24 Free Desktop Wallpaper and a Podcast

So even as I write this, things are winding down with the 5 Day Deal. This was the deal that offered $2,500 worth of Lightroom presets, Photoshop actions, ebooks and video tutorials and more, all for $97. This offer is good until Oct 19th at 12 pm Pacific time U.S. All this marketing and screaming about this deal (and it really is a good deal) started me thinking it’s time to give back. So here is what I want to do.

I am going to give you an option of two gifts if you will. One is really for the serious photographer who wants to have a website the other is for the follower of my work that just really enjoys the photos.

dan_carr_bonusOption A

A few months back I did a Depth of Field with an action/adventure photographer whose name is Dan Carr. Dan lives and works in Whistler, Canada. I met Dan years back when we wrote a blog together. Dan has become an expert on marketing techniques for photographers such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for websites. This is a fancy way to describe how to get your website ranked high on Google. Our interview ran long, really long. Dan had a lot of great information. So I made a 20 min bonus podcast with the remaining interview. This has been locked away in the archives and now I have made it available to you is made available to you.

If you are a photographer who wants to up your game with your website this 20 mins is very helpful for clearing up a lot of misconceptions about web traffic, .com verses .net hot to get better rankings in Google and more.


Option B

I have traveled the world accompanied always with my camera. Photography is what I do. As a result, I have a lot of incredibly stunning images from all over Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa and Europe. I have taken the time to carefully select some of my best images and have created 24 high-quality desktop images. These don’t have a calendar on them. They are not dated in any way. You can use them for a lifetime. I made these high resolution so you can use them on Retina (HD) screens and see all the details. I also made sure that these images were not visually busy and in fact, they give you a great relaxing workspace.

So what’s the catch? They say nothing is free, right? But this is as close to free as I can make it without.. well, actually being  free. In order to receive either Option A or B, all you have to do is to sign up for my newsletter. I only give away premium material like these to my newsletter subscribers. It’s a perk for them.

So sign up. Download. Enjoy!



Lessons from a Photowalk

Here I thought through the image I was seeing and knew I wanted to meter off the highlights.


This past weekend I took a group of 10 expats around Georgetown, Penang for a photowalk. We had the whole range of gear present,  Nikons, Canons, Pentax and even a few of point and shoots. They were all hobbyists wanting to become better photographers. On these walks I always seem give the same advice. I thought I would share these two short bits of wisdom that I seem to repeat. They are closely related, in fact you can’t do the second bit of advice without doing the first. Here they are:

  1. Slow down
  2. Be intentional

Slow Down

Speed is like a death blow to a good photograph. Many folks see the shot, so they quickly, without thinking raise their camera and ‘snap’ it. Only to find later their ISO was too high or too low or their shutter speed was too fast or too slow. I would say that this comes from shooting a point and shoot, except that speed hurts even the point and shoot photograph. When in fact you don’t compose. I have said it in these pages before: slow down. I was going to say, “Unless you are a sports shooter you should slow down.” But even sports photographers slow down to plan what they are going to shoot. They have a good idea about what is going to happen next, and they prepare both mentally, and with their gear. Everyone has to take time to compose the image. Scan your viewfinder and take note of your settings. What ISO are you shooting? What is your shutter speed and aperture? What mode is your camera set to: aperture priority, shutter priority, program? Look at your scene and see what it is you are going to photograph. Is it really a visual scene and worth shooting? If you are trying to capture something more than an “I was here” photo, ask yourself, is there something here worth photographing? Just because you see something different, doesn’t mean you need to photograph it. Is the light good? Is it back lit or is the subject in direct sunlight? There are many more questions worth considering here.

Don’t freak out! These questions become more and more intuitive the more and more you shoot. But here is the catch—they don’t become intuitive if you don’t keep asking them. Which leads me to the second point, which I can’t repeat enough.


When everyone else was shooting the same subject, this man was watching us. Don’t always shoot the obvious.

Be intentional

Ansel Adams said it best, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it,” and that really is the underlying point of slowing down. If you are trying to become a better photographer you need to slow down and be intentional about what you shoot. More often than not I see photographers walk up to the subject, raise the camera and ‘snap’ a few frames off and then move on. They look more like they are ticking off a list rather than making a photograph. Be creative. Look for new angles. Get low, get high, shoot super wide, look for the fine details in a scene that others might be missing. You are not a 5 foot post that can’t change your position. Your foot is not anchored to the ground–so move! I always tell my students, “zoom with your feet.” Meaning, move!

Here is an exercise to try. For one full day of shooting, try never to shoot a subject from the position you first encounter it. Most of the time this means if you walk up to your subject then you can not photograph that subject from the same position, you have to squat or move to the side or stand on a chair. Related to this is, don’t shoot the obvious. If everyone is shooting the man selling sun glasses, why not try photographing the people watching the other photographers?

Find the details that no one else is shooting. Be original.

The whole point is if you slow down and start being intentional when making your photos you will be forced to use that other camera: your brain. Once you tap into that camera you will be amazed at what you both see for the first time and how well you compose and capture that moment.

By the way, we still have about five spaces left on our Rajasthan workshop and several spaces left on the Thaipusam workshop with Gavin Gough and myself. Why don’t you join us?

And that’s the way it was.

Maybe you heard, Walter Cronkite died this last Friday. Maybe you missed it as I did due to the endless Micheal Jackson…er..coverage. I was a huge fan of Walter Cronkite. I grew up watching him on the CBS nightly news. In the early 70s father used to teach ROTC at a near by high school. On the weekends my dad would bring home a 16mm projector and reels (Yes, this was before DVDs and even before video tape!) of the old documentary TV series called Air Power hosted by Walter himself. Continue reading

Spring cleaning!

f/2.8, 1/200 sec, at 70mm, 100 ISO, on a Canon EOS 5D

Ok, I admit it; I am under conviction. I need to practice what I preach. I have been listening to Zack Arias critique websites, portfolios and images over the weekend and I feel I need to start being harder on myself. Zach made a really good point, a good image cannot make a bad image good. Likewise, a bad or weak image can do nothing but pull down a whole gallery. His philosophy is leave nothing but your best in your gallery and dump everything else into Flickr. So, this weekend I started the process of revamping my gallery pages. I am not done. But I have made a good start at cutting out some images that are not strong. Heck, I even tweaked my welcome page while I was at it. I completely deleted the old Malaysia gallery and renamed the Penang gallery “Malaysia” then added a few more images from outside of Penang to it. (Did that make any since?) I still have plenty of work ahead. But in branding we want to show only our best and be known for just those images, not the many mediocre images we have on our computer. Right?

Have you looked over your portfolio lately? I put Zack’s voice in my head and flipped through my gallery pages. Ok, so I am a bit schizophrenic, I have voices in my head (but don’t all artist?). At least this voice is helping me edit my work and cleaning up my image. Join me. It is time for spring cleaning!

Wat Chaiyamangkalaran

I hate blogger. One of these days I am going to make the switch over to WordPress. But until I can figure out how to migrate all my old blog entries, I am hosed. Then again, if I get any more frustrated with blogger I might just count them as a loss and make the switch anyway. So, why am I so frustrated? All I wanted to do is use Lightbox or Slimbox, but you have to be a freaking programmer to figure out how to install and use the scripts and that is just not me. So for now I am stuck with giving you a link to a Lightroom version of lightbox.

So what this is all about is I went out yesterday and shot a few images at a local Burmese temple; Dharmikarama Temple and a Thai temple; Wat Chaiyamangkalaran. Nothing life changing, but I thought I would share with you the results. I have wasted most of the day trying to figure out how to make them pop up in Slimbox. So, enough of that! You can view them HERE.

What Blogs do you read?

Ok time for you to give back? I have a certain few blogs I check everyday. Here is my list:

  1. PixelatedImage Blog – David is one of the best writers I know and is always inpserational.
  2. Joe McNally – Joe is one of the best photographers out there and is always willing to share. And by the way, Joe’s blog was a stitch today!
  3. Chase Jarvis – Chase is awsome. Talk about some who shares knowledge. This guy rocks and he produces some pretty mean videos as well.
  4. The Travel Photographer – Tewfic El-Sawy always has some great links to some very cool slideshows.
  5. Photoshop Insider – Scott Kelby is, well Scott Kelby a must read.
  6. TED Blog – This is always a way to stay up on what the “world” fines important.
  7. Gavin Gough – Gavin has great insight and I just love looking at his images.
  8. A Photogrpahy Blog– Rachel Hulin digs up some great images and is always good for a hoot.

OK – Now it is your turn. Who do you read? I know you are out there, I see the states. So please don’t embarrass me and not respond. Or I am going to have to have my mom email for 50 different computers to cover my Arse!

PS One more I almost forgot to list. What the Duck. A must read. Not only is it funny, but it speaks volumes!

The Stock Jungle

I am not talking about the stock market, not that jungle. The jungle I am hacking through is the stock image jungle. From monsters like Getty Images and Corbis to the micro stock agencies where you can pick up a great image for $5 or less. Who are they and how does this all work. Here is what I know:

Most stock agencies sell images based on size and usage. So an image that is small and will only be used once in a limited small run may only cost you a few bucks. But an image that will be used on a hording (that is a billboard for us Americans) and plastered all over New York or London will run you big, big bucks. The photographer lets these agencies represent their images for “right of use”. He makes his money from a cut or a percent. It can be anywhere from 25% to as much as 50% of the image sale. Micro stock is different. These guys deal in volume and will sell your images for pennies compared to the large stock agencies. In fact you won’t even get a check till you have sold $75 to $100 worth of images. Not much profit for the amount of work that goes into imaging. So, the idea is to have large volumes of photos online and key worded so that when some one wants an image of a “crying boy” they key-in those words and your image pops up. That is of course, along with 150 other crying boys, so you still have to have great images that stand out above the rest.

So who are these micro stock agencies? Here are just a few. The most famous being iStockPhoto also Shutter Stock, Dreams Time, 123rf.com, Feature Pics. Feature Pics actually let’s photographers set the price for their images. Then there is Stock.xchng, these guys even have many images that are free! I found images on Stock.xchng that were priced images on iStock. Not sure how they do that, but for the end user it is a great deal.

At this time I have not taken the dive into the micro stock agency. I am represented by IndiaPicture. Of course they specialise in ..er.. Pictures …of India. One thing they have just started on their site, that I have not seen of the others is Live Support. Not sure how this is used but I guess it is at least fun to talk to someone in India for once about your image needs and not your credit card statement.

In The News

I am sorry it has been so long in posting. I have been up to my gills in setting up house, getting insurance and finding transportation. I should have a phone line with in 7 days with significant internet speed, or so they tell me. It had better be for price I am paying. I am looking forward to meeting with Grungeman with week. We are going out for some Teh Tarek and shoot some photos together.

I am in the news this week so I thought I would do a little honking of my own horn today. Check out an interview done with me by a new website on India and travel called duniyagolhai.com (the world is round). Here is a short excerpt:

2. How in your opinion traveling influences the art of photography?

MB:I think traveling has had a significant influence in photography over the past 10 to 15 years. The fact that people can travel more, longer and further is a huge factor. People are going places today that were once thought only accessible by National Geographic Photographers or highly funded adventurists. It used to be that a unique image was good enough, now very little is unique so an image has to be exceptional. It needs to tell a story, communicate the vision of the photographer.There are a lot fewer barriers today for a traveling photographer than 15 years ago.Almost everyone has a digital camera and a photo lab in their computer. All these things have had a huge impact on photography today….

3. Your documentation of Kashmir is unique in capturing the soul of the place rather than the oft-reported violence. What motivated you to present the humane side of the place?

MB:There are so many photographers covering the conflict in Kashmir and doing a much better job than I could. I look at the work of Ami Vitale and am moved to tears. Her work is amazing, so why should I cover what is already being done so exceptionally well? I have always felt I wanted to show a compassionate side of the Kashmiri and Gujjar people. I am from the US and over the past few years since 911, many people in the West have developed a negative view of Muslims…..

Visit the link HERE to read the whole of the interview.

I received word that the fine people at the Indian Himalayan Club published a book review on my book “Kashmir, the Mystery”. Below is an excerpt from the review.

Kãshmir: The Mystery, published by Tara Press, New Delhi, with photographs by Matt Brandon and text by Marryam H. Reshii, is a fabulous and insightful collection of photographs that brings out the beauty and ethos of Kashmir in its entirety.

The photographer’s intimate connection with the land and its inhabitants, both human and animal, is very obvious from the type and quality of photographs, and Marryam Reshii’s authoritative text complements the photographs and provides a window into Kashmiriyat—the Kashmiri culture and society. Concentrating on the Kashmir Valley only, making it unique, this splendid book fills a big lacuna in the set of existing books on Kashmir.

For the full review go HERE and look for the Himalayan Club e-letter, vol. 13, July 2008.

Lightstalker.org – A Photojournalist Aide

Others of you may already know about Lightstalkers.org. Lightstalkers is a network for journalists, especially photographers and other media types that find themselves constantly traveling, dealing with visas, gear issues and all the other frustrations our folks in our line of work face. It is a great experiment working towards networking photojournalists directly with one another. It is a free site and open for anyone who shares this lifestyle. There are some great resource links such as posting of assignments and opportunities, events and workshops relating to travel and photojournalism around the world, gear for sale, tech support for everything from Lightroom to negative scanners, even housing around the world. But the most interesting and most helpful has to be the travel link where you will find photographers asking questions about, ” the best way to embed with US troops in Iraq ” or the easiest way to get into North Korea. The site comes with other perks like a Slideshow Pro gallery of up to 50 images. What it isn’t, is a place to be discovered. There are way too many photographers on it, and you will be just another one of many. But I do think it could prove useful for planning that next adventure or remote shoot.