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

salt river wildlife – part duex

Salt River Wildlife – Part Two

As I mentioned in the previous post using the new gear from Panasonic with five-axis image stabilization such as in the Lumix GH5 and the long reach of the Leica 100-400mm lens makes photographing wildlife a new joy. Here are a few more examples from a photo shoot in the Salt River Wildlife basin near Fort McDowell, AZ.

greater yellowlegs sandpiper birdThe avian population on the Salt River is diverse. This is a Yellowlegs Sandpiper.

The 800mm equivalent reach of the Leica lens makes acquiring action photos such as this possible. The stabilization allows for handholding even though the lens is extended to its fullest range. I enjoy making images that include behavior such as birds in flight. Got just the right shutter speed in this case as the body of the bird is tack sharp while the wing tips are slightly blurred showing motion.

landscape photo bob coates photographyIsolated tree along the banks of the Salt River.

I like how the tree is highlighted against the darker background of the hillside behind. Processed with Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop and finished with Luminar as a plug-in.

Capturing the image is only the beginning of photography in my opinion. Images are massaged, and the vision is completed in post-production. The tools are quite varied, but I try to settle on specific software so I can use it to its fullest. Below are my current most used software options.

Adobe Bridge, Adobe Camera RAW, and Photoshop – Learn more here

Skylum software including Luminar, Aurora HDR 2018 and the Creative Kit – Learn more here Use the code COATES to receive $10 off your purchase. You can try the software for free for 30 days.

NIK filters – Formerly free from Google DXO has purchased NIK and still makes the plug-ins available for free. They are working on a new release scheduled around the middle of 2018. In the meantime, with a few workarounds, the software still works (mostly) with the current MAC OS system. Learn more here and download for free.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

salt river area wildlife

Salt River Wildlife

Just gotta say, “Arizona kicks ass in the variety of subject matter to photograph!”

Had an opportunity to go photograph with my friend Sara Goodnick. She was helping me find the wild horses in the Salt River Area of Fort Mcdowell, AZ. This area is ripe with wildlife. In addition to a couple of horse groups, we came across there was a pretty substantial avian population scattered along the banks of the river. I’ll be looking forward to exploring this area more often in the future. Arizona has so many different ecosystems within a relatively short distance it makes for a great place to play. An hour in almost any direction gives you a significant change in flora and fauna. I believe I have been remiss in photographically exploring my state.

Let’s take a look at a few of the captures. We had just a slight soft layer of clouds for the day which softened shadows ever-so-much which made photographing at the time of day acceptable.

bob coates photography salt river horseSuch gentle creatures. Salt river horse up on the hillside. Rim light made this image work for me.

salt river horses arizonaThe framing of the horses with the scrub brush helps tell the story of the wild animals in their environment.
Dig the beard on the horse in the back!

commerant i salt river by bob coates photographyDown by the water I enjoyed the log, cormorant and its reflection. A long lens helps make it possible to get close-up images of the wildlife with disturbing them.

All images captured with the Lumix GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm lens.

I think part of my renewed excitement about my pursuing wildlife photography is the use of the Leica 100-400mm lens on the Lumix bodies with five extra stops of hanholdability. Having that reach has made a HUGE difference in the number of ‘keepers’ from my wildlife excursions.

More from this adventure soon.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

macphun is now skylum

MacPhun is Skylum

In a nod to no longer being a Mac only product, MacPhun has officially changed its name to Skylum. This software for processing photographic images is being produced by some of the engineers who initially put together the popular NIK filters. I’ll detail some deals below. As an affiliate, I can offer you an extra $10 off any of the deals you see below by adding the name COATES to your order as a coupon code.

The programs can be used as stand alone applications or, as I often do, use them as a plug-in for additional processing power in Adobe Photoshop.

skylum macphun logoLUMINAR 2018

luminar logoLuminar 2018 FEBRUARY OFFER through the 26th  

Luminar 2018 Trial page – Try it out

Luminar 2018 Facts and Features information can be downloaded here.

  • Already have Luminar? Upgrade for $49 ($39 with my coupon code)

  • New users can purchase Luminar 2018 for $69 ($59 with my coupon code)

  • A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase.


  • 2 E-books from Andrew Gibson: “The Creative Photographer” and “Mastering Exposure”

  • Ultra Violet LUTs by Richard Harrington

  • Ultra Violet Preset Pack by Richard Harrington

  • “Accelerate Your Photography” Ebook by Anne McKinnell

  • In-depth Video Tutorial from Trey Ratcliff

    • Warm & Beautiful Preset Pack (15 presets)

    • Futuristic Preset Pack

     AURORA HDR 2018
    aurora hdr software logo

    AURORA HDR 2018 FEBRUARY OFFER Through the 26th

    Aurora HDR 2018 Trial Page – Give it a whirl

    Available through February 26

    • Current users of Aurora HDR may upgrade for $59 ($49 with my coupon code)

    • New users can purchase Aurora HDR 2018 for $99 ($89 with my coupon code)

    • A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase.


  • “Accelerate Your Photography” Ebook by Anne McKinnell

  • Deep dive Video Tutorial from Trey Ratcliff

  • Warm & Beautiful Preset Pack (15 presets)

  • PS – Remember to add COATES to your coupon code to get an additional $10 off