click con nation 2020/2021 speaker

ClickCon – A photography and videography conference where the community comes together to innovate, create, and collaborate.”

While the live event ClickCon 2020 has been postponed until next summer, they have collaborated and come together to create something quite innovative: a virtual educational conference that takes place not over one, two, or three days during one week a year, but rather a collection of educational days taking place for a full day, once a month, for nearly a year!

For my part I’ll be presenting an hour on my PhotoSynthesis program in October.

This is a dive into Photoshop as a creative tool to enhance images. I use this type of processing a lot and note that I am a Lens Based Artist.

clickcon nation speaker badge

A year of photo education every Sunday. Or, the day you decide to watch! Get 20% off with code COATES15

“Taking your images to another level is one way to set yourself apart from other photographers. Bob has chosen to move his images to a more-painterly feel. He accomplishes this by fusing many images together utilizing a single subject blended with many textures from nature, decaying made-made items and everyday items found through serendipity. The result is an image that has depth and dimension and will often reveal different things to the viewer no matter how many times it is seen.

Learn more about the ClickCon Nation programing. I’m but a small part… If you use my code COATES15 you’ll get a 20% discount to sign up.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

LED light review f7 pocketlite fold

Got a chance to play with a new LED light called the PocketLite Fold. I had the previous model F7 PocketLite and here’s a review from last year. I like them both. But, I like the Fold more than twice as much. It has twice the light and a built in control from the phone APP DeSal Lite which you can download to control your lights at no additional charge.

Having a small, powerful light is a good thing to have in your kit. This will work super as a fill light, a special effects color light and creative tool. If you are not at a far distance it will even serve as a main light. I measured 1/30th of a second at f/2.8 ISO 200 at four feet. The beauty of working with LED lights is WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get.

Yours in Creative Photography,         Bob

Photoshop webinar for PPC

I did a webinar for the Professional Photographers of California (PPC) last week. The subject was Photoshop including some ideas on creating art. Check out the Photoshop Party where I shared some ideas on Photoshop Selections, Blend Modes, Single image HDR with Aurora HDR 2019, creating cloud brushes and more…

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

fireworks time-lapse with Lumix G9

The Lumix G9 with Leica DG 100-400mm lens was set upon a tripod and made mostly worry free for the duration of the show. Since I was making decisions on the other cameras. (see Part one Fireworks set-upPart two Olympus LiveComp Mode) I was looking to get images on the G9 without doing anything other than making sure the fireworks were framed properly.

Blended images Photoshop

Once the files were downloaded I culled the empty frames and the ‘less than stellar’ captures. Then I took multiple frames into Adobe Photoshop and combined some of the images. For best results I recommend the Screen Blend Mode. Put a mask on the file and use a black soft edge brush to remove the parts of the image that don’t add to the final look for which you are going.

Three frames blended together using Adobe Photoshop


Settings for this camera were 5 SEC f/11 ISO 200. In addition, the in camera time-lapse was invoked. A one-second break was added to allow the camera to reset between frames. I was making the images with still photos in mind. If I was creating a time-lapse movie the settings probably would have been more like a two second exposure to help explore and record the movement and to have enough frames for a longer movie. As it is after removing some frames I ended up with only 134 frames, which makes for a pretty short movie.

Let me know which frame rate you prefer and why if you get the chance.
Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

Olympus livecomp mode and fireworks

The Olympus cameras now have a feature called LIVECOMP. This is short for live composite. You set a base exposure and then the camera repeats that exposure but only allows new light to be added. You get to view this as it is happening live, hence the name, which allows you to stop the exposure when you have gathered all the information you need.

Most current Olympus cameras have the feature. You’ll find Live Composite Mode in OM-D, PEN and TOUGH cameras.


olympus fireworks photo

All images in this posy Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with M.Zukio 40-150mm f/2.8 lens. F/11 4 SEC ISO 100

If you need more time to capture the light effects of your scene and were to increase your exposure time the dark areas of your image would begin to become muddy and over exposed. It is definitely a specialty feature, but one that has some great uses. For example, keeping your frame exposed to catch lightning, car trails, carnival rides and fireworks. I’ll let you imagine the others but I’m going to share some settings and images made during the fireworks from the fourth of July.


olympus fireworks photo

F/14 4 SEC ISO 100

With the camera firmly mounted on a Fotopro Eagle E6L tripod I found the base exposure. I was looking to render the building lights and allow the fireworks to be against a dark sky. Knowing from past experience the fireworks would have time to streak in the sky showing the burst if they had about three to eight seconds ISO 100 @ f/8. I choose four seconds for my base exposure. Once I started seeing results on the camera back I made adjustments to the aperture to allow the fireworks to record just a bit more color and changing to f/11 then f/14.

Single frame capture

olympus fireworks photo

F/14 4 SEC ISO 100

Normally, to get multiple bursts in a single frame I combine images in post-production. With the LIVECOMP in play each image you see here was done in camera. The shutter was opened and recorded a four second exposure with the shutter still open additional four second exposures were recorded adding only the new bursts of light. When I saw enough bursts were captured I ended the exposure.

Next time

In the next fireworks post I’ll share settings for automatic recording of captures using the time-lapse mode of the Lumix G9.

Yours in Creative Photography,   Bob

restart posting with an article on fireworks

My writing for the Successful-Photographer blog has been lagging a bit. I’ve been writing for many different publications including and photography magazines. I’m sort of reminded of the story about the cobblers children having no shoes. Or, on an even more personal note, my dad was a TV repair man always off to help other folks get their sets tuned correctly when I didn’t know that other people in the world didn’t have a green cast. Kidding aside I want to get my home base back to work.

Start off with fireworks

And, what better way to get things going than to set this first new post off with some fireworks??

fireworks cottonwood arizona 2020

Four images combined in post production. Captured with Lumix GX85 and the G Vario 100-300mm f3.5-5.6 lens at 100mm. Exposure f/8 four sec at ISO 200

On July 4th Cottonwood, AZ, the next town over from Sedona had a fireworks display. And, in honor of the state of Covid-19 they used all aerial shells so people could spread out to enjoy the night of colors streaking across the sky.

It worked it very well. I’ll share some ideas on capturing your fireworks for next year with some new things I learned. (you may want to bookmark this page) I’ll share my set-up for using three cameras on this post. The next two posts will be on the Olympus LIVECOMP setting and making a time-lapse.

Three tripods

Three tripods for three cameras

Three tripods set close together allows for different looks.

On to the set-up with three cameras mounted on tripods. Two were standard and I added a Joby Gorillapod with legs wrapped around one of the taller tripod legs.

Joby Gorilla tripod holds the Lumix GX85 camera

Two of the cameras were set for capturing five second exposures with a one second delay using the time lapse mode. Somehow one of the cameras got off its time-lapse mode and I ended up firing it by hand. The third camera was the Olympus E-M1 Mark III which was set to LIVECOMP mode which I’ll detail in the next post.

Yours in Creative Photography,   Bob

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