Reediting a Not-So-Old Image

As most people know I love waterfalls. I can't get enough of them. When I can't photograph a beautiful waterfall I do the next best thing; I reediting the ones I have. Today was a great day to look through some of my favorite waterfall photos to see if I could work some creative magic on an old image. I decided to work on a small but beautiful waterfall called the Mountain Meadows Falls. My objective was to use a combination of Lightroom CC and Luminar to edit the image. Here lately, I have started my editing process by beginning with Luminar. Luminar provides me with a nice baseline to start my edits. Some of the presets are great for landscapes and provides some creavity options to work with. 

Mountain Meadows Falls is a simple waterfall in North Carolina and the location provides a nice hidden type of mood to the image. I wanted to focus on the rock formations and the beautiful flowing water from the falls. After I found a nice preset in Luminar I exported the image to Lightroom and used a couple of my favorite presets from Sleeklens. Sleeklen presets are awesome and there many preset packages to choose from to get the look I wanted for the waterfall. I think the image turned out great and judging from the positive feedback from my socials media channels, the image was a hig hit.  

 

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Mountain Meadows Falls. 

Until next time, keep shooting. 

Roger  

The 3 Actions to Becoming a Better Photographer

3 Actions to Becoming a Better Photographer

In the photography world today it can be difficult to find out how to become a better photographer. We see examples of all types of photography and many photographers that have a great amount of talent. Many photographers seem to have some type of niche that sets them apart from other photographers. So, how can one become a better photographer with so many examples around us today? In this article, I will talk about three actions that one can pursue to become a better photographer. What is important to keep in mind is that each action is related to one another.

Action One - Learn All You Can and Absorb What is the Most Useful to You

Today in the photography community it is very hard to figure out what is needed to become a better photographer. Questions like;

  1. What do I need to get started?
  2. What type of photography should I do?
  3. What equipment do I need?
  4. What software should I use?
  5. Do I need to go to college to become a photographer?
  6. Should I attend photography workshops or seminars?
  7. Where should I go to take pictures?
  8. Do I need a license to become a professional photographer?

Such questions can be difficult to answer. The main reason is there is too much information to explore. The objective is to learn many forms of photography and seek those photographers you admire and respect and learn from them. Learning from other photographers can be done by books, seminars, workshops, Google, YouTube, etc... One must keep in mind that learning any skill is a continuous process and should be practiced every day. As you absorb information and become a better-skilled photographer it is very important that you explore and examine the information you have acquired and find out what methods are most important to you. 

Action Two - Do Away With Useless Information

It is important to remember that not all information is useful and needed. I listen to a lot of photographers talk endlessly about what equipment is best, technical specifications, and information that is really not that important and has no real value. To become a better photographer it is important to remember, less is more. One should work to simplify the work flow and discard useless information and activities that are not productive, meaningful, and enjoyable. It is very easy to get wrapped up in time-consuming activities that produce no results. Chip away at the non-essentials.  

Action Three - Make Your Photography Unique to You

After learning all you can and ridding yourself of useless practices, the next and most important action is to make your photography represent who you are. So many times photographers tend to want to copy other photographers because they admire their work. That is fine and many photographers do that. But what makes a great photographer stand out is a photographers uniqueness. Your work should reflect and represent who you are. Some of the best unknown photographers are those that have a unique passion for photography. They do photography for themselves and make their work specifically their own. You have to admire that spirit. 

If you wish to become a better photographer, learn all that you can, eliminate what you have no need for, and photograph for yourself. In the end, photography should be something that touches your soul and your spirit. 

Until next time. 

Roger Younce

Misty Moring at the Craggy Gardens

As a photographer it is always nice to have some type of plan when you visit a location. However, not all adventures go the way one plans. In some cases, a photo shoot can turn out to be a waste of time and no nice images are taken or the ones that are taken are terrible. But, there are those times when what one would consider a bad location can offer some amazing results even though the plan falls apart. Take for example, my recent trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, near Asheville.

My wife and I decided to get up early on the last day of our four day stay in Asheville NC and stop by a location that I had never been to before, Craggy Gardens. My objective was to photograph some flowers located on the top of the mountain at the Craggy Gardens and take a few images of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains mountain range. At the start of my trip it looked like the weather was going to be perfect. As we traveled North on the Blue Ridge Parkway the weather looked great with partly cloudy skies. There were some beautiful low line clouds over on the tops of some of the lower mountains. As we headed North the weather begin to change. The clouds and winds started to become an issue as we got closer to the mountain where the Craggy Garden was located. I began to think the trip was going to be a total waste of time. Visibility was terrible.

When I arrived at the Craggy Garden Visitor Center I was hoping to get some information on the best places to photograph the well known flowers in the area. The problem was the visitor center did not open until 10 am. We arrive at 9 am. As my wife and I sat in the car the weather seemed to be getting worse. The mist and the winds began to pick up and visibility was pretty bad. I could see about 20 yards in front of me. I wanted to venture out to see if I could find any trails that might lead me to the Craggy Garden overlook even though I knew I would not be able to get an image of the area and mountain range because of the poor weather conditions. As I ventured out to explore the area I found a trail that looked interesting and I wanted to find out where it led.

Before entering the trail head and the forest I was aware that I did not bring my camera. My plan was just explore the area in case I wanted to come back and revisit the area when the weather was better. I felt that there was no way I would be able to find anything interesting to photograph. I entered the trail with really no real expectations. As I entered the trail head I realized that the further I hiked the more interesting the location became and how the mist and clouds began to offer some interesting views of the location. The location became misty and moody and I became more excited about the location even though I forgot all about the flowers I intended to photograph. The more I explored the trail the more I knew I had found something special.

As I continued my hike I realized I had to return to my car and get my camera and return back in to locations and get as many images as I could before the scenery changed. I am so glad I did. When I returned to the trail I was so lucky to be the only one on the trail. I had the whole misty and moody location to myself. Below are two of my favorite images from my visit to Craggy Gardens. 

The Misty Craggy Garden

The Misty Craggy Garden

Into the Craggy Garden

Into the Craggy Garden

The moral of my story is never give up when you think you have nothing to photograph at a location. There is always something to photograph. If one is lucky, any unplanned or accidental adventure may provide a great image or two. I am so glad we took our trip to Craggy Gardens, It was windy and cloudy, and the weather did not cooperate but that is what made the adventure so cool. For me, the weather was perfect. 

Until next time. 

Roger 

Note: Both images are available for purchase as a metallic paper or metal print  at "The Store". 

 

Photography is All About Trying New Things

When it comes to growing as a photographer it is important to remember that you are never as talented as you think you are. Being a master photographer is not possible because being a master means you make no mistakes and requires perfection, which doesn't exist. Talented photographers want to become better at their craft. Growing as a photographer requires the willingness to try new things. Trying new things can mean trying new gear, learning from others, learning new techniques, using new software, taking an adventure, etc...Basically, trying new things can be an endless task and that is alright. It is all about the journey and the destination is just a bonus. 

In my journey as a photographer I have realized that I make a lot of mistakes and I know very little about photography. Do I want to know everything about photography? The answer to that is, no. What I do know is I enjoy learning new things and trying to make my old work better. Believe me, I really hate a lot of my old images. I look back at my images and can see just how terrible my photos were. I am glad that I am able to see some improvements of my work every year. The key for me is to keep shooting, try new things, and learn from my mistakes. 

In a recent photo shoot at Hanging Rock State Parkway in North Carolina I wanted to see if I could get a better image of the Lower Cascade Falls. I have been there several times and I really enjoy visiting the waterfall. However, I have never really liked the images I had taken there in the past. My goal was to take several images of the waterfall and try some new workflow ideas with the newest images. I had a pretty good idea or what style of image I want to create. However, as with all my post processing sessions, I have no idea how the photo is really going to come out. For me, that is the fun part. 

The Lower Cascade waterfall is a small one but the amount of water was very good due to recent heavy rains. I wanted to get to the waterfall before the visitors started showing up and trying to swim at the base of the falls. You can see by the image that the waterfall has a lot of rocks that visitors love to climb, which is not a very smart idea. Luckily for me, the water was too cold and no one wanted to take a quick dip.

I decided to take most of my gear in my new camera bag and my tripod for the shoot. I wanted to make sure I had all the gear I needed for any shot. I took a variety of shots but my composition choices were limited. I was able to get a couple of nice images I could work with. After returning home, my objective was to work on a completely different workflow to see if I could produce a better image than I had taken before. That is the trying new things part.

Part of trying new things in photography for me consisted of doing some irregular post processing. I shoot all my images in RAW and on this occasion I did some bracketing. My post processing consisted of using Lightroom, Photomatic and presets from Sleeklens. I am a big fan of presets and collect as many as I can. Presets saves me a lot of time in processing and gives me a great baseline start to work with. For my image I used bracketed photos of the waterfall, used Photomatic to get a slight HDR effect and then applied a nice preset. My goal was to create an image that had an artistic feel to it. I wanted clarity, sharpness, and color. Below is the before and after photos of the Lower Cascade WaterFall. The first image is straight out of the camera with no possessing. The after photo was the look I was going for.  As far as I am concern it turned out pretty nice.

Lower Cascade Falls (Before)

Lower Cascade Falls (Before)

Lower Cascade Falls (After)

Lower Cascade Falls (After)

Photography is all about trying new things and finding out what works for you and your style. I feel one should work on developing a style that is all your own and never listen to critics. Better yet, don't be a critic. I feel it is very important to continue to learn something new whenever you can. You never know how much better you will be next year by trying something new, so keep shooting.

Roger  

The Power of an Image

A photograph can be a very powerful thing in one's life. It is hard to believe how an image can make someone feel or reflect on an important event or person in one's life. I recently was asked to enhance and order an image for a family member. He wanted to know if I could work on the small grainy photo and make is look better. He want the photo put on metal so he could put the image in his home. The photo was of poor quality and could only be enhanced well enough for a 5x7 print. The small out of focus image was of a dear friend of his that died suddenly while on a buddies trip together. The friend died suddenly and it was the last photo that the two friends had taken together. No one would have thought that would be the final image of my family member's friend.

To many people, a photo is just something we take for granted. Many images are forgotten. Some photos have only one copy and if not cared for, they are lost forever. When I had the opportunity to work on the simple photo for my family member, it was not just a favor to him to edit the photo, it was an honor to do it. One of the reasons I love to be able to do photography work is to help people capture and restore their precious images. I understand how important a simple image can be. For my family member, his small grainy, out of focus photo is priceless. 

Until next time, keep shooting. 

Roger

Definition of an Artist

Many people that are artist and creatives have their own definition of what an artist is. The definition is different for many people and can depend on the discipline they are passionate about. I enjoy communicating with people about all forms of art and what art means for them. People that have drive and passion for a particular art form are very addictive to hang out with and you cannot help but be inspired by their love of art.   

One such artist is an old friend of mine that shared his definition of what an artist is to him and how art has truly changed the way he looks at life. Jeff is a very talented painter from North Carolina and creates some very impressive paintings. He allowed me to share his definition of what an artist is to him.

"An Artist is a soul born gifited in the image of the Creator. This gift gives rise to a passion that lives and breaths in every fiber of an Artist and it manifest itself thru their works. To such an individual inspirations are everywhere. Its in the trees, the sky, the water, and the mountains. Its in the way they see the folds of a blanket draped over a chair or a cup on a table with sun light caressing its form. Its in the gathering of people in a restaurant or on a street corner or going about their daily lives. An Artist makes art of all these things. To them even their family and friends become artistic inspirations. Wherever an Artist goes and whatever they do this passion is always with them and they bear witness to it by way of their works so that others may experience the pure joy that comes from Art in all its forms. This is what it is to be an Artist".

- J.A.Poe                                                                                                                 

So the question is, what does being an artist and a creative mean to you? Does your photography bring out the creative spirit in you? Share your thoughts of what it means to be an artist. 

 Roger's Tip: Be proud to be a creative person and artist. Without creatives and artist, the world would be a pretty dull place. Don't be dull. Do something epic and share your passion with others. They will thank you for it. 

Until next time, keep shooting. 

Roger  

Sometimes You Have to Go Back

As a photographer, I have not always liked the photos I have taken. I actually delete a lot of my photos and I am not one to keep thousands of photos that I will never use. Telling people I have thousands of photos is not a "badge of honor" for me. To me, I would rather have 100 great photos than 10,000 worthless photos. As I sometimes review my past images I have a great desire to go back and conduct another photo shoot at the same location. I want to see if I can produce a much better image than the last time. In most cases, I do.   

One reason I am able to create a better image is through the process of time, study and experience. I look back at some of my old images and I have to admit, most were not that great by my standards. Luckily for me, my standards have improved and that is a good thing. I have learned more about photography over the years. I have learned more about my camera, composition, lighting, post processing and how to use some important accessories like filters. My photography has improved because I have taken a more proactive approach to studying other photographers work, listen to photography podcast and even taken advantage of a endless access to photography channels using Google and YouTube

What I have learned over time is sometimes I have to take the time to look back at my work and ask myself, can I do better with the knowledge and experience I have now, and can I capture a better image I can be satisfied with? The answer to that question for me is, yes and no. Yes, I can create a better image and no, I will probably never be really satisfied. If I was satisfied I would not try to improve my photography skills even more. That would not be a good thing. Let's face it, most photographers are never really satisfied with their images. 

For me, I will be going back to some locations to get a better image. I have actually started creating a list of places I need to go back and visit for another photo shoot. I need to. Frankly, I am tired of looking at the same old images and the ones that are not up to my standards. The only way to get a better image is go back and do it all over again. Not as a task I feel I have to complete, but as one I want to complete for myself. So, if you find yourself not liking your old images or tired of look at images you took years ago, think about going back to some old previous visited locations to get more images. It may do your photography soul some good. 

Roger's Tip: Stop telling yourself you need to take more photos. Tell yourself, I will go get more photos. 

Until next time, keep shooting,  

Roger  

 

Lighting is Key For Any Photo

When it comes to photography and bringing out the best of an image, lighting is key. Many photographers know that having the right light conditions are critical for getting a great shot. Photographers want to get the right settings for their cameras or if they are lucky, use some good natural lighting. However, what about after the image is processed and printed?

The bad thing about photography today is people do not take the time to print out their images. Most people don't take the time to frame or matte their images and that is a shame. I find that printing out an image and framing it makes a great image come alive. I enjoy having the ability to sit back and enjoy my images that hang on my walls in my home and office. Seeing the image brings back great memories of the adventure I had getting the image.  

I have found one of the best ways to really enhance the beauty and quality of a great image is with lighting. Adding some non-natural light source can make a great image even better. My latest addition to my home is a great image of the Mabry Mill that is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. I love the Mabry Mill and I take shots of that mill as often as I can. The image I took this past winter was of the Mabry Mill covered in ice. I really did not plan to get such a great shot but I was glad I did. I have not seen too many photos of the Mabry Mill with ice and it was very unique.  

 

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You can see how a simple light source and bring out the detail and quality of a great image. So instead of having hundreds or even thousands of images stored on a computer or phone, why not print your best images out and add a little lighting to them. Then you can sit back and remember what it took to get the shot.  

Until next time, 

Roger  

Finding Photography Inspiration With Music Videos

When it comes to photography it can sometimes be difficult to find inspiration for capturing the types of photos you enjoy shooting. All proactive and successful photographers take the time to research other photographers work to get some creative ideas for their own photos. But, have you ever really looked at music videos for inspiration?  

Recently, I was viewing a few music videos on YouTube and I was looking for songs that told a story. Fortunately for me, I enjoy country music and country music videos many times tell great stories. One video that caught my attention was a song called "Wild Child" by Kenny Chesney. I have always liked the song and had only seen the video once. After watching the video again I was taken by the great images in the video. Even though the images were in a video format I noticed there could have been some beautiful still photos taken during the shoot. The video gave me some great ideas and inspiration for my future portrait photoshoots.  

So what videos could you go back a review from a photographers point of view? I am sure if you look hard enough you will find that well produced music videos can provide you with inspiration for your future photos. You just have to look for the right videos. Below is the video I was referring to. If you don't like the music turn down the sound and focus on the video production. If you do like the music, enjoy: 

Roger's Tip: Always be looking for inspiration for your photography projects. Many times the inspiration is right in front of you.

Until next time.  

- Roger Younce