Friday, April 30, 2010


Go check out Canon Rumors on the upcoming 60D.  A real teaser.  The Canon 50D has seen some recent price drops.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CREATIVITY - A Kick in the Seat of the Pants

Like its predecessor, this not directly a book about photography. No megapixels were hurt in its creation. But is is a valuable tool for idea generation that can translate into better photographs.

A Kick in the Seat of the Pants is the second book by Roger von Oech, author of 
"A Whack on the Side of the Head." The concept of WHACK was "...we're all born with the ability to think about things in original ways, but as we grow up, we develop attitudes that undermine this creativity." von Oech then goes through steps and exercises to expand your thinking.

It this second book, he explores the fact that there are different ways of thinking. This ground has been covered in different ways by people like 
Ned Hermann, Carl Jung and Myers-Briggs.

von Oech treats the four modes of thought as the Explorer, the Artist, the Judge and the Warrior. We have aspects of all the above characteristics in our personalties, but he explores how each contributes to the creative process. Photographers that are "socially conscious" will approach their craft very differently than say a "Fine Art Printer." Their brains are wired differently.

One actionable tip: Put a waterproof slate in the shower with a grease pencil. Many people get their best ideas in the shower. I use a SCUBA Diving slate.  
This was a GREAT idea from the book that I use every day. Most of the ideas I get are of course Photo related.

Click here to see my photos that were inspired by Sarah Palin and the Tea Parties. I wrote the ideas on the slate so I wouldn't forget.

You can purchase the book here.

Click here to see the first article on A Whack on the Side of the Head.


ADORAMA Specials for April 23

Click here to see the specials for April 23.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Photographers, if they do it correctly, don't go on vacation.  They go on expedition.  While not part of the official dictionary definition, we must plan ahead for having adequate equipment, batteries, cards, chargers, laptops and backup drives.  Now think about packing the basic cameras, strobes and lenses.  Add to this, the additional equipment if you are an underwater photographer.  

If you are a pro, vacation was never in the picture. You need to think shot list, additional opportunities for marketing images, review what has been done before, plus think openly about new approaches, destination client and publisher expectations.

Then to deal with the gauntlet of our wonderful friends, the airlines. What fun the post 9/11 world has become.  Don't you wish you could go back to being a tourist carrying a point and shoot so gleefully and unrealistically described in the Airline ticket folders?  Devotees and Pros do not exist in their eyes.  Even the TSA is frequently taken aback by what we carry.

So packing is a challenge.  Taking stock of inventory and distributing weight is the order of the day.  A small camping scale with a max capacity of 50 lbs is a great help to travel with you for rebalancing when needed.

Backup equipment is recommended for everything.  You first learn something doesn’t work when you are USING it.  It depends on your budget, insistence on perfection, and personal neuroses for how you handle this.  Respectfully, you may be going to places where electricity is novel or different voltages.  Digital photography is electric intensive.

Digital backup capacity
Important consideration for not running short.  Think about how much you will shoot, and plan cards, hard drive capacity to last the trip.  It is not hard now to shoot 8 – 16 GB per day even with Point and Shoots and movie files.  Do the math and plan accordingly.  Plan on bringing back files on two devices or two media for safety.  Example is a Laptop Hard Drive and an external Hard Drive.  Relying on just one is risky.  PACK THESE SEPERATELY in case one bag is lost!

SLEEP NOTE: If you are diligent, the External Hard Drive will easily allow you to do backups each day due to the speed of the drive, especially if you use firewire.  If you are doing DVD, the discipline required at bedtime may cause you to skip the backups.  Buy more Cards as an alternative to the chore.

Ancillary items that complement the checklist:
o   Equipment Serial Number list for Customs and Insurance.  One for passport wallet, one in each major piece of luggage.
o   Camping Scale to balance out luggage - 50 pound capacity min.

Personalize the checklist
It is only of value if you ADD / DELETE / MODIFY items as they apply or don’t.

If you are an Underwater Photographer, I have two lists posted on Dive PhotoGuide:
Click here for the DSLR list.

Click here for the Point & Shoot list.

COMPREHENSIVE LIST (For Customization)

o   Backup SLR BODY
o   Point and shoot Camera
o   SLR batteries (3 minimum)
o   Point & Shoot Batteries
o   SLR battery chargers
o   Point & Shoot Charger

o   Carry on bag
o   Camera Manual

o   Wide Angles
o   Fisheye
o   Macro 1  (50 – 60?)
o   Macro 2   (100mm)
o   Normal fast (50 1.4)
o   General Purpose Zoom(s) for land  (eg. 18 – 200)
o   Wildlife Zoom(s) for Land (eg. 100 – 500 )

o   Strobe (s)
o   Strobe Batteries and spares
o   Sync Cord(s)?
o   Strobe charger(s)
o   Strobe Manual

o   Lens paper
o   Screwdriver with multiple tips
o   Duct tape, maybe three feet rolled up as a neat roll (just standard procedure- improvisation)
o   Electrical ties (just standard procedure - improvisation)
o   Multi-tool like a Leatherman or small vice grip
o   Sensor Blower bulb / kit

OPTION A:  LAPTOP & External Hard Drive - Best option
o   Laptop
o   Card Reader & CABLE
o   USB / Firewire Cable for Hard Drive
o   External Hard Drive
o   Laptop charger
o   International Voltage Transformer (If needed)
o   International Plug adapters (If needed)
o   Power Strip / Surge protector
o   Three prong grounding adapter.
o   Combo Camera & Laptop bag (carry on in camera bag like Lowepro Laptop & Camera backpack)

OPTION B – Laptop & DVDS
o   Laptop
o   Card Reader
o   USB Cable
o   Laptop charger
o   International Voltage Transformer (If needed)
o   International Plug adapters (If needed)
o   Blank Disks
o   Container for burned discs or disc pages
o   Power Strip / Surge protector
o   Three prong grounding adapter.
o   Combo Camera & Laptop bag (carry on in camera bag like Lowepro Laptop & Camera backpack)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

CREATIVITY - The Decisive Moment

Creativity, its source and those who wrote about it have been one of my hot topics this year.  Creativity is always important, but I have been trying to synthesize the writings of those who most inspired me in the hopes of really putting the concepts into action and by extension, becoming a better photographer.

Henri Cartier-Bresson is without a doubt, one of my earliest influences.  Cartier-Bresson was famous for the concept of “the decisive moment  "Photography is not like painting," Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. "There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative," he said. "Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever."  (

I especially like this quote:
"My contact sheets may be compared to the way you drive a nail in a plank," he said. "First you give several light taps to build up a rhythm and align the nail with the wood. Then, much more quickly, and with as few strokes as possible, you hit the nail forcefully on the head and drive it in."

I took the photo above using the same philosophy.  After 10 minutes of stalking and shooting the school of Plotosis catfish in Sulawesi, Indonesia, this scene revealed itself with perfect alignment.

... For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which - in visual terms - questions and decides simultaneously. In order to "give a meaning" to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what he frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression. One must always take photos with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself.  

... To take photographs is to hold one's breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeting reality.

... "It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy."   

...It is putting ones head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis.

...It is a way of life.

 You can purchase the book here.

See another of my images that used his "Decisive Moment" concept.  It is the one with the two cats and the red door frame.  A variation on the above theme of the build up, there was ONLY time for one shot before the bottom cat moved. Shot in Padova, Italy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Creativity in Photography is a critical skill that is infrequently discussed.  It is hard to define because it is so personal.  Breathless discussions of megapixels are far easier.  However, Creativity is a well defined process and there are tools and techniques that anyone can use to become more creative (AND MAKE BETTER PICTURES).

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More CreativeTHIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY.  Roger von Oech wrote this classic book in 1983.  A Whack on the side of the Head is chock full of ideas, exercises and approaches.  It is a good resource when you get a "creative block " or are looking to jump start new ideas.

Here are some examples from the Table of Contents:
1 The Right Answer
2. That's Not Logical
3. Follow the Rules
4. Be Practical
5. Play if Frivolous
6.  That's not My Area
7. Avoid Ambiguity
8.  Don't be Foolish
9.  To Err is Wrong
10.  I'm Not Creative.

As you can see, the opposite of all the titles is closer to the truth of creativity.

You can purchase   A Whack on the side of the Head here.

Speaking of Creativity, click here for my fine art galleries.

Click here to see the follow up review of "A Kick in the Seat of the Pants."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Our article on How to Photograph Manatees has been published on

To read the article, click here.

To see my gallery of Manatee pictures, click here.