Friday, January 22, 2010

What Sells?

One of the best markets for landscape photography are annual calendars. Recently two of Jay's images were chosen by a local company for publication in their large art calendar. This photo, titled Reflections of Beauty, was selected for the cover.

This one - titled Stranded - was selected for the October page.

Images for calendars like these are chosen based upon location, theme, or terrain (seascapes, forests, waterfalls, mountains, etc.) - and shots from National Parks are some of the most popular. Most of the time, the calendar company is looking for landscape images that are appropriate for a particular season - so we try to make sure that we shoot in a variety of seasons. For example, if you have photos of Yosemite in Summer, but not in Winter, the publisher will have to go with someone else for those winter images. We visit locations more than once to fill in gaps in our portfolios.

Several months ago, we got a call from National Geographic asking about images for their 2010 Calendars. In the end, they selected two images from National Parks which were published in their 2010 National Park's engagement calender.

The market for landscape photography for calender companies is pretty broad. You can maximize your chances of getting published by expanding your portfolio to include a diverse set of images from a variety of locations - during a variety of seasons.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Webinar: Composition and Preception

We've had so much interest in our presentations and short posts on composition and perception that we've decided to put together a webinar. We'll be talking about the "rules" of composition, and the Gestalt principles of human perception. We'll show lots of examples, and discuss how we use the rules of composition and knowledge of the Gestalt principles to create more effective images.

We're offering Early Bird Pricing for anyone who signs up before February 15th, so if you are interested, sign up right away.

  • Cost: $39.00 (before 2/15/10), $49.00 (on or after 2/15/10)
  • Location: Online
  • Date: 3/14/10
  • Time: 1:00 PM EST - 3:00 PM EST
  • Participant Limit: 20
I have to admit, we're a bit excited about this new offering. This is a really fun subject to teach! We hope you will be able to join us!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Q and A - Where does an image end up?

A few weeks ago, one of our readers sent me the following question:
How you choose which images to show on your website gallery and which to put on photo sharing websites? And then there are those that go to stock agencies... I guess my question is: how do you decide what goes where?

This is an interesting question because much of the decision-making process is unconscious. I don't use any kind of checklist to determine which images will be added to my online portfolio, which will be posted online, and which will never leave my computer. I don't use a complicated method - I just go with what feels right.
My online portfolio is home to landscape photos, macro and detail shots, and nature images. You'll find the occasional small animal or insect there, but nothing that isn't natural. I am known, primarily, as a landscape photographer - so although I shoot all kinds of photos, you won't find stock shots or portraits in my portfolio.I do have a special "showcase" gallery on my website that is reserved for my favorite images - and there you'll find shots that have been published, or have won awards - or just make me particularly happy. It's the default gallery when you go to my site - so maybe you've already seen it.

When I want to post on a photo sharing or networking site, I'll probably choose some of my recent favorites. Something from a recent trip - so friends and fans can see what I've been working on.And then there are competitions. This is a whole different ball game. I choose competition photos for impact. A technically perfect image isn't enough - if you want to win, you need to choose a photo that jumps out and calls for attention.
So - there it is. Nothing mysterious here. I prepare a photo, decide if it's worth showing to the world, and if it is, I get it ready to add to my portfolio. When I feel like sharing something, I'll grab whatever catches my eye that day - and when I want something with some extra pop, I'll put a little more time into my selection process. It's as simple as that. :)



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Upcoming Workshops - Vermillion Cliffs and Southern Utah

We are very pleased to invite you to join us on for a workshops of Southern Utah and the Vermilion Cliffs region of Northern Arizona - November 5 -7, 2010! We will take just ten students out on this trip, so space is limited! If you are interested in joining us, you can find more details or register here:

Past students will receive a substantial discount - so if you've joined us for a workshop, photo tour, seminar, or webinar in the past, shoot us an email. We'll give you the student discount code to enter during registration.
We've been to this region many times, and it's one of our favorite places to photograph. So, we're excited to share it with some of you!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Sells?

Last time we got a call from a publisher, they were looking for photographs of "pretty places" for a National Park's calendar. This time, we got a call from National Park's Magazine. They were looking for images to illustrate an upcoming article on investments in water management in Everglades National Park. Here is the photo they selected:

The day we took this shot, we rose early, put on our water shoes, and followed Paul (naturalist, incredible photographer, and friend) into the Everglades. He warned us of sharp limestone beneath the surface of the water - and of Alligators, Cottonmouths, and Burmese Pythons... and he went barefoot.

We spent more than an hour wandering around in this area as the sun came up over the Mangroves, took a bunch of shots, and headed to breakfast. But it isn't the efforts behind the photo that sell it. It's not the hike, the lens, the camera system, or the dangerous animals that threaten to nibble on your toes out there. ;)

In this case it's the location - the heart of a park that is struggling to deal with problems ranging from water management to infestation by invasive species (remember the Pythons we mentioned?) to threatened and endangered species. The light helps - it's a pretty sunrise, and the well-controlled highlights and shadows make it pleasant to look at. But in the end, it's a portrait of this troubled and beautiful location... and that helps the publishers tell their story.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

FreeWebinar - FULL

Sorry folks, the free Southwest webinar is now full. We can't accommodate any more students this time. We do try to offer these every now and then, so those who didn't get a chance to sign up for this one, you can try again next time.

Thanks so much for your interest! We look forward to meeting with those of you who did sign up!

Free Webinar: Photographing Southwest

We are pleased to announce another FREE Webinar! This time, we'll be talking about photographing the Southwestern United States. Registration is open to anyone - simply drop us an email at (with return email address) to reserve your spot. The first 20 people will receive an email with instructions for joining the webinar. We're sorry we can't accommodate more people!

Location: Online
Date: 1/18/09
Time: 5:00 PM EST - 6:00 PM EST
Participants Limit: 20
Registration Via email ONLY

The Southwestern US is a landscpe photographer's paradise. This area is well-known for its rich colors and unusual formations - but it provides a wealth of unexpected beauty as well... snow capped mountains, sand dunes, hoodoos, and unique geology. Some of the parks located in the Southwest area, include Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Zion National Park, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Grand Canyon National Park.

Photographers will likely recognize some of the most famous icons of the region - including Antelope Canyon, The Wave, Horseshoe Bend, and the Grand Canyon - but the Southwest is full of fantastic opportunities.

The webinar will focus on the following topics:
  • Shooting Locations
  • Weather and Terrain
  • Clothing
  • Photographic Equipment
We hope you will be able to join us!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Q and A - Why use RAW Format?

With the popularity of RAW format on the rise, we often get this question:


"JPEG images are quick and easy, and they produce perfectly nice large prints. Why should I shot RAW?"


We can certainly understand why some photographers choose to shoot JPEG. RAW images cannot be viewed directly on your computer, and they require extra time and specialized software for processing and conversion to JPEG or TIFF.

When shooting in JPEG format, a mathematical algorithm determines how a photo is processed in-camera. This requires the camera to automatically select certain parameters - white balance, contrast, brightness, tone curves, black points, etc. RAW format, on the other hand, allows the photographer to select the best parameters for a given image based upon their visual perception. Today's RAW converters are even capable of applying different parameters to different parts of the image - thus giving photographer excellent fine-tuned control.

Take a look at this sample JPEG image. It was produced using the camera's default settings. Some parts of the image are overexposed (these are highlighted in red), and the rest of the image is underexposed. The automatically selected white balance gives the image an overall yellowish cast.
This second shot was processed using the RAW converter. Jay was able to correct the white balance and adjust the light level to prevent under and over exposure. The resulting image has rich vibrant colors and a no unpleasant color cast.
Here is another example that shows the power of RAW format. This shot was processed using the camera's default settings. This is what you'll get if you shoot this scene using automatic JPG settings in-camera.
With a quick adjustment of RAW parameters, Varina was able to bring back the details and vibrant colors in every part of the image.
So, is the extra trouble worth it? Take a look at the difference between the images you see here, and make up your own mind.

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