skylum valentines day deal

Here’s a Skylum deal that will be around from today through the 16th of February 2020.

As I am an affiliate, you can use the Code COATES to receive an additional 10 bucks off the prices listed below. Link here to get the deal.

I personally use Luminar 4 as a plug in. (love the sky replacement feature!) And, I feel that Aurora HDR is one of the cleanest, natural HDR software programs around. (See the Max Edition deal at the bottom)

• Single Edition: Luminar 4 + Romantic Looks and Skies Pack $79 instead of $138

• Double Edition: 2 Copies of Luminar 4 + Romantic Looks & Skies Pack $159 instead of $227

• Max Edition: Luminar 4 + Aurora HDR + Romantic Looks and Skies Pack $139 instead of $237

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – If you are looking to upgrade link here then look at the bottom of the page for the upgrade path. You’ll still get the $10 off as well.

One senator has hold on CASE Act bill

One Senator put a hold on the CASE Act bill S.1273. Better known as the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act. With bi-partisan support the bill would allow photographers along with other artistic creators the benefit of small claims settlement of copyright infringement. Currently, the only recourse for theft of images is to go to federal court. Federal court is impossibly expensive for a small business.

 Thousands of photographers recently raised their index finger in unison to protest Senator Wyden’s hold on a bi-partisan bill that would help all small artists.


Right now a photographer or other artistic creator who has work stolen from them have no recourse. If someone is using your photography image without your permission it has to be adjudicated in Federal Court. This can run well over $300,000.

Professional Photographers of America CEO David Trust said, “ It’s not fair! If I were to go in a store and steal a $1.25 candy bar (not that I would do that, by the way) the owner could call the police. If someone steals a thousand, or five thousand dollars, worth of imagery from a photographic artist there is no recourse within the current copyright system. Passing the CASE Act would give photographers and other creators a small claims option.”

What can you do to help?

You can help put pressure on Senator Wyden to lift his hold and let the bill come to the floor for a vote. Take a picture of yourself holding up one finger (index finger please) with a serious look on your face. Not a scolding look or angry look, just serious. Post this image to all your social media accounts with the hashtags #justone and #caseact.

Also ask your voting age friends, fellow artists and art groups, and other parties who are interested in seeing artists have a fair system in place weigh in.

Contact Senator Wyden

You can contact Senator Wyden’s office asking that he lift the hold as well. E-mail your comments on legislation here Oregon offices: Portland: 911 NE 11th Ave., Ste 630, Portland OR 97232; 503-326-7525. Salem: 707 13th St, SE, Ste 285, Salem, OR 97301, 503-589-4555.

Add your voice to the thousands letting Senator Wyman of Oregon know that he needs to release his hold on the bill. Learn what you can do to help and see more of the story in my previous post.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

Monetizing personal work – part two

This is my seventh year working with an entertainment restaurant. The original relationship was due to a personal project I created and shared with them. A quick recap for those pressed for time will find I photographed a restaurant to learn and practice new photography techniques. I gave the restaurant a framed print. For the full story check out part one on photofocus

The story continued and involves another personal project involving a musician, which was also shared with the owners. When the owners saw my artwork they decided to feature the bands and other entertainers in more of an artistic style. While making the artistic images I also supply the restaurant with additional photos for publicity, posters, marketing and social media.

The trade deal

It would be very difficult for a restaurant to pay cash for this service as the amounts can add up very quickly, especially in the beginning, when many new performers were being documented. I’m a big fan of win-win situations so we worked out a trade agreement.

Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame has grown to 130 or so images. I create an artistic rendition of the musicians from their live performance. It would be very difficult to track down people after the fact for autographs. I have them provide their signature and ‘message to the house’ with a black sharpie pen on white paper. I invert the printing from black on white to white on black. Change the Blend mode in Adobe Photoshop to Screen and text will appear white. Viola, I have their ‘autograph’ for the art.

Bobcat Jack: Blues-man with signature and logo art

As part of the deal, art images are printed and framed to 8×10 and hung in the Hall. Additional images are uploaded for the publicity, poster and marketing purposes.

One corner of the SBG Hall of Fame

Additional benefit

In addition to the trade, each of the images is branded with the Bob Coates Photography logo. A metal print in a niche promotes my story and the Hall of Fame information (look in the back of the Hall photo above). I make this deal out to be not only a win-win opportunity but a win-win-win all the way around!

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

Monetizing personal work

Monetizing personal projects is important to me. I’ve found it to be a profitable way to build my business. You can too!

First connection

I made a twilight photo of my favorite local restaurant while experimenting with showing the lighted interior at sunset. I learned the easiest way to make an interesting architectural photo of real estate was to set the camera on a tripod. Then capture images over a time period of 20-45 minutes and blend them together in post.

After this image was made I entered it in the Arizona Professional Photographers Association annual image competition. After receiving feedback from the judges I realized there was more to learn with this technique. While the image did not merit it earned an above-average red ribbon. If that was all I got from assigning and completing this personal project it would have been a winner. But I didn’t stop there.

© bob coates photography marketplace photo

Original personal project image from 2009 that eventually led to lots of work

I framed the print, adding the award winning ribbon and my business card and offered it as a gift to the restaurant. Even though the image had room for improvement the owners loved it. On display in the restaurant in a high traffic area was solid exposure in and of itself. Even more, it helped cement my relationship with them.

New project

Fast-forward about a year and the owners sold this restaurant. I was hired, because of working with the owners in the past, to help promote the renovations of a new space and create interest and excitement for the opening.

We came up with the concept of combining the photos with text. The voice of the owner was used, explaining the thought process of the demolition and decor choices. These were in the form of a set of ‘Polaroid’ photos released over time before the opening party. One example is below you can see more in the extended story on Photofocus.

Additional revenue

I added additional revenue to the project by offering to design customized music inspired metal prints to decorate the niches in the main dining room.

© bob coates photography niche art photo

Music niche art images, created specifically for this restaurant

Then it was time to create all the marketing images, which included food, interiors and exteriors with the surrounding red rock views.

To be continued

There were many other images made as you can imagine. It started with making an image on spec and sharing it with a potential client. This story continues in part two where there is cross-pollination with a previous personal project involving the musician. More details on my Photofocus blog post.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – See part two of this post here

composition in photography landscape

Edge of light

Living in Sedona, I have been privy to lots of beautiful changing scenery due to changing light conditions. The most interesting images happen on the edges of light when sunrise or sunset occurs. Or, when you find the edges of light where light spills through a window or under an overhang. Storms arriving or clearing are often wonderful ways to capture a different look.

Red rocks with a square crop. A path leads into the scene from the corner.

Car camera

Light as this is often fleeting in a landscape. I always keep a “car-camera” available for moments such as these. It’s a Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 — an all-in-one camera that can go from 25mm wide to 480mm zoom. It has lots of features including the ability to capture up to seven stops of exposure on a single button push (and can bracket focus as well, but that’s another post).

Different landscape compositions

Photographing a scene can be composed in many different ways. And, each individual way tells a slightly different story of the scene. I’ve found over the years that whatever grabs my interest in a passing landscape is just a starting point and any car stop should include exploring the area just a bit more.

A vertical crop gives an entirely different feel to the scene.

Learn more

I wrote a bit more in-depth on this subject on the Photofocus blog. Learn more here.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

Personal photography projects can help with your business

My buddy, Kevin Ames an editor of Photofocus, mentioned that many photographers have trouble monetizing their photography, especially when working on personal projects and asked that I share a few success stories. I did some research and found that this was the way I have built my business over the years. Here’s one of the stories on how I accomplished this. My personal projects are centered around learning a skill I was am trying to acquire. I then leveraging the image I’d created by selling, promoting the new skill — entering in image competition or garnering press. I hope you find these ideas helpful.

Once upon a time in a town near Atlanta …

Was on a visit to Atlanta to visit with my friends Ashley and Liz. In their neighborhood was a favorite restaurant of theirs called Manchester Arms. It was an overcast drizzly, dreary day. As I was entering the restaurant I noticed it had a kind of European pub flavor and I thought it would make a good subject for a new art technique I wanted to master. Despite the drizzle, I ran outside to grab a few frames from a couple different angles. For this particular use, the soft, overcast lighting worked well.

Before After

Here are the before and after images to show the results of my post-processing.

Manchester Arms restaurant in the rain – Before image

Finished art processed in Adobe Photoshop with textures, Blend Modes and masks.

Rest of the Story

You can check out this story more in-depth on my Photofocus blog post.

Dinner was just dandy, by the way!

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

Artist for 32nd annual festival of the cranes

Getting ready to head to New Mexico next week for the Festival of the Cranes held in Socorro and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Preserve. (11/20-11/23) As the cover artist my crane art image will grace the cover of the brochure. In addition, it will be available for sale on T-shirts and coffee mugs. Sales of those items help support the friends of the Bosque and support the festival.

I’ll be on site with wildlife and avian art for sale, including prints of the cover art.

festival of the cranes art

Cover for the Festival of the Cranes

As always I’d be happy to chat with you about techniques, photography, and/or commissions. You can see more of my work by checking out my art site.

Yours in Creative photography,     Bob

ppa ipc image prep

For those that compete (or want to compete) at the International Photographic Competition (IPC) through the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) an important part of the process is presenting your image properly. There are twelve elements on which the images are judged. One of them is image presentation.

Think of it like this. Have you ever had an image that you thought was quite good? Then framed it and it looked even better? That is what you should try to make your image do when putting together your submissions.

Here is a video to give you one way to put together a presentation for a black and white image. This example is showing a double keystroke. The final image could be done with a single keystroke as well. As an artist it is your choice for the color (or tone) of your keystroke as well as the width. Coming soon, I’ll share some ideas on working with color images.

If you have any questions on PPA image competition, don’t hesitate to ask. I wish you the best in your competition journey.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – The subject is Craig Christopherson a wood and metal sculptor. See some of Craig’s work here on Instagram. Image was made with the Lumix G9 and 42.5mm f1.2 Leica lens. You can see how I went from the original capture to the final post processed image in my blog on post processing with Adobe Photoshop and Skylum Luminar 4 software.

LED lite review

I had the opportunity to get my hands on an LED light from FALCONEYES. It’s the F7 Pocketlite. You can see my thoughts below but the short answer is I like it. 97 Color Rendering Index and a good size and power as a fill or main light in a pinch.

I’ve often heard the expression the best images are made with the camera that you have with you. This light is small enough to have with you all the time.

Here is my Falconeyes F7 Amazon link if you want to get more info.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

vision of vets

Vision of Vets – A Photographer’s Project

I’d like to tell you a story about a colleague of mine. He’s a kind man. A giving man. A selfless man. And, a veteran himself.

bruce roscoe portrait

Bruce Roscoe, Vision of Vets Founder. Portrait courtesy Studio 3 Images

In 2014 my friend Bruce Roscoe (of Aiyana Studio) had a vision. It came on a flight back from Rhode Island after photographing his best friend of 58 years. Doctors had told Bruce’s friend, Joe Rowe, he had only six months to live due to complications brought on by exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Bruce offered to professionally photograph Joe so his family and friends would have something to remember him by when he was gone.

The Concept

Bruce’s idea was to create a nonprofit organization whose mission was to memorialize the stories of U.S combat veterans and share that history with the family and the world. He envisioned adding a method for bringing photographs of combat veterans to life with the use of Live Portrait technology. Families could now view these after their loved ones had passed.

Bruce gained support for his idea in the local community of Prescott, Arizona. This was no surprise because Prescott and the surrounding towns host the largest number of veterans per capita in Arizona. With a wonderful Veterans Administration (VA) hospital and the large veteran population, he started gathering veteran stories with the help of experts. The helpers are now the Vision of Vets board of directors.

Following three years of continual work, in June 2017, the IRS recognized Vision of Vets as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and Bruce’s vision became a reality.

vision of vets portraits

Vision of Vets Portraits by Bruce Roscoe

The Vision of Vets team are committed to not only capturing the stories from our country’s living veterans, but also telling the stories of war heroes from the French & Indian War and forward. Vision of Vets hires professional re-enactors to bring the stories of heroism and sacrifice back to life with the use of modern technology.

The Gift

Each veteran in this project receives at no cost, a professional 16×20 framed portrait, prints in different sizes, a DVD of their interview, and an essay summarizing the interview.

You Can Help

You can be part of this story too! Help preserve history and add to the education tools in schools have to teach and remind students that ‘Freedom isn’t Free.’ Click here to learn more or Donate to Vision of Vets.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – Below you can get an idea of how the Vision of Vets Live Portraits work.