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Capturing the Majesty of Nature


On a recent trip to Vegas, a friend and I were in Salt Lake City with a four-hour layover. As luck would have it, there was a hotel up on the mountains that I was dying to visit, the Waldorf Astoria Park City.

It all started when I was in Park City at a good family friend’s Bar Mitzvah for their son, Bryan Hinden. During the golf outing, I was making infrared pictures of the golf course. It was good timing - or luck or both - as they were just building the Waldorf Astoria, previously known as the Dakota Mountain Lodge.

I made a trip out to Park City with camera in hand during the fall to make images that would be considered for decoration in parts of the hotel. As I was watching hot air balloons rise over the valley at sunrise, I met a photographer named Steven Friedman. We spent some quality time working together with our coveted toys.

He and his wife were a very gracious couple, and through long dinners at night and some 5:00 am calls, I had plenty of time to learn some great tips on landscape. Steven’s work is truly some of the best you'll find; click here for a look at his portfolio.

And some of his tips were very similar to my own portraiture techniques.

  • Find a good background first.
  • Then arrange the composition.
  • Then, light from God is the final refinement.  

I do the same thing with a simple portrait: Pose, Light, Refine!

I visited the hotel after a whirlwind 14 days … two impressively large and beautiful weddings, back to back. I arrived at the model homes and found a FEDEX package from my studio.

The Waldorf Astoria clients had taken a look at them, and the art buyer went wild for the infrareds. She said it was the best art she had ever seen! She commented that they were simple, direct, and dramatic, making a powerful statement for the hotel.

The hotel placed a huge order: 1,500 framed pieces - and they needed them ASAP! They were in the middle of getting the property ready for ski season. I was worried, with my Cameracraftsment trip to Alaska only two weeks away. Alaska seemed like the farthest place in the world at that moment, but I knew I had to go. Missing this meeting might have meant it would be my last.

My wife Lilia and I headed to Alaska, and I found myself in infrared heaven. The energy continued to flow with infrared collections of some of Alaska’s premium landscapes. It was paradise.

Once my associate Ben Banks arrived at the VisArts Center back home and began printing with accurate profiles using Canon’s top-of-the-line printers and inks, the fun really began. We made catalogs that organized the art for the hotel. This was truly one of the most difficult tasks, to select the appropriate images for each room, where vertical and horizontal displays played such a significant role. Measurements, visuals, and emails were flying fast and heavy.

U-Hauls were filled to the brim and delivered on time, each print matted, signed, and framed. The slideshow above is a taste of these magnificent natural images, and the following video takes you through the whole exciting process.


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Slider System for Your Digital Video Toolkit 






Does your DSLR have a good video mode? (I've been drooling over the Canon EOS 7D and Nikon D300s lately.) As a digital video guy, I've often wanted to do low pan shots, but it's mighty awkward to crouch low to the ground, mount my camera on a tabletop tripod, and pan. I loved the following video because it demonstrated how I could mount my camera on a slider rail (as in this set by Juiced Link), slightly angle the rails, and slide my rig downhill on roller bearing wheels. Slick. I can get the same effect with long pans from a higher position that I can comfortably reach, too - you just need to brace the rails and let your camera roll. 

Do you shoot video with your DSLR?

Is this something you'd like in your DV toolkit?


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How to Break Out of a Creative Rut and Never Look Back

It's similar to writers block, only it's not your pen that comes to a halt, it's your camera. Some call it a rut, a hole, or a dry spell. Regardless of your chosen term, we've all been there at some point. Yet, with a bit of effort you can dig yourself out and never turn back. Here are some ideas to keep your creative engines running strong.


  • Study the master painters

Ever notice how Rembrandt utilizes strong contrast in his work?  How about the ominous clouds and dramatic light commonly used by Ivan Aivazovsky?  Check for yourself, and you'll see patterns emerge.  Then, mix it up and immerse yourself in a couple of abstract pieces by Odilon Redon. Jot down what moves you and why. Even if you detest the piece, be sure to get the idea out of your head and onto paper. By having a better understanding of what you like and don't like, you'll have a clearer picture of what you want to create with your camera. 

  • Movie night, photography style


I'm often inspired by a great flic, and there are many for photographers to choose from. Here's a few to get you started.

Jim Brandenburg - Chased by the Light

Half Past Autumn - The Life and Works of Gordon Parks

At Close Range with National Geographic - Joel Sartore

Henri Cartier-Bresson - The Impassioned Eye

American Photography - A Century of Images


  • Join a local camera club

Photographers of all experience levels participate in clubs throughout the country. Most have fun outings, informative lectures, exhibitions, and monthly competitions. It's a great way to share your passion with other like minded individuals. To find a club in your area, check this list.  



  • Take a one lens road trip

Grab the lens you use least and drive somewhere new. It doesn't have to be a scenic overlook, or a thundering waterfall. The idea is to pick a town or park you've never been to, and photograph it. For extra credit, try shooting at your widest aperture the whole day. No pressure here, just you and your camera documenting what you see.

  • Toss your photography magazines

You know, the ones that tell you what gear you must buy if you want to shoot like a pro.  Do yourself a favor and pick up one of these books. Instead of flipping through endless pages of ads, you'll be treated to the ideas and methods of some truly creative photographers.



Do Graphic Photos Block Big Tobacco's Free Speech?

Are you a product photographer? What if you shot images for a product - any product - and then the federal government dictated how most of your packaging should look?

How would you react?

And what if you were required to put graphic photographs of rotting teeth and bodies decaying from smoking-related diseases all over your packaging? Tobacco companies are saying that the lettered warning labels they were required to put on their cigarette packs were one thing, but the new photographs they'll need to add next year are going too far.

Their recourse? Reynolds American (RAI), Liggett Group, Lorillard (LO), and Commonwealth Brand have become plaintiffs suing the country's Food & Drug Administration for requiring these graphic notices.

The Requirement: "The 2009 Family Smoking prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires color warning covering the top half of the front and back panels of cigarette packages, and the top 20 percent of printed advertising."

Tobacco's Response: The tobacco companies' lawsuit cites an unconstitutional assault to their free speech under the First Amendment. They're being forced to join in and advertise for a campaign that they don't go along with. September 2012 would be the year that cigarette packaging and advertising becomes photographically nasty.

Your Response: What do you think? Do these photographs violate tobacco companies' free speech?


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Your opinion counts!

We have been asked by InfoTrends, a leading worldwise market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging industry, to help them with a study they are conducting with professional photographers to better understand their use of technology, future requirements, and new business services. The results will be used to determine the impact of digital photography on your business, and to identify opportunities and threats to help you navigate through this rapidly changing marketplace. Manufacturers will use the results to design better products and solutions that fit your needs.

Additional information about InfoTrends is available on the Web at

InfoTrends shares highlights of their studies with the photo industry at no cost every year at the Photo Marketing Association annual meeting, and we’re happy to help them reach professional photographers.  For this study, InfoTrends defines "professional photographers" as people who make all or a portion of their income from photography, so part-timers and freelancers are welcome to participate.

As a thanks for your time and input, a $25 gift certificate will be sent by InfoTrends to 100 randomly chosen respondents, and all respondents will be entered into a drawing for $500. If you know of other professional photographers that might want to respond to this survey, please forward the survey to them.

Please realize that your participation in this survey is entirely voluntary. 

To complete the survey and be entered into the drawing, simply click the link below, or copy the URL into your browser:

We encourage you to respond quickly as this invitation will be available only until a predetermined number of responses have been received.