Gerald Hill has been involved in photography for over 37 years and often explored creative work while employed in the aerospace industry in Wichita, Kansas. In 2003 he began to exhibit in several galleries that sold his landscape images, many shot in western states. Hill recognized that a grounding in art is essential to making effective photographs, and he made time to take classes with artist Charles H. Sanderson, who encouraged him to consider photography as his means of self-expression, and to learn the basics of visualization so he could capture his subjects with greater impact. As Hill went deeper into his studies he saw results: his compositions became both more dynamic and more personal.
Susan K. Johnston
Dec 04, 2013
Published: Oct 01, 2013
A few years ago I was reorganizing a closet and discovered cardboard boxes tucked into a dark corner. Much to my surprise, I found dress boxes and shoeboxes filled with photographs from the 1940s and early ’50s. I had forgotten that when my father died I inherited his personal photographs. That afternoon and long into the night, I sat on the hallway floor looking at the pictures and reliving some of those moments. It was like discovering buried treasure, a forgotten family heirloom.
I learned photography in the film days, and when the huge change to digital came along, I changed not only my gear but the way I see. I used to have to see in terms of very specific criteria of what would work within the ISO range of my film and what the film could record in terms of light and shadow. Low ISOs meant I couldn’t get enough depth of field, or a tripod was needed, or I had to light something because there wasn’t enough information in pictures that had incredible shadow detail. High ISOs often meant an unacceptable level of grain and bad color rendition. As a result I passed up a lot of situations that got my attention but were beyond the capability of my film to capture.
He stands in about 3 feet of roiling surf, wetsuit jersey glistening from repeated dunkings. The sky above Oahu’s North Shore is deep blue. Undertow currents grasp his legs—eroding sand beneath his swim fins—as water rushes seaward to build the next huge wave. He holds his bulky waterproof camera housing tightly, faces west toward the setting sun and checks the long tether attached to his wrist. He turns his head to watch the wave rise ever higher—a towering blue-green monster that’s starting to curl, white spume blowing off its top. He braces himself as best he can against the forces raging around him, points the camera toward the golden Hawaiian sunset, and waits as tons of water begins to curl over him, forming a tube. At what he hopes is the right instant, he fires off several shots and prepares to be pounded and rag-dolled by the massive wave.
One of my favorite books as a child was Eric in the Land of the Insects, written by the Dutch author Godfried Bomans. In this humorous fantasy, 9-year-old Eric enters the landscape painting that hangs on his wall and discovers a world of man-sized wasps, bees, butterflies, and other insects that are stunningly similar to the world of humans. Once photography became a part of my life my world was populated with grasshoppers, spiders, snails, flies, dragonflies, and butterflies—Eric’s world.
Russell R. Caron
Sep 06, 2013
Published: Aug 01, 2013
One of the challenges to home or professional photographersthese days is trying to keep every portrait set from looking the same. In a world where “freshness” counts a lot, being able to mix things up from one session to another, from season to season, all without jumping through too many hoops to change the set, is an advantage for many. A current trend is the ability to not only change backdrops but flooring as well, and with that in mind we recently had the opportunity to work with products from a division of the pro lab White House Custom Colour called “Backdrops by WHCC.” They have a wide range of interesting offerings in both fabric backdrops and rugged “rubberized” studio flooring.
Does using social media as a marketing tool work for photographers? That’s what we aimed to find out by interviewing five photographers who have successfully used this particular marketing technique in very specific ways. Unlike advertising and direct mail, where you send out your material and wait for a response, and sales calls, which are more time-consuming, social media is a unique technique that can breed success, but only when properly and fully utilized. Many thanks to our photographers for taking the time and attention to share their thoughts and experiences (websites at end of column): Liz Cowie, Clark Dever, David Alan Kogut, Brad Mangin, and Chuck St. John.
“I have a mantra that I live by,” states San Diego-based Tim Tadder. “I believe that I work with the best clients in the world, and that they demand the best out of me. If the job calls for equipment I don’t have, I’ll make sure that I have it available so that I’m delivering the best product I can.”
Photographing couples is an art form that should not be underestimated. Finding the right way to get two people, no matter how wellthey know each other, to pose and stay in a position worth shooting can be extremely difficult. Success requires the right combination of clear communication and dexterous shooting ability. That’s why it is so crucial for portrait and wedding photographers to follow a clear system in order to have time to both shoot classically-posed shots and fun, candid photos.
In these days of HDR, Lightroom, and Photoshop, is there still any point in carrying around Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters? Often at photographic overlooks I hear photographers banging away with their cameras, shooting multiple exposures for future HDR images, while I nail the same scene in a single shot. More than once I have had one of these photographers scoff at me for using my “old school” GND filter, asking, “Ever heard of HDR?” While I am a firm believer in using all the tools available to me, including HDR, I feel that HDR is either unnecessary or won’t work in situations where multiple images are not possible, such as an action shot.
For almost a year I planned for the 22-day trip I took this past January to photograph among the indigenous people of Ethiopia. I did a lot of research so I’d know what to expect and how to deal with everything from the customs of the country to the weather and the traveling conditions. Also, I’d have a driver and a guide, and along the way I’d pick up local guides who’d know the ins and outs of specific villages, tribes, and dialects.
Filing the frame with the critter isn’t required for great wildlife photography. Reflecting on how I first slanted my wildlife photography in this direction, it has its roots in the first lens I had to shoot wildlife. I started with a Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 on an old Minolta that was soon replaced with a Nikon 400mm f/5.6 on an F2. That 400mm was my main lens for a long time and it taught me lessons about wildlife photography that I still depend on to this day.
At my workshops and lectures I am often asked by photographers how I am able to get sharp images at slow shutter speeds out of the affordable 70-300mm zoom I use for backpacking while they are unable to get sharp images with their 70-200 f/2.8 pro lenses. It is true that when it comes to lenses, the price tag does match the quality in terms of durability and sharpness at wide apertures. But by the time my carry-along backpacking lens is stopped down to f/8, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between photos taken with it and images taken with the most expensive pro lenses. Honestly, the lack of sharpness in photos has less to do with the tele lens you are using than it might seem and more to do with long lens technique.
Some of the best photography is in the worst weather!” I’ve been saying that for decades and it comes from coming in from the cold, soaking wet and thrilled to death with the images I captured. The drama in the light, clouds and the response to it by nature is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle you just can’t duplicate. In order to see it and photograph it, you have to get out in it and be able to work. And that’s where the challenge lies.
Having worked with Steve in the past, and knowing him for many years, we are always pleased to feature his photography and writing. Recently a new book of his came across our desk (ISBN: 978-1-4547-0327-3, published by Pixiq, www.pixiq.com, 272 pages, $29.95) and we are happy to offer an excerpt of just a few pages of the tip and technique filled volume here. This is one book where Steve’s personality, experience, and expertise certainly comes through in each and every well-illustrated page.—Editor