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First day in the Smokies

April 23rd, 2014

A few friends have been here conducting their workshops in the Smokies for the past couple of weeks, and recently great images shot in bright, crisp fog have made their way to Facebook. I couldn’t wait to get on the road. We scheduled our workshops a couple of weeks later than usual, anticipating a late spring (educated guess, based on later springs the past 3 years), and we appear to be pretty much on schedule this year. Of course, next year could be a whole other story.

So, I met up with my mentor, Tony Gayhart (on my right) and good friend, Ron Levi at the overlook on Foothills Pkwy,


and were lucky to have some nice fog in the valley. It is possible to be too foggy, with no mountain tops exposed, in which case, it’s pretty much a bust, but today was good.

Tony and Ron took off to photograph flowers and I went up to Tremont to see what was up there, and took a few shots, looking specifically for dogwoods in the image, as they appear to be on the wane, hopefully lasting long enough for our first workshop, and hopefully a few left, depending on the elevation, for our second software based workshop.

Tomorrow, beginning at Cades Cove, we’ll be driving and shooting pretty much all day, taking note of places that are particularly good for our first group.

Here’s a small gallery of the day.

It’s a bit late….but, maybe not!, if anyone wants to join us down here for a fun and instructive workshop, beginning the next two Sundays, HAVE A LOOK HERE, then contact Susan for more info!

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


Featured Event – June 6-8, Sedona PhotoFest!

April 21st, 2014


The Sedona PhotoFest is held in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. We had a great time there last year, and I’m thankful to have been invited back in 2014!

But, aside from me, doing an eye opening Smart Phone presentation on June 6, then on June 7-8, teaching the following day in the field (using the camera of your choice), followed by a day of processing…..there are some very heavy hitters presenting and teaching this year: Great landscape photographer, Larry Lindahl, the incredible Julianne Kost!, Canon Explorer of Light, Jennifer Wu, the wildly creative Scotty Stulburg, and storm chaser, Mike Olbinski!

READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE w/ all instructor links!!

Here’s a few images from last year (didn’t shoot a lot while teaching):

We’ll be out looking for the shots that everyone wants, then we’ll be looking a bit deeper, looking past the more cliche’ images to find subjects that can be rendered in a more personal, self expressive way. Then on Day 2, we’ll take a look of your selected images  in terms of composition and exposure. Then through software interpretation (using easy photoshop techniques and Nik, Topaz, and other plugins), I’ll be working with everyone in class to help you achieve your personal vision.

We hope to see you out there!


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


Creative Diversions

April 20th, 2014

One of the main reasons that I tend to get behind on literally everything is because I tend to let projects control me, rather than the other way around. Sometimes, it’s ok, as it leads to a new path. On the downside, I get pulled away from essential, but un-fun things that have to be done. Here’s a good example. In the remarkable country of Iceland, replete with non stop, over-loading, mind blowing photo ops, one of my absolute favorite subjects is the Harpa Concert Hall, just down the road from our hotel.

It’s one of our group visits during our first full day before heading out to the countryside. I remember when the Harpa was in construction and couldn’t wait until the following year to get back there to photograph it. However, I really didn’t expect that we could get in very early and use a tripod, and move around without restrictions. Of course, in any country, common sense rules apply, like always defer to anyone coming your way; don’t block passages; and just in general, act like a sane human being.

After the initial outside portrait views, which are magnificent, myriad abstracts relentlessly present themselves, constantly being re-designed throughout the day as the light passes across the sky.

What got me going on this was coming across an image of the Apple Store in Reykjavik, with an excellent clouds and reflected cloud pattern in the glass building. It was instantly clear to me that this would make a pretty good B&W image. Here it is:



This got my blood going to go through some images of the Harpa Concert Hall, which were predominantly shot as abstract patterns.

The following images took up much of yesterday and this morning to process, but were a lot of fun, resulting in another lost day on work that HAS to get done….maybe next week…

We are really excited to get back to Iceland in June for our workshop and to share this great place, and the incredible Icelandic countryside with our clients. CLICK HERE for more info (few spaces available).

We are excited to get out of here for our Smokies workshops. I hear that conditions are good for the next week and hopefully, the next two weeks for our workshops.

Anyone want to get away? Come on down!! CLICK HERE for more info.

Future News!

2014-15 Creativity Seminars in the works

May 2015 Portugal info going out to list soon – email to be added to the list

Charleston 2015 dates in place – email to be placed on our interest list.

Flower/ Macro one day workshops TBA soon! – email to be notified. Watch This Space!


So, that’s about it for now!

Have a great spring and we’ll see ya online!






Shaping light

April 15th, 2014


I don’t how it works, but if there’s a lull in the action, I’ll start editing through older work and come across an image, maybe not even that good, over exposed, busy, or has my personal favorite: insipid composition. Something in my subconscious seems to stop on the most unlikely image, at least it seems that way to me. But, after a little tooling around to see what direction presents itself, it starts to take shape.

Before describing the  process, here’s the original:

1169159 (1)


Step 1 : Curve layer to darken globally

Step 2: Since the top of the image was almost blown out, I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro Graduated Filter, which is the only one of the graduated filters that allow us to affect brightness/ darkness of the upper and lower parts of the image. In this case, I brought the top down quite a bit and brightened the lower part of the frame a little.

Step 3: Applied 2 textures from the Belle Fleur Textures – Vista Bundle (Aged and Weathered Garden Ornaments Collection). The multiple textures are responsible for the, what appears to be, patchy light in the bottom half of the scene.

Step 3: I applied a layer of Perfectly Clear, which handles many adjustments, and is responsible for most of the punch, contrast, and sharpness of the image.

Step 4: Then went to Nik’s Silver Efex Pro for the B&W conversion, using the red filter.

Step 5: Using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop to  brighten and darken areas to increase depth.

One of keys to success in improvised music is the ability to trust in your subconscious and react appropriately to an ever changing dynamic. To a certain extent, I try to follow that same paradigm in choosing what to process. I’m constantly reminded of something Rod Planck said at a seminar many years ago, to paraphrase, when you stop at a scene, you don’t always see what your subconscious saw immediately. Sometimes, it takes time for your conscious mind to catch up.

Just a quick thought.

It’s spring! Get out there!! We’ll be in the Smokies next week!

We’ll see ya online!



Last day in Charleston, 2014

April 12th, 2014


Today was “casual day” at Magnolia. With no agenda but to just enjoy our last day here until March, 2015, my day began continuing my multiple exposure series, but got side tracked with infrared and some birds! Sue went off on her own for while to create more stellar images, then Sue and I took the tram around the back part of Magnolia and will bring our bikes next year to ride those back areas. 

After going back to change gear to shoot multiples with my D3X, I ran into our great friend, Jed Manwaring. As usual, we talked for a long time, but he had to go when a client needed his help. A little later we ran into his partner and another great friend, Brenda Tharp! And, as usual, we engaged in another of our long conversations, then Sue joined us! It was and always is great spending time with Jed and Bren and hope that another year doesn’t go by without seeing them again, but it looks like we won’t see them again until Cuba, 2015, when we will both be co-leading groups there at the same time.

Sue and I spent our last hour of so in the Audobon Swamp. Not being a bird photographer, per se’, it’s difficult not to take advantage of bird photo ops when they are flying around, nesting, right in front of us! I shot exclusively with the Fuji X system cameras and the 55-200mm lens. With birds constantly flying around to get sticks to build their nests, or to be more specific, when the males brought sticks back for the females to build the nest, I decided to use the high continuous function, where we have, I believe, 5 shots/ second. There are a couple of images in the gallery captured this way.

Also, adding the Singh Ray iRay infrared filter worked great, and the exposures were much faster, relatively speaking, at one minute. (if interested, call Singh Ray direct at 1-800-486-5501)

Anyway, we leave Charleston with our usual heavy heart tomorrow, but look forward to a week at home then to the Smokies for two workshops. Anyone interested in joining us, email Sue! This is our last spring for a couple of years, as we will be in Portugal next April at the same time! Any interest there, please email me!

Here’s my small gallery from the day:

Thanks a lot for visiting and we’ll see ya online during our drive home tomorrow.