sunday photo art quote 10/19

John Sexton creates exquisite black and white photographs. He worked with Ansel Adams for a number of years through 1984 at the time of Adams passing. Today’s quote invites us to think about the creation of an image after the capture. Unless you have complete control over the lighting there is no way a camera can replicate what the eye can see and work after teh fact can help express what was seen by the photographer.

john sexton quote

“For me the printing process is part of the magic of photography. It’s that magic that can be exciting, disappointing, rewarding and frustrating all in the same few moments in the darkroom.” John Sexton

I understand this well. I remember trying to pull a good print after hours of trying differing amounts of dodging and burning in the darkroom. And as they said on the ABC sports commercial feeling, “…the thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat…”

We now have the ability to be able to process the images in a repeatable fashion using the computer and software programs. The possibilities of creating the image in our ‘minds eye’ is better than ever. I often hear newer photographers say I want to have the image ‘natural’ as it comes out of the camera. Using artificial lighting or Photoshop techniques is ‘cheating’. I suggest that these photographers have yet to understand that the camera does not record as the eye sees and that there is a need to make allowances for that in order to get the 3 dimensions in front of our eyes represented in two dimensions on the print.

There is also the point that many decisions have already been made that distort reality by the photographer choosing what lens to use. How the view is cropped in camera. What aperture and shutter speed were chosen. The time of day the image was made. All of these choices are already ‘cheating’ what another person would see if they were on the scene. Also remember the eye has the magnificent ability to open and close its aperture (pupil) depending upon where it is looking in the scene. If it looks to the sky it instantaneously closes down to see detail in the bright white but will immediately open up to allow shadow detail to come forward. The camera only has one aperture to look through.

So I ask this question. Are you a natural light photographer who doesn’t want to cheat as I was when I first started? Or, are you a professional photographer willing and able to learn and use all the tools available?

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

still playing

The flower garden at the B&B at which I’m staying has some beautiful blooms… So I’m playing and experimenting with the Lumix GX7, 35-100mm f2.8 and and Vello extension tubes.

rose petal photo

Rose petals close-up with extension tubes. Opening up the shadows and lowering the highlights with the GX7′s in camera curves setting.

backlit leaf study photograph

I always enjoy details revealed when photographing flora with back lighting.

Have you played lately??

Yours in Creative Photography,       bob


lumix play black & white

Camera presets.

Never used them with any success before getting into the micro 4/3rds system with Panasonic Lumix cameras. I’m out on holiday in Santa Fe, New Mexico and putting the Lumix GX7 through it’s paces. One of my favorite presets is Illustrative Art. But, with a tweak. Turning it to black and white. It leads to a high contrast image with a bit of a glow on the highest contrast areas. Here take a look at these images…

copper tanks black & white photo

Copper tanks at the Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico

copper tank handles photo

Copper tank handle detail. Love the shape and form that comes forward using this technique.

black and white photo of door and wall santa fe new mexico

Downtown Santa Fe door and wall with wall. Textures galore!

One thing to remember when using in-camera presets is to save images as a jpeg. I usually shoot in RAW plus jpeg so I can have the best of both worlds. If you only save in RAW you will see the processed black and white image on the back of your camera and upon download momentarily on your computer as the viewing jpeg info is stripped away leaving you only the RAW information.

Travel is a great way to get the creative juices flowing… When and where is your next road trip?

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob


Are you open to PLAY!??

Play means time to learn and test. On a road trip and looking out the window and you know how much I like neon and the back of this open sign invited some attention from the Lumix GX7 and the 20mm pancake f1.7 lens. This is a very low profile set up for street photography. Here’s a couple…

open sign photo

I really liked the Orange glow against the blue sky.

open sign image

Different angle leads to different feeling in the photo.

neon open sign photo

And flipping the image changes things totally.

How do you play? Are these award winning photos? Nope. But I learned a few things playing with color and exposure that will help me in the future…

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

sunday photo art quote 10/12

I believe this Sunday’s Photo Art Quote has to do with being in the moment.

Taking everything that the photographer has learned, experienced and been exposed to over a lifetime and bringing it to the table to create the strongest image possible. It’s when we aren’t in the now that our work can become trivialized. If you are thinking about lunch or dinner or a fight you had over breakfast or an upcoming vacation or how you are going to pay a bill you will not be producing your best work because you don’t have access to your brain’s immense resources.

edward steichen quote

“It is the artist in photography that gives form to content by a distillation of ideas, thought, experience, insight and understanding.” Edward Steichen

It is with this in mind that I am trying to be aware of everything I put into my brain. I try to spend quality time in front of great art, good books and all types of images photographic and otherwise. Think of this process as you might a computer axiom  of GIGO. GIGO equals garbage in – garbage out. The more solid information that is packed into the brain, and accessed in the moment the better image making becomes.

Think about it before you do mindless things. Watch the magazines you read, the television shows you watch, movies and art you view along with books you read. Remember… GIGO.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

october is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month

Help spread the word.

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. Now I Lay me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) is way for photographers to give back to there community with the gift of professional portraiture to families who suffer an early infant loss. This is a precious gift that has amazing healing power for the families. I encourage you to learn more and to get other to learn more by spreading the word everywhere.

now I lay me down to sleep infant awareness month

Logo you can share in spreading the message…

I believe this is an amazing organization. I have been a member and affiliate photographer since 2006 photographing families in need of these services. Been a trainer and area coordinator. Work on the photographer approval team. Served on the National NILMDTS Board of Directors for two years. I share this information not to brag but to hopefully inspire you to join in too. If you are like me when I first heard of NILMDTS I said, “There’s no way I could ever do this type of photography.” I eventually was convinced to give it a try and after seeing the help it gives families I now say, “How can I not do it??”

nilmdts banner for pregnancy and infant loss awareness month

Banner logo you can share in getting the word out about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Here are some more links….

Five reasons to become a NILMDTS photographer

Rhonda Gehman NILMDTS story

Vikki Zoller NILMDTS

Ashely Krapf NILMDTS

A call out story

I hope this inspires you to get on board. Is the work difficult? Yep. Is it rewarding? You bet! But you won’t know until you try… If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to get in touch. My contact info is at the top of the page or here.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

moot davis band in sedona arizona

Country music soundin’ GOOD!

Moot Davis Band had them on the dance floor at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona, Arizona last Wednesday night. Holly and I were there for dinner and the music and were not disappointed on either count…

Sometimes, in my mind, country music can get a little maudlin… I’m not one for crying in my beer so when they say a country music band is coming to town I’m not usually too thrilled. Well that thought jumped out of my head within the first couple songs once the band started to play. This is a really talented group of musicians. Moot has a great voice and the band has wonderful instrumentation occasionally leaning a little toward rock with Bill giving some great guitar licks.

We ended up staying until the last note faded away and had a great time.

moot davis band photo by bob coates

Moot Davis Band photo created for the Sound Bites Grill ‘Wall of Fame’.

The individual images were captured with the Lumix GH4 and the 35-100mm f2.8 Vario Lens. I’m finding the stage photography is much easier with the GH4 especially with the LED stage lighting. The camera reaches into the shadows and keeps the highlights from blowing out when you use the shadow highlights curves setting to boost the shadows and hold down the highlights.

Each musician was layered into the image and multiple textures were added using blend modes to create the painterly feel…

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

tom shondra sound bites grill sedona

Stalwart entertainers Tom and Shondra did a show at Sound Bites Grill here in Sedona, Arizona. These guys (I use that term loosely) do a highly energetic show that the audience really gets into. Steve asked me to photograph them for the ‘Wall of Fame’ and it was my pleasure to do so! Even though it is only two performers I thought their energy needed more than just one photo to help tell the story… This is what I put together.

tom and shondra in sedona photo

Tom and Shondra on stage at the Sound Bites Grill Wall of Fame image.

The Lumix GH3 worked well for capturing Tom and Shondra’s performance. Because their expressions changed quite rapidly during the live performance I used the 5 frames per second bursts to have choices. I used the Lumix GH3 for this shoot because I sent the Lumix GH4 in for service… not that there was anything wrong but more of a precautionary measure.

I was photographing along Oak Creek and went to cross the creek and slipped on the rocks and the GH4 was submerged while I was trying to right myself which took long enough to put water into every available opening in the camera. I dried it off as much as possible at the scene and then headed for home. I dried it more. Got out the hair dryer and searched for moisture in every compartment. I kept rotating and finding more water but with the heat on medium and I made sure I got every drop I could. The camera turned back on and operated wonderfully. But I sent it in for a chek-up and all was well. The weather sealing on that camera is better than I thought. I still don’t recommend submerging your camera to test it like I did. But it showed me we should be pretty good in a moist environment…

Multiple images were put together using Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 using blend modes, textures and masks. I also added some smoke with brushes that I obtained from Woody Walters who is an amazing Photoshop artist and instructor. Go check out his stuff. (I don’t receive any commission from Woody but I can save you 15% if you decide to sign in for more than his free Photoshop tutorials use coates15) He has amazing info to share with you!

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

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sunday photo/art quote 10/5

I’m reading a book.

Actually I’m reading several as I tend to do. But the one that pertains to today’s Photo/Art Quote is Inspiration on Photography, Train your mind to make great art a habit by Brooke Shaden is the title and while I haven’t gotten too far I’ve already found new ways to think about my art and creation in making images. So I thought I’d grab a quote from Brooke for today.

brooke shaden photography quote

“Creativity, just like inspiration needs to be examined and nurtured.” Brooke Shaden

Brooke has hit the nail on the head with this one line. How do you come up with your ideas? Where are they from? What turns you on? And, even more important how do you act upon your thoughts and inspiration? How many times have you had a wonderful idea then delayed on the follow-through and never made the image? Shaden shares lots of ideas how you can get a handle on your creativity.

Lots of photographers I talk with feel they are not creative when they try to see their work verses another. Try not to compare. Think of it this way. You are watching someones fully edited and scored motion picture to your raw footage.

Inspect your ideas. Expand on them. Go shoot. Learn. Fail. Shoot again. Small successes lead to bigger ones. Work it. But work it with thought and a plan.

And, by the way it wouldn’t hurt to get Brooke’s book to help you think about inspiration in a new way. I’ll be doing a more detailed review of the book after I finish reading it. I can tell you right now that this is one that has already earned a permanent place on my photography reference bookshelf.

Yours in Creative Photography,         Bob

above and beyond

Sometimes you need to go the extra mile for your clients. I have some realtors who like to set themselves apart in the marketplace with an image that different than the run of the mill Realtor shots. When they asked last year for something really fun at Halloween how could I say no?

Here is the original image they use on a regular basis… Just a little bit of kick and sass!

greefeild and weems marketing photo

Greenfield and Weems marketing photo for their Real Estate image.

Halloween was coming and Jolynn wanted to spice things up a bit. I used the photo above with Puppet Warp in Photoshop to get them into a seated position. Add a giant pumpkin, some witches hats and a broomstick and we are home free.

halloween marketing photo

This was the result.

So fast forward to this year and Joylynn says, “Hey Bob, can you add our assistant to the photo and what would it cost?” I said of course, but didn’t realize how much more work was going to be involved. But,

because I wanted to plush out these guys as clients I just said, “I didn’t charge you near enough for this… Oh well, Happy Halloween!”

greenfield weems halloween photo

The full team!

When you have the opportunity to go over and above for your clients take it!

Yours in creative Photography,      Bob