May 22 2013

Death Valley Workshop Feb 3-8, 2014

2008 12 10 Death Valley Dune Final 7 7 2011 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

 I love the California desert.

2012 1 14 Dune Detail No 43 Final 1 27 2012 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

I go there every year to photograph.  

2011 1 11 Road to Nowhere Final 1 23 2010 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

I love the stark beauty.

2013 1 19 Dunes of Nude No 57 Final 2 18 2013 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

The changing conditions.

2008 12 10 Time No 2 Final 12 22 2008 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

I love the variety.

2012 1 14 Charcoal Kilns Final 1 27 2012 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

I love the solitude.

2011 1 11 Borax Summit Final 1 23 2011 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

I love almost everything about it

(well, between the months of  November and February that is!)

2011 1 11 Zabriestki Point Final 1 23 2010 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

And so I’m happy to announce that John Barclay and Dan Sniffin have invited me to join them on their February 2014 Tour/Workshop to three of California’s premier desert locations.

2013 2 23 Death Valley Mountains 1g Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

We will be focusing on three incredible areas: the Mesquite dunes in Death Valley, Trona Pinnacles and the Alabama Hills.

2013 1 19 Watched 1 Final 2 18 2013 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

Here is information on the workshop and the website where you can sign up.  

http://johnbarclayphotography.com/tours/

http://www.dansniffinphoto.com/-/dansniffinphoto/wildcard.asp 

2013 1 19 Ancient Stones 12 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014

I hope to see a few friendly faces there!

2013 1 19 Dunes of Nude No 55 Final 2 18 2013 750 Death Valley Workshop Feb 3 8, 2014


May 10 2013

Workshops

2013 4 17 Lake Erie 1f Workshops

Lake Erie – 2013

I will be helping conduct several workshops next year (Death Valley, Bandon Oregon and Possibly Namibia) and want to live up to people’s expectations, so what are your expectations? Could I get your thoughts to a few questions about workshops?

1.  Have you ever attended a workshop before?

2.  Why or why not?

3.  How many?

4.  Using a total of 100%, how important is each of the following to your choosing a workshop:

  • Photographer conducting the workshop
  • Location
  • Focus of the workshop

5.  What do you hope to get out a workshop?

6.  Please tell me of a positive and negative experience that you’ve had at a workshop.

7.  Any other thoughts or advice for me as I prepare for these workshops?

 

I would appreciate it if you’d copy these questions, paste them into the comments section and answer them.  Thanks for your experiences, thoughts and advice!

I’m in Russia right now and next Friday I’ll be in Split, Croatia for the opening of my exhibition ”The Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

Cole!


Mar 7 2013

The Beatles, Las Vegas, Death Valley and Three New Images

2013 2 23 Time No. 4b The Beatles, Las Vegas, Death Valley and Three New Images

What do The Beatles, Las Vegas, Death Valley and three new images all have in common? 

I often cite The Beatles as being one of my photographic inspirations. Not because I grew up with them and love their music, but because I admired how they never “froze in time” in a futile attempt to remain popular. Rather, they flaunted conventional wisdom and would change styles at the height of their popularity. As I  listen to their music I am in turn inspired to grow,  change and to stay fresh by trying new things. 

So what has that to do with this story? Well for Christmas my wife surprised me and purchased tickets to The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. The seats could not have been better, the production was unbelievable and the music was…well…it was the Beatles!  

We then decided to stay a few extra days in Las Vegas to celebrate our wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day.  The question was what to do with our extra time? We decided to head off to Death Valley so I could show her some of my haunts and so she, a runner, could run at 285 feet below sea level see what it felt like to be Superman!

While she was out running I was very anxious to have another go at Death Valley, but this time capturing my images as RAW files rather than puny JPEG’s!  (see my last several posts for the full story).  While there I did create Time No. 4 above, which is a new addition to my “Time” series and the two images below.  

 

2013 2 23 Death Valley Mountains 1g The Beatles, Las Vegas, Death Valley and Three New Images 2013 2 23 Dunes of Nude No 85b The Beatles, Las Vegas, Death Valley and Three New Images

 

The Beatles, Las Vegas, Death Valley and three new images, how can life get any better than this?

Cole


Feb 15 2013

How I Salvaged My JPEG’s

Thanks to all who have written to commiserate with me about my disaster last week, and to share your own stories of mistakes made. I should compile them into a book and call it “The Ghosts of Photo-Mistake’s Past.”  

And thanks to those who offered technical advice on how to salvage my JPEG’s, because of this advice I was able to save more of my files than I thought possible. I thought I’d share what I found worked best.

To bring everyone up to speed, I accidentally photographed Death Valley with no RAW and only JPEG files. Because I was shooting in Monochrome Mode, the JPEG’s were in black and white and not in color like the RAW files would have been. The reason for this is that when you are shooting in RAW, all of the settings you make to the camera such as the mode, saturation, sharpness and etc, are ignored by the RAW file. However the JPEG file is affected by all of those settings.  So because I had JPEG’s files, I was unable to convert them to black and white myself.  

Why does this matter? Because much of “my look” comes from this conversion process as I adjust the color channels.

The JPEG files are also more grainy and the grain seems to clump together more than the RAW file. Lastly, the JPEG file is an 8 bit file while the RAW is a 16 bit file. This matters because I do a lot of dodging and burning and an 8 bit file will not produce smooth gradients, it’s subject to banding and posterization.  

There is nothing I can do about not having a color file to work with, that ship has sailed. But, there was something I could do about the 8 bit files, I thought I’d simply go into PhotoShop and converted the file to 16 bit. However my friend (and master printer and great photographer) Adrian Davis pointed out that this approach is not ideal and offered a better way.  

His suggestion was to use HDR to create a true 16 bit file as opposed to taking a 8 bit JPEG and simply converting it to 16 bits. You do this by making a copy of the original file and then using Photoshop’s HDR to merge together the two identical files which resulted in a file with 16 bits of data. Note: it does not produce that “HDR” look in this process.

Now this did not solve all of my JPEG problems, but at least by having a 16 bit file, I was able to do my dodging and burning on a 16 bit file which provided me with smooth gradients. I compared the JPEG image to the converted 16 bit image and it looks better in a three ways. First there is no banding, second the grain looks smoother and third the edges on high contrast transitions are smoother.  

The improvement was enough that with a little extra work, I’ll be able to salvage 10-15 of those “lost” Death Valley images. I’m very happy about this!

So my thanks to all for your support and suggestions, and I hope that my mistake and this technical tip will be beneficial to you.

Cole

P.S. Please take a look at Aline Smithson’s L E N S S C R A T C H entry for 2/14/2013.  She invited people from all over the world to submit their self-portraits and there are some amazingly creative images here! But there’s a twist, she tells the story about how I got to know someone who wrote me and how it led to a friendship and an exhibition. She then invites all of the self-portrait artists to contact the person who comes before and after them in the exhibit.  Aline’s a pretty clever woman.

 

 


Feb 8 2013

Back from Death Valley, and the Devastating Discovery

Sunday I arrived home after spending 16 days in Death Valley. It was a fantastic trip; the weather was perfect, it was relaxing and I felt very productive. Each night I’d review my images and the compositions were looking good. However the images had a funny look to them on the camera’s screen, they were flat and dull, but it was a new camera and so I figured that I had the brightness adjustment set a little differently than on my other camera.

When I got home and all caught up with two weeks worth of mail, email and phone messages, I anxiously began processing my images. As I reviewed the thumbnails, the images again looked a little odd, they were very flat. Then I noticed that I was looking at a JPEG, which I thought was okay because I had set my new camera to record in both RAW and JPEG.  However as I looked for the RAW files, my heart stopped when I realized they weren’t any. I went back to the CF Card and they weren’t there either.

I could not believe it.  I had shot for those entire 16 days and didn’t have a single RAW file to show for it. I went into the camera settings to see how I had set up the camera and sure enough, I had misread the settings and had mistakenly it set to record only in JPEG. I was devastated because as I reviewed the images it appeared to me that I wouldn’t be able to salvage a single one.

The problem was twofold: First the images were recorded in JPEG and were a much lower resolution than the RAW files I normally work with. And second, the files were recorded in B&W which meant that I could not convert them they way I wanted using the color channels.  This took much of the creative control from me.  As I worked on some of the files I concluded that I wouldn’t be able to use any of them.

That was a very long night for me. I could not stop thinking of all of the mistakes I had made:

  • Setting up the camera wrong.
  • Not creating some test images before I took the camera into the field.
  • Not processing some of the images while on the trip, which would have uncovered the problem.
  • Not digging deeper into why the images on the camera’s screen looked funny.

I felt pretty foolish and just couldn’t believe that after all of that time, money and shooting, I was coming home empty handed.  It was a long sleepless night.

The next day I thought that I’d take another stab at some of the images, perhaps by using some different techniques a few might be salvaged? After working on them for a few hours, it turns out that I might be able to save about five of the images. Not a lot to show for 16 days work, but a lot more than I thought I had last night!

I felt foolish for making such a silly error and thought maybe I’d say nothing about this to anyone and just quietly show the five images, but I then thought better of it. That was pride speaking and the truth is that I messed up and I need to share this experience to keep myself humble and to help others from making the same mistake. This disaster was completely avoidable and I’m grateful that I’ve learned this lesson now, before I travel to Iceland later this year. Can you imagine coming home from Iceland with no images? Now that would have been a tragedy!

So, please learn from my mistake and tuck this experience away.  When you get a new camera, test it out thoroughly before you head out on a big photo trip.  And if something doesn’t look right, investigate it right then and there until it’s resolved.

Also, after working with these JPEG files and seeing their limitations, I must reinforce my previous recommendation to always shoot in RAW!  There is an ENORMOUS difference between RAW and JPEG, and you are handicapping yourself when you work in JPEG.

I’ll be finishing these images over the next several weeks and will introduce them in the next newsletter. In the meantime, the above image is one that I think I’ll be able to salvage.

Cole

 


Jan 31 2013

Death Valley – Week 2

2013 1 31 Armagosa Sand Dunes Death Valley   Week 2

 

Isn’t the iPhone incredible?  Beautiful 180 degree panoramas created in the field in seconds!

Today I visited the Armagosa sand dunes, near Beatty, NV.  I was the only one there and the dunes were pretty clean.

Here’s a short video of my visit.

And a 45 second time-lapse video.

Cole

 

 

 


Jan 25 2013

Death Valley – Week 1

image Death Valley   Week 1

 

Here is a very short time-lapse video showing me at work at the Devil’s Golf Course.

I know that a lot of you will ask: Color?

It’s just an iPhone snap, but hopefully more serious (and less colorful) work will emerge after I get home and process my images.

Cole


Jan 18 2013

Headed to Death Valley

2008 12 10 Death Valley Dune Final 7 7 2011 750 Headed to Death Valley

I’m leaving for my annual Death Valley trip in the morning.  I’m going for two weeks this year, a little longer than most because I’m also hopping over to L.A. to attend the Auschwitz Liberation Day remembrance at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance.

2012 1 14 Dune Detail No 43 Final 1 27 2012 750 Headed to Death Valley

What will I do for two weeks?

2012 1 14 Death Valley Hills Final 1 27 2012 750 Headed to Death Valley

The first thing I’m going to do is enjoy being alone with my thoughts.

2012 1 14 Death Valley Dune Abstract Final 1 27 2012 750 Headed to Death Valley

My goal is to clear my head of all the day to day clutter that keeps me preoccupied with relatively unimportant stuff.

2012 1 14 Charcoal Kilns Final 1 27 2012 750 Headed to Death Valley

I hope to continue on my quest to “see differently.”  Not differently from everyone else, but differently from myself.

2011 1 11 Zabriestki Point Final 1 23 2010 750 Headed to Death Valley

Would I love to come home with a dozen of good  images?  Yes, but I’d rather come home with a single great one.

2011 1 11 Road to Nowhere Final 1 23 2010 750 Headed to Death Valley

One that I am in love with.

2011 1 11 Borax Summit Final 1 23 2011 750 Headed to Death Valley

One that I am proud of.

2008 12 10 Time No 2 Final 12 22 2008 750 Headed to Death Valley

That’s not too much to hope for, is it?

Cole

 

 

 

 


Aug 31 2012

Death Valley: Where Time Stands Still

My portfolio “Death Valley: Where Time Stands Still” is featured in the current issue of LensWork.  It is always an honor to be featured here.

If you’ve never seen a printed copy of LensWork, then you are missing out on one of the finest printed publications in the world.  The quality of their duotone printing surpasses most of the photo books I own and the quality of their featured photographers is consistently high.  And then there is LensWork Extended, a DVD with additional content such as audio interviews, additional images, video and even…dare I utter the word…color!

Something else  I love about LensWork are  the writings of editor Brooks Jensen.  I have always liked his out-of-the-mainstream views and appreciated his common-sense wisdom about art and photography (even though we differ in opinion on “Photographic Celibacy!“)

So far I have had these portfolios featured in LensWork and LensWork Extended:

  • Grain Silos
  • Ceiling Lamps
  • The Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Death Valley: Where Time Stands Still

Unfortunately you can no longer purchase LensWork on the newsstands, however you can purchase a copy or subscribe here:

http://www.lenswork.com/previewpages/lw102/lw102preview.html

If you were going to read just one photo publication, I’d suggest that you get rid of the ones that focus on equipment and subscribe to LensWork that focuses on art.  At $39 a year, it is a steal and I’m not sure how Brooks Jensen can afford to do it!

Cole

 


Aug 23 2012

Death Valley Video – A Hint of Something to Come

Here’s a new video featuring my Death Valley images. They will be appearing somewhere special in the near future. 

Click Here to Watch the Video

Here’s a hint; it’s a black and white publication.

Cole