Category Archives: Abstract

On The Move!

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It just occurred to me the last time I blogged was almost a month ago after wrapping up our Charleston Tour.  Since then I have been super busy with our Meetup Group, and traveling the camera club lecture circuit.  No complaints, it’s always a blast getting out and meeting new people who share this passion we call photography!

The image above is the latest in my Motion Abstracts Series.  I prefer a cloudy day for this type of work and of course try to keep the sky out of the image.  Even though the tree does a nice job breaking up the boring gray sky, I decided a couple Flypaper Textures were just what I needed to take the problem with the gray sky “out of the picture”, so to speak.

If you want to learn more about Textures, my partner Denise regularly lectures on textures to camera clubs in the Mid-Atlantic area. Her next lecture on Textures will be at NIH Photo Club on June 14th.  If you want to check out Flypaper Textures, be sure to use our discount code to save a few bucks.

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Charleston

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We just concluded our first tour of Charleston, South Carolina! I was last in Charleston about 8 years and revisiting this fantastic city was even more fun than I remembered. Charleston has so much to offer photographers. The beautiful architecture of the old city, beaches for sunrise, plantations and gardens to just name a few of the great shooting locations.
 

We are looking forward to returning to this great city! Drop us an email at info@roadrunnerphotographytours.com if you would like to be notified when we offer our next tour in Charleston.

 

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West Virginia in the Fall

We are so fortunate to live so close to such amazing beauty as West Virginia. Wild and Wonderful is there slogan and it is spot on!

Every year, Road Runner has been leading fall tours in this area and this fall will be no exception. Each season provides new wonders, so don’t miss this opportunity to get out and enjoy the changing seasons!

For more information and to register, click here.

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Playing With Ice

Although winter is steadily coming to an end, ice may have a place in your future! Here is a fun idea to try out at home, maybe on a warm summer day to keep you cool while you practice some macro photography.

Start by taking a plastic container or a clear Pyrex cooking dish, filing it with water and submerging flowers, either silk or real). Put this in the freezer the night before you need it and let it set up. You do not want to freeze it too early, as the ice could turn weird on you.

Next day, take it out and out it in a large aluminum baking dish, or something similar.

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Start shooting away. You might be intrigued by the results… soft, hints of subject matter.

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Be creative… you don’t need to stop at the ice… use textures and borders to highlight your image!

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The possibilities are limitless! Let your creative juices flow!

Quality vs. Quantity

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I’m going to start with a question. What is more important, quality of work or quantity of work? What I mean by this is what if you took a week long trip and only got one portfolio quality image? Would the trip be a failure or a success? The answer to this question of course depends of your point of view.

Sitting on this side of the computer I have a front row seat to the internet just like you. Now you can look at websites like 500px and generally you will see examples of stunning work from a variety of photographers. Or if you go over to Flickr you might see someone post dozens or even hundreds of pictures from a particular trip or event. There is no right answer to this question, its like many things in life, a matter of opinion.

As I finish my 2nd decade as a photographer, with a 20 year break between decades, I find that I value quality. In my mind this is the only possible choice. When you go to a gallery or art show you see a few pieces from a particular artist at best. Artists have always been forced to be selective when it comes to showing their work. But with the advent of the internet and nearly unlimited online storage, it takes us back to the days of sitting in front of a slide projector as your neighbor shows you 200 shots from their vacation. Did you fall asleep before the show was over? You have to be older than 40 to appreciate the comparison.

It’s not my intent to be critical of others in this space but let’s think a minute. If you post 100 pictures from a particular place or event, how many people will loose interest before looking at all of your images? Or how many will judge your ability as a photographer not by your best image, but by your worst? The fact is we all take lousy images. I could show you thousands, but then you would not be inclined to return to my blog. I think it helps if you can develop the ability to be your toughest critic. That does not mean that you should not show your images and have pride in your work. You should! I think the art of photography is a journey and not a destination. Personally I hope to be a better photographer as time progresses. Part of that process is being critical of my work and introperspective on how I can strive to improve.

In regard to the blog image above.  It was the only worthy image from a full a day of shooting motion abstracts.   The rest were just not that good.  But my happiness with the one image far overpowers any possible disappointment with the hundreds I had taken that day that no one else will ever see.

Masks, Layers, Blending Images…

Do you have thousands of images hidden away on multiple external hard drives? Have you edited and shared the ones you loved the most? What about the others? What are all those little pixels doing, besides taking up space?

Well, here is an idea… use pieces and parts of those images to make an entirely unique image! That’s right… compositing images together to create something uniquely you.

This image was created using images from Iceland, Death Valley, Oregon, and DC. There are 10 unique images in this composites… well some part of 10 unique images. In each and every case, I had a friend standing right near me, shooting the same scene. But this image, this composite is uniquely my vision. Sure I shared images from each of those trips, but this work is a creation of my imagination and there will never be another like it, even if I tried to do it again, it would be different (different settings and adjustment layers, different mood).

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This image is a combination of 9 images; from Seattle, to the Palouse, WV, Iceland, and the Shenandoah. Because each image was its own full size raw file, the level of detail in each component of the composite is clear and can be explored for its detail. For example, the lady driving the car; dive in and check out the schmirk on her face!

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The possibilities are endless. Also, the pixels hidden away on those drives now have a totally new purpose!

Compositing takes practice and patience. In and of itself, it is actually not that difficult to do once you learn the techniques to separate parts and pieces of images and how to blend them together. You have to have Photoshop (Elements or higher) to composite, because you need to be able to use layers and masks.

If you are intrigued by the idea of compositing images or blending textures with your images, then you might want to join me for a couple of workshops. You can register for these workshops, and my Introduction to Lightroom workshop on the Road Runner Photoshop Tours Meetup.

Learn to use Photoshop layers and masks. There are so many ways to select and mask, each one has its upside and downside… learn how to decide which is best for your needs in my Introduction to Photoshop – Layers, Masks, and More. This workshop will be held on Saturday, Feb 28, 2015.

Learn to blend textures, as well as images (compositing). This workshop will focus on blending techniques. Workshop on Textures and Blending Techniques. This workshop will be held on Saturday, March 21, 2015.

The combination of the Photoshop workshop and the Texture/Blending workshop, will give you all the skills you need to take your art to the next level of creativity.

TopazLabs Glow!

Topaz Labs announces a new program – GLOW!

This program is so creative! With over 70 unconventional filters, Glow can electrify your images in so many imaginative ways; from neon effects to added detail with graphic lines. The product has that same user-friendly feel as the other TopazLab products you know and love.

From Dec 9 through Dec 31, TopazLabs is running a promotion on this new innovative editor. To take advantage of the introductory price of just $49.99 (regularly $69.99), use coupon code: INTROGLOW, when checking out.

This program is great for all types of photography as well, from macro to wide angle, nature to urban decay. With so many filter alternatives, each one fully customizable, there is no limit to this program’s application. The program can be used as as a plugin, or as a stand-alone editor. Which means you do need to own a host program such as Lightroom or Photoshop to use this application.

System Requirements: Mac OSX 10.8+ or Windows 7/8 x 64bit + OpenGL 2.1

Here are some images enhanced with Glow!

 

To learn more about Glow, purchase, or start a free trial, click below:

 

Speaking Engagements Announced

We are scheduled for the following Speaking Engagements, feel free to come out and join us!!

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Sept 18: 8pm – Baltimore Camera Club – Textures and Blending – Denise

5800 Cottonworth Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209

 

Oct 1: 7:30pm – Arundel Camera Club – Light Painting – Don

Severna Park High School, Room 114, Severna, MD

 

Oct 9: 7pm – Loudoun Camera Club – Textures and Blending – Denise

George Washington University, 20101 Academic Way, Sterling, VA

 

Oct 13: 7pm – Gaithersburg Camera Club – Composition: The Rules and When to Break Them – Denise

Ashbury Methodist Village at Lost Knife Road and Odendhal Avenue

 

Nov 13: 7pm – Charlotte Camera Club – Abstract – Don

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1623 Carmel Road, Charlotte, NC, 28226

 

Nov 15: 11:30am – Nature Visions Expo – Light Painting – Don

Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA 20110

 

Jan 8, 2015 8: 6pm – Charlottesville Camera Club – Composition: The Rules and When to Break Them – Denise

1180 Pepsi Place, Charlottesville, VA

 

Jan 13: 7pm – Academy of Science and Art of Pittsburgh – Textures and Blending – Denise

Mt. Lebanon Rec Center, 900 Cedar Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA, 15228

 

Feb 3: 7pm – Maple Shade Moorestown Camera Club – Abstract – Don

200 N. Stiles Avenue, Maple Shade, NJ 08052

 

April 8: 7:30pm – Cranbury Digital Camera Club – Textures and Blending – Denise

Cranbury United Methodist Church, 21 North Main Street, Cranbury, NJ, 08512

Artistic License

Artistic License… what does it really mean…?

The freedom to create artwork based on the artist’s interpretation.

Often, photography is not seen as “art”. This is really a tragedy, as photographers spend hundreds of hours honing their craft, learning their tools, improving their skills, understanding light and composition, just as other artists do… yet, they are not given the same respect or credit. How often have we heard… “Wow, great pic, you must have an excellent camera” or “If that were in a gallery, I would buy it”? I personally, need more than two hands to count the number of times I have heard these or similar comments.

Simply put, photography is a form of art and definitely a form of expression. From Photojournalism to Abstract Photography; photography runs the gamut of styles and subjects. I consider my photography art. I consider myself an artist. I consider my medium a camera. I consider Photoshop and its various plugins to be my palette.

Sometimes we exercise our artistic license in how we create images. In this image, I was standing in a grove of Poplar trees. The grove was long and narrow, which to me felt like a tunnel. I tried to convey that feeling by using a telephoto lens, and moving from telephoto to wide angle while the shutter was open. Other than adding some contrast and checking for blown highlights, this image has not been “processed”.

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In this next image, I exercised my artistic license in how I processed this image. For this image, I used Topaz Clean 3, and started with the FlatStyle preset. I liked how it flattened and smoothed the image, while leaving the pattern of light created by the moving clouds. This image now conveys the simplicity and peacefulness of the rolling dune-like hills for which the Palouse is known. It takes the focus off the grain, off the labor of the land, and sets a dreamy-mood, in which one can get lost in thought. If you are interested in learning more about Topaz Plugins, click here.

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At RRPT, we love to share our passion for all-things photography. If you would like to experience a photo tour that focuses on getting you to the right place at the right time, while in a supportive environment that encourages you to express your artistic vision, then you should check out our 2014 fall tours and newly announced 2015 tours! Click here for more information.

Happy Shooting!

A Different Type of Landscape

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The picture above is a landscape in Palouse, but it’s really not about the landscape so much. For me it’s about the color, pattern and texture.

Today so much effort is geared toward having sharp images, tripods, shutter release cables, vibration reduction lenses, and high ISO cameras. All of these features can assist in getting the sharpest possible shot, but sometimes I find more meaning in something soft. The image was captured using a horizontal panning technique at 1/8 of a second. It was also shot at 400mm to visually compress the rolling hills. I shoot lots of abstracts and most will never be seen by others. The keeper ratio is likely 10 percent, but I find this to be a worthwhile pursuit.