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FIRST LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

JANURAY 2018

FAVORITE IMAGES 2017

Well, it's that time of year to go back through my work and find my 12 favorite images of the year. Since I have started talking about this both in the newsletter and on workshops I have had numerous people tell me they have started doing this and I'm glad to hear that. For new subscribers, this started quite a few years ago after rereading an Ansel Adams quote stating 'twelve significatn photographs in any one year is a good crop.' I've adapted that a little bit to go back through my work from the previous year to find my 12 favorite images. Most would be included in my best 12 but for one or two they may be my favorite for one reason or another.

I also keep an all-time top 12 and see if one or two from the previous year might bump something out of the all-time list. I believe I have that this time around. The hard part is choosing something to take out. Don't just add to the group, do a replacement. This can get very tough over time but makes for a very nice challenge. You should see lots of improvement in your work over the years. Some images may linger for a long time. I still have a film shot in my Top 12 as it has been my number one fine art seller at galleries for years and I have a very large print of it over the fireplace.

In choosing my 12 for the year, the first ones meet two criteria - my favorite and my techcnically best. This should take up almost half of the 12 or sometimes even more. The rest are favorites because of something about the setting holds a special meaning. In this group, the shot from Mount Rainier is in here because every session on the rest of the trip had smoke-filled skies making photography tough. It's a very nice shot that took a good bit of work to set up and this helps but if the smoke from fires had come in earlier I would not have been able to get this shot, showing how conditions play a big role in creating good shots. I've already sold prints of this one so others like it as well.

Usually after each trip I go through and select a batch of shots I like and put these in a SELECT folder from that trip. It could be 10 shots or it could be 50. When I have a call for submission or doing a stock agency submission these are the ones I go through to find what's needed. I went through each of these to start the process and picked the top two or three from each shoot from the year. After going through these I then went through to pick my final 12.

Go through your own work from 2017 and pick your 12 favorite shots or maybe your 12 technically best images. There will probably be a difference between the two. There usually is with mine but for my list, I pick my favorites - that are also pretty good images.

gentoo penguin jumping out of water
Bald eagle coming in - Chilkat River, Alaska (probably my favorite shot of the year and maybe my best)

rockhopper penguins and crashing waves
CA Bristlecone Pine Forest Milky Way - love the light painnting, position and everything about it (one of my better Milky Way shots I think)

bald eagle landing
Mount Rainier Reflection Lake - Our last shoot before smoke from fires rolled in. This took several minutes to set up the composition, depth of field and other settings to get it just the way I wanted
bald eagles fighting
Sainte Chapelle in Paris - a very awe inspiring upstairs portion of the chapel with more stained glass than anywhere else in the world. Had to lean against a pole while hanld-holding with the ISO way up in the dimly lit location
sandhill cranes territorial battle jumping
Palouse Rainbow - When I saw the double rainbow I knew exactly where I wanted to head off for and luckily we were only a few miles away and the rainbows lined up perfectly
hawaii luau firebreather
Mono Lake Sunrise - Loved the nice layering of colors through the water and the sky
star trail at garden of eden arches np
Mountain Goat Nose Touch - Tenderness, the moment, rim lighting, nice setting - It all came together at a favorite Colorado spot
downy woodpecker
Palouse Canola and Barn - Just enough light to pop the colors in contrast with the storm clouds
glacier on Lago Grey
Flooded Boise River - Water usually beyond the other side of the trees making for a somber setting

Acadia Boulder Beach Sunrise - Always a beautiful setting for a very long exposure shot of the water that holds some very different memories from this year

Notre Dame at Night - Like how the clouds and sky add to the balance

Spider Web - Love all of the detail through this image from my Flower Techniques workshop


 

LATE OPENING FOR NORTHERN LIGHTS

I just had a late cancel for my northern lights trip the first week of March. There has been a lot of good activity with the aurora this winter so we should have some good shooting opportunities with it along with some beautiful winter landscape photography. If you have any interest in attending please contact me as soon as possible. I leave shortly for the Falklands and won't have much if any internet connections there and no cell phone coverage so contact me soon. Let's see what we can work out.

CANON 5D MARK III BODY FOR SALE

Just before going to Colorado for Christmas I bought a new Canon 5D Mark IV. Used it one day and love the results. That means my 5D III is now available to anyone who wants it. Right now it just came back from Canon repair where it got a clean, check and service and it's in perfect working order. I also asked them to do a frame count on how many images were taken. My asking price for this is $1,800, about what most used ones online are going for. Call if you have any questions or have interest in purchasing it. The frame count on the body is 52,545 so this has quite a few great years left. Expected shutter click count is 150,000 so that means it should reach between 175,000 and 200,000 so you will get several lifetimes out of this body with the shutter. Comes with original box, battery, charger and a couple of other items.

A MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE

With getting the new 5D IV, my old version of Camera Raw did not handle the files, even with an upgrade. I have been using Creative Suite 5.5 for quite a few years as it has the programs I use for building my website and for creating ebooks and my ads for different locations. But, with not being able to read my RAW files, I had to make the switch to the Adobe Cloud System. Thus, I'll be learning Lightroom and over time will be able to answer questions better about this on workshops. It's pretty much the same engine as I was using with Camera Raw but has some newer items I need to get more familiar with on how to clean up images. There's always something new to learn with photography and that's part of the enjoyment.

SPEAKING OF MOVING

Never thought I'd ever hear myself saying this but we are starting the process of packing and moving to Southern California. Children's Hospital of Orange County has been after Rhonda for since last June and she finally relented and went out for a day of interviews and within four days got an offer that was too hard to turn down. We'll be on our way there in about a month so be on the lookout for a new mailing address for me. For now my PO Box in Eagle will work fine as I'll have them forward my mail. If sending a check, I could give you a temporary mailing address until we get a place to live and I get a Box nearby.

A first look shows I'll probably be exploring and adding workshops for Joshua Tree, birds around San Diego, monarch butterflies and maybe even some stuff in Baja California. There seems to be a lot more workshop possibilities there than there was here in Idaho. Stay tuned for more information as I begin exploring the area.

CAMERA BAG Q&A

Had a quick question from some a couple of days ago others might find helpful. Q - Just bought a 500mm F4 IS with a case...kinda curious how you deal with carry on issues with bodies, other lenses and laptop.

A - I use two bags when I take my 600.  The 600 lens bag goes in overhead and other bag goes under the seat unless I'm in first class and can get both up there.  Depending on the plane size (I have an app that shows configuration) I  have two different bags for the 600, one a backpack the 600 stretches a bit and the other a larger roller can fit a couple of extra items in.  Think Tank has several good bags for larger lenses as well as other great bags.  Use the link from my site and you get free shipping and another free item or two.  My smaller bag has a slot for my laptop.  Going to try some different packing to try something different for myupcoming trip to the Falklands.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ARSENAL SHOOT

A trip back to Colorado for Christmas gave me an opportunity to break in my new 5D Mark IV body in a good way - with wildlife. With not having found much in Idaho for good wildlife shooting, it was good to get back to an old haunt and get a morning of shooting in, especially with the new body. Right after getting the body it took several hours to go through the menu to figure out what I had and to get things set up the way I wanted them. Several new features took some reading about to see if I wanted them set but once everything was done, it was time to get it in the field. For now I'm not using the GPS as it uses a lot of batteries and I basically know what area I'm in for a shoot. Going to have to figure out this connection with my phone, tablet and computer.

Getting to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal WIldlife Refuge in Denver was a great first shoot. Heading out with a good friend for some wildlife shooting made for a nice morning. Some cooperative deer, both white tail and mule deer, created several nice opportunities. Even though the rut was over, there was still a little bit of action as some mid-sized bucks were still hanging around with the ladies and several times we had them pushing each other around. While they never got into perfect position in terms of light angle and body position, it was still good capturing the action as opposed to them just standing around.

The Arsenal is about the only place in Colorado where there are both type of deer found as this is where the eastern plains meets the town and the outer reaches of the foothills. We did see a few bison that call the refuge home but was surprised to not see any coyote. We also saw and photographed a ferruginous hawk and a very cooperative bald eagle sitting in a tree.

With not having found much for good shooting ops for wildlife in Idaho, it's always a treat to get back to the Denver area to chase wildlife at one of several areas. If you do find yourself in the Denver area with a large lens, make sure to save a morning to heading out to the Arsenal which is not too far from the airport. It's open year-round and always has a good collection of animals to photograph. There are several lakes where waterfowl can also be found and at different times of year burrowing owls can also be found. A new extension road they opened since we moved away takes you into some great deer territory.

black skimmer fishing


DIGITAL CORNER - IMAGE STORAGE

I had an exchange recently with someone asking me how I store my images. Their question was - Could you tell me how you store your photos? External hard drive, the Cloud, other means? My general answer was - I use 2tb external drives. Price has really gone down on these. Each drive has a backup stored somewhere else. Full ones offsite and current one in a safe. Best to have a duplicate if the first crashes. Only happened once on a smaller drive years ago.

A little more depth to this situation. Years ago I used much smaller external drives as this was what was available. At first I was just using one lone drive and not back that up when I started using digital cameras. I knew I was taking a chance but that's the way I went. The more files I got the more important it seemed to have a second storage space. With the price of drives going down, now I am using 2 terabyte external drives, one for original files and a second for backup. I do not keep files on my computer hard drive as this takes up too much space. The speed of computers and drives these days does not cause a problem with having files on external devices to work with programs stored on the computer.

Why two drives? The first reason is for when an external drive crashes. Notice I said when not if. At some point something with cause a sector on a drive to go bad and the whole thing will crash and the files become unaccessible. At this point you can just go to the back-up of thiis drive, take it in to be recovered and maybe repaired or get another drive to load the files on from the back-up. Typically when taking a crashed drive in for recovery they want to back it up onto a new drive they will charge a little extra for when doing the recovery and transfer. Just get a new one yourself and do the transfer of files.

The simplest way to do this is to just grab all the folders on the drive and drag and drop them onto the new drive and wait. If using a 2tb drive do this overnight as it will take quite a while for everything to copy. There is software out there for doing back-ups but this is the most efficient way.

What to do with the second drive? You can put them in a safe deposit box, a safe in your home or give them to a friend to hold for you. I still have a drive or two at someone's in Colorado even though I don't live there currently. The reason for keep the second in a secure place should be obvious - theft, fire, or flooding. A safe in your home works fine as it's secure for fire and flooding and many thiefs want some light to carry out and not make too many trips in and out.

Way back when, I also used CDs / DVDs as my second back-up. I had several notebooks of discs with labels on them with the folders. This can still be used today but with the size of image files you can only go so far with how many it takes for the number of images shot on a trip.

Another option today is to put images up in the Cloud. I opt to not go this way for a couple of reasons. One is the cost. If you don't do lots of shooting and only have a small amount of storage space for your files, this is not an issue but if you shoot one or two terabytes a year or more the cost can rise up dramatically. The second reason is what happens to your files if the host company goes away. You may think Dropbox or Fickr is going to be around forever but there have been places where storage companies have disappeared - just like stock companies with slides in years gone by. I still don't know where some slides ever made it to when a stock agency closed.

Adobe has its own version of Cloud storage with Lightroom CC. I pass on this as well and use Lightroom Classic more because of the cost due to how many image files I have. Paying a monthly fee can add up quickly if you do a lot of shooting.

If you really want to go to extremes, you can work out a deal with the company of the memory card of your choice to see about getting dealer pricing and purchase mass quantities of cards and use them as your second back-up. I know a couple of pros who actually do this and put a small label on them to know what shoot it was from.

Taking this a step forward, my naming convention helps me find files fairly quickly. After a trip or shoot and downloading my files, the folder gets name with the loaction month then year. So, ak mar 16 was my northern lights trip to Alaska in March 2016. Falklands 16 was my trip to the Falkland Islands in 2016 with sub-folders for each of the islands. With now having Lightroom, I'll probably start going through folders and adding them to the catalog and adding some keywording. Just to give me some more work to do.

As with everything in photography there are a couple of ways to get to the end result. It's all about preference. For this case, mine is to use two external drives and to keep one somewhere else. For the current drives getting populated with images, I sort of take a chance and keep the second one at a different place in the house so they aren't sitting next to each other in case of theft, hoping the house doesn't catch on fire.