2nd Annual Worldwide Photowalk


Julie and I recently signed up for the 2nd Annual Worldwide Photowalk in New Orleans.

This event, sponsored by Scott Kelby, Adobe, NAPP and a host of other companies, will be held on July 18th in cities all over the world.

A photowalk is nothing more than a group of photographers walking around taking pictures, then getting together at the end to talk about the day and show off their images. It’s a wonderful chance to get inspired, to meet new people, and to see how other photographers see the world.

Last year’s photowalk included 236 cities in 47 countries, with over a million photographs taken by 8,324 photographers.

We went last year, and the images in this post are some of what we came back with.

We started on the Canal Street Ferry for photos of the sunrise over the river, then caught the streetcar to the Garden District for a wander around the beautiful homes and cemeteries.

20080918184715_080823-2397Then we caught the streetcar back for a walk around the French Quarter before finishing up with lunch and sharing images.

The participants in this sponsored photowalk will (if they want) upload their images to groups on Flickr. All the images from our group last year are here on Flickr.

The photowalk leader in each city will pick out the best image from the day, and the photographer will receive Scott Kelby’s latest book, Digital Photography 3. The best images from each city will be reviewed by Scott Kelby, and the best overall image will get a grand prize, which includes a full version of Adobe Creative Suite, a Wacom Tablet, and two tickets to Photoshop World.

It’s a great way to spend a day.  We’re looking forward to it.


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PPLA Spring Seminar

image1990103086.jpgToday starts the PPLA Spring Seminar in Marksville. We checked in, decided the afternoon session didn’t grab us, and went to the pow wow that is ending today.

Of course, I thought I’d be in seminars all day and gambling all night, and there’s not much else in Marksville besides the casino, so I didn’t bring my camera.

When will I ever learn.

I did have my baby camera with me (a Canon G9), but it was still a little frustrating. These photos were actually taken with my iPhone. I’ve got a G9 photo up here.

Photography seminars always spark my creative energy. So does seeing new things, new places, new people.

Lesson learned. The camera comes with me.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Familiar Things

“In order to see, you must first forget the name of the thing you are looking at.”

— Monet

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen leaves in my pool and thought only about the effort it would take to skim them out. I’ve seen them so many times that each one became a familiar label: “leaf in pool”.

APAD-20D-041111-5183 One day, though, while making an effort to see things in a different way, I looked harder at the leaf, and began to See it. 

I saw the colors; the beautiful blue-cyan shades, the aging brown. I saw the shapes; the symmetry of the leaf, the velvet-like signs of surface tension in the water.

And I saw something other than “leaf in pool”. The label was gone, or at least temporarily misplaced.

When we are children, we think primarily in pictures, not in words. But as we learn the analytical skills of an adult, we depend less and less on the part of the brain that encourages visual thinking. This pattern becomes so established the we try to label everything we see. We rule out visual exploration, and concentrate on the data. How many of us, when photographing a bird, are concerned about the species more than the image?

FP-10D-040131-7624 I fell into this rut (“Oh, that’s an ordinary bird”). By doing this, all I saw was a bird.

I didn’t see how the sun from behind gave him a gorgeous rim-lighting, how he cocked his head to look at me with a very obvious curiosity.

If we want to learn to see, we need to learn to learn the recognize the value of the familiar.

How can we do this? This first thing we need to do is slow down.

“This benefit of seeing… can come only if you pause a while, extricate yourself from the maddening mob of quick impressions ceaselessly battering our lives, and look thoughtfully at a quiet image… the viewer must be willing to pause, to look again, to meditate. ”

— Dorothea Lange

mirrorcandle Try this: Close yourself into the bathroom. Give yourself at least twenty minutes to take ten images. If you aren’t feeling desperation by the tenth image, take ten more.

Force yourself to look at familiar objects in a new way. Look at things you see each and every day, and try to look at them as if you’re seeing them for the first time.

Take what you’ve learned and try it someplace else. Try another room, or your backyard. In my bathroom, I found a candle and two mirrors. A little experimentation, and I came up with this.

Abandon your labels. Learn to See.

Take a closer look

APAD-20D-041111-5190 I shot this image one day in my back yard, right after I got a new lens delivered. I was in a hurry, not paying much attention to what I was shooting, just getting the feel of the new lens.

When I viewed the image on my computer later, I found that there was a little more in the image than I had expected. Click on the image to view a larger size and you’ll see it.

It was pure luck that I captured this image. But I have to wonder: how many other images have I missed by not paying attention? How many have I missed by hurrying to get to whatever next “thing” I needed to do?

INS-10D-040610-4356 Here’s another example. While I wasn’t rushing to capture this image and move on, I still didn’t See everything that was there until I viewed the image on my computer. Even in the thumbnail here you can see the tiny paper wasp eggs, but I was more focused on the wasps themselves.

Again: how many images have I missed by focusing on one thing and not seeing the larger picture? Have I lost the proverbial diamonds in the rough by focusing only on the sparkly quartz?

I think there’s a lesson to be learned here, and it applies to more than just photography.

How many times have I rushed through my day and my life, not taking the time to stop and examine the things that are, or should be, important to me? How many times have I focused on one particular job or project, and lost track of the big picture?

Am I just looking, or am I Seeing?

The Art of Smoke

20070202211513_pwood-30d-070202-7034 I came across an article today that completely changed my view of smoke photography. I’ve tried it once or twice, and came out with some pretty decent images (or at least I thought so at the time).

There are some Flickr groups that are dedicated to smoke photography, and there are some very beautiful images there.

Smoke Ring 1, by rexbogg5 on Flickr

But the work of Stoffel De Roover is just so mind-blowingly beautiful that I’ve realized I need to go back and start learning again.

He’s interviewed, giving up some of his secrets, at Digital Photography School.

Here at DPS we are always on the look out for photographic techniques that are pushing the boundaries of the medium. This week I’m excited to highlight Stoffel De Roover as he gives us a window into the amazing world of “Smoke Art Photography”.

Smoke art, in its simplest definition is art that features smoke. The smoke can be considered the subject or the medium to create something else. Some focus on its own beauty and pureness, others use it as ‘paint’ to create stunning artwork. I think my work lies somewhere in the middle: For the images in my gallery with the exception of a few, each image has the smoke of just one capture (in some cases duplicated or mirrored).

Darklord, by Beat on Flickr

If you try this, I would recommend that you select incense sticks with a fragrance that you’re going to be willing to smell for a while. Even with a well-ventilated room, the smell permeates everything.

And don’t be afraid to experiment with air patterns. Wave your hand towards the smoke and see what happens. Let the smoke pile up under a large spoon. Use a bulb blower and direct a sharp puff of air towards the middle. You’ll never know what you can get until you try.

Images like this require both skill with a camera and skill with Photoshop. But mostly they require a willingness to experiment, to learn, and to take many, many images before ending up with a work of art.

Photo Friday

PWOOD-30D-060812-6694 Photo Friday is one of the weekly theme sites that I post to regularly.  The other is VFXY Photo’s weekly theme.

This week’s theme at Photo Friday is "relationships", and this image is my entry.

Participating in weekly themed challenges is a great way to get inspired; inspired to either shoot new images to match the theme, or browse through your older ones and discover new gems.

Plus, the entry links back to my own photoblog, and it’s an interesting way to get more people to visit my site. Sometimes they stay and browse through my archives (and maybe even leave a comment or two!).

After all, images want to be seen. It’s why they exist. I’m just helping them along.

Online Communities

One very good way to get inspiration and feedback is to participate in an online photographic community. There are zillions to choose from, but I’m only going to mention a few that I’m involved with.

  • Photo Friday: Each week, a new photo assignment is posted. Your mission is the creative interpretation of that assignment. Votes are also collected for the previous weeks assignment for a "Noteworthy" award. Competition is tough; I’ve only gotten one noteworthy image.
  • Thursday Challenge: Another weekly themed assignment.
  • Photosig: A photography display and critique site. You can upload your photos for critiques, and critique other people’s photos.  You can learn a lot by critiquing photos other than your own, and be inspired by some of the wonderful photography on this site.
  • Vazaar: A very high quality theme and critique site. Only 20 per cent of the submitted photos are featured on this site, and competition is fierce. Users can also request critiques of their photos, and the system encourages active participation in the process.
  • Onexposure: An arts project and photographic community. Only the very highest quality images are displayed here, and all photos are screened by editors before being published. Browsing the published images is an excellent source of inspiration.
  • Naturescapes.net: A site for monthly articles, discussion forums, critiques and shopping for photographic supplies. Many professional nature photographers frequent this site, and are very helpful in the forums.

There are many, many, many more sites to choose from, and some may suck more time out of you than you would like. So choose wisely, join a community, and create art!