Will Moneymaker Photography: Blog https://willmoneymaker.com/blog en-us (C) WillMoneymaker.com (Will Moneymaker Photography) Sat, 10 Apr 2021 14:22:00 GMT Sat, 10 Apr 2021 14:22:00 GMT Revisiting Your Old Work https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/4/revisiting-your-old-work Painted DaisyPainted DaisyModern cultivated chrysanthemums are much more showy than their wild relatives. The flowers occur in various forms, and can be daisy-like, decorative, pompons or buttons. This genus contains many hybrids and thousands of cultivars developed for horticultural purposes. In addition to the traditional yellow, other colors are available, such as white, purple, and red.

http://www.willmoneymaker.com/painted-daisy

Looking at Your Old Images with Fresh Perspective

As photographers, we are on a never-ending quest to create something new and unusual. After so many years of taking photos, you more than likely have terabytes of archived raw files or boxes upon boxes of negatives – most of which you haven’t looked at in years. Even those photos that we once chose as our favorites are sometimes buried under a wave of new, exciting images.

At some point, though, we all need to go back to our photographic roots. When you next have the chance, sit down to browse your old images. Go back and take new photos of old subjects. Simply examining the contrast between your new work and the old will prove to be a wonderful learning experience, and you may find that your archives are packed with hidden gems and surprising sources of inspiration.

Going through Your Archives

There are several good reasons to revisit your archives from time to time. For one thing, your archives serve as a record that tracks the progression of your skills. You’ll also have the opportunity to see how your style has evolved over the years. If you’ve been a photographer for many years, you’re quite likely to see some old yet interesting techniques that fell by the wayside for one reason or another. What you find might just be interesting enough for you to give those old techniques a second chance from a new perspective.

More importantly, however, is that as you look at your work with fresh eyes, you may find something special that you never noticed before. Since you’re also more experienced as an editor, you’ll be able to fine-tune some of your early work in ways that would not have been possible in your early years as a photographer.

Visiting Old Subjects

Our archives aren’t the only things we should be looking at. Consider some of the subjects you photographed in those early years. I know that the temptation is strong to move on and photograph new things, but there is nothing wrong with going back and taking new photos of old things.

Think about this: As the years passed, your skills as a photographer have grown, and your style has changed. You have far more experience with your camera and your editing software, and you probably have new equipment that lets you push boundaries a little further. Most importantly, though, is that you’ve had years of life experiences, which means that you will be looking at those old subjects from an entirely new perspective.

What this means is that when you go back to create new images of old subjects, you won’t simply be creating a slightly improved version of your previous work. Instead, you’ll have a chance to create something entirely new and unique, and something that also calls you back to the beginnings of your career as a photographer.

New knowledge, more experience, better equipment, and a fresh perspective – bring all of these things to your early work, and surprising things may happen. In fact, if you find yourself stuck in something of a photographic rut, simply looking at your old work may be just what you need to give you a fresh burst of creativity. After all, sometimes moving forward means looking back on your past.

Now go . . . and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.

Learn More: MoneymakerPhotography.com
 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/4/revisiting-your-old-work Sat, 10 Apr 2021 14:20:55 GMT
A New Way to Look at Individuality https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/A-New-Way-to-Look-at-Individuality Individuality may mean adjusting our styles to suit the photograph rather than making each photograph fit our styles. Learn my thoughts here!

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) ansel adams individuality photographic photography clips wisdom https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/A-New-Way-to-Look-at-Individuality Fri, 26 Mar 2021 18:09:31 GMT
What People Say and What They Do https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/What-People-Say-and-What-They-Do Paying for photography reviews might result in a brief flash of attention. But lasting popularity comes from photographs designed to promote themselves.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photography Clips https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/What-People-Say-and-What-They-Do Fri, 26 Mar 2021 18:08:53 GMT
Break the Rules https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/Break-the-Rules We need to learn the rules so that we can learn the basics. But once you’ve learned the rules well enough? Then it becomes OK to break them when needed.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photography Clips https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/Break-the-Rules Mon, 22 Mar 2021 05:00:00 GMT
Emphasis https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/Emphasis Sometimes the emphasis is necessary for photography, but it’s not so easy as adding an exclamation point. Here are thoughts to help you get your point across.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photography Clips https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/Emphasis Fri, 19 Mar 2021 06:00:00 GMT
Life is the Source https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/Life-is-the-Source There are many ways to approach photography projects. Letting them spring from life itself may be among the best ways to create an organic story.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photography Clips https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/3/Life-is-the-Source Wed, 17 Mar 2021 05:00:00 GMT
WM-280: Art is Timeless https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/2/art-is-timeless

Classical works teach us that art has timeless value—and that includes photography. This is why we spend time with images in order to fully understand them.

Podcast Show Notes

Click Here to listen to the Photography Clips podcast.
 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Art Classical Photography Clips Timeless https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/2/art-is-timeless Wed, 24 Feb 2021 14:15:49 GMT
Taking Inspiration in New Ways https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/2/taking-inspiration-in-new-ways Taking Inspiration in New WaysTaking Inspiration in New WaysInspiration doesn’t have to come from photography alone. Look for it in all aspects of life and from all kinds of people.

Inspiration doesn’t have to come from photography alone. Look for it in all aspects of life and from all kinds of people.

Click Here to listen to the Photography Clips podcast.

Inspiration is such an interesting subject, and one of the reasons why? In my opinion, it’s because we miss a lot of what there is to be inspired by. Looking at the photographs of others is a prime example. I’ll be willing to bet that much like me, most people do the same. We look at photographs of others for the artistic inspiration. Perhaps there are techniques within them that we’d like to learn, or maybe we’re getting ideas for our own photographs. It could be that we’re admiring colors, compositions, and so on. Aside from the simple enjoyment of art, this is one of the primary reasons to look at photographs or study a historic photographer’s body of work...

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Inspiration Photography Photography Clips https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2021/2/taking-inspiration-in-new-ways Wed, 24 Feb 2021 13:46:11 GMT
Magic Numbers https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/magic-numbers
Magic NumbersMagic numbers are a real thing, though perhaps not in the way that you suppose. I’ll show you how certain numbers will benefit your photographs.
Magic numbers rule the world, or so it seems. And I’m not talking about money, although I’m sure accountants and investors would beg to differ. Rather, I’m referring to numbers that are so commonly seen in design...

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) composition numbers photography rule of thirds https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/magic-numbers Tue, 24 Nov 2020 16:15:00 GMT
Avoiding Extremes https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/avoiding-extremes Avoiding ExtremesAvoiding ExtremesMarketers sell flagship cameras because that’s the only way to excite us. But do we need it when less expensive models will suit most needs?
You’ve heard me talk about gear before and how we’re so often lured into buying more gear or more expensive gear than we absolutely need in this sort of “keep up with the Joneses” race to the best camera. And here’s another thought related to extreme gear—the cameras with crazy high megapixels, the ones that can shoot at extraordinarily high ISOs without much noise, and so on. I think that there’s a good reason why marketers market these extreme cameras so hard. And it’s not because they’re trying to take us for everything they can...

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) cameras Extremes Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/avoiding-extremes Mon, 23 Nov 2020 16:05:58 GMT
WM-269: The Many Benefits of Old Age https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/the-many-benefits-of-old-age-wm-269
We don’t think of old age as having many benefits, but it does! We grow wiser, and through patience or other means, we slow down to observe the world.

Podcast Show Notes
 

Click Here to listen to the weekly podcast:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/podcast

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https://moneymakerphotography.com/ebooks

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Health Old Age Photography Clips podcast https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/the-many-benefits-of-old-age-wm-269 Sat, 21 Nov 2020 18:01:19 GMT
WM-267: Dig Deep in Your Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/dig-deep-in-your-photography-wm-267

We often give photographs a passing glance when searching for something to study. But is it worthwhile to dig deeper even when images don’t initially grab us?

Show Notes:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/dig-deep 

Click Here to listen to the weekly podcast:
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https://moneymakerphotography.com/giveaways

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https://moneymakerphotography.com/ebooks

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photographs Photography Clips Podcast https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/dig-deep-in-your-photography-wm-267 Thu, 12 Nov 2020 00:14:36 GMT
WM-266: Time is Valuable in Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/time-is-valuable-in-photography-wm-266

No matter who you ask, every photographer will have a different answer as to what they prize most highly. Today I’ll talk about the most valuable resource of them all.

Show Notes:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/time-is-valuable/

Click Here to listen to the weekly podcast:
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https://moneymakerphotography.com/giveaways

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https://moneymakerphotography.com/ebooks

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photography Clips Podcast Resource Time https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/time-is-valuable-in-photography-wm-266 Thu, 12 Nov 2020 00:10:53 GMT
WM-013: Why Should Your Photos Stand Alone? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/why-should-your-photos-stand-alone-wm-013

You don't always need to create images that stand alone. In this episode, we’ll talk about creating wonderful works of art by combining several photographs into one cohesive story with Diptychs, Triptychs, and More.

Show Notes:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/photos-stand-alone

Click Here to listen to the weekly podcast:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/podcast

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https://moneymakerphotography.com/giveaways

Photography eBooks:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/ebooks

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Diptychs Photography Clips Podcast Triptychs https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/why-should-your-photos-stand-alone-wm-013 Mon, 09 Nov 2020 15:58:47 GMT
WM-265: Blurred Mediums https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/blurred-mediums-wm-265

Photography is an interesting art in that we blur the lines between mediums more so than most. Today I’ll share my thoughts on this, and you’ll see what I mean!

Show Notes:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/blurred-mediums/

Click Here to listen to the weekly podcast:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/podcast

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https://moneymakerphotography.com/giveaways

Photography eBooks:
https://moneymakerphotography.com/ebooks


 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) artist digital gelatin mediums oil painter photographer Photography Photography Clips Podcast silver watercolor https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/blurred-mediums-wm-265 Tue, 03 Nov 2020 18:53:41 GMT
A Brief History of the Photographic Lens https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/a-brief-history-of-the-photographic-lens

It is surprising, with as modern as our technology is today, how old photography really is. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the history of lenses, specifically. In fact, lenses have been around for hundreds of years, even though the camera itself came much later. Let’s take a quick walk through history to show you how the lens has evolved over the ages.

 

The Lens Before the Camera

The first experiments with lenses are ancient, often attributed to an Arabian scientist named Abu Ali Hasan. Hasan lived more than 1,000 years ago, between 965 AD and 1040 AD. In his experiment, he looked through a glass sphere, noting how the shape of the sphere itself changed what he was looking at. Though this experiment is primitive by today’s standards, it was considered a lens nonetheless.

 

Hasan’s experiments led to more experiments with optics and by the 1500s, it was well known by researchers that if you applied an aperture to a lens, the things you would see through that lens would be higher quality. At the time, however, scientists were unaware of why this was. It was only later discovered that an aperture helps to prevent distortion.

 

The next major development to photographic lenses also came in the 1500s with the camera obscura. The camera obscura was essentially a large room with a lens in one wall. As light would shine through that lens, an image of whatever was before the lens was projected onto the wall. Developers of the camera obscura refined lens designs, creating such things as the biconvex lens. A biconvex lens is simply a glass element that curves outward on each side. Obscura designers, vintage engraving.Obscura designers, vintage engraving.Obscura designers, vintage engraved illustration. Industrial encyclopedia E.-O. Lami - 1875.

Photography is Born and the Lens Evolves

The very first camera lens, as we would know it today, was invented by the maker of the first camera, Charles Chevalier. This was shortly after Louis Daguerre invented photography in 1839. Chevalier’s lens was an achromatic landscape lens — basically, a lens with two elements that reduce chromatic aberration. This lens had two apertures only, f/14 and f/15 and in order for it to work, exposure times needed to be incredibly long, on the order of hours or days.

Lens produced and designed by Charles Chevalier in 1840 (Museo Nicéphore Niépce)

The Lens Undergoes Rapid Development

From 1839 on, the photographic lens underwent a transformation. In 1840, Chevalier developed the world’s first variable focus lens, specifically for portraiture. This lens sported an aperture of f/6, requiring shorter exposure times. This design was shared among the newly born photographic community and Max Petzval developed an even better portrait lens, also in 1840. This lens was made by Voigtlander.

 

After these came lenses like the panoramic lens, which was developed by Thomas Sutton, the globe lens, by Charles Harrison and the Orthoskop, developed by Petzval. For the next 100 years, lenses such as these would be developed and improved upon or scrapped depending on the faults or strengths of each.

 

Selectable apertures were first invented in 1858 by John Waterhouse. Unlike today’s aperture stops, the Waterhouse stops had no adjustable ring. Instead, to change the aperture, photographers used brass plates with holes of different sizes, changing plates between shots to adjust the aperture. It took about 30 years for this innovation to become the new standard — it was the 1880s when photographers began to realize that aperture affected the image’s depth of field and therefore, depth of field could be used to create various effects.


Lenses in the 1930s

Between the 1830s and the 1930s, lenses steadily grew more complex, adding more elements and more ways to adjust them. The telephoto lens was invented in 1905 in Germany, known as the Busch Bis-Telar with an aperture of f/8. However, these were all small steps compared to the rapid development of lenses in the 1930s. During the 1930s, cameras were becoming more and more common. No longer was the camera a tool used for portraiture or science but also for art. Amateurs had cameras, there were aerial cameras, movie cameras had been invented and even a few hobbyists had their own cameras to make home movies or still pictures.

 

With this proliferation of cameras came the proliferation of lenses. The first reversed telephoto lens was produced to create close-up images. Photographers with 35mm movie cameras could now buy zoom lenses for their cameras.

 

Interestingly, by 1934, the first non-glass lenses were appearing. It started with the Perspex lens, which was a plastic lens created in 1934 by KGK Syndicate. Then, Plexiglas hit the market later in that same year, the first ever lens made from acrylic. Major companies, many of which are still in operation today, like DuPont and DOW Chemical, started their own lines of cameras and lenses. By the end of the decade, it was assumed that glass lenses would become a relic of history while plastic, acrylic and Lucite lenses would be the way of the future.

 

World War II and the Photographic Lens

The development that brought us lenses as we know them today was World War II, or more specifically, the aftermath of World War II. You see, during the war, the Japanese economy was devastated. Afterwards, during the U.S. occupation of Japan, billions of dollars were poured into the nation’s economy. With close to half of the country’s factories destroyed — and a large population of soldiers entering a workforce that did not have the jobs to support them — the Japanese turned themselves into a technological powerhouse.

 

Japanese cameras and lenses became the standard that all manufacturers around the world used to forge ahead. Even today, Japan is a major force in the market for cameras and lenses. These long decades of competition are what led to the technology that we have today.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) aperture stops biconvex lens camera camera obscura charles chevalier japan john waterhouse lens louis daguerre telephoto lens waterhouse stops world war ii zoom lens https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2020/11/a-brief-history-of-the-photographic-lens Tue, 03 Nov 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Remembering Diane Arbus: Her Gift to the World https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2018/10/remembering-diane-arbus-her-gift-to-the-world Diane Arbus, an American photographer, writer and teacher, produced riveting photographic work that captivated the artistic world with dreamlike imagery and fantastical subject matter. While at times labeled eerie or bizarre, one cannot begrudge the propensity of her work or the vivacity with which it was accomplished, as Arbus herself often pushed the limits to portray her vision. Visiting slums, decaying hotels and bars, Arbus exposed the underbelly of New York and brought an infusion of life to the artistic world.

Focusing much of her photographic work of the 50's, 60's and 70's on those spurned by society or viewed as aberrations and curiosities, Arbus brought forth the bliss, trepidation and woe of the human condition, not only in her subjects but in those who viewed her work. She famously said, "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know." This singular statement offers a glimpse into the innermost workings of her mind and the message she speculatively tried to convey through her work. Her lesson to the world and other artists was one of relative truth - that nothing is what it appears to be and though beauty can be veiled, mysterious or seemingly lacking, it is ever present in every living thing. It is this human condition and understanding that every photographer must find to create the undefinable essence that is art.

By photographing the downtrodden, the lonely, the "freakish" and the strange, her photography takes on a surreal quality, almost Tress-like in many ways. Arbus touched on the imagination, bringing fantasy to life, although for her subjects - the fantasy was life. As was her nature, she often grew close to the subjects of her work and followed their lives for years at a time, speaking to the depth of her passion. This quality and intensity is as poignant today as it was during her relatively short lifetime, leaving all who view her work with a lasting impression of inexplicable depth. During her lifetime, Arbus was not always viewed as a visionary, with some of her earlier work being described as "middling quality." True to form, Arbus was not deterred and in 1967 her work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art.

Today, when so much photographic art seems to offer little more than a cookie-cutter quality and a spurious nature, many artists are left looking to the past for inspiration, finding the work of Arbus and others waiting in the shadows to be discovered and analyzed. The drive to create, along with the insatiable search for artistic mastery and truth lies within each individual, who must ask himself whether safety and accepted forms of beauty are somehow more valuable than the portrayal of the tender, wounded or defiant. Diane Arbus had the courage not only to ask herself this question, but to act upon her convictions.

Although some photographs have the power to disturb, provoke or horrify, isn't this the very quality that breathes life into one's work? The thing that drives an artist from within? The obscure necessity to breathe life and truth into what lies beneath the superficial? Every person has the capability to show others the world through new eyes. Arbus put it best when she said, "I really believe there are things others would not see if I did not photograph them." This could be viewed as fanatical or grandiose by some, but in reality it is a simple and profound truth spoken by one who saw the world in contrasting entirety.

From The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley's words ring true in regard to the life and work of Arbus, " We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone....The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling."

Through her portrayal of others, Arbus ultimately bared her own soul, as each photographer does, often unknowingly. She displayed the courage that few dare to, sharing herself and her vision with the world in a ferocious clash against all that was acceptable, flaunting the misunderstood in unkempt ragged beauty. For this, she reaped infamy, although her own life was fraught with pain and depressive episodes, ultimately resulting in death by her own hand. Perhaps Arbus was one of the exceptionably gifted individuals that Huxley refers to, living in a torturous limbo, caught between craving life and loathing it - unable to find common ground or fellow feeling with the masses that swirled around her daily. In spite of her personal tragedy, Arbus branded herself and her vision on the world, manifested in unembellished transparency for all to see, speaking for her fearlessness and perhaps her need to connect.

What lessons can fellow photographers garner from the life and works of Diane Arbus? If it must be singular, the lesson is perhaps one of courage and truth; daring to do what others dare not, listening to the call of one's passions and seeking understanding of the self through others. While her photographs awaken differing levels of emotion in those who view them and provoke debate still today, the work of Diane Arbus speaks to the heart of all that is good, wretched and indomitable in man.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) diane arbus famous photographers portraits https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2018/10/remembering-diane-arbus-her-gift-to-the-world Sun, 07 Oct 2018 07:15:00 GMT
We've moved! https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/11/weve-moved Check out our new photography blog website. I know you'll enjoy it!

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) moved https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/11/weve-moved Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:25:56 GMT
Photography is Potential https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/9/photography-is-potential Wine BarrelsWine BarrelsThis photo was taken in a junkyard full of old wine barrels. There were so many bees flying around that I had to extend the legs on my tripod and slide it with my camera attached in between the wine barrels. I was stung once but it was worth getting this cool HDR photo. Also, I used the Topaz B&W Effectsconversion tool for the B&W enhancement...


Read More:http://www.willmoneymaker.com/blog/2012/11/oak-barrels-early-wine-history
We’ve long made the assumption that photography is, in itself, an art. And in a general sense, that is true, the same way that painting is an art or that writing is an art. But I think that we need a little bit more specificity in what, precisely the art of photography is. Surveys from 2014 showed that 1.8 billion photographs were uploaded online each and every single day. Now just imagine how many photos are taken every day, most of which will never be uploaded.
 

Are all of these images art? Of course not, just the same as not every written word is considered art, either. Even within my own collection of images, the external hard drives with gigabytes upon gigabytes of image files. Is each and every one of those files something that should be considered art?
 

I don’t think so. To me, those files are simply assets. They are a tool that I could use to create art but in and of themselves, they are not actually art. It is similar to the painter who goes to the art store and buys the paints, brushes, and canvas that he or she will need. These three things are the assets that the painter will use, not the art itself. In that same way, image files are not necessarily art. Just an element that can become art.
 

I realize that this must sound confusing so let me explain my thought process a little more. Photographs, to me, photography, is potential. I’ll show you some of the things that I think need to be done in order for those assets to realize their potential.

 

It Takes a Creative Process to Make Art

I don’t know about anyone else but a lot of the photos in my collection are images that were taken with the idea that perhaps I could turn them into something, not necessarily that I would. Other images are parts of projects, assets that fit a chosen theme that may or may not become part of a grouping of images later on. As I’ve said, these, to me, are assets. Sitting untended on a hard drive somewhere, they will not become art until I have applied my creative process to them.
 

In other words, this means that pressing the shutter release is only the beginning of the journey. Later on, those images will need to be dragged out of their folders, thought about carefully, processed — do whatever you need to do in order to turn them into something other than a RAW file that no one will ever see. It is only after you have applied your creative process to these images that they will potentially become art.

 

Art Should Be Seen

This reminds me of that old rhetorical question: “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter whether it made a sound or not. No one was there to see, hear or experience it so it may as well have never happened.
 

Ask yourself this about art: If an image exists but no one ever gets a chance to experience it, is it really art? Photography, or any art, is not so different from the question about the tree. You may be very fond of a photograph. Perhaps you’ve spent hours upon hours developing it, refining all the details, going back and redoing things until everything is just right.
 

However, if that image never sees the light of day, if others never get to experience what you have created, then is it still art? Of course, to you, it is — likely you enjoy the image or you would not have put the effort into it that you did. But I would argue that if you are willing to put that effort in, then perhaps it is time to show others the effort you have put in as well. At its heart, art is communication and you communicate with no one when you keep your work to yourself.
 

Now, this does not mean that you must have your work hanging in a museum or a gallery in order for it to win the vaunted title of art. It doesn’t have to be so complicated as all that. If you’d rather, simply turn your image into a PDF and share it with friends or photography enthusiasts via email or dedicated photography message boards. Print, mat, and frame it to hang in your home. Or, consider making a self-published book of images. Many companies nowadays make beautiful books on an individual basis — no need to print more than one if you’d rather not. Once you’ve had that book made, now you have your very own coffee table book that you and your family can enjoy and that you can share with visitors if you so desire. Whatever you choose, don’t let the effort go to waste on you and you alone. Share the beauty you have created!

 

Art is Labor

In this day and age with billions of photographs taken each day, it comes as no surprise that there are a lot of would-be photographers out there who call themselves artists but all they are doing is snapping photos as quickly as they can and then hitting that print or share button. And sure, amazing photographs will be created this way. With the sheer enormity of the numbers, there are likely many groundbreaking snapshots produced each day. It is like winning the lottery, however. The chances are there that it can happen but those chances are very low.
 

Real art, made by real artists, no matter the genre or medium, is a time intensive thing. It is a labor of love, one that requires the artist to spend inordinate amounts of time in the making of the piece. It is the kind of labor that doesn’t end until the artist is satisfied — if, indeed, it is even possible to satisfy him or her.
 

Bear in mind that these are only some of the necessities for creating art — and they aren’t always entirely essential. Once in a very great while, a photograph turns out wonderfully with minimal work required to make it ready for printing. Displaying images isn’t always easy, either. These thoughts, the viewing of images as potential art, are part of what helps me turn a photograph into something that I consider art, not necessarily the method that everyone needs to use.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) art potential https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/9/photography-is-potential Wed, 06 Sep 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Overcoming a Lack of Confidence in Your Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/overcoming-a-lack-of-confidence Overcoming a Lack of ConfidenceOvercoming a Lack of ConfidenceOvercoming a Lack of Confidence
Raymond Depardon, a famous French photographer, was once noted as saying, “The photographer is filled with doubt. Nothing will soothe him.” I’ve found over my career that this is very true. There are lots of reasons to be doubtful, reasons that, if you let them, will stop your creative pursuits before you get underway.
 

It starts with the dive into photography itself. You may feel like you are not artistic enough to become an artist or the very thought of learning all of the things that you will one day need to know might seem overwhelming. Then, as you progress, it can be difficult to work up the courage to display your images, to ask for constructive criticism. Photos might languish in a folder on your computer simply because you don’t have the confidence to do much else with them.
 

Later on, confidence issues arise when you ponder sending submissions to websites, magazines or galleries. Maybe you’ve thought about starting a photography based business but you are worried that for one reason or another, it won’t be a success. You think you are not good enough or your business skills are not where they need to be — there are many things over the course of your career that will erode your confidence. And frankly, it does take a lot of confidence, courage even, to put yourself out there, be it as a hobbyist with a passion for art, a professional artist or a commercial photographer of some kind.
 

So how do you overcome a lack of confidence? Fortunately, there are lots of ways to go about it. Here are some of the methods that I recommend.
 


Gain Confidence through Valid Opinions
 

The opinions of others are a dangerous thing — though they are also vital for any artist. Let’s say that you show your artwork to your friends or family. Because they love you, they gush over it, whether it is actually good work or not. Compliments like this can work against you because the temptation is there to believe that these compliments are given simply because these people are trying to avoid hurting your feelings. Without critique, you don’t know what is wrong with the images, what you need to improve, and thus, you begin to doubt yourself.
 

Conversely, this can also lead to overconfidence followed by a serious blow to the ego. Imagine having your work buoyed by people who simply want to make you happy. So much so that you proudly strut off to the nearest gallery, believing you’ll almost certainly make that sale, only to have your work torn apart by a completely uninterested gallery owner.
 

This is why valid critique — not just the things you want to hear or the things that people want to say in order to avoid hurt feelings but real, honest constructive criticism and compliments — is absolutely essential. Find people that you trust, that you know will give you such critiques. Then you can work with the critiques you hear, learn from your mistakes and in the end, feel more confident in the knowledge that you are producing better artwork.
 


Sometimes a Lack of Confidence Stems from a Lack of Knowledge
 

You’d not perform a lifesaving surgery on someone without years upon years of medical knowledge gained. In that same way, a lack of knowledge can lead you to doubt yourself when it comes to photography — though that lack of knowledge about art or photography is not nearly so dire as the metaphor I used. Even so, when it comes time to submit your work, you might be tempted to think that you don’t have the years of experience that are backing other submissions. If you want to start a business, you might stop yourself before it gets off the ground because you think that you don’t know enough to become successful.
 

This is the time to sit back and look at how far you have already come. Appreciate your progress for what it is and then stop and understand something: If you have already learned as much as you know now, then there is nothing stopping you from learning that much more. Never let a lack of knowledge be a barrier. Instead, pursue more knowledge until you gain from it the confidence you need to proceed with your goals.



Avoiding Comparisons
 

Where to begin with comparisons? In this day and age of social media, perhaps you have heard of a new phenomenon that is being talked about, sometimes called “obsessive comparison disorder” or “social comparison disorder.” In a nutshell, this is a term that refers to the way people sometimes view social media. They look around and see only the bright points of other peoples’ lives, which leads them into a kind of depression concerning their own lives. They’re comparing only the good things that they see on their friends’ timelines with the entirety of their own life experience, which is made up of both good and bad things. Unsurprisingly, when people examine their own lives against the picture-perfect world of Facebook, they often feel as if their life comes up short.
 

Photographers do this same thing. We look at the accomplishments, awards, and accolades of others and we use those comparisons to tear ourselves down. We don’t look at the hard work, the struggle, that went into those accomplishments. All we see is something that another has that we don’t. We fault ourselves for that lack of achievement instead of working to achieve the same.
 

Instead of comparing your accomplishments against the accomplishments of others, remember that it isn’t the gear, the accolades or even luck that makes the artist. Artists are born because they have the confidence to push onward despite obstacles in those other categories. If you find yourself looking at a photographer who has had six gallery showings where you have had none, think about this: Perhaps that photographer has been turned down by scores or even hundreds of galleries to get into those six where his or her work is featured now.
 

Most importantly, don’t dwell on what everyone around you is doing, thereby letting those comparisons erode at your confidence. Instead, push forward. Do what you want to do, not what you think you should be doing based on your observation of others.
 

There are many more things that can eat away at your confidence in this business, this art form. And for each of those things, there is a way to get past the bad, to build yourself up and push past the issue. Examine the source of your lack of confidence and then use whatever tools are at your disposal to move forward.

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) confidence constructive criticism https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/overcoming-a-lack-of-confidence Wed, 30 Aug 2017 13:00:00 GMT
The Many Problems with Social Media https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/the-many-problems-with-social-media The Many Problems with Social MediaThe Many Problems with Social Media
If you’re a photographer, then you’ve probably noticed by now that social media is problematic in many respects. Certainly, it can be a great marketing tool. However, it isn’t really designed to show photography at its best. It also comes with the problem of theft – images posted to social media are exceptionally easy to steal even though you may have put a watermark on them. But there are other aggravations, larger, in my opinion, than the possibility of theft. Let’s take a look at some of the issues with social media as it stands now. Perhaps there are other, better ways for you to display your photography online.

 

Viewing Art Takes Time

The thing about social media is that it is designed for mass consumption. Users are supposed to look at as much as possible when they are using a social media platform. Because we have limited time in our days, that leads to flipping through posts, clicking over and over, absorbing a little bit of information but not really giving ourselves time to fully take in the things that we see. We surf to Facebook or Twitter, click a few “like” buttons, make a comment or two and then we are moving on.
 

Imagine behaving that way at an art gallery. Would you walk in, point at the first thing you see, tell the gallery owner that you like it and then proceed to purchase it? You would not because you know that art needs to be viewed over a period of time. There is nuance to it, details to notice, meanings to learn. When you have a thousand other distractions all clamoring for your attention, it becomes very difficult to give art the time it requires.

 

Speaking of That “Like” Button…

Another thing that I find troubling about social media is those “like” buttons. Art, whether it is photography or any other kind of work, is a language, a way to communicate without speaking. It is meant to make people think and it is meant to start conversations. In my opinion, social media has a nulling effect on that.

The problem is, instead of starting conversations, people click that “like” button and then they are gone again. No conversation is had, at least, nothing deeper than a few comments. For the artist, there is no critique of the work. For the viewer, there is no deeper meaning.
 

That is why I think there are better ways to share digital images. It is far better to send a PDF to someone who is interested than to post a JPEG to an audience that may not even see the image, let alone take the time to really study it. This way, you can have a back and forth over email rather than just posting in the hopes of gaining a few likes and no other meaningful conversation beyond that.

 

Social Media is Not Great for Displaying Images

Photographers of yesteryear spent countless hours and untold sums of money on the darkroom, on print making, on matting and framing, everything that they needed to do in order to display an image at its best. Today, we still tend to do this sometimes but sometimes we simply display the images digitally because it is easier – and better yet, cheap or usually free.
 

And here again is the problem with social media. These platforms are simply not designed to display images professionally. It can be difficult to enlarge an image to full-screen displays. You may not be able to have your images displayed over your ideal background color, you will likely have ads over top parts of the images or at least in the sidebars, distracting viewers from the images. Buttons, the number of likes your post has received and so on. 
 

When all is said and done, no matter how powerful the imagery, it is diminished by all of the distractions. It is the difference between hanging a piece of art in a busy hallway where people simply don’t have the time or interest to enjoy it versus hanging that same piece of art in a museum, where people go specifically to look at things like that.
 

To that end, there are other digital mediums – the PDF, the online portfolio, a custom designed website for your photography, even a video designed like a slideshow – that will display your images to much greater effect.

 

Social Media Leads to Requests You Cannot Fulfill

This is a pet peeve and one that is somewhat unavoidable because everyone in this age is expected to have social media accounts. Sometimes you will get that request, particularly if you do wedding or portrait photography, the request from your client to just upload the files digitally to your social media account so that they can share and do as they like with them.
 

Imagine shooting a wedding in which you’ve taken 800 photographs. Do you really want to spend the time uploading the whole lot of them to Facebook so that they can be shared easily? Of course not!
 

Worse, social media platforms often come with image compression during the upload process and other factors that degrade the quality of the images – thus degrading your reputation potentially. On top of that, there is the issue of theft. Anyone can simply copy and paste the images or take a screenshot of them.
 

In my opinion, posting clients’ files on social media is much too problematic. And yet, there are some people who still assume that photographers should be willing to do this. It is much better, in my opinion, to give a DVD, a thumb drive or some other digital device to a client that wants digital copies. This is easier on the photographer, provides a better quality product to the client. And, let’s face it. No one is going to share all 800 photos from a wedding and even if they did, no one but the people directly involved in the wedding will take the time to scroll through them. The client can pick and choose their favorites to share from the digital files you give them offline.
 

Of course, social media isn’t all bad. It is, in fact, an incredibly valuable service for photographers and really for anyone that wants to stay in touch or take advantage of marketing opportunities. However, when it comes to displaying images on these platforms, don’t expect that they will be treated as art because the platforms themselves are not designed for people to behave as if they are in an art gallery.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) photography social media problems social media social media photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/the-many-problems-with-social-media Wed, 23 Aug 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Henri Cartier-Bresson: More Than the Decisive Moment https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/henri-cartier-bresson-more-than-the-decisive-moment  

Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 – August 3, 2004), French photographer (Wikipedia) When people think of Henri Cartier-Bresson, there is a very good chance that the first thing to come to mind is The Decisive Moment. Not only is that the title of a book by Cartier-Bresson but it is also the philosophy that he is most famous for. Essentially, the decisive moment that Cartier-Bresson refers to is that split-second creativity that happens when a photographer presses the shutter release at just the right time. Blink and you’ll miss it.

 

Cartier-Bresson’s philosophy about the decisive moment is a good one, one that is well worth your attention as a photographer. However, the decisive moment is also a bit problematic in some respects. We often find ourselves remembering Cartier-Bresson for this philosophy alone and not all of the many varied contributions that he made to photography. In the interest of learning something new, let’s take a look at some of the other things we can learn from Cartier-Bresson.

 

Art Was in Cartier-Bresson’s Blood

One thing that is not well known about Cartier-Bresson is that he grew up immersed in art. As a child, he had an interest in a variety of arts, due in large part to a wealthy father who urged him to learn and enjoy the more creative things in life. Cartier-Bresson’s uncle was a painter, another strong influence in his life.

 

Through this example, we can learn something extremely important. Not only do we all need to enrich ourselves as creatives but we also need to pass that interest on to future generations, enriching their lives with the arts. If you have children or work with young people, foster that creative spark and who knows — perhaps you will be an influence to the next great artist just as Cartier-Bresson’s father and uncle influenced him.

 

The True Nature of Candid Photography

1952 US edition of Cartier-Bresson's 1952 book, The Decisive Moment Cartier-Bresson was a founding father of “street photography,” which, in a nutshell, is photography on the streets. It is something meant to be real, not posed or artificial in any way, though subject material can vary between people or the objects you might see as you walk around through a city. As Cartier-Bresson created these images, he had one over-arching goal in mind: To make sure that his images were as real as they possibly could be.

 

He was not one to post process his images and sometimes, he didn’t even bother with cropping them. Most importantly, however, Cartier-Bresson learned how to take a true candid photo. He would often dress himself to fit in with a crowd, he was dexterous and fast, and he had a habit of covering his camera, making sure chrome was hidden and sometimes putting a cloth over it to make it less apparent that he was photographing.

 

None of this is to say that we all must stop post processing our images and start sneaking around city streets trying to take photos without being noticed. Rather, I think it is important to think about why Cartier-Bresson was so careful to hide what he was doing. He wanted truly candid photos, nothing artificial about them, no people in the background of the image looking directly at the cameraman. In this way, Cartier-Bresson was able to document real life as it actually happened.

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson's first Leica (model Leica I)

Dispense with Formalities

For a creative to fully exercise his or her creative mind, it helps to break out of the mundane. As you look at Cartier-Bresson’s life, you can see that this is exactly what he did. As a young man, he spent time working with a cubist painter. He also enjoyed the growing avant-garde scene in France. After a spell in the army, he spent time tracking boar and antelope in Africa, not because he wanted to kill and eat the animals but just because he wanted to have the experience.

 

You don’t have to follow Cartier-Bresson’s exact path but it does help to break with convention once in a while. Step outside of the ordinary and try something you wouldn’t normally experience. Then, with luck, you’ll be able to draw inspiration from what you learned, saw or felt.

 

Know When to Stop

Cartier-Bresson was a world-famous figure, renowned for photography and photojournalism — and that is why people are often surprised to find out that Cartier-Bresson quit photography. That was back in 1966 when he was still a part of the Magnum agency. He set aside both the camera and Magnum, then went back to his first love, which was sketching and painting. Despite his fame, he would not even speak at length about photography, believing that he had seen and done all that he could with the camera.

 

If you are like most photographers, it is unlikely that you will up and quit photography suddenly one day — although it is always a possibility! The larger lesson here is not that you should quit or that you one day will. Instead, it is important to know when to stop temporarily, to know when to take a break.

 

The thing about creativity is that it isn’t an endless fountain of ideas. Just like you need to sleep after a long day at work, your creativity needs a rest sometimes, too. Don’t pressure yourself into anything that you don’t feel like doing and when you feel the urge to set the camera aside, then set it aside. Come back to it when you are good and ready.

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a fascinating man living in fascinating times. There is certainly a lot more to his legacy than the decisive moment. When you have the opportunity, you’ll find that it pays to read his biography and learn his life story. Draw what lessons you will from the things that you learn — and remember that there is no single image, philosophy or trait that can come close to summing up the whole of a photographer!

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 

 


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(Will Moneymaker Photography) candid photography decisive moment future generation henri cartier-bresson painter philosophy photojournalism post processing s street photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/henri-cartier-bresson-more-than-the-decisive-moment Wed, 16 Aug 2017 13:00:00 GMT
W. Eugene Smith: Life and Contributions to Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/w-eugene-smith-life-and-contributions-to-photography W. Eugene Smith and Aileen, 1974Consuelo Kanaga, via Wikimedia Commons
There are many photographers who have made monumental contributions to the art. One of those photographers was W. Eugene Smith, a man who became famous for taking the photo essay and turning it into the beautiful in-depth story that we know it as today.

 

Born in Wichita, Kansas in 1918, Smith’s photography career began early, when he was just 15 years old, taking photographs for local newspapers. He went on to attend Notre Dame, winning a scholarship in photography that was designed exclusively for him. By 1937, he was working with Helene Sanders of the New York Institute of Photography. That same year, he also began a new job with Newsweek.

 

Smith favored the 35mm camera, even though at the time, many photographers and photojournalists still used medium-format cameras. Newsweek ended up firing him over this so Smith struck out on his own, becoming a freelance photographer for the Black Star agency.

 

From there, his skill with the camera landed him a job with Flying magazine, then by 1945, he was working for LIFE. By this time, he’d become a war correspondent, working in the Pacific theater during World War II. When the Americans went on the offensive against Japan, Smith traveled with them, documenting prisoners of war and other imagery at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Saipan and elsewhere.
 

That same year, however, Smith was gravely wounded by a mortar while photographing a battle at Okinawa. His work was put on hold for the next two years as he underwent several surgeries and recuperated. By 1947, he was back with LIFE, beginning his work on developing the photo essay genre. Smith continued his career with LIFE until 1955 when he quit the magazine to join the Magnum agency.

 

It was while Smith worked for LIFE and for the Magnum agency that he really developed the photo essay into what it is today. While there is so much that we can learn from the life and artistry of W. Eugene Smith, the photo essays that he created between 1945 and his death in 1978 are what really stand out, giving all of us meaningful insights as to how we can effectively tell an enthralling story through the printed photograph.

 

To see an example of this kind of storytelling, look no further than the essay Country Doctor. You can see some of the images here. This essay opens with a photo of a man in a suit, carrying a doctor’s bag. This one image sets the stage for the entire story. By examining it fully, you can get a sense of how the story might progress. For instance, the doctor walks through weedy grass, past a weathered fence — obviously, as the name implies, he is in the country. Behind him, the sky is dark and ominous. The doctor himself walks with shoulders slumped, an interesting expression on his face. He is tired. The more you study this image, the more you come to know the doctor and his setting before you move on with the story.

 

And the rest of that story is told in rich detail. Throughout various images within the essay, you get to see the doctor treating everything from bumps and bruises to major injuries and terminal conditions. The photos don’t shy away from the concern of parents or any of the things that the people within the images are feeling. Settings vary — you learn that the doctor travels from his own office to the homes of others as needed. You even get to see the doctor at home, taking calls in the middle of the night, ready to hit the road and help a patient.

 

Woven into the stories about each of the patients is the story of the doctor himself. You can see the concern and concentration on his face as he works with each patient. You get to see him at rest after a hard operation, drinking a cup of coffee as he leans on a counter, pensive. He works long, hard hours, a tale that is told by an image of him sleeping on his own operating table.

 

You can see similar themes and ideas, a similar style of storytelling, across all of Smith’s photo essays. When you have the time, I suggest you look into his Pittsburgh Project, Minamata, which documented Japanese mercury poisoning, and whatever other essays interest you. In each, you’ll find a gripping, intricate story, carefully told.

So how did W. Eugene Smith achieve such a rich and detailed story in a handful of images? There are two lessons we can take from this. Well, there are probably hundreds of lessons that we can learn from Smith’s work but there are two that I would like to focus on.

 

First, Smith took time, lots of it, to learn his story. He spent years overseas, documenting World War II, in the thick of the action, learning and observing. His Minamata essay was the result of two years’ worth of work, as was the Pittsburgh Project. To produce Country Doctor, Smith spent 23 days living and working with the doctor, gaining intimate knowledge of Dr. Ceriani’s life and line of work.

 

This is why I always say that good photography takes time. You’ll not create a photo essay, not one that features the depth and meaning of Smith’s essays, in an afternoon. To really capture the essence of a story, it takes days, weeks and sometimes even years just learning, observing and thinking.

 

The other key lesson to learn from Smith’s work is to not shy away from the intimate. Throughout each of his essays, you’ll find heartfelt images, images in which emotion is clear to the viewer. These are personal moments that tell us exactly what the people in the image are feeling — not artificial, posed shots that come across as melodramatic. Even in the images that don’t feature people, Smith shows you a side of things that you would normally not see. This is particularly apparent in the Pittsburgh Project, where Smith documents tumbledown buildings, filthy factories, complex networks of rail lines and more. He didn’t bother documenting Pittsburgh from the viewpoint that a visitor might see. Instead, he explored the city’s depths, its underbelly, so to speak.

 

I also think that it is important to point out that while Smith had a habit of documenting the darker things — war, sickness, poverty and so forth — his lessons hold true for photographers that seek to tell happier tales. A poignant, meaningful story can always be told, no matter the subject material or the emotions attached to it, if only the photographer is willing to take the time to learn his or her story fully and then document the most interesting, intimate and meaningful aspects of that story.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


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(Will Moneymaker Photography) 35mm camera country doctor life magnum minamata newsweek photo essay pittsburgh project storytelling w. eugene smith world war ii https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/8/w-eugene-smith-life-and-contributions-to-photography Wed, 02 Aug 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Why Spontaneity Doesn't Work https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/why-spontaneity-doesnt-work Why Spontaneity Doesn't WorkWhy Spontaneity Doesn't Work
The stereotypical image of the artist is one that spends a large portion of his or her life not producing anything. Then, when the inspiration strikes, the artist goes to work, spontaneously producing works of art. Perhaps the artist finally had the exact right sequence of thoughts. Whatever the case may be, the work is something that just came to them, spur of the moment.

With photographers, that mental image of the inspired artist is sometimes even stronger because it is assumed that all a photographer must do is keep pushing that shutter button until something magical happens. Perhaps in a fit of inspiration, the photographer figures out just how to create the perfect piece of art and with a few quick snaps, the job is done.

However, that isn’t how art works. Any art, not just photography, but painting, writing and so forth. More often than not, the greatest works are those that took the most time. They are the works that the artist spent days, weeks or even years producing.

In photography, a lot of that time is time spent waiting. Thinking, digesting, letting ideas coalesce and evolve. What’s more, there are several points throughout the photographic process where you should find the time to wait, to let the image percolate in your mind, to give yourself the time to forget about it just enough that you can look at an image more critically. Let me show you the three stages of the photographic process where I find myself simply waiting and thinking.

 

1. Think Before You Snap

So, you’ve had an idea for a photograph that you’d like to make, or at least you think you have an idea. Now is the time to stop yourself, before you rush out to create the photograph. Ask yourself questions. Is this really the best idea? Is there another angle that you can approach this from? Have you thought of all the best ways to utilize your gear, your knowledge and all the other tools at your disposal?

Wait, think things over, let the idea cook, so to speak. Give yourself the needed time to go over various concepts, to distil and solidify the final image in your mind before you embark on the photo trip. This prevents you from wasting time in the field, from forgetting a lens or a piece of gear that you could use to really enhance the image. Who knows, you may even decide that the idea is not worthwhile after all — or better yet, you may decide two or three days after you developed the idea that you know of a few things that can take the image you intend to make from good to amazing.

 

2. Take the Photo, then Wait Some More

Once you’ve actually taken the image, now is a great time to wait for a little while longer. Go ahead and load the image on your computer. Do some basic processing like exposure correction or color correction. Then, let the image sit for a few days or a week before you delve into serious post processing.

Why? Because this process allows you to do two things. First, you’ll have a little bit of time to forget about the image, which means that you can sit down and look at it with a fresh perspective later on. This is important because as artists, we tend to get attached to our ideas. It is hard to be appropriately critical of an image when it is fresh and we are still in love with everything about the concept. So, let it sit, then come back to reevaluate.

The second reason to wait before post processing is that this gives you some time to come up with additional ideas for things you can do in post. Perhaps you originally decided that you were going to create an HDR image, but after a few days of the idea percolating, you decide that the image might really be better off as black and white. Who knows, you may even realize that you could have taken the photo slightly differently, so you end up heading back out to your subject material and starting over. Whatever the case may be, allow yourself the time to have these thoughts.

 

3. Print the Photo and Live with It

The last step of this process comes with the completion of the photograph. Once the post processing is done, once all of the ideation is over with, when everything is complete, print the image, then display it somewhere prominently where you can observe it daily over the next few weeks. It doesn’t necessarily have to hang on a wall but put it somewhere where you will see the image day in and day out.

I even make the image my desktop background on my computer for a while. This saves printing costs and I still get to see it and think about it each day when I use my computer.

The important part of this is to get to know the image more intimately. Understand its strengths and weaknesses. Think about all of the things you could have done differently, things that might improve the image. Make mental notes of what can be done to make it better. If you have any of these kinds of ideas, act on them. Take a new photo or go back to Photoshop and process the image differently. Give it a different crop or whatever you think it needs, just so long as you have taken the time to look at the print or finished digital image and truly learn what it is that you need to do to refine the concept.

And, be aware that sometimes, you will find nothing to change. Sometimes, no ideas come to mind about how you can improve upon what you have done. That is fine — the important part is that you’ve taken the time to be introspective about the image and perhaps you can take whatever lessons you’ve learned and apply them to other photographs in the future.

Photography is largely a waiting game — waiting for the idea, waiting in the thick of the action until you get the shot, waiting until you are ready to call the image complete. Don’t rely on spontaneity to make things click into place. Instead, be prepared to wait, and be prepared to think long and hard while you wait.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) art artist fine art photography introspection spontaneity thinking waiting https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/why-spontaneity-doesnt-work Wed, 26 Jul 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Overcoming Assumptions https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/overcoming-assumptions Overcoming AssumptionsOvercoming Assumptions
Photography isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes there are things that we find annoying. Chief among them? Assumptions. There is something about creative professions — photography, writing, painting and so on — that allows people to jump to conclusions about what it is that you do. If you tell someone that you are an insurance agent, that you work in a factory or that you are an E.R. doctor, people understand almost immediately what it is you do.

 

However, when someone asks your profession and you tell them that you are a photographer, well, let’s just say that you can expect a barrage of questions, many of which you’ve probably already heard and are tired of hearing. Here are some of the questions that I often hear when people make assumptions at what I do. Give them a read and then hopefully you’ll be able to laugh with me and brush off some of the annoyance at the assumptions people make!
 

1. Can you photograph my wedding?

This is one of the first questions that comes up when you tell friends or family that you are a photographer — and it is one of those questions that can make any photographer’s hair stand on end. Why? For a few reasons!

 

Number one, wedding photography is a lot of time, effort, expense and responsibility on the photographer’s part. As your friend, I don’t want to be held responsible if you don’t quite like your photos. And sometimes, you get that rare family member who expects you to do it for free, totally unaware that one wedding shoot can turn into days upon days of work for the photographer — plus expenses, of course.

 

The other thing that many people don’t think about is that not all of us are wedding photographers! What if you are a landscape artist or you work in the abstract? What if your primary line of work is commercial photography that centers around products and not people. It’s like asking a professional basketball player if he could also play soccer professionally — there are some who will do both, but not very many. The bottom line is, if you don’t already happen to be a wedding photographer (or have the desire to become one) then it is unlikely you’re going to appreciate this question when it is asked.
 

2. Why are your photos so expensive?

This goes back to the time, money and effort. It’s a question that you’ll hear often if you work professionally as a portraitist of some kind. People see your package pricing (or however you charge your fee) and immediately get sticker shock. As annoying as it is, it’s also easy to understand where these people are coming from.

 

You see, they aren’t thinking about how much your camera costs or how much you pay in insurance each month for your gear. They don’t see the hours you’re spending behind a computer screen, processing the work. The time spent driving, printing, maintaining gear — it all adds up. The only thing the customer sees is you spending an hour or two taking photographs of them. So, as much as this question may get on your nerves, it may help you to look at it from the other side of the coin — and explain to the asker why it costs what it does!
 

3. Can I get all the original RAW photos from the shoot?

Let’s get one thing clear: The answer to this question is always NO! I always find myself wondering, why would anyone want all of the RAWs? What do they plan to do with them? And, I refuse to give them out, not because I’m being mean-spirited but because it just isn’t a good idea.

 

Number one, RAW images are big files. I’m not in the business of buying massive amounts of digital storage just so I can hand over all of the 800 photos I took in a given shoot. But even if that were not an obstacle, it still isn’t wise to give out RAW files. Here are some reasons why:
 

  • RAW files often need special software for processing and conversion. They aren’t something that an average non-photographer with shareware editing software is going to be able to work with.

  • RAWs are the unfinished work. If you’re a writer, you don’t send the roughest of a rough draft to an editor, full of misspellings, plot holes, and bad punctuation. You first polish the work and then send it on. It’s the same with photography. We first process the photos because if we don’t, then there is a good chance that we’ll lose prospective customers when unedited RAW files are shown around amongst others.
     

4. Can you do this thing I saw on Pinterest?!

Would you ask a surrealist painter to paint you an ultra-realistic painting? Or a sketch artist to drop his pencils and paint for you in oil? This is why it is important to meet with several photographers before making a decision. Each photographer works with his or her chosen style and if that doesn’t happen to be the latest gimmicks from Pinterest, then you should look for someone else rather than forcing it on them!
 

5. Can you take that picture again with my smartphone?

We, photographers, know that you are excited to share your photos as soon as possible. However, it is impossible for us to simply “take the picture again” with your phone. This is because pressing the shutter button is merely the beginning. We’ll go back to our office or studio and begin the work of post processing and polishing. If you want to share selfies as soon as possible, the photographer is not going to take photos with your phone any better than you will!
 

6. Where can I buy a professional camera like yours so I can take beautiful photos, too?

The asker of this question generally means no harm but it comes across as offensive anyway. Why? Because it’s not the camera that makes the photos. The camera is simply the tool that you use. Better cameras will produce slightly better work, sure. But most of the beauty in a photograph comes from elsewhere.

 

Think about the years of reading, training, practicing, studying that goes into learning all about composition, the manipulation of light and the manipulation of gear to make it produce what you want. The hours that you’ll spend walking, getting up very early in the morning or staying out well past any reasonable person’s bedtime just to catch that perfect shot. The time you feel you’ve wasted (even though the experience is still generally fun and memorable) when you come home empty handed — something that happens all too often.

 

You just can’t go to the nearest store that sells cameras and become a photographer with the swipe of a credit card.
 

7. Do you edit your photos?

In this day and age, I sometimes stop to wonder what this question even means. Coming from some people, it is often suspicion — the suspicion that you are taking a realistic photo and creating something unrealistic, causing the viewer, if they know the photo has been edited, to feel like you’ve lied to them.

 

But the actual reality is this: Of course we edit our photos! It’s impossible not to. Even photographers throughout the decades of film edited their photos by cropping, dodging, burning, pushing exposure, pulling and so forth. Photographers today do much the same thing and they aren’t doing it to lie to their audience but to produce a better-finished product — a product that is often both more beautiful and more realistic than a poorly exposed image or one where the colors aren’t right.

 

And that leads me to the next part of the peeve, which is this: So what if a photographer does manipulate an image past the boundaries of reality? Does it really make any difference? Is there some law against this? Is the image now deceptive or somehow not really art anymore? I don’t think so. That’s what creative license is all about. We have the ability to choose what we want to portray and how we want to portray it.

 

To put it in different words, would you criticize an impressionist painter because their paintings are unrealistic? You would not. There is no reason that photographers cannot do the same.

 

Assumptions are a difficult thing to deal with, especially when you are close to the people that are making them. Do your best to laugh about them when you can and when you can’t, then try to think about the question from the perspective of the asker. And, it doesn’t hurt to inform someone whose assumptions are wildly different from reality!

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) assumptions expenses gimmick pet peeve photography pinterest post processing professional camera raw photos wedding photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/overcoming-assumptions Wed, 19 Jul 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Connecting Instead of Observing https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/connecting-instead-of-observing Connecting Instead of ObservingConnecting Instead of Observing
As a photographer, you may think of yourself as an observer. It’s an easy mindset to fall into because that is sort of what we do. We go through this world looking for things to photograph. We watch, we wait for the right moment, photographing the objects and actions that stand out to us. And there is often a disconnect there. We are not part of the scene. We are merely the observer of the scene.

But, immersion is important, even though it is an often overlooked step. Part of what we photograph is emotion or a particular thought. So, how can we do that if we ourselves are outside the scene looking in? When we immerse ourselves, invest our emotions into the things that we are experiencing, connect with the scenes, that is how we learn them better. That experience, that knowledge is key. It is essential if you really want to pour meaning and depth into your photography.

That connection doesn’t always come easily, however. Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject, ideas that may help you make that connection with the things that you photograph.

Learn How to Work with Your Camera

Photographers, of course, need to know how their gear operates, how to make adjustments to various settings and so forth. What’s not so obvious is how you should use your camera to see. There’s only a couple of options: the viewfinder or the live view. The trick is to pick the one that works best for you.

For instance, some people prefer shooting with the live view. Why? Because to them, peering through a narrow viewfinder shuts them off from the world, breaks that connection they’ve made with the scene. Now, they are no longer a part of their surroundings, but a stranger, examining through a microscope.

On the flip side of that, other photographers prefer the viewfinder. They may find it easier to immerse themselves in this way because the viewfinder minimizes distractions. The photographer who prefers the viewfinder wishes to prioritize the things that he or she is looking at, connecting with the objects that are most relevant while blocking the distracting things, like cars passing on a nearby highway.

Experiment with both methods and choose the one that works best for you. It won’t be the same between all photographers. In fact, it may not be the same from one scene to the next. Simply be aware that the way you look at the world through your camera can affect how you connect with your surroundings.

Only Take Pictures When You are Comfortable

Some photographers would rather be alone when they are creating art. A companion, even a spouse, as well loved as they are, prove to be a distraction. Chatter intrudes and the solitary photographer loses the train of thought. Others find comfort in the companionship, finding themselves more open to experiences when others are around. They’ll bounce ideas back and forth, engage in conversation until they’ve come up with something good.

Comfort is important – not only in your choice of companions or lack thereof but also in your other choices as well. If your shoes are pinching, you’ll be less focused on what is around you. A camera bag that is too heavy proves to be annoying and exhausting. Take water, a couple of granola bars so that you can eat and drink as you need.

Whether it’s your companions, your choice of gear or anything else, think about the choices you’ll make as you prepare for a photo outing. Make yourself as comfortable as possible so that you can avoid the distractions that would normally remove you from your environment.

Spend Time Experiencing the Photograph

Let’s say that you’ve traveled to a beautiful place — a forest of massive trees, a canyon. Anywhere that interests you. Should you start snapping photos as soon as you get there so as to not waste time? Maybe not. Instead, take the time to fully experience your surroundings. Sit down against a tree trunk or a boulder, look, listen and learn. You’ll notice details you hadn’t seen before and more importantly, you’ll come to better understand how a place feels. With that knowledge, you can better capture its essence.

This holds true for most types of photography. If you’re photographing crowds of people, get into the thick of things. Don’t merely observe, separating yourself from the scene. Become part of it because that is the only way to learn and feel the things that you need to document not only shapes and colors but thoughts and feelings. This is why sports photographers are on the sidelines, not high in the stands with a telephoto lens. Closer is always better and that’s not just a rule to create better exposures. It also applies to the understanding of your subject material.

Think of it this way: An actor, when learning a new part, often finds a way to live that part before acting it. So, if an actor is practicing for a character that comes from a certain region, he might spend weeks or months in that region, living it, learning the mannerisms and the details that will bring his character to life. Learning your scene is not so different from this. You immerse yourself in it, learn what you can about it and then photograph it with this new perspective.

The main idea to remember is that the connection you make with the people, places, and things that you photograph is all important. Perhaps some of the things I’ve mentioned here will help you make that connection. But, even if not, don’t lose hope! You’ll surely find other ways to connect on a deeper level as you practice your art.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) connection distraction experience immersion live view observer photographer scene sports photographer viewfinder https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/connecting-instead-of-observing Wed, 12 Jul 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Is It Art or Just a Gimmick? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/is-it-art-or-just-a-gimmick Is It Art or Just a GimmickIs It Art or Just a Gimmick
So many discussions surrounding photography come back to that old chestnut: What is art, exactly? It is impossible to define art and in fact, I would say that it is against the very nature of art to try and define it. However, there are a few things that seem to fall less in the category of art, mainly because these things don’t have thought, vision or inspiration behind them.

Often, these things are merely techniques or methods that have become so overused that they are now a gimmick. In other words, artists merely use a particular technique to create something that seems unusual or shocking at first glance but upon closer inspection, the actual work seems to have no meaning or it doesn’t move a broad selection of viewers to think more deeply on the “art” that they are looking at.

The difference between art and gimmicks that are mimicking art are difficult to understand, even for people who have been enmeshed with the trade for decades. Allow me to explore this topic more deeply and perhaps we can all come away with some insights as to when something is actually artistic and when a work is just using a gimmick to draw a quick look.

Does the Technique Add to the Art?

In the photography world, there is a subset of techniques that have the reputation of being gimmicky. This includes things like selective coloring, HDR photography, sepia and monochrome imagery, desaturation, specialty filters and more.

Now, let me just say this: There is no such thing as a technique that is, by default, a gimmick.

Rather, the techniques I listed above are examples of techniques that some photographers will overuse or use inappropriately in order to create something flashy, something that stands out at first glance, but on closer examination, is otherwise meaningless.

Let’s use selective coloring as our example. When this technique first hit the photography scene, photographers everywhere experimented with it, trying to learn ways to put selective color to work in order to draw more meaning out of an image. And there are a great many selectively colored photographs out there that are beautiful works of art. However, the problem was that the technique became something of a trend for a few years and suddenly everyone was applying it to their photographs willy-nilly, without considering whether or not the technique really added anything to the image. At the height of the selective coloring craze, most photographs that made use of the technique, were not something that I would have considered art. Instead, they felt more like a quick and easy bid to gain attention.

The same goes for HDR photography. Our longstanding struggle, as photographers, is to document real life as we see it with our eyes. Unfortunately, camera equipment is not always capable of catching a broad range of lighting in one image which is why, historically, we would use multiple exposures with film or neutral density filters – both attempts to create a balanced exposure in somewhat extreme lighting conditions. HDR gave us a solution to that problem, finally giving us a relatively easy way to display an image with a high dynamic range.

But again, at the height of the HDR trend, the technique gained that reputation for being gimmicky. Why? Because photographers were using it not to expand the dynamic range of an image but instead to create gaudy colorful images, images that looked needlessly over-sharpened, images that had strange halos around prominent objects. The technique was not necessary to display the contents of these images at their best. It became a way to take otherwise ordinary subject material and turn it into something that wasn’t necessarily meaningful, but nonetheless grabbed your attention through the use of wild colors and other strange effects.

That is why I maintain that there are instances when these techniques are used to great artistic effect. But, these are the instances when the technique really adds something to the photograph, when the photograph just wouldn’t have as much meaning or depth without it. Used in this way, no technique is a gimmick.

Are You Following a Trend Because It’s Trendy?

I’ve already touched on the idea of trends in photography but I think that it is a subject requiring deeper examination because, to me, trendy things and artistry are almost opposite concepts. Photography is supposed to be a personal artistic expression. How are you expressing yourself, your original and unique ideas, when you follow a trend? By following a trend, you are expressing the ideas of whoever started that trend.

For example, one thing that is popular, at least in certain areas, is “old fashioned” photography. These images typically feature something old, like a car, a battered chair or a distressed sign. The colors in these images are de-saturated or given a distinct cast, often in blue or sepia tones even though they may not be monochromatic. The idea, I gather, is to mimic the colors of films like Kodachrome, but many of these photographs don’t quite look like Kodachrome or another of the famous old films.

Can an image like those I’ve described be considered art? Of course they can, provided that they are made with the idea of provoking thought, providing an intensely satisfying visual experience, or conveying some meaning. However, if you are simply following a trend because that is the current hot item at craft fairs and in home décor stores, then perhaps it isn’t art. Then it becomes more akin to mass production, something that is common enough to be considered a trope, a gimmick.

Art is original and trends, well, trends are the opposite. Trends are unoriginal because everyone is doing them.

The most important thing to take away from this discussion, after everything that I’ve said, is that there is nothing wrong with using tactics that have a reputation for being gimmicky and there is nothing wrong with creating art that just so happens to fit with a trend. When dealing with art, we cannot generalize so much that we dismiss legitimate works of art. The problem is not with the trends and the tactics but with the intent. If it is your intent to create something meaningful, then you have created art. But, if it is your intent to create something to make a quick buck, without a lot of thought, simply because the subject material or techniques you have used are a popular aesthetic, then you’ll need to consider for yourself whether or not the works you have created can be considered, in every sense of the word, art.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) art desaturation fine art photography gimmick high dynamic range kodachrome selective color sepia technique trends https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/7/is-it-art-or-just-a-gimmick Wed, 05 Jul 2017 12:54:10 GMT
Analyzing the Abstract https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/analyzing-the-abstract
If you’re a photographer, then at one time or another, you have probably felt the urge to create abstract art. It’s an alluring genre, one that draws you in because it allows you to express creativity to the utmost. But among a general viewing audience, abstract art of any kind, whether it’s photography or another medium, just isn’t popular. In galleries, it hangs on the walls unsold for long stretches of time. In museums, people scratch their heads at it and move on. Artists are drawn to it, but a great many other people are willing to give it a pass. Why? Let’s analyze abstract art to learn some of the reasons behind its lack of popularity.

Abstract Images are Incredibly Subjective

So many photographs are of landscapes, people, buildings, pretty flowers or trees, still life images — they are based on something concrete, something that is easy to recognize and thus easier to interpret. With abstract art, the artist is working, well, in the abstract. It is a very personal expression of creativity, one that is unique to the artist that created it. When you create a piece of abstract art, you are essentially saying that in your opinion, this is what makes an image art. The things that you find to be beautiful and interpretable in their own strange way are very likely to come across as odd and indiscernible to the next person who looks at your imagery.

Abstract Art has a Bad Reputation

Have you ever walked the halls of an art museum and overhead someone talking about an abstract painting? “What is this? The artist just splattered paint everywhere! This isn’t art!” Abstracts often come across that way, as something arbitrary, easy to produce. The uninitiated may look at abstract imagery and just see a pretty wash of colors or a random jumble of shapes and assume that the artist wasn’t trying. This is because it is hard to see what went into the image before it was ever committed to paper or canvas. The planning, the hours, days, weeks or months of thought. The selection of colors and their placement. Perhaps the artist has an entire garage or studio full of paint-splattered canvasses because he or she worked and worked until it finally came out perfectly, at least in the opinion of the artist.

The viewer sees none of this. The viewer sees the shapes, colors, splatters and so on and thinks, “This looks like the kind of thing I made in preschool art class.” This ties in with my first point: Without a concrete subject, something to anchor the viewer in the image, the viewer has no idea what to make of this abstraction and thus assumes that the artist never intended the work to be meaningful. The common assumption goes counter to this — art should be meaningful, therefore, the viewer assumes, if this work is not meaningful, then it is not art. It is arbitrary.

How Do You Judge an Abstract?

This is something that everyone struggles with, even aficionados of abstract photography. How can you judge an abstract work? In a photograph that isn’t abstract, you can pore over the image looking for technical faults or you can enjoy how the subject and other elements are arranged. It is easy to look at a portrait or a verdant landscape and appreciate the beauty while making a judgement on technical or artistic merits.

But abstract photography often dispenses with rules entirely. Did the photographer mean for this wash of color here or for the white balance to look so off? Is that element supposed to be blurry or not? Abstract images are hard to judge according to conventional rules and thus, they are very easy to dismiss unless you like the image on a personal level.

Art is Complicated

Finally, there are a great many people, maybe even a majority of people, that prefer art to be uncomplicated. And there is nothing wrong with that. Many people don’t want to walk past the art in their living room and ponder the deeper meaning of life. Instead, they’d rather see a sweeping vista or wildlife playing in the forest instead of being burdened with the idea that there is some deeper significance that they are missing. As much as we photographers and art lovers might obsess over meanings, for a lot of people, it just isn’t that important. Many prefer art that is beautiful, simple and easy to enjoy.

My Thoughts on Abstracts

For these reasons and more, abstract photography just isn’t as popular as other types of photography. The genre has gained a bit of ground over the years, particularly among people who love modern aesthetics. However, it is easy for someone who isn’t that into art to simply not “get” an abstract image.

However, none of this is to say that you should not bother with abstract photography or that you should find yourself discouraged. I simply mean to say that you should be prepared for the idea that an audience broader than your artist friends may not have the same appreciation for the work. If you want to create abstract art, I say go for it — it is an incredibly rewarding experience.

There is one thing you should take to heart, though.

Don’t produce cheap abstracts. What is a cheap abstract? It’s the kind of image that commonly pops up at craft vendors or on department store shelves. In other words, it is just a mass-produced image that wasn’t made with much thought about composition or meaning. These are the types of images in which someone with a camera saw something unusual and decided to snap a photo and move on. In the world of painters, cheap abstracts truly are just splattered paint with no thought other than a paycheck behind them.

True abstract imagery takes time, lots of it. It isn’t meant to be easy. When people make it easy, they cheapen the genre, degrading the work of those who have devoted inordinate amounts of time to it. Worse, they contribute to the idea that abstract images are not art at all.

I think that if you go about abstract photography in this way, by putting serious effort into creating a satisfying visual experience, by taking the time to think and feel the emotions you are trying to portray, then your art will be much more well-received than mass-produced abstractions. And sure, there will be people who won’t “get” the image, but that is true of abstract images no matter how much effort is put into them. It’s the nature of the best, in this instance.

 

That is why most photographers who pursue abstract photography create abstracts for themselves alone. It isn’t the goal to create an image that other people like. The goal is to create something that you like. If you like an abstract image, then certainly there will be others out there who like it, too.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) abstract art abstract photography complex gallery mass produced museum planning simplicity subject https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/analyzing-the-abstract Wed, 28 Jun 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Tips and Tricks for Photographing Neon Lighting https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/tips-and-tricks-for-photographing-neon-lighting Tips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon Lighting
Last week, I talked about my trip to the American Sign Museum, an interesting destination packed with the world’s most beautiful neon lighting. Hopefully, the history lesson I gave you provided some inspiration. Now I think it’s time to talk about how to photograph neon lighting. These tips and tricks can be applied to other kinds of lights but for now, I’d like to focus on neon lights because they are a beautiful, colorful part of our history.

 

Be Prepared for Low Light

It sounds strange, I know, that in a museum full of neon lights, you would run into a low light situation. However, neon lights (as well as other types of lights, like indoor incandescent lighting) are not meant to provide bright illumination. Instead, these lights are supposed to be colorful, eye-catching, not too bright to look at — just enough light to provide ambience in the space that they are displayed. In the American Sign Museum, in particular, it costs extra to bring along a tripod and I didn’t want to be burdened with extra gear. Instead, I used some other tricks to capture the lights despite the low luminosity.

First, I found myself bracing often to take photos. Bracing is a technique that you can use when you don’t have access to a tripod or a monopod. To brace, all you need to do is find a way to support or stabilize yourself so that you can minimize shakiness at slower shutter speeds. Lean against a wall, prop yourself on the back of a chair or ask a friend for a steady shoulder to lean on. It depends on the person and the capabilities of your camera’s image stabilization, but in general, you should consider bracing at shutter speeds between 1/100 to 1/60 and lower. In fact, you should consider practicing ahead of time so that you know which shutter speeds require you to brace and which are slow enough to make a tripod a necessity.

Another thing you’ll find in situations like this is that it really helps if your camera can handle low light situations at high ISOs without producing a lot of noise. I found myself several times shooting at ISOs of 25,000 or greater. On top of that, make sure that you have a good noise removal tool at your disposal. For the neon light images, I used Luminar to reduce noise.

Tips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon Lighting

 

Now is The Time for Automatic Settings

It’s hard to let your camera do all the work. We photographers often find ourselves unsatisfied with full automatic controls because the art making process doesn’t feel complete unless you’ve carefully chosen shutter speed, aperture, ISO and all the other necessary settings. However, in a place like the American Sign Museum, automatic settings are your friend. In a place like this, the lighting can change with every step you take and if there are flashing lights, then it is changing between each shot. If you stop to adjust your settings between each and every shot, you are likely to spend more time fiddling with your camera than creating artwork. Turn that dial to “Aperture Priority” and let go — let your camera decide the settings so that you can focus on composition and most importantly, enjoying the experience.

Tips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon Lighting

The same goes for white balance. Now, if you are in a place with consistent lighting — incandescent, fluorescent, what have you — then you can set your camera up to achieve the white balance you need. And, if you are going for a certain set of colors or a certain look, then, by all means, set your white balance to get that look, if it helps. But when you are in a setting that features lights in red, yellow, blue, green and every other color imaginable, then, here again, you’ll find that the decision-making process is better left up to the camera rather than attempting to make adjustments between each shot.

Tips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon LightingTips and Tricks for Photographing Neon Lighting

 

What about Post Processing?

For this type of project, I cannot recommend Adobe Lightroom enough. When you rely on automatic settings and creative ways to brace yourself, you will likely take a lot more photos than usual just to make sure that you get a nice collection of great images to work with. Software that can handle images in bulk will make your life much easier.

To do this project, I started by importing the images into Lightroom so that I could flag those that I liked. Then, I left them for a few days so that I could sort my thoughts out, come back and look at the flagged images with a more objective eye. After that, I did a basic processing routine, making adjustments to exposure where necessary, and boosting or lowering highlights — a task that you will likely need to do a lot when photographing lights of any kind.

With neon lights, color is just as important as exposure. Don’t hesitate to go over each image, boosting the saturation of certain colors, enhancing the overall vibrancy or making other color corrections as needed to really make the lights pop. You may also choose to selectively sharpen some of the most important elements of each image. When all of this is done, move on to noise removal, if necessary.

Finally, the most important part: cropping. In a place like the American Sign Museum, there are innumerable elements that you can’t physically move out of the frame and believe me — those distracting elements will make their way into your images. Fortunately, modern technology makes it easy to crop out those distracting bits and pieces. Take your time on this task, trying different orientations, aligning the most important elements with various compositional rules and removing objects that are making their way into the edges of the image. Most importantly, go about your cropping with the idea that you are telling a story in each image or across a series of images. This mentality will help you determine what needs to stay and what needs to go in each photograph.

If you ever have an opportunity to do a project like this, keep these tips in mind. Hopefully, the things that I have shared will help you enjoy the experience even as you capture a beautiful series of images that you can enjoy for years to come.

Will Moneymaker

 

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) american sign museum automatic settings bracing color correction exposure adjustment neon lighting post processing saturation selective sharpening white balance https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/tips-and-tricks-for-photographing-neon-lighting Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:00:00 GMT
A Brief History of Neon Lighting https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/a-brief-history-of-neon-lighting
I recently had a fantastic opportunity to visit the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati — a fascinating experience, let me tell you. I spent a good amount of time taking photographs and I’d like to share with you everything that I learned. First, however, because these signs are so interesting, and because there is a lot of history behind them, I’d like to share that history with you. Perhaps this will help you with inspiration should you ever find yourself photographing neon signs.

 

The Art of Neon Lights Started as a Science

Much like photography, which started with scientists experimenting with chemicals and sunlight, the neon light started with scientists experimenting with different types of lighting. The precursor to neon lighting was invented in 1855, the Geissler tube, which was named for Heinrich Geissler. Geissler was both a physicist and a glass blower. These tubes were used in experiments with electricity and different kinds of gases. Essentially, scientists were trying to find out what happened when electricity was applied to the gas contained in a Geissler tube.

American Sign Museum in Cincinnati American Sign Museum in Cincinnati American Sign Museum in Cincinnati

 

The Discovery of Neon Gas

The invention of neon lights, back in the 1800s, was hindered by one thing: The gas neon had not yet been discovered. That discovery came in 1898, by M. W. Travers and William Ramsey. Neon is an incredibly rare gas, present in air at rates of about 1 part per 65,000. In order to collect neon, researchers needed to use a process called liquefaction, which collects gases that are then separated in another process called fractional distillation.

From that point, it would still be a little while before the first true neon light was invented. Georges Claude was the very first scientist to experiment with neon gas in a Geissler tube. Claude was French, an inventor, engineer, and chemist by trade. He first applied electricity to sealed neon gas in 1902, thus creating the very first neon light. He continued to refine his design, and on December 11, 1910, he put his first neon light on display in Paris.

 

Neon Lighting Becomes an Art

Claude’s first light, much like the first cameras, wasn't anything fancy. It would take a couple more years of developing the technology in order to turn these lights into the beautiful neon lights we know today. Originally, neon lighting was red, a very distinct color, so Claude and others worked on ways to create lights of other colors.

Meanwhile, Claude set about trying to market his neon lights. In 1912, he sold the world’s first piece of neon advertising, a sign for a barber shop in Paris. Then, in 1913, he sold a sign that spelled “Cinzano” in massive 3 1/2-foot letters.

Claude knew he was on to something so he filed for a United States patent in 1911. He also started his own company, Claude Neon Lights, Inc. Over the years, he developed both red and blue lights, one of which rested at the entrance of the Paris Opera House.

In 1923, Claude’s big breakthrough came. An auto dealer in Los Angeles by the name of Earle C. Anthony ordered two signs for his dealership. Each sign read “Packard” after the cars he sold, costing him about $24,000, a sum that would be worth more than $300,000 today.

With that, the neon sign as we know it today was born. Georges Claude became famous, and neon signs were common everywhere by the mid-1900s. Claude passed away in 1960, but not before that most famous of neon cities, Las Vegas, was already starting to roll out its bright lights.

 

Neon Lighting and Photography

The invention of neon lighting parallels the invention of photography in so many ways. Both art forms started as a science experiment and both went through decades of work before becoming a commercially available tool that businesses and individuals the world over use. Just as photography went through a period of development that brought us the color image, so too did neon lighting. Originally, these lights were red, then red and blue. Later on, other gases were added to these tubes to create the beautifully colored lights that we know and love today.

The most interesting parallel, I think, is that both art forms are based solely on light. Neon lighting is the production of light in beautiful colors and shapes. Photography is the capturing of that light, the recording of those shapes and colors. Perhaps that is why it feels so natural to create art centered around these lights because the two mediums complement each other so well.

American Sign Museum in Cincinnati American Sign Museum in Cincinnati American Sign Museum in Cincinnati

If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend that you visit the American Sign Museum and capture the beautiful lights yourself. If you won't find yourself in Cincinnati any time soon, then in the meantime, perhaps you could start your own project based around photographing lights. If you know of businesses that still use neon lights to advertise in your area, check them out — you may be able to come away with interesting artwork. Even if you don't know of a good place to see these lights in all their beauty, you could focus your efforts on other types of lights, like candles, chandeliers or interesting lamps. No matter what you decide to do, hopefully, what I've shared here today inspires you to create something amazing.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) cinzano color fine art form georges claude heinrich geissler neon neon lighting photography science https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/a-brief-history-of-neon-lighting Wed, 14 Jun 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Never Stop Experimenting https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/never-stop-experimenting Never Stop ExperimentingNever Stop ExperimentingNever Stop Experimenting
It is so easy to stick with the thing that we know works. In fact, that’s why photographers have all of these rules, like the Rule of Thirds or the rule to never crop a portrait subject at the knees or elbows. And don’t get me wrong — those rules are a good thing. They're a set of standards that photographers adhere to for a reason, because in most instances, abiding by those rules will produce a better photograph than if you go against them.

But, sometimes that strict adherence to the rulebook leads the best of us into a creative rut. We must never forget that experimentation is paramount. Experimentation is the reason why photography went from science to art and it is the reason why we have advanced as far as we have. The experimentation of photographers, engineers and researchers throughout the decades is why we can use DSLRs, it’s why we have a broad base of well-known techniques to use — and experimentation is what will drive us into the future, helping us to create new gear, new techniques and at the end of the day, brand new artwork.

And that is why I call on all photographers to experiment. Keep experimenting and perhaps you will be the next photographer to create something that all of us can use. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas!

 

Experimenting with Elements

One way to experiment with photography is to experiment with individual elements of a photograph. The subject, or a background that you like, a particular color, a detail that you would like to include. Narrow your scope down to that one element and then see what you can do with it. I see many photographers creating projects centered around one particular thing and the idea works for them because it allows these photographers to narrow in on something new and creative rather than shuffling through a large jumble of ideas. One photographer may create daily images centered around a child’s toy, taking the photographs from the toy’s perspective while another may spend weeks collecting images centered around shades of blue.

In fact, this is one reason why photo-a-day projects work so well. When you are determined to take one photo each day for a year, you have no choice but to let go of your grand plans. There just is not time to sit down and hash out the details for a new photograph every single day. Instead, the photographer has to work on the fly. See something interesting, take your photo for the day. In this way, you learn to really focus on one element, or a small group of elements, and experiment with them until the image clicks.

Of course, you don't have to do an entire year in photographs if you don't want to, but it does help to periodically do a study on one of your elements. By study, I mean that you should choose your element and then work with it until you feel that it has run its course. Examine the element from all angles, if it is a subject or a background piece. If it is a color, a lighting style or something else, then apply your chosen element or theme to whatever you can think of. Experiment with your element and you will certainly end up creating something interesting.

 

Experimenting with Gear

Experimentation doesn't have to happen within the photograph. You can experiment in a wide variety of ways with your gear. Gear experimentation is why photographers love gaffer’s tape so much — because one day, someone got tired of tripping over lighting cords or not being able to hang a backdrop, so they grabbed a roll of tape and used it to solve the problem. Always ask yourself the question, in what way can I use the tools that I have differently?

Let’s say, for instance, you are out in the field, with a couple of portable flashes, wireless triggers and light stands to mount everything on. What can you do to modify your lighting? It depends on the tools that you brought along, like umbrellas or what have you. And it also depends on how much you are willing to experiment and what bits and pieces you can scavenge to aid you in your experiment. For example, in a pinch, photographers have been known to fashion Pringles cans, straws or corrugated cardboard into DIY emergency snoots. They’ve put sheets of paper or even frosted plastic from milk jugs over their lights as a diffuser. If you happen to have plastic shopping bags, particularly in colors other than white — tan or blue, for example — then you can fashion yourself a way to warm up or cool down the light from the flash.

Reversing rings for macro photography were born from this same sort of ingenuity. Someone got the bright idea to mount a lens backwards and discovered an entirely new way to create extreme close up photographs. Most of the tools that we have at our disposal came about because someone was willing to experiment, to try new things.

 

As a final thought, I want you to remember that there are still more things to experiment with besides gear and elements within images. Post processing is one avenue. Experiment by combining prose with images, or by trying as many different genres of photography as interest you. That is how we innovate, and it is in fact, the only way we can innovate. Everything that we have today, even things outside of photography, all come from someone, or from a group of people, who were just daring enough to try something new. That same enterprising spirit will lead you into trying new methods, new types of photography and most importantly, into creating works of art that you would not normally have dreamed up.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) art dslr elements experimentation gaffer's tape lighting photo-a-day reversing ring science study subject theme https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/never-stop-experimenting Wed, 07 Jun 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography (Free eBook) https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-free-ebook Teaching Children PhotographyTeaching Children PhotographyTeaching Children Photography Photography is a fascinating hobby that can be started at an early age. There are no limits, other than the ability to hold and aim a camera at a subject and press the button. And from this small beginning, children can learn and experience a whole new world of wonder and excitement.

Now you can help your child to understand all the aspects of this amazing hobby through Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography, which contains chapters which includes:

  • Showing children how the basics
  • Encouraging them to take lots of photos
  • The basics of composure
  • Using lighting
  • Shutter speeds, aperture and ISO
  • Learning to be a comfortable photographer
  • And much more…

Whether you are teaching your own child or whether you are a volunteer who works with groups of children, teaching them about photography is a wonderful way to interact and spend time together.

And with Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography you have a ebook which is suitable for complete beginners who have never held a camera before.

Get your free copy now and start sharing your knowledge with the next generation of budding photographers.

I've set a minimum contribution to FREE and you're welcome to give a donation. Thank you so much!

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Teaching Children Photography free ebook free ebook on photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-free-ebook Mon, 05 Jun 2017 22:42:30 GMT
Change is Good https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/change-is-good Change is GoodChange is Good

Change is a factor that permeates every part of our lives. Everything changes as the days, weeks, months and years go by. Many people, maybe even most people, are resistant to change, at least to certain types of it. In photography, for instance, change can sometimes feel aggravating. Who wants to learn all about a new camera system when the one you are already using once worked just fine?

The problem with resistance to change is this: If we all refused to change, then we'd still be lugging around giant cameras like photographers did more than a century ago. We’d be printing our fuzzy monotone images on sheets of metal. Maybe we'd never have moved on to color photography.

And that is why we embrace change. Because even though it is scary sometimes, it is generally for the better. In photography, change means innovation, learning and moving forward. When I stop to think about how far we’ve come since the first photographic image was produced, I’m somewhat awed by the progress. And then I think, what revolutions, what changes, will we see in the future? Will the photographers of 100 years from now look back at our primitive DSLRs, lenses, post processing and printing processes with the same sense of awe that we feel when we stop to reminisce? Possibly so.

But that’s beside the point. Let’s take a look at the ways that our art changes so that we can hopefully come away with a greater appreciation for new and different things.

 

Cameras Change

If you're like most photographers, you love the camera that you currently use and all the rest of the gear that goes along with it. After all, one of the most essential parts of finding the right system is finding one that you can use with relative ease. However, one day, that camera, or your favorite lens, or some other piece of gear will break (or become obsolete) and you'll be forced out to go and buy something new. Something that you will likely end up enjoying just as much as what you have now, but that you will find irritating as you try to learn the new controls and quirks of the gear.

The thing is, that newer piece of equipment? It will almost always be better than the original thing that you had. If it’s a new camera, you’ll probably have better resolution, the ability to shoot noise-free at higher ISOs or a greater range of features that you can put to work in the field. New flashes will likely give you, even more, control over lighting than your old flashes and new lenses might have wider apertures. In the end, though you may miss your old pieces of equipment, though you are frustrated with the idea of learning how this new and different thing works, the change is almost always positive.

 

Techniques Change with Trends

Technique is another big part of photography that is subject to rapid change. With each new trend comes the potential for a new technique that is added to our repertoires. For example, back in the old days, flashes produced whatever color lighting they produced and that was that. If it was yellow hued or greenish, that’s just what photographers had to deal with. Then, as the trend of flash photography grew, manufacturers began refining the hardware, producing flashes with consistent, complementary lighting.

Then a whole new trend came along. Photographers began modifying their flashes with whatever they had on hand, sometimes with materials like colored gels that are used in stage lighting. Today, photographers can buy color filters or gels specifically made because of the trend of colored lighting that went on to become a technique so many of us still use.

When you stop to really examine all of the various techniques that we use today, I think you'll find that they all started with someone that was willing to do something different. By themselves changing the way they did things, they started trends that took off and become mainstays for the photographers of the future.

 

The Meaning Changes

In the 1800s and early 1900s, it was a common practice among people with the means to afford it to create post-mortem photographs. Bodies of loved ones were prepared, dressed and posed, usually sitting or lying down. Then photographs were taken, printed and given to the surviving family, who cherished those photos as fond remembrances of their lost loved ones.

Today, we look at reproductions of these images in an entirely different way. These aren’t fond remembrances. They weren’t even people that we knew or were related to in some way. Now, the images feel chilling, grim. They're a stark reminder of mortality, they are uncomfortable to look at yet oddly fascinating in a morbid way.

So it goes for all photographs. The meanings can and likely will change throughout the years. Even without the passage of time, the meanings will likely change depending on who is looking at the photograph. And, that’s a good thing. Photography, and most other art forms for that matter are mediums meant to be thought provoking. The fact that these meanings change with time or with different audiences means that the images are not stale. Their effect has not worn off. Instead, they are provoking new and unique thoughts every time someone stops to ponder them.

 

I, for one, am glad that photography is not static. With each new thing, we gain more knowledge, better technology, improved methods, and techniques. Change is what keeps our viewers interested and it is what makes the art come alive. If it helps you, keep this in mind the next time you’re feeling frustrated with something new.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) advancement change color photography colored lighting dslr flash photography frustration improvement meaning monotone new gear post-mortem photography progression techniques trends https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/change-is-good Wed, 31 May 2017 13:00:00 GMT
How Stephen King's Methodology Applies to Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/how-stephen-kings-methodology-applies-to-photography How Stephen King's Methodology Applies to PhotographyHow Stephen King's Methodology Applies to Photography

 

Stephen King’s On Writing is one of those required books that I had to read in cinematography class many years ago. While this book talks about the craft of writing, the pages are filled with insights that are applicable to just about everything. We photographers may not necessarily care so much about such things as grammar, dialogue and other technical elements that go along with the written word. It is in King’s methodology that the real value is for photographers — and truly, creatives of all types.

I know I’ve talked about the creative process previously. It’s a subject that comes up quite frequently because frankly, there is no one size fits all answer. Your creative process will be different from mine and from everyone else, too. But there is value in looking at the creative process of others because it helps us to pick up new ideas and develop our own individualized process from there.

King’s methodology is one that is full of ideas and inspiration for photographers. You see, when King writes, he doesn’t sit down and outline a full story before he starts to flesh out the book. He doesn’t have a book in his mind, from start to finish, waiting for the right time to be committed to paper. Instead, he starts with one scene. In this scene, he has all the things a scene requires — the characters, the setting, the dialogue and exposition. But it’s still just a scene, with no backstory surrounding it, no events leading up to or following it. It is just one piece that will eventually become a moment in the broader timeline of the story. It is only after this scene is completed that he builds on it, adding the rest of the scenes to create a book.

How can that possibly translate to photography? At first glance, it seems like it doesn’t. That’s because each image that we create is a scene. So, if you tell a photographer to try creating one scene, he’ll be puzzled by what you’re asking him to do. Likely, that’s what he was already doing. And sometimes, creating that scene is easy. The creative ideas are flowing and we know the where, when and how of the photograph. Everything just falls into place. Other times, we're stuck, without a direction, unable to create the scene that becomes the final image. King’s methods can help you get through this and applying them to photography is simpler than you might imagine.

Think of King’s creative process in terms of how it relates to a finished book. That first scene that he creates? It might only be a few paragraphs or it could be an entire chapter. Whatever shape or size it takes, it is just one small part of the finished book — one small element, if you will.

Therein lies the way that we photographers can put King’s method to work. In much the same way that King’s scene is one element that works with the rest of the story as a whole, you can choose one element that works with the rest of a photograph to create a whole image.

What I mean by that is this: Rather than trying, as we so often do, to plan an image completely from start to finish, envisioning the setting, the subjects, all of the other details and even elements like lighting, color and composition, instead, when you find yourself stuck, just let all of that go. Sometimes, when we find ourselves in a creative rut, the problem is that we're just trying to juggle too many elements at once and there seems to be no satisfactory way to smash them all together. Choose one element to work with, distill your ideas to one small part of the image and let the rest of the story flow from that.

What element should you chose as the first piece of the puzzle before you? It could be anything. Perhaps you want to create something that involves a bird. Now you can use that element to start adding other elements. Think about the types of birds you might encounter. Which ones would you like to capture? What kinds of habitats do these birds live in, or what kinds of activities do these birds engage in? Can you find supporting elements for the final image in those lines of thought?

If you want to create an image featuring a crow, perhaps you should capture one that is playing with a shiny object or using twigs as tools. Or if you want to create an image of a parrot, perhaps you should capture him at play with a favorite toy or when the parrot speaks the words that his owners have taken the time to teach him. In this way, you can choose your one element and then start thinking about how that element relates to the rest of the story you could create, thus letting the image form organically from that one starting point.

Of course, your starting element doesn't have to be a bird. It doesn't even need to be the main subject of the image. Your element, the piece that you will build the rest of the story around, could be a setting, like your favorite woodland hideaway. It could be a type of lighting, like the golden rays shining through evening clouds. It could even be a color. What happens if you decide to make purple the central theme of the image? What kind of elements can you pull together that fit with this color to tell a story in your image?

As you can see, it is possible to apply Stephen King’s methods to your own work. The method is a simple one, when you get right down to it. Start with one small part of the project and then let your creativity branch out to create the whole.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) books creative process element on writing scene stephen king storytelling https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/how-stephen-kings-methodology-applies-to-photography Wed, 24 May 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Determination is the Key to Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/determination-is-the-key-to-everything Determination is the Key to EverythingDetermination is the Key to Everything
There are all kinds of things we can talk about when it comes to photography. Multitudes of techniques, basic to advanced camera controls, compositional rules, lighting, gear and even the artistic eye. There is post processing, software, file storage and all of the other technical details. You can boil it down further and talk about papers and inks. There are many different elements and all of them work together to create works of art in much the same way that a jigsaw puzzle’s pieces work together to form a whole. Without one element, one piece, the whole picture loses something.

But there is one part of photography that is very rarely talked about even though this piece of the puzzle is the key to everything. That element is determination. Gear, techniques, knowledge – these aren’t the things that get you out and learning, thinking and creating. In fact, you could have the gear of your dreams along with an entire library of knowledge at your fingertips but without determination, it would all be for nothing. Determination is the driving force behind everything that we do. Let me show you how determination is key to a long and successful photographic career.

 

Determined to Fight Through a Creative Block

What does a successful photographer do when he or she is simply out of ideas? You take pictures anyway because you are determined to create something, no matter what that something might be. The location, the subject material and all of the other variables matter less when you’re stuck in a rut. What matters is that you go out and do. Sometimes, the sheer will to go out and take photos despite a lack of direction is all you need to get the creative ideas flowing again. 

So, when you find yourself without a plan, make up your mind to go capture something anyway. Once you find yourself out and examining the world with the photographer’s eye, surely something will capture your interest. 

 

Determined to Never Stop Learning

It is impossible to come to a point in your career where you can say that you have learned all there is to learn. In fact, a photographer that has this attitude quite clearly has not learned much at all about this art. In order to continue to be successful, you’ll need to keep an open mind, ready and willing to take in new information for the rest of your career.

The fact is, there are hundreds, thousands of well-recognized photographers and authors out there, all with something of their own to offer. You’ll have a lifetime of experiences to learn from — and many lifetimes of everyone else’s experiences, too. With this wealth of raw information, it is impossible to learn it all.

What’s more, no photographer, not even those leading the way on the cutting edge, has learned the things that photographers of the future will know. In the years and decades to come, new discoveries will be made and new technology will be released. You’ll have to learn about all of these things if you want to keep up with everyone else. Learning is a process that should never stop because that is how advancements are made.

 

Determined to Improve

What about the photographer who says to himself, “This is it! I’ve improved to the point that I can no longer do better than I am right now.” Well, that photographer is in a predicament, possibly because arrogance has led him to believe that he has reached some kind of pinnacle when in actuality, that arrogance will eventually lead the photographer down a stale path of mediocrity. Or, perhaps the situation is grim, the photographer is frustrated and fed up because he feels that he has hit some kind of artificial wall, a roadblock to his progress. 

This is why you must always carry with you the determination to improve. No photographer, not you, not I, not even the greatest photographers in the world, will ever reach a point where we can stop and say, “good enough!” There will always, always be room for improvement. Look over your work with a critical eye and keep your sights set on the future with the idea that tomorrow, you will be determined enough to create a work of art that is even better than the one you created the day before. 

 

Be Determined to Invest

I know — this sounds like you should be determined to invest lots of money in gear and equipment. And trust me, you probably will. Most photographers spend more money on must-have toys than is sane or reasonable. We do it for the love of the art because we are determined to make something incredible.

When I say that you should be determined to invest, however, I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about investing yourself. People like to think that photography is a quick and easy art. After all, it takes less time to snap the shutter release than it does to place paint on canvas. But you know the reality, that photography takes long hours of preparation, waiting for the perfect moment. There are hours devoted to creating and refining ideas and hours put into post processing and pouring over the perfect papers on which to print. Creating a piece of fine art is no easy feat, no matter what medium. Thus, you’ll need to be determined enough in your pursuit of art that you are willing to set aside all of the time it requires.

 

Every aspect of photography requires your determination. It’s the one tool, beyond knowledge or gear, that will see you through to the end. When you’re feeling yourself in a slump, remember what it takes to be a successful photographer and use your determination as the motivation you need to move forward.

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) arrogance block creating creative determination frustration gear improvement investment learning thinking time https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/determination-is-the-key-to-everything Wed, 17 May 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Perfecting Portraiture #4: Posing and the Finer Points https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/perfecting-portraiture-4-posing-and-the-finer-points Over the last several posts, we've covered quite a lot of ground. You now know how to portray the eyes to their best advantage, how to make skin look great and ways to photograph hair so that it adds to the portrait rather than detracting from it. Now it’s time to go into some of the things that affect the overall image.

Posing, for instance, is vital. Whether you're doing headshots or creating a full body shot, you’ll need to know how best to pose your subjects so that the final project doesn't look awkward, forced or contrived. It is also important to build a rapport with your subjects. If they feel uncomfortable during the photo shoot, then they'll almost certainly look uncomfortable in their images. Let’s jump in and get started with posing!

Position the Chin

When you are creating a portrait, the first thing you'll want to do is ask the subject to bring his or her chin forward. When we sit or stand naturally with our heads in a normal, neutral position, it doesn’t look particularly odd. However, if you use that same posture in a photo, under off-camera lighting, then strange things happen to the head and neck.

First, because the lines along the jawline are shorter than they would be if you asked the subject to bring his or her head forward, there is less shadowing. Less shadow, in this case, isn't a good thing because without that shadow under the chin, the chin and neck blend together. It can make the subject look like they have a weak chin or a larger neck than they actually have.

The other issue is that when the chin is back, the forehead tends to be pushed forward. This is how you get that infamous “fivehead” look. More light will fall on the forehead than on other areas of the face, which emphasizes it, making it look much larger than it actually is.
 

Relaxing the Posture

Another trick is the lean. Have your subject lean to one side just a little bit, almost imperceptibly, against a wall, a tree or some other object — or if they are comfortable with it, have the subject put their shoulders back to give the impression of a slight lean. You don't want the subject to be slouching or seriously leaning to one side. Instead, just a little bit to give the image a slightly more casual, relaxed look. When finished, a portrait done in this way will feature a subject that looks like he or she is comfortable in front of the camera.
 

Arms and Legs

There are lots and lots of ways to position the arms and legs. Have your subject place a hand on a railing or fold their arms loosely in front of them. Legs can be captured while the subject is taking a step, crossed or in any other configuration that is comfortable. The one thing you never want to do, however, is crop photos at the joints.

Let’s say that you want to take a picture of your subject’s head and torso. You have three options: Preferably crop the image above the elbows, or you can crop below the elbows. Failing that, make sure all parts of the arms are visible. The same goes for the legs. Crop them above or below the knee or include the entire length of the leg.

The reason for this is simple: Images that are cropped at the joints just look strange. The viewer of such an image, although he or she may not realize it, might see the knee or elbow and want to look at the rest of the limb. They're left with a feeling of incompleteness. Additionally, cropping mid-thigh or halfway between the elbow and shoulder looks more flattering and less awkward for your subject.
 

Sydney-Schuk-05Sydney-Schuk-05Sydney-Schuk-05

Building a Rapport with Your Subject

One of the most important parts of portraiture, even more so than posing or refining other aspects of the image, is making sure that your subject is comfortable with the process. When someone is camera shy, there’s a good chance that the images will not only show this but highlight it.

So how do you make your subjects feel at ease? Well, some are naturally at home in front of the camera but most will feel awkward from the moment you get started. It’s tough to give advice about how to establish a rapport because everyone has a different personality — photographers and all the various people that they will make portraits for.

There are a few general things tips and tricks which I will list below:

  • Bring along plenty of grooming supplies. Clients are generally in a rush to get ready for their portraits and likely to forget key essentials, which is just going to increase their stress levels while they're onsite. Makeup remover wipes, tissues, disposable makeup applicators, combs — these are all things that will come in handy and clients will feel relieved if they happened to forget a basic item or two.
     
  • Make the process clear ahead of time. For instance, if you will be going through several outfits during a shoot, then inform the client that there will be a private place to change clothes. Let them know how long the shoot will take approximately along with any other details that a non-photographer might not know.
     
  • Posing for the camera is hard work! Give your client breaks, ask them to “shake it out” if they've been standing or sitting in a particular position for a while.
     
  • Listen. Portrait subjects are curious about the process and some may have had a bad experience in the past. Be attentive towards any concerns and don't brush aside questions no matter what your opinions are of the questions asked.

 

As you can see, portraiture is complicated and there are so many details that I can't possibly cover them all even in a lengthy series of posts. However, these four posts will lay the groundwork for your forays into portraiture. Now it’s time for you to corral your friends and family members so that you can start practicing your art!

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) arms chin comfort leaning legs neck posing posture rapport relaxed https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/perfecting-portraiture-4-posing-and-the-finer-points Wed, 10 May 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Perfecting Portraiture #3: Hair https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/perfecting-portraiture-3-hair Perfecting Portraiture, #3: HairPerfecting Portraiture, #3: Hair
In the previous two posts, you learned how to photograph the eyes and the skin to their best advantage. The final major element to portraiture, particularly headshots, is the hair. You probably know, as do I, just from getting ready in the mornings, that hair has a mind of its own. Because of this, it can be difficult to photograph well. However, if you make the right preparations — both with your subject and with your equipment — then you can ensure that a subject’s hair complements the rest of the photo nicely rather than standing out in an unflattering way.

 

Start with Styling

In most cases, you won't be responsible for choosing hair styles — unless, of course, you are working with models to round out your portfolio. However, there are some things that you can do to ensure that hair looks great before you start taking photos, no matter what style the subject chooses.

Great hair can make a photo, but hair with lots of flyaway strands can break it just as easily, especially if you are using off-camera lighting, which tends to highlight each and every last out of place strand. Fortunately, for hair that is long and loose, you can use a smoothing spray or serum to help hold those flyaways down. Shorter hair or hair that is more intricately styled can be held in place with a quick spritz of hairspray.

Alternatively, if you are dealing with a large number of loose hairs that just can't be tamed, you may opt to use a soft focus effect to blur out individual strands.

You'll likely do what you can to prevent flyaway hairs during the photoshoot but certainly a couple of stray hairs will make their way into the image regardless of the measures you've taken. Make sure that when you are post processing, you pay attention to details like this so that you can eliminate those hairs using Photoshop or similar software.

 

Positioning Hair

Hair positioning applies when your subject has a long flowing mane. You'll want to make sure that the hair is arranged around the shoulders in a way that complements the face and provides for a nice transition between the head, neck, and torso. Depending on the subject, you may want to let hair hang behind the shoulders, in front of the shoulders or let one side stay in front of one shoulder wall the other side falls behind.

The one thing you should never do is allow the hair to drape onto the shoulders and down over the arms. Not only does this make the transition along the neck and torso seem more awkward but it also has a widening effect, making the shoulders seem larger and blocky.

The LadyThe Lady
Lighting Hair

There are a couple of great ways to light hair. The first is to use backlighting, which creates a glowing halo around the edges of the subject’s hair. This type of lighting is typically used for more glamorous shots, especially for models or high schoolers for their graduation photos.

The second method is simpler: Just use a light source that is devoted to the hair. This is usually a studio light, but you can use an off-camera flash or whatever you have. Place this light about three feet above the subject’s head and make sure to experiment with positioning. The light can be at the front, side or even behind the subject — all positions will give a slightly different look. You’ll likely also want to diffuse this light with an umbrella or softbox and it may be necessary to use a snoot so that the light doesn’t cause lens flare. Make sure that the light isn’t too bright because it can blow out the highlights in the subject’s hair.

Now that you know what a hair light is and how to use it, you’ll need to know when to use it. The general rule of thumb is this: If the subject’s hair color needs some separation from the background of the image, then you’ll need to use a hair light. So, for instance, if you are photographing a brunette against a dark background or a blonde against a light background, then you should use a hair light so that the subject’s head doesn't blend into the backdrop.

Even if you don't need hair lighting for separation, don’t hesitate to use it anyway. When done well, it can really bring a head of shiny locks to life.

 

Post Processing Notes

There are several things to remember as you go through the post processing stage. As I've already said, now is the time to nix all of those distracting stray hairs!

You should also pay close attention to the hair’s texture if you plan on sharpening the image. Because hair has such a fine texture compared to other parts of the face, it is very easy to make it look over sharpened in comparison to the rest of the image. If need be, use a layer mask to mask out the hair as you sharpen elsewhere.

Another major concern is color. Here, white balance is key and you should also take care to maintain the correct hue as you adjust saturation or do other post processing tasks. Typically, someone with blonde hair does not want a brassy look but that brass color is very easy to achieve with lighting that is somewhat off or a botched color correction. Similarly, redheads typically want true red while people with black hair would rather it didn't take on a brownish or even bluish cast. Do as much correction as possible on camera through white balance adjustments or filters and then take care to make sure that the hair doesn't turn an odd tone as you work through your post processing routine.

 

Eyes, skin, and hair — if you have been following the series so far, then you should have the knowledge you need to get started with portraiture. However, there still are a few more things to learn and that’s why I intend to show you the basics of posing and some other tips and tricks next week!

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) color correction flyaway hair hair light headshots highlights portraits posing sharpening https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/5/perfecting-portraiture-3-hair Wed, 03 May 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Perfecting Portraiture #2: Skin https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/perfecting-portraiture-2-skin Perfecting Portraiture, #2: Skin

In the last post, I covered some of the tips and tricks that you can use to make the eyes pop in a portrait. While the eyes are an important element, they are by no means the only element to worry about. Skin is important, too. Depending on the type of portraiture you are doing, you may want to either smooth the skin as much as possible or you’ll want to highlight texture.

When would you smooth and when would you allow texture to hold a prominent place in a photograph? Skin is typically smoothed to make the subject of the image look more glamorous. You'll see smooth skin in fashion portfolios, graduation pictures or anywhere that emphasis should be placed on form and expression over details like texture. 

Texture should be prominent when it adds to the story. For instance, if you are portraying a weathered cowboy or an elderly person whose lined face belies the wisdom that comes with age.

For our purposes, let’s focus on the tips and tricks necessary to produce smooth, properly toned skin. If you decide that you need to add texture, then I’ll show you which step to adjust in order to do so.
 

First and Foremost, White Balance is Essential

Before we get into the tips and tricks to help you smooth skin, you'll need to know a little something about white balance. In any image, achieving the proper white balance helps you to represent colors as they really are in real life. In portraiture, correct white balance is absolutely essential to prevent strange looking skin tones.

Fluorescent lighting, for example, can result in greenish skin, while incandescent lighting can make skin look reddish or even somewhat orange. Even natural lighting can bring out odd colors. For instance, on an overcast day, it is easy to make a fair skinned subject look washed out or bluish, while golden sunlight can make someone with a pink or golden complexion look red or sallow. 

There are lots of ways to correct white balance. Start by correcting for the type of lighting you are using on camera. You can also use filters that mount on your lens that are meant to correct that color casts caused by different types of lighting. Lastly, if these measures are not enough, then you'll need to correct white balance in Photoshop, which is a fairly simple task.
 

Lighting is The Key to Smooth Skin

If you think back to those times that you and your family went to a photographer for family photographs or when you had your high school yearbook photos taken, one thing probably sticks out: The photographer doubtless had several light sources arranged all around the area in which he or she placed the subject of the image. Those lights were meant not only to illuminate the photographer’s subject but also to help smooth out textures.

Smoothing is all about avoiding shadow. When you are photographing skin, obviously there are the large shadows that you'll want to avoid, like around the nose and the eyes. But shadowing goes much deeper than that. A pimple, when photographed under harsh, directional light, looks much larger than it actually is simply because of the shadow it leaves behind. This is also true for wrinkles and even pores, which look larger the more shadowy they are.

In other words, if you want to smooth skin, then you'll need to use several sources of light. For instance, one common setup would be to place a strobe in front of the subject, and two more to the front left and front right of the subject, each diffused with an umbrella. With lighting like this, you'll have soft lighting and smooth, even skin.

Now, what if you do want to add texture to the skin? Simple! Use directional lighting from only one or two sources so that enough shadowing remains to make wrinkles, pores and other features of the skin more prominent.
 

Post Processing Tactics

There are several ways you can go about smoothing blemishes in Photoshop. The healing, spot healing and clone stamp tools are invaluable. To use these tools, make a new layer so that you can do the work in an overlay. Then, to remove a blemish, like a pimple or a mole, you'll want to select your tool and sample an area as close to the blemish as possible so that the tool picks up skin of the proper color and texture. Make your corrections in the blank layer and adjust that layer’s opacity to make the fixes look perfect.

Another tool that you can use is the high pass filter. This filter is normally used to sharpen images but it can be used to soften them, too. In a nutshell, the high pass filter is a tool that detects sharp edges within an image. I'll quickly show you the basics.

To soften using a high pass filter, start by creating a duplicate layer of the original image. Then, apply the filter to that layer. In the high pass dialogue box, you’ll see options to adjust the filter. Make adjustments until the duplicate layer is mostly gray, but clearly showing defined lines such as the eyes, nose, mouth and edges of the face. Now, you can change the filter’s lighting to linear lighting and apply a Gaussian blur to the duplicate layer. Then, adjust the opacity of the duplicate layer so that the original layer is visible underneath.

At this point, your image will look like it has been wildly over-sharpened. Look for the option to invert the duplicate layer, which is in the Images menu of CS6. Now, instead of an over-sharpened image, you'll have an incredibly blurry image.

In the upper right corner of the Layers panel, there is a small menu box which you can click to open a menu that features blending options. Click into the blending options and you'll find options and sliders that you can use to blend the two layers together properly.

 

There are many, many more ways to smooth and soften skin – and some of the tools discussed here today could use tutorials in their own right! However, the things that I have mentioned will be enough to get you started. Next week, we'll move on to the tips and tricks that help you photograph hair beautifully.

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) clone stamp eyes gaussian blur hair high pass lighting photoshop portraits skin softening spot healing white balance https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/perfecting-portraiture-2-skin Wed, 26 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Perfecting Portraiture #1: Eyes https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/perfecting-portraiture-part-1 Rachel at Sunset


If you are looking for a great way to breathe life into your artwork, portraiture might be the way to go. For those of you that previously enjoyed landscape photography or another genre, then you know that it is a challenge to come up with new and refreshing ideas. With portraiture, there is always something new to document. Different people have their own unique traits and quirks that you can bring out. Even if you photograph the same people over and over, you'll find that different moods or different activities that they are engaged in gives you a new perspective.

Portraiture does come with a few rules, however, and there are many tips and tricks that you can employ to create beautiful portraits. To that end, I'd like to give you a series of articles that talks about all of the different pieces and parts of portraits. It is often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, so let’s start there.
 

Perfect Focus is Essential

The first and most important thing to understand about portraiture is that the eyes are the first thing that viewers will look at – and with good reason since the eyes tell us a lot about what a person is thinking or feeling. What this means is that the eyes should always be in perfect focus, no matter what other techniques you are using. Photographers often use soft focus effects to smooth skin, for instance, but if you wish to do this, make sure that the effect does not touch the eyes.
 

Learn About Catchlights and How to Use Them

Catchlights are what makes eyes sparkle. That little bit of twinkle is enough to ensure that the eyes aren’t dull and flat but instead, full of life. To put it simply, a catchlight is the reflection of your lighting source. It could be square if you are using a window’s ambient light or a softbox, or it could be in the shape of your flash or reflector. Some of the most interesting catchlights are circular, perfectly ringing the pupil of the eye, usually produced when the photographer uses a ring light.

The shape, however, matters less than the quality. Those small reflections in the eyes should be fairly bright. They don't necessarily have to be bright white highlights (although they can be), but they do need to be bright enough that they are readily apparent. Viewers, particularly those who are not photographers themselves, may not overtly notice the catchlights that you have created, but they will enjoy the image more because the eyes will appear more lively.
 

Lighting the Eyes Well

When lighting the face, think about its form. There are high spots and low spots and the eyes are normally the most recessed parts of the face. It is very easy to let shadow creep into the eye sockets. Unless you are leaving the eyes dark for dramatic effect, it is best to do whatever it takes to ensure that the eyes receive plenty of light so that they don't look hollow or sunken – or worse, like a raccoon mask.

Photographers love using fill flash or reflectors to make sure that the eyes are well lit. If you are using very bright ambient lighting, such as sunlight, a reflector may be all that you need to fill in the shadows around the eyes. If the lighting is not so bright then fill flash is what you'll need. Use a softbox or a diffuser of some sort so as not to create harsh shadows.
 

Post Processing the Eyes

When it comes to post processing, there are a lot of dos and don'ts. Concerning the eyes specifically, you'll want to focus on three areas: the iris, the whites and the eyelids and lashes.

Start with the iris by making any adjustments necessary to bring out the catchlight. You may also consider sharpening this area to enhance the natural texture of the iris.

The whites of the eyes are very often over-processed. That is to say, photographers will go through and make sure that the whites are blazing white and they'll even go so far as to remove the veins to make the eyes appear even whiter. However, this leads to a very unnatural look in most cases. I recommend brightening the whites of the eyes only when necessary, and only by a little bit so that they are not bright enough to distract from the rest of the eye area. You can also minimize veins by selectively lowering the contrast or saturation of the whites only, but I do not recommend removing veins entirely because again, this looks very unnatural.

Finally, there are the eyelids and lashes to deal with – and two ways to go about handling them. If part of the point of the image is to highlight intricate makeup, then you may want to selectively sharpen or adjust colors and lighting on the lashes and the areas featuring makeup, which often includes large portions of the upper and lower eyelid.

If you are not featuring makeup, then you may want to go a different route. Sharpen the waterline of the lower eyelid only to bring it into clear focus along with the rest of the eye. Then, you can leave the eyelids and lashes softer, or not, depending on your preferences for the image. This may mean sharpening the lid areas anyway to bring out the interesting textures of the skin and lashes.

The eyes are just one element of the face, but as you can see, there are a lot of details to think about here. The same goes for other areas of the face. In the next post, I’ll be covering some of the basics you'll need to know to photograph skin beautifully.

Will Moneymaker  

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) ambient lighting catchlights diffuser eyelashes eyes fill flash focus iris lighting portrait portraiture post processing reflector https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/perfecting-portraiture-part-1 Wed, 19 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Understanding the Human Eye https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/understanding-the-human-eye Understanding the Human EyeUnderstanding the Human Eye
What is it that makes photography so enthralling? When you think about it, there isn’t anything that we photograph that we can’t just look at. Certainly, photography has a sort of convenience to it. Once you take a photograph, you don’t have to return to the spot you took it because now you have a visual record. But if that is all photography was, merely a visual record, then most people wouldn’t find it quite so interesting. 

I think that a large part of the interest comes from the way the human eye works. To put it simply, we just don’t see the same way that a camera does. A photograph gives us a whole new perspective on the subject.

To see what I mean, you can try a little experiment. Wherever you are sitting, pick an object and focus your eyes on it. Choose a small object on the other side of the room from where you are. Something like a doorknob or a piece of paper. Notice how, as you look at that object, the object is in focus but everything else in the room remains blurry until you turn your eyes to focus on specific areas.

That’s how the human eye operates. When you take a photograph, the camera is capable of seeing everything with clarity, across an entire frame. The human eye, on the other hand, only focuses on the small spots that it is directed at. When we take in the world around us, we don’t generally fix on a panorama with a steady gaze. Instead, our eyes unconsciously flit around, scanning to collect as much data as possible – building an image one piece at a time rather than capturing it all with one press of the shutter.

This is what makes photography interesting. There is a lot of clearly focused data presented in one rectangular image and that data is presented in a way that our eyes are not used to seeing. When you look at real life, you are glancing 180 degrees around you. However, when you fix on a photograph, the image only makes up a span of a few degrees directly in front of you. You can take in more information at once because it is easy to focus on more objects.

In short, this gives us an unusual new perspective on common subject material. There is more brought in to focus, and because it is directly in front of you instead of all around you, it is easier to scan and pick out individual elements for further study. This, I think, is a large part of the reason why we enjoy looking at photographs.

 

Keep the Human Eye in Mind When You Take Photographs

Now that you’re thinking about the way the human eye works, it is time to apply that to the creation of photographs. By this, I don’t mean composition – although good composition does certainly make it easier for our eyes to take in information. I am referring to the tools that photographers use to direct the viewer to look at certain things within a photograph.

Simply put, our eyes glance around to create a full image. As the photographer, it is your job to direct those eyes, to not allow them to wander because that makes an image less impactful.

When you give an image a narrow depth of field, for instance, you are directing the viewer to look only at the parts of the image that you have left in focus. The pretty washes of color from blurred areas serve to add ambience to the image but more importantly, since there is nothing there for the eyes to fix on directly, they serve as a way to isolate the subject material. You’ll spare a moment or two on the background and then go back to looking at the perfectly focused details.

Isolation is one tool that we can use, but what about those times when you don’t want to introduce a narrow depth of field to images? Another tool at your disposal is the logical progression. In fact, if you want to create images with impact, then you’ll find yourself relying heavily on logical progressions.

To understand logical progressions, think about some real-life examples of the way you observe the world around you. For instance, if you are standing in the middle of a street, then the natural temptation is to look down that street.

When you are at home, sitting in your living room, what do you look at first? Generally, the things that are most interesting. The TV, which is flashy, followed by your loved ones or a pet playing on the floor. You may stop to glance at a lit candle or a lamp. If something is happening outside, such as the neighbor’s children playing in the yard, that will be interesting enough to look at, too. 

Now, this is the heart of the matter: As you are building a logical progression, think about things that you want the viewer to look at. Using your living room as an example, what subject do you want? Let’s say it is your wife, sitting in an armchair reading a book. All of those other things – the pet playing on the floor, the TV, the lamp and whatever is happening outside your windows – it is up to you to decide whether they are part of the logical progression. Do these elements add to the story in some meaningful, logical way? If not, keep them out of the frame so as not to give viewers unnecessary distractions.

Further, you will need to decide how best to organize the image. To do this, you’ll need to place each element in the proper position of prominence. In other words, make the element that you want viewers to look at first the most prominent, with each other element following becoming less prominent based on the order in which you want them to be seen.

When you understand how the human eye observes the world, you’ll have a much better understanding of photography, too. Not just how we observe photographs but also how you can manipulate the way we look at those images through effective organization.

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) distraction eyesight focus human eye isolation logical progression perspective vision https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/understanding-the-human-eye Wed, 12 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Insights in the Way Painters Began Using Light https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/insights-in-the-way-painters-began-using-light Insights in the Way Painters Began Using Light There is a lot we can learn from history, particularly painters and other artists throughout the ages. One topic that I find endlessly fascinating is lighting and how it evolved throughout the centuries among painters. If you look back at the early Middle Ages and the High Middle Ages, a period spanning between roughly 400 AD and 1300 AD, you can see that paintings were dramatically different than those produced in the Renaissance and modern eras.

Back then, paintings were more what you or I would consider illustrations today. They were flat, seemingly one-dimensional. Lighting was either not present at all, or it was a sort of general, directionless lighting that left shadows in odd places, making it difficult for you to tell where, precisely, light would be coming from.

In fact, you could compare those early lighting techniques to the diffuse lighting that we photographers sometimes use today. To those painters, paintings were less about technical accuracy or realism and all about documenting or telling a story. In the same way, we use diffuse lighting when we don’t want the focus to be on highlights and shadows, but instead, on the subject material itself. For instance, if you wanted to take a picture of an airplane, the diffuse lighting of a cloudy day allows you to capture the airplane in great detail while minimizing glare on glossy glass and metal.

An Old Man in Red (Rembrandt) Move forward in history and you can see how thought and technique changed and brought us more types of lighting to use in our artwork, no matter the medium. Chiaroscuro was the technique that changed the way artists thought about light. This technique arose in the 1500s and it produced and quickly became popular, with artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Caravaggio and others all working to develop this revolutionary technique.

What is chiaroscuro? In Italian, the word means “light-dark,” and that is exactly how chiaroscuro got started — with artists using dark paper and light pigments to create a sense of light. Da Vinci’s Study for the Kneeling Leda, created between 1505 and 1507, is an excellent example of this. Dark coloring is used to provide the suggestion of form while light coloring provides the lighting, giving the image depth and dimension.

Da Vinci provides early examples of chiaroscuro. Later examples of this technique show just how much it grew and changed among artists of the Renaissance. Rembrandt’s work provides excellent examples using both color and shading. Look at his painting, An Old Man in Red¸ and you’ll see what I mean. Here, not only do we have depth and dimension, but we also have realism and precision. The painting is almost photographic in nature.

This became the underlying principle for chiaroscuro: Add lighting, tonality, to make forms and figures three dimensional. The best way to show form, according to the masters, was not through color or even necessarily through precise rendition but through the way light fell upon the subject. Directional lighting was the key to accomplishing this.

Look around through the works of famous Renaissance painters and you’ll soon see that chiaroscuro quickly became a complex technique, one that required skill and imagination to accomplish. Painters soon discovered that lighting not only gave dimension to subjects, but also to settings. Artists began placing light in unconventional places. Instead of placing a light source to the front or side of the subject, somewhere just outside the boundaries of the painting, some painters started placing the light source directly in the center of the painting.

Gerard van Honthorst - Adoration of the Shepherds 1622, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum

One prominent example is The Matchmaker by Gerrit van Honthorst. The lighting in this painting is a candle directly in the center of the image and you can see immediately that this light gives depth not only to the figures surrounding the candle, but also to the room itself. Another excellent example of this is The Orrery by Joseph Wright of Derby. Here, light and shadow give the painting an amazing sense of depth and realism.

It might surprise you to learn that chiaroscuro is still in use today. It’s not merely an ancient technique developed by history’s masters. Every single time you take a photograph that uses a type of directional lighting, you are using chiaroscuro. The difference between today’s directional lighting and the lighting used by Renaissance artists is that today, we don’t always think of lighting in terms of depth and dimension. Instead, we think of lighting as a way to show detail, or to provide contrasts. Sometimes we even seek to remove dimension from images, like when we work to ensure a portrait subject doesn’t have shadows around his or her eyes, or when we wait for the cloudiest day possible so that we can create photos without shadows.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with removing dimension or shadow when it is necessary or when it makes the art better. That’s the beauty of modern art. We are completely free to pick and choose between all of the techniques that were developed by the artists that preceded us. However, as we experiment with lighting techniques, we should not forget the lessons taught to use by the Renaissance masters. Lighting is not just a tool to draw contrasts, or depict details. Lighting is what breathes life into art. It’s the difference between a flat photograph and one with deep dimension that draws viewers in. Perhaps this is why black and white photography is still a popular medium today despite the old-fashioned connotations surrounding it — because it is the light, not the color, that makes the photo interesting.

Whatever your thoughts may be on the subject of lighting, it pays to study the work of the artists who came centuries before us. It is their work that laid the foundation for the lighting techniques that photographers use today.

Will Moneymaker

 

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) caravaggio chiaroscuro depth dimension directional light leonardo da vinci lighting painters realism rembrandt renaissance https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/4/insights-in-the-way-painters-began-using-light Wed, 05 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT
A Quick Lesson in the History of Flash Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/a-quick-lesson-in-the-history-of-flash-photography A Quick Lesson in the History of Flash Photography
Photography is the art form of painting with light, which means that it was only natural that someone would invent the flash, enabling us to paint with light even where there was none. Let me show you how today’s wonderful world of artificial lighting came about.

 

Origins In the 1800s

In the very earliest days of photography, only sunlight would do. Candlelight or lantern light just wasn’t enough to expose film, not unless you were willing to wait extraordinarily long times for results that simply weren’t that great. Artificial lighting took the photography world by storm in 1839 when a man named L. Ibbetson used the first artificial light to illuminate a photograph. This was the oxy-hydrogen light, created using a ball of calcium carbonate superheated by a flame of oxygen.

This lighting method was commonly referred to as the limelight. Interestingly, this is also the origin of the phrase, “in the limelight,” which we use to describe famous people or people under public scrutiny — because back then, famous people were photographed using actual limelights!

The problem with the oxy-hydrogen light was that the light produced was very harsh and bright. In portraits, people often featured bright white faces because the lighting was overpowering. Because of this, inventors continued working with the medium, developing new ways to provide lighting for photography.

 

Along Came Flash Powder

Demonstration of a magnesium flash powder lamp from 1909 The next major development began in 1862, with the development of flash guns that used magnesium and potassium chlorate powder. These flash guns were little more than a stick with a platform that you could use to hold the potassium chlorate and magnesium. They were connected directly to the camera, usually with the photographer holding the flash aloft, so that when the camera’s shutter actuated, it triggered the flash.

The flash itself was extraordinarily dangerous. These flash guns could produce more controlled bursts of light than the oxy-hydrogen lights, but the light was caused by the explosion of the materials. Needless to say, many photographers were injured and some even died attempting to use magnesium flashes.

Still, there were no better options at the time, so photographers continued using the magnesium flash well into the 1900s. All the while, researchers continued improving on the technology, making the magnesium flashes safer and working on other lighting technologies.

 

The First Flash Bulbs

Flashbulbs have ranged in size from the diminutive AG-1 to the massive No. 75. It wasn’t until 1930 that the first flash bulb became commercially available. These bulbs were created by Johannes Ostermeier and they were quite large compared to the flashes of today — roughly the size of a typical lightbulb that you would use in your home. The first bulbs were made using magnesium filaments and oxygen encased in a glass bulb. Again, they weren’t a perfect solution — sometimes the bulbs detonated to early, and sometimes the glass exploded — but they were definitely an improvement over the magnesium lights.

Around this same time, synchronization improved, making it much easier for photographers to produce the light when needed, during shutter actuation so that fewer shots were missed.

Over the next 30 years, bulb technology improved as well. Plastic replaced glass as containment for the bulbs since it was less likely to shatter on detonation. Eventually, zirconium replaced the magnesium because it provided a much stronger light. One major issue remained, however: Flashes could only be used once. Detonate it and you had to replace it.

 

Flash Cubes Solve the Single-Use Problem

Flashcube fitted to a Kodak Instamatic camera, showing both unused (left) and used (right) bulbs The iconic Kodak Flashcube, a lighting device that almost every older photographer remembers with mixed emotions, was the next revolution in lighting technology. When it hit the market in the 1960s, it meant that photographers now had a flash that could be used four times instead of once. This nifty little device featured four compact bulbs, so once you used one, it was necessary to rotate the cube and use a new bulb.

This led to other manufacturers creating similar devices, such as the General Electric Flipflash, featuring up to 10 bulbs that could be fired, one after another.

 

Modern Flashguns

Even though Flashcubes and the Flipflash were taking off, photographers and researchers were working to develop yet another technology in the 1960s: The electronic flash. This was a battery-operated device that was mainly only available to professional photographers who valued it highly because it eliminated the need to buy expensive bulbs or cubes.

Over the next decade, improvements to flash gun designs were made, including the ability to adjust the quantity and quality of the lighting. By the 1970s, the public was starting to buy into this new technology and by the 1980s, bulb and cube-style flashes were rarely used in favor of electronic flashes.

Today, we still rely on those electronic flashes for lighting, particularly when we are mobile, unable to drag all of our always-on studio equipment out into the field. The technology has continued to improve, giving us more control over lighting, but the principle is the same as those first electronic flash guns developed in the 1960s.

As the technology has improved, so have our methods. Once, it was necessary to connect each flash to the camera in some way, either via the hotshoe or through a cable, but now, many (probably most) photographers are using wireless technology to trigger their flashes. We also have more tools available to modify the lighting, either through adjusting settings on the camera or the flash or through tools like umbrellas, gels, and diffusers.

 

It’s hard to say where we will go from here. Some say that LED flashes will be the next big thing, especially since some smartphone cameras have multicolored LED flashes to produce a more natural effect. No matter what comes next, we’ve come a long way from the days when lighting meant risking your life to create a bright explosion.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) calcium carbonate electronic flash flash bulbs flash photography flashcube flashgun flipflash limelight magnesium potassium chlorate https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/a-quick-lesson-in-the-history-of-flash-photography Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:00:00 GMT
A Primer in the History and Use of HDR Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/a-primer-in-the-history-and-use-of-hdr-photography Laray Caverns, Virginia
We all assume that HDR (high dynamic range) photography got its beginnings in the digital era — that it is a construct born of the ability to freely take many different exposures of the same scene without worrying about wasting film and also the ability to easily and seamlessly layer those photos in photo editing software.

In actuality, HDR is far older. This type of photography comes from the very beginnings of the art form, with some of the first examples coming from Gustave Le Gray, who was creating HDR images as early as the 1850s. Even then, photographers knew that certain scenes were impossible to capture in one exposure. Gustav, in particular, fought to maintain proper exposure of both the sky and the sea in his famous ocean photography.

Because of this, he decided to start producing two images of these scenes. In the darkroom, the negatives were put together on one print, effectively extending the dynamic range of his images.

Then came the dodging and burning techniques — another thing that some assume came along with the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop, but actually stems from film photography. Make no mistake — dodging and burning is a type of HDR photography. Remember, HDR doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to layer images. It only means that you are extending the dynamic range past what the camera can capture in one exposure. It is the final product that you end up with, not the methods you used to get there.

Dodging and burning was a popular technique in the darkroom for decades. To dodge, a photographer used something to shield light when creating the print, thus lightening the shaded area. Burning involved exposing photographic paper to light longer so as to “burn in” more light, thus making an overexposed area, such as the sky, look darker.

Interestingly, HDR, whether through layering images or darkroom dodging and burning, was mostly done with black and white imagery. Although possible with specialized films, most felt it was just too difficult to dodge and burn or layer images to create HDR photographs with color film.

Along came Greg Ward, in 1993, to revolutionize HDR photography once more, this time ensuring that color photographs could become HDR images. He created an innovative digital file format, the RGBE file, which could be used to create tone maps in similar shots with different exposures so that you could merge the images.

By the 2000, photo editing software designed specifically for creating HDR images, Photosphere, created by Ward, was released. Then, Adobe expanded HDR capabilities with the release of Photoshop CS2, which featured built-in HDR merging tools. From then on, tools to create HDR images have been standard in photo editing software.

 

Why Create HDR Photography

Now you know the history, but what about the application? A big misconception about HDR photography, in my opinion, is that it has a narrow application, only suited for landscapes. In reality, HDR photography is needed any time you cannot capture the full range of luminosity. If an exposure would have over or underexposed areas, then HDR is a tool that you can use to correct that.

For instance, let’s say that you are indoors. Indoor photography is tricky — you often can’t capture everything between bright sparkling lamps or lighting all the way to shadowy corners. The solution to this is to bracket your images. Create exposures for the brightest of the bright, the darkest areas and everything in between, then merge those images later.
 

Laray Caverns, Virginia

HDR Photography Can Also Be Surrealist

There are lots of photographers out there who eschew the types of HDR imagery that come across as wildly colorful, or the images that have odd halos or seem to have an over-sharpened look. However, if you can get past the over-processed look, then you will find that HDR photography is one of the best ways to create surrealist images. I find that this is particularly interesting given that it is very difficult to use a medium based on real-life imagery for impressionistic or surrealist purposes.

Where is this type of surrealism helpful? Anywhere that you want to create something fantastical. Maybe you are tired of regular images of sunsets, particularly those in which the foreground is underexposed and entirely black, creating a silhouette. This is a perfect opportunity to use HDR to make sure that the foreground is properly exposed while preserving or even enhancing a blazing, fiery sunset. Does it look a tad unrealistic? Of course, but if you want to create surrealist imagery, then that’s the point!

Similarly, HDR can help you to recreate old fashioned images or it can help you to turn the interior of an otherwise ordinary building into something palatial. Of course, I do think that you need to remain careful — push the unrealism too far and people may be tempted to disregard the image as merely a cartoonish illustration.

Laray Caverns, Virginia

Go Back to the Roots of HDR with Black and White

Finally, if you really want to create something amazing, you may enjoy creating black and white HDR images, just as the fathers of this photographic technique did. Here, you will not need to worry about going wild with colors. Instead, you can focus on what is really important: Creating an image with an incredible dynamic range, from the brightest sources of light to the deepest shadows. This is a great tool if you enjoy monochrome images with lots of texture and extraordinary contrasts.

 

As you can see, HDR imaging is not a modern concept. It is, however, experiencing a resurgence because modern technology makes it easier than ever to create these types of images. HDR is a useful tool, one that proves to be a lot of fun to experiment with. Experience a vast range of luminosity or use HDR to create surrealist images — the choice is yours.

 

 

 


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(Will Moneymaker Photography) black and white darkroom greg ward gustave le gray hdr photography high dynamic range luminosity photoshop photosphere surrealism https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/a-primer-in-the-history-and-use-of-hdr-photography Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Where Art and Philosophy Meet: Should Art Be Interpretive? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/where-art-and-philosophy-meet-should-art-be-interpretive Where Art and Philosophy Meet: Should Art Be Interpretive?Where Art and Philosophy Meet: Should Art Be Interpretive?
What is photography without meaning? Most would argue that the more meaning, the more symbolism a photograph contains, the more valuable it becomes. This leads to an odd interpretation of philosophy in photography. Some take this to mean that you should leave photos open to any number of interpretations — whatever multitude of things that the viewer can possibly think about the image. The photograph itself has no point, other than to hopefully encourage the viewer to do all the thinking.

I think this is the lazy way of doing things. If you leave a photograph’s meaning open, if you don’t give the image a defining purpose, then you are essentially telling the viewer to do all of the work. All you have done is provide a vehicle for thought, but not necessarily a device that provokes deep thought about a given subject. When the meanings behind an image are muddled in this way, the temptation on the viewer’s part is to not think about it at all. Instead, he or she is much more likely to gravitate to images associated with strong feelings or lines of thought rather than trying to ferret out what they think the photography may or may not have meant.

This is why I think that a photograph without a clear and obvious meaning is just not as powerful as one that lays everything out on the line. To me, a powerful photograph is one that has a strong foundation. The intent and philosophy are unmistakable. There is no risk that the viewer comes away thinking that perhaps the photographer had no idea what he or she was trying to convey. The viewer, whether they agree or disagree with the sentiment behind the image, knows exactly what is meant by the image. A powerful image is not wishy-washy or hard to piece together. It is an image that is strong, that grips the viewer and pulls them in, forcing them to see the message.

So how does one go about creating powerful images? You cannot narrow it down to a specific subject or even to a certain genre. Rather, it is all in the way that you approach your art, no matter what it is that you are photographing. It’s about taking your own personal philosophies and using the photographic image to convey them for everyone to see.

 

Expressing Opinions and Philosophies Through Photography

If you want to create a photograph that has an impact, that gets people to think about the things that you have captured, then you’ll need to be decisive. Create images that have a purpose. Approach each subject with your own feelings about that subject, and use every tool — equipment, composition, post processing and so forth — to insert your own thoughts and feelings into that image.

As an example, let’s say that you are out on a photography walk and you come across train cars that are covered in graffiti. How do you feel about it? Is this the work of vandals, thoughtlessly scrawling all over something so that now it is someone else’s unpleasant job to painstakingly scrub away the mess? Or is this a work of art, a form of free expression that coveys whatever the person with the spray paint was thinking at the time?

I’m not saying, in this instance, that the graffiti artist was right or wrong or that you need to feel one way or another about it. I am saying that you need to examine how you feel about it and then apply what you feel to the image. Decide what you think about a subject and then use that perspective to create the piece of art that you feel.

 

Photography with a Cause

Having said all of this about determining your feelings and then using those feelings to create decisive photography, I now feel it necessary to say that you will likely not have a decisive feeling one way or another about each and every subject that comes before your lens. Life just isn’t black and white to that degree. So many things have positive, negative and neutral qualities.

This is why I think that it helps to start out by photographing things that you feel strongly about. When the emotion isn’t there, when you are not inspired by a passion, it becomes much more difficult to identify your precise philosophy on a given subject and then insert that into the artwork. When you have a passion, strong feelings about certain things, then there are no uncertain terms. You know precisely how you feel about a given subject and you can use those feelings as your guide while you put the image together.

This way, the image is not up to interpretation. Sure, a viewer can interpret the image, but only to a degree. The overriding theme of the image solid and powerful. The viewer is not stuck with the task of finding the overriding themes, nor does he or she feel uncertain because the intent is clearly on display.

 

Practice Makes Perfect

Here comes the rub: You can’t spend your entire life photographing only the things that you feel most strongly about. This means that your passions are practice. What is it that you feel strongly about? The environment? A political topic? Animals? Architecture? Whatever your passions are, you’ll need to examine how you think and feel about them. Then you’ll need to think about how you came to those conclusions. Once you understand how you develop strong opinions or philosophies about certain things, then you’ll be able to apply that knowledge to anything that you want to photograph. In other words, once you better understand how it is that you form opinions, you’ll be able to apply that opinion-making process to subjects that don’t necessarily inspire you from first glance.

 

Photography is not just imagery. Photography is an art form that uses imagery to express ideas. This means that in order to create powerful photography, we must express powerful ideas. Don’t be afraid to express the way that you feel because the more interpretive an image is, the less likely it is to make an impact.

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) composition fine art photography interpretive meaning passion philosophy post processing practice https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/where-art-and-philosophy-meet-should-art-be-interpretive Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Advanced Concepts in Landscape Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/advanced-concepts-in-landscape-photography Monument Valley
I’ve talked a lot about composition and landscape photography in general because I feel that it is a wonderful genre that everyone can benefit from. I would like to delve into some of the more advanced concepts — the things that will really make your landscape photography shine. Some of the concepts I will discuss tend to “break the rules,” but as you know, sometimes you must break a few rules to create something unique. Let’s dig in to some of these concepts so that you can learn how to apply them to your photography!

 

Don’t Neglect White Balance

As you are looking for interesting elements and colors and putting your image together, white balance is one of those things that is often ignored. In fact, sometimes, it is deliberately ignored because photographers are after certain overall tones that alter the mood of the photograph. For instance, it is not at all uncommon to see landscape photography with a blue cast in an effort to make the photo seem more old-fashioned, or with a reddish cast that makes the image feel warmer, like it was taken during a golden sunset.

The problem arises when these tints are taken too far, and the white of the image is lost. When the white balance of a photograph is off, it takes on a very surreal quality that can detract from the overall effect of the image. It takes away from the realness of the scene, which makes it easier to disregard the image.

Making sure that your white balance is correct is a simple thing to do. Simply look for the white or light colored elements of your photograph and make sure that the color is true to life. In some cases, the color may be so off that it is immediately evident, even in darker areas of the image. There are a couple of ways to go about this. You can either adjust your camera’s white balance settings or you can do it in photo editing software, as you prefer.

 

Perspective Doesn’t Always Need to be Wide

We love to spend all kinds of money on the widest lenses available so that our landscapes are sweeping, filled with as much of the view as we can possibly fit into the frame. And there is no denying that a wide angle shot, when done well, is a thing of beauty that almost defies the imagination. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use a narrower perspective in your images when you want to. Sometimes I find that the narrower perspective is actually preferable because it eliminates elements that might otherwise distract from a particularly interesting main subject.

So how do you know when to choose a wide-angle lens for a broad perspective or a telephoto lens for a narrow perspective? I like to think of it as “space or object.” This means that you’ll need to study your subject material. If you feel that the image requires a sense of space, then use a wide-angle lens for the widest field of view possible. If you want to place emphasis on an object like a tree or a mountain, then go narrow with a long lens or a telephoto lens.
 


Should You Always Eliminate Foreground Object?

There are two schools of thought on foreground objects in photography. Traditionally, photographers have eschewed foreground objects — like a cluster of flowers or tree branches to the immediate front of the image. This is because these elements are viewed as a distraction. The thinking is that you want the viewer of your image to look at the sweeping view you have created and not the objects that were only a few feet away from you when you created the image.

There is a lot of merit to the traditional viewpoint, and it is true: If you want people to focus on the middle of the image or the background, then objects in the foreground will be distracting. However, layering is also important. A layered image is one that is interesting from front to back, with foreground elements, mid-ground and background. Images that make great use of layers tend to have a nice progression, with the viewer looking at the front first, and then exploring deeper into the image as they go along.

Additionally, foreground elements can often have the effect of a frame. You may want to include a small shrub at the front of the image if it provides a nice frame to the photograph. Tree branches creeping in from the sides of the image are sometimes reminiscent of vignettes, or photos where the center of the image is brighter, fading out to darker colors or to black around the edges.

Whether a foreground object is necessary or not is completely up to you. Don’t hesitate to include them when it feels like a welcome addition!

 

Add Dimension with Light

Layering is one way to add dimension to images, but on it often isn’t enough. And, how are you supposed to add dimension to an image that only has two or three layers? That’s where directional light comes in. This is one tool that you can nearly always use to bring images to life.

Directional lighting is lighting that comes from an angle. For instance, you are unlikely to have directional lighting on a cloudy day because light is being diffused through the clouds evenly over the entire landscape. Shadows are minimal at best and often absent. Shooting at midday won’t give you good directional light either. With the light directly overhead, shadows will be directly underneath the objects you are photographing.

To make use of directional light in landscape photography, time your shots for the morning or afternoon. The sun will shine into the scenery at an angle and cast longer shadows along the ground. Those shadows will go a long way towards preventing images that seem flat and uninteresting.

 

There is always a lot to learn about landscape photography. This is one of the most diverse genres which means that the skills you learn here can easily be put to use on other types of photography. The opposite is also true. Try out skills you have learned elsewhere on your landscapes to see what happens. Most importantly, have fun as you go outside and experience the wide world around you!

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) background color cast directional lighting foreground landscape photography layers perspective telephoto tint white balance wide angle https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/advanced-concepts-in-landscape-photography Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Understanding the Effective Black and White Image https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/understanding-the-effective-black-and-white-image Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina


 

What makes a black and white image effective? In my opinion, it takes more to create an effective black and white image than it does to create an effective color image. By removing the color, you are taking away one of the major elements, quite possibly the element that is most distracting or that takes away from all of the other parts of the image. This leaves you with things like composition, tonal range, shape and texture to rely on — all important parts of an image that sometimes just aren’t as noticeable when objects within the frame are brightly colored.

Let’s dig into the nuts and bolts of black and white photography, and by the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what makes an image effective.
 

The Zone Scale

Understanding the Zone System

This is a system that was pioneered by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer, and even if you don’t use it actively, understanding how it works will give you some insights into black and white imagery. In other words, learning about the Zone System will help you to see, as you create the images, where the light and dark spots will be.

In a nutshell, the Zone System breaks an image down into 11 different shades (numbered from Zone 0, which is black, to Zone 10, which is white) along the white to black tonal scale. Middle gray, which is the tone that is exactly between white and black, is Zone 5. For the most part, the thinking is that in order to have a correctly exposed black and white image with a broad tonal range, the lightest parts of the image should fall around Zone 7 while the darkest parts should be right around Zone 3. Anything past these ranges, and you’ll start to lose texture and detail.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to adhere strictly to the Zone System as you create black and white images. My point in explaining this was to illustrate the spectrum of shades between black and white — and how necessary it is to include a wide tonal range in order to create an effective monochrome image. You could take a photo that is mostly black and shades of dark gray, or you could take a photo that is at the lighter end of the Zone System, but the most effective black and white images generally make use of shades that span the entire spectrum, from white or light gray to black. Pay attention to the tonal range as you create your monochrome images and you’ll end up with visually diverse images and striking contrasts.
 

The Zone Scale Description

 

Without Color, What is the Point?

Once you have removed color from an image, what value remains? Many people simply enjoy the contrasts or the play between black and white and all of the shades in between. But I would argue that the value of black and white imagery goes far deeper than that.

As I mentioned, when you strip away the color, you are removing a distraction. Now, instead of looking at the difference between red stones and the blue sky, or the shades of green in a leaf, you are forced to look for something more. That something more, if present, is what helps to make the image more effective.

If you intend to create black and white images, then here are some of the major elements you could work with in order to make the finished image visually interesting:

  • Texture: Black and white is almost the ideal medium to display texture because, without the play of colors to distract you, you must now focus on the shades of gray and the details that create the texture. Rough stone, the texture of rope or twine, tree bark — rough textures tend to stand out in black and white images, and they also make interesting contrasts when paired with smooth textures.

  • Contrast: Contrast is probably the most obvious element to toy with, and there is a lot that you can do with contrasts between dark and light. The most effective images that utilize contrasts don’t necessarily leave out the middle shades of gray, but the middle shades may not be as evident. Additionally, a good, high-contrast image doesn’t mean that you should lose detail in bright whites or dark blacks. As you experiment with contrasts, make sure to expose for both dark and light ends of the spectrum.

  • Shape: Geometric designs are always fun when you are creating black and white images, but you aren’t limited to these alone. Take, for instance, a photograph of a flower. Remove the color, and what is left for you to look at? The shape of the petals, the sweep of the stem, the flower's profile, the leaves and so forth. Removing color is a great way to draw attention to shapes and shapes within shapes that may have otherwise been overlooked.

  • Composition: Composition should be strong in any image, but more so in black and white.  A little compositional mistake here or there can be forgiven in images that make use of beautiful colors because a large part of the intention of such an image is to enjoy those colors. In monochrome images, you only have shades, not hues, to enjoy — composition, and any flaws therein will be much more evident.

Clingman's Dome (Great Smoky Mountains)

 

Perhaps this is why there is still such a mystique surrounding black and white images. I’ve heard it argued before that color photography is easy compared to monochrome. No photography is easy, in my opinion, not even color photography. If it were, all art would have already been made. However, I do think that black and white photography requires you to pay stricter attention to all of the details.

 

 

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) ansel adams black and white composition contrast fred archer monochrome shape texture tonal range zone system https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/3/understanding-the-effective-black-and-white-image Wed, 01 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Creating and Using Sky Overlays https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/creating-and-using-sky-overlays Ark Encounter,  Williamstown, KYArk Encounter, Williamstown, KY

Once you move on from basic photography skills and into more advanced techniques, you’ll find that few things are so useful as sky overlays. No matter what type of photography you enjoy — portraiture, landscapes, architectural photography or any genre — sky overlays will help you to correct those dull, flat skies that so often occur in day-to-day photography. The fact is, you’ll often have very little control over the weather when you decide to take a few photos, and if you are a professional photographer, then you will need to adhere to the appointments that you have set up no matter what the sky looks like.

Fortunately, sky overlays are easy to use, and they are even easier to create. I’ll show you, step by step, how to create your own sky overlays and then use them when needed in your images.

 

How to Create Sky Overlays

To create a sky overlay, it is as simple as taking a photograph of a beautiful sky. There is no need to search for (and then purchase) stock photos to do this. Simply make a point to take photographs whenever you think the sky looks particularly beautiful. Likely, you’ll want to create several different types of sky photographs — different kinds of clouds, and at different times of day so that you have a collection of overlays to simulate a variety of different weather and lighting conditions.

To take your sky photographs, make sure to just photograph only the sky. Avoid trees, hills and other background objects as this will just create more work for you later on when you need to remove these elements from your images. Additionally, if you exclude background elements from your image, then you will have an easier time creating a balanced exposure. As we all know, it is often difficult to balance an image of the sky that includes a shadowy foreground — often necessitating neutral density filters so that you can manually darken the sky and bring out trees, hills, and other less bright objects.

If you follow this process, making sure to take photographs of the sky whenever it looks particularly interesting to you, then before too long, you’ll have a large collection of photos that you can use as overlays.

Ark Encounter,  Williamstown, KYArk Encounter, Williamstown, KY


Using Your Overlays

To use your sky overlays, start by opening a photo that has a sky you want to replace. Open the sky overlay that you want to use, copy it, and paste into the photo file as a layer. Create a duplicate layer of the original image (the one that needs to have the sky replaced). In Photoshop’s layer panel, the original image should be marked with a small lock symbol. Go ahead and click the small eye symbol by the background layer to hide it, then make sure that you drag each layer so that the duplicate layer is on top of the layer stack, the sky overlay is in the center of the layer stack, and the background layer is on the bottom of the layer stack. When this is finished, click on the duplicate layer to select it so that you can work with it.

In the duplicate layer, use the magic wand tool to select the sky that you want to replace. If the sky has a few clouds, then you’ll need to either adjust the tolerances of the magic wand tool so that it picks up more of the colors in the sky, or failing that, use the lasso or quick select tools to select the sky. Depending, if you need to click more than once to select the entire sky, then you’ll need a tool that allows you to do additive selection either from the tool’s menu or by holding Shift while clicking.

As you select parts of the sky, don’t forget all of the little details — gaps that show between leaves and so forth. Once you have the entire sky selected, then go to the Select Menu and click Inverse to reverse the selection. Now, the foreground elements of your image should be selected, while the sky is not selected.

Making sure that the duplicate layer is still selected in the Layer panel, go to the bottom of the layer panel and click the Layer Mask icon — it should look like a small rectangle with a circle inside. If your layers are in the proper order (duplicate on top, sky overlay in the center, and background or original image on the bottom), then the selected foreground parts will be effectively masked, while the original sky will be replaced with the overlay.

Ark Encounter,  Williamstown, KYArk Encounter, Williamstown, KY

At this point, you may notice that some of the details around the edges of the foreground, where the foreground meets the new sky overlay, aren’t quite right. You can do cleanup with the paint brush tool. Simply select a brush size and fade effect that works well to give the edges between the foreground and overlay a nice blend. Then, make sure that the paint tool’s color is set to either black or white. Black will add to the layer mask, so use it if you need to add more sky to the mask. White removes parts of the mask, so use this color if you have bits of sky where it is not wanted. Make sure to do this work on the duplicate layer, which should have a small layer mask thumbnail next to it in the layer panel.

Once your layer mask is perfected and the sky overlay is blended perfectly to the image, you can move on with other post processing needs, like color correction, or you can export the finished image as a JPEG or other file type for printing or posting online.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) background brush clouds density filter foreground layer mask neutral overlays photoshop selection sky tool https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/creating-and-using-sky-overlays Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT
How to Create Beautiful Architectural Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/how-to-create-beautiful-architectural-photography Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Cincinnati OhioCathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Cincinnati Ohio (Gothic Revival Architecture)
Architectural photography is a difficult genre with lots of little details that need attention. In my opinion, this kind of imagery relies heavily on geometry, more so than many other genres. Because of this, and because of the limitations of cameras and lenses, it can be tough to bring an architectural image together so that it becomes a piece of art. Because this is a genre that everyone struggles with, let me show you some of my favorite tips and tricks!

 

Composition Must Be Stellar

In architectural photography, the composition must be on point. With all of the geometry, the straight lines, there is simply nowhere for compositional flaws to hide. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you must always abide by the Rule of Thirds. In fact, in many architectural photos, you’ll find elements like a staircase or doorway centered.

What it does mean is that you will need to place elements carefully. Think of all the lines in each image before you take the image — the line where the floor meets the walls, where the ceiling meets the walls, where the walls meet each other and so on. Whether you are using the Rule of Thirds or composing by another method, make sure that each prominent element like this fits into the photo in an organized, deliberate way. Where possible, make sure floor and ceiling lines are perfectly horizontal and lines, where walls meet, are perfectly vertical.


Making Use of Leading Lines

Lines are a common theme in architectural photography — an almost inescapable theme, in fact. Leading lines, or lines that draw a viewer’s eye into an image, are especially common.

The first thing that you will want to do when using leading lines is to locate them. Indoors, it might be something like the curve of a stairwell leading up to a balcony, or rows of benches with a path in between that leads the viewer’s eye to the background of the image. Outside, leading lines may look similar, like a road or sidewalk leading to the building you are photographing.

Whatever the leading lines are, your job is to make sure that they have a purpose. If you notice a line that draws your attention from one part of a photograph to another, then make sure that wherever the line draws you to is interesting. Think of it in terms of going on a journey. Whatever is at the end of your route is hopefully worth the trip that you took to get there. Leading lines should be utilized the same way. If you include them, make sure that they lead the viewer on a worthwhile journey.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles California (Art Deco Architecture)Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles California (Art Deco Architecture)


Other Ways to Use Lines

Lines don’t necessarily need to lead viewers through the image. They can be used in a variety of ways, so always be on the lookout for interesting effects that you can accomplish.

As an example, one of my favorite ways to use lines is as a frame. Imagine if you are standing in a cathedral, looking down a long row of pews into a basilica. The pillars arching up into the ceiling provide the perfect frame for the pulpit. Doorways and windows can also be used in this way.

On the outside, look for framing elements like rooflines. Even though they may not frame the entire building, they will still give the building that “framed in” feeling. Roads are another way to accomplish this from the outside. If you happen to be standing in an intersection, you may be able to use those two converging roads to frame the building in from the bottom.
 

Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Cincinnati, OhioCathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Cincinnati Ohio (Gothic Revival Architecture)

Shoot Wide

Indoors or outdoors, it is wise to take wide-angle photos whenever you can, even if it means you must crop images later on. There are two good reasons for this. First, wide angle images let you capture a lot more of the details around the edges. This is particularly helpful when you don’t have a great vantage to shoot from. If you can’t back farther away from the room or building that you are photographing, then the wide-angle lens will help you make up for that by giving you a wider view.

Secondly, architectural photography, particularly indoor photography, has a natural tendency to feel cramped, almost like the walls are closing in. In extreme cases, it almost makes you uncomfortable to look at the finished image. Wide angle lenses help to combat this claustrophobic feeling by altering the perspective somewhat. When you take a wide angle shot, the foreground objects will seem a little larger or nearer to the camera, which makes the room feel more open.
 

Architectural Photography Outdoors

The things I have talked about so far apply to outdoor architectural photography as much as they do to indoor photography. However, outdoor photography adds one additional challenge: the weather. If you are able, it helps to plan around the weather, and around sunrise and sunset so that you can get the perfect exposure. By and large, the most common issue is an overexposed sky or underexposed foreground, so by choosing days to photograph according to the weather and the position of the sun in the sky, you can help minimize exposure balance issues.

Cincinnati’s Union Station, Cincinnati Ohio (Art Deco Architecture)Cincinnati’s Union Station, Cincinnati Ohio (Art Deco Architecture)

Sometimes, there is just no help for it — the sky is too bright no matter how well you’ve planned. In these instances, there are a few options you can try. A neutral density filter, if you have one, may help balance the exposure. Alternatively, you could create an HDR (high dynamic range) image by exposing one frame for the building and another for the sky so that you can combine the two later in photo editing software. Or, you could simply use a sky from another photo in your collection as an overlay.
 

Architectural photography is tough, but the challenges are certainly worthwhile. It is a unique genre in that few other types of photography allow you so much freedom to explore interesting geometry. Practice, and before too long, I am sure you will see the beauty in your architectural photographs!

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) angle architectural architecture composition framing leading lines outdoor perspective photography wide https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/how-to-create-beautiful-architectural-photography Wed, 15 Feb 2017 11:15:00 GMT
Which Lenses Belong in Your Kit? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/which-lenses-belong-in-your-kit
When you buy your first DSLR, one of the first questions you’ll be asking yourself is what lenses to buy next. My advice is to remain patient. Don’t let gear envy take over because you might end up with an empty bank account — and worse, lenses you don’t necessarily need or enjoy.

Of course, you’ll have to buy lenses someday. But, let’s take a minute to look at the lenses you could have in your kit (including the kit lens that came with your camera) so that you can choose which purchases to make and when you want to make them.

 

Spend Plenty of Time with the Kit Lens

Photographers often come across as scornful of kit lenses. They’re the first lens you’ll get, and the impression is that they are often lower quality than other lenses that you could own for a comparable price. However, you have to think about this from the perspective of the manufacturer. The manufacturer wants you to have a good time with your new camera, and take lots of great photos in the hopes that you will continue buying their equipment. So why would they stick new camera owners with bad lenses?

Sure, kit lenses aren’t generally a top of the line product, but if they were, your camera kit would likely cost thousands of dollars instead of hundreds of dollars. Instead, these lenses are meant to be a quality tool, and most importantly, a versatile tool. They generally come in an 18-55mm range or thereabouts with apertures ranging from f/3.5 or slightly wider all the way up to f/22. This lets you fully explore not only your camera’s features, but also a wide range of photographic techniques.

So, instead of rushing out to replace your kit lens, my recommendation is that you instead use it. Take pictures, learn about photography and find out what you can do with your new gear. When you finally run into something that you can’t do effectively with the kit lens, then it is time to start looking at your options.

 

Wide Angle Lenses

The definition varies slightly depending on the camera body, but in general, wide angle lenses are those that are wider than 50mm, or for cameras that have a crop factor, wider than 35mm or more. There is also variation between wide angle, which could be anywhere in the 20mm and smaller range, or super wide angle, which could be something like 12mm or wider.

In general, the purpose of these lenses is to include more subject material in the frame. If you look through your kit lens at different focal lengths, you’ll notice that when you are zoomed in, you’ll lose some of the space around the edges of the photograph as compared to a photo taken with the lens fully zoomed out. Wide angle lenses magnify this effect, allowing you to capture even more, which makes them a popular option for landscapes and other genres that require wide fields of view.

 

Standard Prime Lenses

These lenses are right around 50mm, or the equivalent to 50mm if you have a crop factor camera body. This is the middle ground between wide angles that include more details around the edges and telephoto lenses that cut off the edges of a frame in favor of zooming in close. Typically, a standard prime is one that can photograph about what humans can see with their eyes. If you look straight ahead at a scene without turning your head, you’ll be seeing roughly what you’ll get with a standard lens.

This is considered by many to be the “all purpose” lens. You can easily take a landscape photo with a standard prime and not lose so much around the edges of the frame that it makes the image feel cramped, but at the same time, you won’t lose too much detail in the distance, even if you aren’t able to zoom in on faraway objects. These lenses are the standard for portraiture or any other type of photography that requires a similar sort of view as one would see with their own eyes. Additionally, standard primes tend to have very wide apertures, making them great for low light situations like concerts and also for creating a narrow depth of field.

 

Telephoto Lenses

Telephoto lenses cover the range between 67mm and up — all the way to super telephotos which can be anywhere between 300mm to the extreme high end of 5,200mm or more. The longer the lens, the more rare and expensive they come, and those with seriously long focal lengths sometimes start looking a bit less like a lens and more like a telescope.

Regardless, these lenses are meant to do one thing, which is to zoom in on distant objects. The more you zoom in, the narrower the field of view will become. Most beginners start with telephoto lenses anywhere between the 67mm to 300mm range, which allows you to take great long distance photos. Use these lenses when you can’t get closer to an object — for instance, when there is no way to hike closer to a subject that you’d like to photograph, or when the subject material requires you to stay far away so as not to disturb the scene, such as with wildlife photography.

 

Other Types of Lenses

The above lenses are the basics that will help you cover a vast range of focal lengths, but there are many, many types of lenses that you may want to purchase in the future.

Here are some examples:

  • Macro lenses, which help you to take extreme close ups.
     
  • Extreme high aperture prime lenses, which are usually standard or wide-angle lenses that allow you to have tighter control over an image’s depth of field.
     
  • Fisheye lenses are specialty wide angle lenses that give images an extremely wide field of view along with a distorted look.
     
  • Tilt-shift lenses, which are famous for making photos of real scenes look like they are miniature models.

 

Beyond that, there are many more types of lenses, each with their own unique purpose. But again, although you may be hungry for gear now, it is always better to wait and fully explore the possibilities with your current gear. When you run into limits that you can’t get around with your collection of lenses, that is when it is time to consider a new purchase.

 

 

 

 



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(Will Moneymaker Photography) 50mm dslr field of view fisheye kit lens macro lens prime standard lens telephoto tilt-shift wide angle lens https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/which-lenses-belong-in-your-kit Wed, 08 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Spitfire: The Tiger of the Skies https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/spitfire-the-tiger-of-the-skies SpitfireSpitfireSpitfire
A few years ago I had the opportunity to take photos of the powerful Supermarine Spitfire (as I like to call it, the tiger of the skies). The Spitfire was the iconic British aircraft of the Second World War and perhaps the most famous aircraft of the entire war of any of the participating nations. It formed the backbone of the Royal Air Force (RAF) following the Battle of Britain in 1940 and consistently outperformed many of its opponents.  Its performance and importance cannot be understated and the romantic notions it inspired, with its distinctive elliptical wing shape and the throaty roar of its Merlin engines, are still deeply embedded in the national psyche of the British people to this day.

The men who flew these planes were like the knights of medieval times, seated on their powerful war horses and often engaging an equally skilled enemy in a one on one confrontation, often resulting in the death of one of them. 

The first test flight of a Spitfire took place on March 5, 1936, and was born of the need for a fast interceptor fighter which could take on enemy bombers and shoot them down before they reached their intended targets.  It was an era when the large-scale bombing of military and civilian targets was becoming a very real possibility and the RAF High Command had already envisioned that this would form a part of any future war.  The fear of cities laid waste by waves of unstoppable bombers was something which offered many sleepless nights.

As it turned out they were right.  The new and modern aircraft of the German Luftwaffe demonstrated this potent threat when they destroyed the Spanish city of Guernica in 1937 and, although this was a small raid in comparison with what was to come, it served as a reminder of the threat and the need for a way to face it.

But it wasn’t until mid-1938, and 24 months after the initial order had been placed, that production of the new fighter saw the first operational units being delivered.  This, it transpired, was probably just in the nick of time, as the aircraft were able to be tested and experienced by many pilots before they would have to be flown in combat missions. 

During World War II the production of the Spitfire increased and around 20,000 were eventually built.  The £12,000 price tag for each machine was hefty, but it was to pay dividends in the coming years as Britain reeled from successive blows from a far better equipped Germany.


The Spitfire remains as the only British fighter plane to have been in constant production throughout the course of the war and it remained in active service until it was eventually retired from the Irish Air Corps in 1955, with more than 30 nations employing it and its variants at times.

NH749 - Spitfire Mk. XIVNH749 - Spitfire Mk. XIVThe British Supermarine Spitfire was facing several challenges by mid-1942. The debut of the formidable Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in late 1941 had caused problems for RAF fighter squadrons flying the latest Spitfire Mk Vb. By this time Rolls-Royce engineers were already working on a new version of the Merlin incorporating two-stage superchargers; the combination of the improved Merlins and the Spitfire Mk VC airframe in a "stop-gap" design allowed the RAF to combat the Fw 190 on equal terms. In a second stream of development Supermarine was working on an improved, reinforced Spitfire airframe which incorporated several new features and was designed specifically for the Merlin 60 and 70 series engines. This new airframe later formed the basis for the Rolls-Royce Griffonpowered Spitfires.<br/><br/><br/>http://www.willmoneyaker.com
WWII

With the outbreak of war with Germany on 3rd September 1939, the Spitfire was soon on the front lines and the first reported ‘kill’ from one of the aircraft was when it shot down a Heinkel 111 over the Firth of Forth in eastern Scotland.

As the war progressed, from the Phoney War following the defeat of Poland, through to the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, the Spitfire slowly but surely began to take on an ever greater role, and by the summer of 1940 the new mark II models were beginning to make an appearance in the skies over Britain. 

With more armor to protect the pilot and a better engine, the Mark II could climb faster than the original version of the aircraft, giving it an advantage over its competition and other Allied designs.

IMG_2360 - Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX replicaIMG_2360 - Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX replicaThe British Supermarine Spitfire was facing several challenges by mid-1942. The debut of the formidable Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in late 1941 had caused problems for RAF fighter squadrons flying the latest Spitfire Mk Vb. By this time Rolls-Royce engineers were already working on a new version of the Merlin incorporating two-stage superchargers; the combination of the improved Merlins and the Spitfire Mk VC airframe in a "stop-gap" design allowed the RAF to combat the Fw 190 on equal terms. In a second stream of development Supermarine was working on an improved, reinforced Spitfire airframe which incorporated several new features and was designed specifically for the Merlin 60 and 70 series engines. This new airframe later formed the basis for the Rolls-Royce Griffonpowered Spitfires.

The Battle of Britain

With France and the Low Countries defeated by June of 1940, it was left to Britain to carry the fight alone.  At that time it was impossible for the British army, following the near disaster of Dunkirk, to have contemplated taking on the Germans in a large-scale land engagement.  They had now been defeated twice in campaigns on mainland Europe, in Norway and in France, and they would soon be forced into another ignominious retreat when the Germans invaded Greece in 1941.

It was, thus, left to the Royal Navy, which was far stronger than their German counterparts, and the Royal Air Force to provide morale-boosting victories to give the British public something to cheer.

Unfortunately for the RAF, in 1940 they were still vastly outnumbered by the German Luftwaffe, which could muster a grand total of some 4,000 aircraft of various designs by July 1, 1940.  Although not all of these aircraft were employed in the Battle of Britain they still heavily outnumbered the RAF fighters, which stood at just 900 of all types.

Of these 900 fighters, only some 250 were Spitfires as they were less numerous than the Hawker Hurricanes, which were of a comparable age but could be produced much faster.

When it came, the Battle of Britain was a bloody and violent campaign which left cities in ruin, thousands of civilians dead and injured and even greater numbers of homeless.  The German High Command was acutely aware, as was the British, that in order to be able to execute a successful invasion of the British Isles they would first have to have command of the skies.

The RAF pilots, who took to the air in the Spitfires, Hurricanes, and others, less well-known fighters faced enormous odds and a life expectancy which was miserly at best.  That they achieved what they did remains a testament to their bravery and skill.

The Germans began the Battle of Britain by assuming that they could obtain air supremacy in no more than 4 weeks.  On June 26, 1940, the Luftwaffe began its campaign by carrying out probing attacks.  This was followed up by attacks on shipping and airfields, as well as aircraft manufacturing in mid-July and then with an increased intensity of attacks from mid-August until the beginning of September.

During this time the Spitfire was generally employed against the excellent Messerschmitt Bf 109 as it was deemed to be superior to the Hurricane.  This allowed the more numerous Hurricanes to target the waves of bombers.

The Spitfire’s work against the 109’s of the Luftwaffe was part of the reason for it achieving its legendary status during the Battle of Britain.  Despite there being little to choose between the two machines (in fact, the Bf 109 was slightly faster) the Spitfires managed to retain a slight advantage in victories.  This was due to several factors, including the organization of the RAF which allowed for proper rest for pilots, the fact that the defenders could wait until the last moments before taking to the air and their ability to be repatriated if shot down over their own territory.

Other new innovations, like radar, also helped, but the fact remained that the Spitfire was a potent weapon and when handled by an experienced pilot it was likely to come out on top in the majority of occasions.  All of this contributed to the attrition rate of Spitfires being lower than that of the Hurricanes and other units when it came to a one on one dogfight with an enemy aircraft. 

As the Luftwaffe began to incur serious losses and began to weaken, they saw the opportunity to attack major urban centers as being the way to proceed and, just as the RAF were beginning to feel the effects of sustained attacks on airfields, losses in trained crew and fighters, they were suddenly given the reprieve of what became known as The Blitz.

Now, with a breathing space for the pilots, they were able to regroup and the Spitfire squadrons exacted a heavy toll on the attackers at every opportunity.  Other ideas such as the ‘Spitfire Fund’ set up by Lord Beaverbrook, meant that ordinary people could contribute to buying their own Spitfire and these savings raised more than £13 million, an astronomical sum of money in those days and enough to build over 1000 of the aircraft.

As the reality of the situation set in, Hitler was forced to abandon his plans to invade Britain and relied on sporadic bombing raids to harass the civilian population and armaments industry.  The victory for the British, during the Battle of Britain, and the performance of the Spitfire, in particular, was what pushed it to the very forefront of the public’s admiration. 

Performance

When it came to performance it was generally accepted that the Spitfire was the best British fighter of the war and among the best aircraft from any side, with one two notable exceptions. 

With a good pilot, it could certainly match anything in the European and African theaters and remained as such until the Germans could employ their new jet propelled aircraft much later in the war, by which time it was too late.  

 

Other Theaters and Other Uses

Following the success of the Spitfire during the Battle of Britain, it went on to be employed in other theaters.  It was used in the conflict in the Mediterranean, where it took on the defense of Malta and caused enormous casualties to the Italian air force, before leading the invasion of Sicily and Italy in 1943.

In the Far East, the Spitfire saw service in the defense of Singapore, where the RAF pilots encountered the impressive Japanese Zero.  The Zero, it turned out, proved to be a match for the Spitfire, with its better turning circle and ability to climb at a steep angle. 

Spitfire pilots were forced to adapt to this shock by using a hit and run tactic, then using their superior speed and diving ability to avoid classic dogfight situations. 

Despite the limitations, they experienced against the Zero, and the fact that they remained outnumbered by them due to the low priority offered to that theater, the Spitfire still performed well in Asia and helped to defend Darwin against bombing raids in 1942.

The aircraft was also used by the Royal Canadian Air Force throughout the war, the USAAF until 1943 and in significant numbers by the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front.

As the war progressed, new jobs were found for the planes, including in a reconnaissance role far behind enemy lines.  Their speed made them ideal for this type of role and it was a Spitfire which confirmed the existence of the German V-weapons in 1943.

A V-1 is rolled out.

 

Defending London From V Weapons

As the war raged on in Europe and beyond, the Germans began resorting to the V weapons to try to tip the balance back in their favor.  The V-1’s, or doodlebugs, which were the original ballistic missiles but were slow and could occasionally be shot down, but Spitfire pilots soon develop their own methods for dealing with the menace.

Flying alongside the weapons they would position their win tip under the wing of the flying bomb and then tip it to one side, fouling the delicate navigational systems inside it and causing it to crash.  This tactic was successful on many occasions but was useless against the V-2 when it made its first appearance.

This supersonic weapon could not be caught by a Spitfire, or any other aircraft and often the only knowledge of it came when it hit a target and exploded. 

 

Notable Pilots

Well-known Spitfire pilots included ‘Johnnie’ Johnson who shot down a total of 34 enemy aircraft during a career which saw him piloting Spitfires right through until 1945.

Douglas Bader, who became famous after losing his legs in an accident in 1931, was another who flew the aircraft and shot down 20 enemy planes before he himself was downed over France in 1941,  The loss of his legs did not prevent Bader from making escape attempts and was eventually incarcerated in the infamous Colditz Castle.

But pilots came from all over the British Empire and indeed from beyond.  An entire fighter wing of Polish airmen made a significant contribution to the fighting effort, as well as men from France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and many others.

 The Supermarine Spitfire was the iconic British aircraft of the Second World War and perhaps the most famous aircraft of the entire war of any of the participating nations.

  N1940K - Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX replicaN1940K - Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX replicaThe <strong>British Supermarine Spitfire</strong> was facing several challenges by mid-1942. The debut of the formidable Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in late 1941 had caused problems for RAF fighter squadrons flying the latest Spitfire Mk Vb. By this time Rolls-Royce engineers were already working on a new version of the Merlin incorporating two-stage superchargers; the combination of the improved Merlins and the Spitfire Mk VC airframe in a "stop-gap" design allowed the RAF to combat the Fw 190 on equal terms. In a second stream of development Supermarine was working on an improved, reinforced Spitfire airframe which incorporated several new features and was designed specifically for the Merlin 60 and 70 series engines. This new airframe later formed the basis for the Rolls-Royce Griffonpowered Spitfires.

Variants

Because of the success of the Spitfire, it continued to be adapted and improved and several variants sprang up from the original design, changing engines and armaments in response to changing needs.  The Supermarine Seafire was essentially a Spitfire which had been adapted to operate from an aircraft carrier.  This aircraft proved to be better than the Japanese Zero but it became available too late in the war to have made any significant difference. 
 

Since World War II

Following the war, the Spitfire continued to serve in the air forces of several nations, although with the advent of the jet age its days were quite clearly numbered.  Indeed the Germans had developed a jet aircraft towards the end of the war which was the better of any propeller driven plane and it was only because of the low numbers produced that they failed to make a greater impact.

The final operational flights of Spitfires in the RAF came in 1955, but it carried on working until 1961 when it was finally retired from the Irish Air Corps.  Today there are around 55 of the aircraft which still have the ability to fly, mainly kept in the air by a small army of enthusiasts who are determined to keep alive the memories of this iconic aircraft.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 



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(Will Moneymaker Photography) German Luftwaffe Supermarine Spitfire The Battle of Britain WWII Aircraft https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/2/spitfire-the-tiger-of-the-skies Wed, 01 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT
How to Give Photographs as Gifts https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/how-to-give-photographs-as-gifts How to Give Photographs as GiftsHow to Give Photographs as GiftsHow to Give Photographs as Gifts

 

When gift giving season rolls around, the temptation is always there for photographers to give their art as a gift. Birthdays, holidays like Christmas – you name it, it just seems like the best way to give someone a meaningful gift... But is it really such a good idea?

On the surface, it seems like you are giving something wonderful, something that is valuable sentimentally. After all, you are giving part of your creative vision, something that you spent hours of your own time crafting. Moreover, photographs can be highly personalized, which is something that you just can’t do with the majority of off the shelf gifts. Your gift of a photograph seems like something that your friend or loved one would be happy to hang on a wall and enjoy for many years to come.

That is how we imagine the gift giving process will go, but the reality is something else entirely.
 

The Problem with Giving Art as a Gift

The major problem with giving art to your friends and family is that art is an incredibly personal thing – very subjective in a way that most other material goods are not. No one individual will enjoy all of the same pieces of art as any other person. 

For instance, lets say that a person you know loves horses. Can you guarantee that they will love all artistic images of horses? Unlikely. Rather, your horse-loving friend probably enjoys certain styles, colors of horses and other variables that will change from one piece to the next.

So should you really give your own art as a gift? In my opinion, no, you should not. We simply are not equipped to know the precise tastes that another person has. You can’t guarantee that someone will love an image enough to hang it on the wall, so it may end up collecting dust in a closet instead. This, of course, sets both the gift giver and the recipient up for disappointment – the recipient disappointed that they received a gift they don’t particularly want, and afraid that they might disappoint the gift giver, and the giver is disappointed that the recipient didn’t enjoy their present as much as hoped. 

Now, there is one exception to this rule. If someone has expressly asked you for a particular image, then they will almost certainly enjoy receiving it as a gift. But to avoid hurt feelings around the board, you should only do this if the person has truly expressed interest. If you have shown images to your friends or family, and someone has talked about how much they love a specific image, if they have taken the time to examine the photograph and point out details that catch their eye, then you’ll be relatively certain that your recipient is going to continue to enjoy that photograph for years to come.
 

What Kinds of Photography Can You Safely Give?

I’ve made the case that you should not give art as a gift when it is unsolicited, but does that mean you should avoid giving photography at all? On the contrary, there are many things you can do that aren’t related directly to fine art, but will be enjoyed by almost everyone.

I’m thinking of things like family photos, candid photography of their children playing in the backyard, photos of a person’s pets, or a prized hot rod that they have been working on out in their garage for years. Something personal, something contains subject material that means the world to the recipient. These types of images are almost always appreciated because the recipients can’t help but love the subject material since it is something that is precious to them.

Further, there are lots of ways to give these images. Make a collage, or put together an album or scrapbook. Give single large prints, or a series of smaller prints. The choice is yours, depending on the subject material and how you feel it should be displayed.
 

How Should You Give Prints?

I talked about photo albums and other ways to give out images, but the most popular way to give photography as a gift is as a print. Sometimes, however, photographers take that too literally and give only the print, assuming that the recipient would rather handle the matting and framing themselves. 

To my mind, this is an incomplete gift. Photographers should always handle matting or framing unless the recipient specifies otherwise ahead of time. Frankly, professional matting and framing is expensive. If you decide to give the print only, then you are placing this financial burden on the recipient, and they may not appreciate that. 

So how should you go about framing? In many instances, you’ll probably know the kinds of décor that your family and friends enjoy, and if not, then pay close attention to the types of frames that they use the next time you visit. 

If you are still unsure, then choose frames in neutral colors – medium to light wood, silver toned matte metal, black frames and so on. Avoid ornately carved frames since these can be hard for people to match with the rest of their furnishings. When you choose the mat board, you can’t go wrong black or white, or complementary but neutral color that plays on a color found within the photograph. 

When you go through the effort so that your gift’s recipient doesn’t have to, then it is much more likely that you’ll see your gift proudly displayed the next time you visit their home.

Photographs as gifts can be a wonderful idea, but for the most part, only when the images are personally relevant to the people that you are giving them to. Take care to mat and frame your images properly so that the proud new owners can display them easily. If you do it right, you’ll be giving someone an heirloom that they will cherish for years to come.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) birthday present candid photography christmas present family framing matting photography sentimental subjective https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/how-to-give-photographs-as-gifts Wed, 25 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT
The Importance of Scheduling to Beat Inertia https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/the-importance-of-scheduling-to-beat-inertia The Importance of Scheduling to Beat InertiaThe Importance of Scheduling to Beat InertiaThe Importance of Scheduling to Beat Inertia


What causes inertia, or procrastination? I think that there are many different causes. Sometimes, it is something simple, like a holiday or a vacation. After some time off, a few lazy days with the family, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. Some of us are perennial procrastinators, always feeling unprepared and undisciplined. Other people just don’t know what to do next. And then there are those of us that are disorganized by nature — without a plan, and because of that, not much gets done.

No matter what causes inertia for you, there is a simple solution, and that is to schedule your photography so that you know each day what you will do and how much time you have to get it done. This is doubly important for hobbyists. Those of us with a career in photography almost certainly already have some semblance of a schedule, even if it is a sketchy one. But for the people that photograph around another job, photography is one of those secondary activities that tends to get lost in the shuffle of daily life.

Let’s discuss the things that should be scheduled and how to build a schedule so that you can avoid inertia.

 

What Do You Need to Make Time For?

The most effective schedules are detailed ones. Of course, planning down to the minute is impossible, but on any given day that you plan to work on photography, you should know what you’ll be doing in the morning, afternoon or evening. This means that you should break photography down into its component pieces in order to organize your time.

 

  • Think about camera maintenance and how long the process takes you. Make sure to schedule time for camera maintenance as often as needed.
     
  • Time to brainstorm ideas or experiment with images is an absolute must. In a previous post about creative processes, I talked about how some famous people would take walks or do other things so that they could have the time they needed for thought.
     
  • When are you actually going to take images? Some people want to photograph every day, while others save the photographing for one day and use the rest of the week to attend to other tasks.
     
  • There needs to be time reserved for post processing, and it should be a time that complements your own personal workflow. Some photographers get excited and find themselves wanting to post process images almost as soon as they’ve taken them, while others would prefer to let the images rest a day or two before post processing. Figure out your ideal time to accomplish this task and make sure to build it into your schedule.
     
  • When will you back up your image files? For many of us, this is the thing that is placed on the backburner, when in reality, it should be one of the most important tasks. None of us wants to lose a memory card or hard drive full of images!
     
  • You’ll also need to think about all of the little finishing touches. When will you print your images, mat them and have them framed? Where will you display them?
     
  • Business owners will have a whole host of other tasks to schedule: Website design and maintenance, finances, marketing and more. If photography is your business, then each of these things should have their own time slot.

 

As you can see, there are a lot of different things that require time and attention. Skipping or putting off any one of them is detrimental to your art.

 

How to Create Your Schedule

When it comes to actually putting your schedule together, it is totally up to you. Use a calendar, daily planner or a smartphone app, whatever you prefer. Scheduling activities for different days and times is completely up to you as well.

One piece of advice that I would give, however, is to have a flexible attitude about your schedule. Build in some extra time to make up for unplanned delays, and don’t adhere so strictly to your schedule that you miss out on your child’s school play because you had already planned to spend the evening post processing. That bit of extra make-up time is essential. Things rarely ever go exactly as planned, so if your schedule has some leeway, you won’t end up with an enormous backlog of work to do.

The other important thing is to approach your schedule with the idea that it can be changed any time you need. That isn’t to say that you should just throw out your schedule whenever you’d rather procrastinate. Instead, it means that you should constantly evaluate your schedule from day to day and week to week. Perhaps you’ll find that post processing last week’s images on Monday evening just isn’t working out because you’d rather get that work done directly after you’ve taken the images. Or, maybe you just feel the need to mix things up and make life interesting. The reasons don’t matter, really. What matters is that you have the ability to design new schedules that suit your workflow as you go along.

The last thing to remember about scheduling is that you should always leave yourself with some time off — the weekend, a couple of evenings, whatever you can manage. For hobbyists, this is in particular a challenge because there just isn’t much time left after work and day-to-day chores, so in order to really engage in photography, it almost must be scheduled on days off. In these cases, perhaps a weekend away from photography each month, or a similar arrangement, is just what is needed to get that much needed break.

 

You’ll find that the most productive people are the ones that make schedules and stick to them. This is the biggest tool in your arsenal that can be used against procrastination and inertia.

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) backups daily planner framing inertia photography post processing procrastination schedule smartphone app https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/the-importance-of-scheduling-to-beat-inertia Wed, 18 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT
On Writing and Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/on-writing-and-photography On Writing and PhotographyOn Writing and Photography
Our art is the image, or so most photographers think as they are creating new photographs. But is that the end of it? Or can we add something more to our images? In fact, for many photographers, photography is intertwined with writing. It doesn’t necessarily need to be this way, but sometimes pairing imagery with the written word is a great way to give the viewer a more complete artistic experience.

Of course, there are other reasons to write as a photographer, too. Artists’ statements or biographies — not everything you’ll write will be centered around an image or a photo project. Since there are several different types of photographic writing you may run across throughout your career, let’s take a little bit of time to discuss them.

 

The Artist’s Statement

If you are pursing fine art photography as a career, then you almost certainly will need to write an artist’s statement someday — or more likely, several, as you publish new books or have gallery showings. That is precisely what these statements are: A short biographical sketch meant to accompany a body of artwork, whether that artwork is on a website, in a gallery or published in a book or magazine.

What should be in your artist’s statement? An artist statement usually tells a little bit about your artistic self — your experiences and inspirations, perhaps a brief mention of formal education, prior publications or most notable works. But the most important thing is that you express who you are as an artist and why you created the work that is on display. Artists’ statements are almost always used for groupings of images, either a specific project you’ve been working on or your body of work as a whole.

 

The Biography

Unlike the artist’s statement, the biography is a bit more formal. Usually, you’ll write one if you plan on publishing books or having a photography website. Instead of describing your inspirations for a particular project, you can talk about some of the things you believe in — the driving forces behind your art in general. In addition, you will want to mention things like relevant schooling and notable achievements, including book or magazine publication, art prizes, gallery showings and so forth.
 

The Essay

The essay is quite easily the largest and most diverse topic. And, I think, perhaps it is the most important topic. Lengthwise, an essay can be almost anything — a short paragraph, or several pages, hundreds of words describing your thoughts. Generally, shorter passages are reserved for single photographs, while essays that span multiple pages accompany larger projects.

Sometimes photographers misconstrue the intent of the essay. We have a habit of listing off all the gear and settings we used to take an image. It reads something like, “Canon MKIV, 70-300mm, f/6, 1/250. Now, fellow photographers can appreciate this because now we know the gear and settings used to create the photograph. But what about the non-photographers that make up a vast portion your viewer base? To a non-photographer, these cryptic notations have little to no meaning.

So, when you write an essay, short or long, what do you write about if not the gear that you used? This goes back to what I talked about earlier, how writing can help complete the artistic experience for the viewer. There are any number of things that you can write about, but most commonly, photographers choose to write about what the photograph or group of photographs means.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to spell it all out in plain language. On the contrary, leaving something to the imagination is what drives people to think more deeply about art. However, if you describe the photograph’s overtones, it’s major themes, this helps steer people in the right direction if the meaning is somewhat ambiguous.

If you want to get the meaning across in no uncertain terms, then by all means, describe exactly what the image means to you and what you want others to take away from it. This is common in photography that deals with some kind of activism, but is not necessarily limited to those genres. Rather than debating meanings, this gives the photographer the power to lay it all out for viewers to understand.

Finally, you can take a completely different route. Talk about ideas that aren’t inherently evident in the photographs. These ideas could be tangential, or they could be the underlying force that first led you to creating this image. Talk about several different meaning that the photograph could have, or talk about the various unrelated things that you were thinking about during the creative process. This gives viewers that much more to think about, and they can take away from the image what they will — either the meanings you hinted at, or their own special meanings that your work evoked.

 

Should Photographs Stand On Their Own?

Some photographers will debate that the entire point of the art is that the images stand alone, telling their own story to anyone who may look at them. And, that is perfectly fine. In fact, that is how most photographers operate, by simply letting the images do the talking.

But, as I have said, text can help to make the experience more complete. There is simply more information available for the audience to take in. They aren’t just examining the details of the image. They are also looking at what you have written, and using that to guide the way they experience the image. Perhaps your words will point out details they would not have otherwise noticed, or it will make them think more abstractly.

And it isn’t just the viewer that benefits. You, as you sit down to compose an essay, or even a biography or artist’s statement, will have the change to reflect. Use that time to think more deeply on your work and what it truly means to you.

Writing: You may never need to do it, but chances are, you’ll at least have to produce an artist’s statement or biography. Essays are a personal choice, but many photographers find that they enjoy the essay writing process as much as they did creating the photographs that the essay is based on.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) artist's statement biography creative process essay intent meaning photography project writing https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/on-writing-and-photography Wed, 11 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT
The Joy of Photography, Volume 1 (Free eBook) https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/the-joy-of-photography-volume-1-free-ebook Taking a great photograph is something that many of us would love to be able to do.  Courses designed to show you the best ways of mastering the techniques involved are a great way to learn, but they can be time-consuming and expensive.

But with The Joy of Photography, Volume 1, you’ll get all the tips and advice you’ll ever need, all in one handy reference guide.  And with in-depth explanations, all written in plain English, you’ll be able to learn and master things like;

  • Apertures and getting the hang of them
  • Tips for vacations
  • Composition
  • Respecting culture
  • Learning to balance exposure with ISO
  • Building interest in your images
  • Developing your own photographic style
  • 8 Tips for Taking Great Wildlife Images at the Zoo

And with a background to the history of digital photography, making the most of the diorama effect and backup options to make sure that your precious images are retained and saved this is the perfect book for beginners and those who may need some additional help.

The Joy of Photography, Volume 1 is the ultimate guide to taking better photographs and enjoying your hobby for years to come.

Get this free 145-page ebook. I’ve set a minimum contribution to FREE and you're welcome to give a donation of any amount. Thank you so much!

 


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(Will Moneymaker Photography) free ebooks photography ebooks photography tips https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/the-joy-of-photography-volume-1-free-ebook Fri, 06 Jan 2017 21:36:05 GMT
The Many Meanings of Perspective https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/the-many-meanings-of-perspective "Blackbird" Lockheed SR-71
As photographers, our work revolves around perspective. Day in and day out, we use this tool to improve our images. But, we don’t always think about all of the meanings attached to “perspective.” Likely, the word makes you think of the angle at which you take your images, but there is more to it than that. Perspective is not only the angle that you take relative to your subject, but also, your own personal perspective — your personal views or thoughts about the subject. And, there is the subject’s thoughts, feelings and experiences to consider, their perspective.

Each of these three types of perspective are vital if you want to create beautiful, meaningful images. So, I’d like to dig a bit deeper into this subject and show you what each type of perspective entails.

 

Perspective is the Angle at Which You Take the Photograph

This is the simple meaning of perspective: The angle you use to portray the subject when you take a photograph. There are all kinds of ways to put this to work. Shoot from above, below, in front, behind or head on. Different perspectives highlight different aspects of the subject and apply different meanings to the final work.

When talking about this type of perspective, it is important to note that it is based on your location as well as the angle at which you shoot. So, for instance, one kind of perspective is to shoot through a window in such a way that the viewer of the image feels like they are looking through the window. Or, perspective could mean using leading lines — like a road, a path or a fence — to lead the viewer through the image.

It’s all about angle and the location from which you are shooting, so in order to utilize this type of perspective, it helps to experiment with your subject material. Stand nearby, or faraway, kneel or climb up on a ladder. Look for leading lines or interesting places from which to view the scene. It is up to you to choose the physical perspective that best complements the message you are trying to send.

 

Perspective is the Subject’s Thoughts, Feelings or Experiences

The greatest photographers know that simply creating an image of a subject at a complementary angle is not enough. In order to properly document the subject, you’ll need to put something of that subject’s perspective in the image. Think about what a subject may experience, think or feel in its lifetime. A statue, for instance, may commonly have pigeons sitting on it. Perhaps it is more meaningful to wait for a pigeon to land so that you can create a photograph of this experience rather than of the statue alone.

If you are photographing people, this means that you should be looking for clues that can add a bit of their perspective to the image. Can you photograph them doing an activity, or with the subject facing in the direction that they are looking? What thoughts or feelings might they have that you can express within the image? And, how can you express those thoughts or feelings? Facial expressions are a common way to do this, but body language, gestures, the activities the person is engaged in, and even things like color and lighting can help express these fleeting details.

 

Perspective is Your Thoughts, Feelings and Experiences

Finally, there is your own perspective to consider. Your experiences, your life — all of it is unique to you, and as such, it gives you a unique viewpoint that can never quite be replicated. What’s more, these days, originality in photography is key. Sometimes it feels like every image has been created and recreated hundreds of times. So, how can we create original images of the things around us when everyone else has already tried to do the same? Originality comes from your perspective.

To that end, when you look at a scene, evaluate it, not just for its physical attributes, but for how it makes you feel, or what it makes you think about. To you, watching a dog and a child play fetch in a park might be a happy, beautiful thing. Another person may feel wistful for their own childhood, while a third person feels wistful for the family that he or she hopes to one day build. And so it goes — we each experience these things somewhat differently than everyone else. This is why you need to use your perspective, your thoughts and feelings, to enrich the image.

To build on this, you can use your own perspective along with the perspective of your subject, the physical perspective, and all of the rest of the tools of the photography trade to give an image meaning and depth. In other words, if a subject puts you in awe — let’s say it was the statue that I mentioned above — then perhaps you can photograph it in a beautiful, inspiring way. Maybe you can use beautiful bright lighting and photograph from low to the ground in order to make the subject seem larger than life. If you are including the subject’s perspective, that pigeon that likes to sit on the statue, then maybe it is worth your while to wait and capture the image as the pigeon lands or takes flight.

In this way, you can see that by looking at an image with all three types of perspective in mind helps you to add a little something more to the final photograph. Speaking of your own personal perspective, it is important to note that there are all kinds of ways to add it to an image. Color, light and darkness, shadows and bright spots — these are just a few of the tools that you can use to add your thoughts and feelings, your perspective, to the image.

 

Perspective has a variety of meanings. Use it to the fullest extent possible to add depth and originality to your images.

Will Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) color emotion experiences leading lines lighting perspective physical perspective subject thought https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2017/1/the-many-meanings-of-perspective Wed, 04 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Congratulations On Your Photo-a-Day Projects! New Year, New Projects! https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/congratulations-on-your-photo-a-day-projects-new-year-new-projects Congratulations On Your Photo-a-Day Projects! New Year, New Projects!Congratulations On Your Photo-a-Day Projects! New Year, New Projects!Congratulations On Your Photo-a-Day Projects! New Year, New Projects!
Last year, I talked about photo-a-day projects and their benefits, and many of you reading my blog decided to take on the challenge. Taking a photo each day for 365 days — that is commendable, an extraordinary feat that requires a lot of hard work and dedication. The benefits from the work that you have done are many. A photo-a-day project teaches you to observe your surroundings, looking for something interesting, and along the way, you pick up valuable skills, improving your composition, understanding of lighting, colors and more.

Not every photo in a photo-a-day project is a masterpiece. Most photographers produce very few masterpieces over long careers and hundreds of thousands of images taken. And that is another important lesson to take away from this type of project. You likely came away with a few images that you love, and many more that just don’t make the cut.

So again, congratulations on completing these daunting projects! If you feel up to the task, there are plenty more projects that you can do to improve your photography skills. For this coming year, instead of doing a photo-a-day project, why not work on learning a new technique each month?

With this new project, instead of taking at least one photo each day, you’ll pick out a new technique for the month and do your best to learn all about it. The options here are limitless. You can learn about lighting one month, shooting with a narrow depth of field the next month, and utilizing motion blur the month after that. To give you some ideas, I’ll list a few techniques that you can learn — but feel free to choose any techniques you like!

 

1. Front, Side and Back Lighting

Front, side and back lighting are normally one of the first things that a new photographer learns, but more practice never hurts. To learn more about this technique, you won’t even need additional equipment. Instead, practice with the sun, or with a light source like a lamp. Position the light source to the front, back and either side of the subject to see how the different lighting types affect the final image.

 

2. Off Camera Lighting

For this technique, you will need some extra gear — flashes or strobes and light stands, certainly, and possibly umbrellas, reflectors, gels and filters for the flashes if you want to pursue different lighting effects. You’ll also need a way to operate those flashes, so purchase flashes that are made to work remotely with your camera, or invest in cables or wireless technology to make sure that the camera can communicate with the flashes. If you are on a budget, Vivitar makes a great assortment of inexpensive flashes that you can buy new or used.

 

Once you have the gear that you want to work with, then take it out in the field and start experimenting. You’ll quickly find that off camera lighting gives you hundreds of possibilities when it comes to photo effects.

 

3. Using Motion Blur

Capturing motion blur can be tricky, and there are two ways to do it. You can either freeze the subject in the frame and blur the background, or blur the subject so that the background is crystal clear. If you choose to keep the subject in focus, then you’ll need to learn to track the subject. And if you want to freeze the background, then you’ll need to learn how to adjust the shutter speed and other settings to get a nice blur. To practice, try this technique out on your kids as they run through the yard, or your pets, wild birds, running water, even cars speeding along a highway.

 

4. Nighttime Photography

Nighttime photography is another valuable technique that can be used to create unusual images. For this, you will be best off with an inexpensive remote shutter release for your camera. In a pinch, you can use your camera’s timer so as not to jostle the camera while the image is being exposed. With this technique, you need to have an incredibly slow shutter speed so that the camera’s shutter can take in as much light as possible. Often this also means opening the aperture wide and increasing the ISO to higher numbers just so that you can capture as much light as you can.

 

5. Using Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density filters (and many other types of filters besides) are essential parts of the photographer’s kit. These filters are meant to balance an image where lighting is highly uneven. If you have ever taken a landscape photograph with a glaringly bright sky and dull, dark foreground, then that is the perfect image to illustrate the need for neutral density filters. You can use them to darken the sky so that the exposure is properly balanced. I also enjoy using them to take photographs of waterfalls because they let me use longer shutter speeds in brighter light so that I can capture the blur of rushing water.

 

6. Taking Candid Photos

If you are a fan of photographs featuring people, then candid photography will be right up your alley. With this technique, you will be taking photos of people as they are engaging in an activity rather than formally posing them as you would for a portrait. Just make sure that you follow the laws about photography in private and public places, and when in doubt, ask for permission before you start taking photos.

 

7. Macro Photography

Macro photography is the art of extreme close up images, and most photographers at least flirt with it at some point over their careers. Some even turn macro photography into a full time career. This technique can be accomplished any number of ways. Use macro filters, extension tubes, which extend the length of a lens, a reversing ring to use your lenses backwards or an actual macro lens. Macro filters tend to be the least expensive way to get started, but the magnification isn’t as high as it is with other types of macro equipment, and many consider the lower level of magnification to be a step shy of true macro photography.

On the high end, macro lenses will produce some of the highest magnification, but they can be prohibitively expensive. In some cities, you may be able to rent a macro lens for a month or two, but most beginners stick with the cheaper technologies as they are learning.

 

There are many, many more techniques that you can try. I recommend creating a list for the year — 12 techniques, one for each month. As you choose techniques, think about the weather, vacations you may be taking and other opportunities to practice a given technique. Nighttime photography, for instance, is much more common in the summer months when it is comfortable to stay outside at night for hours on end. Most importantly, however, have fun with this new project and you’re certain to learn many valuable new skills!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) back lighting candid photography congratulations front lighting macro photography motion blur neutral density filters nighttime photography off camera lighting photo-a-day side lighting https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/congratulations-on-your-photo-a-day-projects-new-year-new-projects Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Capturing the Moment https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/capturing-the-moment CapturinCapturing the Momentg the MomentCapturing the MomentCapturing the Moment Christmas is almost here and I think that it is an appropriate time to talk about how we, as photographers, have a duty to capture special moments. How do you do it? Many photographers employ a “spray and pray” kind of approach. Or, they do “trophy photography.” Both of these things mean that the photographer takes tons and tons of photographs, hoping that by sheer random chance, they got the one that made it all worthwhile.

This can be a valid way to create an artistic photograph. However, it can turn into to a whole lot of work, always burst firing, and accumulating a vast trove of images to evaluate. I think in the end, you are missing out on the ability to train your artistic eye. In my opinion, it is far better to wait, and to learn how to capture those special moments as they happen, rather than rapid firing your way through as many frames as possible, hoping that just one turns out well.

To that end, let’s discuss a few different types of photography. You’ll see that in each type, there are similarities and there are differences, but for every genre, there is a method that will help you capture the moment.

 

Candid Photography

At Christmastime, many photographers find themselves taking family photos around the Christmas tree. If you plan to do the same, then you’ll definitely want to try candid photography. Candid photography is all about capturing the moment. You are taking a photo of a person as they are engaged in an activity, and the entire point is to not disturb their activity, but to instead record the emotions that they experience without interfering.

Think about it this way: Which photo is better? The photo of a child opening his or her Christmas present? Or the photo that you take five minutes after the event is over, when you ask the child to hold up his or her present so you can take a snapshot? In my opinion, the first photo will almost always be the better one because you have not interfered in any way with the scene. You are capturing the real joy and happiness that the child is experiencing as they tear apart the wrapping paper. The end result is less contrived and more meaningful.

Capturing the moment in candid photography requires two things. You need to be able to wait and watch, until you judge the time is right to take the image. You’ll also need to make a sacrifice. In the example I used, instead of sharing in the child’s joy, you removed yourself from the scene so that you could study it. Instead of simply sitting back and enjoying the moment, you were reaching for your camera, thinking of settings and what angle to shoot from. In the end, however, it is a sacrifice that is worth it to create a meaningful, lasting image, I think.

 

Capturing the Moment in Nature

Similarly to candid photography, capturing a moment in nature requires patience. Waiting for the right light, or for the breeze to die down so that leaves stop moving. Or, waiting for the breeze to bend blades of grass in a certain direction.

The difference here is that the waiting can take a lot more time. You may spend hours, days or weeks waiting to capture a wildlife image. Perhaps you want to photograph a deer standing a certain way, but no matter how many days you wait for him, he just doesn’t seem to be showing up. Or maybe you are waiting for an eagle to land on a particular tree, but every time you spot him, he isn’t at a good vantage point.

In addition, you’ll need to get to know your subjects, particularly wildlife. What are their habits, or where are the places they visit most often? Can you capture them eating, frolicking or doing some other interesting thing? Patience and knowledge of the animals and objects you are photographing will help you to capture the moment.

 

Sports and Events

Sports and events — airshows, historical reenactments and so forth — are less about patience and more about anticipating the moment. The action is happening pretty quickly, you won’t have long to wait, but you will need to understand enough about the event to know when something interesting might happen so that you can document it properly. Get a program or leaflet to learn about the event and what things will be happening at each point in time. Or, if you are photographing a sport, then learn how the sport is played, if you don’t know already.

This way, you’ll be able to anticipate when reenactors will be firing their muskets so that you can capture that moment before the smoke clears. Learn about football, and you’ll be able to see when a player attempts a touchdown run. You’ll be able to anticipate the winning moment and capture it before it is too late.

There are many, many more types of photography to explore and each has its own unique special moments waiting to be captured. If you enjoy photographing food, for instance, then photograph it while the steam still rises from a hot platter. Photograph flowers before the morning dew dries away, and take photos of the night sky when the stars are shining bright. In most cases, you’ll need to wait for the moment, but when you aren’t waiting, you’ll need to anticipate instead.

 

Learning to do this — to capture the moment — is one of the most important things that you’ll learn as a photographer. Yes, some of us do like to shoot several consecutive frames rapidly, and that is a valuable tool in certain instances. However, I prefer not to rely on that method and instead would rather learn to watch for those moments that can make a photograph truly special.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Christmas Photography anticipating candids capture the moment event photography nature Photography patience sports Photography wildlife Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/capturing-the-moment Wed, 21 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT
The Joy of Photography, Volume 2 (Free e-book) https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/the-joy-of-photography-volume-2-free-e-book The Joy of Photography, Volume 2The Joy of Photography, Volume 2The Joy of Photography, Volume 2 Taking the perfect picture and learning the basics of fine art photography, in a way that will give you the most control of the subject, are all vital components of camera work.  Now you can take perfect photographs every time you press the button, with The Joy of Photography, Volume 2.

Within the pages of this 162 page e-book you will learn how best to operate your camera to its optimum efficiency as well as how to think and work like an artist, with lots of tips and advice on aspects of photography which include;

  • Cutting out the cliché photographs
  • An introduction to photographing the night sky
  • Portraying raw emotion: A lesson from Helen Levitt
  • Improving your skills with a Photo-A-Day project
  • 3 essential principles of color photography
  • 7 tips for your next autumn portrait session
  • 4 ways to create a powerful portfolio

The Joy of Photography, Volume 2 is a fabulous resource for any budding photographer who wants to be able to take better pictures.  It will provide you with endless inspiration for your own projects and covers any photographic opportunity you might encounter.

Learning to critique your work is also a part of the learning curve, as well as troubleshooting the problems and challenges you’ll undoubtedly face.

Download your copy of The Joy of Photography, Volume 2 today!

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Free e-book Photography e-books The Joy of Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/the-joy-of-photography-volume-2-free-e-book Sat, 17 Dec 2016 22:17:46 GMT
Mathew Brady: Photographing the Civil War https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/mathew-brady-photographing-the-civil-war Mathew Brady: Photographing the Civil WarMathew Brady: Photographing the Civil WarMathew Brady: Photographing the Civil War
Mathew Brady (1822-1896) was a photographer whose work is quite well known and famous today. In addition to taking photographs of 19th century politicians, who we would otherwise have no images of except paintings, he also documented the American Civil War in photographs. In fact, the Civil War is the first war to be documented and disseminated to the public via newspapers using photographic accompaniment. The vast majority of those photos were taken by Mathew Brady or one of his many, personally trained assistants.

He and his assistants marched out across the country during a very dangerous time for travel, in search of the most compelling, truthful images of the war. Amongst them, they took more than ten thousand photographs of the war, letting the average civilian American see in real, graphic detail just what was happening to the men on the battlefields of the nation.

Those images were important for the American public. Without them, most Americans who weren't in the fray relied on letters from loved ones who were in the military to describe the war to them. Naturally, most men wouldn't want to overly concern their wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, so often downplayed just how difficult conditions were, and how gory the conflicts between North and South could be. With Mathew Brady's photographs appearing in newspapers across the country, people could see the truth for themselves, and it motivated quite a few civilian groups to form to give supplies and relief to the soldiers in different ways.

Because of his work, and due to the fact that photographing a war in progress was an entirely new thing, Mathew Brady gave a more defined structure to the role of photographers as historians. By documenting modern life in photographs, photographers were creating valuable historical resources for future generations to use to understand the past, and know what it was like with more intimacy than a painting could provide. Because of him, photography became a powerful tool in the world, not just for family photos, but in politics, society in general, and the culture of the times and places in which the photographs are taken. This is still true of photography today, in the digital era.

Photography was officially invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839. That is the same year Brady left his home in upstate New York, and his Irish parents, to come seek his fortune in New York City with so many others. He worked briefly in a department store as a clerk, and then made jewelry cases, including those in which early photos, called daguerreotypes, were displayed.  In 1844, he decided to get in on the photography craze himself, and opened his own studio and the corner of Broadway and Fulton. As an expert marketer, Brady was soon recognized and sought after as one of the best known photographers of the era, attracting high-profile clients.

He was even mentioned in the first issue of the new Photographic Art Journal in 1851. The article on him in the journal described Brady as a "fountainhead" of the new photography business. He also won a gold medal in a prestigious photography contest in London that year. Interestingly, the other two winners in that contest were also American photographers. He expanded his business to include paper prints as well as daguerreotypes, moved his studio into a more luxurious one, and even opened a second studio in Washington, D.C. In this location, he was able to attract prominent politicians, and his famous 1860 photograph of Abraham Lincoln is considered instrumental in making Lincoln a more famous and recognizable figure nationwide. Brady's photographs were beginning to have actual influence on current events, and this just increased his reputation and desirability among the elite as a photographer.

When the Civil War started, Brady saw an opportunity to document the war in photographs for all Americans to see. He assembled a group of photographers who he trained, and sent them out following the armies on both sides of the conflict. Not only are the photographs that were produced the first photographic documentation of a war, they are the first photographic documentation of any major historical happening. Brady invested a ton of money into this venture, all of it from the private fortune he had accumulated over the years as a top "celebrity" photographer.

However, even though his photographs of the war were widely published, he never made the money back he invested in the project. Newspapers couldn't afford to pay him what he needed to recoup his financial losses, and as a result, he became nearly destitute after the war, without even enough money to continue operating a prestigious photography studio. Without even one nice studio to his name, his fame rapidly disappeared following the war, and he was never the go-to name in high profile photography he was before the war began.

Though his work in photographing the war practically bankrupted him, it made him famous to future generations. This is because his Civil War photographs became a part of the national archives, and gained a reputation as the best source for visual information about the mid to late 19th century and the Civil War. Scholars revived their interest in his work in the 1930's during the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in documenting the history of photography and the Civil War itself, and his work had a big influence on those who were using photography to document the Great Depression. In fact, Mathew Brady was their inspiration.

Today, Mathew Brady is once again the famous photographer he was before he began his Civil War photographic documentation project. He would likely be very happy to know his name, fame, and excellent reputation live on among photographers and historians alike. He provided something unique to history... the photographic documentation of a war and distribution of those photographs to the public while the war was happening. His name will always have a place in American history because of that valuable project.

 

 

 


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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Mathew Brady Mathew Brady civil war photographer Mathew Brady civil war photography Mathew Brady photographer https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/mathew-brady-photographing-the-civil-war Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Marketing Photography: The Dream Versus Reality https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/marketing-photography-the-dream-versus-reality Marketing Photography: The Dream Versus RealityMarketing Photography: The Dream Versus RealityMarketing Photography: The Dream Versus Reality
For so many photographers, the dream is to see their work hanging in galleries. To become a renowned artist, living by creativity, making a living wage, however large or small, on the photographs that they produce. Even those of us who are satisfied with other types of photography have harbored this dream, even if only briefly, or only as a daydream and not as a serious venture.

It can be done. Fine art photography is marketable, and plenty of artists do make a living from their art. However, many more photographers don’t make that living. Quite frankly, it is extraordinarily difficult to make a living on art and art alone. But, it is a great dream, and if you work hard, and make wise decisions, then it is perfectly doable. Let’s talk about how to make a living through photography, whether through fine art work or other ventures.

 

Where to Market Fine Art Photography

The first thing that many photographers think about when they think about selling fine art photography is a gallery. You can go directly to galleries and try to make a sale or get representation. Depending on the gallery, your work may hang for weeks or months before it sells and you get paid. Other galleries may buy the work directly from you to resell.

However, the issue with gallery sales is simply that demand is low. Art is not one of those things that is deemed absolutely necessary by society. People are too busy paying bills, putting food on the table and so forth, so they simply don’t have much extra money left to spend on art. Consequently, galleries tend to only choose art that they know a collector might be interested in, and because of that, not only are opportunities rare, but you’ll often be limited to certain postmodern genres of photography. It is incredibly difficult to get gallery representation, particularly at a high-end gallery that would be able to sell your art for enough money that your commissions are large enough and frequent enough to make a living.

Of course, there are other ways to sell fine art photography. However, they come with their own challenges. Many photographers try to sell photography online, through places like Etsy or SmugMug. The markets here prove challenging for a variety of reasons. Again, the demand is low, which means there aren’t that many sales to go around to begin with. And, without a gallery owner approving or denying pieces of artwork based on quality, style and subject material, there are hundreds of thousands of prints up for sale, which lowers your chances of a sale even further.

There are places like Etsy often develop their own sort of style. One photographer might make lots of sales on a particular type of photograph and then before too long, other photographers start copying that style in order to get sales, too. Just as with galleries, you’ll find that online, there are limits to the styles of photography that is bought and sold.

Finally, there are places like art or craft fairs, or local restaurants and coffee shops that are willing to display your work. These can be a great alternative to gallery or online sales, but there are challenges here, as well — particularly if you live in an area with few coffee shops or craft fairs. In coffee shops and restaurants, the challenge is simply that people aren’t always expecting that the art on the walls is for sale, but you can avoid this challenge simply by making price tags clearly visible. Still, people don’t expect to buy art as they eat lunch, so chances of a sale are fairly low. Art and craft shows require you to invest a lot in printing, framing and booth space but they don’t give you a guarantee that you will recoup that investment.

 

Is There Another Way?

These difficulties are why so many up and coming photographers end up doing something other than pursing fine art photography. On its face, the fine art business looks hopeful, and there are a multitude of websites out there that will give you guidelines and make it sound easy — like anyone can sell artistic photos and make a living.

The reality is quite different. You’ll face lots of hard work, photographing, marketing and so forth. At the end of the day, if you are serious about fine art photography, then there is another way, one that determined photographers use to pay their bills and chase their dreams at the same time.

That option is to turn your photography into a business. There is no shortage of demand for photography in retail and commercial markets. You can become a wedding photographer, or a portraitist for families or graduation photos. There is event photography, product photography and real estate photography. Public places like hospitals and office buildings are always looking for commercially produced art by local artists that they can use to brighten their halls, as are places like hotels. You can even become a photojournalist.

Choose one of these avenues, and hang on to that dream of fine art photography. What better way is there to do it? By pursuing a practical retail or commercial path, you’ll still have the opportunity to hone your skills and produce artistic images for people, families or businesses. What’s more, you’ll have the equipment and the spare time in evenings or on days off to pursue your dream. If you so desire, your spare time can be devoted to producing the art that you love, and to marketing it to galleries.

 

Of course, this path is not an easy path. Nothing in photography ever is. But, it is a valid and respectable way to earn your living and immerse yourself in your art. In fact, if I had to hazard a guess, I would think that most career photographers aren’t in the fine art field, at least not full time. Instead, they are the people that are out documenting news, making sales images or creating family keepsakes.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) commercial photography commission etsy fine art photography gallery living wage make a living photojournalism portrait real estate photography wedding photographer https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/marketing-photography-the-dream-versus-reality Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT
The Joy of Photography, Volume 3 (Free e-Book) https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/the-joy-of-photography-volume-3-free-e-book There are few joys greater than taking an amazing photograph.  From the wonders of nature to the holiday snaps we covet and the family galleries we create, photographs have been a major part of our lives since the art was invented, helping to mold history in the process.

Now you can learn many of the basics of this great hobby through the pages of this informative and educational book, The Joy of Photography, Volume 3, including things like;

  • Structure and creativity
  • Photography workshops and why you should attend one
  • What it mean to focus to infinity
  • 10 awesome tips for beginners
  • Helpful tools for creating dynamic product photo
  • Teaching children the wonders of photography
  • And much more…

There is much to learn about the basic concepts of photography, including composure, manipulating your camera to the best effect and how you can start to think like an artist.

The Joy of Photography, Volume 3 is the one-stop resource you need, whether you are a complete novice or a budding amateur who is stuck for some inspiration on your own project.

Download this free 176 page e-book!

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Free e-book Photography e-books The Joy of Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/12/the-joy-of-photography-volume-3-free-e-book Thu, 01 Dec 2016 20:15:04 GMT
Defining Traditional, Modern and Postmodern Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/defining-traditional-modern-and-postmodern-photography Defining Traditional, Modern and Postmodern PhotographyDefining Traditional, Modern and Postmodern PhotographyDefining Traditional, Modern and Postmodern Photography
One thing that isn’t discussed often is the different phases that photography, as an art, has been through. Art prior to photography, for instance, has a long history with several distinct periods. Classical Antiquity, came directly before Renaissance Art, which was followed by the types of art that were produced during the Age of Enlightenment — Rococo, Neo-Classicism and others. Photography has distinct periods like this, but the art form isn’t nearly as old, so they are fewer and shorter.

To date, we have passed through three distinct phases: traditional photography, modern photography and postmodern photography. Some would even argue that we have moved on from postmodern to post postmodern, but that is a discussion for another time. For now, let’s take a look at each of the unique phases and the kinds of photography that they are known for.

 

Traditional Photography

Photography started as a science. It was discovered that with light, and the right chemicals, you could document the world. Once this new science became more refined, however, creatives started using it to create art, and traditional photography was born. This type of photography features things like sweeping landscapes, still life images, portraiture that adheres to strict artistic guidelines and so forth.

An example of a traditional photographer would be Ansel Adams. His photos have the documentary quality that the first scientific photographic images featured, but they are also more than that. Rather than simply documenting, Adams’ work is meant to show you the great beauty of nature. Unlike modernism and postmodernism, traditional photography doesn’t necessarily require deeper meanings. Traditional photography’s purpose is often nothing more than to showcase beautiful subjects in an artistic way. This is done through adherence to compositional rules, stark contrasts in color and tone and so forth.

 

Modern Photography

Modern photography is really where we start to see the deeper meanings behind the imagery. It isn’t dissimilar to modernist painting in that the work is often conceptual. Among painters, Picasso’s work, particularly that which came after his Cubist phase, is considered modernist. Not necessarily realistic, but a conception of reality that bears deeper meaning. In modernism, you’ll find scenes of great beauty, but they are often arranged to make you think about more than the scenery that you are looking at. There is also a lot of abstraction, and photographers of this period also started experimenting with effects like motion blur to add to the images.

Henri Cartier-Bresson is the perfect example of a modernist. To get a sense of what modernism is all about in photography, look at Bresson’s photo of a cyclist. From the first glance, you’ll see that this image is not so much about documenting everyday activities as it is about making you think more deeply.

 

Postmodern Photography

Postmodern photography arose in the second half of the 20th century, and it encompasses a variety of themes. First and foremost, postmodernism builds on the themes and conceptual ideas that began during the modernist period. This type of photography also often features surrealism, expressionism or other similar themes. Finally, we also sometimes see a departure from traditional rules of art. Compositions might break rules by placing subjects in odd arrangements, or there may even be an absence of a definitive subject.

An ideal example of the kinds of abstraction, unconventional compositions and surrealism that you might see in postmodern photography is Ken Josephson’s Drottingholm, Sweden image. Bear in mind that this type of image is by no means the extent of postmodernism — instead, you’ll find an unending array of genres, subjects and photographic styles.

 

Which Period is Right?

Photographers often question whether they should be creating images that belong in one period or another, but honestly, the choice is up to you, and there is no reason to stick with only one. I myself have taken plenty of traditional images because sometimes simple beauty is enough. However, when the need to be more thoughtful arises, I don’t hesitate to create according to the standards of modernism or postmodernism.

Other photographers wonder if they can somehow bridge the gap between traditional and modern or postmodern imagery. In my opinion, no, this cannot be done because once you start adding something conceptual to the work, it is no longer a simple, traditional, documentation of reality. By default, anything with an abstract or conceptual bent falls into the modern or postmodern categories.

When it comes right down to it, choose the subjects and styles that you feel like working with in the moment. Of course, gallery owners will tell you that postmodern photography is the only way to go because that is the current style. It is what happens to be selling for the most money because it is the thing that art collectors want to see. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t market for photography from older periods. In fact, I think that all three types of photography are equally important to both photographers and art enthusiasts, and they should be expressed at the discretion of the photographer who is taking the photos.

 

In fact, I encourage photographers to try all three: traditional, modern and postmodern. There is something to be learned from each period. Traditionalism, for instance, will teach you all about compositional rules because in large part, that is what traditionalism is — following the rules to document the things that you see.

Modern and postmodern photography will teach you how to bend those rules that you’ve learned. In addition, you’ll also learn how to think in the abstract, and how to use various effects to enhance the meaning of the work that you are producing.

The bottom line is this: All three types of photography are valuable. They will each teach you something unique, and even though trends dictate that the art world wants to see postmodernism, you’ll find that plenty of other people will enjoy photography of all types.
 

 

 

 


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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Ansel Adams Henri Cartier-Bresson Ken Josephson abstract conceptual landscapes modern photography portraiture postmodern still life photography traditional https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/defining-traditional-modern-and-postmodern-photography Wed, 30 Nov 2016 11:30:00 GMT
Culture, Permission and Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/culture-permission-and-photography Culture, Permission and PhotographyCulture, Permission and PhotographyCulture, Permission and Photography Permission is one of those things that every photographer will face at some point. You'll need to understand the laws in your region, and you may even find yourself asking for permission to take a photo. In most, if not all places in the United States, you are generally allowed to take photos of the things that you can see from a public place. This means that if you are standing on a public road, but your photo includes private property, that is perfectly legal.

However, the caveat to that is people. When it comes to photographing, you need to think about the “reasonable expectation of privacy.” In other words, even if the person is on public property, you shouldn’t take a photo of that person if that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. For instance, if they are in the bathroom, a dressing room or a similar area.

Those are the laws, but experienced photographers know that permission for photography is a much more complicated subject, which is why they find themselves asking for permission even if, legally speaking, they don’t have to.

You see, permission, and the acceptability of photography in large part has a cultural basis. In different regions in the United States — in different regions of Ohio, even, where I live — some people might be totally fine with photography, and others will be against it. Let me give you some examples.

 

Portraits and Permission

To illustrate the complexity of permission, I'd like to talk briefly about a trip I recently took to Amish Country in Central Ohio. I did not take my professional DLSR camera along this time, since it was a family trip, but I would certainly love to someday because it is a beautiful area.

In Amish Country, there are lots of opportunities to document the Amish culture. But, it is important to note that there simply aren't many opportunities to document the Amish themselves. In fact, if you try to photograph the Amish, you may end up in hot water — not necessarily legally, but with the people that you are photographing. You see, one of the primary Amish tenets is that they are about community, not individuality. As such, they tend to view photographs as a bad thing. They will not often display photographs in their homes and they absolutely do not own pictures of themselves because that brings attention to the individual self, which they view as a bad thing. Some members of the Amish community are entirely against graven images in all forms — photos, paintings and everything else.

Because of these beliefs, you'll run into Amish with wildly differing views on whether or not it is OK for a photographer to take pictures. In some Amish communities, you may find a rare person that will allow you to take a photograph of him or her. Other times, however, the Amish will ask that you obscure their faces, only taking photos from the back, or with the face otherwise hidden. Still other Amish will flatly refuse to let you take a photo. They may not say anything if you do it without permission in a public place, but they certainly will feel bad about it. Finally, you’ll find some a few who will ask to destroy your roll of film or delete the images on your memory card if they catch you taking photos of them.

As you can see, in Amish Country, yes, it is technically legal to take photos of the Amish people so long as you are in a public place and not violating reasonable privacy standards. However, is it ethical or acceptable to photograph these people without their permission? It is not, because by not asking permission, you are very likely to violate an important part of Amish culture.

 

Property and Permission

By now, I'm certain that you are wary of taking portraits without permission, but what about property? It turns out that different cultures and different life experiences can dictate whether or not you should as for permission before taking photos of private property. Even though you may be standing on a public road or in a public area, depending on the situation, some people may still take a dim view of you photographing their property.

To use the Amish as an example again, they have recently faced a lot of trouble from animal rights activists. I won't debate here whether the activists or the Amish are correct, but suffice it to say that activists have been known to go on to property or use long range lenses to take photos of animals so that they can attempt to collect evidence to shut down Amish farms and businesses.

Now, the Amish are used to photographers. Each year, they come in droves to photograph the gorgeous countryside. Someone standing along the side of a county road with a camera is not an unusual sight. However, the Amish are also becoming more suspicious about photographers. They may see you on the roadside, photographing a farm, and wonder. Are you an activist trying to get them in trouble or a photographer who is simply trying to take a beautiful photo?

And it isn't just the Amish that are suspicious of photographers. Particularly in rural areas, but also suburban areas or really anywhere that isn't a popular photography destination, some may feel inclined to wonder what you are up to. For all these know, you aren't making art. Because of their experiences or cultural assumptions, they may assume that perhaps you are up to no good, busy creating a reference that you can use to plan how you might rob them later on.

 

Culture and Permission

You can see through these examples that culture has a lot to do with whether or not you need to ask for permission. If you are standing in Times Square in New York, then most likely, no one will bat an eye at you or the multitude of other people taking photos. But if you are in Holmes County, Ohio, then an Amish person you are photographing may take issue with you snapping an image of him or her. In a seldom visited rural area, people might wonder why you've pointed your telephoto lens at their house or barn.

This is why it is so important to get to know the culture before you go on a photo trip to a region that you aren't familiar with. You may find out that portraiture violates a cultural or religious belief, or that photography of private property is frowned on by a property owner who only wants to protect their property, livelihood or their family.

If you know photography is frowned upon in a given area, or if you are in doubt, then it is always better to ask. Be honest and explain why you are taking photographs: Because the things you see are meaningful in some way and you want to create an image that other people can enjoy. If you don’t ask permission, people tend to make assumptions about you and your intentions based on the things that they have experienced in the past. Perhaps, if you are photographing a herd of cattle, you look like an animal rights activist to a farmer that doesn’t want any trouble. But if you ask permission of that farmer, then he knows that you are simply enjoying the beauty of the animals grazing amongst the rolling fields.

 

Asking for permission and explaining your intentions will open doors. You'll find that many people, who may otherwise have been suspicious, will welcome you. And, if they can't allow you to take a photo because of a religious or cultural belief, they may find some other way to accommodate you. The Amish, for instance, will sometimes pose happily for the camera so long as they can turn their backs to you or obscure their faces. Most importantly, in gaining permission, you’ll be comfortable in the knowledge that you are doing the ethical thing instead of potentially offending someone.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Amish Amish Country Holmes County cultural beliefs culture permission photography law portraits private property public places religious beliefs https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/culture-permission-and-photography Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Gear That Isn't Related to Your Camera, But That You Should Carry Anyway https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/gear-that-isnt-related-to-your-camera-but-that-you-should-carry-anyway Gear That Isn't Related to Your Camera, But That You Should Carry AnywayGear That Isn't Related to Your Camera, But That You Should Carry AnywayGear That Isn't Related to Your Camera, But That You Should Carry Anyway
When I’m packing a camera bag for a photo trip, I work from a list that details all of the camera gear that I’m going to need. I’ve thought about which lenses to take, what filters I might need, I have spare memory cards and batteries, and I’ve planned out whatever lighting gear the day may call for.

This is how most photographers operate. We know ahead of time what we’ll need, so we plan accordingly. Sometimes, however, a few mundane objects get lost in the shuffle. There are many, many little things that we ought to take along — things that aren’t necessarily related to the camera or lighting setup — that can make the day go much more smoothly.

To that end, here is my list of non-camera related things that may prove extremely helpful on your outings.

 

Journal, Paper and Pens

These three items often prove indispensable on a photography trip. The journal makes it easy to jot down notes about different shots or write ideas down while you’re on the move so you don’t forget them. A legal pad, stack of sticky notes or small spiral notebook can be used for a variety of things. People sometimes ask if they can get a print or digital image, so the paper lets me write down their contact information, or tear off a sheet to give them my contact information (although if this happens often, consider making yourself some business cards, which is what I have done). If I need to stop and ask for directions, then I have a handy place to write this down also.

In addition to this, pens, not pencils, are a must. Too many times I’ve written something in pencil, and then as the journal or piece of paper rattles around in a pocket all day, the lead wears right off the paper. Ink ensures that whatever you’ve written will still be readable at the end of the day.

 

Keeping Phone Batteries Charged

It’s hard to go without a smartphone these days. The ability to look up maps, call, text or even do a quick Google search is invaluable. If you’ve ever been stuck in an unfamiliar area with a dead phone, then you know exactly how important it is to keep those batteries charged. I found an inexpensive external charger for my phone online, and it is a great way to keep the phone charged when you don’t have access to wall or car chargers.

 

Creature Comforts Are Important

You might find yourself on a long hike, miles away from the car or a restaurant. Other times, there just isn’t time to take a break between photographs to grab a bite to eat. Either way, once you get hungry, you’ll likely start feeling less creative and energetic. Maybe you’ll even end up a bit grumpy. Keep a couple of energy bars in your camera bag to keep everything running smoothly when you’re out in the field.

Food isn’t the only nicety to bring along, either. Sometimes photography gets messy. You may end up soaking wet from wading a steam, muddy from tramping through fields in the spring, or your knees are covered in grass stains and debris from kneeling in the grass. Whatever the case may be, take along a change of clothes and any outerwear you might think you’ll need. Rubber boots for mud, rain gear or even a beach towel so you can kneel or lay down while keeping yourself and your gear clean. Some baby wipes for cleaning muddy or dirty hands won’t hurt either.

 

Electronics Can Help Smooth the Process

What if you find yourself shooting in the dark or in deep shade? Or, what if you’ve dropped a memory card underneath the seat of your car and can’t find it? These situations call for a flashlight to illuminate the area. LED flashlights work well and take forever to run out of battery power. However, sometimes the batteries can corrode and break the flashlight, so if you are worried about this eventuality, try a crank-style flashlight. A few turns to charge it, and you (or your focus lock) will be able to see what you are looking at.

By that same token, a digital voice recorder can be a nice alternative to keeping a journal. They are inexpensive nowadays, so even a Cheap Olympus recorder will give you a chance to take some notes when you don’t have time, inclination or a good place to stop and write.

 

Be Safety Conscious

All kinds of things can happen on a photo trip. Hopefully, nothing ever will, but it is better to be prepared. For things like cuts and bruises, you should definitely carry around a small first aid kit. It doesn’t need to be anything bulky or fancy. A small box with various kinds of bandaids, gauze, tape, and a small pair of scissors will come in handy should you cut yourself as you are exploring an area.

In addition, even though this isn’t something that you can take along, you should always make sure to tell someone where you are going, particularly if you are going alone. Be sure to also let this person know what time you expect to be back so that they know to call for help should you be late. And, as I mentioned above, a charged phone is almost a necessity. That way, you can call for help if you need it or you can simply let a worried loved one know that your photo trip is taking longer than expected and that they shouldn’t worry.

 

There is certainly a lot more, besides these things and besides camera gear, that you can take along. However, in the interest of space inside your camera bag, I have limited it to the things that I feel are most important. Feel free to add in any other necessities that you can think of.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) batteries business cards camera clothing energy bars flashlight gear journal lenses lighting equipment paper pens safety smartphone voice recorder https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/gear-that-isnt-related-to-your-camera-but-that-you-should-carry-anyway Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Lessons that Creative People Can Teach You https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/lessons-that-creative-people-can-teach-you Lessons that Creative People Can Teach YouLessons that Creative People Can Teach YouLessons that Creative People Can Teach You As photographers, we learn lessons in all kinds of ways. We read them in books, take classes, attend workshops, view the work of other photographers and experiment in the field. It is tempting to think that all of these things offer a complete learning experience — that by utilizing some or all of these things, we are learning everything that we need to know, or at the very least, we are learning to the fullest extent possible.

However, upon thinking about it further, I’m sure that you’ll see that there are many more ways to learn, probably more ways than you can count. One method that is often overlooked is the type of learning that we can do by examining the creative process of others. I don’t necessarily mean learning the creative process from other photographers, but from anyone who has a creative hobby or profession.

Whether a person is a writer, painter, musician, photographer or even a businessperson, everyone has, or should have, a method or trick that helps to fuel their creativity. These people could be people that you know personally, or they could be famous creatives. It doesn’t matter who you look at or talk to. The most important thing is that you gain a window into the tools that person uses to create their art.

To show you what I mean, here are a few famous creatives and the methods that they used to produce their works. Through these examples, you’ll be able to see the kinds of things that you can learn from friends, colleagues, famous artists and anyone else that pursues creative ventures.

 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven devoted his life to creating music and as a composer, he is the author of some of the world’s most famous music. The more that you learn about his habits, the more you’ll see that he did not leave his creations up to chance. He absolutely did not rely on those stereotypical “bursts of creativity” that you so often see in stories about creative people.

Instead, Beethoven scheduled his creative time. Each day, he made sure to go for a walk after lunch, always alone and always through the forests of Vienna. To him, this was a time to look at his ideas in depth and it was also a time for reflection and introspection. And, because he did not want to miss out on any ideas that came to him on these walks, he made sure to always carry paper and a pencil so that he could jot down a few notes as he walked.

 

Franz Kafka

Few writers have achieved the fame of Kafka. Though his work is complex and thoughtful, his creative process was simple: He designed a daily schedule and adhered to it without fail. And, he’s not alone. Many creatives have strict schedules because they know that creativity doesn’t necessarily come from random inspiration but instead, from teaching yourself to turn on the creativity when the need arises.

In Kafka’s case, he worked as a lawyer between the hours of 8:30 AM and 2:30 PM each day. Then came lunch, and a nap until 7:30 PM. Then dinner, and by 11 PM each night, he was ready to sit down and write for a few hours. Essentially, he set aside a certain time, the same time each day, for his work so that he could train himself to let the creativity flow when it was the proper time.

 

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin delved into many creative fields — politician, scientist, inventor, musician and more — and like others, he was also a stickler for organizing his days. However, there are a few things about his routine that set him apart from other creatives.

First, when he awoke in the morning, he asked himself a simple question: “What good shall I do this day?” This helped to put him in the right frame of mind for creating something. He worked throughout the day, then, between the hours of 6 PM and 9 PM, he said aside time for household chores, entertainment, and also a bit of time to examine the events of the day. This gave him a chance to look at his successes and failures, and think of ways to tackle his creative work on the following day.

Finally, at bedtime, he asked himself another question: “What good have I done today?” This once more gave him a chance to reflect on his successes of the day and perhaps think about how he could build on those successes the next day.

 

Pablo Picasso

Picasso had a theory on creativity, one that came to light during a conversation with his friend, photographer Brassai. Brassai asked Picasso whether his ideas for paintings came to him “by chance or by design.” Picasso responded, among other things, “To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing.”

In essence, this means that when he started a new painting, it didn’t matter to Picasso whether he had a good idea or not. His creative process was simply to start working, even if he was at a loss. In fact, he often found a lack of direction to be better than being inspired, stating, “What I capture in spite of myself interests me more than my own ideas.”

The lesson to be learned from this is simple. Picasso’s method dispensed with ideas and inspiration, instead relying on the work itself to guide him. In other words, for photographers, that means you should start taking photos, even if you don’t know what you want to photograph, and the ideas will surely come to you.

 

As you examine the creative processes that various people use, you’ll find that most people’s process is similar to that of others, but each person also has unique aspects that prove helpful when it is time to create their art. Organizing time and introspection are common themes, but there are other, more subtle aspects to an individual’s creative process that you can use to build your own process. So, don’t hesitate to look deeper into the lives of famous artists, and by the same token, don’t hesitate to ask your creative friends and colleagues about their own process. Each person will have some new offering that you may want to incorporate into your own process.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Benjamin Franklin Franz Kafka Ludwig van Beethoven Pablo Picasso creative process creativity famous artists introspection organization schedule https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/lessons-that-creative-people-can-teach-you Wed, 09 Nov 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Reminiscing About Film https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/reminiscing-about-film Reminiscing About FilmReminiscing About FilmReminiscing About Film
For those of us that have been around a while, the days of film seem like they weren’t all that long ago. But, once in a while, something happens that makes you realize that film is becoming something of a dinosaur to photography. For instance, when you are taking photos nowadays, chances are good that someone will ask, right then and there, to see your photographs, immediately after you’ve taken them.

Only 20 to 25 years ago, this feat simply wasn’t possible. When you took a photo with your film camera, you had to wait — hours, days, weeks — for the film to be developed. Back then, it simply would never have occurred to anyone to ask a photographer about the photos they had just taken because they hadn’t been developed yet. If anything, people might exchange contact information with you so that you can send them developed images later on, but that was it.

If you really want to feel old and dated, think about this: You may remember film fondly, but we have entered an era now where all of us older photographers can meet younger photographers who have never once shot a roll of film. To me, that seems almost incredible. And, in a way, I feel a bit sorry for those who have never really had to work with film. Certainly, digital photography is an easier, more efficient way to create art. There is less physical work standing in between the photographer and the prints that he or she desires.

But at the same time, film — and all of the things that you had to do to produce a photograph with that medium — was a long process that became almost ritualistic. So many photographers enjoyed, and still enjoy, the process of film photography. So, whether you are a photographer that started with film or one that has never had the pleasure, let’s take a moment to reminisce about some of the joys of this medium.

 

Film and Film Cameras

Of course, film comes in a whole lot more than just the 35mm format, but that is the format that most photographers are familiar with, so much so that the rolls of films that we once bought for our cameras have become something of an icon. When buying film, there was a lot to consider. You needed to select a film speed, or ASA, for whatever conditions that you thought you might be shooting in — no switching ISO settings as you drift between dark and bright settings! And, you had to be careful with the film. Excessive heat, age, moisture, light, general dust and dirt while you are traveling — there were so many things that could damage it.

Then there were the colors. Since you couldn’t simply convert a photo to black and white on a computer, you needed to buy black and white rolls of film to create these images. Or, you needed to buy films that would give you the color renditions that you wanted. Kodachrome, for instance, was known for its rich, saturated colors. Each brand and type of film had its own unique properties that today, we simply mimic with quick camera setting changes or easy Photoshop effects.

And that was only the first step of the process. Once the film was purchased, it needed to be manually loaded into the camera, much like we need to put memory cards in digital cameras today, only more complicated. Because you had a leader of film that stretched over the back of the camera to be wound on a spool as you cycled through exposures, the first couple of frames on every roll of film were always wasted. Once the film was loaded and the camera back secured, you had to take care to never open the back of the camera until you had re-spooled the film back onto the cassette, otherwise the light would ruin whatever film was left exposed.

And your exposures were limited. Nowadays, we can have hundreds, even thousands of images on one memory card. The roll of film, the analog equivalent, gave you 24 to 36 exposures, maximum. Photographers were driven to take a photo the right way the first time, and to always bracket exposures just in case the first exposure didn’t turn out. Otherwise, you risked wasting lots of film and lots of money. If you wanted to take hundreds of photos, then you needed to carry around a very large and very costly pack filled with all different varieties of film — and maybe even an extra camera or two just in case you wanted to use a different kind of film before you had finished shooting the roll that was in your camera.
 

The Mysteries of Darkroom Development

Dark room equipped under photo laboratoryDark room equipped under photo laboratoryDark room equipped under photo laboratory. Trays with reagents for printing by hand

To the average person, the darkroom was a mystery. Most people, for their snapshots, would drop their rolls of film off at a laboratory or a drugstore to have the film developed. Serious photographers, however, learned their way around chemistry and the darkroom. With few exceptions, such as Kodachrome, which had a patented development process, a photographer could take photos, and then later in the evening, retreat to the darkroom to develop his or her images.

The process was so complicated compared to today. The modern equivalent to development is probably loading images onto your computer, which can be accomplished simply by plugging your camera or memory card into the computer and clicking through a few things.

With film development, however, you had to work in complete darkness, or under a specialized safe light, unspooling the film, and then using chemical development agents at precise temperatures to start the process. After carefully monitoring and developing film in its tank of developer for several minutes, you then needed to place the film in a stop bath so that you didn’t over-develop the film, again, at a precise temperature and in darkness. Then came the fixer, which was a chemical that stabilized the film, ensuring that no part of the image could ever expose to light again. And finally, the bath — carefully cleaning the film in water without damaging it.

Once all of this was completed and the negatives were dry, it wasn’t simply a matter of printing the images. Instead, you used an enlarger, which was a device that you used to shine light through a negative, exposing photographic paper below, which created the print.

On top of all of this, there were ways for photographers to edit images in the darkroom, not dissimilar to some of the things we can do with Photoshop today, but much more difficult to accomplish and with no “Undo” button like we have now in modern photo editing software. There was little room for experimentation since at times, a technique done poorly could ruin an entire roll of film.

Of course, there is a lot more to reminisce about when it comes to film. However, these two larger aspects make me wistful for the days of film. Was it harder than digital photography? It certainly was, but the process was deeply enjoyable. And, there was something about all of the work that needed to be done that made a completed print feel that much more satisfying.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) ASA Kodachrome Photoshop development digital enlarger film fixer negatives roll of film stop bath https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/11/reminiscing-about-film Wed, 02 Nov 2016 09:00:00 GMT
The Use of Symbolism in Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/the-use-of-symbolism-in-photography When we talk about producing fine art photography, there are many different aspects that are routinely covered. Things like composition, the use of color, expression and emotion are all things that we use to make images more powerful. One thing that is rarely talked about, however, is symbolism, which is strange because in my opinion, symbols are quite possibly the most powerful tool at your disposal.

What is symbolism? In a nutshell, a symbol is something used to represent something else, something meaningful, so it follows that symbolism is the use of symbols to express the meanings that you desire.

The most interesting thing about symbolism is that it extends across all forms of art and design. Some symbolism crosses cultural boundaries, and other symbols are only known to the people of a particular culture, living in a particular period of time.

The Victorians, for instance, had the Language of Flowers. It was commonly understood during that period and culture that you could use flowers and their associated symbols to send messages to people. A sprig of the baby’s breath flower represented purity and innocence, while a pink rosebud represented a new love. Combine the two, and the receiver of these flowers understood that the sender was sending a message of pure, innocent love.

You can see these same sorts of meanings throughout the art world. In Medieval and Renaissance art, for instance, you could look at horses within paintings to see the deeper meaning. Pale horses represented death, black horses stood for famine and red horses meant war. Candles tended to represent faith when burning, or death or corruption when painted as extinguished. Baskets of fruit meant abundance, and more, particular fruits told a tale about the kinds of abundance that the painting’s subject enjoyed. Lemons, for example, were a rare and expensive fruit, so if you saw them, you knew that you were looking at wealth symbolized.

Of course, nowadays, we don’t recognize all of these symbols the way the people living in those times did. Our culture and worldview is utterly different, so we have our own symbols. In fact, many modern artists seek to break away from common symbolism and decide to make their own meaning with objects, colors and more. Let’s take a look at modern symbolism and how you can use it to great effect in your work.

 

Common Symbols in Modern Photography

Symbolism spans a broad range of not only subjects, but colors and other qualities that can be used to create something meaningful. I’ve talked before about the meanings of colors, for instance. This is one type of symbolism that you can use to build on a theme or hint at emotion. Blue, for instance, is a calming color and makes people think of the sky, while orange is an exciting color that is sometimes used to represent ambition.

Beyond colors, the use of light and shadow can be symbolic. High contrast images can represent good and evil, day and night, duality, opposites and so much more.

Then there are objects. Lakes are sometimes used to represent mystery or depth, and just as Renaissance painters taught, food still represents abundance. Here are other common symbols for you to think about:
 

  • Eyes can suggest wisdom, intelligence, creativity or understanding.
     
  • Mountains impart a sense of grandeur, and they can be used to suggest ambition or lofty goals.
     
  • Rocks and earth tends feel solid and reassuring.
     
  • The Sun, when pictured, can have a variety of meanings — optimism, divinity, knowledge and more.

 

These symbols are generalized and as such, are widely recognized across a variety of cultures. Other symbols, however, are most pertinent to the culture that gave rise to them.

To get an idea of what cultural symbols are all about, look no further than the American Flag. On its face, the American Flag represents freedom, liberty, patriotism and so forth. You can use it within photograph as such, or you can use it in a composition to create a larger meaning.

Take a look at Robert Frank’s Americans 1, Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey 1955. Here, the flag is used prominently, as a powerful symbol. Two people are shadowed, one partially hidden by the flag, suggesting that they are less important than the flag itself. This image can mean lots of different things. Perhaps the photographer is saying that Americans themselves are overshadowed and hidden behind the world’s conceptualization of America. You could look at this image and think that perhaps Americans are simply a faceless mass standing in unison behind their country. No matter what you take this image to mean, there is no denying that cultural symbols can be very powerful indeed.

 

Making Your Own Symbols

There is nothing saying you have to use established symbols within your own work. On the contrary, creating your own symbols is how we, as a culture, develop new symbols, ideas and meanings. So don’t hesitate to create something of your own and use it to tie your body of work together.

For some photographers, the symbol is an object that is always included in the image. An action figure, a chess piece, a flower or something else. A photographer may choose to always include the sky in some way, even if it means the sky must be on a reflected surface. When it comes to choosing symbols, it is very hard to go wrong. Simply choose things that mean something to you.

 

How to Use Symbolism

If you are looking for an answer as to how you can use symbolism, the answer is simple: There is no right way. There is no way to tell a photographer or any other kind of artist how to use symbolism. You, yourself, can look at the works of others in order to better understand the meanings, but in the end, it is a personal choice. The symbols you choose should feel right for the work that you are doing.

 

 

 



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(Will Moneymaker Photography) culture language of flowers medieval photography renaissance robert frank symbolism time periods victorian https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/the-use-of-symbolism-in-photography Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:00:00 GMT
Must Photos Always Be Rectangular? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/must-photos-always-be-rectangular Must Photos Always Be Rectangular?Must Photos Always Be Rectangular?
When you look around at photography, whether it is printed or digital, your work or someone else’s, you’ll see that most prints are one of the common standard sizes or aspect ratios, and nearly all of them are rectangular, either horizontal or vertical. Those certainly aren’t shapes that we are limited to, so why is it that prints nearly always come in these sizes? Let’s examine some of the reasons, starting with a brief lesson on how some of the most common print sizes or aspect ratios came to be.

 

Print Sizes and Their History

When you look at some of the most common sizes — and the proportional aspect ratios that match them — you’ll find that most of these sizes originate with a historic camera type that used film of that size. Take, for instance, the popular 8x10 size. This size comes from the old large format cameras, such as one of the camera sizes that Ansel Adams would have used, which used film that came in 4x5-inch sheets. One popular large format 4x5 camera was the Graflex Speed Graphic. From those cameras, we got the 4x5, 8x10, 12x15 and 16x20 print sizes. All of the larger measurements are simply larger aspect ratios of those 4x5-inch sheets of film.

The 5x7 aspect ratio came into being this same way, starting with cameras like the Rochester Optical Co. Universal Camera, which was a 5x7 folding view camera that was first introduced in 1890. At the small size, you’ll find this format as 2-1/2x3-1/2-inch prints, while at the larger size, you’ll find 10x14 and 20x28. This aspect ratio comes another type of large format camera, such as the cameras used for documentation by the National Park Service. Like 4x5 or even 8x10 large format cameras, these used sheet film, but film that measured 5x7 inches.

Later, with the advent of 35mm cameras, the 2x3 size started to become more popular. Among first 35mm cameras available to consumers was the Tourist Multiple in 1913. This size is an old one, but nowadays, this is the aspect ratio that most modern DSLRs use, giving you 4x6, 6x9, 8x12, 10x15 print sizes and up.

The bottom line is, for almost every print size that you can choose, it has a historic basis in a camera that made use of and popularized the aspect ratio.

 

Are There Other Reasons Why Rectangular Prints Are Standard?

One reason that prints are usually rectangular, or at the very least, square, could very well be because compositional rules are often designed to work better with the rectangle. Think about the Rule of Thirds for a moment. How would you apply it to a triangle, or a circle?

Circular designs, in particular, tend to feel more normal and easy to understand when the subject material is centered, but as photographers, we are taught to avoid centering our subjects unless the image really calls for it. Consequently, you really only see round or oval images in portraiture, and even then, usually among older portraits and not modern works.

So are these the reasons why images tend to be rectangular? Certainly older film formats played a larger role in deciding print sizes, but perhaps the reason we don’t stray from those old print sizes has to do with compositional difficulties.

Another issue may simply be ease. Today, with all of our technology, it is still easier to cut prints with nice, straight edges, and it is still easier to make a square picture frame than it is to mold wood into a round or oval shape. In the digital age, everything, from our phones and computer monitors, to televisions, billboards and digital picture frames, is rectangular. What better way to fill a screen than to use an image that is a similar shape to that screen? It is simply easier to make and display a rectangle than it is to do any other shape.

 

Should We Hesitate to Make Unusual Shapes?

As with any other rule of art, the answer to that question is maybe, and maybe not. Certainly, the rectangular shape is popular for all of the reasons I have listed and then some. But, perhaps it is time to bend the rules a bit.

We already see this happening with some image types. Panoramas, for instance, are becoming more popular, and even though they are rectangular, they are longer and narrower by far than any of the more common aspect ratios. Square imagery is another option, one that allows you to delve into the idea of centric photography without creating circles.

Then, you have the idea of multiple shapes. Diptychs and triptychs, for instance, are also still mostly rectangular. However, in designing these, you have the option to use rectangles of differing proportions.

But what about the more unusual shapes? Circles, ovals, triangles, even trapezoids. Is there value to these shapes, artistically or practically? The only way to find out is to experiment.

I tend to believe that in most instances, unusual shapes are likely to make the subject material feel constrained, or “boxed in” simply because we are used to seeing the edges of the image that you will end up cropping out to make your new shape. I also think, however, that this could prove to be an interesting challenge to the rules of composition. Perhaps even a way to develop new rules, or add to rules that haven’t changed in centuries.

 

Throughout history, it has mostly been the photographers who are willing to challenge the rules of composition that are able to make something new and revolutionary. So, perhaps this idea is one worth a little more thought. And, for those of you bold enough to break the rules, perhaps it is an idea worthy of experimentation!

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) 4x5 5x7 8x10 Ansel Adams Aspect Composition Large Format Oval Print Print Sizes Ratio Rectangular Round Rule of Thirds Sheet Film Square Triangle https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/must-photos-always-be-rectangular Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:00:00 GMT
The Biltmore: A Beautiful Piece of American History You Must See in Person if You Can https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/the-biltmore The Biltmore Estate is a very popular tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. In fact, while Asheville is known for many wonderful things, it is perhaps best known for this unique American estate.
 

The Biltmore encompasses 8,000 acres with a 178,926 square foot Chateauesque-style mansion. Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II over a period of six years spanning 1889 to 1895, it is still a privately owned house today. It also holds the distinction of being the largest privately owned house in the United States. Even more remarkable for an estate of this size, history, and value, it is still in the Vanderbilt family, being currently owned by a descendant of George Washington Vanderbilt II. It is considered a remarkable architectural example of America’s Gilded Age.
 

Vanderbilt was the youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam. As a young man, he began making regular visits to Asheville with his mother, and fell in love with the region, as so many others do. The scenery in the Asheville area is gorgeous year round, and the temperature is always pleasing because the city is in a picturesque valley. It rarely gets too hot or too cold, regardless of what temperatures the surrounding towns are experiencing.
 

Young Vanderbilt loved the area so much, he decided to build a summer estate for himself there. His elder siblings had already built their own summer estates up and down the eastern United States; this one was to be George’s special retreat of his own, and he referred to it as his “little mountain escape.” However, the estate was, and is, anything but little. Vanderbilt chose the name “Biltmore” for his estate, because the word “Bildt” (which he Anglicized to Bilt) was where his father’s ancestors came from in the Netherlands, and because “More” was the Old English word for open, rolling hills (which perfectly described the terrain of the region).
 

Because the estate was so big, it required enormous resources to build it to Vanderbilt’s specifications. The construction crew actually had to build a saw mill, a woodworking shop, and a kiln for making bricks on site. The brick kiln produced more than 32,000 bricks a day during the six-year construction period. Getting other materials to the site required adding three miles worth of railroad tracks leading to the estate. During the period the estate was being constructed, over 1,000 construction workers and 60 stone masons worked on the project.
 

 

Vanderbilt spared no expense when it came to decorating his estate, either. While it was being built, he traveled all over Europe just to buy things to use to decorate his new mountain getaway. The things he purchased included valuable antiques dating back to the 1400’s and up to the 1800’s. There were very few American-made items in the house; the ones that were made in this country were mainly pieces of furniture made out of native trees, as well as a few bronze and wicker items.
 

The Biltmore was officially opened on Christmas Eve in 1895. George Vanderbilt invited his friends and family from all around the country to come visit it and enjoy its pleasures. Over the years, the Biltmore proved to be a popular destination among George’s many friends and acquaintances. As a member of the upper echelon of society, he had connections with the nation’s elite; some of the people who visited and stayed at the Biltmore are still well-known today. These guests included author Edith Wharton, ambassador Joseph Choate, novelist Henry James, and three U.S. presidents… Theodore Roosevelt, William McKinley, and Woodrow Wilson.
 

George married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser in 1898. Their only child, a daughter named Cornelia, was born at the Biltmore in 1900 and grew up there. In the early 1900’s, the new income tax made managing such a large estate economically tougher than it once was. Because of this, George Vanderbilt sold 87,000 acres of the estate’s lands to the federal government. The sale was made with the promise that the land would be unaltered, and it became the center of the Pisgah National Forest.
 

After George died in 1914 following complications from an appendectomy, his widow lived at the estate part-time. When she was in residence, she occupied an apartment made from the original Bachelor’s Wing. She continued to do this until the marriage of her daughter, Cornelia Vanderbilt, to John Francis Amherst Cecil in April of 1924. Cornelia and her husband had two sons together, who were both born at the Biltmore, in the same room in which Cornelia herself was born.
 


Cornelia and her husband, who inherited the Biltmore from her mother, opened the estate to the public in March 1930 in order to strengthen the estate’s financial situation at the beginning of the Great Depression. However, this decision was not made alone. The City of Asheville requested Cornelia and her husband to do this in order to attract more visitors to the area and improve the city’s finances. It was a win-win situation for both parties.

 

During WWII, the Biltmore was closed to the public once again. While the war was going on, many important paintings and sculptures were moved from Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art to the Biltmore, in hopes of protecting them against an invasion of foreign troops on American soil. The famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington was one of the national treasures stored at the Biltmore until it was safe for them to be returned to Washington, D.C.
 

Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and her husband eventually divorced, and Cornelia, though the daughter of the original owner, left the Biltmore and never returned to it. Her ex-husband remained living there for the rest of his life, occupying the Bachelor’s Wing until his death in 1954. Cornelia and John Cecil’s eldest son, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil, also lived in the Bachelor’s Wing of the estate until 1956. After that, the Vanderbilt descendants stopped occupying the mansion as a family home, and turned it into a historic house museum. As the years went on, more areas of the house were opened to touring by the public.
 

Cornelia’s second son with John Cecil, William A.V. Cecil, Sr. joined his elder brother in managing the estate in 1960, and together, they made it a profitable and self-sustaining estate, which was the original vision their grandfather, George Vanderbilt, had when he commissioned its construction. William A.V. Cecil, Sr. inherited the Biltmore when Cornelia died in 1976. His elder brother, George, inherited the dairy farm attached to the estate. The dairy farm was the more profitable enterprise, and it was spun off into Biltmore Farms. During the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Biltmore in 1995, William A.V. Cecil, Sr. gave control of the Biltmore to his son, William A.V. Cecil, Jr.
 


Of course, the nation knew about the wonders of the Biltmore long before it was turned into a business. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Today, it is one of western North Carolina’s most popular tourist attractions, with more than a million visitors every year. That is an excellent legacy for any family, and the people of the United States are continuing to enjoy the vivid vision George Vanderbilt brought to glittering life.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Architecture Landscapes North Carolina Travel Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/the-biltmore Wed, 12 Oct 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Should You Stick to One Genre or Should You Diversify? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/should-you-stick-to-one-genre-or-should-you-diversify Should You Stick to One Genre or Should You Diversify?Should You Stick to One Genre or Should You Diversify?Should You Stick to One Genre or Should You Diversify?

What is the path to artistic success? Some would argue that it is simply practice – and not just practice overall, but practice at a specific genre of photography, always honing and fine tuning that one small piece of the larger art form.

I would argue otherwise. I think that the keys to success are in diversity. Diversity of style, of techniques and even among many genres, even some of the genres of photography that may not interest you as much as others. Let me give you a few reasons why I think this is true.

 

Looking at All Kinds of Art is Beneficial to the Artist

If you aren’t diverse in the kinds of art that you’re looking at, then you may run into some problems. This goes not only for photography, but all art forms. There is inspiration to be had from any medium. Look at sculptures and you’ll instinctually learn about lighting just by observing the way shadows fall across the marble. Paintings can teach you a lot about the deliberate use of color and sketches have something to say about the use of precise lines. And, that is just the beginning.

The other reason that you should be looking at all kinds of art is that if you aren’t, you are certainly going to miss things that interest you. Let’s say that you only look at portraits because that is your genre. The problem is, there is a whole wide world out there of landscapes, street photography, architectural photography, abstractions and hundreds of other genres. One or many may pique your interest and inspire you to try new things.

 

Diversity Broadens Your Perspective

When you are exposed to a narrow range of things, you tend to think more narrowly. If, for instance, you only take landscape photos, then you will think in terms of horizon lines, layering the front, mid and background, various types of sunlight and the colors that are most commonly found in nature.

The same is true if you only work in color photography and never create black and white images. You won’t have as much of an opportunity to appreciate high contrast or the tonal range between the deepest blacks and brightest whites.

This is how working in a wide variety of genres can benefit you. You’ll develop a broad range of thoughts and ideas that can be applied to your favorite genres later on. Sometimes creativity is simply seeing and doing things that you’ve never done before.

 

Narrowing Down Your Genres Narrows the Scope of Your Creativity

When you confine the work that you do, you may think that you are honing that particular subject, but you might instead be confining your creativity. If you delve into other subject materials, and other types of photography, then you’ll learn many new things that you can apply to your favorite material.

It helps to think about the different traits of particular genres. For instance, portraiture often relies on impeccable focus to capture the expression of the eyes and the textures of skin, hair and clothing. How can you apply those things to another genre?

Another example is landscape photography. Colors feature prominently here, whether it is black and white imagery or color. With color, you’re often looking for things like blazing sunsets, glistening blue water and various shades of green. Black and white landscape photography shows you how to look for the contrasts in your landscape. These are creative skills that you can blend with other genres.

In my mind, some of the best photography pulls ideas and influences from a variety of genres. This way, each piece of art produced has its own unique flavor.

 

You’ll Develop a Broad Set of Skills

Just like each subtype of photography comes with elements that you can use to boost your creativity, each subset also comes with different skills that can be used for a variety of types of images. If you only do street photography, for instance, you won’t have much experience with off camera lighting. As you are roaming public places, there simply isn’t time or a good place to set up lighting. Plus, lighting equipment makes you more conspicuous, which is exactly what you don’t want to do if you are trying to capture candid imagery.

But the same is true in reverse. If you never shoot anything but carefully lit portraits in a studio, then you aren’t taking advantage of the skills that you can learn from street photography. For instance, street photography teaches you to be observant and quick. Look for those amazing candid moments and snap a few shots before it is over.

Each genre has a different set of skills, so by practicing a wide range of them, you can learn lots of skills that can be applied to the types of photography that you are passionate about.

 

You Don’t Have to Do Anything You Don’t Want to Do

This is the greatest thing of all about photography. Is it helpful to delve into as many different genres and types of subject material as possible? Of course it is, but that doesn’t mean you have to take those things up permanently. Try as much as you can, learn from it, analyze what you like and dislike. Even if you never go back to a particular form of photography, the skills you will have picked up will be valuable.

Just keep in mind that you don’t have to force yourself. Do what you want to do, keep an open mind, and diversify as much as you are comfortable with.

 

So in the end, which is better, diversifying or sticking with one thing until you’ve mastered it? For me, the right choice is to diversify, but you may have a different answer.

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) art black and white creativity diversity genre landscape photography looking at art paintings perspective photography sculpture skills street photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/10/should-you-stick-to-one-genre-or-should-you-diversify Wed, 05 Oct 2016 08:30:00 GMT
The Best Camera is the Camera that Works with You https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/the-best-camera-is-the-camera-that-works-with-you The Best Camera is the Camera that Works with YouThe Best Camera is the Camera that Works with YouThe Best Camera is the Camera that Works with You

Which camera is right for you? We could talk all day long — and in to next week — about various camera brands, models and the features that each has to offer. At the end of the day, however, the best camera is the camera that works best for you.

Chase Jarvis said, and in fact titled his book, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” These are wise words, because with no camera at all, obviously, you won’t be taking photographs. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Certainly, if you are just beginning, then any camera will help you get started. But as you advance, you will need something more.

So which camera will fit your needs? It’s simple: The best camera for you is the one that helps you out the most. It should be intuitive, and give you features that you’ll use often to make the photographic process easier. It shouldn’t hinder your work in any way.

A camera is a tool, first and foremost. Think about it like a pencil. If you are trying to write something, then you don’t want a pencil with an eraser that doesn’t work well. You won’t want to fight with the lead breaking all the time. You just want it to work, to write well without a lot of fuss. The same goes for your camera — you want a piece of equipment that doesn’t get in your way.

Of course, this is a bit generalized, so I’d like to talk about some of the specifics. Here are some of the things that I look for in a camera.
 

Opt for Simplicity​

When I talk about simplicity, I’m not talking about a camera that is lacking in features. Instead, I mean that the operation of the camera should be simple.

Take the camera’s menus, for instance. Are they laid out in a way that is easy for you to navigate, or is the menu design counterintuitive? Obviously not every function on a modern camera can be assigned its own button so that you can access it immediately, but you also shouldn’t feel like you are wasting time sifting through the menus in search of what you need.

Speaking of the buttons, are they all marked in a way that is easy to read and understand, or will you spend undue time pressing the more obscure buttons, trying to remember what they do? In addition to this, the buttons — really, the entire interface — should be laid out so that you can navigate them easily. This is particularly true of the shutter release. Most cameras are designed to place the shutter release in the same general spot from one camera to the next, but if you have larger or smaller hands, test the shutter release on each camera that you look at to make sure it fits your hand.

Finally, does the camera allow you to use program buttons? Many photographers have certain settings that they use frequently, so customizable program buttons help you get to those settings easily.
 

Make Sure the Camera is Comfortable to Carry​

Some photographers are perfectly happy with a heavy backpack or one of those Red Rider wagons that they can use to wheel around a massive camera and all kinds of equipment. Other photographers don’t want to feel like they have an anchor around their neck. They’d prefer something lightweight so that they can travel farther with ease.

As you shop for cameras — and the rest of your gear, for that matter — keep this in mind. Buy only what you are willing to carry into the field.
 

Do You Need an Articulated Live Screen?​

For some, the answer is no. Perhaps you are comfortable bending into different positions so that you can view the camera’s screen as you are shooting. However, if you aren’t comfortable bending into odd positions, or if you simply want the convenience of a screen that is viewable at any angle, then an articulated screen is definitely worth your while.
 

Think About Ergonomics​

Simply put, a camera that doesn’t fit your hands well is not going to work for you. Try out a bunch of different cameras, regardless of features or brand names, and evaluate your level of comfort with each. Here are some factors to take into account:

  • Do the grips fit your hands well, or are they too large or small? A camera that is too large for your hands will feel hefty, and various features will be difficult to reach with your fingers, while a camera that is too small feels like you could easily drop it on accident, and you are likely to press buttons on accident.
     
  • What about the lenses? Large fingers find it difficult to operate narrow lens rings. Another issue is the way that the lenses attach to the camera body. Make sure that you are comfortable with the lens mount system that you choose.
     
  • Make sure to look through the viewfinder, even if you prefer using the live view a lot of the time. Make sure that it is clear and bright, and that the LED displays to the side are easily readable.
     

What Will Your System Cost You?​

Cameras come in all budgets, from extremely inexpensive new and used DSLRs to DSLRs that cost tens of thousands. The cost of your first kit shouldn’t be your only consideration. How much will future lenses cost you? Will the high cost of your system prevent you from collecting the lenses that you need later on? You’ll need to choose a camera that fits both your budget and your needs as a photographer.

Then there is the cost of future proofing. Camera models, brands, and lens mounts change all the time. Today, you might decide on one of the cheaper, lesser-known brands, but what happens in ten years, when you have a large collection of lenses for that brand, and the manufacturer is no longer producing new camera bodies? You’ll save money now by opting for one of the major brands that will continue to support the lenses and gear that you buy now long into the future.

Whether you are buying your first camera or your fifth, it isn’t a choice to be taken lightly. Weigh all factors and buy the camera that works well for you.

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) articulated live screen buttons camera convenience costs dslr ergonomics future proofing interface lenses shutter release simplicity tool weight https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/the-best-camera-is-the-camera-that-works-with-you Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:00:00 GMT
The Barriers that Stop Us from Enjoying Art https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/the-barriers-that-stop-us-from-enjoying-art Ford Mustang PhotoFord Mustang PhotoThe Mustang made its first public appearance on a racetrack little more than a month after its April 17 introduction, as pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500. Favorable publicity articles appeared in 2,600 newspapers the next morning, the day the car was "officially" revealed. A Mustang also appeared in the James Bond film Goldfinger in September 1964.
Whether you, yourself are a photographer, or simply an art enthusiast, we all must admit that there are certain things about the art world that are incredibly frustrating. Some of those things are the myriad barriers that stop us from enjoying artwork. I’m not sure where this problem comes from, whether it is born out of a sense of elitism or perhaps the demand simply isn’t high enough to make it easy to purchase art.

Whatever the case may be, let me tell you about some of my frustrations when it comes to enjoying art. If you are an enthusiast that wants more art in your life, then maybe some of the solutions that I’ll propose will work for you!

 

The High Cost of Prints

If you’ve ever been to mid-range or high end galleries, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The cost of a photographic print is sometimes astronomical, unaffordable to all but the wealthiest people. Sometimes costs will be $1,000 or $3,000 or more, and even at the lower end of the range, costs around $500 can make it so that you may buy a piece once in a very, very great while, if at all.

Sometimes the costs are tied to the name of the photographer, with famous photographers often getting much higher prices for their work. Other times, the costs are simply what the artist and gallery feel the work is worth, or what is needed to pay the high costs of producing and marketing it. The images aren’t necessarily artistically better than less expensive pieces of art, although there are instances of groundbreaking artistic vision.

So, with the cost of prints so astronomically high, how can you enjoy them at an affordable price tag? My answer is to go out in search of local artists. Number one, local artists certainly need the support of their communities in order to keep producing their work. Two, you’ll find local art that is often just as beautiful and thought-provoking as the expensive stuff, but priced more reasonably. Here are a few places to check:

  • Look for local artist’s cooperatives. These are businesses co-owned by all of the artists involved, so they have a vested interest in bringing art to their communities that sells.
     
  • Go to art shows. This is where you’ll find a lot of up-and-coming photographers looking to make their way in the world through print sales.
     
  • Small-time galleries will often have great photographs at much more reasonable prices than high-end galleries who spend much more money on advertising and overhead.
     
  • Check out the images at locally owned coffee shops and restaurants. Often, artists will ask the business owners if they can hang their prints up on the walls, and in cases like this, the prints are usually for sale.

 

Framing is Expensive

So you have purchased a print, or perhaps you had one of your own images printed for display. Now you want to frame it and hang it. Unfortunately, the costs of framing are yet another barrier that can prevent you from enjoying artwork.

Fortunately, however, there are inexpensive framing options, although some of those options aren’t always the kind of quality that you would like to hang on your wall for years to come, particularly when it comes to department store frames that can be had for a few bucks apiece. Another issue with factory-made frames is that you won’t find them in unusual shapes or sizes. That leaves you with high-end custom framing, which can cost just as much as a high-end print.

There are some other options, however:

  • If you frequent thrift stores, make sure to check out their frames. It will be tough to find a collection of matching frames, but for a single image, you can often find very well-made frames that you can reuse or save in a closet until you have a need for it.
     
  • If you don’t want to pay the high cost of custom framing, you can always make your own frames. In fact, many photographers have small wood shops devoted solely to making frames. If you don’t print many images, however, this can be a costly and time consuming process.
     
  • Look into alternative ways to display photographs. You can have your own images printed as gallery wraps, or you can use thumb-tacks to pin them to the wall for a more urban look. If you don’t want to cut your own mat board, you can also display your images in floating frames, sandwiched between two pieces of glass that you had cut to fit a frame that you have chosen.

There are many, many alternative framing options out there. Simply search online, and you’ll find an affordable and creative option that is ideal for your own work or the art that you have purchased.

 

We Believe Art Isn’t Necessary to Survive

Sometimes we are our own barriers against purchasing or printing and framing art. If you have ever admired an image, and thought to yourself, “No, buy it or print it, there are bills to pay,” then you are certainly not alone. We are, by necessity, focused on the big stuff – paying the bills, putting food on the table, and so forth.

Amid all that, it doesn’t always occur to us to go out and find photographs to decorate our homes with. Sure, many people hang art on their walls, but it is often the kind of mass-produced art that is purchased on a whim while browsing a department or home décor store.

The simple fact is, however, that art enriches our lives in meaningful ways. It is just as important to your mental wellbeing as a nice bed or cozy chair is to your physical wellbeing. For that reason, you should always make sure that you are leaving room in your life for the enjoyment of art. If you aren’t in the habit of going to galleries or art shows, then try it and purchase a piece or two that you can enjoy for decades to come. And if you have produced your own images, but haven’t gotten around to displaying them, then do so, and reap the benefits of being able to enjoy your newly displayed work each and every day.

 

It seems like something always comes between people and their enjoyment of photography and other art forms. Use these thoughts, and your own creative ideas, to bring down the barriers that are preventing you from enjoying the printed photograph.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) alternative framing art art photography art show artist cooperative fine gallery mental wellbeing prints thrift stores https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/the-barriers-that-stop-us-from-enjoying-art Wed, 21 Sep 2016 10:15:00 GMT
Exploring Photojournalism https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/exploring-photojournalism Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 11Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 11


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes photojournalism as “journalism in which written copy is subordinate to pictorial usually photographic presentation of news stories.” This is how the genre is defined, but it seems to me to be a bit lacking in detail. It doesn’t tell the whole story, which incidentally, is what photojournalism is supposed to do.

So what is photojournalism, really? At its heart, it is storytelling. Photojournalism doesn’t usually rely on one single descriptive image. Instead, it presents images in a sequence that tells a robust story.

What makes this genre different from, say, documentary photography is that photojournalism relies on a strict code of ethics. In other words, you present the story as you see it, not slanted in one direction or another, and without skipping over details that, if left out, might give the story a completely different meaning. Photojournalism is the honest documentation of life.

To understand the true meaning of this kind of photographic storytelling and honesty, let’s take a look at a few legendary photojournalists.
 

Robert Capa

Looking at Robert Capa’s work, life and philosophy will give you an excellent understanding of what it means to be a photojournalist. This man is perhaps history’s most famous war photojournalist. However, Capa himself hated war with a passion. In fact, he had a particularly strong reason to hate war. He was born Andre Friedmann — a Jewish man in Budapest — and in his 20s, he was driven from his home by the Nazis.

Nevertheless, despite his hatred of war, Capa took no shortcuts. He documented what he saw with brutal honesty. To see what I mean, click through some of his photo essays — but be warned, because Capa did not shy away from documenting war’s horrors.

 

James Nachtwey

Mr. Nachtwey is a contemporary photojournalist, and in his own words, he says, “I have been witness, and these pictures are my testimony.” You’ll find his galleries by clicking here. As with Capa’s work, Nachtwey sticks to the photojournalist’s code of ethics. Even though the things he has witnessed have been horrific, they are documented clearly and honestly.

 

Gina Lollobridgida

Gina Lollobridgida is another famous photojournalist that started her career as an actress. In the 1970s, however, she switched career paths and began documenting life as she saw it. She wasn’t a war photographer, but she did capture lifestyles around the world. You can see a photo essay of life in Rome and Italy here.

Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 18Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 18
Tips and Tricks for Photojournalism

You’ve seen how the professionals do it, so now it is time to learn how to refine the craft. Here are a few of my favorite tips.
 

  • Plan your trips well. Any story, whether it is a book or a series of images, needs a plan or an outline. Don’t expect to simply take your camera along and hope a story emerges.
     
  • When you are actually taking the photographs, timing is everything. Look for opportunities to add motion and expression to the images. In sports photojournalism, for instance, you can capture the expressions of the winning or losing team, and you can capture athletes in the midst of the action.
     
  • Pick a lens and stick with it. You likely won’t have the opportunity to change lenses as you are in the thick of the action, and carrying around a heavy gear bag will slow you down. This is why you’ll often see photojournalists carrying two cameras around their neck, so that they have both long and short lenses readily available.
     
  • Make sure to stay aware of your exposure settings the entire time. In fact, when you move to a new location, it is wise to go ahead and adjust your exposure so that you won’t miss shots trying to make adjustments when something photo-worthy happens.
     
  • Don’t be afraid to move around and try different angles. Lay down and shoot upwards, or take a high vantage point for a bird’s-eye-view. As you start putting your essay together later, you’ll find that the different vantages help make the story more interesting.

 

Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 19Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 19 Those tips will help you take great photos, but there is a lot more to know. I’m speaking of things like lighting, exposure, picture quality and clarity. One of the keys to great photojournalism is photographs that are incredibly clear and easy to look at and understand.

In terms of lighting, this means that you should avoid artistic effects, even though it may be tempting. Instead, make sure everything is brightly and evenly lit so that you aren’t losing details to shadows or highlights. The same is true of exposure: Don’t over or under expose images for artistic effect. Make sure that your exposure is correct so that the people who view your photojournalism can examine every detail and get a sense of the atmosphere you are creating.

Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 21Tall Ships: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain - 21

When it comes to picture quality, make sure that you use the highest resolution possible on your camera, and aim to use an ISO setting that doesn’t introduce noise. Shoot in the camera’s RAW format and not as JPEGs so that you have that much more data to work with when you are post processing. And speaking of post processing, don’t overdo it since people are looking for the story in these images rather than pure artistry.

Finally, make sure to take images that are as sharp as possible. Unless it is absolutely necessary, avoid wide apertures that create a narrow depth of field. Your audience is going to want to see the setting in which you are telling the story. In addition, make sure that your focus is as perfect as possible because again, your audience will want to see every detail.

We spend a lot of our time on fine art photography, but photojournalism is just as important. Not only does it give you a chance to document history, but it also allows you to accomplish this task with great detail and complete honesty. I recommend that all photographers create a journalistic series at least once because it will improve your storytelling skills.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Andre Friedmann Gina Lollobridgida James Nachtwey RAW format Robert Capa ethics exposure lighting photojournalism reality sharp storytelling https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/exploring-photojournalism Wed, 14 Sep 2016 10:15:00 GMT
Light Sources and How to Work with Them https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/light-sources-and-how-to-work-with-them
Last time, I talked about how to work with color casts, and the effects that they’ll have on your photos. One way to add color casts to your images is with your lighting. However, that is by no means the only thing that you can do with the different types of lighting at your disposal. To that end, I want to talk about each type of lighting, and how you can use it.

 

Natural Lighting

Natural lighting is sunlight. Now, you might think that this is only one type of lighting, but in actuality, it can be several, depending on the time of day and on the weather.

For instance, if you are shooting on a sunny day, then you’ll need to understand how natural lighting works at different times of the day. In general, morning light is often cool, but can sometimes be warm, and the later in the day it gets, the warmer the light is likely to be. By late afternoon and early evening, the lighting turns golden. Then, in the twilight hours between sunset and full darkness, you’ll be back to cool lighting. Of course, this is also dependent on your surroundings. Sunlight in a snow-covered landscape will appear cooler than sunlight falling on trees and other greenery.

In addition to the colors of sunlight, it is helpful to know the kinds of shadowing you can expect. Natural sunlight on a sunny day tends to create harsh shadows, and those shadows get even longer when the sun is low in the sky.

What about cloudy days? On those days, the lighting is what we call diffuse. New photographers often look out on a cloudy day with disappointment, but actually, this kind of lighting is more versatile than warm sunlight. Here are a few things to remember:

 

  • It is often said that diffuse lighting gives you a truer representation of colors, since you aren’t working with the golden quality that a sunny day has. The light is whiter, which helps you photograph the real color.
     
  • If you apply certain tones to your image, light on a cloudy day can look very chilly.
     
  • Diffuse lighting is extremely even. In fact, on a truly cloudy day, look for shadows on the ground. If the lighting is really diffuse, you aren’t likely to find any shadows except in the deepest shade. Because of this, you can take photos that have really even lighting without having to resort to fill flash.

 

Artificial Lighting

Artificial lighting is a different beast entirely. To start with, there are four main types that you will run across as a photographer: incandescent, fluorescent, LED lighting and flashes or studio lighting. Each type of light, on its own, is entirely different from the rest, and each type can be modified to give you even more versatility.
 

Incandescent

Though it is becoming more rare, incandescent lighting used to be the most common type of lighting found around the house, and it was also commonly used as tungsten lighting to add warmth to studios. Where natural daylight has a warm, golden color, incandescent lighting is even warmer — often with hints of orange or red.

 

Fluorescent

Fluorescent lighting, which is the type of lighting that you’ll find in offices or large public buildings, is on the other end of the spectrum. Traditionally, fluorescent lighting, because it was cool, gave images a greenish or bluish tone, which a photographer could correct simply by using filters in the opposite color.

Nowadays, however, fluorescent lighting runs the gamut. While many fluorescent bulbs still produce blue or green light, you’ll find others that produce whites and warmer daylight tones. In fact, some of the newer curly fluorescent light bulbs come in color temperatures that are quite useful in the studio.

 

LED Lighting

LEDs (light emitting diodes) are a relatively new thing for photographers. There is a lot of confusion surrounding them, and rightfully so. The thing about LEDs is that they come in a wide variety of colors. Photographers often use LED light boards with cool white or warm tones, but custom lighting can be made with hints of any color you desire.

There are a couple of things to note about LED lighting. For one thing, it can be very harsh lighting, washing out your subjects while leaving dark shadows. For this reason, it is sometimes best used with diffusers. Some people have also said that LED lights aren’t stable in their color temperature. In other words, plain white LED lighting may shift between cooler bluish tones or warmer yellowish tones as you work.

 

Flashes and Studio Lighting

This is the last type of lighting, and it is the one that most photographers use, particularly indoors. Flashes, strobes and studio lights are usually a bright white, and in the case of flashes and strobes, they are exactly that: A quick burst of light that illuminates your subject.

These lights tend to be very harsh, and the light is very directional, meaning that it is easy to cast deep shadows if you so desire. It is also possible, with enough lights in the right positions, to have absolutely no shadow at all.

The biggest advantage to this type of lighting is that it is easy to modify. Not only can you adjust intensity, but you can use specialized gear like reflectors, diffusers and more to change the quality of the light.

 

In addition to that, lighting colors can be changed easily. With filters or colored gels, you can modify your lighting so that it has the same color as sunlight, incandescent light or any other type of lighting. In fact, you can modify these lights with any color you so desire, so if your image calls for bright purple light coming in from one direction, and deep green light from another, you can make this happen quite easily.

 

 

 

Photography is essentially all about capturing light. That’s what makes knowledge of the types of lighting that you can use crucial. The ability to manipulate light in any way you desire gives you the ability to create a broad range of images in different styles.

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) artificial lighting cloudy color gels diffuse diffuser flashes fluorescent incandescent led lights light modifier lighting natural light strobes studio lighting sunlight tungsten https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/9/light-sources-and-how-to-work-with-them Wed, 07 Sep 2016 18:14:50 GMT
How the Right Tones Effect Your Photographs https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/how-the-right-tones-effect-your-photographs How the Right Tones Effect Your PhotographsHow the Right Tones Effect Your Photographs

There is so much to consider each and every time you take a photograph: Lighting, composure, the subject material, colors and more. Tone is another thing to consider, an aspect of photography that isn’t as commonly discussed as other, more popular topics.

Yet, tone is incredibly powerful. It is a large part of what sets the mood of the final image. And, there are all kinds of ways to achieve the perfect tones in your images. Use lighting of different color temperatures, or off-camera lighting with colored filters. Use your editing software to change or deepen the tone of the image. In film photography, famous films such as Kodachrome were known for their uniquely beautiful tones.

No matter how you choose to tone your photographs, it is important to understand what those tones will add. Here, I will discuss tones for both color and black and white photography so that you understand how to choose the right tones for your images.

Tones in Color Photography

In black and white photography, the tones are a lot more obvious since it changes the photo to sepia and white or another color and white. However, that doesn’t make the toning of color photography, even though it is subtler, any less powerful. With color photography, it all comes down to enhancing the mood and meaning of the image.

As you’re thinking about tones, start with warm and cool colors, and think about their properties. Warm colors — reds, yellows, oranges and browns — can lend a variety of different feelings to an image, ranging between excitement and welcoming warmth. Cool colors, like green, blue and violet, on the other hand, tend to be more relaxing and refreshing, although blue can be used to indicate sadness.

Color tones can be broken down even deeper than that, however. As you are choosing a tone, it helps to think about the psychology behind colors — in other words, how colors affect people. Here is a quick list of the meaning of various colors to help you choose the perfect tone:

 

  • Red is a rare color to use as a cast in a color image, but it has been done before. In general, red has warmth and energy to it, and it can also be used to convey a sense of strength or danger. When you see a red color cast, most often, it will be a shade that trends towards brown.

  • Orange tones make people think of comfort — good food, warmth and a sense of security.

  • Yellow is a commonly used tone, and in fact, it is the tone that you’ll get when you take photographs as the sun is getting ready to set for the day — that rich, golden color that makes everything seem more cheerful.

  • Green is the color of harmony. It tends to make people feel refreshed, so when you add a green cast to an image, make sure that the subject material matches the fresh and tranquil tone you’ve chosen.

  • Blue is likely the most versatile color. Depending on your subject material, it can indicate serenity or tranquility. Because it is such a chilly color, however, it can also lend a depressing sort of feeling to your images.

  • Violet tends to make images feel more authentic, and with certain subject material, the image may see more upscale or luxurious. In fact, in monochrome photography, this hue is popular since it conveys a sense of grandeur or motion.

 

Be aware that shifts in shade mean a lot, too. For instance, a red that trends toward brown, a completely brownish cast, or a yellow-green color can all give the image a completely different feeling than their parent colors will. Experiment in post processing with various shades, and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
 

Tones in Black and White Photography

As I mentioned before, when it comes to tones in monochrome photography, they tend to be a lot more obvious. There are also three ways to add tones to your monochrome images: Add the color to the lightest areas of the photograph, keeping your blacks black, change the color of the blacks and middle tones while leaving the highlights alone, or tone all of the colors across the range.

When it comes to colors, there are several popular options. For instance, sepia is used to soften the image, or to make the image resemble an old-fashioned photograph. If you browse sepia photos, you’ll notice that some trend more towards black, with brownish highlights, while others are sepia all the way through. Here are some other popular ways to tone monochrome images:

 

  • Selenium, which is a blue to purple tone that adds a lot of drama to a monochrome image.

  • Gold toning, which has an orange-red effect, with blacks that are actually blue.

  • For a vivid blue, try cyanotypes, which replicate the old process of photographs on glass plates.

 

Of course, when it comes to monochrome or even two-tone images, you aren’t limited to these options. Use any hue that you desire — but make sure to reference the colors I’ve listed in the color photography section so that you can get an idea how those colors will affect the final image.

 

 

A Note on Subtlety

The biggest issue with toning is its overuse. The temptation is there to create blazingly bright images, and with certain toning techniques, such as cyanotypes, this may not be the right path to choose. However, other times, a subtle tint is all you need to influence the image. In general, when it comes to toning, less is usually more.

With every image that you create, don’t hesitate to tinker with the tones. You’ll be amazed to find that slight adjustments make a huge difference. And, since most of us aren’t attempting to apply tones using obscure and old-fashioned processes anymore, you’ll be able to experiment endlessly to learn what works best for each individual image.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) black and white cool colors cyanotypes gold toning monochrome photography selenium sepia tone toning warm colors https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/how-the-right-tones-effect-your-photographs Wed, 31 Aug 2016 07:15:00 GMT
A Photographer’s Frustrations https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/a-photographer-s-frustrations A Photographer’s FrustrationsA Photographer’s FrustrationsA Photographer’s Frustrations


When you’ve been a photographer for as long as I have, you start to realize that not only does this art give you joy, but it also comes with its own share of frustrations. It seems strange at times to be so frustrated with something that you enjoy so much, but it definitely isn’t an uncommon feeling. Let me share some of my frustrations so that you can see that you aren’t alone!

 

The Best Art Takes Time

You’re probably thinking about all of the time that you spend on trips, on planning, on setting everything up to take a photo, on post-processing and more. Sometimes it would be nice if we could skip that whole process and get right to the finished photo.

There is, however, another span of time that I am talking about. One that can be even more frustrating. That is the time that it takes to mature as an artist. Did you know that many of the world’s most famous photographs, such as Ansel Adams, didn’t produce their iconic images until they were in their 50s or 60s? Of course, some of us will produce amazing images early on, but for the rest of us, that is a frustratingly long time to wait.

 

The Plague of Elitism

Elitism is rampant throughout every aspect of photography, and I can safely say that this attitude does more harm than good. It starts with new photographers purchasing the gear that they can reasonably afford, while photographers that have spent years and thousands of dollars turn up their noses at the equipment of a beginner.

Sometimes, elitism makes a photographer resistant to critique, or resistant to new ideas because “the old way is better.” There are still photographers that eschew digital because it can never replicate the look of film, and while that is true, it doesn’t make digital inferior to film or vice versa.

 

The Money You’ll Spend

That last point leads me nicely to this point. Sometimes, you’ll pay more money for something for no good reason at all. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about if you look at the difference between a generic replacement lens cap or one with the name brand emblazoned on it. Lots of things can vary in cost just based on who made it.

As if that weren’t enough, think of the new systems that you will buy over the years. If the camera line or brand or lens mount style that you use happens to be discontinued, then you’ll need to reinvest in a new camera and lenses.

The same goes for the artwork that you buy. We all love to invest in the work of our peers, but sometimes, a particular piece of art is priced well out of the range that it is worth. This can defeat the purpose of creating art, because if art is meant to be enjoyable, then thousands of dollars just to own a print makes that art less enjoyable for the people who can’t afford to purchase it and look at it.

 

Real Critique is Often Incredibly Rare

Serious photographers know that the only way to become a better artist is to have your work analyzed. Each fault and each bright spot should be picked over thoroughly so that you can learn what you’ll need to do to improve. But, that kind of honesty is so hard to find.

You won’t find it among your non-photographer family and friends. They love you, which edges them to the most optimistic side of things by default. And, without lots of experience in photography and compositional rules, it can be difficult for them to point out specific details that need work.

Even among your photographer friends, critique can be hard. No one wants to hurt your feelings, which makes people tempted to gloss over some of the bad points that you really need to see. And, as you know, it is incredibly difficult to be completely impartial.

Perhaps a friend will ask you to critique one of their photographs, and because that photograph is of your favorite butterfly, it goes up a few points in your estimation by default. Or maybe your friend looks at one of your images but doesn’t particularly like the color red, which is featured prominently. Regardless of the skill, it took to take the photograph, it isn’t one of their favorite things, which leads to an underwhelming response.

Whatever the case may be, you will find that frustratingly enough, thorough, impartial critique, which is one of the most important tools to help you learn, is a very rare and wonderful thing.

 

The Way Non-Photographers Treat You

Have you ever showed someone a photo, and their response is, “Wow, that’s amazing! You must have an awesome camera!” It is statements like this that set the photographer’s teeth on edge because we know that it isn’t the camera that makes the art. The camera can certainly help, but in the end, it is the skill of the artist that makes all the difference in the world.

What about taking photographs in crowded public areas? We’ve all felt that awkward feeling, and we’ve all had people cast looks our way. Sometimes, those looks are dirty looks, as if we are intruding on a person’s life simply by documenting our surroundings. Once in a very great while, someone may even approach you to tell you that you aren’t allowed to take photos in the public space that you are in, even though it is a perfectly legal and acceptable thing to do. Having the will to take photos no matter what the people around you think becomes easier with time, but being treated differently for practicing your art in public always somewhat frustrating.

We all have our frustrations — these are simply some of mine. If you have a few different frustrations, make sure to share them with your friends and fellow photographers. Not only is it nice to have the chance to vent, but airing your frustrations and listening to those of others will help smooth the path ahead for all photographers.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Ansel Adams Art critique elitism family friends frustration lens mount money peers time https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/a-photographer-s-frustrations Wed, 24 Aug 2016 05:00:00 GMT
Learning How to Learn https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/learning-how-to-learn


I’ve said many, many times that photography is a never-ending learning experience. Even the best of us will still find more and more new things to remember as we traverse this art form. And as photographers, we are well aware of the fact that we’ll never stop learning. But, one thing that you might struggle with is the mechanics of learning.

You see, learning is not the same for everyone. Different people use vastly different ways to learn more efficiently. Experts across the field of education agree that there are three main styles of learning. I’ll explain those learning styles — and some examples of how to apply them to photography — so that you can learn all about your particular learning style and how to work with it.

 

Visual Learning

Someone that is a visual learner does best with things like diagrams, pictures, videos, charts and more. If, as you are learning, you find yourself saying “show me that,” you could very well be a visual learner. Rather than reading text or listening to lectures, visual learners what a list of instructions, some diagrams to illustrate the new knowledge, and most of all, hands-on access to the tools they are learning to use.

To subdivide this a little further, there are two types of visual learners: visual-linguistic learners and visual-spatial learners. Visual-linguistic learners tend to do a lot of reading and making marks with a highlighter, or note taking, while visual-spatial learners are more likely to want conceptualized knowledge like charts or diagrams.

A visual linguistic learner, when learning how to use off-camera lighting, will want to read about the subject first. The reading materials they choose will be rich with diagrams and other illustrations, and once they feel they have a firm understanding of the material, they will want to experiment with the lighting themselves.

A visual-spatial learner, however, is more likely to dispense with the books and instead watch an instructional video about off-camera lighting. Perhaps they will look up diagrams that show where to place lights for different effects, or they’ll want to see light levels displayed as graphs. As with visual-linguistic learners, a visual-spatial learner will want to get his or her hands on the equipment to complete the learning process.

 

Auditory Learning

Auditory learners are vastly different from visual learners. Rather than relying on books, images and videos, they learn best when they can use their ears to learn. Lectures, podcasts, videos with great explanations, speakers at seminars or workshops — these are all things that will help the auditory learner to learn more efficiently.

Let’s say that you are an auditory learner that wants to learn all about composition. Visual learners will want to look at diagrams showing compositional rules, and they’ll want to read plenty of books about it. However, you, as an auditory learner, may do better by listening to an audiobook or engaging in a conversation with an expert on the subject matter.

 

Kinesthetic Learning

This is often referred to as “tactile learning” because a kinesthetic learner is all about the hands-on approach. Forget the books, the lectures or the diagrams. Kinesthetic learners have little patience for these things. Instead, they want a quick overview and then they want to snatch the camera for themselves so that they can experiment with it.

Instead of saying “show me that,” as a visual learner might, they will say “Give me that. I want to try.” This is the “learn as you go” style, and as such, kinesthetic learners benefit from quick reference materials in case they get stuck while they’re experimenting with the tools that they are learning to use.

When first learning how to use a camera, a kinesthetic learner doesn’t want someone to point at buttons and explain what they all do. They want to press the buttons themselves and find out. When it comes to composition, they’ll look at a few examples, and then go out and practice creating their own images following the compositional rules they’ve seen.

 

Using Your Learning Style

When it comes to learning styles, we’re all different. Some of us may even use a combination of learning styles. But we could all stand to follow the example of the kinesthetic learning style.

That isn’t to say that we should all be hands-on learners. We should each follow the learning styles that work best. However, kinesthetic learners tend to jump right in to projects so that they can figure things out as they go along. Sometimes, I think that is the best way to force yourself to learn new things.

Let’s say, for instance, that you want to polish your skills with lighting. Perhaps you should come up with a project idea that will help you accomplish that. Rather than waiting until you’ve accumulated the knowledge you need, just get started on the project. As you run up against gaps in what you know, then you’ll feel the urge to start filling in those gaps in whatever way works best for you, be it books, graphics, hands-on experimentation or a combination of these things.

Think about it this way: If you have a stack of books or DVDs that have been sitting around for weeks, or if you just haven’t quite had the chance to go out and experiment in a hands-on way, then the temptation is there to continue to procrastinate. But, if you simply jump into a project, you’ll be able to set goals and increase your motivation. Before too long, you’ll be going through all of the learning material that you have neglected simply to gain the knowledge that you need to finish your project.

Sometimes knowledge comes easy, and sometimes it is a struggle to understand various concepts. If you find yourself struggling, take a look at the three learning styles and see which fits you best. Then apply those tactics to your art, and make sure to motivate yourself by doing projects, even if you feel that you don’t know how, and you soon be surprised by how much more you are learning.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) auditory learning books composition dvds kinesthetic learning learning materials learning styles lighting photography podcasts visual learning https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/learning-how-to-learn Wed, 17 Aug 2016 07:00:00 GMT
You Get What You Pay For https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/you-get-what-you-pay-for
As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” I find that nowhere is this more true than in photography. It’s not just the gear that you are paying for. In photography, you are also paying for art with your time, creativity, and effort. And, if you don’t pay out much with those currencies, well, then this saying rings true. Here, I will talk about all of the ways that you get out what you put in when it comes to photography.

 

Your Equipment

When it comes to your camera, lenses, lighting and all the other bits of gear that you’ll need over the years, you’ll certainly get what you pay for. It is wise to remember that the cheap option isn’t necessarily the best option.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy the best of the best, or else you won’t create good photographs. More, I’m talking about prices as they are relative to the piece of equipment.

For instance, if you have is $500 to spend right now, you would be far better served to buy a good used camera and lens than you would be to buy an extraordinarily cheap camera and a few cheap lenses. You would also be better off buying the good used camera over a battered, broken professional camera that is only at a low price because it is in such terrible shape.

Costs can also mean the difference between a top-notch lens with fungus growing between the elements versus a slightly lower quality lens that is in perfect condition. Any time you purchase a piece of equipment, you’ll need to weigh the cost compared to the quality that piece of equipment will produce.

 

Paying for Art with Effort and Thought

Photography should be hard. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun — it should be both difficult and enjoyable. If it is difficult to create a particular image, then you will know that not many other photographers have created such an image. Frankly, it takes a lot of thought and consideration to create any kind of art.

In photography, you’ll need to put time into thinking of an idea. Then more time into composing the image, taking the image — not just once, but many times from multiple angles and perhaps even with different kinds of light. Then, you’ll spend yet more time thinking about and trying post processing techniques and deciding how you want to have the image printed, matted and displayed.

If you aren’t putting a lot of effort into all of these things, then you’ll certainly get what you pay for, though it might not be what you wanted.

 

Make Each Step Count

I talked a bit about the collective effort of creating a photograph above. But what about each individual step? What I mean to say here is that it does not matter if you put lots and lots of effort into most of the steps, only to cut corners on one or two of the steps.

An example would be to spend hours composing an image, then spending only a few minutes on post processing — if you do any processing at all. Or perhaps you spent all kinds of time perfecting the lighting on a hurried composure that you later realize wasn’t that great.

If you are willing to put the effort in at all, then make sure to take it all the way. It is far better to explore all of your options when post processing rather than cropping the image and calling it done, and if you are going to spend all kinds of time setting up lighting equipment, then you’ll find it worth your while to spend a decent amount of time simply composing.

Perhaps this is an instance where you don’t get what you paid for. After all, if you are only cutting corners on a couple of steps, then you have certainly paid at least some of the cost of creating art — just not enough of the costs to produce the absolute best art that you can.

 

Planning and Patience Are Costs, Too

Once in a while, inspiration strikes you and allows you to create something amazing. More often, however, those amazing images are the result of days, weeks, months or even years of thinking and planning. It isn’t always good enough to suddenly think to yourself, “Today, I will hopefully make art with whatever subjects are at hand.” That method relies too much on luck to be at all reliable.

When an idea comes to you, be patient. Don’t run right out and try to produce that idea. Write the idea down and let it turn over in your head until you have a few more ideas to make the original idea better. Then, wait some more. Wait for the right moment, the right emotion, the right place, the right quality of light or season of the year. As you wait, you’ll be able to perfect the image in your mind’s eye, and create the image when everything is just right.

Waiting is valuable elsewhere in your photographic process, too. After you’ve taken a great photograph, if you are like me, you are excited to go home and start tinkering with the post processing. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. But, you might find that the best post processing ideas come to you days or weeks after you took the photograph.

You may even print the photo, look at the final print, and realize that you could have done something differently. It happens to the best of us — probably more often than not. But now that you have waited all this time to see your photograph printed, you’ll be able to go back, improve the image, and print it again.

Every part of photography has a cost — money, effort or thought, usually all three at once. The best photographers pay those costs willingly, even happily, because they know quite well that the old saying is true. You’ll get what you pay for.

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Costs art camera composing creativity difficult effort enjoyable equipment lenses lighting planning post processing thought time https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/you-get-what-you-pay-for Wed, 10 Aug 2016 09:00:00 GMT
Self-Examination as a Photographer https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/self-examination-as-a-photographer


We all know how things like folktales, legends, or even rumors work. The story gets passed around via word of mouth, and with each retelling, that story evolves. If you’ve ever seen a rumor run through the “rumor mill” of a workplace, then you know what I mean. As the rumor spreads, each person tells it just a little bit differently. A rumor that originally said something like, “Bob wore a shirt I didn’t like today” ends up as, “Bob came in to work wearing pajamas” after enough people have passed that rumor along.

As you can see, the end result is something totally different from its origins. Legends and folktales that have been around for decades or centuries usually suffer from a vastly larger distortion.

By now, you are probably wondering what on earth this has to do with photography. Well, I think that this example is an ideal comparison to the way that the things that you have learned as a photographer can change.

You see, your habits, thought processes and the ways that you do things are all subject to the same kind of evolution that a rumor is. Moreover, because these things change so slowly over time, you’re not even likely to notice the changes in yourself. Perhaps the way you grip your camera is different from how you used to hold it, or maybe you’ve gradually become a bit more careless with the safety of your lenses — careless enough that you forget to clean them every now and then when you’re putting them away, which is something that can eventually lead to ruined lenses.

Of course, this process of habits isn’t limited to the ways that you handle your gear. Your thoughts on proper composure may subtly shift over time, or you might handle lighting differently than you did when you first learned about it.

This is why I think that, as photographers, we should be reflective about the things that we do. We should always set aside a little bit of time for an honest self-examination of the ways that we do things. Of course, introspection of that kind can be difficult, so I will outline some of the things you should look at below.

 

How Has Your Application of Compositional Rules Changed?

Composition is one of those things that feels like the rules were made to be broken in order to make something groundbreaking. However, there is a reason these rules are in place, and you might find that your new ideas are creeping in to your compositions more than they should be. I’ve always found that it is a wise idea to go back and look over the compositional rules of art. Reread any texts that taught you composition just to refresh yourself and your knowledge of art.

 

How are You Treating Your Equipment?

As photographers, we become impatient. We’ve handled our gear for years, and sometimes, all those little precautions you take to keep your gear safe go by the wayside. Are you not cleaning your camera and lenses as thoroughly as you once did? Do you hastily rig your light stands, strobes, and other equipment so that you can start taking pictures more quickly? Perhaps there are some obscure camera settings that you so rarely use that you’ve forgotten exactly how they work.

If you neglect these things, whether it is the knowledge of your gear or the actual care of your gear, you could be setting yourself up for trouble. Perhaps you'll really need to use that obscure setting when you're out in the field, but you don't remember how. Worse, what if your camera or lenses require repair or replacement after years of mishandling? Moisture, dust, dirt and even the oils from your skin can wreak havoc on your gear if not cleaned properly, and invariably, when your gear does decide to break, it will do it when you need it most.

Don't get caught in these situations! Whatever the case may be, you should periodically reaffirm everything you know about your gear and how you should treat it.

 

How Do You Use Lighting Nowadays?

Lighting is a tricky thing, partly because you are always learning new techniques, and partly because there are a lot of lighting tricks or fads out there that can become a part of your routine if you aren’t careful. Some things, like extremely harsh lighting that causes dark shadows and blown out highlights, are things that are popular as a novelty. If you don’t take care to re-evaluate and re-educate yourself on proper lighting, you may find yourself relying heavily on lighting tricks and novelties rather than great compositions and interesting subject material in order to make images striking.

 

Speaking of Fads…

All photographers should evaluate their recent images and think about what they have produced that is simply a fad, and what was produced using standard artistic techniques. The fact is, fad photography isn’t enduring — once the fad goes out of style, your work becomes less relevant, and no photographer wants that.

So look at your work and be honest. Are there things like selective coloring, crazy angles, washed-out colors or other gimmicks? Sometimes these tricks do work to make a photograph interesting, but more often than not, they are designed to be what is currently popular but not necessarily enduringly popular. I can’t state it enough: If you rely on a fad too much, it can become a part of your style, but once that fad goes out of style, so too will your artwork.

Of course, when you are examining yourself as a photographer, there will be a lot to look at. Certainly, you may not be able to pick out all of the habits that have evolved over the years. When in doubt, look for outside critique and take it to heart. No matter how you learn these introspective lessons, they are incredibly valuable lessons to learn.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) composition examination fads. folktales gear introspection legends lenses lighting photographer rumors selective coloring https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/8/self-examination-as-a-photographer Wed, 03 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Don't Forget to Experience Life as You Pursue Art https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/dont-forget-to-experience-life-as-you-pursue-art

If you’re like me — or if you are even the slightest bit serious about photography as a hobby or a career — then photography becomes the reason why you do things. It can be an all-consuming thing. You’ll find yourself planning trips around photography. Instead of visiting a natural wonder simply for the joy of seeing it, you go so that you can look for the photographs.

While you are there, are you enjoying the scenery? Or are you setting up equipment, taking photos and wondering how you’ll process and print them?

As you can see, the things that you do for fun quickly become a quest to make art and nothing more. Would you go on all of these trips if you weren’t a photographer? If you are like most non-photographers, you would likely travel and explore less often. Photography becomes the reason to do these things, and the sheer joy of the experience becomes secondary.

It is easy to get wrapped up, not only in the pursuit of art, but also in the mechanical aspects of photography. When you’re out taking photographs, you are focused. You’ve set yourself a goal to bring home wonderful images, and to that end, you are busy composing, searching for details, checking camera settings and mulling over the quality of the light. As you’re doing this, you forget to actually experience the world around you. It simply doesn’t occur to you to put the camera down, look, breathe and exist as one with your surroundings.

Here is an example: I recently had the privilege of traveling to my hometown to take photographs of waterfalls. Now, you’ve probably seen it in the news. West Virginia has recently experienced flooding of near unimaginable proportions. The waterfalls that I was photographing were powerful, dangerous beasts.

I could have simply gone about my business and photographed the waterfalls in whatever way I saw fit at the time. But I didn’t. Instead, I spent time just watching the raging water while experiencing the raw power of God's creation. The experience was amazing, and I feel that simply being there and looking, without taking hundreds of photos, helped me focus on my surroundings.

That’s not to say that you have to skip the photographs entirely. But when you do visit an area that inspires you, do what I did and take the time to become a part of your surroundings. Then, with your improved understanding and heightened emotion, you’ll be able to take better photographs.

So, why is it that placing yourself within your surroundings is so important? And how, exactly, do you, in our fast-paced world, immerse yourself? I have a couple of thoughts, which I will share with you.

Life is Too Short

Imagine the person that goes to a concert, smartphone held high to record every minute of the action. What does that person end up with? A recording that they may never watch, and a lesser experience at the concert because they spent less time enjoying it and more time working. After all the money this person spent to go to the concert, and all of the excitement leading up to it, they come away with an experience that was less than perfect, which is especially tragic when you consider the fact that there are only so many concerts one can reasonably attend in a lifetime.

Learn from this example. Don’t be the photographer that always removes him or herself from the moment in order to coldly calculate how best to take pictures. Life is too short, so always remember to take at least a little bit of time to experience the wonders that you are photographing.

 

Complete Immersion Makes Better Images

Placing yourself into the moment and truly immersing yourself in your surroundings might be the best way — or, possibly the only way — to truly get a sense of the art that you might find. The reason for this is simple: By immersing yourself, you can really get a sense of all the details around you, from the insects crawling through the foliage to the clouds in the sky.

One exercise that I recommend is one that is sometimes taught to new photographers. To do this exercise, pick a spot. It could be anywhere — a forest, a national park, an urban area or even your own backyard. The location doesn’t matter, and in fact, sometimes, it is helpful if the location is somewhat mundane so that you can understand the idea that beauty is everywhere.

Once you’ve found your location, find a nice spot to sit down. Spend an hour or more just observing, listening and looking. Smell the scents that are on the breeze, listen for the sound of wind, birds or vehicles passing in the distance. Pay close attention to all of the little details, be it the way the grass bends in the breeze, or how sunlight plays in the trees. You won’t need to concentrate hard. Just be there, taking it all in.

Once you’ve had that chance to truly live and breathe in your surroundings, then you can use what you’ve seen, heard and felt to take a few pictures.

Think about it this way: How can you create a photograph that reflects the scent of flowers or the sound of trickling water? You’ll only know the answer to that question once you’ve taken the time to be a part of the world that you are photographing.

Perhaps as photographers, we are too detached from the world that we live in. We look at everything with an eye that is tuned to search for the photos in our surroundings. Maybe this is why we struggle to find the beauty around us. It could very well be that we just haven’t taken enough time to stop, enjoy ourselves and experience life before we attempt to photograph it.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Experience West Virginia enjoyment hobby immersion photography photography trip professional waterfalls https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/dont-forget-to-experience-life-as-you-pursue-art Wed, 27 Jul 2016 10:00:00 GMT
The Artists of World War II (The Ghost Army) https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/wwii-artists The Artists That Fought in WWIIThe Artists That Fought in WWIIThe Artists That Fought in WWII
Did you know there was a army of artists during WWII named the Ghost Army? It was a troop of special forces with a unique mission that helped the allies get the better of Hitler in one of the most creative ways. This is their story.

 

The Ghost Army of WWII

The men of the Ghost Army were members of the U.S. Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. They were no different than other men in the war. They had no special strength or skills beyond the ordinary soldier. But, what they did was completely extraordinary.

Their mission was first made known to other allies just after the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. This was when a couple of French citizens riding bicycles happened upon them. The soldiers were turning a 40-ton Sherman tank in place, something that was not easy to do without attracting notice. Yet, they were working quite stealthily. The French bicyclists were amazed, and when they questioned the Americans about what they were doing, a member of the troop simply told them the Americans were quite strong.

The members of the 23rd were hand chosen for their unique non-combat-related skills, as this mission would take abilities not usually prized in soldiers. The 1,100 members of the troop were made up of artists, illustrators, sound specialists, and radio experts. They were specially chosen directly from art schools in New York and Philadelphia in January of 1944. Their unusual mission was to trick the enemy into thinking the Americans had a larger force and more powerful weapons than they did. They would do this with hand-made inflatable tanks, fake radio transmissions, and sound equipment blasting the recordings of the sounds of assembling troops.

While most of the other allies, including other American troop units, did not know about the Ghost Army until decades after the war, the 23rd is credited with more than 20 missions and with saving between 15,000 and 30,000 lives. They worked stealthily in the background, keeping their mission secret, and performed practical wonders with their illusions. Their anonymity while doing real good for the allied cause is the reason they are called the Ghost Army. The existence of the 23rd and its mission was only officially confirmed in the April 1985 issue of Smithsonian Magazine, when an illustrator for the magazine, who was once a member of the Ghost Army, told his story. The U.S. Army and other members of the Ghost Army corroborated his tale.

While deception in war is nothing new (the Trojan Horse of the Trojan War is an excellent early example of this), the Ghost Army took it to a whole new level, setting up what may likely be the world’s first multimedia combat deception. Not only was it a multimedia experience, it was portable, so the 23rd could take it on the road with them. They set up inflatable tanks, then set up their speakers fifteen miles away from them, blasting the noises of assembling troops, to give the illusion that a large regiment was setting up nearby. With their decoy radio transmissions, the Axis troops and leaders fell for it nearly every time. The actions of the Ghost Army often caused Axis troops to back down before a battle even began.

The Ghost Army was involved with a lot of action in WWII. During their downtime, they sketched. Members of the Ghost Army are credited with producing over 500 sketches of everyday scenes in France and other places in Europe during the war, capturing the stories of the everyday people caught up in it. In this capacity, they served as chroniclers of average people, whose stories often got lost amid the tales of heroic soldiers. Thanks to the Ghost Army and their sketches, these people’s stories can be told and remembered by history. We know a lot about how WWII affected everyday civilian citizens in Europe thanks to the Ghost Army.

The members of the 23rd not only had to keep their mission secret from the enemy, they had to keep it secret from the rest of the U.S. army. Their isolation from other units enabled them to have time to make those sketches, as they were not always needed with their unique skills, and only had each other to talk to. When they traveled, they usually pretended to be members of other units, even going so far as to decorate their trucks with the insignia of other units, or sew fake badges onto their uniforms. This allowed them to keep their mission and identity a secret in places they spent their time when they were off duty.

While the Ghost Army was involved with a lot of other missions, their most important one was near the end of the war. The American army was getting set up to cross the Rhine river to go deeper into Germany. The 23rd was tasked with luring the Germans away from the area. The members of the Ghost Army posed as members of the 30th and 79th divisions, and, with their special equipment and set-up, convincingly made a troop of 1,100 men appear to be a troop of 30,000.

The mixing of real tanks with the inflatable ones of the Ghost Army, the Americans appeared to be an imposing force about to slash its way across Germany, taking anything in its path that got in its way. The fake army was so convincing that American pilots attempted to land next to them. The Germans, knowing they could not match an army of this size, did not put up any resistance to the Americans crossing the Rhine. The Americans easily crossed the river and occupied its banks, and the 23rd received a commendation for this incredibly successful mission.

Many members of the Ghost Army went on to have careers in the arts after the war. And, as those who were involved have said, they were forced to keep the real nature of their mission secret from even their wives and children for decades until documents about the mission became declassified. Even now, those who were part of the Ghost Army say there is still much more tale of its adventures left to tell.

Read More:

 

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) army artists artists WWII ghost army the 23rd army https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/wwii-artists Wed, 20 Jul 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Why Do We Make Photographs? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/why-do-we-make-photographs

What are our motivations for making photographs? If you ask around, among friends and neighbors, you’ll quickly find that many photographers harbor dreams of making money or becoming known for their art. But are those the right reasons for creating photographs?

I don’t think they are. Sure, a photographer of reasonable skill can make a living with photography, but will you make millions? The chances of that are very, very slim. Just as slim are the chances that a photographer will go on to become a household name.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have dreams. But sometimes, it is better to think of photography as something other than a path to fame and fortune. Perhaps we should be making art for art’s sake, or maybe even to pay the bills, but not with the goal to become rich and famous. After all, such a pursuit can take a bit of the joy out of the art.

So, if not for fame and money, then why do we make photographs? There are many reasons, as I’ll outline below.

 

Photography is Fun!

Photography is a never-ending learning process, and it has so many small steps that go into the creation of the actual image. From brainstorming ideas all the way to making the prints, photographers should enjoy most, if not all, of these steps. Even though there are other reasons to take pictures, the fun of it all should be reason enough to be a photographer.

 

Photography Challenges You

Life without challenging aspects would be bland. As I mentioned above, there is a lot to learn about photography. Even experts are still learning and growing, and that, in and of itself, is a challenge.

However, a larger challenge exists, and that is the challenge of producing an art-worthy photograph. Many photographers become discouraged when shot after shot just doesn’t seem good enough. However, I view this in a different way. Sure, a majority of photographs aren’t perfect. It is a challenge to create a photograph that is perfect, and once you’ve met that challenge, the reward feels so much sweeter because of all the hard work that you’ve put in.

 

Expand Your Imagination

When you think of something unimaginative — like an uninspired meal, or some other bland thing — you realize something. Unimaginative objects are boring. In the same way, an unimaginative life can be boring.

Photography forces you to break away from that dull, unimaginative lifestyle. Everywhere that you go, you’ll find yourself thinking, photographing and creating. What’s more, we can’t all travel to exotic locales to take photographs that defy the imagination. So, we must make do with the surroundings that we have, and that requires a broad imagination in order to create new and interesting photographs. By necessity, your imagination will expand, which is never a bad thing.

 

Photography Encourages Exploration

In this day and age, when it seems like almost everything has already been discovered, photography offers you a way to keep on exploring and discovering beautiful new things. It is one thing to go out and look at the world but it is quite another to go out with camera in hand, looking for all the beautiful minutiae that can be turned into beautiful photographs. When you take an interest in photography, you’ll soon find that ordinary, everyday photographs will never do. You’ll need to become an explorer to find the hidden aspects of ordinary subjects and capture them with your camera.

 

Photography is Something You Can Share

With this, I’m not talking about sharing your photos on Instagram or Facebook — although you certainly can, if you like. When I talk about photography as an easily shared medium, what I mean is that you can make prints or put albums together. Then, when family or friends visit, you can share your art with them. The thing about photography is that just by existing, and being in a place where everyone can see it, it is something that people are naturally drawn to. So, when you hang those images on your wall, you won't even need to ask for people to look at them. They'll be drawn to your art simply because it is interesting and they are naturally drawn to it.

Those aren’t the only places to share your photography, however. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, try entering local, regional or national photo contests. Join a photography club and share your work with your peers. Submit your best images to galleries, magazines, newspapers or other publications. Once you start sharing your work to a wider audience, you’ll soon see that the possibilities for spreading your artistic ideas are endless.

 

Photography is Your Life, in Images

You can always keep a record of your life by writing a journal or a memoir. But these things just cannot compare to a record of your life in images. Not only did you experience a wide variety of interesting things, but you have the photographs to prove it. These images not only tell the story of your life, but they tell it in an easily accessible way. It is something that your children, their grandchildren and anyone else can look at and immediately understand what you experienced.

Even if photography isn’t something that you share — and I highly recommend that you do share it — then it is something that you’ll always be able to look back on. Imagine, 20 or 30 years in the future, being able to not only imagine the things that you experienced earlier in life, but being able to experience those things all over again through the photographs that you have taken.

As you can see, there are many, many reasons to be a photographer. The reason that so many of us take photographs isn’t solely the idea that we’ll become rich or famous. Instead, we do it because we enjoy photography and everything that comes along with it.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photography art challenging experiences exploration fun images imagination memoir photographs https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/why-do-we-make-photographs Wed, 13 Jul 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Is Photography Becoming Cheap and Meaningless? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/cheap-meaningless-photography Is Photography Becoming Cheap and Meaningless?Is Photography Becoming Cheap and Meaningless?Is Photography Becoming Cheap and Meaningless?


Are we losing the ability to create photographs that have lasting value? What I mean by this is that at times, I fear it is becoming ever more difficult to create a purely artistic photograph that becomes iconic based only on the merits of the photographer who created that photograph.

The simple fact of the matter is that when you look around at today’s most famous photographs, so many of them are images that have some kind of celebrity to them. These images are famous not necessarily because of their artistic quality, but because they’re of a famous person or a famous event like a battle or a gathering of some sort.

At the same time, I can’t help but compare these famous images to famous paintings. Although some paintings feature celebrity of some kind, many more are simple scenes or paintings of people who aren’t necessarily even real, let alone famous. You can look at hundreds of paintings by many, many great painters, including modern painters, and the subject material isn’t famous, but the work is valued as thought-provoking art.

Could this be because photography is imagined as a disposable medium? To a non-photographer, our art seems easy. Press the shutter button and there you have it — a piece of artwork that took you very little time to imagine and create. This perception isn’t helped by the fact that almost everyone in the modern world has a camera, at the very least a cellphone camera, and it is very easy for anyone to snap images of mildly interesting objects or events.

Further compounding the issue is the fact that not everyone has the time, patience or desire to learn how to manipulate mediums such as watercolors or oil paints. Everyone, however, can learn how to press a shutter button. The result of this ease of use is a literal deluge of photos from millions, possibly billions of people, both photographers and non-photographers alike. The overwhelming majority of these images are things that are mildly interesting at the moment, or things that are interesting only to a very small group of people such as a family or a group of friends. All of these mildly interesting images, with their limited appeal, serve to give everyone the notion that the entire art form isn’t one with lasting value. That it is, in fact, a cheap and disposable medium.  

 

What Causes Us to Perceive Photography as Cheap?

If we are looking to point fingers, there are many directions in which we could look. However, I feel that there are two main factors that cause us to disregard photography as serious art. The first is something that you could call the “Instagram Effect.”

For many, the point of photography is not to create an enduring image — one that appeals to a wide variety of people no matter where or when that photo was taken. Instead, the goal is to take as many images as possible so you can throw them up online and share them with friends, family and acquaintances. You’ll get a few “likes,” a few comments, and then the moment is over and the photograph forgotten.

Instagram, in fact, is a prime example of the way we tend to treat photography nowadays. I’ve heard people tell new photographers to go to Instagram and look at the art you find there. But can you really consider Instagram or other online sharing websites as “looking at art?” I’m not saying you won’t find beautiful photographs there — photographs that are worthy of a museum wall, even.

What I am saying is that this kind of atmosphere poses two problems: First, you’ll need to sift through dozens, hundreds or thousands of snapshots to find exceptional images. And secondly, you don’t experience the photograph in the same way that you would at a museum. Online, you hit a “like” button and move on, whereas at a museum or gallery, you are encouraged to gaze at the photograph and take in all of the details until you are satisfied with the experience. All of this fast clicking, looking and liking only serves to deepen the impression that photography is a fast, disposable and subpar medium.

Trends, to my mind, are the second huge issue that tends to make people assume that photography is cheap. Right now, a popular trend that I’ve been seeing are photos that are made to look old-fashioned, usually with washed out pastel colors, often depicting an old sign, a rusty chair, a battered book, a country scene or something similar. Simply go to Etsy.com and search for photography — you’ll quickly see what I mean.

The problem with trends like these is just that — they are trends. If you follow trends, then you are not creating something original. You are instead taking the easy way, which is to get those quick, trendy images that people will like all up until the next trend rolls around.

Water Lilies (Monet series)Water Lilies (Monet series)Water Lilies (Monet series)

Water Lilies, 1920–1926

Again, I have to look at famous paintings as an example. Look at Monet’s Water Lilies series. These paintings aren’t currently trendy. Water lilies weren’t a trend in Monet’s day, either. Neither was Impressionism, especially considering that Monet himself was one of the first to develop this style. And you know what else? When Monet’s work and the work of other Impressionists made its way to the art scene, it was widely hated. Critics cried out that the paintings looked unfinished or sketchy. But today, Monet and his contemporaries are famous — and will always be famous — because they dared to break with the trends and create something that no one else had done before.

 

What Are the Solutions?

I’ve established that photography is an endangered art form, that the cheapening of photography will eventually lead to it being extraordinarily difficult for any photographer to be taken seriously as an artist — unless, that is, the photographer creates an image of something or someone famous. So how do we fix this?

We must start by taking our art seriously. We need to recognize that there is, in fact, a problem and that the only way to correct that problem is for we, as photographers, to start treating our art with the dignity that it deserves.

Another thing that we can do is to collect artistic photographs from the photographers that we admire. Purchase original prints, hang them throughout your home and enjoy them, just as you would an expensive Renaissance painting. Not only does this prove that photography does have value as art, but it also sets an example to the friends and family that see you enjoying your collection of photographs. Perhaps they, too, will follow your lead and start to enjoy photography as high art also.

Finally, value your work through your actions as a photographer. Treasure your camera just like any artisan or artist treasures the tools of their trade. Don’t make decisions lightly. Weigh each choice as you compose the images, process them, have them printed, matted and framed. When you take special care to produce quality art, others will value it more, too.

Art isn’t easy or cheap. It was never meant to be. It is only through the hard work and vision of the artist that the art becomes an icon. If we, as photographers, want to ensure the longevity of our work, then we need to be the first to give photography the emphasis that it deserves.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) art artist celebrity cheap etsy impressionism instagram monet painter photography snapshot https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/7/cheap-meaningless-photography Wed, 06 Jul 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Thought Exercises that Give You a New Way to Think, See and Photograph https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/see-and-photograph Thought Exercises that Give You a New Way to Think, See, and PhotographThought Exercises that Give You a New Way to Think, See, and PhotographThought Exercises that Give You a New Way to Think, See, and Photograph


The way we think is not just happenstance. In actuality, most of our thought patterns are deeply ingrained. I wake up every morning, knowing how to get a cup of coffee, get dressed and get ready for the day without having to really think about how or why I do these things. The same goes for a lot of the rest of your life — even if you are actively thinking about something or trying to solve a problem, chances are, you’ll use the same logical thought patterns that have worked for you in the past.

For the most part, this is a good thing because it means that you don’t have to relearn how to live each and every day. But, when it comes to creativity, like photography, these thought patterns can become a major hindrance because they don’t really allow for new ways of doing things.

To break out of these patterns, you’ll need to start approaching your art from totally different angles. One great way to do this is to make unusual combinations. You probably remember, as a child in science class, mixing baking soda and water. It’s an unusual combination — one, a liquid, an acid, the other a solid, a base. But combining these two things results in a violent chemical reaction that has fascinated people for decades.

Making unusual combinations in photography is similar to this. Eventually, you’ll land on the right formula and that is where the magic happens. Read on, and I’ll show you some exercises that will help you make discover those unusual, art-worthy combinations.

 

Telling Stories Through a Series of Images

Groups of images that tell a story are a popular thing to do among photographers, so this one sounds almost like a no-brainer. But, I’m not asking you to create the typical series of images. Instead, what I’m asking you to do is to create a series of wholly unrelated images that still unite to tell a story. The best way to go about this is to pull unrelated images from your archives, but if you just don’t have an image that you’d really like to add to the collection, of course, you can go out and create a new one.

As I’ve said, the point of this exercise is to make unusual combinations. So, for instance, you don’t want to make a series comprised of photos from different sports games. Instead, choose photos with unrelated subject material — a tree, a car, a person and so on. Find relationships between each different subject or each different photo, and use those relationships to tell a story of your own. As you do this, you’ll start asking yourself, “How does this tree relate to that person?” or “How does a car relate to a basketball?” In the answers, you’ll find art.

 

Create Conflict Between Themes

Another great way to combine the unusual is to combine unusual themes. Now, many photographers have already done similar, which is why you’ll quite often find photos illustrating such things as nature versus the industrial or young versus old. For this exercise, if you know that a pair of themes happens to be common, I’d recommend steering clear of those themes and instead focus on two unrelated themes of your own choosing. Perhaps something like nature versus sports or architecture versus food. As with the first exercise, you’ll want to search for the relationships between these uncommonly paired themes in order to find the photograph.

 

Choose a Word and Let It Guide You

This is one of my favorite exercises. All you need to do is choose a word — any word, your favorite word, a word that caught your eye in the dictionary, or a word chosen for you randomly. Then, write that word down on a card and put it in your camera bag so that every time you reach for your camera, you’re reminded of the word. Whenever you go out, take pictures that represent the word to you.

As an example, let’s say you chose the word “strength.” What does strength mean to you? Is it a mighty tree or a centuries-old bridge that people still use today? Maybe it is a powerful horse charging through a pasture or a chunk of iron that rusts but refuses to break. Whatever your chosen word is, you’ll certainly find a variety of things that seem unrelated, but in reality, are all united in that they represent the meaning of your chosen word. And again, as with the other exercises, this shows you how to build a connection between things that people normally wouldn’t connect.

 

Make a Connection Between Photography and Writing

The final way that I would suggest for you to make combinations is a bit different from the other three suggestions. If you’re up for it, combine photography and writing. You can do this in one of two ways: Either take a photo and write about it, or do some creative writing and then search for photos to match. I tend to prefer the second method simply because once the writing is done, you’ll be forced to look in unusual places for a matching image.

When it comes to the actual writing, it could be anything — there is no need to limit yourself to one genre or one type of writing. Write a poem or prose, write an essay, short or long, or make haikus. The whole point is to get you to expand your creativity in an organic way so that you can break away from any rigid thought patterns that may be holding you back.

 

For so many aspects of our lives, thought patterns are necessary and that is why it can be such a difficult thing to overcome when it comes to creativity. Use one or all of these exercises — and repeat them as many times as you like — and you’ll soon find yourself putting wonderful ideas together!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) combinations conflict creativity grouping photography series themes thought words writing https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/see-and-photograph Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography, #4: Learning to be Comfortable as a Photographer https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-4 Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 4Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 4Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 4


Over the past three posts, we’ve gone over many of the things that you need to show a child about using a camera and composing images. But, as always, there is still more to learn. This week, I’m going to show you something more abstract. In a nutshell, I’ll show you some ways to encourage the child to keep on learning, even after your lessons are done.

 

Learning to be Comfortable as a Photographer

The greatest challenge that any child will face is not one of photography, but the challenge of fitting in. Whether they’re at school or at play with their friends, every child wants to do what the other kids are doing so that they’re not labeled as an outcast. Carrying a camera along on field trips, to amusement parks or even on a trip to a local fair with their friends can make a kid feel like they don’t quite fit in with anyone else.

Of course, we older photographers know that this feeling fades with age and in fact, photography becomes something to be proud of — an art that we can share to brighten the lives of our friends and family. For the child that is afraid to be different, this is the challenge. To show him or her that their interest isn’t “nerdy,” but instead something that they should be proud to do. Help your child to be confident in their art, and you’ll see that photography becomes something that they’ll love to share with their friends, rather than something that sets them apart from whatever other kids might be doing. Who knows, your child’s confidence and enjoyment may even inspire some of their friends to pick up photography, too!

 

Always at the Ready

Chances are, when a child is comfortable taking photos around his or her friends or schoolmates, then they’ll want to have a camera around all the time so that they don’t miss out on any opportunities. This is an attitude that should definitely be encouraged because we all know that the more photos you take, the more you’ll learn and grow.

Does this mean that you should send your child on field trips or outings with a highly expensive DSLR and lens kit? That choice is up to you, or the parents of the child. If you’re like most parents, the answer is likely no because even though you may trust the child to be responsible with the equipment, there are still too many ways that it can get lost, broken or stolen. Still, you’ll want the child to keep learning and growing, so what should you do? Here are some options:

 

  • Purchase the child a smartphone to use as a camera while they’re out with friends.
     
  • Invest in an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera that they can use. Nowadays, brands such as Nikon and Canon make wonderful little point-and-shoot cameras that are much less expensive than the majority of DSLR kits.
     
  • Purchase an older DSLR kit. The thing about photography is that as each new generation of equipment is released, the older generations drop in price. It is relatively easy to find outdated DSLR kits for a small fraction of the cost of a current kit. Best of all, most of these older cameras and lenses are still perfectly serviceable. They might offer more noise at high ISO settings and they may not have other details like a bulb setting, but they’ll still take beautiful pictures in most, if not quite all, situations.

 

It seems like the purchase of an inexpensive “beater” camera is so that you and your child don’t feel so bad if something happens to the camera, but in actuality, there is another, larger lesson to be taught here. You see, the gear doesn’t make the photographer. The gear makes the photographer’s life slightly easier, but it is the photographer’s vision and knowledge that creates beautiful photographs. An inexpensive camera that the child can use while away from your watchful eye will help you to reinforce this lesson.

 

Learning to be Comfortable with People

It’s one thing to be comfortable enough that you can conspicuously carry your camera everywhere you go, but it is quite another to be so comfortable that you can ask perfect strangers to take their photo. And, if your child is not taking photos of people, then they’re missing out on a large sector of photography — one that they could potentially turn into a livelihood someday.

This thought takes me back to a college photography class that I took. One assignment was to take photos of people. Not sneaky, surreptitious photos, but to actually walk up to a stranger and ask them if I could take a photograph of them. This was an invaluable lesson because not only did I learn about photographing people, but it also helped me to overcome the fear and embarrassment of asking a stranger for a photograph.

This is a great exercise that you can do with your kids to get them over any fear of taking photographs of people. Next time you’re at the park or out and about, ask your child to take someone’s photo. You can even ask the subject for an email address to send them copies of the images.

The key thing to remember here is to always be safe. Make sure your child knows that it is never safe to speak to strangers if you aren’t able to supervise them!

 

This is the end of the lessons that I have to give, but it is certainly not the end of the learning process. Keep encouraging your child to take more photos, read about photography and study their own work and that of photographers that they admire. You may even look for local, regional and state photo contests that they can enter. Above all else, do everything you can to make sure your child keeps learning well into adulthood and beyond!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) DSLR Photographer camera learning people permission photography point-and-shoot portraits pride smartphone https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-4 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 06:12:59 GMT
Old Car City: When Nature and Old Cars Collide, It Makes Something Beautiful https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/old-car-city Old Car City, White GeorgiaOld Car City, White GeorgiaOld Car City, White Georgia

If you love old cars and nature, why not blend the two with a visit to Old Car City in White, Georgia. One of the most unique places you will ever visit, Old Car City has the largest known collection of classic cars in a junkyard in the world. The cars are scattered throughout the yard, and nature has been allowed to come in and do its thing amongst them. It is as if a forest has grown and sprouted old cars with it as part of the vegetation. With hundreds of cars and plenty of classic Old South greenery to explore, Old Car City is a place you won't soon forget.

Old Car City began as a car dealership in 1931. It is still owned and operated by the same family who started the original dealership. The mission and purpose of the space has just changed, even as the cars have stayed. Located an hour's drive north of Atlanta, Old Car City is 34 acres of something special.

There are over 4,200 cars at Old Car City, all scattered amongst the forest that is part of the attraction. All of the cars are 1972 models or older. Some of the cars are genuine rare antiques, going back to the earliest days of the auto industry itself. The way the cars keep their dignity while being allowed to become part of the landscape is something you won't find anywhere else. It is truly a junkyard that can honestly be described as beautiful.

Old Car City is a junkyard museum. How many other places can you think of that have the same designation? Even if you can think of other junkyard museums, do any of them specialize in old cars? Likely not. Old Car City is something unto itself entirely, and an idea that is both imaginative and inspiring.

Owner Walter Dean Lewis inherited the car dealership from his parents, and slowly began to grow his collection of classic cars on the lot in the 1970's. He has many rare models there today, from a 1941 Mack milk truck (a true automobile rarity) to several 1950's-era Cadillacs with large fins like you see in movies from the time period. Lewis says he was brought up on cars and trucks, and never knew anything else. He kept many of the cars that came to his lot, thinking that one day they would be valuable. He was right in that regard. Many of the cars on his lot are worth a fortune in today's collector's market. Some might not be available for viewing by the public anywhere else, because the other models that exist are all kept carefully hidden in the garages and other storage facilities belonging to those wealthy collectors. At Old Car City, the unique and valuable models are available for everyone to see and enjoy.

While Old Car City has been developing as a museum for some time, Lewis kept selling auto parts from the location until about six years ago. It was then he realized just how popular the museum portion of his business had become, and thought it could be self-supporting as that alone. With that in mind, he stopped selling auto parts and just operated the museum. He charges $15 a person for regular visitors, and $25 for people who want to take photographs. The place is so unique in its appearance that Lewis estimates about 95 percent of the people who come there are there to take photographs, and don't mind paying the extra money in admission fees. With six miles of trails in the woods that are filled with rare and interesting car discoveries to explore, it is worth it to anyone who wants some good photographs to use in their own personal collection. In fact, the photographs you can take here will make excellent family memories, particularly if you bring the kids and/or grandkids and photograph them exploring and enjoying the cars (and the forest).

Lewis has added a little ambience to the place to make it seem more like the museum it is. He has artwork of various kinds up on walls, as well as amusing hand-painted signs and foam cups. Once in awhile, he gets his childhood friend, Eddie McDaniel, to play blues piano music by a shotgun and bear mounted to a wall as visitors enter the property.

Some of the cars on the lot have not moved from the spots they are in during the past thirty to forty years. During that time, trees have grown around and through the cars, and have even lifted some of them off the ground. Other cars have been turned into gigantic flower pots with colorful blossoms sticking out of them. When you look at the way the trees have mingled with the cars, the whole lot truly does become one large work of art.

Lewis looks at his car collection as a slice of history. When other people were discarding these cars for scrap metal, he was saving them. And he loves what he does. Being able to look at and work with old cars every day is truly Lewis's life's calling. He says he can't imagine doing anything else.

People do love the history associated with the cars at Old Car City. One of the most popular cars on the lot among visitors is a 1946 Ford truck that actually appeared in a movie. The movie was called "Murder in Coweta County," and was a 1983 movie that starred Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith. You don't find cars like that just anywhere.

The property itself is a piece of history. Lewis's parents bought the land that would become their car lot back when there was no electricity or paved roads in the area. They initially sold gas for 19 cents a gallon, and apples for a penny each. Once they earned some money, they bought an old junk car, then a second one. Soon, they had a car lot where they fixed up and sold junk cars. It was here that Lewis was born... in a junkyard. Being around these cars is bred into him from his very beginning.

Lewis spent his childhood playing with the cars on the lot, pretending to drive them all over the planet without leaving his parents' property. When he graduated high school, he worked for a while as a truck terminal manager, but then started buying junk cars to bring home to his parents so they could fix them up and sell them, or sell the parts. Over the years, he brought more than 4,000 cars to his parent's lot. Their lot soon became famous in the area, and they had many loyal customers. Even people who had never been there had heard of the family business in the town of White.

Lewis eventually inherited the family business from his parents, and as many of the older cars that hadn't moved in decades began to rust and merge with the forest that surrounded the lot, he began to see the place as more than a car lot. He saw it as a place to preserve automobile history... a museum.

His intuition was correct. People love Old Car City, and flock to it from all over the world. He has had visitors from as far away as Thailand, and as unlikely as Sweden. Even people who live in Detroit, the home of the automobile, travel to Old Car City. They come to see antique cars that even the birthplace of cars doesn't have anymore. But, those cars have a happy home at Old Car City.

And, Lewis knows every car on the lot intimately. He should. After all, he bought most of them. He rarely trades anything in, because he knows those cars have historical value, as well as value with collectors. He even still has the car his dad bought for him and his wife right after they got married. After she was done driving it, it became part of Old Car City.

While most of the thousands of cars there are just for observation and photography as museum exhibits, there are about half a dozen that Lewis has restored, and are technically for sale. There are no price tags on them. Lewis says he would sell them for the right price, whatever that may be. But he is quite attached to his cars. He hasn't actually sold any for years, and it seems unlikely he would really let any of them leave Old Car City now, even if the price was right.

Lewis has a strong belief in the righteousness of what he's doing. When some critics claimed he was letting good historical cars rot away in the woods, he proudly exclaimed that he was giving those cars a second life, and a way to be remembered through the pictures visitors take of them. The museum is a living auto show for the generations as far as Lewis is concerned, and that is how most visitors view it, too. He is preserving cars that might otherwise be scrapped or hidden from view. He is giving his visitors a real look at the history of cars, and it is one they can get up close and personal. Touching and interacting with the cars at Old Car City is encouraged. Children love to play on and around them. Rather than look at it as a graveyard for old cars, Lewis and his visitors see it as a happy place where those cars can be enjoyed as they were meant to be.

Old Car City is a perfect place to go to see automobile history in an intimate way. It's open rain or shine. Bring your camera and get ready to enjoy the natural setting of Georgia mixed with some of the most beautiful and intriguing antique cars you'll ever see. It's a visit to a unique place you will never forget.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 


 

We took over 3,000 photos during our visit.
It will take my wife and I several months to go through them all.
Here are a few . . . Click on an image to view it in full screen.
I hope you enjoy them.

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) old car city old car city museum old car city pictures old car city white georgia https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/old-car-city Fri, 17 Jun 2016 05:07:00 GMT
Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography, #3: Learning to Create Art https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-3 Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 3 (Learning to Create Art)Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 3 (Learning to Create Art)Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 3 (Learning to Create Art)

Throughout this series so far, I've touched on a lot of the more technical aspects of photography, but once children have become comfortable with the camera, its settings, and the basic principles of photography, it will be time for them to learn about various camera tricks and the compositional rules that will help them create art. Of course, there is a lot to know about composition and some of the effects that you can create with a camera, but I'll just cover the basics here. This will help you give children a solid foundation on which they can build their art.

 

The Rule of Thirds

This is one of the first compositional rules that young photographers will learn about. Simply put, the Rule of Thirds teaches you to divide the image’s frame into both horizontal and vertical thirds. Then, place important parts of the image, like the horizon line and a tree, on the imaginary “third” lines.

The best way to teach this to a child is to demonstrate with images. Using photo editing software or even prints that you can make marks on, mark out the horizontal and vertical thirds so that the child can see exactly what you mean. If possible, use images that have been taken according to this rule so that you can illustrate your point, which is that images following the Rule of Thirds are typically more interesting and more dynamic than images that are perfectly centered or not composed by any compositional rules.

Once the child understands this rule, have them practice by going out and taking images according to the Rule of Thirds. Remember that composition is a never-ending learning process, so from here out, the best thing that you can do is sit down with the children that you are teaching and critique their compositions. Explain what makes each image work (or not work) and explain the things that they can do to fix their images.

 

Teaching Children About On-Camera Effects

For this next part of the learning phase, a firm grasp on things like shutter speed and aperture are essential. Eventually, every child will ask you how to do special effects, so I'll give you an overview of some of the simpler effects that they'll want to know about — depth of field, motion blur, and manipulation of perspective.

Depth of field is one of those essential effects that every photographer, including beginners, should know. In a nutshell, the wider an aperture is, the narrower the depth of field (or the area that is in focus) becomes. Narrow depths of field can accomplish many things, such as isolating a subject or creating pretty background blurs that complement the foreground.

The easiest way to teach children how to make use of narrow depths of field is to simply try it. Make a series of images with progressively wider apertures to illustrate how the area of focus gets narrower each time. As you take the photos, make sure to reinforce the earlier lessons about balancing exposure — the child will need to increase the shutter speed as the aperture widens to make that the images aren't overexposed. Once the child knows how to make images with narrow depths of field, leave the rest up to them. With enough experimentation, they'll certainly figure out creative ways to use a narrow depth of field!

Another technique that children will be interested in is motion blur. By tracking a fast moving subject with the camera, you can blur the background, which gives the impression that the subject is, in fact, moving at high speeds. You'll need to show them how to follow their subjects with the camera, and you’ll also need to teach them how shutter speeds affect motion blur. That is, make sure they know that the faster the shutter speed is, the less blur they'll have. With a fast enough shutter speed, they'll actually be able to freeze the subject, which is another useful trick that children will want to know about.

Finally, there are perspective tricks of all kinds. If you know how to manipulate perspective, then you can make the moon seem much larger than it actually is, you can make faraway things seem nearby, or you can make any number of creative images.

One great way to illustrate perspective tricks is to create an image in which it looks like someone is standing on another person’s hand. For this illustration, you'll need two people. Have one person hold their hand out, palm facing upwards. Have the other person stand in the background, then have the child maneuver until the image appears as if the person in the background is standing on the foreground person’s hand. Then, snap the image, and make prints so that your child always has a reminder of just how powerful perspective can be.

When you have a chance, you may also want to suggest other shots that make use of unique perspectives. For instance, inside your own home, you can take pictures of individual rooms while standing in the center of the room. Then, when you review the prints, make sure to point out how much smaller the rooms feel in the images than in real life. Then, retake those photos by backing up within the room as far as you can, zooming out as much as you can, and getting closer to the ground, just to demonstrate how a change in perspective can make an image of the same subject feel entirely different.

 

There’s one key thing that you'll want to remember about each of the lessons that I've given today: These techniques are a constant learning process. You'll not be able to teach composition and camera tricks in one day, or even one lifetime. Regardless, make sure that you and the children keep building on your skills!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Rule of Thirds aperture composition depth of field dynamic motion blur on-camera effects perspective photography shutter speed https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-3 Wed, 15 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography, #2: Lighting and Intermediate Camera Controls https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-2 Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 2Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 2Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 2

Last week, I talked about some of the most basic things that a child will need to know as they learn how to be a photographer. This week, let’s dive a little deeper into the topic by showing you some of the more advanced things that should be taught next. Some of these advanced topics include lighting, the camera’s shutter speed, aperture and ISO controls. As you go through this lesson, remember that the things I'll be discussing here are a bit more advanced, so make sure that you and the children that you are teaching take plenty of time to learn each lesson thoroughly!
 

Teaching Children How to Make Use of Available Lighting

The first thing that kids will need to know when it comes to light is how to put different kinds of light to work. Whether the child is shooting outside in the sunlight or indoors near a lamp, they'll need to be aware of where the light is coming from and how that will affect their image. In general, when dealing with available lighting, there are four different types that each child will need to learn about:
 

  • Front Lighting: This is when the light source is in front of the subject (coming from behind the photographer). Front lighting lights up a subject very well, but bright front lighting may cause long shadows behind the subject.
     
  • Side Lighting: Side lighting is light that comes from one side of the subject. This type of lighting is often used to add a moody look to a photo because it tends to cast shadows across the front of the subject. Think of it this way: If you take a photograph of a person with the sun to that person’s right side, you'll often find that the left side of that person’s face is shadow because it isn't in direct sunlight.
     
  • Backlighting: Backlighting can be difficult to work with, particularly for children who don't yet understand the intricacies of lighting. A backlit subject is one that is photographed with the light behind the subject. Without fill-flash, this normally results in a dark, shadowy subject or a silhouette if the backlight is bright enough.
     
  • Diffused Lighting: For a beginner, this is the easiest type of lighting to work with. Diffused lighting occurs when the light doesn't appear to be coming from any given direction, such as the light outdoors on an overcast day. Typically, there are few, if any, shadows when you shoot with diffused lighting, but as any advanced photographer knows, you also miss out on the golden quality of sunlight when you shoot on a cloudy day.

 

The best way to help a child master these types of lighting is to instruct them to take photos of the same subject — a parent, for instance — in each type of light. Then, have those photos printed and lay them out so that the child can see the differences in each photo.

As you're teaching children about lighting, you may also want to show them how to use the on-camera flash, too. This is another example of front lighting, which means that it will not only give children a better idea of how lighting works, but it will also help pave the way for the next lesson, which is to learn a bit more about some of the camera’s more advanced controls.

 

Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO

These controls are some of the next most important things to learn about. If you like, you can teach about each one of these controls using the priority modes — shutter priority mode and aperture priority mode. This often simplifies the learning process so that the child learns about each different control separately, allowing them to put all of this information together later on.

I recommend shutter speed as the first control to teach because I feel that it is the easiest concept to understand. To teach shutter speed, instruct the child to take photographs at faster and slower shutter speeds to show them how the slower speeds produce brighter images while the faster speeds produce darker images. Once the child sees this, then you can explain that the shutter speed is simply a measurement of the amount of time that the camera’s shutter is open. The larger that bottom number of the fraction is, the faster the shutter will move.

When the child has a firm grasp on shutter speeds, move on to the aperture controls. This is a little bit confusing to explain: A wider aperture lets in more light, but wider apertures are notated with smaller numbers. As with the lesson on shutter speed, instruct the child to take a series of images with wide apertures and narrow ones to show them how this affects the brightness or darkness of the photo. There is no need to go into the specifics about depth of field here. Instead, just make sure that the child is comfortable with how both shutter speed and aperture affects the image’s lighting.

The final lesson to teach is about the camera’s ISO setting. Now, this can be a very complex subject, but for now, simply show the child how ISO affects lighting. You don't necessarily need to discuss the technical aspects of how ISO settings affect the camera’s sensor.

The first thing that a child needs to learn about ISO settings are that they are an adjustment that you make as a last resort. Adjust shutter speed and aperture first, leaving the ISO setting on its lowest number. Then, if the picture is still underexposed, you can raise the ISO setting — but be careful, because high ISOs can create a lot of noise. To illustrate this concept, it is a wise idea to take a picture at the camera’s lowest ISO setting and another at the camera’s highest ISO setting so that the child can look at the images and understand how high ISOs degrade picture quality.

 

Photography is a complex art form and there is a lot more to teach, so I will be back next week with the third installment of this series!

 

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) ISO aperture back lighting children diffused lighting flash front lighting photography shutter speed side lighting teaching https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-2 Wed, 08 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography, #1: The Basics https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-1-the-basics Teaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 1, The BasicsTeaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 1, The BasicsTeaching Children the Wonders of Photography: Part 1, The Basics
Photography, like so many other art forms, is a time-honored tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. Perhaps you’d like to teach photography to your own children, or maybe there is a group of children that you work with who find themselves fascinated by photography and wanting to learn more. Either way, when teaching photography to youngsters who may no experience with cameras whatsoever, you’ll need to start from the beginning, with the basics.

Throughout this series, I’ll show you what you’ll need to teach children and the order in which it needs to be taught. Read on for the first part, where I’ll show you the basics that kids will need to start with!
 

Showing Children the Basics of Operating a Camera

No matter what kind of camera your child will be learning with – a DSLR or a point and shoot – you’ll need to show him or her how to hold and use the camera. Here is a quick list of points to cover:

  • Start by showing them how to grip the camera – the left hand firmly gripping the left side, using the camera’s contoured grip, if it has one, and the right hand positioned so that the index finger can easily reach the shutter button or adjust the lens.
     
  • Once they are holding the camera properly, show them some of the things they’ll need to know about operating the camera (removing the lens cap, powering the camera on, and pressing the shutter button to take a photo).
     
  • Finally, show them how to look through the camera’s viewfinder, and make sure to explain that the things they see through the viewfinder will be what the photograph will look like. If your camera has a live view feature, you can also show them how to use this, as well.

For your first foray into photography, you’ll likely want to ignore the finer points of shutter speed settings, aperture, and other details. For now, make sure that the camera is set to the automatic mode so that the child can get a feel for the basics of taking pictures.


Encourage Them to Take Lots of Photos!

SamSamSam Now that the child has a firm grasp on how to use the camera, it is time to let them take photos. Chances are, if you’ve been a photographer for a long time, you started with a film camera. Maybe your mentor told you to be careful about the number of images that you take so as to not waste film. Fortunately, we are now in the digital era, so rather than teaching your child to be conservative about taking photos, let them go wild and encourage them to take as many photos as they like. This will ensure that they get comfortable with the camera’s basic functions before you start teaching more complex lessons.

 

Teaching Children How to Make Interesting Photographs

Once the child has become comfortable with the camera (and hopefully filled up a memory card or two!), now it is time to show them what makes some photos more interesting than others.

One way to do this is to sit down with the child and go over the photographs that he or she has already taken, pointing out the particularly interesting shots as you go along. As you’re pouring over your child’s images, here are some of the things that you can explain:
 

  • If you have a pet, show the child how much more interesting it is to take an image with the pet facing the camera rather than the pet facing away from the camera. The same goes for images of their friends and family.
     
  • When your child is photographing an object – anything from a tree to the family’s car, to their favorite toy – make sure that they know to include the entire object in the frame rather than cutting part of it off.
     
  • If the child hasn’t already done so, you can show them how to take basic landscape images. This shows them how to create images with an interesting foreground, middle and background, and it also shows them how to work with horizon lines.
     

Of course, there are hundreds of small factors that make some photos more interesting than others. As you’re teaching a child to take photos, make sure that you point out as many of these factors as you can think of so that they’ll have a good grasp of what it takes to make an image interesting.

 

Teaching the Basics of Composure

When it comes to composing a photo, there are a lot of things that you can teach while skirting some of the most complex topics like balancing colors and lighting. Start with things like zooming in or out. One of the first things a child should learn is that when you’re photographing a single subject, like a pet, a person, a flower or an insect, the best thing that you can do is to zoom in to capture details like the person or pet’s facial expression or the fine details on a flower or insect.

At the same time, teach children that when they want to zoom out for the bigger picture, it is totally acceptable to do so. Show them how to zoom out or back away so that they can catch a group of people doing some sort of activity, or zoom out to capture a landscape photo that tells a thorough story about the landscape.

Once your child is comfortable with this, you may also want to teach them about the Rule of Thirds and leading lines. These two concepts are simple to grasp, and once your child understands how to lead viewers deep into a frame with leading lines, or how to make an image more dynamic by off-centering subjects and horizon lines, they’ll be well on their way to becoming a more advanced photographer.

 

This post will get you and the children that you are teaching on your way. Next week, I’ll dive deeper into this subject and show you some of the most advanced things that will need to be taught next.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) camera grip composure leading lines lens cap live view operate a camera rule of thirds shutter button shutter release viewfinder zoom in zoom out https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/6/teaching-children-the-wonders-of-photography-part-1-the-basics Wed, 01 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Photography Books That Will Inspire You https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/photography-books Photography Books That Will Inspire You
Photography is as much a learning process as it is an art form. From beginning photographers all the way to world-renowned professionals, we all must set aside time to learn about every aspect of photography. Many go to college to major in arts, others take to the internet to learn what they can. But these aren’t the only resources at your disposal. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of books covering every aspect of photography, many of which are indispensable to photographers of all kinds. Let’s take a look at some of the great photography books that have inspired me and should be on your bookshelf as well!

 

"Understanding Exposure"
by Bryan Peterson

"Understanding Exposure" by Brian Peterson"Understanding Exposure" by Brian Peterson
This book is an absolute must for every photographer. New photographers will find that it covers almost everything they need to get started while experienced photographers thumb the pages of this book to refresh their knowledge. Not only will this book teach you about the basics of photography – aperture, shutter speed and lighting – but it also delves into topics such as composition and special photography techniques. - Get the Book

 

 

"Chasing the Light"
by Ibarionex Perello

"Chasing the Light" by Ibarionex Perello
Chasing the Light is part instructional and part inspirational. You’ll learn not only how to put lighting of all kinds to work, but also how to “see” and compose an image thoughtfully and emotionally. After reading this book, you’ll understand that there is a lot more to photography than just the technical aspects of exposure. - Get the Book

 

 

 

"The Best Camera"
by Chase Jarvis


The full title of this book says it all: The Best Camera: Is the One That’s With You. Here, Chase Jarvis proves that it isn’t all about the gear. Any camera at all can be used to create art. To create this book, Jarvis exclusively used his iPhone’s camera to create profound, inspiring images. - Get the Book

 

 

"LensWork Magazine"
Owned and Edited by Brooks Jensen


This isn’t a book, but a rather a niche magazine that publishes exquisite black and white photography. Even if you don’t dabble in monochrome images, you’ll still find this publication insightful as a gallery of gorgeous photography. In addition to the magazine, you’ll also find thoughtful books and essays by Brooks Jensen as well as an informative podcast. - Get the Magazine

 

"The Digital Photography Book, Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5"
by Scott Kelby


If your medium is digital, then this series of books will answer every digital photography question you might have. In addition, these encyclopedic tomes will provide you with tons of great tips and tricks, and best of all, even though this is an exhaustive four-book series, you’ll find that each word is written in an entertaining, engaging way. - Get the Book

 

 

"The Photographer’s Eye"
by Michael Freeman

"The Photographer’s Eye" by Michael Freeman
It will take time to understand the basics of exposure, but even so, those basics are relatively simple to learn. The hard part is understanding composition. Composition is what separates one amazing photo from another that is only slightly different but somehow manages to be lackluster. The Photographer’s Eye is one of the very few books that goes into excellent detail about what makes composition work. This book is recommended to all photographers, beginners, and experts alike. - Get the Book

 

"How to Photograph Absolutely Everything"
by Tom Ang


This is another great book that covers a broad variety of topics. For those of you that are new to photography, you’ll be able to learn all about exposure and the ins and outs of cameras. However, there is also a lot of value in this book for professionals, too. Are you in an uninspiring location or a situation that doesn’t quite fit with the images that you’d like to create? This book will show you how, as the title implies, to photograph anything in an interesting way. - Get the Book

 

"Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field"
by George Lepp and Kathryn Vincent Lepp

"Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field" by George Lepp and Kathryn Vincent Lepp
All outdoor photographers should read this book at least once. Inside, the authors mix beautiful storytelling with the instructional knowledge to bring you an entertaining and informative read. George Lepp is both an award-winning photographer and an accomplished author, so even if you are not looking for books about outdoor photography, be sure to check out some of the other books that he has written, such as Beyond the Basics Volume I and II. - Get the Book

 

"VisionMongers: Making a Life and Living in Photography"
by David duChemin


There is a world of difference between photography as a hobby and photography as a living. This book was made to help you transition from the world of hobby photography into the world of professional photography. You’ll read the important lessons that David duChemin learned as he became a paid photographer, and you’ll also learn that each photography business is unique in its own way. Choose from among the ideas that duChemin puts forth, and you’ll find it easier to pursue your dream of photography as a career. - Get the Book

 

Of course, there are many more books out there on a variety of photography and business-related subjects – books on portraiture, wedding photography, street photography and much more. However, this sampling of literature will prove helpful no matter what you aspire to do.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) black and white photography composition digital photography exposure iphone lenswork outdoor photography photography photography business portraiture https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/photography-books Wed, 25 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
The Intriguing Bodie Ghost Town Is a Paradise for Photographers https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/The-Bodie-Ghost-Town-in-California-Is-a-Paradise-for-Photographers Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park

While Deadwood may be the most well-known of the lawless, Wild West towns of the mid to late 1800's, it has nothing on Bodie, California when it comes to anarchy and violence. Bodie may not be as well-known as Deadwood, but its story and history are just as interesting. The state of California recognizes this and preserves Bodie as an official ghost town, open for visitors to see what life was like in the Wild West. Unlike Deadwood, which is a tourist attraction today, complete with tourist shops, gambling, hotels, that obscures much of the real history of the town, Bodie is about as pristine as it gets as far as being kept in its original state. Here's what you should know about Bodie, and visit the ghost town it left behind.

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park In 1859, there were four gold prospectors chasing the promise of wealth in the Sierra Nevada mountains. One of these prospectors, W.S. Body, went for supplies in a nearby town and was killed by freezing in a blizzard that struck on his way back to his partners. The camp where these prospectors set up was named after Bodie. The spelling change of his last name comes from a misspelling a sign painter made on the town stables in 1862, and the town has used that spelling for its name ever since.

The original prospectors did find gold in Bodie. This brought in several companies that got land claims and set up mining there.The town flourished until 1868 when the harsh terrain of the area and small gold yields pushed most of the companies away. Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park A few hardy people stayed behind and made their living by digging up small amounts of gold, washing placer gravel, or driving shafts for quartz mines. In 1877, Bodie experienced the first of several resurgences. It was this year that a local mine collapsed and exposed a supply of gold ore so large that wealthy San Francisco speculators invested in the town again. Industrial mining began in the town and produced nearly $800,000 of gold and silver, which richly rewarded stockholders in the company.

The success of the gold mining industry in Bodie sent hundreds of people there hoping to make their own fortunes. Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park They built a town, and two more large deposits of gold ore were discovered in the area of Bodie. The store of gold was believed to be as large as the famous Comstock lode. Even though Bodie had not produced vast amounts of gold, it was enough to get investors from New York involved. The large companies and individual speculators spent huge sums of money in mining. By late 1878, there were twenty-two mines in Bodie.

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park With so many people coming to Bodie, the town soon became one of the wildest in the Wild West. It earned a reputation similar to the famous lawless and violent Old West towns of Deadwood, Tombstone, and Dodge City. Gambling establishments and saloons were the most common public buildings in Bodie. In 1879, there were at least sixty saloons in Bodie, and yet not one single church.

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park Crime was rampant in Bodie during this time. Stagecoach robberies, saloon riots, shootouts, and other incidents of violence were almost daily occurrences in Bodie and made the news more often than news of gold coming out of the mines there. Yet, people kept coming, even bringing their families. A popular story from the town's violent past involves a three-year-old girl from San Jose who, upon learning her family was moving to Bodie, prayed, "Goodbye, God. We are going to Bodie." She believed Bodie to be so dangerous even God did not go there.

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park By the mid-1880's, the town boasted between 7,000 and 8,000 residents, and a Main Street more than a mile long. A local brass band played there, the town had two banks, a Chinatown, and even a red-light district.

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park Bodie continued to operate as a town for another three decades, though with a gradually diminishing population. The estimation of the gold ore to be found there was wildly incorrect. Miners were only finding low-grade ore at the upper levels of mines, not the higher grade ore they hoped to find in the lower levels. The ore they found was not worth the cost of keeping the high technology industrial mines operating. The big companies and a lot of individual citizens left the town, but it continued to support a population of about 800 on the mining of low-grade ore for a few more decades.

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park Bodie had its second resurgence between 1928 and 1931. This was when a handful of high-financed mining companies came in to try new technological methods to reach what was still thought to be a large supply of gold ore below the town. Yet, once again, Bodie was not to become the grand town it imagined, for a fire destroyed most of the downtown area in 1931.

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park Bodie fell into years of neglect after this. It eventually finally came into the luck it had so long imagined in 1962 when California realized it was an almost perfectly preserved example of an Old West mining town. The state took over Bodie and gave it to the stewardship of the state's Department of Parks and Recreation. The remaining buildings were preserved as they were. Today, Bodie belongs to the world, and people from all over can come to it to see what the Wild West really looked like.

Will MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 

Bodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic ParkBodie State Historic Park

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Bodie California Bodie Ghost Town Bodie Mining Town History of Bodie California https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/The-Bodie-Ghost-Town-in-California-Is-a-Paradise-for-Photographers Sat, 14 May 2016 16:06:07 GMT
Here Are the Best Places for Photography in Ohio https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/here-are-the-best-places-for-photography-in-ohio Hocking Hills State Park and ForestHocking Hills State Park and Forest
Ohio has a reputation of being a bland place. Why wouldn’t anyone want to go and photograph the ocean views of California, or go to the Grand Canyon, or photograph the Maine’s iconic fall leaves? Ohio has none of these things!

Now, wait just a minute. I’d like to set the record straight about Ohio. If you know where to go and what to look for, then this state is a photographer’s dream come true. We’ve got it all, from prairie to mountain foothills, scenic natural areas, active urban areas, and on top of that, there is a diverse culture that will let you photograph a variety of ways of life. Here are a few of the spots that I’d recommend that any Ohio photographer checkout!
 

The Great Spangled FritillaryThe Great Spangled Fritillary


Places for Nature Photographers

This state is a natural goldmine, which is perfect for any landscape, nature or wildlife photographer. Make sure to check the following places out:

  • The Mohican State Park: At this Central Ohio state park, you’ll find a variety of things – two waterfalls, lengthy hiking trails, a deep gorge with a scenic overlook, the crystal clear Clearfork of the Mohican River, nearby Pleasant Hill Lake with a beautiful dam and much more. The Clearfork River is especially interesting as it is shallow enough to wade in most areas, packed with fish, and lined with boulders and beautiful but rare hemlock trees.
  • Hocking Hills State Park and Forest: This is actually a massive system of parks and natural areas in Southern Ohio where opportunities abound. Among the forest, you’ll find caves, rivers, lakes and plentiful wildlife. If you like to hike, make sure to check out the remote Cantwell Cliffs for amazing landscape photos and also be sure to visit the unusual Rock Bridge formation and the Rock House caves.
  • Dawes Arboretum: Dawes Arboretum near Newark is an incredible venture in landscaping. Even if you prefer the untamed wilderness, this is still a great place to visit. You’ll find miles of paths that wind through enormous themed gardens, including one of Ohio’s only cypress swamps, a sight you’d normally expect to see in the Deep South. There are also architectural treats, including Asian architecture dotting the beautiful Japanese Garden.
 


Exploring Culture and History

Ohio is absolutely packed with little-known historical and cultural monuments, festivals and more. You’ll definitely want to research the topics that interest you before you set out. However, there are a couple of major cultural and historical attractions that draw enthusiasts from around the world.

First is Amish Country. Amish Country in Ohio is actually quite large, spanning multiple counties in central Ohio. Berlin, Ohio, in Holmes County, is the epicenter of Amish Country — and it’s a great place to use as a starting point for forays out into the gently rolling countryside.

Within Berlin, you’ll find a lot of tourist attractions, including Amish food and handmade crafts, but if you really want to explore the Amish way of life, travel the back roads surrounding this small town. Those winding dirt roads are where you’ll find the Amish, hard at work on their farms. Visit during the harvest season to capture sweeping vistas of carefully shocked hayfields or show up in the spring to watch the newborn farm animals frolic through the pastures.

Another great place is within an hour’s drive of Berlin — Roscoe Village, just outside of Ohio. This village is known for historic architecture, historical reenactments, and one of the last known canal boats, a popular mode of transportation before the advent of railroads. Check out the Roscoe Village website to learn more about the architecture or to see which events you might like to attend.
 

John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in CincinnatiJohn A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati

 

Other Great Places to Visit

The list of places to visit in Ohio is simply too long for me to list in one or even 10 posts, but I’ll give you a quick list of ideas.

  • Urban photographers will enjoy Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Cleveland gives you quick access to “oceanfront” views out over Lake Erie, while Cincinnati puts you in close proximity to the massive Ohio River.

  • If you’re looking for prairie, the western half of the state is much flatter than the eastern half. Photographers interested in rough terrain will do best in the eastern half of the state, particularly South Eastern Ohio, which are the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Don’t forget about festivals! Ohio has numerous county fairs and the massive Ohio State Fair in Columbus during the summer. You’ll also find various reenactments around the state, American Indian pow-wows, aviation shows and more.

 

Union Terminal | Cincinnati Museum CenterUnion Terminal | Cincinnati Museum Center

The bottom line is that no matter what your interests as a photographer are, you’ll find something interesting in Ohio. As an Ohioan, you’ll never run out of material for your art!

 

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati ObservatoryCincinnati Observatory

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Amish Central Ohio Cincinnati Cleveland Columbus Dawes Arboretum Hocking Hills Mohican Ohio Roscoe Village Southeastern Ohio https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/here-are-the-best-places-for-photography-in-ohio Wed, 11 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Best Techniques for Photographing the Moon https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/best-techniques-for-photographing-the-moon  

Bodie Island LighthouseBodie Island Lighthouse The weather is finally starting to warm up around here, so I think that it is the perfect time to get outside and start photographing. If you’re up for a challenge, spend an evening photographing the moon. This is a rewarding project that is certain to add some wonderful, original shots to your portfolio. If you’re wondering how it’s done, I’ll show you some of my favorite tips!

 

Remember the Basics of Nighttime Photography

I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll say it again: When you’re taking any long exposures, make sure to use a tripod and remote shutter release so that the camera remains stable as you’re photographing the moon. This will prevent blurriness caused by a shaky camera. If you don’t have a remote shutter release, then set your camera’s timer to five or 10 seconds, then press the shutter button. This will prevent you from jostling the camera when the shutter activates.

Charleston West Virginia State CapitalCharleston West Virginia State Capital

Use the Longest Lens Available

When you photograph the moon with a wide lens, you’ll end up with a small white dot rather than a large, detailed shot. If possible, start with a 200mm lens so that you can zoom in and capture details. Keep in mind that even longer lenses will provide even better magnification and thus, more detail. You may find it worth your while to rent an extraordinarily long lens to seriously capture the details of the moon’s surface.

Glacier Point, YosemiteGlacier Point, Yosemite

When Should You Photograph the Moon?

Obviously, you don’t want to photograph during the wrong phases of the moon, so make sure that you plan your project for when the moon is out — and decide whether you want to photograph the full moon or one of the crescent moon phases. When it comes to the best time of day to photograph the moon, you’ll want to head out shortly after moonrise, while the moon is still low on the horizon. This way, you can capture the moon and perhaps even a distant horizon line to make the photograph appear anchored.

Weather can be a concern, but if there are a few small clouds in the sky, that doesn’t mean you need to cancel your trip. If a small cloud should happen to cover a portion of the moon (without obscuring it entirely), then think of this as an opportunity to create an unusual image!

By the way, if you’re looking for an image that has a bit less contrast than a white moon in a black sky, don’t hesitate to go out in the hours just after dusk or right before dawn. With a tiny bit of light still in the sky, you’ll be able to photograph the moon surrounded by a beautiful deep blue sky.

 

Which Camera Settings Should You Start With?

Joshua Tree, Palmdale CaliforniaJoshua Tree, Palmdale California Here’s the part where moon photography gets a little bit confusing. Nighttime photography often calls for a slow shutter speed in order to collect enough light to create the image. The moon, however, moves across the sky, so if your shutter speed is too slow, the moon will be blurry in the final images.

Start with a shutter speed of between 1/200 and 1/100. Then, you’ll want to choose an aperture that lets plenty of light in but also keeps the image sharp — say, approximately f/10. After that, you can adjust your ISO setting until the image exposes properly. The key thing to remember is that if your ISO setting starts adding unsightly noise to the image, then you can always adjust the shutter speed and aperture to compensate, but you have to make sure that the shutter speed doesn’t fall too low and aperture doesn’t open too wide.

 

These tips will get you started. Once you’ve learned how to photograph the moon properly, you’ll be able to add your own unique vision to the image. Go out, enjoy the nice weather and use your creativity to photograph the moon in beautiful new ways!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) ISO aperture clouds long exposure nighttime photography phases of the moon shutter release shutter speed telephoto lens tripod https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/5/best-techniques-for-photographing-the-moon Wed, 04 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
What Does It Mean to Focus to Infinity? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/4/what-does-it-mean-to-focus-to-infinity My lovely wife took me to North Carolina for our anniversary. Here's a photo that we captured at Bodie Island Historical Lighthouse.My lovely wife took me to North Carolina for our anniversary. Here's a photo that we captured at Bodie Island Historical Lighthouse.

Bodie Island Historical Lighthouse, North Carolina

Infinity focusing is a term that can be confusing even among experienced photographers and if you’re new to this, then it might be a major challenge to learn the how, why and when of this technique. The term itself is a little bit deceptive, which I’ll explain later on. After that, I’ll show you why to use infinity focus, and when to use it. Stick around, and before too long, you’ll be an expert on this topic!

 

What is Infinity Focus?

It helps to think of infinity focusing like this: Infinity focus is the opposite of a narrow depth of field. As you likely know, opening up your aperture creates a narrower area of focus, which helps you to isolate subjects by keeping foreground and background elements out of focus.

Infinity focus is similar to an extraordinarily wide depth of field. When your lens is focused to infinity, then everything in your frame will be in focus no matter how distant it is to your lens. There are a few caveats to this, however.

First of all, infinity focus isn’t quite infinite. Certainly, everything in the distance will be in focus, but the focal point actually starts at a distance in front of your lens. The area between your lens and the point where everything comes into focus is called the hyperfocal distance. The hyperfocal distance varies based on your aperture, the crop factor of your camera and the length of your lens, but in short, to take an effective photo at infinity focus, you’ll need to make sure that no objects falling within the hyperfocal distance make it into your image.

As an example, let’s say that you’re kneeling in tall grass to take a long-range landscape picture, but blades of grass keep finding their way in front of your lens. Blades of grass within the hyperfocal distance will always be blurry whereas everything after the focus point will come in sharp.

The other two caveats are that for one, not all lenses are capable of infinity focus, so you’ll have to make sure that you’re using a capable lens to take these kinds of images. For two, some adapters and filters — such as macro filters — will make it impossible for you to focus to infinity, even with a capable lens.

 

How to Focus to Infinity

How to Focus to InfinityHow to Focus to InfinityHow to Focus to Infinity

The “how” of focusing to infinity really depends on the lens you are using. Like I said earlier, not all lenses can do this, but among the lenses that can, those that allow you to switch to manual focus are the best. A good manual lens will have a depth of field scale so that you can line up your focus ring with the scale to get the proper depth of field. To focus to infinity, simply line the focus ring up with the infinity symbol, which looks like this: .

Infinity focus with an autofocus lens is a little bit more difficult. Since you can’t simply turn the focal ring to the infinity mark (because often there isn’t one!) you’ll need to instead focus on a distant object (something from the background of your shot). Then, once that — and everything else — come into clear focus, shut off the autofocus feature so that it doesn’t change the focus lock as you’re composing the infinity focused shot.

 

When Should You Use Infinity Focus?

Like any other technique, such as applying a narrow depth of field, infinity focus is something to be used at your discretion. However, there are a couple of instances where most photographers will turn to infinity focus.

First is the landscape. Part of what makes a landscape interesting is the fact that you can closely examine all of the details in the panorama that you’ve created, near or far. Wildlife photography is another good reason to use infinity focus. If you’re worried about wildlife running between the foreground and background of the image, use infinity focus to make sure the animal is in focus no matter where it is in the frame.

Finally, there is low light and nighttime photography. If you are manually focusing, setting your lens to focus at infinity is much easier than attempting to focus on objects that you can’t quite see in the darkness. To focus to infinity with an autofocus lens after dark, simply focus on the moon or another distant bright object and you’ll be able to ensure that everything in your long exposure remains sharp.

 

Just like narrow depth of field or creative lighting, infinity focus is one of those essential techniques that no photographer can do without. Make sure you learn this technique with your capable lenses so that you’re never stuck in the field wondering how to focus to infinity.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) autofocus depth of field focus lock focus to infinity hyperfocal distance infinity focus landscape photography manual focus nighttime photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/4/what-does-it-mean-to-focus-to-infinity Wed, 27 Apr 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Making the Most of Your Telephoto Lens, Part 2 https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/4/making-the-most-of-your-telephoto-lens-part-2 Making the Most of Your Telephoto Lens, Part 2Making the Most of Your Telephoto Lens, Part 2Making the Most of Your Telephoto Lens, Part 2
Last week, we talked about some of the things that you can do with telephoto lenses — and some ways to use them that will make it easier to you to get great shots consistently. However, there is a whole lot more to using telephoto lenses than the things I discussed last week. And, in fact, there are more things that can be done than I will be able to discuss today.

Nevertheless, I’d love to give you a taste of a few more interesting telephoto techniques, so when you are ready, here are some of the more advanced things that you can do with your long lenses.

 


Macro, or More Correctly, “Near Macro” Photography

One of the most interesting things that you can do with telephoto lenses is not taking photos from afar, but taking extreme close up shots. Many photographers refer to this as macro photography, but in truth, most dedicated macro lenses perform better at higher magnifications and are designed to focus at much shorter distances, so for our purposes, we will call macro photography with a telephoto lens “near macro” instead.

With that out of the way, let’s discuss how to produce near macro photographs. All you’ll need to do is use your telephoto lens to focus on a small subject — a flower, a bug or something else. The difficulty here is that telephoto lenses aren’t designed to be within an inch or two of the subject, so you’ll instead need to back off and zoom in until the subject fills the frame.

Another issue that we discussed before is that telephoto lenses are prone to blurriness caused by shaky hands, so make sure that you use a tripod for all of your near macro photography. The final point is that the depth of field can become extraordinarily narrow — less than a millimeter in some cases. This means that you should always work with the narrowest aperture possible to ensure that you come away with plenty of detail.

 

Macro, or More Correctly, “Near Macro” PhotographyMacro, or More Correctly, “Near Macro” PhotographyMacro, or More Correctly, “Near Macro” Photography


Maximizing the Narrow Depth of Field

In the section above, I mentioned that focusing on extremely close subjects with a telephoto lens can be problematic for near macro photography, especially when the image calls for rich details. However, that doesn’t mean that you should always avoid the paper-thin depth of field effect. Sometimes an extremely narrow depth of field is exactly what you need to create a striking image that brings one or two key details to the forefront. With that thought in mind, experiment with your telephoto lens, making sure to learn the depth of field that you can expect from various apertures and focal distances. Once you’ve seen the range of possibilities, you’ll soon find excellent uses for particularly narrow depth of field.

 

Do Portraits with Telephoto LensesDo Portraits with Telephoto LensesDo Portraits with Telephoto Lenses


Do Portraits with Telephoto Lenses

When it comes to portraits, most people think of standard lengths around 100mm, but you can also do portraiture with telephoto lenses, too. There are several great reasons to try portraiture with long lenses.

First of all, the long focal length and distance between you and the subject allows you to get interesting perspectives. Another great reason to use telephotos for portraits is that long lenses make distant backgrounds seem closer, which means that they’ll give you a lot of control over the background. So, instead of having a busy city block in the background with a standard lens, a telephoto can isolate the background to a single brick wall from that scene.

The final reason to use a telephoto lens is that it puts a lot of distance between you and your subject. This can often make a subject feel much more at ease than when they have a lens mere feet from their faces. If you do portrait photography and have the occasional uncomfortable client, then this trick can come in handy.

Again, I will stress that there is even more that you can do with telephoto lenses than what I have listed here. Once you learn all the wonderful uses for these lenses, you’ll be hooked on putting them to a variety of unusual uses!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) depth of field long focal length macro near macro portrait portraiture telephoto lens https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/4/making-the-most-of-your-telephoto-lens-part-2 Wed, 20 Apr 2016 10:30:00 GMT
Making the Most of Your Telephoto Lens, Part 1 https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/4/tips-and-tricks-to-help-you-make-the-most-of-your-telephoto-lenses Making the Most of Your Telephoto LensesMaking the Most of Your Telephoto LensesMaking the Most of Your Telephoto Lenses


The first item a beginning photographer adds to their camera kit is quite often a long zoom lens. After all, one of the joys of photography is being able to zoom in on distant objects, especially things like wildlife or other subjects that you normally wouldn’t be able to approach.

Although, as much as telephoto lenses are an amazing thing to add to your kit, they do present a few difficulties as you’re learning to use them. Plus they offer you several interesting techniques to make interesting images. Here are some of my favorite tips for using long zoom lenses effectively.

 

Learn How to “Look and Lift”

One of the hardest parts of using long zooms is finding and tracking a small subject like a bird. The temptation is for a beginner to lift the camera to his or her face, then lift your face to look at the object that you are photographing. The problem with this is that if you don’t already have your eyes turned to the subject, then it will be difficult to find the subject once you’re looking through the relatively small window of the lens — especially if your subject is moving.

What you should instead do is practice the “look and lift” technique. That is, look at your subject and as you look at it, raise your camera to your face. Since you’re already looking in the right direction, it will be much easier to zero in the subject’s location.

 

Nanchang CJ-6Nanchang CJ-6The <strong>Nanchang CJ-6 is an aircraft designed and built in China for use by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) as a basic trainer.

 

Zoom Out to Track Moving Subjects

If you’ve ever pointed a zoomed in lens towards the sky to track a flying bird, an airplane, or even something on the ground like a fast moving car, then you know how difficult it is to fix on a moving subject with a zoomed lens. Chances are, you’ll only see blue sky or whatever your background is as you desperately move your camera to find the subject. As I mentioned above, a zoomed in lens gives you a much smaller area to search than a lens that is zoomed out, which lowers your chances of actually pinpointing the subject.

The solution to this is to zoom out your lens, get the moving subject in the frame, and then zoom in as you track the subject. By fixing on your subject while your lens is zoomed out, you’ll spend a lot less time “fishing” for the subject.

 

IMG_0870 - Northrop N-9MIMG_0870 - Northrop N-9MThe Northrop N-9M was a one-third scale aircraft used for the development of the Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 Flying Wing long-range bomber program. First flown in 1942, the N-9M (M for Model) was the third in a lineage of all-wing Northrop aircraft designs that began in 1929 when Jack Northrop succeeded in early experiments with his single-prop, twin-tailed, stressed metal skin Northrop Flying Wingmonoplane, and a decade later, the dual-prop N-1M of 1939–1941. Northrop's pioneering all-wing aircraft would lead Northrop-Grumman many years later to eventually develop the advanced B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, which debuted in Air Force inventory in 1989.

 

Use a Tripod — Even When the Lighting is Good

It’s a fact that telephoto lenses tend to amplify blur from shaky hands or camera movement far more than shorter lenses. These lenses are heavy, making it more likely for you to inadvertently shake or move them, and because you’re focusing on a smaller, more distant area, a minor tremble is enough to create an incredibly fuzzy image. A tripod gives you much more stability, increasing your chances of taking sharp images.

In fact, in order to reduce camera shake, a remote shutter release can be helpful. Simply pressing the shutter button is enough to jostle your camera slightly, so a shutter release is another great way to prevent blur.
 

Take Advantage of the Telephoto Effect

Telephoto EffectTelephoto EffectTelephoto Effect
When we think about telephoto lenses, the first thing that comes to mind is the ability to zoom in on faraway object, but that isn’t the only thing you can do with telephoto lenses. These lenses tend to flatten out distances (an effect called the “Telephoto Effect”), which means that in an image with elements at both close and faraway distances, the distant elements will appear much closer to the nearby elements than they actually are.

This can create some interesting images where the moon looms large against a line of trees, or where a distant city skyline appears much closer to your foreground elements than it actually is.

 

There is a lot to know about the right ways to use telephoto lenses and the interesting things that you can do with them — I’ve only scratched the surface here. However, you can use these things to start experimenting with your telephoto lenses, and when you’re ready, you can start learning more advanced techniques!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Telephoto Effect long lens look and lift telephoto lens tripod zoom in zoom lens zoom out https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/4/tips-and-tricks-to-help-you-make-the-most-of-your-telephoto-lenses Sat, 09 Apr 2016 20:45:26 GMT
Why Every Serious Photographer Should Attend Photography Workshops https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/why-every-serious-photographer-should-attend-photography-workshops Why Every Serious Photographer Should Attend Photography WorkshopsWhy Every Serious Photographer Should Attend Photography WorkshopsWhy Every Serious Photographer Should Attend Photography Workshops
When you think about photography workshops, it seems like a given that all serious photographers should attend them. After all, these events give you access to all kinds of things — reading materials, instruction at the workshop, the chance to meet the instructor and so forth.

These are all great benefits, but I would argue that these are they not the only benefits and perhaps they aren’t even the best benefits. There are lots of little things — intangible benefits, you could say — that add up to something incredibly valuable. Let’s take a moment to discuss some of these unexpected things. By the end of this post, I’ll bet you’ll be searching for a workshop to attend!

 

The People that You’ll Meet

Wherever you live, there might not be an abundance of photographers to compare notes or fraternize with. When you attend a workshop, you’ll meet photographers from many different areas — perhaps even photographers from all over the world. You’ll be able to see their portfolios and discuss both your work and theirs with them. As you probably know, the ability to both critique artwork and have your own critiqued is a rare and valuable experience.

But exchanging artwork isn’t the only beneficial experience that you’ll get from meeting your fellow photographers. You may also get a chance to make a few new friends, or at the very least, exchange emails with photographers that you admire. Lifelong friendships such as this are not only essential to the human experience, but they will also give you someone that you can always share thoughts and ideas with.

 

You’ll Want to Impress People

There is no shame in saying it! You’ll definitely want to bring your best work so that you can impress instructors and peers alike. The benefit lies in the things that you’ll need to do in order to bring along an impressive body of work. Something as simple as signing up to attend a workshop can inspire you to work hard at your art in the months leading to the event. As you work to create an amazing new portfolio, you’ll be learning and building on your photographic skills.

 

You’ll Want to Work Harder After the Workshop, Too

Maybe you saw something that really inspired you at the workshop. Perhaps you made a new friend and you want to share something new and improved with them. Or, perhaps you felt outclassed and overwhelmed by the things that you saw and now you’re determined to make up for the things you found lacking by working harder than ever. Whatever the case may be, once you return, you might find yourself working just as hard if not harder than you were in the months before the workshop.

 

Forced Exposure to New Things

It doesn’t matter how you look at photographs — online, at the museum or in a book. Whichever way you choose, you’re very likely to fall into the natural tendency to look at only the things that you like. In other words, you’re looking at the work of people whose style you admire. When it comes to styles and techniques that aren’t your favorite, you’re very likely to flip the page dismissively. It’s not even that you’re deliberately disdaining work that doesn’t align with your tastes — the reaction might be more subconscious, like a shrug before you move on.

Workshops don’t give you that option. As you associate with attendees, you’ll be looking at their work, whether it fits your personal preferences or not. Such exposure can make you consider new styles and techniques that you may not have been interested in otherwise.

When we go to workshops, we tend to focus on the basic things — learning everything that we can from the instructor, perfecting new techniques and methods, networking, and creating beautiful imagery. These are certainly all good things to do at a workshop, but some of the more intangible benefits that I’ve listed here can be just as important if not more so. If you choose to attend a workshop, keep all of the things I’ve mentioned in mind so that you get the most from your experience!

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 

​Recommend Workshops That I've Attend:

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) critique friendship instruction networking photography workshops https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/why-every-serious-photographer-should-attend-photography-workshops Wed, 30 Mar 2016 22:35:30 GMT
Tips and Tricks for Air Show Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/tips-and-tricks-for-air-show-photography Tips and Tricks for Air Show PhotographyTips and Tricks for Air Show PhotographyTips and Tricks for Air Show Photography


Air shows are not something that the average photographer stops to consider often, but I’ve found that they’re one of the most amazing events to attend with your camera. In fact, a distant cousin of mine was once a captain for the Blue Angels, so perhaps that is where my love of aviation comes from. I’ve attended quite a few air shows over the years, and I can tell you one thing — there is certainly no lack of artistic opportunities.

To that end, I want to show you how to approach an air show as a photographer. This includes not only the equipment you’ll need, but also some of the shots you should look for and techniques to use. Let’s start with the equipment!

 

Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX replicaSupermarine Spitfire Mk IX replicaThe British Supermarine Spitfire was facing several challenges by mid-1942. The debut of the formidable Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in late 1941 had caused problems for RAF fighter squadrons flying the latest Spitfire Mk Vb.


Gear for Photographing Air Shows

Air shows are unlike many other activities in that you’ll need to take quite a bit of gear along, but at the same time, you’ll also need to maintain mobility. Start your air show kit with your camera and a pair of zoom lenses — you won’t want to haul around several primes, and you’ll need the ability to quickly adjust focal length on the fly. Make sure your two lenses cover a broad focal length; say an 24-70mm and a 100-400mm lens. In fact, if you have a spare camera body, you may even want to take it along and so that both lenses are mounted at all times.

Short Tucano T1Short Tucano T1The Short Tucano T1 (S.312) is a two-seat turboprop basic trainerused by the Royal Air Force. It is a licence-built version of the Brazilian Embraer EMB-312 Tucano, and is also used by the air forces of Kenya and Kuwait. The next big requirement is this: Portable storage. You see, at many air shows around the United States, large containers like backpacks and coolers aren’t allowed. Before you attend a show, make absolutely certain that you’ve checked the rules to see what items are prohibited. If you can’t take along a backpack or large bag, then you might be able to get around this with the clever use of cargo pants or a photo vest. As long as your two largest items — the cameras and lenses — are hanging around your neck, almost everything else can be safely kept in pockets, provided you have enough of them.

Another important point is to make sure that these items are secured in plastic zipper bags. Not only will this keep you from accidentally dropping small things like memory cards, but it will keep your gear safe from perspiration or moisture.

 

Now, on to the gear that you’ll need to put in those pockets:

  • Lots of memory cards. I can take upwards of 30,000 images at one air show. It is very easy to fill up memory cards, so make sure that you take plenty along.

  • Lots of batteries. Think about your camera’s average battery life, how long you plan to be photographing, and plan accordingly. You may even throw in a few more batteries than you think you’ll need, just in case.

  • Any filters that you think you may need. For the most part, it is unlikely that you’ll need filters for special effects, but a polarizer can help you cut glare on shiny chrome and paint, while UV filters can help protect your lenses from dirt, dust and scratches.

  • Cleaning equipment. In the summer, air shows can by dry and dusty — or maybe rainy, depending on the weather. Make sure you’ve got soft polishing cloths and other cleaning supplies to keep your camera and lenses clean.

  • Take along earplugs (planes are loud), bottled water that you can clip to your pants or vest, sunscreen, and other personal items. The intent is to make sure that you’re comfortable throughout the day so that you can spend more time photographing and less time worrying about sunburns, dehydration or sore feet.

  • Bring rain gear, just in case. A light drizzle may not stop the air show, but it can stop photographers. One of those inexpensive emergency ponchos will fit nicely into your pockets, and a couple of plastic shopping bags can be fashioned into a rain hood for your camera.

Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird"Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird"The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by the Lockheed Skunk Works. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the design's innovative concepts. During reconnaissance missions the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outrun the missile.

 

The last point is whether or not you’ll want to bring a tripod or monopod. Tripods are a no-no. You’ll be moving around too much to use it and you won’t enjoy lugging it around all day. Monopods can be helpful, but they can also get in the way. If you’d like to try one, think about getting a telescoping model that you can fit in a pocket or hang from a wrist strap — or be prepared to use your monopod as a walking stick throughout the day.

 

Grumman F8F Bearcat and Douglas SBD-5 DauntlessGrumman F8F Bearcat and Douglas SBD-5 DauntlessThe Grumman F8F Bearcat (affectionately called "Bear") was anAmerican single-engine naval fighter aircraft of the 1940s. It went on to serve into the mid-20th century in the United States Navy, theUnited States Marine Corps, and the air forces of other nations. It would be Grumman Aircraft's final piston engined fighter aircraft.

 

Planning the Event: Which Times are Most Important?

You might be thinking that the afternoon is the most important part of the air show — and, you’d be right, because, after all, that is when the action is at its highest. However, you cannot discount other times of the day, or even other days of the show.

North American T-6 TexanNorth American T-6 TexanThe North American Aviation T-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1950s. You see, if you’re planning to tell a story with your collection of images, then like any story, you need a beginning, middle and end. This means that you should show up early in the morning, or even the day before the air show, to photograph the beginnings of the show — morning sunlight, dew on fenders, crews pulling drop cloths away from planes and so forth. These sort of “pre-game” images not only give your viewers a more complete story, but as crews get ready for the air show, you’ll find many interesting, artistic ideas.

Then, of course, there is the middle of your story, which is the show itself. Be sure to capture plenty of images of planes in the air, as well as images of planes landing and taking off.

Close the event by photographing evening festivities the next day, or even visit the air show site the day after the show to document the packing and cleaning process. Here, you’ll find so many opportunities, from golden evening sun bathing planes and silhouetted planes flying into the sunset, to tired crews and satisfied air show attendees after a long day of enjoying aviation.

Of course, it isn’t 100% necessary that you be available and taking photographs throughout the entire event, including the day before and the day after. However, you’ll find that by choosing days and times wisely, you’ll be shooting in a variety of different atmospheres, from anticipation, to excitement and beyond, and you’ll have no end of uniquely interesting subjects to photograph.

 

Essential Tips and Techniques

Vought F4U CorsairVought F4U CorsairThe Chance Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster. The single most important technique that you’ll need to learn well in advance of the air show is how to pan your camera. What this means is that you need to know how to move your camera to follow a moving object so that the focus stays locked on your subject. You can practice this at home any number of ways — pan to follow flying birds or cars passing in front of your home. Practice makes perfect, so keep working on your panning skills until the majority of your shots feature sharp, clear moving subjects.

Other techniques and effects, such as narrowing the depth of field or deliberately over or underexposing images are a matter of personal preference. It is unlikely that you’ll want to go too crazy with effects, but at the same time, don’t hesitate to be creative and original. Learn your primary objective (either documentary photography, creative photography or a mixture of the two) before you attend the air show so that you can stay organized and get the shots you want, be they creative abstracts or crystal clear documentary images.

The other thing you’ll need to be aware of is speed. In other words, the speed of spinning propellers or whirling rotors on helicopters, and the speed of planes flying past a static background. Experiment with different shutter speeds to attain the desired effect. I try to keep my shutter speeds between 1/25 and 1/125 to maximize the feeling of motion. When the rotors are blurred on a helicopter that is sitting on the ground, that shows it is landing or taking off. If you instead froze those rotors with a high shutter speed, viewers would assume that the helicopter was sitting still. For jet aircrafts, I set my camera to aperture priority.

1941 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR941 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KRThe Ryan STs were a series of two seat, low-wing monoplane aircraft built by the Ryan Aeronautical Company. They were used as sportaircraft, as well as trainers by flying schools and the military of several countries.

The same goes for planes moving past backgrounds, especially during takeoffs and landings. Use a slightly slower shutter speed and pan with the plane to show a blurred background, otherwise it will appear as if the plane isn’t moving.

The final point is to always be aware of your location in relation to your subject and its background. More than likely, unless there are dedicated viewing platforms, you will always want to be at the forefront of the crowd so that they aren’t sneaking their way into your frame. For shots that are near to the ground, you’ll want to make sure that you’re that you’re pointed in a suitable direction so that your background isn’t comprised of air show attendees or other undesirable and distracting elements.

 

The Types of Photos You’ll Capture

There are a variety of different types of images to capture at an air show, and each comes with its own unique approach to composition. Here’s a breakdown of the types of images to expect, and the kinds of compositions that work best with each.

The Tumbling Bear (Rob Harrison)The Tumbling Bear (Rob Harrison)Rob Harrison puts the Zlin 50 LX through it's paces and creates a crowd pleasing display ofaerobatics. The "Tumbling Bear" fills the sky with twisting and tumbling smoke trails that display Rob's aerobatic talent and the capability of the Czech built Zlin 50LX. Rob honed his aerobatic skills at the Zlin advanced aerobatics school and then ordered his first Zlin 50.

“Portraits” of airplanes come in a couple of different varieties. These could be images of grounded planes or planes that are landing and taking off. These types of images follow standard artistic rules: Keep the plane out of the center of the frame unless the composition demands it and minimize distracting elements (like the crowd in the background). Planes that are landing or taking off often benefit from being positioned to one side of the frame to show the path that they are traveling.

Ground to air photos are the type that you’re probably looking most forward to taking. This is photography of planes in flight, and there are many ways to go about this. Some planes might be leaving smoke trails, in which case, you’ll want to capture those trails. Other planes will be flying in formation or doing different kinds of tricks. In each case, attempt to tell the story with your composition. In other words, capture the entire formation in your frame, or if a plane is doing something interesting, like a barrel roll, capture the plane as it tilts to the side or when it is fully upside-down. Wherever possible, (unless you’re capturing long smoke trails) fill the frame with the plane or the formation to show as much detail as possible.

Air-to-air photography involves photographing planes while you’re flying in another plane. This isn’t something I’ve had the chance to do yet, myself, but if you ever have the wonderful opportunity, then there are a couple of things to remember. You’ll need to work hard to keep your camera stable, and you may even want to buy or rent cameras or lenses that come with motion stabilization and vibration reduction.

Pitts SpecialPitts SpecialThe Pitts Special (company designations S1 and S2) is a series of light aerobatic biplane designed by Curtis Pitts. Finally, there are all the miscellaneous shots that complete the story you’re telling. This includes things like pit crews working, the images that you take as planes are readied for flight or photos of the show coming to a close. Who knows, you might even want to photograph the crowd or take candid images of observers in order to tell your particular story. No matter what, these images will follow standard compositional rules that you would apply to any other type of photography. Make sure your images are compelling and that they add to the story you’re depicting.

Even if you’re not an aviation aficionado, it is definitely worth your while to photograph an air show at least once. Few other events give you so many unique opportunities to create beautiful artwork — and yes, you can definitely create art at an air show. Air shows are exciting, exhilarating events, but if you relax, enjoy the day and put some of this advice to work, you’ll come home with stunning imagery.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

 

 

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 (NATO reporting name: "Fagot") is a jet fighter aircraft developed by Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB for the Soviet Union. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept-wing jet fighters, and achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where early in the war, it outclassed all straight-winged enemy fighters in most applications.

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Air Show Aviation Photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/tips-and-tricks-for-air-show-photography Wed, 23 Mar 2016 16:14:23 GMT
Is Structure Necessary for Creativity? https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/is-structure-necessary-for-creativity Is Structure Necessary for Creativity?Is Structure Necessary for Creativity?Is Structure Necessary for Creativity?
When you think of creativity, it feels like it should be something random and spontaneous, something that is born out of a moment’s inspiration. And, there are times when random creativity leads to groundbreaking art. I would argue, however, that the majority of creativity comes not from spontaneity, but from structure. You see, a lack of structure leads to things like uncertainty, wasted time and other issues that are detrimental to productivity. Here’s a brief list of the problems and questions that arise when you have not structured your art:
 

  • You don’t know how your final images will turn out, which leads to hesitation.
     
  • You’re uncertain how much time you’ll need to complete a project, which leads to never starting the project.
     
  • Is your subject material good material? Questioning your choices leads to inaction.
     
  • You’re don’t have a plan for a photo shoot. Without organization and detailed planning, you may not capture the most important images of the day.
     

Now, perhaps, you are starting to see where a lack of structure leads to trouble. But just how much trouble? Let’s tackle a few of these issues to show you how structure leads to more creativity.

 

How Will My Final Images Turn Out?

This is one of those vague doubts that has haunted every photographer since the beginning of the art form. So many small things will make a difference in your final photos, from lighting to post processing tools, photo paper and more. The best thing to do is to plan each detail of your process.

For instance, if you’re planning an outdoor shoot, take along lighting equipment just in case the day turns cloudy. Structure the way that you do your post processing so that you can do it efficiently — and, of course, make sure that you have all of the post processing tools you think you might need before you take the photographs. There is nothing worse than frantically searching for Photoshop plugins at the last minute.

Even details that seem minor, like photo paper, can make a difference in your final project. If you truly want to leave nothing to chance, you’ll choose paper before you start taking photographs. After all, prints can look entirely different on different types of paper. When you know what you’ll be using, you’ll be able to take photos accordingly.

 

How Much Time Will This Take?

Imagine yourself on a Saturday morning. There you sit, pondering whether or not you’ll have enough time to pack the camera equipment in the car and head of on a photographic excursion. The problem is, you don’t know where you are going of what you will be doing, so you don’t know whether or not you’ll have enough time. With these doubts, you sit down on the sofa and spend the day watching TV rather than pursing your art.

This is where structure becomes vital. Sit down and plan your project, start to finish. Plot such items as learning your subject material, thinking about how long it will take you to set up your equipment or drive to a destination. Make estimates for how long photographing and post processing will take. Once you have a plan, you can break the elements of the project apart and more easily fit them within your schedule.

 

Is My Subject Material Any Good?

Here is one of those questions that is impossible to answer. Or, perhaps it isn’t as impossible as it sounds. After all, all subject material is valid as long as you have your own way to turn it into something original and artistic.

If, however, you still have doubts about your subject material, build time into your schedule to study it. Look at similar work by other photographers, spend time studying your subject, and maybe even schedule experimental sessions so that you can take test images of your subject. When you examine your own test images and the work of others, and when you get to know your subject, doubts in your chosen subject will start to fade away.

Another way to look at this is the old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Schedule yourself enough time to practice with your subject before you take the final images.

 

Is Your Photo Shoot Structured?

The photo shoot itself is where structure and organization is most necessary. Whether you’re photographing landscapes or attending an event, you’ll need to have a plan to make sure that you’re taking the best photos that you can without missing opportunities. Here are some examples:
 

  • Have you planned for every piece of gear that you think you may need? This includes not only your camera and lenses, but tripods, lighting equipment, filters, supplies to clean lenses, extra memory cards, weather gear and more.
     
  • Have you been monitoring the weather? This is essential for any outdoor shoot. Don’t take any chances and plan for any possibility that the weather can throw your way.
     
  • What about scheduling shoots within shoots? If you’re attending an event, think of it like several separate events that each need equal attention. A wedding, for instance, has several parts — the rehearsal, the pre-ceremony preparations, the ceremony, the reception and more. Each of these “sub events” should get equal attention. Photos of a show of conference won’t tell the whole story if you miss important speakers, contests or other happenings throughout the day.
     

These are just three instances of the things that you’ll need to organize. Through these things, you can see just how important structure truly is to photography. Without structure, you’ll find yourself underprepared for the day ahead, which means that you’ll spend more time trying to make up for your lack of preparation and less time taking photographs. And, of course, fewer photographs leads to fewer opportunities to capture something magical.

If you’re a photographer, then the wise choice is not to rely on random bursts of inspiration. Instead of waiting for creativity to happen, make it happen by structuring your art.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Photoshop creativity gear photo paper photography planning prints self-doubt structure subjects https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/is-structure-necessary-for-creativity Wed, 16 Mar 2016 09:30:00 GMT
Five Problems You'll Face as a Photographer https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/5-problems-youll-face-as-a-photographer 5 Problems You'll Face as a Photographer5 Problems You'll Face as a Photographer
I was thinking the other day about the life of a photographer. At first glance, it seems like a wonderful thing. Imagine spending your time traveling the world, creating beautiful artwork that is admired by all. Unfortunately, however, this dream is often just as impossible as it sounds. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be a successful photographer — on the contrary, it means that in order to be a successful photographer, you’ll need to deal with a variety of problems. Here are some of the most ubiquitous struggles that photographers around the world face on a daily basis.

 

1. Rejection, Rejection, Rejection

The biggest hurdle for any photographer is the rejection that he or she will face on a daily basis. You might take a portfolio to a gallery, only to be laughed out the building. Clients will decline your services in favor of those from another photographer. Even the world’s greatest photographers face rejection. The difference between successful photographers and unsuccessful ones is that a successful photographer can shrug off those rejections and continue to soldier on.

 

2. Your Bank Account Will Be Empty

A camera costs — and so do all the future cameras that you’ll buy when you realize that the one you currently have isn’t quite good enough to suit your purposes. Then there are the lenses, gadgets and gear that you’ll need to fully explore your art. Once you’ve bought all the equipment, you might think that you bank account will finally have some time to grow. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as you’ll suddenly find yourself shelling out money on books, classes, workshops and more. In other words, when you’re a photographer, the spending never stops.

 

3. Your Family is Too Kind

Every serious photographer craves critique because this is one of the only ways to truly learn how to create better images. The problem is, if you’re like me, your family is made up of nice people that will avoid hurting your feelings at all costs. You’ll show them your latest images, and they’ll say “That’s nice, dear!” or “What a pretty picture!” Don’t expect meaningful critique from non-artist family and friends, and most importantly, don’t let all of their kind words go to your head because no matter how pretty your mother thinks your pictures are, there is always room for improvement.

 

4. Photography May Turn into a Job

If you’re not currently working as a photographer, then you know how dull the daily grind becomes. You get up, get dressed, drive to your job and spend at least eight hours doing something you’d rather not do. When you’re taking photos every day, it can turn into a similar grind — merely doing a job rather than creating art.

Fortunately, there are some photographers that can happily make art all day, every day and not become bored. If you’re one of them, that’s great! But if you aren't, try to separate your “work” photography from your “fun” photography. If you do portraits all day, then save the landscapes that you’re truly passionate about for those times when you need to take a break from your job.

 

5. Get Ready to Face Tough Competition

These days, almost everyone is a photographer. Of course, not everyone calls themselves a photographer, but if someone has a smartphone, then they might just use it rather than come to you for professional images. And that’s not to mention all of the seasoned professionals you'll be competing against.

Think about it this way: When a bride-to-be comes to you looking for wedding photography, she has three choices. She'll either hire you, hire one of your competitors, or she'll be so appalled by the prices that you and your competitors charge that she'll find a friend with a DSLR to do it for free. The same goes with galleries — everyone and his brother has a portfolio to show gallery owners, which means it takes something really special to get yourself noticed. As a photographer, you’ll have to learn not only how to lose to the competition gracefully, but also how to make yourself stand out from everyone else.

 

The life of a photographer isn't an easy one. It takes determination and an incredibly thick skin to get past the myriad problems you'll face. Once you find your way past these problems, however, you’ll find that photography is a rewarding and exciting career.

Will MoneymakerWill MoneymakerWill Moneymaker

 

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(Will Moneymaker Photography) Rejection art expenses family galleries photographers photography portraits wedding photography https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/5-problems-youll-face-as-a-photographer Wed, 09 Mar 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Four Ways to Create a Powerful Portfolio https://willmoneymaker.com/blog/2016/3/4-ways-to-create-a-powerful-portfolio Photo © by Will Moneymaker


Ansel Adams said, “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” As photographers, this is our greatest struggle — to produce images with a meaning that is immediately evident and warrants a deeper examination of the subject ma