighting. Can’t tell you how many times I thought I ‘knew’ about a technique because I had seen it performed but when trying to create it on my own at a future date found that, well, I didn’t.

I try hard not to make that mistake anymore. If I see a lighting technique that interests me.

I try to recreate it.

In a PRACTICE session.

NOT on a paid client.

Doing is the secret.

There’s another quote out there from Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me, I forget. Teach me. I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Involve yourself when trying to master any new techniques.

Which brings us to the quote from Mr. Buonarotti

“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”
Michelangelo Buonarotti

Do you hear the echoes of these words? One of the greatest artists of all time lets you know he had to work his butt off to achieve the things he did.

Words to the wise, eh??

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob


infrared sedona photo lumix g6

Infrared Photo – Sedona

Monsoon weather.

Clouds of all shapes and sizes dance and glide through the area on a regular basis.

Normally, mid-day is not the best time to be out photographing in full sun. With my Lumix G6 camera converted to infrared the middle of the day becomes a playground of absolutely beautiful high contrast. I love this look and the possibilities it brings.

infrared black & white imageInfrared black & white image Village of Oak Creek, Sedona, Arizona

The camera was converted to infrared by LifePixel. It took a slightly older camera and gave me a new look  for images in my photography life. The way I capture is in RAW plus jpeg and bracketing by three stops. For this image, I processed the three jpegs and layered them together using the information from each using Masks in Photoshop. I took the layer showing the highlights and moved it into NIK Color FX Pro 4* and added a Glamour Glow Filter to get the “IR Glow.”

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

* You can download the entire series of NIK filters at no charge. Go get ‘um. There probably won’t be any updates but they are an incredible set of tools for use right now.

PS – I expanded upon this blog with more information on ‘Working a Scene-Multiple Compositions’ on the LifePixel site.



tuesday painterly photo art – moody

Tuesday Painterly Photo Art – Stephen Moody – M.Photog.

I met Stephen through the Arizona Professional Photographers Association. I was fascinated and intrigued by his abstract images I became exposed to during the annual imaging competition. I started seeing more of his painterly work through Instagram and Facebook and asked him if he would like to share here on Successful-Photographer.

Stephen Moody’s Fine Art Portraiture

Stephen Moody has been a professional photographer for 35 years. He has been fortunate to photograph projects for international commercial clients as well as portrait clients.

“I must say that the joy of seeing my work printed in Vogue Magazine was a rush, as well as seeing my art images of Coca-Cola products hanging the halls of Swire Coca-Cola Headquarters. It was a feather in my cap,” says Moody.  “But, seeing one of my fine art portraits hanging in a client’s home in the same room as their original Picasso is more than I ever imagined.”

arabian horse stephen moodyArabian Horse – © Stephen Moody

Arabian BeforeArabin Horse original capture – © Stephen Moody

Moody has been creating fine art portraits in one way or another since he started in business in the early 1980’s.  Using AGFA 1000 RSX transparency film Moody created Impressionistic artwork in the camera and then used a tri-color printing method to create even more pointillism.

Today, he has taken it to an entirely elevated level. Moody’s clients do not hang photography in their homes.  They have original art in their homes. Moody had to change his business model and develop his talents in the fine art of painting to create original artwork for his clients.

dog painting stephen moody“Biscotti” – © Stephen Moody

Biscotti Before“Biscotti” before – © Stephen Moody

“Art In Its Most Human Form”™  was Moody’s transformation from photographer into an artist. His first show in Scottsdale, Arizona sold three paintings for $15,000 on opening night. These mixed media paintings were his first images to use photography, dyes, and acrylic paint together on one canvas.

His process starts with a photo shoot. After selecting an image, he creates a stunning image in Adobe Photoshop. The image is then painted in Corel Painter. “I have two styles that I offer to the client; Impressionistic and Classical,” shares Moody. “The style is chosen based upon the décor in the room where the artwork will be displayed.”

Stephen says, “In Painter, I only use a clone brush to bring in the image. Once I have a basic visual to work from I use brushes with paint, color and texture to finish my piece. I prefer to use brushstrokes that enhance the artwork as opposed to having my art look photographic.”

Claude by stephen moody“Claude” – © Stephen Moody

claude before“Claude” before – wearing La Liberté Silk Tie & Scarf – designed by Stephen
from the artwork “Art In Its Most Human Form”™

 Once the digital artwork is printed on canvas, Moody breaks out his acrylic paints and brushes and begins to work on finishing the artwork. “This is the most important step of the entire process,” says Stephen. “As an artist, I feel it is important to do all of the work myself as this is what makes my style my own and, separates me from other artists and photographers. When you hire someone to do the artwork for you, it is their style that shows through in the artwork… and, if they are doing artwork for others, your work looks just like theirs.
Stephen shares, “I am always learning. There are many painter’s styles I love to emulate; Degas, Rodin, Sargent, Boldini, Cassatt and more. Studying their artwork has influenced me as an artist.”
BeachAfter“Family Portrait at the Beach” – © Stephen Moody

BeachBefore“Family Portrait at the Beach” before – © Stephen Moody

“Many people know that I am a photographer as I have been doing this a long time. But the people who see my finished artwork hanging in a home or a business refer to me as an artist!” exclaims Moody.

To see more of Stephen’s work – http://StephenMoody.com http://portraitartist.pet

Yours in Creative Photography,           Bob





sunday photo/art quote – sun tzu

Sunday Photo/Art Quote – Sun Tzu

Off down the road again I traipse again in this Sunday Photo/Art quote. This time, I turn to the Orient for inspiration. You wouldn’t think a guy who wrote the Art of War would be able to inspire us in our photographic art. But he can. The Art of war is traditionally ascribed to Sun Tzu. The book presents a philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning battles.

No greater battle can there be than the ones that can rage within ourselves.

sun tzu quote“Can you imagine what I could do if I could do all I can?” Sun Tzu

I sometimes think we hold ourselves back. At the very least I know I sometimes do. We can be our worst enemies when it comes to heading for new horizons and starting or, dare I say, conquering new projects. That little voice inside can be a help or a hindrance in our quest to create new imagery. The voice can be our best cheerleader, or it can be the little nag that is always looking for, and sharing, the worst case scenario should you start to try something that is outside your regular wheelhouse.

I’ll not go into examples here. We all have those times when we’ve been held back by our fears. And, better yet, those times we’ve placed those concerns in the closet and overridden their dire predictions and accomplished so much more than we thought possible. Let’s try to do more of the latter.

It is a constant battle. Hence why I use Sun Tzu in this thought about art and our capabilities. He was one of the greatest strategists in waging war theory that ever lived. We can learn a lot from his words.

I’ll leave you with two last quotes.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”  Sun Tzu

pogo comic strip. enemy is us“We have met the enemy and he is us.” From the comic strip Pogo

With that, I’ll see you in the battlefields of creativity.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob



hummingbird photo – lumix

Hummingbird Photo – Lumix GX8

Hanging out this morning and thought I’d do some camera testing with my Lumix GX8 and the 100-300mm G Vario f4-5.6 (200-600mm equivalent) lens. I made these images handheld with stabilization turned on. Settings for these were f14 1/2000th sec at ISO 6400. I’ll share some hummingbirds in motion images at different settings a little later. I became enamored of this little critter because he had so much peppy personality. Looks like he just arrived from a long migration. He’s not one of our local birds and seems a little worse for wear.

Hummingbird photoHummingbird Straight out of the camera. He’s checking me out.

hummingbird photo processedAfter seeing me, he stuck out his tongue! Not sure if that was social commentary or not. Here’s the little guy after processing with MacPhun Noiseless and MacPhun Tonality (for sharpening the feathers just a bit more. Explanation below)

So these images turned into a processing exercise. Some photographers mention that they are concerned with noise in images from smaller chip cameras like the micro 4/3rds. Personally, I feel that we get a little too hung up on that as the newer algorithms that are used in processing give a very natural feel to the noise that replicates the grain structure we had back in film days. (can you hear my creaky bones as I talk???)

To see if there was an elegant solution for those who have a concern when you push the camera to higher ISO’s thought I’d see how software might be of help. Oh man, it does if you are on a MAC. I’m using MacPhun Noiseless, and it worked a charm. MacPhun is only for MAC OS systems. I’m sure there are similar products for those on PCs. One of the problems I had in the past with noise reduction programs is the removal of detail that I wanted/needed in some parts of the image. I’ll let you decide, but I don’t think that’s a problem anymore!

On to the processing!

hummingbird detailOriginal detail capture SOOC.

hummingbird detail macphun noiselessHere’s the image after running MacPhun’s Noiseless software. There are lots of settings and possibilities. This was a fairly aggressive treatment. It smoothed out the noise in the background nicely without losing detail in the feathers.

hummingbird photo sharpenedThis is the final. I used the Tonality software from MacPhun to sharpen the feathers a bit more. “Wait a minute Bob! isn’t tonality made for making an image black and white?” You bet. But, I liked the controls that allowed me to sharpen small details and micro control the contrast in different areas of the image. The secret is to do this on a separate layer and change the Layer Mode to Luminosity in Photoshop. Then only the information that is Luminous is applied to the image. Using a Layer Mask, I applied the sharpening to only the feathers.

humminbird with tonality processingHere is the Tonality layer without a mask. You can see where it sharpened the background as well hence the use of the Mask in Photoshop in addition to changing to the Luminosity Mode.

adobe photoshop layer paletteHere’s the Layers Palette. Background Layer is original capture. Layer 1 is with noise removal. Top Layer is Tonality with a mask.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob




tuesday painterly photo art – nakamura

Tuesday Painterly Photo Art
Karen Nakamura – M.Photog.,M.Artist

Judging gets you exposed to a lot of imagery. You can be critically thinking and talking about thousands of photographs over the course of a year. What is interesting is that there are some artists whose work seems to jump out from the rest showing something different. Judging is blind as far as knowing who the maker may be during the competition. At a later date a maker’s work may be seen with a name attached and I really enjoy talking with the maker and Karen was one of those people.

That’s why I asked her to join us on Successful-Photographer in this post. Here’s Karen!

How Karen learned

“I’ve been creating art pretty much as far back as I can remember. I’ve taken art classes since the 3rd grade. I’m really lucky because my mom would give us art projects throughout the year when I was little.  I’ve taken everything from painting, drawing, sculpting, 2 and 3-dimensional design, photography, photoshop and industrial arts.”

© karen nakamuraThe Perfect Perch – I’ve been wanting to add birds to my floral images. I went to the San Diego zoo and photographed a beautiful White-necked Jacobin hummingbird. I then photographed the tulips to match the light on the bird and then photographed the vase.

www.karennakamuraphotography.comThe vase wasn’t exactly what I wanted so I decided to stretch it. The hummingbird was shot natural light at f13 1/160 800ISO Tulips and vase were shot with natural light with reflector. F11 1/60 160ISO

Words of wisdom on learning and/or thoughts on creating art

“Anyone can create art. Just follow your heart. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t care what others think. Create art that makes you happy because that’s what it’s all about. The more you create, the better you will become. Eventully you will develop your own style.”

www.karennakamuraphotography.comOrchid Bloom – I’ve had this orchid for about five years. The plant sits on my kitchen cabinet and when the window light hits the flowers, the colors are so striking. The orchid spray wasn’t perfect so I added one more flower to the stem. The leaves were taken from another orchid image to complete my piece.

www.karennakamuraphotography.comThe orchid spray was shot in a studio setting with one main light and one reflector. @ f16 1/125 100 ISO The orchid plant was natural window light with a reflector. F11 1/60 400ISO

“To be inspired look at other peoples art, look at art history books and go onto social media sites like pinterst and instagram. Follow artists that inspire you. To learn how to create art, watch videos on Youtube or watch videos on site like Creative Live. Hands on classes and workshops are one of the best ways to learn a techique.”

www.karennakamuraphotography.comDelicate Beauty – The freesia is one of the first flowers I photographed back in 2012. I really didn’t like how it came out, so I set it aside until I went to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles and photographed a Swallowtail hovering over flowers. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my butterfly images until I went back into my library of flowers and came across the freesias again. Visually the light matched so I decided to play around with the three subjects until I created this art piece.

www.karennakamuraphotography.comThe butterflies were shot in diffused sunlight f8 1/1600 800 ISO. The freesia was studio lit with one main light, one reflector and a backlight. f16 1/125 100ISO

 Karen Nakamura Bio

PPA Master Photographer and Master Artist, Karen Nakamura, is widely acclaimed for her signature style images of flowers. She is gifted with a unique take on them that evolves with each new blossom she shoots. Some of her inspiration and creativity comes from an adoration of orchids, which she tended to as a hobby.

Karen also has a fine art background, attaining her Bachelor’s of Fine Art from Cal State Long Beach.

Karen has earned the Professional Photographers of America’s Photographer of the Year awards every year since she first entered the PPA International Photographic Competition back in 2010.

Professional Photographers of America honored Karen with its 2013 Diamond Photographer of the Year and 2014 Artist Diamond Photographer of the Year. Diamond Photographers of the Year had all four competition images accepted into the prestigious PPA Loan Collection. Karen has won the coveted Canon Par Excellence Award, representing the pinnacle of achievement at the Professional Photographers of America regional level. She is one of the first photographers to earn the California Masters Degree from Professional Photographers of California.

You can learn from Karen! Her PPA Super 1 Day Class

Floral Photography and Compositing Course Date: Thursday, October 6, 2016

PPA Super One Day Class

Check out more of Karen’s work – www.karennakamuraphotography.com

Hope you enjoyed Karen’s work!

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob




mini scrim use

Using a Mini-Scrim for Better Photos

A very simple way to control light is through the use of a scrim. For small subjects and objects, a regular 42-inch round scrim or super size scrims of 60 inches or more can be a bit of overkill for just mucking about. Westcott makes a wonderfully portable sized, five-in-one that is only twenty inches and when folded in it’s carrying case is a tiny eight inches for about twenty bucks.

Here’s a quick example using a neighbor’s cactus that was showing some attractive color blossoms. Look carefully at the difference between photos and I think you’ll see that learning to use a scrim can help get you better lighting in your images.

full sun cactus imageThis first image was captured with full sun as the light source. Colors are bright and you might think that this works. Look at the harsh, deep dark patches in the shadow with no detail. This is the same kind of look you will get if you use on-camera flash.

full shade cactus imageIn order to tame the harsh shadows, I next captured the blooms in full shadow. This results in slightly less contrast and the color has become muted. I suppose the color could be pumped up in post-production but the shadow are still a bit blocked up.

scrim light on cactusHere a scrim was placed between the sun and subject. Even though the scrim is only twenty inches because of it’s close proximity to the flowers it is acting like a very large light source. Very nice overall light with soft shadows and color fidelity. All images were processed with the same settings straight out of the camera. (SOOC)

scrimA quick grab of the scrim in action. In addition, the kit comes with four other surfaces to reflect or block light in various intensities and colors. Black, gold, silver and white can all also be used to bend light to your will.

You can take this same lesson and apply it to larger subject such as people by using a larger scrim. Practice with it and you will find the larger the scrim and the distance it is to your subject you will be able to control the shadow edge transitions and depth of the shadow on your subject. Moving it further away while still covering your subject will give you slightly stronger shadows. Conversely, the scrim closer will make the light softer.

cactus blossom artSometimes you just gotta play! NIK filters, Photoshop extraction’ Layers and the Transform Tool.

These photos were captured with the Lumix LX100 the camera I call the ‘Pro’s Point & Shoot.’ A solid little performer built on a magnesium frame for about $700.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob




sunday photo/art quote – thoreau

Sunday Photo/Art Quote – Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes I head a little far afield of even the art world when I choose the quotes for this Sunday morning art thought.

Today is one of those days.

But I’ll bring it around. I promise.

Walden by Thoreau is an interesting read and his sharing of thoughts on slowing down and observing the world in which we hang out in real time and that it is a good idea. You don’t have to take as much time as he did, but you can slow down and observe for small chunks of time.

I find it quite helpful. On to today’s quote, so we are on the same page.

henry david thoreau quote“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.”  Henry David Thoreau

I share this idea today because I find many people, including myself, often living in the past or the future instead of the present. Don’t believe me? Ever drive home and then wonder how you got there? In the shower do you feel the water cascading from your head down your body and hear the musical splashing of the drops onto the floor? Or, are you on auto-pilot missing these moments and planning what you should be doing after you get to work? Or are you wallowing in the past upset with something someone said and replaying that conversation over and over ad nauseum??

Other examples abound. Reading and not know what you’ve read moments later. Shaving your face and missing the whole left side. Brushing your teeth and not knowing whether you’ve done the top inside yet. You get the idea.

We can become better creators if we learn to be in the present and learn to observe more. See more details, Retain more of those details. For help with seeing more and recalling what you see, you might want to try Amy Herman’s book Visual Intelligence. It’s a guide to visual understanding and communicating more clearly. Her book is based on a course for law enforcement, such as the FBI, police officers and CEO’s, ER professionals to become more observant.

Getting control of our thoughts is the first step. Slowing the constant cascade of the unstructured noise that our brains are capable of generating. Meditation can be of tremendous help in quieting the mind. I recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn and his book Wherever You Go There You Are. He also has a set of guided meditations that are wonderful as you start down the road of being in the here and now. Mindfulness Meditations.

Hope you enjoy this reading list. I hadn’t intended to go this deep. Sometimes writing can lead you to a rabbit hole, and the exploration can take you to interesting places. Just ask Alice.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – Here’s the tie in. When you see better and remember what you see you can be a better creator of images. Happy reading!

walden book coverWalden by Henry David Thoreau

visual intelligence book coverVisual Intelligence – Amy E. Herman

wherever you go there you are book coverWherever You Go There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn




jackie venson at sound bites

Jackie Venson at Sound Bites Grill

Sound Bites Grill has a new addition to the ‘Wall of Fame.’

Jackie Venson and her band were enshrined at the SBG Wall last night.

jackie venson artHere are Jackie Venson and her band in art form.

jackie venson and band at sound bites grillHere’s how it looks on the Wall. The autographs are done in advance on a white piece of paper with black Sharpie pen. I’ll show you all the elements used to create the final image below.

The ‘Wall of Fame’ image is created with photos captured during the live stage performance in the Sound Bites Show Lounge. Each performer is tracked on stage individually. Then they are extracted from the background and placed into a new environment. Texture, shadows, glows along with sharpening, blurring parts of the combined images are all combined in Adobe Photoshop to create the final art piece. Capturing the musicians during the live performance gives the final art image a stronger feeling of emotion created during the performance that a static image just doesn’t have.

elements for the final imageHere are the elements for the final image. Layers and Masks along with Blend Modes were utilized in creating the painterly look.

Images are currently being captured with the Lumix GH4 or Lumix GX8 cameras. I enjoy that the sensors have enough density range to allow a single capture of the harsh LED lighted scene. A slight adjustment in post production using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) of bringing down the highlights and opening up the shadows makes for a well-exposed photo. In previous cameras due to the extreme light variations, there was a need to capture three images and blend them together to achieve the same result.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – Can’t wait until Jackie, Alán Uribe on bass/backvox and Rodney Hyder on drums come back for their next show at Sound Bites Grill