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Since September 26…

October 29th, 2014

Time has a way of slipping away.

I got an email from a client/friend inquiring if we were ok, since my normal blogging hiatus was about 2 weeks, and I’ve been off of the blogosphere for over a month.

Well, we’re fine and time flies, especially when we’re running from event to event non stop, since September 26.

It’s one of the ironies of life that when one wants more, one gets less, and when one wants less, it gets piled on. And, of course, being self employed, it’s almost impossible to turn down work, so here’s a recap of the last month, beginning with our Badlands workshop, where we had some of the best light and shooting conditions in years:

Road Ramblings from the Badlands

Badlands Wrap-up and 2015 workshops

After a few days at home, the last month was pretty much a blur.

We were very lucky with weather for our Fall Color Riot tour in NH:

Day ONE          Day TWO          Day THREE          

Day FOUR       Day FIVE          EPILOGUE

Immediately after our NH workshop, we met up with friend and co-leader for our Maine Lighthouse tour 2015, Jack Kennealy, to scout out locales and accommodations for our Sept, 2015 Tour.

and grabbed a few shots along the way

Then for the big Kahona in Cape Cod where we filmed an instructional DVD with MasterPhotoWorkshops producer and videographer, Greg McKean, due for release April, 2015.  I was able to grab a few shots during our scouting:

Pre Taping Day ONE

Pre Taping Day TWO

We have a Cape Cod workshop in the works Oct, 2015. Email Susan to be placed on our notification list.

Finally, I had a great time at the Mike Moats macro conference in Seekuk, then a talk to a large and fun group in Lynn, MA, before heading to NYC.

After an “off” day visiting the Frick Collection and the Met with friends, Mark and Michele Menditto, I’ll be at Photo Expo NY on Thursday, Oct 30, only, and will be at the Hunts Booth #474 from 11-12 selling and signing books from my Fine Art Photography series. If you’re there, stop by and say hello!

Afterwards we’ll be heading to Concord, CA for Fotoclave, then to Santa Fe for our joint workshop with Bobbie Goodrich!

I bought my first non Nikon lens in a couple of decades, the Tamron 160-600. I was talking to Gary about it during a trip to the Hunts store in Melrose and he had one that was not claimed, so I bought it immediately. So far, after only a few shots, I’m blown away, but will be wringing it out during our westward swing. Look for a blog post on my site and on the Hunts website after Santa Fe. Am I still shooting the Fuji system? You bet! It’s the only system I’m taking to Cuba in Jan.

So much for paring down.

Thanks for taking the time and I hope to see you at PhotoExpo tomorrow.


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Badlands 2014 wrap-up and 2015 workshops

September 26th, 2014

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We just finished our 2014 workshop in the South Dakota badlands. This is one of our favorite venues. The light was pretty great, and we had more cloud situations than usual, along with the added bonus of the best sunrise clouds we’ve ever seen at the Big Badlands overlook. The bald skies were essential to capture the strong side light and the other worldly blue hour light at dawn and dusk. The many moods of the badlands were in full display!

Aside from the great group of people and non-stop photo ops, I had a personal processing breakthrough  blogged HERE and, at least to me, apparent in the gallery from the week. 

The images are a mix of my Nikon D810 and my Fuji XT1. Infrared image made with a converted Fuji XPro1.

We leave tomorrow morning and should be home Saturday evening, gearing up for a busy October. Speaking of October, we are expecting one of the best Falls in a while for our Oct 5-9 workshop in NH, we have a couple of openings remaining. It’s coming up soon, so if anyone has an uncontrollable urge to join us, please contact Susan.

Price Freeze for 2015!! We will be holding the price line for 2015!

Prices will be posted on our newly updated website coming soon! (Watch this space)

March 29 – April 2     Charleston, SC (10 person limit)

April 5-9                      Charleston Digital Edge workshop (5 person limit)

April 19-23                  Great Smoky Mountains Digital Edge (5 person limit)

May 4-14                     PORTUGAL TOUR! (12 person limit)

June 18-27                  Icelandic Odyssey (12 person limit)

August 16-20              Palouse Great American Landscape workshop (10 person limit)

Sept 13-18                   Badlands N.P., SD (10 person limit)

Sept 27 – Oct 1            Maine Lighthouse Tour w/ top Maine photographer,  Jack Kennealy  (10 person limit)

Oct 4-8                        Fall in New Hampshire (8 person limit)

Oct 14-18                     Acadia N.P., ME

More in the works…

For information on any of the workshops, or to register, please contact Sue.

Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see ya online from New Hampshire!


p.s. New news from Topazlabs! “Impression!” Pretty cool and an outstanding tool to add to our creative palette. Discount available!
Get it HERE: http://bit.ly/1p3DNuW


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Road Ramblings from the Badlands

September 21st, 2014


Being a professional jazz musician for over 20 years before my photo career ( I still play, by the way ((drums), I tend to see numerous parallels between the two pursuits. Aside from the tools of the trade, the thought process or lack thereof and ways of not thinking and just reacting are remarkably similar.

When the Monty Alexander Trio would play at the Showboat in Silver Spring, MD, many, many moons ago, I would go. I was a huge fan of piano trio and, and in particular, drummer, Jeff Hamilton. I would put up Jeff in my humble abode when they were in town. As a “captive,” I would pick his brain about how he did what he did behind the drums. His style was deceptively simple, but not really. What he played was technically easy for me, but the essence of what he played, the feel and depth of emotion wasn’t there. Then, about 5 years went by and I was playing one of Jeff’s great calypso rhythms, and I felt like the beat became wide and deep. I was playing exactly the same thing, but it felt different. It appeared to just happen. After all that time of playing, and not quite knowing why my sound didn’t have the gravity of Jeff’s….after all that time, it just happened. After years of thinking, trying, analyzing, practicing…..instantly….there was depth, weight, and something to grab on to. I know this probably sounds esoteric, but recently, within the past two weeks, a similar experience happened in my image processing. At least, it feels that way to me. 

Dig it…

In the past several years, a young crop of really great photographers have appeared on the scene. There are many: Joe Rossbach, Ian Plant, Richard Bernabe, Justin Reznick, to name only a few. All of the sudden, I saw a huge disparity in my processing and theirs. I don’t know if it’s the computer generation, where their software skills are much more facile than my generation, or whatever it was…..it was interesting to me and I was on a quest to figure out why there was that much of a difference and what I needed to do to elevate my processing techniques.

Immediately, I realized that it was the same paradigm as the aforementioned drumming story. So, I buried my head into masking techniques, layers, different plugins, blending techniques, etc., until my head was swimming. Just like practicing an instrument, I just kept processing images in my “spare” time, trying everything I could think of, fine tuning what appeared to work and discarding or modifying things that did not. It felt like I couldn’t quite get the look I wanted in synch with the look I was seeing in my imagination. Then, on this trip (before our Badlands workshop) I felt the same breakthrough feeling I felt as a musician. The image I was seeing in my imagination and my ability to process it snapped into registration. Now, I know that there is no “this is it” moment, as we and everything we do is a constant work in process, but it does appear that I’ve crossed a processing rubicon, and hopefully, will continue to evolve.

The lead image is a result of what I’m talking about. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

Constant circumspection and introspection, a sense of humility, self awareness, and a completely open mind is essential (I think) in one’s quest to create images that reflect a uniquely personal view to which we all aspire.

Here’s a pre-workshop gallery. As always, our personal shooting drops off dramatically during our workshops. We look forward to what is a predicted variable weather week for our group.

Have a great fall!

Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see ya online.


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Shooting close to home (infrared)

September 8th, 2014


Working on my iPhone book project, booking seminar dates, endless minutia, left me with a case of cabin fever.

I had to send my XPro back to Lifepixel to fix an issue. As usual, the service was great and I get my XPro back within the week. So, noticing that there were some incredible clouds happening, I took off with only my Fuji infrared system (XPro and lenses) and made some pictures, all within 5-10 minutes from our house. As this area gets more and more built up, these open areas may begin to fade away, unfortunately.

Slacks road is a pretty cool valley area right off of rte32. Hopefully, the ground may not perc test or may be a bit too hilly on which to build.

Springfield Hospital, now called Springfield Hospital Center, is a mental health facility. Newer buildings have been added to the Hospital Center, but the old original structures are still there. There is no interior photography.

Following are a few images from about an hour of driving around within a few minutes of our house.

Many digital infrared photographers are aware of the notorious “hot spot” in the middle of the frame created when using some lenses. If you are getting the hot spot, you’ll need to try different lenses. On the Fuji system, the Fuji lenses that do not create the hot spot are the 14mm, 23mm, 35mm. On my Nikon system (converted D300), the 16-35 and 28-300 work well, not producing the hot spot.

ISSUE: I purchased the Metabones adapter in order to use Nikon lenses on the Fuji X system cameras. The adapter works like a charm on the non IR converted cameras (XT1 and XE2), but does not work on the infrared converted XPro 1.
I can’t imagine that the sensor is the issue, but it may be. I’d appreciate any feedback on this issue?

UPDATE: In the shooting menu > red label #3 > Shoot without lens must be turned ON. Before sending the camera back for repair, this was set to ON, but was reset to OFF during the repair. A subsequent conversation with good friend, John Barclay, directed me to that setting which, after turning back ON, allowed for using the Metabones.

REMINDER: After getting a repaired camera back from the company, almost all of the settings are reset for some reason. DO NOT use the camera before checking and resetting your settings.

I’ll be doing a Topaz webinar on Tuesday.

We leave next Monday for our Badlands workshop, beginning our very busy last quarter of the year.

That’s about it for now.

Thanks for taking time and we’ll see ya online.


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Process – Texturized color infrared

August 19th, 2014


I’ve had some interest in this particular process. So, here’s the big picture view of the process. But, ultimately, you’ll need to jump in the pool and splash around to see what works for you.

Recently, I’ve been playing around with two of my favorite effects, color infrared and texturing, then blending the two.

The above image is the final output, but here’s the original raw file:


The red tint is the color RGB file, which can be quickly gotten rid of if processing a traditional black and white infrared. Just take the image into any B&W conversion software to create traditional IR. However, the super color conversion from LifePixel enables one to add some color back in to the infrared image, for example, adding a blue sky to a traditional infrared image.

But, taking this image through the Kromagery photoshop action (free), begins the process of creating a faux color IR.

NOTE: This is NOT channel swapping, which is something else altogether. More on that later.

After adjusting the cyan hue to blue and adjusting the red, yellow, and magenta saturations to taste, here’s that output:

lone tree

Now, some people stop here. I do too, on occasion. You can see numerous examples online, however, this is a bit harsh for me, especially the stark, cool colors.  To me, this is still pretty much raw material.

Using Dr. Brown’s paper texture panel and importing my Flypaper August Painterly texture set, I analyzed the image in terms of image color and texture color, and looked for the right blend of textures to soften and modify the color palette. First, I used Nik’s Viveza to selectively color the grassy area to a soft pale green by playing with the green adjustment, then with the hue slider. I masked out a couple of the textures (I used 3) to a moderate opacity to bring out the green a bit more. I left everything else alone.


So, with infinite adjustments available to us, how do I know when an image is finished? 

Ans: It feels right.

Special shout out to Mark Hilliard for his help and influence. Check him out on his infrared FB page.

That’s about it from Wall, SD. Back on the road tomorrow.

Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see ya online!


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