Oct 15 2015

Are You A Professional?

2015-9-19 Separation - Final 10-4-2015 1000

Recently while photographing on the the Oregon coast, a woman on a bicycle stopped and announced that she loved to talk to photographers. Her first question to me was: Are you a professional? 

In a split second my mind calculated the several different responses that I could give her:

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • What is a professional?
  • What does it matter what I’m called?
  • Wouldn’t you rather know if I’m any good?

Because all the definitions I had seen for “professional” were income based (you must earn at least 50% of your income from your photography) I chose a simple “No” for my response.

The woman then rode away, asking no further questions.

I just smiled.


Oct 9 2015

My Thoughts On; What’s Wrong With This Picture?

2015-9-19 Monolith No 85 - Final 10-4-2015 1000


Last week I asked: “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” 

Many of you guessed that I was up to something because I never list specifications and I never ask others about my work (it’s a Vision thing).

So what was the real point of the post? It was that the listing of technical specifications detracts from an image. They’re not just superfluous, but they actually detract from the viewing experience.

Listing specifications draws attention away from the only thing that matters (the image) and it furthers the folly that with the right equipment and processes…anyone could create this image. 

  • If only I had a full-frame camera…
  • If only I had white lenses…
  • If only I had a tablet with 2048 levels of sensitivity…
  • If only I had an 8-core processor…
  • If only…
  • If only..
  • If only…

I loved what Stephen said in his comment: “An artist doesn’t praise or blame their tools, what only matters is their final work.” 

There were other comments that brought up some important points that I’d like to reinforce:

1. Equipment and processes do not an image make. If I had to choose between the best equipment in the world but without my Vision…or a Kodak Brownie with my Vision…I’ll take the Brownie. 

2. Never learn the rules of photography. But if you already know them, try to forget them and vow to never consider them when creating an image. Rules are an inadequate substitute for Vision.

3. Create for yourself. When you create an image you should only care what you think of it and not be concerned what others think. The best success is when you create an image that you truly love.

4. There is no right/wrong or good/bad when it comes to art. There is only what you like and don’t like. Please don’t be fooled into thinking that if more people like an image, that it’s a better image. The only thing it means is that more people like the image.

5. Never ask others about your images. Don’t you know what you want? Haven’t you discovered your own Vision? If not, then listening to another’s opinion will not help you find it, but will actually harm the process.

6. Don’t give other people advice about their images, even if they ask. Why not? Because it’s their image and what you think or would do with it is unimportant! (sorry to be so blunt)

When people ask me what I would do with their image, I say: It doesn’t matter what I would do, what is your Vision for it? If I kept telling you what I would do and you kept following my advice, it wouldn’t take long before your images would start to look like mine! (which is not a good thing)

7. The creator gets the final word. When I showed this image to my wife, the first thing she said was: “I like it but you should get rid of some of that rock wall.”

My response was: “No, this is how I see it.”

And unlike most things in marriage, I get the final word when it comes to my images!


While the original point I wanted to make with this blog post was that the listing of specifications is not a good idea, I think the more interesting discussion has been centered around Vision. And as you might have noticed, I am fixated on Vision.

Why? Because finding your Vision changes everything. It gives you the confidence to create what you want without the need for validation or the fear of criticism.

Vision changes the image and it changes the image maker.




Oct 9 2015

Newsletter No. 70 and 22 New Images from Oregon

2015-9-19 Monolith No 94 - Final 10-4-2015 1000


I’m home from Oregon and am introducing 22 new images in my newsletter.

Are you signed up?



Oct 1 2015

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

2015-9-19 Monolith No 85a 1000

I’ve just spent the last ten days creating new images on the Oregon coast. Conditions were wonderful!

This is my latest addition to the “Monolith” series: Monolith No. 85



Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-105mm f4 “L” lens set at 24mm

ISO 50, f-22, 314.1 seconds using a Singh-Ray Mor-Slo 15 stop fixed ND filter

The tripod is a Manfrotto MT057C3 Carbon Fiber with a Manfrotto Model 486rc2 Ball Head.

This image was shot in RAW and written to a Kingston 266X 64gb CF card and co-written to a PNY 64gb 90mb/s SDXC card.

The RAW image was imported using Photoshop Camera 9.1.1 and the post processing done with Photoshop CC 2015.0.1 Release, build 20150722.r.168 x64.

I processed the image using my Wacom Intuos PTK-840 tablet with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The image is a 16 bit TIFF with a resolution of 5760 X 3840.

This was processed on my Velocity Micro PC, a Raptor Z95 mATX with 32gb DDR4 2400mhz RAM, a 1000 watt power supply, a Gigabyte X99m mother board with the Intel X99 chipset and the Intel I7-5820K 6-core processor. Video is a 2gb NVidia GeForce GTX960 Video Card GDDR5. It’s cooled using Liquicool’s 8 loop closed loop liquid heatsink. 


So, what’s wrong with this picture? Leave your comment and I’ll weigh in next week with my opinion.



Sep 25 2015

October 15th, 2015 – Join Me at the Lehigh Valley Photography Club in Bethlehem, PA

2008-9-14 Primordial Soup - Final 9-28-2008 1000

Primordial Soup

Hello Pennsylvania! I don’t get back east very often and so I’m pleased to have been invited to speak at the Lehigh Valley Photography Club in Bethlehem, PA.

Date:          October 15th, 1015

Time:         7 pm

Topic:       “Why Black and White?” 

Location:  The Banana Factory – 25 W 3rd St, Bethlehem, PA 18015

No reservations are needed an there is no cost for the program. And as always, I will be giving away three of my favorite prints

I sure hope to see some friendly faces there because some find my presentation provocative, while others find it down right heretical.

So it sure would be nice to have a few friends in the mob audience!


P.S. You can learn more about the Lehigh Valley Photography Club here: www.lvphotographyclub.org

Sep 17 2015

It’s All About the Image…and Nothing Else Matters

2005-5-9 RailRoad Tracks - Final 2-10-2007 1000

Railroad Tracks


It’s all about the image and nothing else matters.


It doesn’t matter what awards the image has won.

It doesn’t matter what gallery it’s in. 

It doesn’t matter how many prints have sold or for how much.

It doesn’t matter if the image appeared on the cover of a magazine.

It doesn’t matter where the image was taken.

It doesn’t matter what equipment was used.

It doesn’t matter if the image was taken with a prime or zoom lens.

it doesn’t matter if it was created with film or digital. 

It doesn’t matter what program or plugins were used.

It doesn’t matter what printer, ink sets or paper were used.

It doesn’t matter who the photographer is.

It doesn’t matter if they are famous or not.

It doesn’t matter where they went to school.

It doesn’t matter what famous photographers they studied with.

It doesn’t matter what critics think of the image.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of the image.


The only thing that matters is the image and how you feel about it.

Nothing else matters.


Do you like it?


Enjoy it.

Don’t over-analyze it.

Simply enjoy it.


You don’t like it? 

Maybe the image failed.

Or maybe…you simply don’t like it.

That’s okay.

We all have different tastes.



Sep 10 2015

New Video: Discovering Your Vision in Black and White

2011-1-11 Road to Nowhere - Final 1-23-2010 750

Several years ago a friend of mine, Greg McKean of Master Photo Workshops, shot a video featuring me in Death Valley. And through a series of unfortunate events, we were never able to finish it…until now.

This video is entitled “Discovering Your Vision in Black and White.” It’s a two CD set: one shot in the field and the other at the computer showing my very simple Photoshop techniques including dodging and burning with a pen and tablet.

My biggest concern while shooting was: What if I don’t see any good images, I’ll be documenting myself failing! Fortunately we found a few including “The Road to Nowhere” above. This video will show you how I saw it, shot it and processed it.

To kick start the introduction of this set, Master Photo Workshops is offering a 15% discount between 9/16/2015 and 9/23/2015. Just use the promo code “masterblackandwhite” when ordering. Here’s where you can learn more:


This video an honest representation of what I believe, how I see and the way that I work. I sincerely hope that you will find it interesting and helpful.




Sep 4 2015

New Newsletter Available

2006-12-8 Midnight Surf - Final 9-20-2007 1000

Midnight Surf


A new newsletter is now available. If you’re not already receiving them, you can sign up for it here: 




Aug 21 2015

A Realization and a New Commitment

2007-12-11 Self Portrait with Parking Meter - Final 1-10-2008 1000

I’ve been driving a U-Haul moving van from Northern Colorado to Portland, Oregon for the last few days and instead of listening to my latest Longmire book on tape, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…introspective stuff. 

I’ve come to realize that I’ve become less and less productive at creating new images and I’m spending more and more time on other peripheral things such as talking about photography, writing about photography and emailing about photography.

I need to get back to doing what I love. I need to do less talking and do more creating.

So forgive me if my blog posts are a little less frequent and my emails are a just little shorter. I plan on shifting my priorities back to what makes me happy and fulfilled, and that is creating new images.









Aug 14 2015

Some of My Favorite Quotes on Vision

2010-10-20 Fluid Water No 45 - Final 11-1-2010 1000

“I realized that I had things in my head not like what I had been taught – not like what I had seen – shapes and ideas so familiar to me that it hadn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to stop painting, to put away everything I had done, and to start to say the things that were my own.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

“Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.” Antonio Machado

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“The artist has only to trust his eyes.”  Auguste Rodin

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”  Henry David Thoreau

“You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.”  Mark Twain

“The same sun shines upon the same earth, yet each of us casts a different shadow.”  W. E. Dassonville

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”  Joseph Campbell

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”  Herman Melville

“What matters most is how you see yourself.”  Unknown

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”  Helen Keller

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” Jonathan Swift

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

“To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.” Seneca

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens.” Carl Jung

“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” Oscar Wilde

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” Ayn Rand

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Steve Jobs

“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” James Whistler

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” Norman Vincente Peale