Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson: Blog http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog en-us (C) 2017 Dusty Demerson. Please do not use our photos without permission ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Fri, 30 Jun 2017 20:29:00 GMT Fri, 30 Jun 2017 20:29:00 GMT http://www.imagescolorado.com/img/s10/v105/u457364609-o793157954-50.jpg Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson: Blog http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog 90 120 Where the Wildflowers Are http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/where-the-wildflowers-are With the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival about a week away, it's time to start talking flowers. The Colorado State Legislature named Crested Butte the Wildflower Capital of Colorado a bunch of years ago. There were very good reasons. Anyone spending any length of time around Crested Butte in the summertime knows first-hand about the abundance of local color both human and botanical.

_DSC2950_DSC2950COPYRIGHT 2014 Dusty Demerson Simply wandering the streets and alleys of this former coal mining town will provide a great introduction to what's available if you venture into the back country.

There are 5 major drainages that converge into the East River valley near Crested Butte. Each of these valleys has its own character and flora. Heading west over Kebler pass is the most heavily traveled route and probably offers the least in terms of wildflowers. Most locals will spend their time in other valleys both to avoid the traffic and to discover better varieties of flora.

The Slate River Valley is the next valley to the north of town. It's a great drive toward Paradise Divide and a good place for dispersed camping as well as some sporadic wildflowers. This drainage is one of the best places to find Pasque flowers which are the first things to bloom once the snow starts to melt. They will be long-gone by Festival time. Lupine, Sunflowers, and Columbine are pretty easy to find along this drive.

_DUS3905_DUS3905copyright2009Dusty Demerson Just to the north of the Slate River drainage, you will find Washington Gulch. This route eventually connects with the Slate River Road and either brings you home or takes you up to Paradise Divide. There are huge fields of Lupine, Sunflowers, and mixed varieties along this route. It's one of my favorite places to photograph flowers.

Moving north again, the next area you'll discover is the East River Valley which trends northwest toward the former mining town of Gothic. Gothic is now occupied by the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab and the wildflower offerings are best in the 5 miles or so from the town of Mount Crested Butte to the lab at Gothic. The meandering East River offers great photo opportunities all year long but makes a great backdrop to the flowers near the road.

DSCF5406DSCF5406 You'll find Lupine, "Skunk Cabbage", Glacier Lilies, Sunflowers, and Columbine along this drive and under the trees along the way.

Be sure to stop by the visitor's center in Gothic for information about the research they do and ice cream. The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab also offers lots of public seminars, hikes, and educational opportunities.

Gothic Road is a great drive any time of the day but plan on taking your time. It gets lots of car and bike traffic and the speed limit is only 20 mph.

To do this drive you'll pass through the town of Mount Crested Butte. There are tons of sunflowers and usually some Lupine near the stables. The rustic fence of the Gold Link subdivision makes a great foreground for distant vistas of Whiterock Mountain.

_DSC9355_DSC9355COPYRIGHT 2014 Dusty Demerson Moving around toward the east brings us to the Brush Creek area. To find this drainage you will travel south of Crested Butte to the Skyland residential area and golf course. Turn left onto Brush Creek Road but keep to the right at the entrance to the residential areas. You're now on the southeastern flank of Crested Butte Mountain. The hillside along the road gets abundant sunshine and you'll find a huge variety of blooming flowers stretching for a half mile or so. You might have to do a little vertical hiking to find a great composition but it's usually worth the effort. If you're here during the Festival, keep your eyes peeled for Colorado photo legend John Fielder. He loves taking his workshops to this area.

If you continue along Brush Creek Road you will pass the Cold Spring Ranch and in about a mile start to climb into huge, open fields of sunflowers with great views of Mount Whetstone.

DSCF9647DSCF9647COPYRIGHT DUSTY DEMERSON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED If you're in the area and looking for a more personal guide service or photo instruction, I offer classes each morning of the Festival and private photo tours all year long. There's a link at the top of this page for more information on my services.

The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival runs from July 7 - July 16 this year and the headquarters are at the Crested Butte Community School. You can call them at (970) 349-2571 or use the hot link for their website.

I hope to see you here next week. The flowers are raging!

 

DSCF5612_1DSCF5612_1COPYRIGHT DUSTY DEMERSON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Colorado Crested Butte Dusty Demerson drive festival flower landscape photo photography travel wildflower wildflower capital of colorado wildflower festival http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/where-the-wildflowers-are Fri, 30 Jun 2017 20:28:32 GMT
The Cameras that Got Me to Where I Am Today Part 3 http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/the-cameras-that-got-me-to-where-i-am-today-part-3 After photographing with a wide variety of film cameras over 30 years or so it was time to invest in the growing trend of digital photography. Most of us started testing the waters of digital photography with amateur models from a variety of vendors. My first "professional" digital SLR was the Fujifilm S2 Pro.

Fujifilm s2 proFujifilm s2 pro The FinePix S2 Pro was based on a Nikon body so all of my lenses would still function. That was probably the most important reason for choosing this camera. Another factor was the fact that Fuji was years ahead of Nikon in their chip and software development at the time. The FinePix cameras actually used  hexagon shaped pixels which gave them much smoother color transitions which were a big problem for these low resolution chips. It didn't take long to upgrade to the newer S3 Pro when it came out.

Fujifilm s3 proFujifilm s3 pro To be honest, I can't remember what significant improvement the S3 offered but a couple of years later it got replaced by the FinePix S5 Pro which offered a dramatic improvement in resolution and image quality.

Fujifilm s5 proFujifilm s5 pro

The S5 was the first DSLR that really offered better images than the film cameras of the time. After this purchase it was rare to find me shooting film unless there was a specific need by the client. This was also the final chapter in the DSLR line for Fuji. I have always wondered why they left this part of the market because they had a lead in the technology and a clearly superior product for portrait and wedding photographers.

One of the downsides to digital cameras is that they don't last as long as film cameras. There's a lot more going on in there and a lot more stuff to fail. Also, we always want more pixels and better dynamic range along with the other bells and whistles. After several years my trusty S5 Pro got replaced by a shiny, new Nikon D700.

Nikon d700Nikon d700 The D700 offered some image enhancements for landscape photography and a bit higher resolution over the Fuji. It's build quality was also superior, offering better protection against dust and moisture. I loved the ergonomics of the D700 and was quick to lust after its 36 megapixel replacement the Nikon D800.

After reading a bunch of reviews for the D800 I came to the conclusion that I would need to replace my desktop computer to take advantage (or even load) these much-larger files. Not being able to find the perfect computer for imaging, I decided to build my own. I spent a lot of time doing the research and questioning others who were building dedicated Photoshop computers before I took the plunge. After finally deciding on all the components the order was placed and a few weeks later all the parts arrived. About 6 hours later I had a new whiz-bang computer and could think about ordering the Nikon D800.

Nikon_D800_frontNikon_D800_front The Nikon D800 is my current workhorse. It provides huge files which make large prints and canvases a breeze. The panoramas I create with stitching these images are monsters but more important is the fact that the image quality and sharpness is greater than even my medium format images. I frequently create 30" x 40" family portraits and panoramas extending 100" or so. They look fantastic! The dynamic range is superb enabling me to pull details out of the shadows that other photographers have to use HDR techniques to achieve. I love this camera!

Finally, for kicks and giggles I added a rangefinder Fujifilm X 100s a few years ago. This is a great, small, light camera for street photography and vacations. It's my "point and shoot" of choice. It offers superb image quality and sharpness and has an actual optical viewfinder which kind of brings me full-circle back to the Nikon S2 where I started.

fujifilm s100xfujifilm s100x

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) D700 D800 Fuji Fujifilm Nikon S2 S3 S5 X100s business camera photographer photography portrait professional studio wedding http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/the-cameras-that-got-me-to-where-i-am-today-part-3 Wed, 28 Jun 2017 22:23:52 GMT
The Cameras that Got Me to Where I Am Today Part 2 http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/the-cameras-that-got-me-to-where-i-am-today-part-2 In 1984 I was visited by a career change. My photojournalism path and I parted ways and I opened a portrait and wedding studio called "Dusty Demerson's Portraits Plus". The Plus was my way of saying that I would take on just about any photography job that included a check. It did not take me long to figure out that larger format prints were much more profitable than 8 x 10s so I had to choose some new equipment. After much deliberation I ended up choosing the Mamiya M 645 with three lenses.

Mamiya M645Mamiya M645䌀漀瀀礀爀椀最栀琀 䴀椀欀攀 䔀挀欀洀愀渀

This camera system was fairly lightweight, reliable, and more affordable than the other options at the time. I did get the metered finder which never worked very well. I did like that it had a rectangular format instead of the square Hasselblad format. Eventually I purchased the motor drive which weighed a ton but provided a very useful handle and platform for a shoe-mount flash. This combination became my wedding rig for many years and resulted in my right bicep becoming about double the size of my left one.

A few years after starting the studio I purchased a photo lab in Crested Butte, Colorado. The combination of lab and studio has been my business model since 1987. New equipment became possible with this much-more-profitable business model. The first move was into a larger format camera.

wistacherry_2wistacherry_2

The Wista 45DX was and still is a fabulous camera. I sold mine a few years ago but I still miss using it. My initial purchase included a Nikkor 150 mm lens which is a slightly wide normal for this format. Over time I added a Rodenstock 210, a Schneider 90, and a Schneider 65mm which is incredibly wide and very difficult to use well.

Shortly after adding the 4 x 5 camera I also upgraded the 120 cameras to the Mamiya RB67.

Mamiya RB 67Mamiya RB 67 This system really required using a tripod unless you were a Mr. America contestant but the image size, sharpness, and shear intimidation factor of the camera should not be overstated. Add a few stools and two Quantum Qpak battery powered strobes and you had a complete outdoor portrait studio that would scare off all but the most robust competitor. Being able to create 40 x 60 family portraits with no hint of grain was a wonderful added bonus.

As my photographic challenges grew so did my quiver of cameras. My next investment was the true panorama format, Russian made, Horizon 202.

Horizon 202Horizon 202 This was one strange camera. It used a slit shutter that panned over almost two normal frames of film. If you photographed moving objects they either got squished or stretched depending on their orientation to the moving shutter. It was kind of fun to play with that effect but as a landscape camera, it was a fabulous first step into panorama photography. My Horizon paid for itself many times over with unique wide format images. It did have its shortcomings though so I upgraded to the Hassleblad XPan.

xpanxpan The XPan is the most expensive camera I have ever purchased. It was based on 35mm film and I used the standard 45mm lens as well as the 90mm lens. The filter to even out the exposure for the 45mm lens was my second most expensive lens. Pretty scary! This camera taught me that Nikon lenses may not be the sharpest available. The Hassleblad optics are beyond compare and are easily the sharpest I have ever used. My XPan was also the most difficult to let go when I sold all of my film cameras. I still miss it sometimes. While I can capture more pixels by panning my digital cameras I still cannot capture a single frame instantly like I could with the Hassy. This wraps up the film cameras that have kept food on my table. The next installment will be the digital cameras.

 

 

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) camera career hasselblad horizon job mamiya nikon photography studio http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/the-cameras-that-got-me-to-where-i-am-today-part-2 Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:09:28 GMT
The Cameras that Got Me to Where I Am Today Part 1 http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/the-cameras-that-got-me-to-where-i-am-today Most of us that have been making pictures for any length of time have used a wide variety of camera equipment. Especially if we have bridged the gap from film to digital imaging. Here are the cameras that I have used in my 40+ year journey through professional photography.

NikonS2bigNikon S2 RangefinderMy Dad's Nikon he got while he was in the Navy. When I was in High School I discovered my Dad's S2 rangefinder and started playing with it. No meter and a really funky way of loading film made this camera a bit of an adventure but I didn't know any better. I also had no clue how to expose film correctly. It's a miracle I got any images at all.

Topcon_RE-SuperTopcon_RE-SuperThe first camera I ever bought.

The first camera I ever purchased was a Topcon RE Super with a 50 mm f1.4 lens. It had a light meter which helped a bunch and was built like a tank which also turned out to be pretty useful. I'm not sure this camera ever had color film in it. Tri X was my life!  I used this camera to achieve a degree in photojournalism and to get my first newspaper job. When you only own one lens you always have the right one on the camera!

Nikon ftnNikon ftn The first camera I ever purchased new was a Nikon F with the Ftn meter/finder and a wonderful 50mm f1.2 lens. The camera had been a special order for someone in Enid, Oklahoma and I just happened to wander into the camera shop while I was delivering oilfield equipment between photojournalism jobs. This tool was my pride and joy for many years. The meter would need cleaning and adjusting about every year and the flash sync terminal kept coming loose but the Nikon F was built for everyday professional use and never let me down.

Nikon fm 2Nikon fm 2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My first "back-up" camera was the Nikon FM2. I decided that having only one camera while running the photo department of a daily newspaper was a little dangerous so I added the FM2 to  my camera bag. I purchased it with the MD11 motor drive which was probably the most ergonomically designed pair I have ever used. They fit together like a hand in a glove and having the ability to advance film without taking the camera away from my eye helped create a good handful of award-winning images. According to my calculations, my first FM2 shot more than a half million frames before I tripped over the tripod that it was on sending it into the pavement. That was a very sad day!

These were the cameras that transported the film for my early years and my newspaper days. In 1985 I started a new chapter as a portrait and wedding photographer. That meant I needed some new, larger format equipment.

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) camera carreer equipment job newspaper photograph photographer photography photojournalist picture position http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2017/6/the-cameras-that-got-me-to-where-i-am-today Sat, 24 Jun 2017 22:45:42 GMT
5 Must-See Places for Crested Butte Fall Color http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2015/9/5-Must-See-Places-for-Crested-Butte-Fall-Color Local pro photographers never miss these locations during the fabulous fall color extravaganza around Crested Butte, Colorado. You won’t want to miss these spots either!

  1. The East River valley between Mount Crested Butte and Gothic.East River Fall Color Near Gothic ColoradoDSC4121 2. Gothic Mountain from Washington Gulch.  Gothic Mountain fall colorDUS9544st-Panorama 3. Colorful Mount Whetstone just outside of town.Tucks cabin and Mount WhetstoneDUS6553 4. Kebler Pass and The Beckwith Mountains.
    East Beckwith Mountain fall colorEast-Beckwith-Fall-Color1

    East Beckwith Mountain surrounded by brilliant fall color near Kebler Pass in western Colorado.

    5. Ohio Pass and the Castles.

    The Castles rock formations in the West Elk Wilderness Area of Colorado surrounded by an aspen forest in peak fall color.Aspen-Castles

    The Castles rock formations in the West Elk Wilderness Area of Colorado surrounded by an aspen forest in peak fall color.

    5. Ruby Mountain, Mount Owen and the dyke. Keep your eyes peeled for photographers from all over the USA at this location. (It’s best visited in the late afternoon)

    Ruby, Owen and the dykeRubyRangeColorofFall

    Mount Owen, Ruby Mountain and the dyke from Horse Ranch Park.

    Bonus…if you’re up for a bit of an adventure you’ll want to extend your journey over Kebler and McClure passes to the famous town of Marble, Colorado. From there it’s a rough 6 miles to the historic Crystal Mill, one of the most photographed places in Colorado.

    The historic and famous Crystal Mill along the Crystal River between the Colorado towns of Crystal and Marble. While not actually a mill, the historic building actually provided compressed air to run local mining operations on Sheep Mountain.Crystal-Mill-Colors

    The historic and famous Crystal Mill along the Crystal River between the Colorado towns of Crystal and Marble. While not actually a mill, the historic building actually provided compressed air to run local mining operations on Sheep Mountain.

    For those who want a more guided experience, I offer half and full day private and small-group tours which would take you to the best color available during your visit. Email me a ddemerson@imagescolorado.com for more information.

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Photography Aspen autumn Crested Butte fall fall color Landscape http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2015/9/5-Must-See-Places-for-Crested-Butte-Fall-Color Thu, 24 Sep 2015 11:41:54 GMT
Using Adobe Photoshop to Achieve a Hand-Tinted Effect http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/3/Using-Adobe-Photoshop-to-Achieve-a-Hand-Tinted-Effect hand-tinted Crested Butte ColoradoCBSpotColor-610

Colorful homes and buildings of Crested Butte, Colorado below the towering peaks of Paradise Divide.

Technology makes achieving old-time techniques easy

The earliest forms of color photography involved applying oil paints to traditional black and white images. There are lots of examples of these hand-tinted photographs still around. Most of them were tinted using less-vibrant colors and ended up looking like pastel-colored soft, romantic images. The effect was really popular with portraits but still somewhat acceptable with landscapes and architectural studies.

When I first opened my studio I was constantly searching for ways to set myself apart from the other photographers in town. I tried my hand at hand-tinting photographs that I had created. I could never get the technique down. I guess my hand-eye coordination was a little lacking because I spent more time trying to take the paint off places than I did putting it on. I still liked the effect but I just didn’t have the skill or patience for creating this type of art.

Twenty years and lots of digital technology later, achieving a hand-tinted photo look is amazingly simple to achieve. By using traditional digital printing techniques we only have to “paint” the first copy making the technique a cost-effective way of creating a unique piece of art that we can re-sell over and over again.

Here’s how it’s done. Using Adobe Photoshop open your color photograph and do your usual edit/enhancement work. Use “save as” and save your edited photo as a .psd or .tif file with a different name or just add “bw” to the file name. If you were using layers to achieve your edits (as you should) you should flatten your photo before saving. Don’t close the image.

At this point you want to duplicate your background layer giving you two identical copies of your photo on two layers. Create a layer mask on the top layer. Now, using your favorite method of converting a color image into a black and white image, turn the top layer into a black and white version of your photo. At this point you will have a black and white photo on your monitor with a color version hidden underneath.

Now click on the layer mask you created, highlighting the mask. Using the paintbrush tool with the foreground color set to black, paint the black and white layer allowing the color of the layer below to show through. You can adjust the opacity of your brush as you paint on the mask to allow more or less color to show through as you paint although on the image above I used 100% opacity since I wanted more-vibrant colors. I usually start with a big, soft-edged brush for larger areas, then clean-up the edges with a small, hard-edged brush.

Once you return the color to the parts of your image that you want to be in color, you can adjust the saturation and hue of the colors by making those adjustments to the bottom (color) layer. You can play around with soft and hard-edged brushes of different sizes to get the effect you like best. Now save your layered photograph so you can continue to refine your edited version.

“Playing” is my favorite approach to learning new techniques because it takes all the pressure of “creating a work of art” off of the photographer. With a little practice this technique can be added to your toolbox and can provide an “old-time” look to some of  your favorite images. You may even find that this technique can “save” a photo that you like but just isn’t hitting a home run. Have fun!

You can always see more of my photography at www.ImagesColorado.com

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Photography Technique black and white color instruction photoshop Tech Talk The art of photography http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/3/Using-Adobe-Photoshop-to-Achieve-a-Hand-Tinted-Effect Thu, 20 Mar 2014 13:24:59 GMT
Creating Emotional Photographs http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/2/Creating-Emotional-Photographs iconic estess barn in snowIconic-Estess-Barn

The landmark barn between Gunnison and Crested Butte, Colorado during a snow storm.

Breaking the Rules to Create Photographs With Feelings

by Dusty Demerson

Way back when I was learning photography in school the concept of a white point and a black point in a finished print could not be expressed strongly enough. It’s a concept that Ansel Adams writes about in his materials and most other photographic educators, myself included, tend to agree with.

The principal states that there should be some area within the image that should fall on pure white and an area that should represent the darkest black within the image. If this approach is followed the print will contain a full range of tones and thus will be a “perfect” print. It will also be visually pleasing since a full tonal range is presented. This concept more-strongly practiced in black and white photography but still holds true in fine color print-making as well. How many landscape images have you seen where the area below the horizon looks great but the clouds are “blown out” and pure white? Where does your eye go when you look at such a print? It goes to the sky. Our eyes tend to fall on the brightest areas of a scene first. If that area has no detail or texture, we have created a weak print that pulls our eyes away from the subject and into the sky. While having both an area of black and area of white represented in the print, we need to be careful how much area within the print represents these tones.

While this approach is not the worst way to teach print-making to new photographers it falls far-short of providing good guidance in making expressive prints. While most great photographs will have a black point or a white point within their edges, not every scene offers a tonal range that broad. The scene above is a great example. I could have stretched the tonal range of the image so there was a black area in the loft of the barn. I could have also made the snow pure white. The photograph would have been technically excellent since a full tonal range would have been represented. The photograph would have also looked garish and unnatural. The finished image would not have created the emotional response of a barn in a snow storm. Creating an emotional response by our viewers is the whole point of professional photography. Ideally, we can evoke the same emotional response we had when we stopped to make the photo. Sometimes our photographs will contain a full tonal range. Sometimes we must be willing to bend the rules to create an emotional photograph.

The next time you sit down at your computer to prepare an image for print, step back for a moment and look at your screen. Does your photograph recreate the feeling that caused you to pick up the camera or have you edited the “life” out of your image? Rules and guidelines are a great place to start learning a craft but at some point we have to be willing to move beyond rules and create images with feeling and emotion.

See more of my photography at www.imagescolorado.com

 

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Photography Technique atmosphere Dusty Demerson instruction Tech Talk The art of photography theory http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/2/Creating-Emotional-Photographs Sun, 09 Feb 2014 10:48:32 GMT
It’s Easier to Earn a Living as a Photographer http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/1/It-s-Easier-to-Earn-a-Living-as-a-Photographer Crested Butte Colorado winter panoramaCBWinter2010

The past several years have been difficult for artists. Many brick-and-mortar galleries have closed and that trend seems to be continuing into 2014. Even very successful galleries in art destinations like Santa Fe, New Mexico are closing their doors and “going private”.

Difficult times for art galleries mean difficult times for artists too. Several galleries that were quite successful selling my work a few years ago have dropped to zero sales in the past year or so. Sales of art through the traditional gallery model have been challenging, to say the least, for the past several years now. It’s not just photography either. Sales of all types of art have been declining since the economy turned south. Only the extremely high-priced collectible and rare works have been able to hold their value.

That being said, 2013 was my best year ever for selling my landscape photography. Since I live in rural Colorado where there are relatively few gallery opportunities and even less potential buyers, I had decided a long time ago that gallery representation would have to be supported by a strong online presence and other opportunities. Art fairs have provided great opportunities to find new collectors in the past few years. Another growing niche for landscape photographs is stock photography. While the stock photography market in general is a challenging place to earn any real income, unique local images can still demand good money from clients wanting a strong geographic presence on their websites and in their brochures and advertising.

As an artist that loves most aspects of his craft, I also enjoy creating lifestyle family portraits and a few portfolios for high school seniors. While the family portrait and wedding photography business used to be my “bread and butter” only the family portrait side of the business provides significant income today. While many photographers are complaining that the iPhone is putting them out of business, I would maintain that if they are competing with iPhone users they aren’t really photographers at all. Real photography clients are still investing in adequately sized and beautifully presented images of landscapes and their families. However, 2013 marked the first time in my history that my landscape photography income eclipsed my portrait and wedding income.

With all the diverse ways to turn photography into income-producing work I have to say that as artists, we have it pretty easy. Painters, sculptors and other artists don’t have nearly the variety of outlets for their artwork as photographers do. Even though photography, in general, doesn’t command the same prices, our costs are generally much lower and our opportunities are greater than any other medium. Art belongs on the walls and in the halls of homes, offices and public spaces but photography, like no other medium, can also be used on web pages, note cards, brochures and anywhere else an image can tell a story or support a concept.

It’s time to get back behind the camera!

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Business Photography Artist Crested Butte Photographer http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/1/It-s-Easier-to-Earn-a-Living-as-a-Photographer Tue, 28 Jan 2014 12:04:46 GMT
Why Artists are Starving http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/1/Why-Artists-are-Starving The Business of Being an Artist

  ItIts-just-a-game-to-you

We’ve all heard the term “Starving Artist” and we probably all know friends who fit the description. I’m sure there are many reasons why artists tend not to be prosperous financially. Of course, there are a few great exceptions to this statement but I’ll bet there are more that are struggling than prospering. I’ll use a personal situation as an example.

I’m involved with a local co-op gallery of wonderful artists. We have a good (but not great) location on the main street of my small, tourist – oriented town. Our rent is partially subsidized by another organization that uses the back of our location for their offices. Each artist pays rent of $80 per month and works an 8 hour shift in the gallery each week. Let’s assume that any of the artists could get another job for $8 an hour which is the low-end of the pay scale in my town. If you crunch the math the monthly cost of participating in the gallery is $80 in rent plus 32 hours at $8 each, or $336. Typically we only pay rent for the 4 months of the season so our seasonal cost would be $1344. The gallery keeps a 20% commission for its operating expenses so each artist needs to sell $1,680 in art each season to break even….sort of. Put another way, we each need to sell $420 worth of art each month.

Let’s say I do sell $420 this month. Great! Well, not really. First of all, I’m doing this calculation using a minimum wage formula that would still qualify me for food stamps and other social bail-outs. It’s also an affront to my college education, not to mention grad school. But let’s move on. So I sold $420 worth of my art this month giving me $336 in take-home pay. To achieve those sales I also have had to invest time and materials. Let’s say it took me 5 hours to create the art I sold for $420. Again, at $8 per hour I must subtract $40 as an expense. I also had the work printed, matted and framed for $100 bringing my total expenses to $140. I have invested $140 to create $420 worth of art which now provides me a net income of $196.

Artwork sale                    $420

Gallery commission    -$ 84     $336

Materials cost                -$100    $236

Labor cost                       -$40      $196

I think you can see where this is headed. My 8 hours in the gallery and 5 hours creating my art has made me $196 or roughly $25.50 per hour invested. That sounds great until April 15th. On tax day I will pay self employment tax of about 14% on all of my income. I owe $27.44 on this month’s art sales. But I will also end up in the 15% income tax bracket so I owe $29.40 in federal income tax. Here’s the silver lining! This income level will probably help me avoid any state income taxes and I’ll have $139.16 left over after these expenses to buy food, insurance, gas, my car, tools, etc. I’m essentially working for $10.70 per hour after taxes.

What seems like a decent deal in a co-op gallery really doesn’t count for much at the end of the month unless my art is selling like hotcakes. $420 in gross sales provides a net of $139.16 after taxes for 13 hours of work.

The reason there are so many starving artists is not because they are bad at their craft. It’s because they don’t crunch the numbers. There are a few solutions. Raise prices, cut expenses, shift to being a part-time artist or just enjoy a great hobby and forget trying to make a living at art. What will you do with this information?

By Dusty Demerson

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Business Artist Starving Artist http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2014/1/Why-Artists-are-Starving Mon, 20 Jan 2014 14:59:51 GMT
Photographing Transitional Seasons http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/11/Photographing-Transitional-Seasons Late fall in the Rocky MountainsDUS7156

by Dusty Demerson, photographer

I love photographing fall colors. It’s my favorite time of year. The vibrancy of yellow aspen leaves against a “robins-egg-blue” Colorado sky is tough to beat. Majestic snow-covered mountain peaks add a sense of drama to subjects that are already pretty awesome. The colors of fall added to my reduced workload from portraits and weddings team up to make me a very happy photographer.

When it starts getting colder and the windy storms start blowing through the high country, the beautiful colors can quickly fall and fade to a variety of browns and tans. The contrast changes from vibrant to subtle almost over night. The catharsis of this situation is enough to make a photographer put the camera away until snow covers the once-colorful earth. While I believe it’s more difficult to create strong compositions with a monochrome landscape dotted with snow, it’s not impossible. When the scenery reminds me of a Bev Doolittle painting I love trying to replicate her hidden subjects in the landscape.

I don’t think that happens with the photograph above but it was a warm late-autumn day and the clouds were providing an amazing dance in the sky. I couldn’t just sit by and watch. Trying to find a good foreground was a challenge. This frozen beaver pond and dam wasn’t too bad. I like how the swirls in the ice seem to mirror the shapes of the clouds. And those clouds! They were changing pretty quickly but I got lucky and caught this scene with a subtle line leading into the image toward the towering peaks of Paradise Divide. The direction of the stream helps support the line of the clouds pulling the viewer’s eye into the center of the photograph.

Our eyes are naturally drawn to the brightest portion of a scene or areas of highest contrast. I want that area to be well-inside the frame, not anywhere near the edge of the photograph. Having bright areas near the edge of the image can create confusion to the viewer and allow their view to exit the photograph too quickly. The brightest area of this image is the snow-covered mountains in the middle of the frame. They are smaller and less-dominant than I would prefer but changing to a longer lens would have destroyed the perspective of the frozen pond. Life is full of compromises. The clouds were also pretty bright and their location and shapes tended to pull the view away from the peaks. Some subtle vignette allowed me to darken the edges and corners of the photograph to retain the viewer’s attention toward the snow-covered peaks. My camera is inadequate when it comes to capturing my perception of the warmer values of a scene. I frequently need to lighten and increase saturation of the reds, oranges and yellows to recreate my perception of the colors of photograph. I also removed the vapor trails from two jets and a couple of houses and driveways on the hillside to the right. That’s about it for this image. I hope you like it.

You can always see more of my images at www.ImagesColorado.com. If you visit, be sure to check out my “Print of the Month” gallery were I present new images every month at discounted prices.

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Photography Technique autumn Colorado composition Dusty Demerson fall Landscape Photograph The art of photography http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/11/Photographing-Transitional-Seasons Mon, 11 Nov 2013 10:04:20 GMT
Why Use a Tripod http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/11/Why-Use-a-Tripod Blue Mesa Lake PanoramaCurecanti-Mirror-1448

Most of my photography students hate using a tripod. I hated them too, when I was learning photography. Over time, I’ve learned to love this indispensable piece of equipment however. They are a pain to learn and slow to use in  the beginning. Here are a few reasons that I cannot live without my tripod.

Tripods hold the camera still

The first function of a tripod is to hold the camera still when the chosen shutter speed is too slow for successful hand-held photographs. Using a good tripod during long exposures can insure sharp photos during photos from seconds to hours long. They are also necessary for images using long telephoto lenses since any motion by the photographer is greatly magnified by the telephoto lens. This is the most-obvious reason to use a tripod.

The tripod makes panoramic photos possible

I shoot lots of panoramic images. I love the format and they are great solutions to decorating long, skinny spaces like over a sofa. To create a successful panorama it is necessary to take multiple, overlapping images and to stitch them together in software. The best way to accomplish this is to use a tripod with a camera platform that can pivot around the axis of the camera. To keep the finished image from running up or downhill, the camera platform must be level. It must remain level for all the photographs needed for the panorama. The tripod is a necessity for good panorama photography like the image above.

The tripod helps you think about composition

The third and most important reason to use a tripod is to aid in artistic composition of your photographs. By allowing you to let go of the camera without your initial composition changing you can take time to fine-tune your images. This seems unimportant on the surface but most professional photographers will adjust their initial composition during a sequence of images. By being able to step away from the camera and refine the composition we are able to create tighter, more compelling images which highlight the necessary elements of the photograph and eliminate those that don’t enhance or strengthen the story we’re trying to tell with the image. Tripods help you think. Thinking about what to include or exclude from a photograph is absolutely critical for great images.

I’m not trying to say that good photographs cannot be created without a tripod. I’ve made many myself. All things considered, however, I would rather use a tripod if I have the opportunity.

Tripods help you get perfect light

The images in my last post “Waiting for the Light” are a perfect example of how the tripod was used to retain a strong composition while waiting for better light in the scene. Over the course of 45 minutes I was able to create numerous exposures without changing the composition of the photograph. The only change was the light and shadows moving across the scene. Without the tripod I probably would have abandoned the scene before the light got great, thus coming home with a mediocre image instead of a really strong, compelling landscape. The tripod made the image possible and was a necessary part of the gear required for the final photo.

Those are a few of my favorite reasons for using a tripod. I know there are others. What are your reasons?

 

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Photography Technique composition Landscape Panorama Panoramic Photo Photograph Tech Talk The art of photography tripod http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/11/Why-Use-a-Tripod Mon, 04 Nov 2013 10:10:54 GMT
Waiting for the Light http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/10/Waiting-for-the-Light I have no idea how many times I’ve been really excited about photographing a fabulous landscape to only be unhappy once I began editing or selecting an image to print or share. I think it’s because I let the excitement get the better of me in the field. When I’m “on my game” I try to slow  down, analyze the scene, and figure out what combination of light, timing and technique will best replicate what captured my initial excitement about the subject.

East Beckwith Mountain 1Beckwith-Blog-1-300x199

The image at left is a great example. East Beckwith Mountain, just below the west side of Kebler Pass in western Colorado, offers many great viewpoints. This view is one I usually ignore but this autumn provided a great reason to stop and make photos. The sky was beautiful with very photogenic clouds. The light on the mountain was great. The colorful foliage was beautiful. There were several other photographers at the overlook, justifying my excitement.

I set up the tripod, chose my “standard” lens (Nikon 28-70 f2.8) and popped on the Moose Peterson Warming Polarizing filter to pop  the sky just a touch. I don’t often us a polarizing filter but since a lot of the fore and middle ground was yellow I thought a strong blue sky would add a little color-contrast and some detail to the clouds. When using the polarizing filter I rarely use it at its strongest rotation.

Anyway, I shot this frame. Not bad. Not great. What would make the image better? (I talk to myself when I photograph. Don’t you?) Well the light on the foreground and middle ground had fallen off due to the clouds and they were too dark and uninteresting. A little light there might be better. So I waited for the clouds to move.

East Beckwith Mountain 2Beckwith-Blog-2-300x199

After a bit of time the middle ground lit up nicely so I made another exposure. The foreground was still in deep shade and now the light on the mountain was failing. Since our eyes are naturally attracted to brighter areas and areas of higher contrast this scene really wasn’t working at all. The interest in the mountain was being replaced by the aspens in the middle ground which were now competing with the clouds. What is the subject here? So I waited some more. The other photographers have left. Yay!

While I’m waiting for the clouds to move and the good light to come back I have some time to really think about what I want this scene to look like. There’s enough conifer forest to provide depth and texture if the scene is completely sun-lit without any shadow from clouds at all. Although that scenario is not likely to happen, I could live with it. The shadows moving across the valley are providing interest, depth and texture when they cooperate. The sky would be pretty boring without the clouds. If the sky was clear I probably would compose the scene with less sky and get the mountain out of the center of the frame. Having a clear sky on this day was not going to be an option. It was supposed to snow in the afternoon so the clouds were going to become a problem rather than a blessing.

East Beckwith Mountain 3Beckwith-Blog-3-300x199 Slowly the sky began to cooperate with my plan for a beautiful photograph. The light returned to the mountain. Middle ground was illuminated nicely. Shadows from the clouds were still interesting. The foreground though is just not that great. I usually like to employ a darker foreground to keep my viewer’s eye from leaving the images. If clouds don’t cooperate I can use a split neutral density filter or vignette to darken it. That work is usually done in post-processing via Photoshop or Lightroom.

I didn’t really want the foreground in this scene to be very dark though. There are these colorful aspens placed against the dark conifer trees creating a beautiful and interesting contrast. There’s also a cool little pond in the lower left that I wanted to keep in the scene. Everything but the foreground is coming together nicely. I could live with this image. Being in no hurry, I decided to wait for the “Wow”.

More photographers show up. It was a pretty compelling scene but I think seeing a truck parked on the side of the road with “Photographer” written on the side makes people stop even if they don’t know what to look at. Really! I’ve done this experiment with my classes. We stand at the side of a road with our cameras all pointed at “nothing”. Cars drive by, slow down, and cameras pop out the windows taking photos of the “nothing”. It’s a good thing they’re not Lemmings. They’d be jumping over a cliff.

So eventually patience prevailed and I got what I was waiting for. Beautiful light illuminated a striking mountain peak. Great, puffy clouds floated in a deep blue sky. A golden aspen forest filled the valley floor with color, contrast and texture. The illuminated foreground provided additional interest and texture. Life was good!

East Beckwith Mountain AutumnBeckwith-Blog-4

My Mom always accused me of being a perfectionist. I thought it was a compliment. Good things are worth waiting for. The trick in photography is being able to figure out what the “good things” are. Having a little voice in your head saying “How can this be better?” is a really good thing too.

 

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Photography Technique autumn Colorado Crested Butte Photographer Landscape Mountain Photograph Rocky Mountains The art of photography theory http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/10/Waiting-for-the-Light Mon, 21 Oct 2013 09:35:33 GMT
The Photoshop Computer http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/8/The-Photoshop-Computer The Custom Photoshop Computer is Up and Running

Crested Butte Mountain and wildflowersDUS4361_2_3_tonemapped

A few months ago I shared some specs. here regarding a PC designed to run Adobe Photoshop perfectly. Today I would like to announce that computer is up and running. It’s very fast!

Before readers begin to berate me for building a PC instead of a MAC let me say that you can still get a lot more computer for your money with a PC. The computer I build is not available at any price from MAC but a Power MAC G5 with 12 gigs of ram and a 1tb hard drive is just under $4000. I built my system which includes a Core i7 quad core processor, two 1tb hard drives, a 500gb hard drive and 16gigs of ram for under $1400. I chose Windows 7 as my OS since I really don’t like Windows 8 at all. Who wants their desktop computer to act like their phone?

Originally I had planned on using an MSI motherboard but several consultants and numerous forum posts convinced me to choose an Intel DZ77GA-70K board instead. That was a great choice even though it was more than twice the cost of the MSI board. Installation instructions couldn’t have been any easier to follow. That was a good thing since I had never built a computer from the ground up before. I had  added some drives and expansion cards but that was the extent of my computer-building experience.

I chose to load Windows on a separate hard disk from my Adobe Photoshop program so the computer could read from both places at the same time. I have also chosen to place all the data on another separate drive for faster access. That being said, my current workflow involves keeping all my photos on external Raid hard drives so access to the images is slowed through the Firewire 800 ports. For larger files I can easily copy them to the internal data drive and work more quickly from there. Once I completely abandon my old PC I’ll take one of its drives and install it as a dedicated “Scratch” disk for Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop doesn’t like to share its scratch disk with programs or data from what I’ve read. Even though it should never get used, I’ll have 320 gigs of scratch disk available if I need it. The new drives are all Western Digital Black drives because I appreciate the 3 year warranty and they make no sound at all.

I also chose two 8 gigabite sticks of Crucial Ballistix RAM. These will function as dual-channel fast memory leaving me room to double that number in the future if I choose. If I become  even more concerned about speed, all the components will handle “Overclocking” of the processor but I doubt I’ll never feel that need.

I’m still tweaking stuff so I haven’t put this computer to a stress test yet. Once all the programs are loaded (brutal!) and the network settings are correct I’ll see how my new tool handles some heavy-duty bit-crunching. If you want to see the rest of the components they’re listed on my June blog post below.

So, you’re probably wondering what the photo above has to do with this blog post. Absolutely nothing. But check back soon for more thoughts on the images.

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Photography Adobe Computer Computing Hardware photoshop Software http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/8/The-Photoshop-Computer Thu, 22 Aug 2013 14:06:56 GMT
Half Dome From the Other Side http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/8/Half-Dome-From-the-Other-Side On Playing Nice and Getting Lucky
Half-Dome-SunsetHalfDomeSunset-300x205

Sunset light provides a golden glow from snow and Ice on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

 

A few years ago I visited my uncle in southern California to celebrate his 80th birthday. He celebrates on Halloween so it becomes quite a lavish costume party and tons of fun with family and friends. For a lot of the family, it’s the only time we get together so most of us make an effort to get to LA for this event.

Since I don’t get to visit the west coast very often I decided to make a trip up to Yosemite on my way back to Colorado. It’s not really on the way but Yosemite is my favorite national park to photograph so somehow I found the time. I decided to travel north along the historic coastal highway and head east from beautiful Carmel. The weather was terrible for photography on my drive up the coast so I didn’t make a single stop for photos. After a warm bead and great dinner in Carmel I turned east the next morning and enjoyed the easy drive to Yosemite National Park.

Being late autumn in the mountains I really didn’t know what to expect in the park. Finding places to stay was unusually easy. Upon my arrival I discovered that the park had received some early snow and all the leaves were off the trees. The valley was brown and not all that photogenic so I decided to try the Tioga Pass Road for a higher vantage point. It was closed!

A simple saw-horse-like barricade was set across the road and there I was with another photographer from Colorado looking at the signs and wondering if we should just move the barricade or turn back. We talked about our options for a while. After 20 or 30 minutes of contemplation a park ranger approached us. She told us the road was closed because there were a few patches of ice on the road and that California drivers had no idea how to handle a car on ice. After checking our Colorado plates she suggested we meet her at the barricade the following morning at 8 am.

The next morning the ranger pulled back the barricade and allowed us to pass, closing the road behind us. I’m not sure about the other driver but I enjoyed an awesome day on Tioga Pass Road high above Yosemite valley making photos and just being in nature. That evening I caught up with the other photographer at an overlook across the valley from “Cloud’s Rest”. The sun had set and the sky was turning orange. We hurried to set up. A different ranger showed and told us that we must leave. We took turns distracting the ranger while the other took photos of an incredible sunset on Half Dome. The ranger must see this view all the time because he was only interested in us packing up and getting behind the barricade before dark. We didn’t quite make it but we did get some unique photos. At least they were unique to two photographers from Colorado. The ranger wasn’t terribly upset.

If I can find a moral to this story it would be this. You’ll get more cooperation from authority figures if you’re willing to play by the rules even if you’d rather not. We got some great photos because we treated the rangers with respect. We never begged or put up any kind of fight or argument.

Respect. It’s just another tool you should keep in your camera bag.

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Photography autumn California fall sunset The art of photography Yosemite http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/8/Half-Dome-From-the-Other-Side Sat, 10 Aug 2013 15:01:49 GMT
Sun or Shade – Which is best to photograph wildflowers? http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/7/Sun-or-Shade-Which-is-best-to-photograph-wildflowers If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Robert Capa

 

 Sunny Columbine wildflowersColumbine-Sunny Columbine wildflower in shadeColumbine-Shady

After a week of teaching wildflower photography techniques with the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival I’ve become a bit opinionated about how to photograph wildflowers in their best light. One of the key factors in photographing any subject is to determine the most flattering light to use. While there may be different opinions on what is best, this is my blog so you’ll get my opinion.

For wildflowers with complex shapes like the Colorado Blue Columbine, I prefer open shade or otherwise diffused light. I find the higher contrast of direct sun harsh and not very flattering. Softer, diffused light does not have to be flat or boring however. With a little luck or skill direct sunlight can become softer, directional light.

Coming from a portrait background, I always prefer to have the light on my subjects appearing to come from some direction rather than being flat or coming from over the photographer’s shoulder.  Kodak’s suggestions are great for selling film but not-so-great for making interesting photographs. The image below is one of my favorites because it has a beautiful subject captured in soft, directional light with no harsh shadows or bright highlights. If I can’t find a nice subject tucked under some trees in open shade with a little direction to the light, I make my own using a large diffuser. You might try a reflector as well but mine create too harsh a light for wildflowers. The diffuser does a really nice job and creates an adjustable effect based on its distance to the subject. Generally, I use the diffuser as close to the subject as possible without getting it into my photo.

While flowers with simple shapes like daisies and sunflowers seem to look great in direct sunlight, blooms with more complex shapes like Columbine, Bog Orchid and Elephantella look better with diffused light like open shade or under a cloudy sky. That’s just my opinion. You are more than welcome to disagree. If you would like personal instruction in wildflower or landscape photography check out my private and small-group photo tours through the Colorado School of Photography.

Colorado Blue Columbine in shadeColoradoBlues

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Photography Technique Columbine Crested Butte Crested Butte Photographer Crested Butte Wildflower Festival Dusty Demerson Flower instruction Photo Photograph Tech Talk The art of photography Wildflower http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/7/Sun-or-Shade-Which-is-best-to-photograph-wildflowers Mon, 15 Jul 2013 09:08:25 GMT
Sunflower Photography in Paradise http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/7/Sunflower-Photography-in-Paradise Sunflowers in Crested ButteA-Sea-of-Yellow-1538x1024

A Sea of Yellow Sunflowers

Sunflowers are nothing special in Crested Butte, Colorado. They’re everywhere! Numerous varieties bloom here throughout the summer months (June – August). This year, however has been an especially vibrant sunflower summer. We’re witnessing flowers where we’ve never seen them in numbers that are hard to imagine. Whole hillsides are bright yellow.

The field above was photographed moments before the sun spread its warmth across the flowers. They were brightly lit by the open sky above but the contrast associated with full sun was absent. That’s a scenario I prefer for photographing flowers. I tend to think they’re more attractive in softer light with less contrast. Not having to deal with blown-out highlights or deep shadows makes post-production work easier too, but that’s not a good reason to choose a flattering type of light. When given an option, it’s important to photograph your subjects, whether they’re flowers, people, buildings or mountains in light that enhances what you like about your subject and diminishes attention to their flaws. For the subjects above, that meant making photographs in soft light. I could have waited for overcast skies and made a similar image except that clouds around here are usually accompanied by breezes. Moving flowers are much more difficult to photograph.

I wanted to show the expanse of flowers and their fresh, intense color. That meant that I would not include the sky or any surrounding trees. Including those would add an element which would detract from the “sea” of flowers. I began by using a small aperture to keep most of the flowers in focus but upon review, decided that there was no clear point of focus and thus no single place a viewer’s eye would end up. That’s generally not a good photograph. It should be apparent to the viewer what the photographer wants him/her to look at.  To solve this visual issue I chose to open up the aperture to f5.6 which would keep the background flowers recognizable but out of focus. I chose to focus on the taller and somewhat isolated sunflower in the lower right of the scene simply because it was a little taller, isolated against the green foliage and a perfect specimen. For me, this flower was an obvious choice since it was also facing slightly upward making it a little different from its surrounding flowers.

There was almost not post-production work on this image. I did warm the color temperature a tad and sharpened the photo as I usually do but nothing was added or subtracted and the scene looked the same in camera as it does above.

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Photography Technique Colorado Crested Butte Flower Photo sunflower Wildflower Wildflower Capitol of Colorado http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/7/Sunflower-Photography-in-Paradise Tue, 02 Jul 2013 11:28:40 GMT
Photographing Wildflowers – Pro tips from Colorado http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/Photographing-Wildflowers-Pro-tips-from-Colorado

Wildflower Photography Workshop Notes

 By Dusty Demerson, Crested Butte, Colorado

          Beautiful wildflower photographs have several things in common. They all have great subject matter, interesting compositions, light that enhances the subject and they are technically excellent.  Occasionally (very rarely) luck is involved. As the flowers begin to bloom in the high country I thought I would share some tips the professionals use when photographing wildflowers. These tips can also be applied to almost any other subject matter too.

 Choose Great Subject matter:

            Choose subjects you find beautiful or interesting. Ask yourself why you respond to a subject. What is it about the subject that excites you or causes you to want to make a photograph? Is it the color, texture, shape, environment or other feature? What do you find exciting about the subject that causes you to want to make a photograph? By analyzing your response you can choose how to best arrange your image, enhancing your subject’s strongest features and downplaying any distractions. Choose subjects that are as near-perfect as possible. Explore your subject to find the best angles, light, etc. Know your subject! If you’re photographing a wildflower, will your subject look different at a different time of day? Does it close up at night and reopen when the sun hits it? Is the color more intense when the specimen is in the shade? Have bugs been eating the leaves or petals? Is the pollen still on the flower or gone? Whether you are photographing wildflowers, architecture, people or landscapes better images can be made if you know your subject thoroughly. Spend time with your subject exploring different points of view and compositions until you have the “perfect” shot. Your photographs are your interpretations of the subject. Only you see this way. Bring your unique point of view to your subject and show the world how you see it!

 Use Composition Guidelines:

          Use elements of composition to show what is interesting about your subject. Arrange your image to eliminate distracting elements and include those that enhance your image. Use limited depth of field to help eliminate distractions. Know all of the tools at your disposal: leading lines, framing, focus, contrast, camera angle, balance, symmetry, proportion, repetition, diagonal lines, rule of thirds, etc.

Use Great Light:

          Choose flattering light or arrange to return to the scene when the angle, color or quality of light makes your subject look its best. If you can’t come back, use light modifiers (diffuser, reflectors, gobos, flash) to control the light so your subject looks its best. Pay attention to the sky. Wait for clouds to soften light or wait for the sun to increase contrast. 

 Create the Best File Possible:

            Choose the lowest ISO possible. Expose correctly! Focus precisely. Use a tripod to steady the camera and help refine your composition. Know how your camera works. Know and use its best features. Choose the best lenses you can afford! Use a cable release or the timer. Do your cropping in the camera when possible. If digital, shoot in RAW whenever possible. If shooting JPG, use the least compression possible. Don’t practice the “fix it in Photoshop” mentality. Do it right in the camera. If in doubt, bracket your exposures.

             If you’re not thrilled with the wildflower photography you create, don’t delete them. Ask yourself why you’re disappointed. What don’t you like? What’s wrong? Try to communicate the issues using photographic and artistic terms. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

 Learn to see the way your camera sees. Don’t just point and shoot. Pay attention to the corners and edges of the viewfinder/screen. Is there something in there that you want to remove? Change your position/composition so that you are only including what you want in the photograph. Watch for power lines, fences, bugs, cars etc.  Remove dead sticks/flowers etc. Refine your images before you push the button.

 Use the zoom lens to tighten your compositions. Use your feet too! Bend your knees! Photographing a subject from above psychologically demeans the subject. By using a lower point of view you can add importance and respect to your subject. Similarly, complete items within your composition will have greater importance than elements which are cut-off or truncated. So if you want a tree, for instance, to have importance and weight in your composition try to include the entire tree. If the tree is drawing too much attention you can crop some of it off to add importance to other elements of your photograph. Elements like a field of flowers will psychologically continue on forever if they extend out of the frame whereas, if there is a visible edge to the field it will appear smaller.

 Try to photograph each subject in a vertical and a horizontal composition. Although it’s not always possible, it’s a great way to learn to see different compositions and achieve different feelings from the same scene.

 Use the camera’s histogram to check exposure levels. The LCD screen will lie to you if you are shooting in RAW or TIFF formats and the screens vary in brightness from one camera to another.

If you would like to learn more about how to make great wildflower photographs, join me in one of the many classes during the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, from July 8 – 13, 2013. Visit their site for more information: The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. If you can’t get here for the Festival, I offer private and small-group tours all year-long.

[button url=”http://www.dustydemerson.com/photo-tours-and-workshops/” size=”medium” color=”theme” new_window=”false”]learn more here[/button]

 

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Photography Technique class course Crested Butte Flower inspiration instruction Photo Photographer Summer theory tips Wildflower http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/Photographing-Wildflowers-Pro-tips-from-Colorado Mon, 17 Jun 2013 08:44:04 GMT
There is a Delicate Nature to Spring http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/There-is-a-Delicate-Nature-to-Spring crested butte photographer - snow on bare aspen treesDelicate-Nature-of-Spring-199x300 crested butte photographer - new leaves on aspen treesSpring-Number-3-199x300

There is a delicate nature to spring in the mountains. What were once hillsides covered in white are now brown turning to green. Trees too, stood in stark contrast to our blue skies but now begin to sprout fresh, lime-green leaves resembling kitten’s toes. Spring here only lasts a week or so. We go from snow on the branches to green on the branches in a matter of days that seems more like overnight. Spring invites sitting on a warm, sunny deck with a good book or the Kindle instead of editing images in preparation for shows and galleries.  This slow change of seasons makes it easy to turn a quick trip to the Post Office or bank into an afternoon on a bench solving the World’s problems with friends.

It seems these changes want me to ease into a new season via incremental changes instead of jumping right in. I like the easing but summer sneaks up on me. Within a matter of days a schedule can fill with appointments, shows, fairs and work. I’m not complaining. I love to work. In fact, that’s kind of the problem with spring. It tends to lull me into complacency even though I know I need to be preparing for a busy summer. There’s something about spring that makes me extra-critical about my work though. Nothing looks good. There’s something “wrong” with every image I see. I want to re-shoot everything but that’s impossible. It won’t be winter again for another 8 months and summer is still a month away.

What to do? Do I grab the book and head for the deck? Do I put my nose to the proverbial grindstone and work through my frustrations with the winter photos? Do I head for the Post Office hoping for another distraction? Maybe I’ll do a little of everything today. Writing this seems a little like work so I guess I can put a check by “work” on my list. I’m a little out of practice with the writing. Hopefully I’ll become less rambling and more to the point as I get back into this. Thanks for putting up with me. I’ll give it another shot next week.

 

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Photography Artist Colorado Photographer Spring http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/There-is-a-Delicate-Nature-to-Spring Mon, 10 Jun 2013 10:40:49 GMT
The Problem With Photography http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/The-Problem-With-Photography The Problem with Photography

Red Sunset over Mount Emmons

 

Every artistic endeavor has difficulties involved. I don’t actually know all the struggles a painter might go through although I can imagine some. Neither do I know the challenges of writing music, composing a novel or screenplay, sculpting a statue or making pottery. I do, however, know about the problems associated with creating a compelling photograph.

 

Technical difficulties used to plague photographers. Understanding shutter speeds, film speed and apertures rendered many aspiring photographic artists impotent. The many variables, especially in black and white film and print processing, were mind-boggling and could take a lifetime to master. Even focusing on the subject could be a challenge if you didn’t have adequate light and great equipment. Then along came the “digital revolution”. While the start of this technological revolution was fairly rough and camera companies made plenty of promises that were not true, breakthroughs were in the works that would change photography forever. Over the last 30 years or so the technical struggles we used to face as photographers have largely vanished. Most of today’s cameras set on “automatic” will produce an image that’s in focus and exposed well enough to get an untrained “photographer” in the ballpark. The technical issues of photographic art are not the problem.

 

The real problem with photography as an artistic medium of self-expression is that in photography the scene has to actually happen. We can’t imagine a beautiful landscape and make a photograph of it. We can’t create an image of a fabulous sunset unless the sunset actually happens.

 

There are a few notable exceptions however. I had the privilege of visiting Verve Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe a few weeks ago. They were featuring the work of Maggie Taylor, an incredible artist who uses photographic images and her phenomenal knowledge of Adobe Photoshop to create amazing images of whimsy and fantasy. While her work usually shows in photography galleries and she does use photography to create her images, I have trouble calling her art “photography”. Her scenes don’t happen except in her imagination and computer. They never actually existed. I am always amazed and inspired by her work though, whatever it’s called.

 

That’s where the problem with photography lies. That’s were the art of photography lies as well. It’s easy to go to Best Buy and purchase a camera that can deal with the technical issues of the craft. It’s more difficult to know what to point that camera at and to know when to press the shutter button. That’s where the “art” comes in. That’s where a photographer’s “vision” comes in. There’s a lot of distance to be covered between “seeing” an image in our minds and “capturing” that image, much less presenting it in a two-dimensional print that creates an emotional response. The image has to actually happen…in real time…in front of the camera. We can’t just imagine it and press a button. We can’t create it from scratch in a computer.

 

Today it’s really easy to take a picture but creating art with a camera is just as challenging as it ever was.

By Dusty Demerson, May 24, 2013

 

 

 

Death Valley sand dunes

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Photography Technique Artist Crested Butte Photographer Dusty Demerson Photo Photographer http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/The-Problem-With-Photography Thu, 06 Jun 2013 11:36:12 GMT
Building a New Photoshop Computer http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/Building-a-New-Photoshop-Computer  

By Dusty Demerson

 

I love technology. Advances in photography software and hardware have made it possible to create images we couldn’t even dream of back in the days of the darkroom. The tools at our disposal today make it pretty easy to deliver any image we can imagine. But there is a downside to technology too.

We have to keep up! Over time, our tools become less effective, slower and changes in operating systems can make them dysfunctional or render them useless until something gets upgraded. Even upgrades eventually require changes in equipment.

That’s where I find myself today. Adobe Photoshop CS6, my “go-to” program for image work, is fine but slow with larger files and more layers. Attempting to upgrade Adobe Lightroom didn’t work at all since it is incompatible with Microsoft XP, my current operating system. So I find myself needing some new hardware to run current versions of some software. New hardware will also be much faster and more efficient in rendering images. It’s not all bad! Some of the bugs that have crept into my 5-year-old PC will be finding new homes as well.

So, what do I have in mind? Here are the components and some thoughts on the choices. If any readers have other thoughts or cautions on these choices, I would love to hear about them sooner rather than later.

I plan on starting with an Intel motherboard: Intel-Desktop-Motherboard-LGA1155-DDR3. This board is optimized for the i7 processor I’ve chosen and, while there are a handful of competing boards a little less expensive, the Intel boards seem to be better-built and have fewer bad reviews. I really can’t imagine taking the time to build a computer to find the motherboard is faulty and must be returned. I’ll hopefully avoid that nightmare. This board will work with a number of processors but I’ve chosen the Intel Core i7-3770K Quad-Core Processor 3.5 GHz 8 MB Cache LGA 1155 – BX80637I73770K. It’s about what I can afford and is designed for the board above. It also will “overclock” if I ever choose to do that. Even if I don’t, it’s a huge step forward from what I’m using now and will run 64-bit software like a champ.

16 gigabytes of fast RAM should be a great start for my system but I can add an additional 16 later if I need to. I am leaning toward Corsair Vengeance Blue 16 GB (2×8 GB) DDR3 1600MHz (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory although I really don’t care what color they are. My reason for choosing the Corsair over the other contender, Crucial, was the lifetime warranty offered by Corsair. All of these memory modules are within a dollar or two of the same price.

Here’s where the computer design begins to look like an imaging machine instead of a word processor. The specs so far would be overkill for a word processing or accounting computer but I’m going to try to take efficiency a little further still. The system will contain four drives; one for Windows 7, another for other programs like Photoshop, a third drive will hold the data (photos) and a final Solid State Drive will be the Photoshop scratch disk. Here’s the thought behind these choices. If everything is on one drive, even if it’s a fast drive, the computer can only work in one direction at a time and with one program at a time. If the operating system, Photoshop and the images are on their own dedicated drives, they can all be written to at the same time. Additionally, if any of these fail, they are easier to replace if everything isn’t in the same place. I’ve chosen Western Digital Black 500 GB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA III, 64 MB Cache because they’re fast, have a large cache and a 5 year warranty. I already own three WD Raid drives which I use for my photos and backups. I’ve been very pleased with these external storage drives even though they are a little slower than internal disk drives. They give me piece of mind. These are connected via Firewire 800 cables and cards.

I’ve chosen a 60 Gigabyte Solid State Drive from Corsair for my Photoshop scratch disk. You might wonder why I would spend a ton of money on a scratch disk. Me too! Again, it’s really about efficiency. When using multiple layers and filters Photoshop can eat up more than my 16 gigabytes of RAM pretty quickly when working on large panoramic images, something I do quite often. When we run out of RAM, Photoshop uses space on available hard drives as extra memory. Having a dedicated drive for that purpose fits within the “multiple drive for efficiency” plan above. Another reason for dedicated super-fast scratch disk is that I’m using a 32 bit Adobe Photoshop. Apparently, you can’t upgrade Photoshop from 32 bit to 64 bit for less than several hundred dollars. This approach is cheaper. I’ll wait until I upgrade Photoshop to CS7 or whatever comes next, because the 32 bit version of Photoshop can only use 3 megabytes of my 16 megabytes of RAM before using the scratch disk. Bummer!

I mentioned that I intend to use Windows 7 operating system. The reason is simple. I really don’t want my work computer to operate like my phone. I don’t use touch screens at work. I use a mouse, tablet and keyboard (like most people). I have poked around Windows 8 and I don’t think I would like it for my day-to-day work computer.

The final piece of this puzzle is a graphics card. I could use the graphics capabilities of the CPU but I like using two monitors when I work on images. In Photoshop I have one monitor dedicated to the image and a smaller monitor with all my tools, layers, filters etc. It’s a real estate decision. I don’t like windows popping up on top of my photos. Most graphics cards will work Photoshop pretty well so I’m not spending a ton of money on a card. I think I’m going with an EVGA GeForce GT 640 2048MB GDDR3 Dual DVI, mHDMI Graphics Card because it will run two monitors, has a lot of its own memory and is under $100.

Other than a box to put all this stuff in, a CPU cooler, some case fans and a beefy power supply that’s about it. I have saved all of these items in my “wish list” at Amazon.com if someone feels really generous and wants to help a not-quite-starving artist. It comes to just under $1400. which is about half what my last desktop cost. I would love to hear from you if you think I’m headed down a rabbit hole with my ideas. I’m still open to suggestions for a few weeks. Thanks!

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ddemerson@imagescolorado.com (Award Winning Colorado Landscape Photography by Dusty Demerson) Art Artist digital Photo Photographer Photography photoshop http://www.imagescolorado.com/blog/2013/6/Building-a-New-Photoshop-Computer Thu, 06 Jun 2013 11:33:04 GMT