Category Archives: Photographers

Other photographers of interest.

Still Life Light Painting – How To


I have continued to explore and experiment with new techniques during the winter months. Light painting has become somewhat popular with landscape images and is used by s0me commercial photographers for product lighting. Light painting involves taking long exposure images while the photographer (and/or assistants) use flashes or flashlights to "paint" the landscape or still life arrangements. I have included a couple of samples from my experimentation in this blog. As you can see, very dramatic and what appears to be complicated light setups can be created this way. I happen to have a collection of old cameras and the associated gear so I have been using that for my subject matter.

I learned this technique from Dave Black who is a master of lighting (I highly recommend you take a look at this work – very nice). I have outlined the basic steps below. It is hard to describe all the nuances without showing the technique on a video.

  1. Setup your still life arrangement in a very dark room.  (Test if your room is dark enough. Take a 30sec exposure at f8. If it comes out completely black, you are good.)
  2. Setup your camera on a tripod and frame your composition.
  3. Setup the camera for a 20-30sec exposure (at least as a start) and turn on noise reduction in your camera. Set the f-stop based on your desired depth of field.
  4. You will want a couple of flashlights- a penlight and a larger flashlight (LED ones work well). Make a black plastic snoot (tube made from black tape or such) so the bulb is not visible from the side. Your flashlight is likely get in the frame and you don’t want to see it.
  5. Turn off the lights and use a flashlight  to paint on your still life. Always keep your flashlight moving. Use the penlight to highlight where you want to draw the viewer’s eye. Use the larger flashlight briefly if needed to "dust" the setup with light, keeping it moving.
  6. This will be an incremental process and it will likely take lots of trial and error. Start by just painting a small area at first to see how much light is needed.  View the results, adjust the light as needed and add another area. Personally, I count as I paint each area and try to follow the same basic sequence to get some repeatability.
This technique requires some patience, but it can be fun as you let your creative juices flow to come up with very unique lighting.
Also posted in Composition, How To, Light

Great Photography Takes Work


While browsing several galleries in Mendocino and Fort Bragg, California this past weekend, I was reminded of the fact that creating great images involves hard work. I have gone into many small galleries over the years and noticed that many of the photographic images are often not that strong or well executed. In talking with the gallery owners many will tell me that “photographs” just don’t sell that well – that is understandable given the all too often anemic work.

Now you may think I am being judgmental or harsh. Who I am to make such judgments? Well, I am just a guy who has seen a lot and can tell the difference. You can tell when a photographer has made the effort to get out there and catch that exceptional light that makes an image sing: one who gets up early, stays well after sunset, a photographer who knows how to create strong compositions, edit down their images and create tonally rich prints.

I had the pleasure of seeing the work of one such young (30ish) photographer while in Mendocino, Jon Klein. His images far out shone the rest in the galleries in that area. Clearly he has spent the time to learn the craft. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking photography is easy, anyone can do it. While anyone can take pictures, it takes much more to create great images.

Take a look at some of John’s work at Jon Klein Photography. I rarely buy other photographers work, but I did buy one of Jon’s (the blog image) and it was tough to choose. I was also fortunate enough to get to meet Jon while at the gallery. He is a nice guy, making a living off of his work – and I mean work.

Don’t take me wrong, working hard at what you love isn’t all that hard.

Also posted in Uncategorized

Michael Kenna


While in Carmel, California this past week, I took the opportunity to visit a couple of Photography galleries downtown: The Weston Gallery and Photography West. I enjoy looking at the work of other photographers and this was the opportunity to see some top notch work. There were images from Ansel Adams, the Westons (father and sons), Michael Kenna, William Neill and other familiar names. It is always humbling when you get to see the work of photographers like these but, at the same time, inspirational.

On this visit I was captivated by Micheal Kenna’s work. His B&W images really resonated with me deep inside. Simple strong compositions, displayed in relatively small 8×8 prints (in a world where most photographers are going big). His style is often minimalist. A style I have always liked. If you haven’t seen his work I would suggest you visit his website and take a look – Michael Kenna.

If you don’t visit galleries, I suggest that you do. It is a good way to expand your visual literacy and inspire yourself to new heights in photography. Maybe you will find a style that really resonates with you.

Blog image: A 15sec exposure under the pier at Harmony, California. I chose this image because I noted that Kenna often used long exposures in creating many of his minimalist images. Long exposures smooth out water and remove the detail. Longer (1 min) may have been even better in this case.

Also posted in Uncategorized

It is All About Light


I find that I continuously have to remind myself that it is all about the light – finding the great and appropriate light for a subject. That may or may not be the “golden hour” around sunrise and sunset. When it comes to quality of light I find that William Neill is one of the best. If you haven’t visited his sight or blog you should. Links to his blog and website are on the right side panel.


The blog images were shot on a return to one of my local parks. While I was there during sunrise, the light on these trees was not best until a while after the golden hour. The light was magical and I brought this out more with a touch of Nik Glamour Glow.

Also posted in Uncategorized

Developing focus

This past week I started a class on portfolio development with William Neill ( Our first lesson’s point was developing focus. He notes many (most – including me) photographers start off shooting about everything, but in the long run we need to focus on subject matter that really inspires us and develop portfolios around those subjects/themes. We can’t capture it all (though we try).
Personally, determining what really inspires me is going to be tough. I know that there times when I am more inspired than others, but I don’t know that it has been with any particular subject. Things that do inspire me: great light, painting with my camera, a foggy morning with sun breaks, the sweet smell of an Oregon forest, learning, my grandchild… these are a few of my favorite things (care to sing along). Think I am loosing focus! I’ll let you know what I learn along the way.
Speaking of inspirations, I have included a couple of inspiring sunset shots with this blog.
Also posted in Uncategorized