Making it All Look Easy

I’m frequently amazed by the way some photographers can make such a difficult shot appear to be simple. When I first saw this behind the scenes video of Joe McNally getting the environmental portrait of a guy changing a light bulb on the top of the TV antenna at the top of the Empire State Building, I thought it was such a simple idea.  It all looks easy but took three attempts on different days and a really novel idea from Joe on how to get the camera above the light.  Plus he is WAY up on top of one of the tallest structures in the world.  The picture was for a story that Joe was working on for National Geographic called the Power of Light.

Vision and Perception

Ted Talks has some extremely good discussions that relate to photography.  One of my favorite videos there is by Beau Lotto and has to do with how we, as  humans, perceive color.  We are incapable of visualizing absolute color values, everything that we see is contextual.

Beau demonstrates how our brain compensates for color casts and changes in luminosity to make us see what we expect versus what is actually in front of us.  It can be frightening to see how easily the brain is convinced that we are seeing the same color when they are drastically different hues, or different tones when they are exactly the same.

The video is as fun as it is educational.

Scott Kelby

kelbytraining_titlelogoScott Kelby is quite the entrepreneur.  He turned a graphic arts business into a multi-million dollar per year enterprise, largely by working closely with Adobe to develop extensive training videos on nearly all aspects of photography and Adobe’s products all available at Kelby Training.

He also created the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, a professional organization of graphic designers and photographers where people share tips and effects that can be accomplished with Photoshop and its associated Creative Suite applications.

I initially purchased a few of the Kelby Training videos on DVD, which I loaned throughout my camera club for a couple of years.  This was shortly after Photoshop CS4 was released, and the CS3 videos all went on sale for 1/2 price.  But they convinced me that the video training would work for me, and that I had a tremendous amount still to learn.  For a couple of years I used their online training videos.  At $200 per year, it was about what I expected to pay for a 2 day seminar with no personal interaction.  This gave me access to the hundreds of videos that Kelby Training offers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Over those couple of years I learned a great deal about Photoshop, Camera Raw and Lightroom, as well as watching numerous photography oriented videos from people like Joe McNally, Frank Doorhof and Jay Maisel.

I have also read a number of Scott Kelby’s books, however I found them to be somewhat trivial for my taste.  Everything that I have read by Scott is a cookbook photography methodology.  That is, you are given a recipe of such and such a lens, at such aperture and exposure.  If you have a reasonable grasp of exposure, depth of field and focus I believe that you will find them too basic as well.

But give the Kelby Training site a spin, I think that you will find at least something that piques your fancy.

Alain Briot

Mesa-View-1000

Alain Briot runs Beautiful-Landscape, a site that promotes photography as fine art.  Alain writes on many topics, including running a photography business and the fallacy that many starting photographers deal with, believing that if they work for less, they will sell more.

I stumbled upon Alain’s writing when I was reading a posting on Luminous-Landscape, a website where there are numerous excellent articles on photography, product reviews, tutorials, essays, etc.  I still subscribe to Alain’s blog, but frankly I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time reading it any longer.

Alain and his wife Natalie run workshops through Beautiful-Landscape, mostly in desert southwest.

Joseph Miller

Img008

What can I say about Joe that hasn’t already been said?  Joe is my photographic mentor and good friend, founding member of the Northern Virginia Alliance of Camera Clubs, frequent speaker at local camera clubs, preacher of the 4C’s (Composition, Craftsmanship, Creativity and Communication) and Visual Communication, and promoter of the abstract photograph.

Joe has contributed more to the development of photography in the Northern Virginia region than any other individual.  In 1997 NVACC published its first Directory of Speakers and Judges, and currently maintains that directory for use by member clubs and the general public.  Joe also began providing a seminar for those who are interested in becoming a camera club judge, to increase the pool of people who could be chosen for each competition.  In the early 2000s, Joe began publishing photography booklets through NVACC for a small fee.  All of those booklets are available for download on the NVACC website now.

Two years ago Joe started an Annual Abstract Photography Exhibition and has worked tirelessly to make it successful, year after year.  He just began accepting entries for the exhibit this past weekend.

If you ever get an opportunity to attend one of Joe’s classes, seminars or presentations, I strongly suggest that you take advantage of it.