Announcing the 2nd Location Portraiture & Lighting Masterclass in Varanasi, India

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I am pleased to announce the second Location Portraiture and Lighting Masterclass in Varanasi, India. Well, ok it’s really the second time we’ve run the class, but the first time we’ve used this name. I am teaming up again with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Guru and Wizard of Light Piet Van den Eynde. We will be releasing full details in the days to come. But let me assure you this will be an amazing class! Piet and I have been working all winter hammering out the details to make this class one that will be both highly educational, exciting, challenging and memorable and I think we have succeeded. We will be covering techniques and skills that are often skipped over on other workshops of this price or length. We will be covering the broad topics of: Continue reading

Tip: Use Your Sports Watch to Geotag Your Photos.


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(Note: all images taken with the new FUJINON LENS XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR)


Are you a runner? If you are, I would guess that you have a sports watch with a GPS function. There is a high probability that you can use this watch to geotag your photos. I can’t write this with certainty that it will work with all watches, but there is a really high probability that yours will work. Continue reading

DAM News on the Workshop Front


I am trilled to report that registration for the Rajasthan Photo Trek and Workshop going well, and by well I mean FANTASTIC! ! We now only have one spot left are sold out! 1 After publishing this post, I think that last spot might be history very soon. Continue reading

  1. We will maintain a waiting list for the Rajasthan Photo Trek. Please don’t confuse the Rajasthan Photo Trek with the one day DAM Master Class. We still have plenty of room in the Master Class.

Jessie’s Avatar

After yesterday’s blog post, Jessie, my daughter, wanted to post a comment to say, thank you for all the nice responses she received. But, she wanted an avatar by her name (Hey it is important for a 15-year-old to have an avatar… I guess.) So, in helping Jess create an “Gravatar” for her comments, I realized we really didn’t have anything current that she could use. Then, this morning I remembered a quick test snap I made of her in our doorway soon after I bought my Fujifilm X-Pro 1. Continue reading

What is your Un-Suck Filter?

Un-suckfilters, everybody has one. Oh sure, you might not want to admit it, but you have one. Everyone does.

Back and white conversion or for the more creative duo-toned conversion has got to be the number one un-suck filter. We have all be tempted, but we must resist the evil that is known as duo-tone – at least when it is used to convert a bad image to a…bad image in two tones.

As a photographer based in an exotic location and one who travels to even more exotic locations I often get people emailing me to look at their travel galleries. I have seen some of the most appalling imagery exhibited as their strongest work only because it was shot in an amazing place. A bad image shot in India is still a bad image. A bad image shot in London is still a bad image.

I have come up with a partial list of popular Un-Suck Filters. Maybe you have know some others?

  • B&W conversion
  • Color and color grads effects
  • General over processing in PS or LR
  • Heavy vignette
  • Highlight slider in LR (has to be mine)

Here’s the skinny: If a photo is out of focus no amount of detail in the shadows will change that. If an image is compositionally bad, it will be compositionally bad in back and white as well. As a growing photographer, you need to spend less time working on Photoshop and Lightroom tricks and more time working on composition and craft. Do you know what a well-composed photo looks like? Are you familiar with your kit enough to quickly capture an image in focus with the exposure you want and in a compelling composition? Forget correcting it in Photoshop. Truthfully – you might be able to correct a bad image a bit. But what does that say about your vision and your craft. It just tells me you’re lucky!

By the way, drop by ProPhoto Coalition for more articles on photography.

Dear Beginner, You make ripples!

Photographers can cause ripples.

Recently I had an email from a reader who had some basic photography questions. He was dealing with some pretty common issues that most beginners deal with. He has been frustrated that his images, though taken in some very exotic locations don’t seem to grab the viewer. After I looked over some of his images and made some strong suggestions, I got the email below. Continue reading

Composition: Prescriptive or Descriptive?

If there is one question I get whenever I teach or discuss composition it is, “Yeah but do you shoot with all these compositional rules in mind or is it something you see afterwards?”  To put it another way, are these compositional rules prescriptive or descriptive? And the answer, of course, is a little of both.

Now, when I run a seminar or workshop and teach a load of compositional rules, I don’t expect my students to go out and start applying all of the rules right away when they are shooting. The fact is, when we go shooting, we are thinking about the subject almost to the point of becoming myopic. We become oblivious to everything else around us. Hopefully, we will try to think about a few of the basic rules of composition at the same time, such as thinking about where the subject falls in the frame, where the lines or elements in the frame are that we can use to draw the viewers eye to the subject. But there are a whole host of compositional elements that we never think to look for in a photo. And quite frankly, most of those would fall in the category I’d call descriptive.

While cropping, positioning the subject in the frame, the use of contrast and balance, being aware of the foreground, middle ground and background, rhythm or repetition and yes, even eye-lines can all be things  that we look for in the view finder there is so much more that will help us in zeroing in on that great image once we get it into Lightroom. These are the factors that help you select powerful images.

When I am in the field, I will often take 5 to 10 images of any one subject. I work the subject for different angles, light, expression and gesture. After I import the images into Lightroom, a lot of the other compositional elements come into play. It is now that the strong images rise to the surface. There’s a chance, and over the years it’s gotten a lot more than just a chance, that I know which image is going to be the strongest before ever importing them into Lightroom. But certainly, once the images are in there, a few images will stand out among the rest. It is now that I look for strong elements of design and composition, things that I might never have seen in the viewfinder. A good example is an image I shot of some farmers winnowing their barley harvest.

This image has some very strong repetition of triangles. I saw one maybe two of the triangles when I was shooting. But later when I look at the image in Lightroom I saw many, many more. I have marked a few above, but there are still more in the frame to be found.

Much of composition is learned and reinforced with practice and self-assignments. Then later, sometimes much later, it enters into the intuitive part of the brain. One day you realize that you are not thinking about diagonal lines curves and vectors, they just start showing up in the images. This is a lot like any art or sport. You learn technique so well that it becomes second nature. I fenced in college.  I was mediocre at best. But I fenced against some of the best. I can tell you they were not thinking, perry, repost, lunge, disengage.  It just magically happened. It was all second nature. Because we practiced the techniques over and over again. And so it is with composition. The more you practice, the more you critique your own images, the more it will become second nature.