Monthly Archives: February 2014

How much training is enough?

Hi again. Happy Valentines Day to everyone that reads this.

I’m going to go to a Lightroom 5 seminar this coming Monday. I am looking forward to going, learning, socializing, etc. I get around Lightroom pretty well. I’ve taken numerous online classes over at Kelby One. I did a marathon class over on that Matt Kloskowski taught on Lightroom 4. I don’t think that there is a feature that I haven’t at least explored except for maybe making and saving presets. I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was going to the seminar and she asked me why i was going. My response was why not. She said well… you know Lightroom better than anyone else I know so why go to more training? I’ve been thinking about that conversation most of the day.  My answer is still, why not. It’s true that I feel pretty comfortable in Lightroom and that, for an average user, I do pretty well with it. I expect the seminar to be fast paced and I don’t expect them to dig into the program all that deeply. However, I expect to learn something on Monday and if I want to rise above “average user” I need to be exposed to people that know the software better than I do. My expectation that I will learn something is so high that I am willing to lay some big money on the line and bet anyone that reads this a solid 25 cents, in cash, that I will learn something from the seminar. 🙂

But… how much training is too much? I don’t know. I don’t think that a person can over educate themselves. I expect to learn something new every time that I pick up a camera or process an image. I expect the learning process to last my entire lifetime.

This blog is about how much training is enough… but my trip to Houston on Monday is as much about being in a room full of photographers that are excited to be learning, as well as meeting Matt K. and whoever comes with him, as it is about what I may learn in the process.  I like the guys and gals that are part of the Kelby Media group. How can you not like them? They are successful, they seem to genuinely enjoy helping and being around people that are trying to learn the craft, not to mention they are pretty darn good photographers in their own right. And… they know that they are still learning the craft of photography. As good as they are they are still learning and having fun. What’s not to like about that?

On another note: I’m starting to get restless. I need a road trip. It needs to be a trip where all I care about is making an image. I love my “real job” but it requires a lot of mental energy. I think at the bit level 12-16 hours a day. Every day is a problem solving day and it wears me down. Photography lifts me up. I’m not sure when or where I’ll go but it’ll be soon and it’ll be west. Big Bend? The Chiricahua Mountains? Death Valley? I don’t know… maybe none of those. Maybe Caddo Lake or back to Shiloh Battlefield National Monument later this spring.

I’ve got 20 sheets of film loaded and a bunch of empty memory cards. It’s time to take them on a trip.

Oops, almost forgot the parting image:

I call this one Trees Sleep Standing Up

Trees Sleep Standing Up

First light

Welcome to my blog. I started this blog as an exploration of the craft and the art of photography with some side trips into the business of photography. I hope that by reaching out in this way that I will gain, and possibly even be able to share, knowledge about my favorite subject.

20 sheets of film refers to my newfound love of large format photography. I have ten 4×5 film holders. Five holders have ten sheets of black and white film (Ilford Delta 100 or Fuji Acros 100) and five holders have ten sheets of color film (Provia 160 or 400). 20 sheets of film. Twenty opportunities to hone the craft of photography and hopefully, make a work of art.

What is the difference between “the craft” and “the art”.

The craft refers to the technical aspects of photography. We use words like f stop, shutter speed, exposure, ISO to describe a technical aspect of an image. These words are universal. They apply to film and digital cameras. Words like white balance apply to digital cameras. The digital darkroom has numerous terms that I won’t go into. The digital darkroom is where, for me, film and digital merge. These are the terms that speak to how an image is made.

The art is harder to pin down. Art is a subjective term. The art is described by words like feeling, emotion, and seeing. These things are not the same for each person and they cannot be the same for each person. Art is the term that speaks to why an image is made.

After 40+ years of trying to understand the craft, I think that I have a good understanding of it. Every time I think that I have a good understanding of something I find out that I have much to learn.

Sometimes I struggle with understanding the art of photography. What makes one photograph a piece of art and another a piece of crap? According to what I’ve seen on the internet, which must be true, nearly every image has some level of artistic value. I will not likely ever acquiesce to that way of thinking.

The business side of photography is a dark cave that I am tentatively beginning to explore so I don’t have much to say about it at this point.

I recently began to learn to use large format cameras, lenses, and films. The most often asked question when I tell people that is “Why?” The answer is simple, I enjoy it. It helps me to expand my knowledge of the craft. Making images with large format film is time consuming. It takes patience, attention to detail, and confidence. There is no histogram to assure me that the image that I made is exposed correctly. I have to get the details right or there is no image. I enjoy the process of developing my own film. I scan my own negatives but I can’t say that I enjoy the process. It’s necessary since I do not have a wet darkroom.

I have not abandoned the digital format. Quite the opposite is true. I have room in my world for all things that are photography. Unlike my film cameras, my digital cameras are always with me.

All of my vacation time is spent immersed in photography. I travel to wonderful places to make images of wonderful things. Occasionally I make wonderful images and that makes the experience even more enjoyable.

I will leave my readers with an image that I made during the National Park closings in 2013. The parks closed on the day that I left for a two week, 5,500 mile journey through the southwest with some friends of mine. The closing changed our direction, but they didn’t affect our path.

Dead Horse Point State Park, UT


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