Tip of the Day: Shoot What You Love!

Antarctica IcebergBeing a photographer (or artist in general) is by definition a freeing and exciting experience. But what happens when you become stuck, when you lose focus, when you become so wrapped up your next shot that you forget what an amazing experience it is to be able to do what we do?

Shoot What You Love!

When asked recently about my dream location to shoot, I answered with “I am living my dream and anywhere I dream to shoot, we go.” and that is the truth. Last weekend it was sunflowers in Missouri, the weekend before it was the meteor shower in South Arkansas, this week? Who knows? That’s the point, shoot what you love! Dream it and do it! If you can’t get to Africa or Asia this week, then shoot in your own backyard.

Take a walk/train/drive/plane and find what excites you, what moves you and start there. My favorite experience shooting was at 2:30 am on an Antartic expedition and I was the only one awake and on deck. I was in shirt sleeves and the sun was beginning to peek up from the clouds, and the silence and stillness was breathtaking. I captured one of my most award winning photographs and still one of my favorites.

We get to show people a side of nature and life and the world they would never get to see on a regular day, and that is worth shooting!

Tip of the Day: Don’t Worry About Style

cropped-HP0112-copy1.jpgThese days we hear a lot about developing your own personal style with all kinds of advice on how to magically pull the style rabbit out of the hat.

Truth is, you don’t need to waste another minute worrying about personal style. Photograph subjects you love and the style will magically happen all on it’s own. Before you know it, people will recognize your style, perhaps even before you!

Here is my checklist for what to do until your “style” finds you:

Work On Improving Your Vision

How you see your subject is the only thing you have that no one can duplicate, others may copy but that’s another subject!

You improve your vision by becoming a critic. Criticize your own work ruthlessly then be just as critical of every image you see. If you look at your work from last year and think it’s the best you can do, you are done and won’t improve this year. We’re bombarded with imagery more than ever, make a habit of analyzing as much of it as you can.

Embrace Challenging Subjects and Light

We all love the golden light at sunrise and sunset, but that only gives you an hour of opportunity every day. Force yourself to photograph during the harsh light of day and you’ll find great images can be made around the clock.

Tighten Your Technique

Are you getting the best image quality every time?

  • Use a sturdy tripod
  • ALWAYS use a remote and mirror lockup when possible
  • Bracket and blend you shots so everything in the frame is at the optimal exposure

Shoot More Often

You may have heard it before, but “The First 10,000 Images are Your Worst”.-Henri Carter-Bresson.

You’re going to photograph a lot of stinkers whether you like it or not. Get them out of the way as quickly as you can.

Developing your “style” will happen after years of photographing the scenes you love, the way you love to see them. It’s a continual process that never ends.

I best shut this down and get back to developing my “style”!

 

International Photographic Competition Results Are In… Gold Again!

We at Ed Cooley Fine Art Gallery are so excited and proud to announce that Ed has been awarded the “Gold Photographer Award” by the Professional Photography Association For the second year in a row.  The award is recognition for outstanding achievement in the International Photographic Competition and we want to congratulate Ed on his hard work! Please enjoy the following photographs and follow the links to see more on our website. Thank you Ed for all you do and THANK YOU readers, collectors, clients and fellow nature lovers for supporting our passion to bring beauty to so many lives!

image“Morning Glory” Mt. Rainier National Park

“When photographing I wake up day after day dreaming about mornings like this. I could hardly believe my eyes as Mt Rainier was gloriously bathed in one of the most beautiful sunrise displays I have witnessed.”

Eilean Donan Castle“Dreams of Scotland”

“Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognised castles in Scotland, and probably appears on more shortbread tins and calendars than any other. It is, without doubt, a Scottish icon and certainly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Highlands.”

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“Spring Eternal”

“Nestled up to the edge, I snapped this photo. I felt honored to have found this place of pure relaxation. I sat there for awhile observing this natural spa. Refreshed and hiking out I felt younger than I have in years.”

image1“Dolce Vita”

This vibrant image of Venice captures everything loved by locals and visitors alike. The beauty of the location and intensity of the colors elicit an immediate emotional response of dreams and desire to be a part of the image.                                                                       *Photo is set for release in November, 2015

Once again, Congratulations Ed and Thank You! Be sure to stay tuned as we announce more of the pieces awarded and click on the links for more information about the winning photographs.

 

 

Tip of the Day: Head for Nasty Weather

Summertime - Tuscany

In last weeks “Tip of the Day” I showed you an incredible mountain scene in the Rockies photographed with an iPhone 6! The great color and drama in that photograph was a three day thunderstorm moving in from the Southwest.

Notice the outdoor photographs that really impress you; they’ll have one thing in common — dramatic skies!  Clear blue, hazy, summer days are great for a sun tan but the light is so flat and boring your photographs won’t inspire.  Spend that time touring with your family or scouting locations for the next storm front to move your way.

Without a doubt, my favorite conditions are when stormy weather is moving into or exiting an area.  That special light just before the storm cuts loose makes everything so colorful and surreal that people won’t believe the scene “actually” looked like that.  Outdoor photographers spend more time waiting for the light than you can imagine. Sunrise and sunset make wonderful photographs but take a hot and muggy summer day with huge boomers building up and you can really get the magic happening.

Now when a photographer talks about “Light”, it’s not just light he is referring to.  It’s the whole combination of lighting, weather and conditions that is make up the magic sauce we use to create compelling photographs.

Don’t pay attention to those who tell you not to photograph in the middle of the day.  With the right conditions and technique some of your favorite photographs are just waiting on you – right in the middle of a hot summer afternoon!  Also learn to read the weather forecasts for your area paying special attention to fronts as they move through.  In many cases the day before they hit will be your best time to snag a keeper with beautiful color and skies.

Tip of the Day: Forget About the Gear

Approaching Storm

Approaching Storm: Maroon Bells – Aspen, Colorado

It’s easy to get caught up in the amazing technology available today.  The ever rising megapixel counts, dynamic range, and high ISO capability keeps us  trading gear for the latest and greatest camera.  Does that really make our photographs better?

The sad truth is that if we’re not careful all this tech can totally stifle our creativity.  Photography is and always will be about the quality of light, emotion and personal vision.  No amount of gear is going to change that.  Instead of focusing on the quality of the camera (pun intended), try focusing on the quality of light, your approach to your subjects, and improving your personal vision.  Each of these areas of your craft have nothing to do with equipment or even technique but they do have the most impact on the real quality of your photography.

Almost any camera available today can produce stunning photographs when the conditions are good.  Take this image of the Maroon Bells as an example.  The light from a late afternoon thunderstorm caused it to look different then I have ever experienced.  Even though this is  the most photographed mountain range in the US, I was able to capture it in a unique way.

Which camera did I use?  I grabbed the iPhone 6 Plus out of my pocket and shot away.  It captured the color surprisingly accurate and I could easily print a 16×20 image.  If you happen to see this image in our gallery it was photographed a few moments later with a high-end Phase One back with German glass on a technical camera.  It’s the same scene but the high resolution Phase One allows me to print much larger than the iPhone.

The Landscape Photographer’s Biggest Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

We get it: you find yourself perched on cliff, 50 feet above the most glorious landscape you’ve ever seen, or walking down a cobblestone street with a perfect row of 200 year-old houses. You are in awe, you stop and pull out your camera and shoot what has to be the greatest photograph ever taken. Then you look at it in your camera view/computer/lab and realize the awful truth: That’s not what I saw! That’s not the scene I witnessed! What happened?!

Sound familiar? Yup, happens to us all, but how can you side step this tragedy?

Take Your Time

Allowing yourself plenty of time and plenty of range will drastically change the way you are shooting landscapes. Most beginners believe that you see what the camera sees and unfortunately that is not the case. Make sure you are taking the photo from several different angles to allow yourself plenty to work with while editing and allow the camera to speak. Lighting and composition will change drastically with each shot.

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Boys Will Be Boya

Exposure, Exposure, Exposure

Sight is in the eye of the beholder and cameras are no different. While you may see a well lit horizon, your camera may see too much sun, reflections, shadows and other defects that your eyes cannot pick up. Make sure you are shooting at various times of day (peak times will vary by location, but always try for a sunrise/sunset shoot time to allow for the best natural light) and at different angles. Once again, this will allow you some extra working material in post production. And speaking of post production…

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Blast of Color on Mt Rainier

Drop The Bias…

You wouldn’t paint your home without going back over it and doing touch ups would you? So why wouldn’t you employ the same techniques with photography? So many artists want raw and untouched, but unfortunately your clients aren’t as interested. That shadow that fell incorrectly across the tree? Get rid of it. That blurred bird that unexpectedly became the focal point? Ditch him. Go over your photographs and understand what you are seeing as a whole photo and what you are wanting to convey to your viewer, are you accomplishing that well?

Blog Post Before and AfterThe Photo As A Whole

When we talk about landscape photography, we are speaking of a true landscape, a vast and wide moment in time. How can you possibly capture everything in that moment? Most don’t frankly. You use a wide angle to capture the entire portrait, but completely miss a focal point. Or they try to capture a focal point and completely miss what is happening in the foreground. It is truly best to understand what you are wanting to convey; a rock, a skyline, a storm rolling in, a herd of deer and focus. Do you really need an expansive sky in the foreground if the focus is the deer? If you are shooting a storm, why is the flat land taking up 75% of the photo? Make sure you are focus and then focus your camera.

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Here are some additional tips on how to avoid major mistakes: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2013/07/10/10-common-landscape-photography-mistakes-every-photographer-makes/

The Beauty of Black & White: “The Tree”

“The Tree” taken in Tuscany, winner of the Best Photo Piece of the 2014 Arkansas PPA  that captures a truly amazing scene in nature visible by Google Earth. The colorful image depicts a lone tree on a hillside with clouds moving overhead, but what happens when we alter to black and white?

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B&W photography is all about emotion, texture and shapes. Without color, the viewer focuses on entirely different elements such as the commanding position of the tree on the hill, the texture of the wheat and the dramatic movement of the clouds. Also, by removing color, any context or bias associated with the color is gone. You as the viewer are forced to look deeper into the photograph and see the emotion.

The beauty of emotion is the intensely personal relationship formed between the viewer and the piece; some will see an intensely haunting image reminiscent of pain and sorrow while others will be brought to a private place of peace and serenity.

It’s up to you as the artist to introduce the viewer to the range of emotion that only black and white photography can deliver. So the question is: What do you see?

2014 Award Highlights

It’s turned golden here at Ed Cooley Fine Art.

Now that award season is wrapping up for 2014 we thought we would share some of the top honors in Ed’s best award season ever. With these kinds of accolades, it’s easy to see why Ed has become America’s most award winning fine art photographer!  Since Ed began his career in 2011 he has won more awards than any other fine art photographer.

PPA Intl Print Competition – Gold Medal Photographer
PSA International Exhibition – Gold Medal and Best of Show
International Pano Awards – Gold Medal and Finalist
Southwest PPA: Arkansas’ Top Photographer
Arkansas PPA: Best of Show, 1st Place and Best Photo Decor

Epson Pano Awards Gold Medal and Competition Finalist Professional Photographers of America Gold Medal Photographer 2014 PSA Gold Medalist and Best of Show