Do things always go right?

Kitty Hawk dunes on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.Outer Banks-0848People often comment about posted photographs and ask "Are the photos you take always that good?" My first response is "Sure," but in actuality no one takes perfect photos and all photographers have a certain "failure rate" for their photos. This prompted me to look back over the calendar year of 2012, when I was traveling and photographing full-time, to see how many shots I actually took and how many were 'keepers.'  

Acquiring digital images allows one to have a tremendous amount of data regarding one's images. The camera counts every shot and the editing and post-processing sorts the images so they can be graded and then deleted or saved with the grading. So, how did I do?

Let me set up the review process for you.  I was shooting from about mid-February until the end of December. I shot exclusively with my Canon 7D except for several days on a boat trip to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada where I used my old Sony H5 for convenience. I shot 16,018 photos during the approximately 315 potential photo days or about 51 shots per day. Now these figures a skewed because I really didn't shoot every potential day - some days were travel days, some down days, some bad weather days and some just plain lazy days.

In my personal work-flow I down-load the images from the camera daily and re-name them and apply key word tagging in a software program called Adobe Lightroom. I do my initial editing, classification, and storage in this program. After the photos are imported from the camera, I delete all obvious technical failures - bad focus, motion blurring, extreme exposure errors, and bad composition. Next, I do my first cut editing and remove additional, technically flawed images and near duplicate images I shot of the same subject at about the same time and viewpoint. These processes reduced my number of 'keepers' to 10,497 or only about 66% of the shots taken.

While I am doing the first cut editing or in later review I subjectively grade the images as to how they appeal to me.  I use a 5 star score with 1 star being a very good image that I like, 2 stars being an especially good image, 3 stars being an outstanding image of special significance, and 4 stars and 5 stars being something I have yet to attain. I have never shown any image to others that didn't get at least 1 star except occasional fun stuff posted on Facebook.  Last year yielded 1,071 one-star images or 7% of the total shots and 50 two-star images or 0.3% of the total shots. I didn't capture a single image rating 3, 4 or 5 stars last year.

So there you have it, an average of about 3-4 'good' images per day of shooting and 1 very good image in every 6 days of shooting. Now there may be more images from the 35,000+ keepers that I could use with further editing and some of these are variations on other images that might appeal more to other viewers but the bottom line is if I shoot a really good image in a day of shooting it has been a good day.  The point of all of this is, if you like photography, go out and take photos whenever you can, enjoy the time shooting, and don't become frustrated if every shot is not a winner.  We all improve over time and with experience so take a lot of shots and critically review every one.  Your keepers will increase steadily.

"Twelve significant photographs in any year is a good crop."  Ansel Adams

Selling nature photographs, or not

In my entire photographic life I have never considered the idea of making my photographs available for others. I photographed what I wanted and where I wanted and hid the old 35mm slides away in dozens of metal storage boxes and Kodak Carousels. The chore of dragging out a slide projector and setting up a screen made our guests fortunate that this was a rare occurrence.  My slides remained hidden away and lost even to my memory.

Digital photography changed a lot of things and made my images available to me on a laptop at any time. I could forward a photo with an email to selected family and friends and even send the shot to multiple people at one time. I started getting comments back and found that others sometimes enjoyed seeing the same sights as I did. When I became free to travel more, my photos became more diverse and more interesting and I finally started a travel photo website. It was cumbersome, time-consuming, and difficult to maintain so I abandoned the site. Later, when I started full-time traveling, I revived the site and decided that posting photos was almost as much fun as taking them. 

Full-time travel allowed me to visit places most people dream about and to stay in places of natural beauty as long as needed to capture lasting images of the experience. I invested in camera gear, lenses, and processing software that most hobbyists cannot and the quality equipment improved the quality of the images. They were more interesting to view.

Then Natural Photography happened. Now I have a site that is easy to navigate and more pleasing to view.  Friends have asked for copies of photos and freely given their comments. Now many photos from the 20,000 plus that were taken over the last couple of years are posted and available for viewing, digital down-loading, and printing in many formats. Any image on the site is available as a print of your favorite size, matted and framed in a selection of custom frames, or printed on canvas or a ready to hang 'stand-out' foam-backed print. As novelties, images are available on mugs and cups, key chains, magnets, mouse pads, buttons, coasters, and bookmarks.

I hope you will view the galleries and find images that relate to you, your travels, and your most personal experiences and will consider down-loading the images or purchasing prints or novelties. Thanks for visiting the Natural Photography blog.

New Zenfolio Web Site

Almost 2 years ago we launched a travel website with a blog, news section, travel log, and photo galleries. The comments have been wonderful but we realize that the Google-hosted site was limited in function and was not an appropriate place for a professional photography site.  Zenfolio is one of the preferred professional photography hosting sites and has many features that improve the photo viewing experience and allow purchasing of electronic images, photographic prints, and other items.

Zenfolio has many, many features that we hope to develop over the next several months. The basic elements are in place now to allow you to view and comment on photographs and purchase prints, if you choose.  Our goal is to expand the photo content greatly over the next several weeks and add new images frequently in the future.

The goal of the site remains the same - to share images of our natural environment and to view nature - close up. We hope you will enjoy the photos and will bookmark the site in your favorites so to return often. Please offer comments and suggestions as to how we can improve the site and provide more images that you would like to see.

Thanks for visiting!