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Random thoughts: Why B&W?

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Why Black and White?

When and why does one decide?

The answers are subjective? There is no definitive answer. But, with enough experience, one can pretty quickly see a scene in B&W. The above image looked nothing like the reality, but this was what I was imagining. Below, is the reality.


  1. I “saw” the large, curvy lines, reminiscent of swimming fish, in very high contrast, which would blacken the water. With that, the basic dark nature of the rest of the image was easy to imagine.
  2. The small white cloud would be much more prominent when the blue sky was processed to become almost jet black.
  3. The sand and water under the clouds was noticeably brighter than the sand and water under the blue sky. I figured that the difference and the separation could be enhanced in processing.
  4. At the end, I added a small contrast punch on a separate layer, so that I can dial it back, if needed.

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NOTE: It’s not what it is, it’s what you want to make it.

Just a random thought.

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


p.s. WHOA…almost forgot… Our Visual Creativity Seminars are now downloadable from Masterphotoworkshops!

p.p.s. please share

There’s only two kinds of photography…


When anyone asks about my favorite kind of photography, I instantly recall and re-quote the great Duke Ellington. When Duke was asked about his favorite kind of music, his reply was, “There are only 2 kinds of music, good and bad.” In my case, “Theres only two kinds of photography, good and bad.”

Our Milford, CT Creativity seminar about a year ago (hosted by Milford Photo), went well, but it was the dead of winter. After the seminar, there was a photowalk. We had 12 people for our Yale campus photowalk. We  had access to 2 very small areas (wardrobe and props rooms), to the theatre (preparing for a show), and the outside (devoid of color w/ a white winter sky).

Primarily a nature photographer, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to photograph. I had to change my paradigm. I went out with the intent to work with the people and with no expectations of coming back with any keeper images. When chances to shoot came up, I just kept in mind elements of nature: line, patterns, perspective, filling the frame, and special techniques. At the time, I wasn’t satisfied with anything I shot.

I let these images sit for about a year before having a closer look. After a year, those negative feelings were gone and I was able to look at the work objectively, uncolored by the emotion of the moment. 

Here’s a gallery from our day on the Yale campus last winter:

Things came out a bit better than I thought at the time. 


…from The Shameless Self Promotion Department:

Our Visual Artistry Creativity Seminar DVD is available via video download!

Our Visual Artistry Nature/ Landscape photography workshops are now online!
BLACK FRIDAY 10% discount until 12 midnight CYBER MONDAY

Here’s our latest Visual Artistry newsletter!

View a short slide show of 2015 images


…from The Black Friday Software Discount Department:

Topaz Collection is 50% off (17 products) USE code BLACKFRIDAY2015

Macphun Creative Kit is 85% off (85% is not a misprint!)!

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We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

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


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A random thought: You get what you get.


It’s true, you do get what you get in the field, and the job is to make it work. However, based on how well one knows an area, and knowing what to expect, compromises may have to be made to get your shot.

The lead image is a good example. Walking into Tent Rocks, it’s pretty clear of hikers when it opens. There are no lines to get in, as we have at iconic scenes on the east coast. The sky was cloudless and the sun was at an angle, creating deep shadows and blown out highlights. From previous years, I learned that this “off the beaten path” park gets heavily trafficked later in the morning. So, rather than risking being in the line of foot traffic on the way out, I chose to take the shot on the way in.  

Compositionally, I used the tree on the left to merge with the super bright area in order to try to make the brightness less of a distraction, then added the large bare roots on the right to frame the background tree. I really liked the way the elements were distributed and was hoping that I could get a viable image thru processing.

Here is the infrared raw file.


Here is the conversion to B&W infrared.


  1. The blown out rocks and deep black shadows were the issues. After toning down the highlights and opening up shadows in lightroom, there was still a need for more targeted adjustments. This is where Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity actions come into play. Highly recommended.


2. With the TK actions, I was able to target specific levels of brightness, midtowns, and shadows. Specifically, the highlights are toned down and the black shadows within the roots now have a little detail.

3. I used the dodge tool (on a separate layer) in photoshop to brighten the pathway and again to brighten up the trees on the left side of the pathway. Tip: It’s important to keep the opacity low (3-4%), and to dodge/ burn on all three ranges in the dropdown (using a soft brush): Shadows, midtones, highlights.

4. Next, I used a control point in Viveza to add contrast to the top of the distant tree, which, also darkened the sky above the tree.

5. Finishing up with a global contrast “bump” –  In the unsharp mask filter – percent=20, radius=50, threshold=0,  all done on a separate layer, and adjust the opacity, if needed.

That’s it. Just a random thought.


• Please check out our 2016 Visual Artistry Nature/ Landscape photography workshops.

• Our brand new Creativity Seminar video download is now available from Masterphotoworkshops

• FOR SALE:  Our Tamron 150-600mm lens is For Sale. I’ve returned to using exclusively Nikon. The lens is light and sharp. I can send a raw file if anyone is interestedDrop a line if interested.

Random samplings: Images of 2015

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



Please share!

End of 2015 – Santa Fe workshop w/ Bobbie Goodrich


Ghost ranch

Our last workshop of the season was a joint effort with the great Bobbie Goodrich, out of her studio in Santa fe, NM. The weather was surprisingly chilly in the morning. Actually, our first day there, it snowed. Aside from being a bit chilly, the weather cooperated. Schedules permitting, we’ll be doing this again next year. Watch this space…

I’m finding that about half my work over the past several months was infrared, using my D800 w/ the super color conversion from Lifepixel.com.

The lead image was made with the new Nikkor 200-500mm lens.

There’s some cool new software to check out:

On1 10 – All in one multiple plugins software suite! Use discount code, tonysweet10 for a 10% savings.

Topaz Texture Effects – Great texturing plugin. UI easy to understand and easily navigable. Ton of options to personalize your work. 

Go Here: http://bit.ly/1Y5oC7w

….and use the discount code “TEXTUREFX” to save $20.

Macphun’s Aurora – MAC only. Brand new and probably the best HDR program out there (cool adjustments). CLICK  HERE to pre-order.

Our 2016 Visual Artistry Landscape/ Nature photography workshops are now online and accepting registrations. CLICK HERE for more info.

We have a few uninterrupted months at home to catch up office work, get going on projects, and getting details together for our 2016 workshops and schedule of events.

I hope that everyone had a great year and best wishes for the upcoming holidays!

Best regards,

Tony and Sue

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Revisting venues, revisited…


We just completed the first annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit with a packed house. Over 200 photographers were in attendance. It was great to see old friends, meet facebook friends, and to make new ones. The vibe is always good at these types of events  and this was no exception. Wilson converted the Tremont Lodge and Resort into the perfect photo workshop/ conference center, where there was ample space for break out sessions and larger lecture venues. The pace was easy with groups, led by instructors, going out every morning for a few hours, then a series of lectures by Jim Begley, Bill Fortney, Jack Graham, Snake Barrett, Smokies icons Ken Jenkins and Bill Lea, photoshop guy Scott Kelby, On1 guy, Matt Kloskowski (Matt the K), Len Rue, Rob Sheppard, Brett Wells, yours truly, and resort owner, and the man with the vision, Wilson Reynolds. Some line up! I definitely feel fortunate to be a small part of it.

Because of the huge fall crowds in the Smokies, I took my two morning groups to Foothills Parkway, which is a classic morning venue. Since every day can be quite different at this volatile time of year, I continued going up on my own for two more days. During our Visual Artistry nature and landscape workshops, we want to take the clients to as many different venues as possible in our spring and winter workshops. However, I really enjoy revisiting the same locations several days in a row, and since this was the perfect opportunity, the following images illustrate how Foothills Parkway looked on four consecutive mornings.

1st morning – Clouds are always good and it’s nice to drive up and to see clouds create sky breaks as the day brightens.

2nd morning – The morning began seeing dense fog in Townsend. Fog in Townsend does not necessarily mean fog in Cades Cove, but because of the enormous lines at the cove, we went up to the Parkway, expecting to see fog in the valley. Compositions presented themselves for hours. 

3rd morning – It appeared that every car at the conference went up to the Parkway. The very large parking lot, where we normally go was full! That’s right….every parking place was taken and there was a line up of over a hundred photographers. Rather than jumping into the pile, we went up to the next overlook, where there were about 10 photographers, and a little more breathing room.

4th morning – Everyone was packing, so our main overlook on Foothills Parkway had the normally expected number of photographers: 4. The sky was very overcast, but clouds opened up and started streaming across and over the hills.

It was really nice to have the luxury to revisit Foothills Pkwy on 4 consecutive days, and was also illustrative to me and to anyone else to see how radically different a location can look on consecutive visits.

FYI: Every image except 4 was shot with the Nikon 200-500mm lens.

We leave tomorrow, and are waiting for a rain shower now for a little rain photography. I’ll go to Foothills Pkwy once more in the morning before heading to Santa Fe, for our joint workshop with the great Bobbie Goodrich!

As we wind down, Sue and I would like to thank our clients for a fun and successful 2015 workshop season and we look forward to seeing and serving our clientele in 2016.

Our 2016 workshop schedule is now online.

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


p.s. please share!

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