my muse

my muse

My Muse – Pash Galbavy

I gotta tell ya it is some kind of wonderful to have a creative person who enjoys being in front of the camera! I’ve never had a muse before. For those who might not know the term here’s the Dictionary definition.

Verb (used without object), mused, mus·ing.
  1. to think or meditate in silence, as on some subject.
  2. Archaic. to gaze meditatively or wonderingly.
noun: Muse; plural noun: Muses; noun: muse; plural noun: muses
  1. (in Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
    synonyms: inspiration, creative influence, stimulus;

    “the poet’s muse”
  2. 2.
    a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

Having a person who is an artist in their own right is a gift. Pash has ideas, shares them with me and then lets the chips fall where they may. We start to make photographs with her thoughts in mind then we go wherever the first situation takes us. She has an intimate relationship with the environment which is usually the starting point. Then I add a couple of thoughts to refine, and we experiment and play, and this invariably leads me to create new imagery that I find exciting.

I usually end up pushing my personal boundaries as we work together. And then, even more, when I get into post-production.

pash in red oak creekPash in red. Made with Lumix G9

Our latest foray into collaboration led to a photo session on Oak Creek in which she had a thought of ‘creating a mermaid.’ I had the urge to play with infrared and had her do some warm-up posing on the rocks with a dress, flowing cloth and au’ natural.

pash flowing tulle infraredThis Photo has the feeling of a Greek Statue to me. Infrared made with Lumix G6 converted by LifePixel

As the session went on, I added Tiffen neutral density filters to extend the time that the shutter would be open.

slow exposure infrared photoThe neutral density filters extended the time allowing the wind to register in the trees.

nude on rock in oak creekThis image reminds of one of the classic painters.

More from this session to come.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – Learn more about Pash here

bobs talkin

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.
ppa district competition bonus

ppa district competition bonus

Professional Photographers of America

Southwest District Competition – Photographic Open Results

Professional Photographers of America supports photographic education in many ways. One of those is through the Merit and Degree program. Two of the degrees are image based on that you need to earn thirteen Merits plus another twelve Merits for service or education in the industry.

On the way to International Photographic Competition (IPC) is a proving ground called the Districts. The country is divided into five different Districts of which I am a member of the Southwest District. They recently completed the judging, and I earned Merits for all eight of my entries. Additionally, I received an automatic Loan Collection image for scoring 95 or above. Another image will be judged for Loan when IPC commences August 5th through 8th at Gwinett Technical School just outside Atlanta in Georgia.

I’ll share my images here except for one that will be judged for Loan Collection as the judges are not to have access to any unjuged photos.

Last light image‘Days End’ – A spectacular sunset on the red rocks in Sedona viewed from Hwy 179.
A slightly different version of this image is available for sale through the Gallery of Modern Masters in the Hillside Shopping area. Day’s End will be automatically accepted into the PPA Loan Collection at the final judging in August because it scored above a 95.

Pash in the juniper treeA capture of my Muse Pash Galbavy who is an incredible artist who is in love with nature. She is a life model, mask maker, performance artist and so much more. Other images from this series with Pash are also available through Gallery of Modern Masters. This image earned a Merit score

image3While in Nashville at last year’s PPA convention I hoofed it out to the bridge to capture a night shot of the skyline along the river. This image also earned a Merit score.

PPA 2nd place ribbon southwest districtThis image will represent the Non-Event album which scored a 92. I can’t share the images from this until after judging for the Loan Collection in August. It scored second place in the category.

These are the Photographic Open Category images. In the next couple days, I’ll share my Artist entries with you.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

blackwater national wildlife refuge part three

blackwater national wildlife refuge part three

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge – Part Three

If you have followed my work for any length of time, you know that I enjoy moving my work into a more painting-based look. I have taken a term I heard from Julianne Kost and adopted it for my new business. “Lens Based Artist.” I have decided to start promoting my more art based images and have begun gallery representation and selling my work as art.

More on that in future posts. (things are starting to take off. YAY!)

Back to Blackwater images and the post-processing. Here are a few photos of which I have played using the PhotoSynthesis process I have been working on over the years.

geese in flight art bob coates photographyGeese in Flight. Love the wing positions and pattern of the birds in the sky.

I worked on this image on the plane while en route back to Arizona from my speaking engagement in Maryland where the images were captured. My seatmate was fascinated by the process, and I talked him through my thinking as I worked on the photo. There are several layers of multiple images blended using Adobe Photoshop’s blend Modes and masks. The geese in flight created their art with all the different wing positions. I was able to capture their flight using the **Lumix GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm lens. The reach of this lens with the stabilization in the camera are making captures such as this easier than ever.

heron art bob coates photographyGreat Blue Heron on the shoreline.

After working on the piece and adding layers of textures, I pulled the image into Skylum’s Focus CK (part of the Creative Kit or available as a stand-alone) to add a bit of selective sharpness to the subject and vignette and slight blurring to the rest of the image. I use this tool in the Macro setting quite often. I could do the same thing directly in Photoshop, but it would take much more time and many more steps to accomplish the same thing. Plugins are very handy. I decide whether to purchase plugins based on how often I perform specific techniques. When I find the plugin saves me the time or makes it possible for me to do something I would not be able to accomplish otherwise, I buy.

heron in flight art imageHeron in Flight – All images are © Bob Coates Photography – All Rights Reserved

I don’t think any of these images are ‘ready for prime time’ as yet. I think of them as sketches testing ideas and pointing to the direction I wish to go.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

** I’ll be using the Lumix G9 in the future for most of my wildlife shooting. Designed with the stills photographer in mind, it adds 6 1/2 stops of handholdabilty (GH5 has 5) along with a better grip and button design for still photographers.

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