texas school

texas school

Texas School

The Best Little Photography School in the World

I spent last week in Addison Texas attending Texas School. This was my first time at this week-long orgy of photography education. It is intense. You spend a week with a single instructor getting a deep dive into their techniques in creativity. It was a blast.

The class I choose to attend was with Richard Sturdivant. (Check out Richard’s work and his tool shop) Sturdevant brings an artist and graphic design background to create composite images that transcend photography. To say I learned a lot would be an understatement. Richard’s use of tools in Photoshop is an eye-opening experience. New tools. New techniques. New ways of looking at the world to enhance reality into fantasy with a hyper-realistic look.

Here is an example of one of the projects which the class worked on.

finished imageMy finished piece from the class project.

A photo session was shown using MoLights which can change the way you photograph subjects that have movement. A post will follow specifically about that. In the photo session, the model was asked to perform, and these lights fired as fast as the camera could fire. With my Lumix G9 that means twelve frames per second. NO misses!

Photos were made of a couple of models in a period dress, and stock files were shared. Each student worked with the images with a base of instruction but each finished piece produced was different. It’s kinda like when you give ten photographers the same subject, and you’ll end up with ten different interpretations.

Below see some of the working pieces from the project. There were tons more, but you get the idea.

model one imagemodel two image


backgroundLook at the final image and see how many elements were added from the image directly above.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

sound bites grill – richardson

sound bites grill – richardson

Walt Richardson & Friends at Sound Bites Grill Sedona

What a great show! Walt is known for his reggae music, but he is so much more. He’s a legendary songwriter with a big heart, and it shows during his performance. His friends are entertaining and talented musicians. There’s a reason Walt is in the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Walt’s own words say it best, “I am a Soul, Living out my life as a Songwriting, Storytelling, and performing Musician.”

Learn more about Walter Richardson & Friends.

Walt Richards & friends band - bob coates PhotographyArt with signatures for the Wall of Fame

If you have followed my work you know I photograph the musicians live while they are performing for marketing of future performances. In addition, I create an image for the ‘ Sound Bites Grill ‘Wall of fame’. These art pieces are created with each individual member of the band recorded and then extracted from the image and rebuilt. It’s a great challenge to render each performer and band in a slightly different style. Here in a nod to the reggae, the red and green lighting pattern was utilized in the spot lights. The singer-songwriter and personality of Walt was highlighted by picking an expression with that little smile and wide open eyes.

walt richardson & friends photo art by bob coatesNon-logoed version of the art.

Most of the images were captured with the Lumic GX85 and a 35-100mm G Vario lens.

bob coates photography photo walt richardson & friends bandImage of the full band for future marketing and appearances at Sound Bites

bob coates photography sound bites grill photoBack-stage view at SBG.

walter richardson at sound bites grill by bob coates photography

Walter Richardson black and white photo.

When I am creating the marketing photos I always make the conversion to black and white as well as a color version. There is more to creating a dynamic black and white image for printing than just desaturating the image to monotone. You need to control the contrast and the highlight and shadows properly to make a solid photo.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

bjs brewhouse colorado springs

bjs brewhouse colorado springs

BJ’s Brewhouse Art Piece – ColoadoSprings, Colorado

Had a great time sharing Adobe Photoshop techniques from my PhotoSynthesis program for the Professional Photographers Guild of Colorado Springs. During my All Day hands-on class, I was charged with creating artwork from scratch live in front of the attendees including making selections and sharing the thought process as I created the image.

bjs restaurant & Brewhouse art by bob Coates PhotographyHere’s the image I made for the class with a few elements cleaned up for clarity

This technique was one I created for art application but I keep finding that it is working its way into my commercial work as well. You can see the original photo below. The textures I used were images that we had gathered on-site that morning. The idea is you can create a significantly different image using many different techniques, textures, masks and blend modes.

photoshop pallete screen grabHere’s the Photoshop Layers Palette in a screen grab illustrating some of the techniques used.

The text was created using the fx palette. A large font was used for the name to attract attention. It was ‘dressed’ with bright color, an inner glow with a bright edge and a drop shadow. All of the text effects were chosen to help make the name stand out. The text for the address was more informational and was rendered white to be in high contrast with the rest of the image.

original capture beer in glass at BJs BrewhouseHere is the original capture SOOC ( straight out of camera) when my beer was delivered at the bar. Made with the LumixGH4 and the 35-100mm f2.8 G Vario lens

Got questions? Give me a shout.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob




jackie venson at sound bites

jackie venson at sound bites

Jackie Venson at Sound Bites Grill

Sound Bites Grill has a new addition to the ‘Wall of Fame.’

Jackie Venson and her band were enshrined at the SBG Wall last night.

jackie venson artHere are Jackie Venson and her band in art form.

jackie venson and band at sound bites grillHere’s how it looks on the Wall. The autographs are done in advance on a white piece of paper with black Sharpie pen. I’ll show you all the elements used to create the final image below.

The ‘Wall of Fame’ image is created with photos captured during the live stage performance in the Sound Bites Show Lounge. Each performer is tracked on stage individually. Then they are extracted from the background and placed into a new environment. Texture, shadows, glows along with sharpening, blurring parts of the combined images are all combined in Adobe Photoshop to create the final art piece. Capturing the musicians during the live performance gives the final art image a stronger feeling of emotion created during the performance that a static image just doesn’t have.

elements for the final imageHere are the elements for the final image. Layers and Masks along with Blend Modes were utilized in creating the painterly look.

Images are currently being captured with the Lumix GH4 or Lumix GX8 cameras. I enjoy that the sensors have enough density range to allow a single capture of the harsh LED lighted scene. A slight adjustment in post production using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) of bringing down the highlights and opening up the shadows makes for a well-exposed photo. In previous cameras due to the extreme light variations, there was a need to capture three images and blend them together to achieve the same result.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – Can’t wait until Jackie, Alán Uribe on bass/backvox and Rodney Hyder on drums come back for their next show at Sound Bites Grill

firework cliff castle casino camp verde

firework cliff castle casino camp verde

Cliff Castle Casino Fireworks Photography

Fireworks! Always beautiful and fun to view.

And, interesting to photograph.

These were taken Sunday night July 3rd with a LumixGX8 and 7-14mm f4.0 Vario lens. Settings f8 ISO 200 for five seconds.

firewors burst photoSingle five-second exposure

fireworks imageThis burst was one of my favorite captures for the evening

cliff castle casino composite phhotoComposite image with the Casino, which was behind me and the fireworks in front of me.

fireworks composite imageFireworks composite image.

There’s a secret o create composite fireworks images. Develop each image to be it’s best. Drag and drop the images one above another as Layers. The secret is to change the Blend Mode of the Layer to Screen. The mathematics behind Screen mode makes all the dark area of the sky to disappear only allowing the light from the image to register. (Bonus tip: if the fireworks burst is not as bright was you wish to make a copy of the layer and the lighted areas will become brighter. Too bright? Lower the opacity to taste) The next move is to place the bursts where you would like them using the Transform tool. Once the photos have been rearranged, there will be areas that need to be masked out. Adding a Layer mask and painting with black will conceal the unwanted information on the Layer.

File this post away for the next time you get ready to photograph fireworks.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob



at the zoo photography – part 2

Photography at the Zoo – Part Two

If you look at yesterday’s post you’ll see the capture and processing of an orangutan photographed through a dirty plate glass window which pushed capture and processing skills. Today I want to share an artistic rendition of our countries’ symbol of freedom, the bald eagle.

While we’re looking at this image let’s go back in time with the Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like an Eagle for a little musical accompaniment…

The theme here is to practice skills of photography. What did I get/learn while photographing the eagle that I can carry with me to my regular photography gigs??

Number one – People were moving through on a regular basis, so there were distractions to manage. awareness of surroundings while concentrating of my subject.

Number two – Patience. I wanted the eagle’s beak to be closed and there were only fractions of moments when this was the case. I had to learn this behavior and movement and time it to get the position I wanted.

Number three – The eagle was caged so there was the fencing to account for which meant shooting at a shallow Depth of field and focusing on the eagle and not the fence.

Finally, number four – Processing the image into an art piece that is more than the sum of the parts. Always working on these techniques to improve them. As they say, practice makes perfect…

phoenic zoo original eagle image captureOriginal photograph. Captured with Lumix FZ1000 1/400th sec f4 ISO 200 at 420mm (35mm equivilent)

eagle photo black & whiteA process through NIK Silver FX Pro 2 gave a very gritty black & white rendition of the eagle. I like the idea of the eagle in a square crop portrait style but not all the cage elements and distracting background.

eagle art portraitI wanted a larger portrait rendition so I choose a larger crop and started adding my art embellishments.

The artwork is accomplished using photographs of textures and colors combined together using layers and Blend Modes. Utilizing Layer Masks on the texture layers allows for control of specific effects in certain areas of the image.

I thought the eagle was just holding it’s wing up when I photographed it, but it was bothering me. Then my eagle-eyed wife Holly came in and liked the art treatment but also spotted that the eagle’s wing was probably broken hence the residence at the zoo. I did a little plastic surgery for the final image you see below.

Eagle art photoThe last bit of work was accomplished with Adobe Photoshop. I copied the broken wing onto its own layer. Then repositioned it as if it was folded in its normal place. Using a layer mask to blend it into place.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob