Random Stops

When we go on a photo trip we typically set for ourselves a final destination – a place we plan to spend the most time photographing on a trip. While driving there it is easy to get into “get to the destination” mode. Landscapes pass by largely ignored. They don’t seem to be important or interesting comparing to what waits for us at a destination. It is like I’m in a tunnel with a light at the end being destination of my trip.

On my last trip I decided to break out of the tunnel. As we were passing some hills that appeared to be empty – there were no subject to stop an eye on – we just turned from a highway to a random dirt road just to stop and look around. And it is just amazing how much interesting we found. Hills were covered in tiny flowers and occasionally some large flowers. The dirt road was nicely zigzagging to the top of the hill. There was a tree on the top of the hill. And great view opened up from the top of the hill. We’ve spent quite a while photographing there.

Now I’m wondering if I could do great photographs at any random points along the way? In some sense it is not a great place that I’m going to that helps me to do photography, it is the state of mind that opens up the possibilities. I’m sure going to try to do more random stops on my trips and see what’s around me along my way.

Here is one of the picture made at one of such random stops:

Tree on a Hill

Long Trip for Dandelion

Dandelions are everywhere. I even have them in my backyard and yet I have not taken a single photo of them where I live. At the same time on my last photo trip to central Washington and Oregon thousands of kilometers from home I was stuck around a dandelion parachute ball for an hour taking photo after photo – searching for best angle and experimenting with different depth of field. I found it to be extremely interesting. Why is that?

I have two states of mind – daily routine and photographic creativity. While in the first state I’m completely consumed by the daily errands, not having time for anything beyond that. On a photo trip on the other hand I start seeing interesting photos in even simple and widespread things. Driving or flying away from home is my trigger that opens my vision to a different perception of the world around me. I need to put a significant time and distance between me and home to isolate myself from daily routine and start thinking photographically.

Being able to isolate and focus on photography is very important to me and I suggest you try to find your own trigger that will help you with that.


Getting Out There

The best thing you can do for your photography – get out there and start photographing. Don’t wait for the right weather, don’t wait for the right light, don’t wait for the right mood. Just pick up camera, drive or work or ride somewhere, and start shooting. Photographs will come only to those looking.

My son has grown up quite a bit and does not need as much continues care – he can play by himself and with other kids. Which means I can get out there and start photographing again. So I did last weekend with a fellow photographer. And what a joy was that!

We’ve planned for this trip for a week. Saturday morning though looked miserable. The weather forecast did not promise anything good – rain for weekend for central Washington and Oregon, where we planned to go. We were ready to call it off. Then my wife said that I must go, if I did not go, I would regret later. She was right – we went and it was great. The weather was nice and I brought back a lot of photographs to work with.

I think Jay Maisel put it best once when he said “Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid to stop trying.”

Here is one of the first photos I’ve made on the trip:

The Importance of a Routine

It is important to work out a routine of taking camera out of a backpack and putting it back. Routine will turn into habit that will ensure that nothing gets broken or lost over time.

I realized this after one incident while photographing in Yellow Stone National Park. One time I though I would leave my camera backpack open in the trunk of my car. I thought why bother opening it and closing every time I need to reach for a camera.

Then I was in hurry to catch a sunset and I completely forgot that I left my backpack opened. I needed to run to get a better angle for a shot. I quickly pulled the backpack out of the truck and threw it at my back.  That sent my DSLR and filters flying out of the backpack.

I was very lucky that time – my camera landed onto a level inserted into the camera hotshoe. The level was crushed but it saved the camera – it did not have any damage. Needless to say that I did not get any sunset shots that time.

That taught me an important lesson not to skip on important routine of packing camera after doing photography. The lesson cost was $25 – the cost of a new level.

I have similar routines for extending/collapsing tripod legs, placing camera on tripod, for placing and removing a filter, changing lenses. These routines are very important. Eventually they turn into habits that you do very mechanically, so you can focus more on photography instead of these small things.

Subject, Texture and Color

When I go to botanical garden with a camera I feel like an explorer looking for specimens. I don’t take picture of flowers and leaves – there are enough of those already. I’m collecting subjects, textures and colors to work with later at home.

Here are three photos (subject, texture and color):

subject texture color

I turned those into this image:

This image might be a beginning of a new project. I even have a name for it: “Primary Colors”.

How much my prints worth?

A few days back I wrote a post about pricing of fine art prints. After thinking a bit I decided to do an experiment with upcoming exhibition to find out how much people are willing to pay for my prints. I’m going to do a silent auction with no reserve, no starting price for the prints that are going to be exhibited. I’ll find out just how much people are willing to pay for them (if they are willing to pay for them at all, of cause).

Here are the images that are going to be exhibited:

Palouse at Sunset  
Sketch with a tree and road Three trees by the road Tree

All the prints are on a canvas stretched with gallery wrap 27”x18”.

I’ll let you know results.

First rule of shooting video for photographers

Do not turn camera vertically while shooting video even if the shot would be best composed vertically.


Every tool has its reason and its purpose. While I enjoy DSLR for my fine art photography, a point-and-shoot camera is essential for a family vacation. For quite some time I’ve been using DSLR for both. Recently I’ve bought a point-and-shoot camera in addition to DSLR and I can say that I enjoy family vacation more now. First, I have to carry my son’s stuff and sometimes my son himself, additional weight and size of DSLR with lenses does not make it more enjoyable. Second, with point-and-shoot I can take pictures with one hand while holding my son’s ice cream in the other – can you do that with DSLR? Third, it fits into a pocket.

There are lots of other reasons why point-and-shoot is more appropriate for certain cases. I’m wondering why I did not buy such a great tool earlier.

Too bad we just lost it today in Disneyland. I don’t care as much for the camera as for the day worth of photographs of my family. If you happened to find a camera with someone looking like me in photos or know someone who did, could you send photos my way, please?

How much does a print worth?

As the time of my new show is getting closer the same question of pricing comes up again. What’s the price tag to put on prints?

The discussion about pricing of prints is probably as long as photography itself. Some take approach of costing materials, their time put into producing and framing the print, all other expenses and then adding some mark up. But why the person who looks at prints in a gallery and may buy them would care about how much money and effort photographer put into the print? Wouldn’t the amount potential buyer may spent on a print actually depend on the image itself, on how much it connects with a viewer on a deep emotional level?

Other approach is to pull some high price out of thin air – this is art and thus should cost a lot. It seems to me that it would just alienate viewer. People think that we artists are crazy thinking that someone would pay that price. There is an opinion that value creates a perception of value – the higher you price the print the more likely to sell for high price. That might be true for some limited group of people. I don’t think most of us would fall into that.

What does the history teaches us? If we look back at history how many of famous artists of the past become rich by painting their paintings we all enjoy today and which are considered priceless. If they could not selling their paintings for crazy high prices why would someone pay crazy high prices for a print? Let get real. The print cannot be worth the price tag unless it can be sold for that price.

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