The Value of a Priceless Photo of One's Life

Do you have a special photo that means a great deal to you? Is that image the only one you have? I personally have many one-of-a-kind photos that mean the world to me. At one time, many of my images consisted of only one print. One day, I started thinking, how I would feel if those special images were lost or destroyed. I would be devastated. I realized a long time ago how important an image can be and how special they are in my life. I do not take any image of my life and the lives of others in my life lightly. That is why I took the time to gather up all the images I could find and make copies of every one of them. The project took me 4 complete weekends to copy over 2000 images, store them and back them up. For me, images represent a moment in time that is captured and will never be repeated. So capturing a special moment in time is very important to me. 

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In my life, I have had some photos that are very important to me. For example, one of my very special photos is of me and my son. I was a young 23-year-old young man and I was a new father to a very special little boy. As a father, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my little boy. I enjoyed playing with him, putting him to bed, feeding him, and being the father to him that I never had growing up. My favorite photo of me and my son was me holding him and him mocking me. It is a simple photo but one I truly do treasure. At one time, the image was the only print I had and I had lost the negatives. If I had lost that image, it would have been terrible.

Of course, I have other images that are very special to me. However, I have very few images of my own childhood. I do have many images of my family and special moments of my life. Most importantly, I have images of those that are no longer with me and that has passed. One special image of mine is a very old photo of my grand mother before she pasted away. My grand mother was responsible for getting me and my wife to together. Sadly, I have very few images of her but the ones I don have are very special to me and my wife. Photos of those that have passed are very important because I understand some of the members of my family will never get the chance to know them and their images is all that is left of their lives. 

It really amazes me how some people take their own photos are granted. They do not take the time to store them, safe guide them, and make copies of images when there is only one original print. An image takes on a whole new meaning when the only photo of someone special has passed away and the print is the only thing you have left. It is important to never take photos of one’s life for granted. We all can replace other possessions in our lives, but we can never replace our special photos if they are not preserved. Never take an image for granted because they are truly special. 

One last thought; take as many photos as you can throughout your life. Be that annoying family historian and photographer that drives everyone nuts. As time goes by, those that complained about all the photos you took will be glad you did. 

SPECIAL NOTE: I do offer photo scanning service, if needed. Just contact me for details.  

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger Younce

A Photographer's Life Should Be All About Balance

Let's face it, photography is a lot of fun and a true passion for many of us. Most photographers love to travel and go see unique places and they sacrifice a great deal to get some amazing images. However, I have noticed a negative trend from some photographers that I enjoy following today. I have noticed a trend where some photographers are trying to do too much, too quickly. One travel photographer that I follow plans to do some meet ups as he travels across the United States and leaves for Europe. That sounds exciting but he plans to do about 8 to 10 "meet-ups in 4 days. Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy meeting up with other photographers to get some great shots but after about 2 days I would enjoy sleeping more. 

Some of the photographers I follow are young men and women and are much younger than I am and can go “non-stop”. At one time in my life, I was one of those people. I felt I was unstoppable and I would be that way forever. I was a little mistaken. Over the last couple of years, I have followed several photographers and their journeys and I have really enjoyed watching them capture great images, travel to unique locations, and tell their stories of their adventures. Their journeys and adventures are very inspiring and entertaining. But, I wonder is there a price they may pay in the future for the amount of time, money, and energy that they put into their craft. I see photographers that travel very heavily to get unique images and frankly, I don’t see how they can afford it. I see photographers spending a great deal of money on equipment and gear they I guess they really can’t afford. I see photographers that devote more time to their photography than they do their own families and friends. That is not a good thing. 

In my opinion, there has to be a balance between one’s love for photography and other more important things in life. It is not a good thing to concentrate on one thing. If you do, you miss out on other important things in your life like family and friends. I feel that some photographers try to do too much and they will eventually burn themselves out. That could be avoided if they work smarter and not harder. In my opinion, understanding the importance of balance comes with age and maturity. 

What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger

Facebook is Worthless for Business

After a couple of years of using Facebook for my photography business I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is pretty much worthless and a waste of time for my business. When I first considered using Facebook I thought it would be a great platform to reach an audience. I was interested in finding out how many other businesses were able to get so many "Likes". Of course, I associate”Likes” with a great customer base. I noticed that many well-known businesses had thousands of “Likes”. The reality is that "Likes" plus "Followers" does not equal income and success. I feel that success of using Facebook is an illusion. In 2017, I spent hundreds of dollars on marketing through Facebook and even Instagram. Yes, I got a lot of likes and clicks, but that does not really mean anything. 

So this year, I have decided to not use Facebook for my business. I have decided to use the platform I should have devoted more of my time, energy, and money to; my website. I feel I have a good website through Square Space. Square Space provides me what everything I need to operate my business. I am very pleased with them. My website will be my new home to reach my followers, friends, and loyal audience. I feel the new focus will provide better information to my customers and give me a realistic look at my actual audience rather than a bunch of unrealiable stats from Facebook and Instagram. 

To find out more about how Facebook is changing for the worse for small businesses visit the article on FStoppers at https://fstoppers.com/business/your-facebook-business-page-about-get-lot-less-traffic-212154.  

Are you a business that uses Facebook or Instagram? Have you seen success in using them? I would to hear your views. Feel free to provide your comments.

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger Younce

Listening to Critics is a Waste of Time and Energy

We all know that critics are everywhere and it seems that everyone has an opinion. Just look at the worthless comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. In my opinion, Twitter is the worst. Many comments that photographers receive are not only terrible but unproductive for a photographer. Just this past week I viewed a photographer’s Vlog on Youtube that I follow and he went over some of the comments from critics about his work that he received over the last year. The photographer is Thomas Heaton. Thomas did the right thing by reading the comments and making fun of them. I guess the critics thought they were being funny. Of course, their comments fell flat and lacked any real humor. 

Some of the comments Thomas received talked about how he only does photography to sell products from his sponsors. He was told his images were terrible, not creative, and could be shot from his own backyard, even though he does travel a lot to get his images. Thomas did actually get a chuckle out of the backyard comment. Some comments posted on his Youtube channel stated he only gets the photos he gets because he has all the great photography gear one needs to get great shots. It was funny when the Thomas pointed out some of his best photos were taken with a camera and lens that he was given for the photo shoots and he did not really own them. Some of the most direct comments stated his images were terrible and he was not a good photographer at all even though Thomas has nearly 192,000 Youtube subscribers. Thomas did the right thing. He ignored the critics and actually did a good job making fun of them. He even thanked them for their input before blocking one commenter whose profile said he was Chuck Norris. Now, that is a brave critic. He would not even use his real name. Below is the link to Thomas Heaton's Youtube Channel and his reaction to the comments. Just click on the link below the photo. 

So how should photographers respond to unproductive and nasty comments? It is easy, don’t. Unless you want to have a little fun with critics and publicly make fun of them. The reality is critics and comments like the ones the Thomas received adds no real value for any photographer. It only showcased the immaturity and childishness of the critics. I have never liked critics myself. However, I do respect those that are talented and want to provide constructive input to make things better but do not criticize. Many critics do resort to criticizing others work because they have no real skills themselves. They love to demean others and really enjoy doing it publicly. I guess that makes them feel superior. Of course, they are not. 

Receiving constructive input from others who you expect can be very productive. However, it is important to remember that everyone has unique likes and dislikes when it comes to photography. That is a good thing. Some people need to keep in mind that photographers usually post their work for others to see and enjoy. They want to inspire others to create their own work of art. A photographer should not allow critics to influence their work in a negative manner. Photographers are “creatives” and should never take critical input at face value. In many situations, there is no value in listening to critics. So don’t. Photographers should create what they want and not listen to critics because in most cases they only waste one’s time and energy. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger Younce

 

Enhancing a Special Image for an Old Friend

One of my favorite things to do in photography is to help an old friend with an old photo. Recently, an old friend sent me an old photo he has taken and wanted to know if the image could be blown up and asked if the quality of the image good enough to have it printed so he could hang the image in his office. He stated the image meant a great deal to him so of course I wanted to help my old friend out. Below is my friends story behind the image;

On my first trip to Amsterdam last April I was able to see some great sites; the famous channels, the thousands of bicycles, buildings, tulips and of course the home of Anne Franks. But it was my excursion to the northeast town of Volendam that made the trip. Volendam is a Dutch town on the Markermeer and is well known for the colorful wooden houses, traditional clothing worn by some of the residents and the old fishing boats in the harbor. The waterfront of the town is packed with seafood vendors, souvenirs shops and restaurants and let me just say the food is awesome. After my meal, I was walking along the waterfront and I wondered what it must be like to sail the open water and what that freedom must feel like. I was also impressed with the many old fishing boats that I had seen and when I saw this particular boat pull into the harbor after a day of fishing I was struck by its beauty and elegance for its age. Much like me this ship is old and still functioning in order for that family to keep fishing. An old boat is still very much the backbone of the family so they are able to provide that daily haul of fish. I took some pictures of the boat as it pulled in because it looked cool in the lighting and moved through the water like it had a purpose. This boat reminded me that even the old have a place in the world – we just have to keep moving with a purpose.  

As I looked at the photo I felt that the image needed some work. My friend sent me an image that had been edited and it had a moody feel to it. So I decided to do some work based on what had already been done. His edited image provided me with a starting point. I knew I was going to start by using some of my favorite presets in Lightroom to begin the editing process. I like to use presets because I feel they give me a quick start to the creative process of editing an image. I have hundreds of presets and my favorite presets are those available through Sleeklens. Sleekens has a variety of great presets for just about any effect I could ask for. I started the post-processing by finding a nice moody preset that would bring out the clouds in the image. The image also needed come clarity, sharpening, exposure corrections, color enhancement, lens corrections, and leveling of the image. My friend also wanted me to suggest what would be the best size for the image. I suggested a 10x20 print so the image would not have to be cropped and so the smaller boats would remain in the image. I also suggested that the image should be printed on metallic paper to bring out the moody colors of the image, depth, and details. Below is the original image and the edited moody image. 

Original Image

Original Image

Edited Moody Image

Edited Moody Image

I truly enjoy enhancing old images. I understand that images that may not be a big deal to others are many times very special and have special meanings for others. It was an honor to help out an old friend and I believe the new and improved image will look great in his office. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger Younce

 

Never Stop Learning!

I have always been someone that likes to study others and try to figure out how those that are skilled in a particular art become so highly skilled in their craft. What I have noticed is that many outstanding photographers seem to have a couple of unique qualities; a desire to learn more and drive to become better at their craft. What I have also noticed is great photographers are never really satisfied with their work. I know for me, I continually go back and work on old photos that I took many years ago. I want to make them better. By the way, if you want to go back and work on old images, make sure you shoot in RAW.

It all goes back to never stop learning. For photographers, it is much easier today to improve one's skills. I continually seek to study other photographers to get inspriation and to find out how they created a beautiful or unique image. Today there are so many great photographers who specialized in a variety of styles and I really enjoy that. I enjoy studying photographers who specialize in nature, landscape, and wildlife photography. I even look at wedding photographers work even though I have no desire to photograph a wedding. I don't have the patience for that. For me, it is all about learning and I learn a great deal from other photographers. They do inspire me to do better. 

I have found that a great resource for learning and improving my photography skills is through the use of Youtube. Today, photographers on Youtube provides so much information on products, equipment, software, tips and tricks, webinars, online classes, free tutorials, and so much more. Just this morning I found some great tips and tricks I could use when using Lightroom. The video was from photographer Jamie Windsor who demonstrated 10 great Lightroom features that I could use in the future to help me with my post processing workflow. If you would like to see the video check it out at 10 Lightroom Features Tips. They are pretty cool and can be very useful.

For me, photography is an art form that has no ending and I will never learn everything about photography and that is great. For me, my journey in photography keeps me wanting to learn more and to find out how much I can improve my skills. I have seen over the last few years that my photography has greatly improved. I look back at the images and I had taken in the past and they really were pretty bad compared to what I do now. I want to improve my skills as a photographer. I know to do that requires me to never stop learning and enjoy my journeys as a photographer. That starts will a continued desire and a strong drive to learn more.

Until next time, keep shooting! 

Roger Younce

The Little Things

Over the last few week's I have been exploring and studying other photographer's work and have become very inspired. I have seen photography videos and images showing photographers in beautiful locations all over the world. The images were amazing and I would love to have been able to travel and have the opportunity to take the same photos. Then reality set in. It got me thinking that there are many times things I can shoot that are small, beautiful,  and many times overlooked. We all have a tendency to walk right past very beautiful things with very pretty colors. This past week I set a goal to seek out photo opportunities right in my own back yard. I wanted to see if I could find colors and details in small little things that would make a great image. I wanted to also test out my new Tamron 18-400mm telephoto zoom lens. I was not disappointed. Below are a couple of photos that I shot of very small flowers found locally. I love the detail, colors, and clarity of the images. 

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The reality is, there are so many beautiful images you can shoot right at home if you can't travel. You just need to take the time and make the effort to go explore and get the shot. 

Roger Younce 

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