tech talk on kazm

Tech Talk Radio Show – KAZM Radio

Had a chance to visit with Tom Taback (sitting in for Mike) on my monthly Tech Talk appearance at KAZM Radio station in Sedona, Arizona.

tom taback with bob coates on the radioTaback & Coates recording Tech Talk – Photo by Josh using the Lumix FZ2500

Tom and I chat about new Lumix cameras and some of the features that help get well exposed images. We also chat about advanced features, creating art and where I’ll be traveling to share info on photography and the Lumix line of cameras.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – In the program I refer to the Lumix FZ1000 (which is a fine camera too!) as the camera I have with me. It is actually the newer model Lumix FZ2500


working the scene part two

Working the Scene – Part Two

A couple of days ago I shared some ideas on working a scene to yield more and/or better images from a landscape photography shoot. See that Post here. The post was getting a little long, so I decided to continue sharing a few images and some more ideas.

I talked about using technology to improve upon a capture along with changing the view of the scene and not getting locked into the first composition you feel works. I did lock down my Lumix GH5 on a tripod on what I felt was the best image with lots of depth and dimension to layer passages of time into the final process. That’s why I also carry an additional camera to capture other areas and things which grab my attention.

courthouse butte with bell rock photo sedona arizonaThis image was processed in *Macphun’s Luminar Neptune used as a plug-in in Adobe Photoshop. Luminar can also be used as a stand-alone program to process your files.   As shown below and I wasn’t able to pull the details and color the way I wished.

HDR process imageThis was the original process using Aurora HDR 2017 and four of the five one-stop exposures I made of the scene. I wasn’t able to pull the details and color the way I wished. Then I moved to Luminar for the finishing. (see the top image in the post)

So a different angle and a different ‘feel’ give me more from the shoot.

Let’s keep going with a couple more examples.

red rocks of sedona photoZooming into the scene has a more intimate feel. The lighting shown here was a situation the appeared and disappeared quickly. Able to capture it with the FZ2500.

common desert beetle photoWhen I posted this little guy on Instagram, I received a few EWWW’s, but I feel a bit of real nature’s beauty here. He’s kind of cool!

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – * Luminar is in Beta for Windows machines. Check it out here.

work the scene

Work the Scene for Best Results

There is one error that I see repeated in photographers work that come to me for some feedback.

Know what it is?

It’s getting to a beautiful scene and not working it to see how many different ways the scene can be photographed. There are many options for creating different looks on location. Here are a few ideas for expanding the number of bonafide keepers for your photo collection.

Courthouse Butte Sedona, Arizona photoFirst image of the evening. Photographed with the Lumix FZ2500 bracketed exposures due to foreground being in shadow. Processed in Aurora HDR 2017. I like Aurora because I can pull realistic HDR images without the “HDR!!” look.

HDR exposures imageYou can see when the detail in the clouds is good that the foreground is almost totally blocked up. I usually photograph a sequence of five exposures one stop apart. When processing I’ll sometimes use all five exposures. In this case I used these three.

• Number One on my list is – Wait for different light.

Can’t tell you how many times a beautiful subject or scene is presented but the light was lacking or lack-luster. It’s all about the light people! I have witnessed some pretty terrible photographs of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, which is one of the top ten photographed places in Arizona if not the country. And, I’ve seen an exquisite photograph of a pepper. The difference is the light. When you get the chance spend more time on location waiting for the sun to change or do your best to return when weather,sunrise or sunset can add more interest to the beautful vista.

I know I said one error but as I was writing this post a couple more jumped into my head.

courthouse butte image bob coates photographyDifferent view of the same scene a little while later. Made with the Lumix GH5 and the 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens

• Number Two – Change your view

There are a veritable plethora of possibilites to accomplish this. Walk closer. Walk farther. Zoom in. Zoom out. Change lenses. Get your camera higher, or lower. Of course, this is in addition to working the light if at all possible.

courthouse butte photo bob coates photographyHere was another exposure made at a slightly later time when the clouds parted. I made all the exposures from a locked down tripod in order to be able to mix and match different moments in time.

images of different exposures at courthouse butteDiffernt exposures allow for different processing options to give make it possible to show a photograph of the scene as you saw it.

• Number Three – Utilize available technology

When capturing images think about the scene. (we’re back to the light here) Is the enough dynamic range in your camera chip to capture all the detail you need in highlights AND shadows? If not, then please grab a few extra frames and process the images in HDR. I’m not necessarily telling you to go for the oveerprocessed, highly garish HDR techniques we have seen over the years. But with the correct technique you will have much better detail in the highlights and the shadows if you process properly without going over the top.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – See more of this shoot in Part Two of Working the Scene





beaver creek

Short Water Video Captured at Beaver Creek

There’s something about water and the sound an motion of it that speaks to my soul. It calms. It relaxes. It stimulates deep and comfortable thoughts.

beaver creek photo bob coates photographyStill frame from the video at Beaver Creek. Look below for sound and motion.

I made a short video to share with you from a small little-known creek south of Sedona, Arizona. The place is called Beaver creek and while I often find it barren of people, it is also enjoyed by families, fellow creek water enthusiasts and my photographer friends enjoy an exploration along it’s banks.

Take less than a minute to enjoy the sound and some of the sights. Breath in. Breath out. Relax.

That is all for today.

Yours in creative Photography,      Bob

PS – for those interested this was made with the Lumix GX8 and the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7 lens


beaver creek time lapse

Time Lapse of Beaver Creek near Sedona, Arizona

The video below is a time-lapse of Beaver Creek near Sedona, Arizona. Time lapse of water gives a slightly jerky feel at least the way this was captured and processed. These were captured a frame every 2 seconds and processed out to time lapse at 24 FPS 4K video then slowed 50% in post-production in Adobe Premiere Pro. The sound was added from another clip of video captured at the same place.

Watch for ‘The Dance of the spiders’ in the right-hand bottom corner.

screen shot of beaver creek videoWatch the space pictured above when you look at the video and you’ll find my ‘spidey’ friends.

Images captured with the Lumix GX8 and the Lumix G 20mm f1.7 lens. In a couple of days, I’ll share some video from a different day on the creek shot with the same gear and an entirely different feel.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

studio photography – part two

Studio Photography – Part Two Jewelry

The other day I showed you the set for photographing items in the studio with a beautiful radiating feathered edge glow around the subject..(check that post here) The images from that post were cameras which were larger than today products.

Jewelry is a different subject with different needs but can be on the same basic set. The difference is that the scrim is much closer to the subject than it was for the cameras.

jewelry photoJewelry is well served in this setting.

In the image above the transitions from light to shadow make the color of the beads and turquoise and out from the background, but still have quite a bit of interest overall.

jewelry photoThis is a piece of my wife’s jewelry. She noted that it actually could have used a bit of polishing.

When photographing product you need to know what the subject should look like. Since this was a lesson session, I am the final client and think it looks great. If this were a paying customer, I would have noted more information as to the handling of the piece. Also, sets and product must be kept sanitary and dust free. Being very careful while prepping for shooting can save an enormous amount of time in post production. On the job, I will even use a magnifying glass to ensure there is as little schumda in the photo as possible.

jewelry photography imageRose gold and diamonds. Care with chains and their layout is critical. Here also a shallow depth of field takes some attention away from the chain.

Jewelry with facets such as diamonds need a bit of extra thought, care and maybe a few additional exposures. Facets of stones are highlighted by light striking different surfaces. If the light is hitting one surface, it won’t necessarily be showing off another surface. One way to sculpt the stone to best effect in to make multiple images with the light in different positions. Then by layering the exposures, it is possible using masks to show off exactly the stone as you wish.

Yours in creative Photography,    Bob

studio photography – part one

Set-up for Studio Photography – Product

Getting good, solid lighting is the best thing you can do to highlight the features of products. Today’s post is how I set up to photograph some jewelry and a couple of my cameras. I will suggest you practice lighting techniques long before you need to use them. It allows you to refine the look rather than trying to tweak on set.

This set-up is relatively straightforward yet gives a compelling and professional look to your product photography.

jewelry stidio set for photographyGear in use. Two Paul C Buff X3200 flash heads. One Paul C Buff Ultra Zap1600 flash head. Paul C Buff Octobox (35 inch) Snoot. Strobes are fired with Buff Trigger. A sheet of Non-glare glass. Scrims with diffusion material. Sekonic L478D light meter. Lumix GH5 camera with various lenses depending on the subject to be photographed. Light stands, one with Boom to suspend light over the set.

The power of the lights is not germane to lighting on set. If you work with lights at less power or varied, you will want to put the most powerful one above the set. It will be going through the snoot and the scrim both of which suck up some of your light. With this set, you have the ability to change the size of you lighting circle. If the light from the snoot is closer to the scrim, it will be tighter as shown in this view. If you move the snoot higher, you’ll see the light spread more and feather to a larger circle. The height of the scrim above the product will also have an effect on the light pattern.

The glass (make sure it is non-glare) is suspended above a sheet of black paper. Depending on how much light you pump into the scene and the direction of that light you can create a background for your product that can be gray or black.

You don’t necessarily need an Octobox as a modifier for your main light. I use it because it is quick to set up and break down and gives a solid direction of light. At the very least, you will need to have a softbox. If you use an umbrella, the light is harder to control on the set, and the bounce of light from the walls and ceiling can infect the set. Control is essential.

Let’s look at a couple of camera photos.Lumix LX100 camera. I call this the ‘professional’s point and shoot’. This is an example of going black with very little light from above. Solid but stark image. It will always depend on what look your client is trying to achieve.

gx85 camera 100-400mm lensPhoto of Lumix GX85 with Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 100-400mm f4.0-6.3 lens made with the down light to give some more depth and dimension to the final image the gradient is made with the snoot and the scrim as shown above at the top of the page in the BTS shot but not as close to the scrim.

Let’s pause here until the next installment where the images will be of jewelry using the same set and adjusted accordingly. Part three of this will show before/afters and talk about post processing.

Yours in creative Photography,       Bob






aurora HDR software

Flash Sale – Aurora HDR 2017

I like the fact that you can push the HDR envelope with this software in a very creative fashion. Even better, I like that you can get a realistic image with full density range as well.

aurora hdr software discount bannerAURORA HDR 2017 72 HOUR FLASH SALE OFFER INFORMATION:

Aurora HDR 2017 + 26 presets from Trey Ratcliff for the lowest price ever!

Pricing as low as $39 for Aurora HDR 2016 users (instead of $49), $59 for Aurora HDR Basic/AppStore users (instead of $59), and $79 for all new users (instead of $99). Please note that your coupon code will not offer any additional savings on this deal.

From Tuesday June 27th – Friday June 30th only

$79 instead of $99 – for all new users
$59 instead of $69 – for Aurora HDR Basic/AppStore users
$39 instead of $49 – for Aurora HDR 2016 users

You Get:Aurora HDR 2017 – The most awarded HDR photo editor for Mac
Trey’s Expansion Preset Pack – 26 presets from Pro Photographe and HDR guru, Trey Ratcliff

aurora HDR software discount banner

As an affiliate I do a small bit of compensation for you using my links to save money. A win/win with sharing software that I use. Note Aurora HDR 2017 is only available for Mac computers at this time.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob



sunrise fun

Sunrise Photography with Light Rays

On a visit at my MIL’s on the marsh in Delaware last week I found myself up at dawn photographing the sunrise. It’s funny when you are on the road in a different place you tend to get up a little earlier. Sometimes when I am home, I’m pretty darn sure there will be some fun sunrise light, and I fail to get my butt out of bed to get out there and capture it. Luckily I’ve been traveling quite a bit, so I’ve been fortunate to see and capture some lovely images here and there.

Being from Sedona, Arizona I don’t give much thought to the effects of humidity and air-conditioning. This led to a pretty happy accident when I went to raise my camera to my eye to make this image. The lens was covered with condensation. I kinda like the result below.

sunrise fogExtra soft-focus due to all the moisture on the lens.

Luckily the clouds hung in there for a while which gave the lens time to shed its self-imposed filter. Below see the image Straight Out of Camera.

delaware sunriseSOOC image which gives the RAW materials to help on to a creative image.

I’m a big believer in post processing to give an image all the impact it deserves. The scene shown above does not describe the scene as it was. There were more saturation and punch. We’ve all made images we thought were just like what we saw and been disappointed, especially back in film days, for those that remember that medium.

The image below is much more as the scene appeared, but I’ve also added just a bit of creativity by blending the two images together.

delaware sunrise photoTwo images above combined to give my interpretation of the scene.

The soft image was used as the bottom layer in the Photoshop file. The sharper image was dragged on top and the blend mode changed to Multiply. Multiply has the effect of darkening the image by one full stop of light. I wanted a bit more of the soft and moody photo to add to the photo and lowered the opacity just a bit to help it blend a bit more.

I like it. What are your thoughts??

Image captured with Lumix GX85 and the 12-60mm DG Vario-Elmarit f2.8-4.0 lens. These new lenses are pretty darn sweet although it moves away from the f2.8 setting early on the zoom process. They are well built. Focus smoothly. And a new feature, a locking lens hood.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

think tank bags

Think Tank Bag Discounts

thiink tank summer savings banner Because I am an affiliate I get to share some deals with you on occasion. I’m a big fan of the Think Tank line of bags. One of my favorites is the Mirrorless Mover 20 belt/shoulder bag. It’s perfect for my Lumix cameras with just enough space for a camera with a small lens and 2 other lenses, batteries, tiny tripod, extra sd cards and a bit more.

I’ve had this bag for over three years I believe and it still shows no wear and tear. If you want this bag or the Mirrorless Mover 30 which is a bit bigger you’ll have to pay full price. but if you are interested in many of their other bags, Think Tank Photo have just announced what they’re calling their “Sizzling Summer Savings.”  With it, you can save up to 30% on some of their most popular gear, including their Urban Approach and Perception shoulder bags and backpacks, Retrospective Leather and CityWalker shoulder bags, and the My 2nd Brain laptop bags.

And don’t forget, by using my special Web link, you will receive free gear and free shipping with your orders! Learn more here.

think tank artHere’s a small sampling of the gear that is on sale.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob