Month: January 2014

Some stats from the Morro Bay Photo trip

One thing that frustrates newer photographers is how hard it is to take good images; they look at the pictures coming out of the well-known photographers and all they see are gems, and they think their photography should be like that. Photography has a few “well known” secrets that new photographers don’t figure out until later in their maturation, such as that “pristine wilderness” shot of delicate arch that was taken along with 30 other photographers jostling tripod leg to tripod leg for the best angles muttering at each other and cussing at the one idiot who decides to stand 50 feet in front of the rest oblivious to shooting angles. Another common misconception is that every shot these top photographers take is a masterpiece out of the camera. Nothing can be further from the truth, especially when you delve into the world of landscapes, or even worse, wildlife or bird photography. A typical day’s shoot is littered with dings, obscured faces, bird-butts and autofocus failures. When I’ve talked to photographers about my entire photography results for a trip many have found it interesting, so in the interest of full exposure, having finished the edits of the shots on this trip, I thought I’d discuss all of my photography on this trip and not just show off the gems as if that’s all that happened. Here’s how the trip broke...

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Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival 2014

I’m back from the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. I’ve been trying to sync this into my schedule for three years now and finally did; it’s the first time I’ve participated in a festival like this. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, birding festivals let birders get together in a region to share information and go out and birdwatch with the local experts. Many are single day events, the bigger ones can go on for 3-4 days. They can be an interesting way to meet people, explore new areas and see new birds to add to your lists. The Morro Bay festival is one of the larger and better organized festivals, and this year had well over 500 people attend. It should be obvious by now that I don’t need much of an excuse to visit Morro Bay, and the festival was a great excuse to take a few days off work and haul out the cameras. I went down there for four days, and participated in three big festival outings: a full day birding tour of Carrizo Plains National Monument, and a full day pelagic tour on a boat offshore, a half day harbor cruise (led by PhotoMorroBay founder Mike Baird). I then spent some time doing some other things, including an extended visit to Sweet Springs Nature Preserve (a favorite location of mine), followed...

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GPS data on photos: when I hide my shooting locations

One continuing discussion among photographers is the growing problem of sensitive locations having their locations publicized online. Whether it’s a sensitive archeological area or a habitat that can’t support having too many feet shuffle across it, protecting sensitive locations from being damaged by idiots or loved to death by crowds is a problem that is being grappled with by organizations and individuals. As photographers, we have a key responsibility to understand and manage this problem, because a significant way that locations that should be difficult to find become easily found is through our habit of embedding GPS coordinates into our images and uploading them to the internet. That makes it easy for surprisingly easy for someone to see a location and figure out how to visit it — whether or not they have permission. More and more photographers are starting to hide or obfuscate their GPS data. G Dan Mitchell has a good take on this and I agree with 99% of what he says. To make things clear on my views, I thought I should discuss my policy on this: I GPS-encode all of my images in my collection, and most of my images that I upload have that GPS data embedded. What I rarely do, however, is encode the exact location of the photo. My images are encoded with a general location representative of the area —...

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Thoughts on Jim Goldstein’s ‘Best of 2013’ project

Every year Jim Goldstein collects a list of “Best of the Year” postings from photographers around the globe and posts them. You can find the 2013 edition here. I started going through the lists, and I realized it gave me an opportunity. I decided to turn it into a project. So here’s the scenario. I’m the photo editor at the Stunningly Great Photography magazine. Every month we publish portfolios for ten photographers. It’s my job to choose those ten. My list of candidates is 328 long. I have three days.  It’s your job as a photographer to stand out from the rest and get chosen as one of those ten photographers. How hard can that be? It took me three and a half hours to go through the first pass on the list, including occasional breaks when I started to lose concentration. My first cut is 96 sites, so I selected about one third of the original list. That’s both not bad for a quick first cut, and an indication of the high quality of photography out there. In some ways that’s really encouraging to see, and in other ways it almost makes me want to sell the camera and dig ditches as a hobby instead. There’s a whole bunch of really good photographers out there. Oh, and as I was making selections, I took notes. I’m not going...

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Looking forward into 2014

Where will 2014 take me? To be honest, I don’t know. I have some plans, but I also expect those plans to change. Mostly it’s about getting started, then iterating until I’m happy with them. There was a time when I was a serious planner-of-things. I couldn’t get started until I could figure out where the end was and I knew the path to get there. The end result of that is too often lots of planning and not so much actual stuff to point at. It’s taken me some time to learn to be comfortable with going and course correcting along the way — but now that I’ve done it a few times, I much prefer it. The trick continues to be to figure out what to do; more correctly, have a strong understanding of what things NOT to do so you have enough time and resources to do things properly. This list is always subject to change, but here are some of the things currently on the docket for 2014: Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. I’ve finally carved out time to go to a birding festival, in a favorite place. As part of this, I’ve put myself on my first pelagic tour, and I’ll be taking a guided birding tour of Carrizo as well as being able to explore the Morro Bay area with some of the...

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