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  1. the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.

    I found this tree holding on tightly to a creek bank a few weeks ago.
    Life clings firmly to existence even when the odds are against it.


Fireflies on a Warm Summers Eve (it’s not a work of art, it’s the blessing of good memories)

Sometimes I think that we need to remember the simpler times when we were kids.
I don’t know where you were raised. I’m southern born (Texas) and raised in not quite a 1/2 dozen other states. Some people think that our year of wet weather has been unusual. I remember it as normal. Pop up thunder storms during the day. Heavy, warm, damp air at night. There was no air conditioner. We had the sound of an attic fan and the cool breeze that washed over us as we slept. You could lie awake at night and hear the rustle of an armadillo in the grass below your window, crickets, frogs, and if you looked out of your window into the darkness, you might see the occasional creature of the night that more often than not was a forgotten tree bent over like a crouching tiger, bear, or monster of the dark. Toward late summer the fireflies would begin their courtship and chase each other through the bushes, often with us in hot pursuit. I have good memories of chasing fireflies on a warm summers eve. I chased them a little differently this evening but I remembered the simpler times because of it.
Fireflies on a Warm Summers Eve. There are 4. Can you find them? p171247502-5


Disconnected yet connected

This disconnected connected world that we live in is a strange place sometimes. I accepted a link to like a page on Facebook. As I looked around the page (mostly to see if I wanted to like it), I came across a link to a young photojournalists page:!/index

I am not a photojournalist. Not even close. I admire people that can put themselves out there to try to make a difference. I don’t always understand the need to do that but I admire it. Her photography is very moving.

I checked out her Twitter feed:
Her tweets and photography were intense.

Then I moved to another site:

And last…. I went to this site. None of the other sites mentioned that she has been killed. Maybe it’s too soon?

26 is way too young to leave this earth. In some ways I guess she is still here, inside this giant neural net called the web. Or maybe that is just a feel good sentiment. I suppose that this sort of thing happens a lot but for some reason, this struck a chord (minor chord to my musician friends) in me.

What to do when you don’t feel like photographing

I had a very intense year of photography in 2013. I photographed in the Outer Banks for a week, took six different trips to Big Bend, did a two week tour of four states in the southwest in October, and went to Death Valley for a week in December. By the time 2014 got here I had done all of the photography that I wanted to do. I was officially in the photographer’s doldrums and no matter what I couldn’t get in the mood to photograph. Some friends and I had two separate photography exhibits and not even that could get me out of the slump that I was in. I finally broke out of the doldrums last week and started taking an active interest in photography again. 

The reader might be wondering what I did to recover from my malady. Did I start doing yoga? Did I start meditation? Did I force myself to make images? No, I didn’t do any of those things. In fact, I didn’t put much thought into it. I had other things to do and I knew that I would eventually come back to my cameras and start making images again. While traveling back home from Minot, ND I started making images. I planned a photography stop in Wyoming but ended up making images in South Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico. By the time I got to Colorado it was dark otherwise I would’ve made an image or two there. Once I had framed the first image and heard the shutter click I was engaged in the act of photography again.

If you are in a photographers slump, don’t sweat it. Keep your camera close and some day, out of the blue, you will see something that you will want to photograph. 

I’ll try to be a little more diligent about posting to my blog as well.

This image was made in New Mexico on the second day of my drive home


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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