150 years later it seems to still bear the scars of battle. Open space where maybe there shouldn’t be. The unheard silence quashes the sounds of nature. Visitors speak in hushed, reverent tones.
Nothing prepares you for the emotions that rise up to almost choke you when visiting a site with so much importance, so much history, and so much of our country’s blood shed to defend two opposite ideals.
7,863 men lost their lives and over 27,000 were wounded. To walk among the grave markers in the cemetery, reading the names of individuals who fell 150 years ago, thinking about who they were, what they did, and how they lived, makes you look inward at your own life.
Sprinkled throughout the names are the unknown. A marker representing an individual who was unrecognizable or unable to be identified. In addition to all of the above questions, you ask yourself if their family ever learned of their sacrifice or if anyone even missed them at all. It’s a sobering thought, the idea that you could lose your life for a belief and no one would ever know.
You have to wonder about about what we lost. Was their death also the death of a new idea or a cure for a disease or a future leader? Who did they leave behind? How did their families fare after they were lost? Every marker represents a past, a unique history, a different story. But they all have one thing in common.
Some states lost many.
And some not so many.
For some, we’ll never know.
But they all fell here at Gettysburg.
Posted 4 months, 2 weeks ago at 7:35 am. 2 comments
Travel day. But a good one. Rockville, Indiana to Shreve , Ohio. Ya, those are two names that you know so well. Not!!!
No. Those are the two places we decided to stay for the last two nights. They’re just two campgrounds on back country roads that were convenient at the time we wanted to stop. Remember, Tour de ‘Merica. No interstates.
I’ve learned a lot on small roads. Driving past people’s homes. Past their place of work. Past their playgrounds. Looking at their houses, their yards, their gardens, and their junk. And let me tell you, there is a LOT of junk!!!
I’ve seen more crap in people’s yards and shit for sale than I ever need to see. I’ve seen the usual cars, trucks, trailers, and RVs. But some of them were in TERRIBLE condition. I’m not even sure they ran or were safe. But they were for sale.
I’ve seen boats for sale. With and without trailers. I’ve seen canoes, swing sets, beach chairs, swimming pools, boat motors, and trampolines. People are trying to sell washers, dryers, ovens, and refrigerators. There are auto parts, wood, tax services, pool maintenance, and house cleaning, all advertised on the side of the road, in front of someone’s house, in their yard.
But my favorites are the farm equipment. I’ve seen combines for sale. Who drives down the road, sees a combine, and says “That’s just what I’ve been looking for!!!” They can’t be cheap. I’m thinking upwards of 150k to 250k. Who does that? Combines, tractors, tilling machines, back hoes, irrigation equipment, almost everything you need to run your farm. It’s for sale on the side of America’s highways. And it amazes me every time.
We’ve got about 350 miles to go before we reach our destination. All on back country roads. I’m still excited to wake up every day to see what’s around the next bend. What does the next turn have in store for us? What does America want me to see next?
Driving through Indianapolis.
Posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago at 5:05 pm. Add a comment
Badlands NP is hot at seven in the morning. And it doesn’t get cooler. We left before eight for an epic drive out of South Dakota, across Nebraska, and part way into Iowa. Almost 500 miles and it wasn’t that boring.
We traveled through Nebraska on highway 20. It looks straight on the map. It isn’t in real life. It winds through the country side like a snake going through a dance floor. Right turns, left turns, left turns, and right turns. And all of those turns through what seemed like miles and miles of corn.
In fact, it was miles and miles of corn. Like over two hundred miles of corn. All those fields with farmers on tractors, or in their yards, or fixing equipment. Whatever they were doing.
The thing is that I had a lot of time to think. This is going to seem obvious and probably self righteous and condescending, but it’s the reason I made this trek.
I watched all of the people as I drive through the small towns and past their fields. I talked to them in gas stations and held the door for them as we left the cashier together. I chuckled inwardly at their Mossy Oak camo hats and John Deer shirts. But I also realized they were laughing at me as well.
I looked at their trucks. Real trucks. Work trucks. None of that bullshit, raised, blinged out, mall crawlers that never see a dirt road outside of some landscaping runoff. These were trucks that were used as trucks. Driven by people who did the same thing as me. They worked. They worried. They lived.
I’m sure they all had different views on life, politics, religion, family, and even fun. But they were living their lives. They were doing the same thing we do everyday.
I thought about Southern California. You don’t see lots of farmers, but you do see different walks of life. When I drive though Orange County, the people are going about their lives just as the people in San Bernardino and Riverside and L.A. and San Diego.
Yes, I know that what I’m saying makes me seem shallow. And yes, I already knew all of this. But seeing it first hand. To see America at work. In their own back yard. Literally. It made me think.
Posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago at 6:35 am. Add a comment
Why not undercut the competition? Who gets to determine what you charge for a photograph or session? Do you care that you are hurting others with your pricing? Because I don’t.
Ok, you have to be asking where in the world is this coming from?
I read a post recently on Guy Tal’s blog that talked about one photographer’s idea of spending hours at a national park to get the “right” shot and then, while resting, watching a car pull up to a scenic view, roll down the window, and take the picture with an iPad before driving away. Guy explained how the iPad photographer never experienced the place. That made me think.
Didn’t both photographers experience the scene? Yes, but in their own different way. Guy sitting on the back of his car enjoying the smells, sounds, and feel of the place and the iPad shooter who came, saw, shot, and went. One is not better than the other; just different.
About the same time I had read several posts from different authors stating that the Uncle Bob photographers who were shooting senior session, weddings, and such for thousands less than “professional” photographers were hurting the business with their cut rate pricing. I have been to many workshops and conferences where the speakers* claimed that by charging rock bottom/cut rate prices, the Uncle Bob shooters were hurting the industry. That made me think.
Why not shoot for the lowest price? At least they are working and getting paid. The two individuals viewing a landscape, one by taking his time and experiencing the sights and sound of the setting and the other with a drive-by feeling, are both getting what they want out of the situation. Does the drive-by photographer hurt the experience of the individual who takes their time to enjoy the details of the area? No. Why not do that with pricing?
Mr. Professional photographer charges 10-20 thousand dollars for a wedding and/or 1-2 thousand for a senior or family shoot. Uncle Bob will shoot a wedding for two hundred dollars and a senior session for $75. Both are making money from their photography, but in many people’s minds Uncle Bob’ low pricing is “hurting” the profession by devaluing photography.
How is he devaluing photography? He his making what he wants to make for what he does. If that works for him, great. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to make a fortune in photography and I just wanted to shoot to make myself happy, I stopped caring about what others thought. I shoot for me.
If I can make a couple of bucks, great. If not, that’s ok too. I took the above image at my school’s production of Les Misérables. I got $200 for shooting the dress rehearsal. I gave away the images to who ever wanted them. Why? I had fun. Making a few bucks didn’t hurt.
Like news organizations and mass media, the photography business is changing. How many newspapers are shrinking in size (if they even still exist)? Why? Because we get our information from the internet, Twitter, and smartphone apps. Look at the TV networks; they are competing against HBO, STARZ, Cinemax, etc. and now Netflix is putting forward a whole new model of watching series with Lilyhammer and House of Cards. Newspapers and the major networks will either adapt or they will disappear because there are plenty of alternatives to what they offer.
It’s the same with photography. Uncle Bob can get the same equipment as Mr. Professional. Uncle Bob can learn how to use it through the internet and practice. And Uncle Bob, if he want’s to, can offer most of the same products as Mr. Professional. As long as Uncle Bob is comfortable with what he is charging, you have no right to complain. It’s his business. Mr. Professional, adapt or disappear because Uncle Bob is offering an alternative.
Like a lot of things in life, the business of photography is changing. Get used to it.
*I always found it interesting that the people telling us to stop undercutting the “professionals” were the ones who were making the most money.
Posted 8 months ago at 8:28 am. 2 comments
Until recently, I have been trying to focus on being a “nature” photographer. I thought I was pretty good, but I felt limited. I like lots of things and I should shoot them. This is what photography should be like. Shooting what interests you. Shooting something different.
I am tired of trying to shoehorn myself into a category. I like photography. I’ll shoot and share the images I like. Here and on NatureLightPhotograpy.com. I like nature and have several trips planned in the near future to shoot it, but I also like other things. Sometimes some pretty weird stuff. For some reason, dead animals hold a fascination for me; road kill especially. Don’t ask why, I have no idea.
I realized that photos, like art, should please the artist. If they make others happy, that’s good, but the important thing is to challenge myself with what I love. Or sometimes things I want to know more about. I have some ideas that I’d like to pursue in the near future. One of which has to do with shaving cream. That should be interesting if not entertaining.
Recently, I have started to ride dirt bikes and have taken an interest in racing. Both watching it and participating. It probably is some kind of death wish, but I’ll write more on that later.
Last year I went to Anaheim Stadium to watch Supercross, which is like motocross, but in a stadium. I loved it!! You could sit very close to the track and watch the riders work their machines around the track, making them dance and fly in ways that I could only dream.
Because there is two races three to four weeks apart at Anaheim, I went twice. The first time was to experience the spectacle. Not knowing what to expect, I didn’t take my camera. But the second time I was prepared! While my seats for the actual race were up high so I could see the whole track, during practice you can get down next to the track, but still in the stands, and photograph the riders.
That’s how I got this shot. I like it. I like the composition, the lighting, and the lack of distractions in the background.
Posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago at 8:59 am. Add a comment
The last few months have been interesting to say the least. Without going into details, I have had some life changing events take place that included the loss of three family members, a slightly serious health issue, and some sever monetary issues. Needless to say, I have been forced to take a serious look at my life and what I want from it and, important to this blog, my photography. Everything is getting much better at this point in my life, but I still haven’t accomplished what I set out to do with my photography.
I started to reevaluate my photography about two and a half months ago and posted my thoughts on my Moving Forward – Finding Inspiration post. Due to the health issues I haven’t gotten much past the state or thought process that I was in at that time, but having become much more healthy and able to get out and shoot, travel, and maintain a more “normal” lifestyle.
As a result, I have made some more concrete decisions about what I want to do with my photography. I have two websites that I will be using; this one and www.naturelightphotography.com. Again, I am truly inspired by G Dan Mitchell in his work and in his social distribution of his photography.
As a result, I will be using this website for my thoughts on photography, cycling, traveling/overlanding with my FJ Cruiser, and just life thoughts in general. Most of the posts will be photography related, but there will probably be a few that aren’t strictly for photographers. The posts won’t be daily, but they should be fairly regular.
My other site, Nature Light Photography, will be strictly my images. I’ll be honest and admit that it is patterned after Mitchell’s site, but I am hoping that it is different enough that people don’t see it as a copy or knockoff. I’m not sure why I think that would be bad, but it is something I want to avoid. My goal is to post a new image daily. I think I can do that because I can easily discuss my images since I was there when I took them and I know what the situation was and what I was thinking to produce the image.
This site will maintain it’s looks because I like the feel of the site, but there might be some subtle changes in the future. www.naturelightphotography.com will be undergoing a comprehensive renovation to facilitate a more photo friendly site to view.
I will be posting some of my ideas and thoughts about my reasons for change and where I’m headed in the future, but until then the bottom line is that I’m restarting the engine and heading down a different road, but I hope the results will be the better this time.
Posted 2 years, 1 month ago at 3:06 pm. Add a comment
I listen to a lot of podcasts. I have 23 of them on my iPhone that I listen to regularly and another 10-15 on my computer at home. I listen to them when I am in the car traveling to work, vacation, the store, where ever. I am a podcast junkie. I haven’t listened to the radio in ages. I include video podcasts in this catagory. I don’t watch them in the car, but while waiting for appointments or whatever.
I have learned a few things about podcasts. Some are good. Some are bad. And some are both.
Bad & Ugly
I am not going to list the podcasts here, but if you read between the lines you’ll figure it out.
It is NOT a podcast when you film yourself shooting a waterfall, birds, mountain landscapes or whatever and all the viewer sees is a waterfall, birds, or a mountain landscape with a camera firing off at 6-8 frames per second as the sound in the background. If you don’t have narrative about what you are shooting, why you are shooting it, or what you are trying to do with the camera, it is NOT a podcast. It is just a bad video.
You wouldn’t post or make public the images that you are not proud of, why do that with a podcast? Just because you can post something doesn’t mean that you should.
It is NOT a podcast when most of the material you talk about is a plug for your latest and greatest workshop or light modifier or whatever. It is an ad. There is nothing wrong with advertising, but not at the expense of most of your material.
You have thousands of listeners around the world and you’re plugging a workshop that has room for 15 people. Make your sales pitch and then move on to the reason we downloaded the podcast. If you tell everyone that you will be answering questions about photography, answer some. Or a lot. If your podcast is supposed to be an interview, then get to the interview. 15 minutes of interview and 45 of the workshop plug is not why we downloaded you.
It is NOT a podcast if you produce one every 6-8 weeks. It is a reminder that you are not doing what something on a regular basis. This is the reason I don’t produce a podcast. I don’t have the time to do it right on a regular basis.
It is NOT a podcast when you rebroadcast something you did for someone else. If you want to include it in your feed, fine, but don’t add it to your count and say it is a podcast.
There are some really good podcasts out there. They are done well, educational, and entertaining.
The Image Doctors
This is produced by the Nikonians.org website. Jason Odell and Rick Walker talk about Nikon equipment (obviously) and some of their shoots that they go on. But they include tips, ideas, and other information that can make you a better shooter. Their equipment reviews are honest; giving you both the things they liked as well as the things they didn’t.
Scott Bourne puts together some great guests and all they do is answer questions submitted by listeners. They always answer the questions in depth and from two points of view. It is a VERY educational podcast about photography. And the website that goes with it is one of the best photography oriented sites on the internet.
This Week In Photography is a well produced podcast about everything photography. Host Fredrick van Johnson along with co-hosts Alex Lindsay, Steve Simon, Ron Brinkmann, and Aaron Mahler talk about the past, present, and future of photography. They all have an immense amount of experience in photography and are very entertaining as they give tips, opinions, and insights on photography.
The Candid Frame
Host Ibarionex R. Perello interviews individuals in the photography world. Most of them I have never heard of, but they have some great insights and thoughts on ideas that make you think.
Thoughts On Photography
Paul Giguere has a great podcast on living a photographic life. He has interviews and thoughts on being a photographer and producing images that are interesting and tell a story.
Bill Crawford and Ed Hidden talk about and interview people about mostly studio lighting. Lots of interesting ideas and insights on thinking about how to use studio lighting.
The magazine is good. Brooks Jensen produces a short (4-5 minutes) podcast about his thoughts on photography. Everyone of them are thought provoking and relevent.
Dave Warner interviews a lot of the iconic photographers using Canon gear. Yes, it is Canon, but we all know it is not about the gear, but the eye behind the viewfinder and you can hear what those great eyes have to say on this podcast.
Podcasts are a great way to learn about photography and lots of other subjects. If you are producing a podcast, take the time and effort to do it right.
Posted 4 years ago at 12:51 pm. 1 comment
About month ago, I attended Dane Sanders Real Time Community one day presentation that included Dane Sanders, Chris Becker, and Scott Bourne. My whole intent was to listen to Mr. Bourne and ask him about being a nature photographer. I got that chance.
He recommended using some of the online forums, the first being NatureScapes.net. I had already signed up for it previously, but have since become much more active in the community. That is how I ran across this photographer and saw his amazing work.
I was going through the NatureScapes.net forums and found a couple of posts by David Courtenay. He seemed to know what he was talking about, so I checked out his website.
One word: WOW!!!
The front page is a flash page with some AMAZING images on it. If you delve deeper into the site those images don’t stop. He has 25 different galleries and in none of them can I find what I would consider even a mediocre image. They are ALL breath taking and VERY well composed and captured.
I have a couple of favorites. One of them is#9 in the Indian Tiger portfolio. Most people would take pictures of a tiger in the wild and you would see the tiger and Mr. Courtenay has twelve other images that do that very well. This image is of a paw print in the mud and it is WELL done. I have seen images of tigers and if I went to India, I would have some good images of tigers also, but I think the image of the paw print shows a different view. There is enough in the image to give a sense of the size of the tiger.
The other is #27 in the American Mammal portfolio. It has a deer standing with it’s neck turned, looking to the right. I swear that he had to be laying on the ground in front of the deer to take the picture. I contacted him about it and he said that he used a remote on a camouflaged camera to capture the image. I don’t care, it is THE best deer picture I have ever seen.Images of deer are a dime a dozen, but none that I have ever seen are as good or from the perspective as Mr. Courtenay’s. I have seen images of tigers and if I went to India, I would have some good images of tigers also, but I think the image of the paw print shows a different view. There is enough in the image to give a sense of the size of the tiger.
All of them give you a fresh perspective on the subject. In the American Mammals portfolio, Mr. Courtenay has fourteen images of a squirrel. A SQUIRREL!!! Anyone can take a picture of a squirrel!! But not with the impact of his images.
His photos are what I want to be able to capture images similar to his. They are tack sharp, well composed, and convey the sense of the viewer actually being there. This is the skill that I want and need to develop in my images.
After reading his bio, he has been active in photography for quite some time and has lived in many places giving him access to some great areas to photograph. I realize that that experience has contributed to the excellence of his images, but as his squirrel photos demonstrate, you don’t need exotic subjects to make captivating images.
You need the skills and the vision to capture what is before you. This is what I aspire to achieve in my photography. I need to see the picture and become good enough to be able to capture it while it is in front of me.
I am going to have to step up my game to reach that goal.
Posted 4 years ago at 12:18 pm. 1 comment
I don’t get it.
The argument for or against one or the other. Full frame or crop sensor. It’s like Canon vs. Nikon. Or Apple vs. PC. Or even digital vs. film. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Ok, I get the digital vs. film. It’s digital.
Each has it’s merits and each has it’s problems. Personally, I like the crop sensor. Why? Because I like the extra “reach” that the 1.5 crop factor on the Nikon D300 gives me. I like the way a 70-200mm lens acts like a 105-300. I like the way that a 1:1 macro 105mm lens becomes more than 1:1. (At least I think it does.) And I think that the ability to use a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens that is designed for a crop factor sensor is nice. And when a lens made for a full frame sensor is used on a crop factor sensor, the image quality goes up because the smaller sensor is in the “sweet spot” of the lens.
Ok, there are probably some problems. A crop factor sensor can’t go as wide as a full frame sensor and it probably is more susceptible to digital noise because of the smaller pixel size. Obviously, a wide angle lens isn’t as wide as wide as it is on a full frame camera. I don’t mind that. I don’t use wide angle very much and would rather get the advantage of the long reach at the other end. And of course the crop sensor lacks the “cool” factor that owning a new full frame camera has.
While I like and want a crop frame senor in my camera, I understand the advantages of the full frame; less noise, wide angle lenses are wide angle, and the newest equipment factor kicks in. But I LOVE and WANT my crop factor sensor.
There is a reason, need, and place for both. I am tired of hearing about one being better than the other. If the system you have works for you, USE IT!!
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 10:37 am. Add a comment