splash photography

Water Droplet Splash Photography

I’ve always wanted to attempt water droplet photography.

And now I have!

It’s kinda like photographing fireworks in that you never are quite sure what you are going to capture when the shutter is fired, but you don’t have to wait for the Fourth of July either. This is something that could consume me as there are endless variables to throw into the mix. What can change the look of any image? Type of liquid, the color of the fluid, the temperature of the liquid, the size of the drop(s), flash duration, add another flash, and another, change the background color, add color gels on the flash…

Arrghh! It’s fun if a little frustrating at times when you think you have done everything exactly the same but get an entirely different result. I now understand where someone had said that making these images is part science, part art and lots of luck. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The harder I work the luckier I get.” That might not be an exact quote, but you get the idea.

Here’s are some examples from my first couple of days.

water droplet photoThis is from day one of playing in the water with splash photography

splash photographyThis from day two shooting. Playing with lights and droplet timing.

splash photographyDay Three

water drop photography imageDay Four with thickened water and new timings for dropping the drops.

As I said, the photographing of the drops is part science and part luck. You can increase your luck by adding to the science in your arsenal. I purchased some help in the form of the Pluto Trigger and the Pluto Valve. The Pluto Trigger is a pretty amazing controller for your camera. In this case, the trigger releases the waterdrops and times the firing of the flash. Even with that control, there are still a lot of variables in play.

And I like it.

In the next couple of days, I’ll share my set-up and some things I learned as I have started this new photography genre.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – I’ve just bought the Pluto Trigger, and like it so much I’ve signed on as an affiliate




multiple photo captures part two

Multiple Photo Captures – Part Two

Yesterday I shared a time-lapse video shot and processed with my Lumix GX8 and Adobe Premiere Pro.

While those frames were being recorded I used the GX85 to photograph some still images. Here are a couple in-camera panoramas. Cameras are becoming more like portable imaging computers with each new release.

sedona panorama photoStitched in-camera Sedona pano. Hwy 179. The camera is held in the vertical orientation to give a slightly taller image. If there was lots of cloud action I would have taken a second pano and stitched them together in Photoshop for an even taller rendition of the scene.

sedona panoramic imageThe field of view depends on how long you continue to pan. A longer panning time gives a different aspect ratio.

Here’s a tip for creating smooth panorama photos with clean stitching. This is an old videographer’s trick. Point your body and feet to where you would like the panorama to end. Then using your stomach muscles turn back to the starting point of the image. Make sure the camera is tight against your forehead and is not tilted. Then using your stomach muscles gently pivot to the end of the field of view. The stomach muscles are larger and more stable giving you a smoother movement resulting in less stitching errors. One final note, there is a preview of your capture in the viewfinder. You will want to go a little bit further than you see or your image will be truncated just a bit. If you are moving too fast or too slow or the light is too low, the camera will return an error message.

red rocks in sedonaOf course as the sun begins to set colors can change immensely

cathedral rock silhouetteAnd of course, don’t forget to turn around. This is the back side of Cathedral Rock in silhouette.

Our creative tools are getting better and better. It’s a fun time to be an image maker.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob



multiple photo captures

Multiple Types of Images

While out waiting for the moon to make its appearance the night before the Supermoon I worked a couple of cameras. I set up the Lumix GX8 to do a time-lapse of the sunset/moonrise. Glad that I also had the Lumix GX85 as a second camera to mess about with while the time-lapse was being recorded.

still image from time lapseHere’s a still I pulled for the time lapse sequence.

The time-lapse was pretty simple. The settings are available in the camera. No need for an intervalometer. Under the Time Lapse Shot menu, you have the choice of Start time which can be immediately (now) or a time set in the future. Shooting Interval which is the amount of time between frame captures. Image Count which is the number of frames to be captured. In this case, I fired one frame every four seconds.

I thought I had a better position for the moonrise which was quite a bit to the right of where it actually showed up. I stopped the captures pretty early after the moon made its appearance. Looks like I need to calibrate my compass.

I was able to add some interest because I choose to have the camera process the still images to a 4K video. 4K video enables you to move around in the image without losing quality which I did in Adobe Premiere. Did you catch that part about the camera processing the time-lapse? A very cool feature. I choose the output settings including quality and frames per second. In this case, I used twenty-four.

For the video below I changed the output settings to 12 frames per second. I did a little color correction and added movement in Adobe Premiere.

Tomorrow I’ll show you what I was photographing with the Lumix GX85.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob


super moon

Shooting the October ‘Supermoon’

Testing out some features in the Lumix GX8 while shooting the moon.

What better moon than the full one of October with clear skies? I used the Leica DG Varia Elmar 100-400mm lens racked out to 800mm. This combo allowed me to get crisp solid captures when zoomed all the way out to 400mm which is 800mm equivalent in full frame cameras. I continue to be pleasantly surprised with this lens.

I made multiple images to try out the digital zoom feature in the GX8 to see what you give up in quality buy zooming in camera. It can go 2X and 4X.

moon comparisonThis shows what you see in the viewfinder when you apply the digital zoom.

What are the advantages of the digi-zoom over shooting in RAW and upping the resolution in the file during post production? None if you are only getting the moon. On all my exposure tests I was able to get a better-looking file when resizing the RAW file. When you use the digital zoom you MUST be in jpeg mode, so you are loosing some information right from the beginning. The advantage is that you can see what the image looks like in the viewfinder. If I were just using the moon image all by itself as we see here, I would choose to shoot RAW. Where the difference come in is if we are shooting the moon in relation to some other part of a scene. In that case, we would get the compression of shooting a longer lens which wold render the moon larger in the scene in relation to the objects. We’ve all made that shot when we first started out where the scene is gorgeous, and the moon is an integral part of the beauty, and it turns into this tiny little white dot in the view. Of course, our eyes make us think it is bigger than it actually is but lens optics rule the day!

Here are the images all made to meet up with the full frame of the 4X capture.

digital zoom moon4X capture

digital zoom2x capture

800mm moon captureRAW capture cropped to match 4X zoom view and output as a 20MP file. Quality is much better in my opinion.

I didn’t have time last night to get the moon into a scene, but I’ll try to set something up in the future to show you the value of engaging the digital zoom feature.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – Please note that the moon has been rotated in post-production for all images to use a vertical orientation.

sunday photo/art quote – stieglitz

Sunday Photo/Art Quote – Alfred Stieglitz

Is photography art?

That’s an age-old question that has been debated for many years and will continue on into the future. I think it is and this is my blog so until I hear from you otherwise, we will proceed with the concept that photography is art, especially as we push the boundaries with composite work and adding paint strokes with programs like Adobe’s Photoshop and Corel’s Painter.

Which brings me to today’s quote from Alfred.

stieglitz art quote“I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing.” – Alfred Stieglitz

We all get to times when we doubt our skills and techniques in making our imagery. I feel like I am in good company, and you should too when I realize that even a talented and renown photographer such as Stieglitz showed that he felt not being loose enough in his thinking was a detriment to his work.

What can we do to make it easier for ourselves in creating our images?

I think number one on the list is to study in the other arts such as painting. You learn a lot about color, composition, and feel to add to your toolbox. More tools, More thought equals better imagery.

When you are searching for these extras for your knowledge base you can find them in books, from discussions with other artists, magazines, the Internet and strangely enough even cartoons. I found this wonderful cartoon from the 50’s from Disney with Donald Duck traveling through Mathmagic Land with great explanations of composition. You can see it below. It’s about 25 minutes long and fun to watch. If you don’t have that much time you can see segments of the video in bite-sized pieces by doing a search on YouTube.

Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land


Yours in creative Photography,      Bob


wandering scottsdale

Wandering – Scottsdale, Arizona

Today is the start of a new feature here on the Successful-Photographer blog. Wandering will have images from a walk around a place with no other objective than to see what images might be gathered. Wandering is a way to keep your eye sharp and experiment with new ideas or test out new gear.

The first stop on the SP wandering tour is Downtown Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale is a high-end community with lots of art galleries and interesting new architecture mixed with buildings built in the ’20’s. I was down in the Valley of the Sun for meetings that started in early morning and stretched into the night with some downtime in the middle of the day. With full sun basting the town I thought it would be fun to put the infrared camera through some paces. For convenience, I mounted the 14-140mm (28-280mm full frame equivalent) on the LifePixel converted IR and set off to see what I could capture.

coates image scottsdaleFountain on the central circle.

image infraredWorking on the sign under the palms.

infrared photoGlowing palms against the modern architecture.

love is blackboard infrared‘Love is…’ bulletin-blackboard outside a restaurant. Even though there was no full sun the infrared capture renders this scene with lots of contrast.

nordstroms infrared photo scottsdaleNordstroms tower architectural detail.

Always having a camera with you allows you to take downtime and turn it into a learning experience. With the light weight and quality of the micro four thirds cameras, it’s easier than ever to always have a reliable capture device with you.

It’s a great time to be a photographic artist.

Yours in creative Photography,     Bob





sunday photo/art quote – davidson

Sunday Photo/Art Quote – Jill Davidson M.Photog., CPP

I never know what will be the inspiration for the Sunday Photo/Art Quotes here on Successful Photographer. Occasionally something will jump out at me and catch my attention like turning a corner and seeing a snake that makes the heart get to racing.

This week was like that.

And it wasn’t specifically an ‘ART’ quote. But one I believe that can help lead you to make good art. Today’s quote comes from photographer Jill Davidson. It was in a Facebook post. Just the quote and no elaboration. Those are the short quotes I find the most inspiring.

jill davidson quote“Luck is hard work, dressed up for the prom.”  Jill Davidson

This is a theme that runs pretty regularly here in the blog, and I’m always looking for new ways to express and remind myself that it takes work to become lucky. I know I am extremely fortunate. But I do (almost) always work hard to get there. Funny when I work less I don’t seem to be as lucky. Hmm. I think sometimes photographers come to programs and seminars to learn the quick and easy way to learn a technique. A shortcut if you will. If that is all, they come for they tend to miss the underlying depth and dimension fo the technique and it is a mere shadow of what the presenter was sharing. Please remember that continuing education is great and should be pursued all the time. Learning is a life-long adventure, but it is only the beginning of you being able to create more artistic images.

Are you dressed up for the prom and putting in the work? Or are you wearing your sweats and T-shirt?

You can check out Jill’s photography here.

Yours in creative Photography,         Bob


tuesday painterly photo art – sperling

Tuesday painterly Photo Art – Karen Sperling

Karen’s exquisite work speaks for itself. I’ll let her tell ‘the rest of the Story.’

“My mother was an artist and my father enjoyed photography, so I’ve been painting and taking photos for as long as I can remember. But I never actually finished anything because I was never encouraged to paint or take photos. So I majored in English in college and after graduating, I worked as a writer and an editor for newspapers, magazines and book publishers, including McGraw-Hill. But I never forgot about art and photography. I minored in art in college and continued to dabble in painting and photography through the years and spent a lot of time in museums and galleries.

© karen sperling original image by Kevin Kubota© Karen Sperling – Photo © Kevin Kubota

“Little did I know that I was creating the perfect skill set for writing the first Painter manual, a gig I got through networking in the New York Mac Users Group in the late 1980s. And I’ve been writing about and teaching Painter ever since.

I never thought of myself as an artist and in the early days, I featured the work of other artists in my Painter tutorials, classes, and books. In 2001, after my talk at the national PPA convention, the editor of PEI, a magazine that was later folded into Professional Photographer Magazine, invited me to do an article about creating my art in Painter. When I said I didn’t paint, she said, “You could do it.” And I did! A little encouragement went a long way, and I use this experience daily teaching photographers to paint. I honestly believe if you think you can paint, you probably can, and I’m here to encourage you to try. It’s amazing how much you can do when someone whispers in your ear; you can do it.

© karen sperling









© Karen Sperling -Photo © Karah Sambuco

“My involvement with Painter has opened doors that I would never have imagined. In 2003 I started to paint commissioned portraits directly for clients and photographers for their customers. And in 2007 I had my first gallery show in New York of my abstract art. More recently, I was named the exclusively commissioned painter for a TV cover manufacturer.

© karen sperling© Karen Sperling – Photo © Don Ling

“So I went from not thinking of myself as an artist to being paid for paintings, which is why I truly believe if I can do it, you can, with study and practice, and I encourage you to try.

Because of my many years teaching Painter, I have many different painting styles because I’m always interested in showing something new. One of the things I like about Painter is experimenting and inventing new looks and styles. I know having a lot of different styles goes against the grain of most photography experts who say you should promote one style, but I look to Picasso, who had many styles during his career. So we’ll call my style eclectic so that I can keep painting in any way I like at the moment.

© Karen Sperling - © Karen Sperling – Photo © Felicia Tausig

“I find offering different styles helps sell commissioned portraits to a broader base of clients and photographers. I also offer a variety of styles in my books, videos, and classes. I encourage students to try all the different styles I teach. In this way, they can pick and choose elements to include in their own paintings to create their individual style. Too many times, students paint exactly like someone they studied with instead of finding their own voice and vision.

© Karen Sperling - © Karen Sperling – Photo © Don Ling

“If you’ve been thinking about learning to paint, I encourage you to try, and if you’ve been thinking about offering paintings based on your photos to your clients, I urge you to try that, too. And I’m here to either paint for you or to show you how to do it yourself!”


Karen Sperling is an Elite Corel Painter Master and the original Painter expert—she wrote the first several Painter manuals when the software was first invented, and many published Painter books, including her newly published Painting for Photographers Volume 3, currently available at Amazon.

Karen wrote one of the Forewords and was a featured artist in Cecil Wiliams’ book, Painter Showcase.
Karen has been interviewed on radio and in many podcasts, including Michael Coy’s Cashtography.

Sperling has taught photographers to use Corel Painter at just about every venue there is, including the national Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and WPPI conventions, local PPA affiliates and PPA schools. Photographers travel to study with Karen in Los Angeles from as far away as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South Africa, and from all around the United States, both in classes and individually.

Karen is known for taking complex art and software concepts and boiling them down into easy-to-follow, thorough steps. Her concise, complete books, tutorials, and classes have made painting accessible to photographers who never thought they could paint, but always wanted to try. Karen demystifies Painter’s mysteries and photographers who study with her report being able to sell their works of art to commissioned portrait clients and in galleries for tens of thousands of dollars.

Clients and photographers alike commission painted portraits by Karen Sperling, an artist in her own right who minored in art in college and who has exhibited her paintings in New York and Los Angeles and during Art Basel Miami Beach.

Karen’s fine art and commissioned portraits are held in private collections around the world.
To study with Karen or to commission her to paint portraits for your clients, visit her website:
http://www.artistrymag.com/ Email at karenlsperling@gmail.com
Karen’s books at Amazon
Connect with her on Facebook
Subscribe to her on youtube

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob




sunday photo/art quote – goodin

Sunday Photo/Art Quote – Seth Goodin

Seth Goodin is an author of seventeen books and shares lots of ideas about marketing. I’m grabbing a quote from him that hits the heart of creators.

seth godin quoteArt is not in the …eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.” ― Seth Godin

Let’s go to the expanded version from which I pulled this quote.

“Art is what we call…the thing an artist does.

It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.

Art is not in the …eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.” ― Seth Godin

Show your soul.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – There is one other thought that I believe came from Dean Collins. “Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder.” Hmmmm, maybe there’s a middle ground somewhere. You decide.

back to sedona wetlands

Sedona Wetlands Photo Gear Testing

Well, I gotta tell ya it’s been very busy and I’ve been remiss in posting here for about a week. I photographed a four-day event coverage job with its attendant post-processing along with my regular work. There are only so many hours in a day so the blog had to wait.

I’m back!

And I got a lens I was lusting after to add to my quiver that I’ve started testing. The Lumix 100-400mm G Leica DG Vario-Elmar f 4.0-6.3 lens is as beautiful as I thought. I do not normally get too excited about glass for my cameras. I think of them as tools, and if they do their job as advertised, I’m cool with them. Occasionally, a lens tends to perform over-and-above That’s when I get excited. The 100-400mm is one of those lenses.

I went back out to the Sedona Wetlands for a quick test and here are some results.

blue dragonflyBlue Dragonfly – I was unable to identify this dragonfly. Wonder if it’s because it’s a juvenile and the wings haven’t changed yet. Any ideas??!!

Even though there were quite a few of these critters darting in and out of the stalks of green I could barely see them. They are tiny. Tiny and almost transparent. With some patience, I was able to finally track one of the dragonflies down that took a moment to rest. Excellent detail of something I almost couldn’t see. Oh by-the-way, I was hand-holding the shot with the lens racked all the way out to the 800mm equivalent. As a matter of fact I handheld all the images in this post at the 800mm equivalent. The GX85 was the camera and was a help in this regard as it is using five-axis image stabilization.

yellow flowersEven at f6.3, there’s some beautiful separation from the background with this lens.

dove photoMourning Dove – A bird capable of attaining flight speeds of 55 MPH hung around for a portrait. Sweet.

Not so much a beautiful photo, but a test to see the amount of detail that can be represented in the feathers. Sharpness is enhanced in this camera by the removal of the anti-alias filter. I might look to extract the bird from the background and use the pattern of the feathers in an art piece. We’ll see.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob