panasonic lumix gh2

Lumix GH2 Camera Files from Panasonic

My first exposure to the Lumix line of cameras came when I was trying to find a smaller lightweight camera for travel. My wife was always giving me grief for hauling 35 plus pounds of full-frame DSLR gear with me on vacation. I said, “What are you worried about? you aren’t carrying it!” After that she replied, “You aren’t either, the gear often stays in the room ’cause it’s too heavy to lug around.” Don’t let her know this but I’ve found she’s right most of the time and I should listen more often, but I’m a guy. What can I say?

hollywood neon sign building

Made with the Lumix GH2 in Florida in 2012

Anyway, back to the story.

I tried three different ‘point and shoot cameras with no success because I finally listened! The reason they didn’t work for me? The files would fall apart when I tried to push them past anything larger than a 12-inch print or use the images in combination with other photos in my PhotoSynthesis process of creating my art.

And then… I found the Lumix GH2 and got a couple lenses. A wide angle and a 14-140mm zoom. (28-280mm FF equivalent) I added a small pouch for extra batteries, a tiny tripod and the other goodies you need for a two week trip to France. I had that camera on my shoulder with the 14-140mm lens and the pouch at my waist, and it never left my side for our entire trip. The best part?? When I returned I started working the files and ‘Viola!”, The files held up. I started running to all my photographer friends and telling them about this discovery. That led to my eventually becoming a Lumix Ambassador. That’s a story for another day.

I’m telling you all this because I decided to take a look at the GH2 files and give them a run through some of the newer software including Photoshop, Luminar 2018 and Aurora 2018. I amazed at how well the files do even today in 2018. These files are six years old, and there have been quite a few improvements in the subsequent iterations of the Lumix line. When the GH3 came out I started using it for my professional work and found that I could do about 85% of my jobs with it. In the beginning, I shot the camera side by side with my full frame DSLR for safety. Then I knew what tasks could be completed with the GH3 and the DSLR sat on the shelf more often. When the Lumix GH4 came out, I did a few more side by side comparisons before realizing I could do all my work with the micro 4/3rds camera. And all my DSLR gear went on the market, and I haven’t looked back since.

Until today. I thought I’d share some of the images from the GH2 circa 2012. Here are a couple more images.

snoopy rock sedona

Snoopy Rock in Sedona, AZ Photographed with the Lumix GH2 and processed with Photoshop and ** Skylum Software.





Here’s an image using the PhotoSynthesis process that I use in layering textures and giving more of an art feel to an image. And below that the original capture.

manchester arms restaurant photo

Manchester Arms Restaurant just outside Atlanta. GH2 again.


Original capture

Original capture


In a couple of days, I’ll show you some images and the artwork created during my trip to France.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

** Skylum software includes Aurora HDR – Luminar – and CK Creative KIT. Special deal on Aurora HDR through July 4th. On any of the software add PROMO CODE – COATES to get an additional $10 off

PS – The latest flagship camera for stills (first one!) is the Lumix G9. This thing rocks!

I haven’t forgotten about the clouds from above post I said I get you…

tired of your image

Marketing Monday with Skip Cohen

My friend Skip has an excellent storehouse of marketing knowledge and has agreed to share a column on Mondays pulling the best from his archives on the subject to help keep you and your business on track. Wahoo!

Tired of your Image?

Tired of Your Image?

I know everybody has closed the book on this past year, but even though we’re almost halfway through this year, think about last year for a minute.

As you analyze, think about what you need to do better. Too often people blame the wrong things. So often we all do the same thing – we blame the challenges the easiest things we might have done wrong, instead of looking at our actions.

logo art NOHere are a few examples:

  1. Did you not get the traffic to your blog because the design, logo or theme of your posts were weak or because you weren’t consistent? You need to post new material to your blog 2-3 times a week and on the same days, and great content always wins. Are you sharing content your readership wants?
  2. Did your phone not ring off the hook because your company name isn’t hot or because you didn’t promote or advertise enough? Do people in your community know who you are? Too many of you aren’t involved in your community. Plus, you don’t have a phone number on your website. Instead, you chose to use an email template and don’t respond to inquiries as quickly as you could.
  3. Did you not book that last job because your competitor is stealing your business with low-ball pricing or because you didn’t portray the same level of enthusiasm, commitment, and confidence? The greatest marketing tool you have today is in building relationships. Look for ways to establish relationships with your target audience and your community. People buy what they want, not always what they need – you’ve got to make them want what you have to offer!
  4. Was a promotion you did underwhelming because of the economy or did it lack value to your target audience? Was it too confusing for people to understand? Create promotions that are creative and unique through partnerships and establishing value with your target audience. Always have at least two other people read the text that describes your promotion and make sure what you’re writing is understood.

The list goes on and on, but blaming ad design, logos, company names, etc. because you believe they’re old, tired and “everybody’s seen them” is your last resort. Maybe your website really does need a makeover but first look at your execution of marketing projects, creativity, and your skill set. So many businesses get tired of their look, advertising, and taglines too early. They find the need to reinvent the “frosting,” often long before the public is bored.

I’m betting for most of you, these disappointing projects have nothing whatsoever to do with your actual branding, but your execution and brand awareness. Don’t waste time on name changes, new logos, and website designs if you haven’t first defined your goals and your target audience.

Lauren Bacall said it all, “It’s not an old movie if you haven’t seen it!”

skip cohen headshot

Skip Cohen has been involved in the photographic industry his entire career and previously served as President of Rangefinder/WPPI and earlier, Hasselblad USA. He founded in 2013. Skip is co-host for “Mind Your Own Business” and “Beyond Technique,” webcasts through, writes for several publications including Shutter Magazine and is actively involved in several advisory boards for non-profit organizations.

bobs talkin 2

Bob’s Talkin’ – Part 2

KAZM Radio Show – Sedona, Arizona

Last week I got to talk with Tom Tabback on my Monthly ‘Tech Talk’ show. We chatted about art and Lumix cameras and more. The show is about twenty minutes long. If you have any questions please let me know!

tom taback with bob coates on the radio

KAZM Radio Tech Talk 6/13/2018

tech_talk_logo_newYours in Creative Photography,         Bob

bobs talkin

Bob’s A’Talkin’ This Week – Part One

Photofocus Podcast

I was on the Photofocus Podcast Beyond Technique. A podcast empowering photographers to bring their business to the next level, with my buddy Skip Cohen and Chimera Young this week. These were some of the topics we covered in a little over 30 minutes. You can listen below.

How being diverse in your photography skillset can be a strong asset, and how it can actually enrich your work. The multiple types of photography that go into a single wedding gig. The important role that networking plays in the success of your photography busines. The role that constant education plays in the development of every photographer. How business and marketing skills are instrumental in a successful photography business.

Listen to all that and more by clicking the link below.

pocast header


Photofocus Beyond Technique Podcast

Chamira Young
Chamira will readily admit it: she’s an art nerd, Photoshop geek, and photographer with an obsession for productivity and creativity. Through online teaching and podcasting, she loves helping other creative minds become more successful by empowering them with the knowledge and inspiration to up their game. Currently, is the hub of her creative mischief. It branches out to her other projects, and allows her to be an artist, photographer, podcaster at, and online course creator. You can also find her on Twitter.

Skip Cohen
Skip Cohen has been involved in the photographic industry his entire career and previously served as President of Rangefinder/WPPI and earlier, Hasselblad USA. He founded in 2013. Skip is co-host for “Mind Your Own Business” and “Beyond Technique,” webcasts through, writes for several publications including Shutter Magazine and is actively involved in several advisory boards for non-profit organizations.

keep climbing

Marketing Monday with Skip Cohen

Keep Climbing

A new feature here on Successful-Photographer will bring marketing thoughts and ideas from Skip Cohen every Monday. I hope you get as much from listening to Skip as I do!

Staying Focused on Your Education and Growth as an Artist

When you reach the top, keep climbing!”

climbing lizard image bob coates photographyClimbing Lizard Photo – Bob Coates Photography

It’s an old proverb, but it’s the way I’ve seen great photographers in our industry stay focused. They never slow down and never stop trying to learn something new. One of the keys to their success and yours is to continuing education.

The first book I wrote was with Don Blair, Don Blair’s Guide to Posing and Lighting Body Parts. It was a guide on traditional portraiture, mostly about what to do with Mother Nature’s challenges, including bad complexions, eyeglasses, braces, posing of women who weren’t size 5, etc. Nobody could create a more flattering portrait than the legendary Big Daddy Blair himself. He was one of the very best.

Don was once asked, “What’s the best portrait you’ve ever done?” His answer said it all, “I don’t know, I haven’t done it yet!”

There’s no question that Don was one of the finest portrait photographers in the world, but at 75 he still hadn’t stopped learning. He still hadn’t created what in his heart he felt was his most beautiful work. He always knew he could do better and kept attending every class he had time for.

Set your goals high, but never believe you’ve hit the top!

We’re part of an industry that’s continually changing. Paradigms shift every morning, sometimes as consistently as the sun coming up. Changes in communication and technology are always challenging us. Our creativity is never wholly tapped, continuously being expanded by other photographers and leaders in the industry.

Have some fun with this little exercise: Take a look at the first images you captured, then look at your work today. Odds are you’ll have a front row seat to your evolution. Photography is an ongoing process. As long as you keep learning, your ability to evolve as an artist will never stop.

PS – And, this is the perfect time to share why I’m so happy my good buddy Bob Coates asked if wanted to share a post now and then on Successful-Photographer. The friendship Bob and I have started many years ago and is built on a foundation of respect for education and a love for this industry. We’re cut from the same cloth when it comes to believing in education and helping photographers raise the bar on the quality of their images, relationships, business, and marketing!

Skip is a guy to follow! You can see more of Skip’s stuff here

skip cohen headshot

Skip Cohen has been involved in the photographic industry his entire career and previously served as President of Rangefinder/WPPI and earlier, Hasselblad USA. He founded in 2013. Skip is co-host for “Mind Your Own Business” and “Beyond Technique,” webcasts through, writes for several publications including Shutter Magazine and is actively involved in several advisory boards for non-profit organizations.

clouds illusions

Cloud’s Illusions

I enjoy clouds!

At sunrise. At sunset. In the middle of the day. From below. From above. The constantly changing and rearranging palette of shape, form, and color keep me pointing my camera at the sky. I wonder if the Judy Collins song, a trendy song in my youth, might have something to do with it?

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.”
Judy Collins
Check out the song at the bottom of this post! Turn it on while you are reading.
Here are a few cloud images from the last couple days.

 cloud photoLook at how many different cloud types are in this section of sky. Out west here in AZ this usually happens when a front is moving in after a dry spell. Just enough wind to change some shape and at different levels of elevation

cloud imageWhen a wonderful cloud situation appears, I usually shoot the heck out of it. Horizontal, vertical. Wide-angle and zoom. All give a different look which may work differently for various applications. For example, You don’t typically want to put an image that was photographed with a long focal length into an image that was made with a wide-angle lens. You can’t always put your finger on it, but it just doesn’t ‘feel’ correct.

sunset cloudThis image from later in the day
sunset silhouetteAnd, of course, what would a sunset be without a silhouette to give it a little interest.
You might ask, “Bob, why do you photograph the clouds?” And, I’m glad you did.
Number one, I enjoy them and like to review them when the sky is in a more monochromatic mode.
Number two, sometimes my images might need a little help as the day was cloudless and the right sky can add drama and life to an otherwise ordinary photo. Having a large selection of all types of cloud formations at your beck and call makes for believable results. When changing out a sky in a scene one must match the lighting direction and tone of the image, or it will have that, “That sky was replaced.” look.
Number three, I’ve found that adding cloud images to my artwork can add, life, depth, and dimension through using Photoshop’s Blend Modes. When using Blend Modes clouds can add pizazz because they contain lots of changing tones.
Number four, I’m not alone in my love of clouds. For example, on Instagram the hashtag clouds and cloudfreakHave almost Eighty-four MILLION posts.
The images in this post were captured with the Lumix LX100. This is a handy little guy (just a little bigger than pocket size) to have around. Fast glass, wide-angle to medium zoom range and all controls are available on the outside of the camera. Not necessary to go into the menus after initial set-up of the camera.
I’ll revisit clouds from the other side in a few days.
Yous in Creative Photography,      Bob
Judy Collins – Both Sides Now

blue jay flight

Flight of the Blue Jay

I’m still a bit limited in getting out to photograph I’m trying to keep my camera reflexes in good shape. I continue looking for creative photo opportunities close to home. Anytime I can study the behavior of birds, no matter the type I find it adds to the storehouse of knowledge that will make ALL my avian photography better.

A case in point. I’ve been watching birds from my back porch and seeing what I can do to show behavior. I prefer to show movement vs. a still portrait in my work when possible. I have noticed that birds will tend to repeat patterns if they are hanging out in one area. IE a hummingbird will approach a feeder or flower a certain way almost every time returning to the same branch to rest. If a bird goes to the top of a tree, there is a good possibility that the bird will return to the same branch in a short period. I often share that you need to observe wildlife for a while before picking up your camera for the most exciting images.

bluejay flight bridge screen captureScreen capture from Adobe Bridge of bluejay flight

Most birds will take off into the wind. The bluejay above was facing the sun and the wind direction. The Great Blue Heron along with many other birds will usually offload some poo just before taking off. If startled or they are feeling threatened they will tend to turn away from the perceived threat.

bluejay in the treetopThis bluejay landed in the top of the tree waving in the light breeze.

I watched as it left the tree and tried to memorize how it began its flight. Did it fly high and up or start to dive to create lift? How did the wings move? With that image in my mind, I set the Lumix G9 camera to SH which stands for Super High speed. It uses the electronic shutter to allow for twenty FPS. The Leica 100-400mm lens was used fully racked out to its 800MM equivalent

bluejay flightFlight of the Bluejay with watercolor treatment

The image above was composited using Photoshop Layers and Masks. All relevant photos were selected in Adobe Bridge. Under the Tools Menu, I chose Load Files into Photoshop Layers which placed all files into a single PSD. Additional canvas size was added to the left side. Each image was offset and masked so that each image was not overlapping. Then a series of Photoshop Filters were applied to create a watercolor feel to the image.

bluejay flight with cloudsBecause the sky was flat, I added a cloud image to the Photoshop File.

A cloud image was opened and dragged into the flight file. Blend Modes were experimented with until I found one that added subtle sky detail.

This one might call for a Photoshop tutorial to show the progression of this image build. Let me know if you would like to see me produce one.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob



extraction tutorial

Photoshop Extraction Tutorial – Ray

While out to dinner with my wife I was studying, as I always seem to do, the light as it played across the room. I also watch the shadows on faces as people step into different light situations. Ray, the waiter, was standing with the large light source of the front doors shaping his face. I was taken by the way the light split his face. I asked if he would mind stopping for just a moment so I could get a quick capture. He agreed.

While the light and shadow were looking good on him The area in which he was standing left a little something to be desired. In the quest for the best of both worlds I exracted Ray for the scene, he was in and using textures, layers, blend modes and more shadows I created a bit more artistic space for him. As part of this exercise I also placed Ray into a scene I captured near St. Marks Square in Venice, Italy. See the tutorial for more info.

This video was requested by someone who saw the finished product and wanted to know how to accomplish this in post-production.

The image was captured with a Panasonic Lumix LX100 which I call the professional photographer’s point and shoot. Adobe Photoshop was the obvious choice for the completion of the personal project. I am always assigning myself personal projects to experiment, expand my skillset and keep in practice. If you don’t practice your photography and post-production skills on a regular basis, it always seems to be a strain rather than a pleasure to do post-production. Remember that to keep in top form you need to practice regularly, or the rust starts to form quickly. Think about professional golfers coming in from a hard day out on the course and heading straight the putting green or practice range as soon as their round is finished.

For another tutorial on extraction using some different tools check out this tutorial

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – See the original post here

a little infrared

A Little Infrared – View from Mariposa Restaurant

There’s a wonderful restaurant in Sedona; AZ called Mariposa. Award-winning chef/owner Lisa Dahl created a Latin-inspired Grill menu on the hill between Uptown and West Sedona. I highly recommend heading over there for lunch. Good stuff! This was a location that caused me to say, “There should be a restaurant here!’ every time I passed this location. Much of the thought involved had to do with the spectacular view.

While passing by today, I saw some clouds and thought that a little-infrared imaging was in order. As always I recommend working the scene at least a little bit. Play with composition. Play with cropping. Play with different angles. As I didn’t have a lot of time I didn’t work the scene as much as I might have but here are three images.

mariposa viewFirst Capture. I only had a very wide angle zoom. The trees kind of overwhelm the red rocks in the middle ground in this rendition.

mariposa view in infraredZooming in a bit and using the play of the foreground tree to balance the red rocks in the background. Using the tighter crop also allowed the sky to read better as there was more movement in the area without clouds.

square crop of mariposa viewHere is one last version cropped to a square from the image above. It brings even more attention to the red rocks while honoring the glowing tree.

Images were captured with the Lumix G6 which was converted to infrared by LifePixel. Any camera you have retired just sitting on the shelf after upgrading your equipment can be brought to new life by a conversion. It opens the middle of the day to some creative image making. This is the standard 720nm filter that most looks like infrared of old. Infrared converted cameras that are live view capable make it possible to see the image in real time and not have to make focus adjustments as we once did with film cameras.

I processed these in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop to control contrast and set the proper tonal range. I then made a copy of the layer and used Skylum’s Luminar 2018** as a plugin to add a glow to the highlights and tweak specific areas for more contrast control, and then another layer to add a little noise to replicate the look of IR.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

** Use CODE COATES to get $10 off if you decide to buy Skylum software such as Luminar and Aurora HDR software.

looking for shadows

Looking for Shadows

In photography, you will often hear people exhorting you to ‘Look for the Light’! I don’t know how many times I heard and read that during my learning process over the years. I believe that my photography leaped forward when I first heard ‘Look for the Shadows.’ When I started looking for and shooting into, the shadows I saw a marked difference in the depth and dimension of my photographs.

Look for the shadows has become my watchword. Shadows are what make or break an image. If you are walking along and you see harsh shadows being cast by the trees and shrubs and you decide to put your subject in that same light, you will get harsh shadows. Seeing little pockets of soft shadows and using these areas will make for less contrast in your images. To me, soft shadow edge transitions lend beauty and form to a subject being placed on a two-dimensional surface that you want to read as three dimensions.

That being said I am always watching how the light and shadows interact which brings me to today’s post. We were out to dinner at my wife’s favorite restaurant J Wine Bistro in the VOC Sedona, AZ. I noticed the waiter Ray and saw the split light on his face from the light beside the front door of the restaurant. I asked Ray when he had a moment if he would strike a quick pose for me.

waiter ray at j wine bistroRay with split light.

While I enjoyed the light shaping Ray’s face, I wasn’t thrilled with the background as you might imagine. So let’s play! I extracted Ray from the environment and went to work.

wiater ray on blueAfter extraction and some added texture and background.

Ray on goldA slight change in layer positioning adds a whole new color palette and feel to the image.

ray in ItalyLast I thought I’d see how Ray liked being in Italy.

The original image was captured with what I call the professional photographer’s point and shoot. It’s the Lumix LX100. The LX100 is a nice handy camera that can fit in a large pocket. It has a fixed lens with fast f1.7-2.8 Leica glass and a decent zoom range of 24-72mm.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob