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.


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. 


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. 


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,  



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.  



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, 


Photographers Are Never Really Satisfied

If you are a photographer that photographs a lot of locations and you want to actually print out your best work and not store them on a computer, you probably have ran into an issue that I run into pretty regularly. That is being not satisfied with an image you really like but can't seem to get the image the way you want it during post processing. I ran into that issue with one of my favorite photos, the Angel Oak Tree. 

I love to visit John's Island in South Carolina and to photography the amazing Angel Oak Tree. However, I have a problem really liking the image during post processing. If anyone searches,  the web you can see a variety of versions of the tree. Some images look natural and some look like something out of a science fiction movie. My goal is to create a version that I liked. The problem is, I have never been really satisfied with the many versions I have created of the Angel Oak Tree. 

However, after hours of tweaking the image, I finally created a version that I liked and I am currently pleased with enough to post on my Roger Younce Photography Gallery. The final edit features a more nature look of the tree and the colors are more realistic to what I saw during the photo shoot. Below is the final post processed image of the Angel Oak Tree.

I have to say, I like it, for now. 

Creating a Self Portrait

One of my favorite things to do in regard to photography is work on old photos. I love to collect old photos, scan them and most of all create new versions of some old photos. Recently, I was going through some of my old photos and I decided to work on an old photo of myself. The photo was taken over 25 years ago during a competition I was competing in when I was serving in the United States Air Force. There was a photographer that followed the competitors throughout the events and snapped a photo of me during a patrolling event at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. I thought the photo was a great photo and I believe the photographer did an outstanding job.  

What I wanted to do was edit the image and create an image that looked more like a self portrait that represented my personality and captured the intendency of the moment. I used mostly Lightroom to create the look I was going for. Below is the before and after photos after processing the image. 





I really enjoy working on old photos, even if the photo is one of me.  

Roger's Tip: Take the time to gather up all your old images, scan them and store them for others to see and share in the future. In other words, look forward and share your legacy. 

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  

Photographing Kids Isn't Always That Easy

One of my favorite things to photograph are portraits and especially kids. However, photographing kids can be a challenge. It takes a lot of preparation and planning to photograph kids. It also takes a lot of patience. This past weekend I had the pleasure of photographing some grand kids of some friends of mine from South Carolina. They wanted me to take a few photos of their kids. I thought, why not? Below are five tips for photographing kids I highly recommend you keep in mind. 

 #1. Have a conversation with the parents and grand parents before you start. You want to discuss things like arrival times, clothing recommendations, and do the kids really understand why they are there. It also a good idea to scope out some possible locations to photograph the kids before they arrive. Many times you have to be pretty creative to find some place to get a really cool shot. Just keep in mind some of the best spots are right in front of you. By doing a little prep and recon work before the shoot can hopefully get the shoot done properly, quickly and with minimal issues. 

#2. Set a time for the photo shoot. You don't want you have to shoot indoors or very late in the day. You want to take advantage of all the natural light you can. No photographer likes to shoot in low light because that can present a lot of problems with getting the right camera settings and can require more work during post processing. Not only that, you don't want to have to crank up the ISO so high your photos look crappy (yes, crappy is a real word in my Roger Younce Photography world).   

#3. Make sure the kids are dressed properly. If kids start playing before a photoshoot they will get dirty before the shoot. Make sure the kids have clean faces and clothes. Kids love to eat and that is okay; just not right before a photoshoot. You want to send more time taking photos and less time cleaning up the kids. 

#4. Talk to the kids before you start your photoshoot. Having the parents talk to them is even better. You want to try and get the kids attention and explain what you are going to do. Have some fun with the kids and they will probably make your attempt to capture their expressions a little easier. Also, enjoy sneaking up on the kids to capture those special expressions. Kids don't like to pose for photos. Actually, most kids are pretty bad at posing. In that case make sure you take a lot of shoots. You never know what types of great expressions you will get. Some of the best unplanned and sneaky shots turn out to be some of the best images. 

#5. Have a good location selected before the shoot begins. It is not that hard to find a good location. You have to get pretty creative and look around. During my photoshoot with the kids I found a nice wooden wall for the kids to stand in front of. I also used the back yard swimming pool and even their grand parents back patio. Even better, I plopped the kids in a patio chair and snapped away (that lasted about 2 minutes). All the locations worked out well and give me the shots I was looking for. 

It is not always easy to photograph kids. I would say every shot I took I got a great image but I would be lying. I did have some low light issues to deal with during my shoot. The kids did get dirty and ate something before the photoshoot. However, in the end, I was able to get a few nice images from the shoot and the grand parents and parents were happy and that's what matters the most. Below are a few photos from the shoot. 

Roger's Tip: Always plan for the worse. Portraits of any type are a challenge. Remember the Roger Younce Photography's 3 P's for kids portrait sessions; Plan, Prepare and Pray.  

Until next time. 

- Roger