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“It not what it is, it’s what you want to make it.”

“It’s not what it is, it’s what you want to make it.”

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Whether you think this way or not, the temptation is becoming more and more irresistible to clone, crop, add/ subtract elements, colorize, de-saturate, reshape, texturize, and otherwise alter your original image.

Why not!?

At it’s most sublime, photography is a visual art, open to endless interpretation and re-interpretation of the subject/ scene. At it’s most advanced, it is visceral. After all of the rules are learned, discussed, eschewed, internalized, then ignored, the bottom line is how the image feels to you. NOTE: This is a process that is constantly evolving throughout your entire photographic life. There is no “I’ve arrived.”

We can make images with an eye towards post processing the ultimate image. 

Often, I’ll see an image or approach a scene in less than optimal conditions, thinking in terms of what it should look like.

This is when modern digital photography becomes a vehicle for gathering information, capturing RAW material, with the final image possibly being a complete departure from the original. This is the thrill of the marriage of digital capture, software efficacy, and vision.

Here’s a good example:

The original had a great feel and excellent quality of light, but no warm fireball visible from behind the tree line, which I’ve seen before. But, not on this day.

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The image has the right feel, but lacked a light source (sun), which was hidden behind a veil of thick fog.

There is a great software plugin from Red Giant Software called Knoll Light Factory (KLF). I’ve seen the work of great digital photographers and illustrators using this to create a sunstar, spotlight, fireball effect, flare, and more. Once I got into the software, I immediately recognized effects that I’ve seen before.

Here’s where it resides, after you purchase it, or download a free trial (recommended):
Photoshop > Filter > Red Giant Software > Knoll Light Factory

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Here’s the working window when selected:

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When a preset is selected, it can have many additional settings that one can switch off and on to see the effect. All that I wanted was a large warm diffused orb, like it should  have looked. Viewing the right column, only a few effects have been kept, in order to get only the warm fireball effect.

You have to create a layer for this plugin. Afterwards, the effect was a bit too strong, but in the ballpark. In order to get the desired effect, I lowered the opacity in the layer palette, then cropped to get the following image, which is what I wanted to see.

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This is one of many techniques we teach in our Nature/ Landscape workshops and software  Creativity Seminars, all listed HERE.

That’s it for now!

Have fun, take care, and we’ll see ya online!


p.s. please feel free to share!




Charleston 2016 workshop series epilogue


Charleston 2016 workshop series epilogue

We just finished our annual Charleston Creativity workshop series. Our Visual Artistry workshop followed by our software intensive Digital Edge workshop were both attended by great individuals, inquisitive and eager to learn. Aside from the photo ops at beautiful, photo rich locales, the quality of the people make these events most enjoyable for Sue and me.

We are constantly researching new locales, and after 20+ years of photographing in the area and building relationships, we are working on new and very cool locales for our 2017 workshops.

Our 2017 dates are the following:

Visual Artistry:  March 26 to 30
Digital Edge: April 2 to April 7

Email Susan for more information and to register.

We added a day to our Charleston Digital Edge to be able to visit more places and to more fully cover processing techniques, including pro tips, luminosity masks, B&W processing, infrared, and more.

The lead image is a color and infrared blend, optimized using Topaz Impression, luminosity masks, and contrast adjustments in photoshop. CLICK HERE for all software/hardware discounts.

Here’s a compilation gallery from our Charleston Creativity Workshop Series, 2016.

We’re looking forward to a couple days of personal shooting and possibly attending the WTA in the area!….and getting out to visit a jazz club or 2 before heading home, then to the Smokies for our Digital Edge workshop, April 24-28 (only one spot left).Please email Susan if interested in joining us at this great location at a prime time of year!

We have only a few openings in our 2016 workshops. Please have a look!

Keep an eye out for our next Visual Artistry Newsletter, coming soon! 

That’s it for now!

Get out there and make great images!

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


p.s. please consider sharing (see below!)

Random thought: Discussion Point

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I just posted this image from our Smoky Mountains winter shootout on FB and thought it was a pretty nice image. Then, I noticed three problem areas:

  1. No opening in the fence for the eye to enter the scene.
  2. The predominant two sheds are merged.
  3. There’s a large area of white foreground.

Q1: Does the image work? Why or Why not?

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


re-re-re-re-re-revisiting the Lonaconing Silk Mill

re-re-re-re-re-revisiting the Lonaconing Silk Mill

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After over a year hiatus, I went back to the Lonaconing silk mill with a couple dozen friends over the weekend. It’s always been fun, and this weekend was no exception. People came from as far away as Seattle, Maine, NY, NJ, VA, and PA!

I was curious as to how the long break would affect what I photographed and how I processed. The Lonaconing Silk Mill (a.k.a. as the Klotz Throwing Company) is and probably will be a photographic mecca for as long as it’s standing. The weather was perfect. A light rain over the entire weekend rendering a soft, glowing light through the silk mill. And a few of us went over to the Cumberland Scenic Railway station, which is a very photogenic location, especially at dusk

This is at least my 20th visit shooting there and the possibilities for image making remain unlimited.

I found myself shooting simpler and darker in a great many images. For some reason, I was reminded of the quote by Jack Wilkinson, “Seeing simply is seeing significantly.”

Here’s a small gallery from the weekend, all made with the Nikon 810 and an array of Nikkor lenses:

I’ll be going back to continue my evolving study of the silk mill. But before that we head to Charleston for two workshops (Visual Artistry and Digital Edge), then to the Smokies for our spring Digital Edge workshop, before returning home for a brief time. Then to the 20th anniversary MARS event in Cape May followed by Geneva for a Visual Artistry workshop and Creativity Seminar

Check out our 2016 schedule. Please contact Susan for any questions, more info, and to register!

We’ll be conducting a workshop in Nova Scotia, summer 2017. Email to be placed on our notification list.

Let me know if you have any questions about how the gallery images were made.

Spring is upon us! Get out there!

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


p.s. Please share!


Iceland 2016 – Summerama #1 (B&W)

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Iceland 2016 – Summerama #1 (B&W)

Recently, I have found the beginnings of my B&W voice. I have a long way to go, but am pretty excited about getting deeper into the process and finally finding a processing pathway that makes sense to me. 

Images from Iceland were prime raw material with which to experiment and to re-imagine. The use of tightly targeted selections and masks opened the door, beginning with becoming aware of and liberally using Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity masks. It is possible for one to create luminosity masks in PS from scratch, but for a few bucks, one can buy the TK actions and have all the work done for you. Then all that is left is learning how to apply them to targeted selections that you want to affect. Check out the Tony Kuyper actions HERE. Highly recommended!

Our Iceland Summerama tour/workshop, July 10 – 19, 2016 is on the books and has only a few open spots.

After a trip to the Glacier Lagoon (Jokulsarlon), unique to Iceland with the black sand beaches (and crowds), we work out of 2 locations off of the beaten path. The “Beaten Path” being defined as iconic locations populated by non-stop tour buses unloading non-stop walkers through the scene. This trip is the biggest bang for your image making buck as it never gets dark, only dusk. Hence, the possibility for great image making is non-stop.

Over the last couple of years, Iceland has become one of the top photo destinations in the world. As a result, the already limited hotel space has become very tight. Being on top of this, Focus on Nature has reserved rooms several years in advance.

We will be processing and critiquing during our Icelandic workshops and we will be happy to share whatever we know.

The following images were shot with B&W processing in mind. 

As always, thanks for taking the time and feel free to EMAIL with any questions.

Oh yeah! For the more spontaneous out there, we still have an opening in our Smokies Winter Shootout, Feb 21 (one week from tomorrow!) contact Sue if interested!

We’ll see ya online.


p.s. Next blog: Iceland 2016 – Summerama #2 (Color)

p.p.s. Please Retweet below…

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