Sunday, December 21, 2008

Museum funding approved = image project pending!

I wrapped up the Prairie Grove Battlefield reenactment the first weekend of December. Currently I am slowly going through over 2000 images from this year and the previous two years. I have been in discussion with the historical interpreter at the museum, and it appears I'll be helping out Taylor Studios with their image works. Taylor Studios are exhibit designer and fabricators in Rantoul, IL that is doing the project for exhibit renovations the Prairie Grove Battlefield museum. I'll post information related to this project where permissible and appropriate.

Miscellaneous Updates: 2009 calendar, upcoming classes

I've been quite busy as of late, so here are a couple of things to update folks:

Images of Our Land - the 2009 calendar is now available! I've been spending time getting it ready, and some technical glitches prevented confirmation of the preview function. You can get the calendar via the link on my website.

The Digital SLR class starts at Bedfords Camera & Video on Monday, Jan. 12th, 2009. The list of people interested is quite long, so multiple classes may be needed. More to follow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How long have I been involved in photography? (and how to improve)

Often I am asked this question: how long have you been taken photographs? Literally it's less than a week, if you only count the time of the shutter actuations. Yes I shot film for a while, and had several images published (including two sports images). However, other things took priority and consumed my time. I first began photography in 1987 with the venerable K1000 and learned everything the old school way - digital SLR cameras didn't exist back then.

Fast forward to July of 2006: I've now been shooting seriously for less than 18 months. I took a 7 month hiatus from photography just prior to the VLF competition for various reasons. Some people are surprised with my answer. So how did I end up here, at the point of being published in a nature conservation book?

Learning as much as possible is the key to improving your image success rate (aka "keepers"). I've always adhered to old school values when it comes to photography:

1. study, read and learn often - it's a lifelong journey
2. master your tools
3. critique your work well
4. practice, practice, practice

5. learn from your mistakes

From this, you can start to master light! Generally I am my worst critic. Of course many of the subjects are often not compliant, so you make due with the situation. Sharing is the key in all of this - by sharing with others, you learn from them, no matter what their experience level. Everyone has something to offer me: from the newest to the most seasoned professional.

I also believe that learning only one or two kinds of photography is a disservice to yourself as a photographer. You can learn something from every kind of photography. I am always inspired by others, their work, as well as the people/places around me to learn more.

Monday, August 18, 2008

VLF News, and an image from the competition

Hi Everyone,

Just an update from the VLF Wildlife Photo Competition - details found here: VLF Wildlife Photo Competition

I confirmed today with a staff member at VLF that the letters notifying photographers which have placed in the contest are being sent out this week. Those who did not get a placing will not receive a letter. Those receiving a letter will have their image(s) published in the upcoming nature book. It's a coffee table format hardcover - the last edition had approx. 200 images in it, and proceeds are used towards land conservation efforts. VLF is a non-profit organization promoting private land conservation in deep south Texas, and long term plans are to potentially extend into the surrounding states. Private land conservation is important, since perhaps 20-25% of all lands in the US is public (state/national parks, etc.) .

So what's the good news? I have been told that I am receiving a letter notifying me of "several placings"... The staffer was not willing to provide any additional information at this time, so I must wait. Those images will be published in the book. I have no idea how many of my images have been selected or what they placed (1st, 2nd or 3rd). I also have no idea whether or not my images might have been a division winner, or the long shot of being good enough to be a contender or even considered in the Grand Prize portfolio competition.

I've only placed several images from the competition on my website, and you are welcome to view them in the Nature galleries. I do hope to have more up in the next few days or by the weekend. I know it may not sound like it, but this waiting is killing me!!!

The above image is a full frame shot of a Long-billed Thrasher, just 12-15 feet from the blind, and I took it with my 500/4.5. The head and bill are ~15" long at 100%!!!

VLF Wildlife Photo Competition - Update

I will also be posting some updates to my participation in the VLF Wildlife Photo Competition very soon! I have some positive news that will be forthcoming soon...

Macro Photography Presention - Grand Lake Camera Club

Just a quick note that I'll be presenting a photography class for the Grand Lake Camera Club this Tuesday, August 19th. I look forward to meeting new faces and talking shop about macro photography!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

VLF Wildlife Photo Competition

Great news:
I received approval to compete in the 2008 ICF Pro Tour of Nature Photography! I don't doubt their claim as the richest photo competition in the world, at $160,000 in prize money. First prize is $40,000. Only 20 photographers are allowed.

One of the judges last year was Art Wolfe! All of the judges have been published multiple times in major magazines, including Time, Audubon, National Geographic, etc. One of the judges in the Pro Tour this year is the Executive Director at the International League of Conservation Photographers...

The Chairman of the event was intrigued that I shoot with Pentax. He was very kind in his reply:

You have a good looking web site and your photography looks good also. I think you will give many of the pros a run for their money. Plan to get lots of sleep before the competition starts as you will not get much after April 1."

Bad news:
The month-long commitment wasn't possible with current work situation... so no Pro Tour... 8-( Had it been any other time, I would have been able to go...

Great News: However, I've been invited to compete in the 2008 Valley Land Fund Texas Shootout, which has a total prize list of $100,000... 8-)

First prize is $12,000! The Chairmen wants me to compete in this instead, to prep me for the Pro Tour in 2010. Of course, that only means I can get better! This is open to pro/am photographers, and the rules are the same. It also includes a rare cat contest: if you manage to photograph a Mountain Lion, Ocelot, or Jaguarundi in the wild, and you have the best image, it's worth $5000!

I will be assigned to a rancher who covers my lodging, etc. for the duration of the competition, and makes sure that I get all the photo opportunities I need for the various categories/divisions. We work as a team (photographer & rancher) to ensure our success, since the prizes are split amongst the team. They often have blinds and watering holes setup for the photographers. I am allowed to submit up to 50 images in my Portfolio submission. The premise of this event is to encourage private landowner conservation efforts: by allowing photographers access to these otherwise off-limit areas of the country.

That's a quick synopsis, but I plan to spend at least 3-4 weeks shooting during the 3 month period that is allowed for the team to obtain images. The shoot will occur inland of South Padre Island, north of the McAllen, TX area. I have been confirmed that I will be assigned to a 15,000 acre ranch for the competition. The competition runs from April 1 - June 30th, 2008.

Now I have to decide if I can get away with the FA* 300/2.8 and a TC, or plunk down some $$$ cash for either a Sigma EX 500/4.5 or the FA* 600/4.

Did I mention that I am very excited??