Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator) shares his thoughts on creativity.

View more in The Essential Collection Of Creativity Videos.

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Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on mystery.

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” – Neil Armstrong

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” ― Anaïs Nin

“As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.” – Albert Schweitzer

“Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.” – Ray Bradbury

“Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known?” – Charles de Lint

“I’m for mystery, not interpretive answers. … The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer, but they think they have. So they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” – Ken Kesey

“Mystery is a resource, like coal or gold, and its preservation is a fine thing.” – Tim Cahill

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead — his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” ― Albert Einstein

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Cirrus Above Thiksey

In the summer of 2013 I had the fortune of travelling to Ladakh, India, a remote Himalayan kingdom that is now far Northwestern India, bordered by Pakistani controlled Kasmir and Chinese controlled Tibet.  Ladakh’s high desert rises from valley floors at 12,000 feet to the mountain peaks at 20,000ft. Water from the Indus River is skillfully directed through lush fields then on to irrigate countless other valleys in India. The Ladakhis live in carefully organized communities of adobe homes where they maintain cattle and yak, pashmina goat herds, make mud bricks for export, hone their traditional crafts, keep cultural ways of life and practice an intense spirituality.  It is a place where monasteries seem to float above military bases and vast expanses that shimmer in the intense, clear light. Translated as “The Land of High Passes” Ladakh is a region of sunshine and snow, of dark temples and bright spirits.

I happened to meet fellow photographer Christopher Michel in Delhi when he was doing what he does best, photographing people with his happy-go-lucky-how-could-you-say-no direct approach.  We happened to have the same somewhat unusual camera and lens combo so I struck up a conversation.  Little did I know we would be traveling to the same place and often shooting standing shoulder to shoulder with several thousand other people.

Faster and Faster

One hundred and fifty thousand ethnic Tibetans were gathering in Ladakh for the ancient Kalachakra ceremony, a two thousand year old ten-day teaching given by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.  I went as a student of life, to see and experience with camera in hand but no specific assignment or shot list.  It was not easy.  The mid-summer heat of India was as hard on the equipment as it was on the attendees.  It was difficult to breathe, move, and photograph in the dust, smoke, heat and an international crowd of so many, packed into a tight space and hurrying over long distances to get there.  There were near mob-scene moments as well as times of great kindness that transcended language barriers.  The intense sun cast deep shadows in the desert while the traditional adobe architecture had dark interiors often only illuminated with butter lamps and a single strong shaft of light.  The experience was overwhelming and required great openness to each moment, the physical stamina to endure heat and altitude as well as the willingness to play well with others.  

Every extra moment from sunrise to starry night was spent exploring the stupa fields, monasteries, city of Leh and village life with friends met along the way.  Chris’ focus on the essence of each moment was an inspiration and his photographs reflect his incisive eye, whether the subject was people or place. During the two weeks in Ladakh we did not share work or even review our own images.  There was limited electricity for anything beyond charging batteries.  Several weeks later I happened to come across a blog article about Chris’ work in Ladakh and immediately suggested a collaborative show to benefit Tibetan culture at Tibet House US.  Fortunately Chris agreed to my out-of-the-blue request and the curator of Tibet House US, Zola Nyambuu, was happy with the show we proposed.  So began the coincidental collaboration of “Envisioning Ecstasy.”

The show has forty black and white photographic prints of landscape, portraits and details of Ladakh during the Kalachakra.  These range from arid desertscapes to lush irrigated fields reflecting the mountains.  There are images from the Kalachakra as well as incongruous graffiti overlooking the capitol city, Leh.  Curious camels, luminous nightscapes and the famously painted Indian trucks balance the spiritual iconography.  A traveling circus with a lotus-decorated ferris wheel loomed above the vast desert providing an unforgettable personal and photographic experience.

“Envisioning Ecstasy” also has a conceptual aspect in the form of eleven large-scale lumenographic prints based on illustration based photographs originally sketched during the Kalachakra.  Two projected animations bring these drawings to life and complete the show. The story behind many of the documentary images was captured in Chas Curtis’ keen videograpy.  Chas’ evocative timelapses and captivating clips from ceremony to circus were seamlessly edited into a luminous video interview by Kyle Ruddick. The video is a multi-media presentation of “Envisioning Ecstasy” and will be screened at the opening. The show is accompanied by a catalog, Envisioning Ecstasy and a clothbound book, 108 Visions : Ladakh During the Kalachakra, thoughtfully designed by Michael Motley, which offers glimpses of the journey from small details to sweeping vistas.  Books and print sales benefit Tibet House US, which brings the concept of collaboration full circle. 

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All of this work was greatly enhanced by John Paul and Seth’s dynamic duo Art of Processing and Art of Creativity. The workshops are an intense immersive experience for honing artistic vision, voice and direction.  And of course any workshop with JP and Seth is a lesson in that all important art of playing well with others, one of my favorite photographic mantras.  Photography is often seen as a solitary pursuit and though it has it’s quiet moments, communal creativity widens the collective perspective. This golden rule underpins the entire show of “Envisioning Ecstasy.” 

“Envisioning Ecstasy” opens at Tibet House US, New York, May 20 from 6-8pm and is on exhibit until June 26. Two publications will be released for the show: a catalog, “Envisioning Ecstasy,” and a hardcover book, 108 Visions: Ladakh During the Kalachakra.  Please contact Tibet House US regarding show information and books. 

Learn more about Envisioning Ecstacy on The Leica Blog.

Find out more about Cira Crowell here.

Read more Alumni Success Stories here.

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How can you change the appearance of a digital image without changing the numbers that assign the color values? Change what those numbers mean by changing the image’s ICC profile. Using abstract or synthetic profiles, you can make massive changes to an image with little to no cost, changes that ordinarily would cause big problems using standard methods, such as posterization and noise. It’s a practice known to color geeks and few others. When you’ve got a big job to do, it can get you out of a pinch in a hurry.

In most cases, we think of using color management to accurately match colors when moving between different color spaces; ICC profiles are used to describe different color spaces and to make precise transformations to values moved from one to another to maintain consistent appearances. In very rare cases, when profiles are assigned to image files without a color conversion, the appearance of the image changes; values stay the same, but their meaning changes, so the image looks different. So when you use this unorthodox method of color adjustment, you get a change in appearance without changing the values in the file, and this is particularly useful when you want to pay a very small price for making very big changes.

Am I saying that ICC profiles are used to change values so the appearance stays the same? Yes. Am I saying that a color space is just a recipe for color, and that there are many different RGB recipes? Yes, but while they’re the standards, sRGB, ColorMatch RGB, Adobe RGB (1998) and ProPhoto RGB are just a few among many.

With just a little experimentation, you’ll find you, too, can make big changes to your images and pay a small price using synthetic profiles. Using synthetic profiles is color adjustment without editing values; they change no values, but they do change the meaning of those values—and thus their appearance. Don’t believe it? Check your histogram when you assign a profile. You won’t even see it move! It’s kind of unbelievable. Try it. See it with your own eyes. You’ll quickly become a believer, too.

Learn the steps you need to take to make your own synthetic profiles …

Read more on Digital Photo Pro.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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Did you get it? My enews Insights just broadcast!

This issue features great Bokeh / Blur FX techniques.

Sign up for Insights free here!

EpsonP800

“Epson recently announced the highly anticipated SureColor® P800 printer, representing a new benchmark in photographic print quality. Designed for professional use, the SureColor P800 is a full 17” wide borderless printer with unique Epson® MicroPiezo® AMCTM printhead technology. Leveraging an all-new Epson UltraChrome® HD eight-color pigment ink set, the SureColor P800 is capable of producing the next generation of color and black-and-white prints that will inspire us all.”

An optional Roll Paper Adapter, for panoramic prints up to 10’ long, will be available for the P800.

Read more about the P800 here.

This news brings two milestones; black density and longevity.

Initial color tests suggest that the new printer / ink technology is capable of delivering a maximum black (dmax) exceeding 2.8 (previously 2.5). By comparison selenium toned silver gelatin is close to 2.4.

And …

Initial longevity test suggest that longevity is improved – dramatically.

“WIR Display Permanence Ratings for black and white prints made with UltraChrome HD inks using Epson’s “Advanced Black and White Print Mode” will likely exceed 400 years.” “The new UltraChrome HD pigment inks are also expected to have WIR Album and Dark Storage Permanence Ratings well in excess of 200 years.”

“With the increased Dmax, wider color gamut, and reduced metamerism provided by the new Epson UltraChrome HD pigment inks – which taken together serve to significantly enhance the visual brilliance of both color and black and white images – the increased overall permanence of the prints represents a significant contribution to photography,” said Henry Wilhelm, founder and director of research at Wilhelm Imaging Research.

Read more about the P800 permanence ratings here.

Yes! You can test the P800 in my digital printing workshops.

Learn more in my digital printing workshops.

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The June issue of Shutterbug features an extended interview with me and a portfolio of my work.

Find out more about Shutterbug magazine here.

Read more interviews here.

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All About The Image’s Woodrow Walden did a short and sweet interview with me by email recently.

You can read the final results here.

And you can compare the rough cut Q&A version here.

Personal

WW    Have you always known you wanted to be an artist, or did you have other aspirations as a child?

JPC    Art has always been a part of my life but I didn’t commit to making it a career until graduating from high school. At one point, I seriously considered becoming a marine biologist.

WW    You were raised in a very artistic household. Your Father of course, is photographer Paul Caponigro, and your Mother is graphic designer Eleanor Caponigro. How much influence would you say that had on your decision to become a photographer and eventually a photo-based digital artist?

JPC   Both of my parents have had a tremendous influence on me. They laid my foundations in photography (dad) and painting (mom).

WW   What was your first camera?

JPC    I don’t remember. The most significant camera I remember receiving as a gift was one of the two Dierdorff cameras my father used to photograph the megalithic monuments in the British Isles.

WW   How old were you when took your first photo and what was the subject and do you still have it?

JPC   I don’t remember. I remember my first significant moment in photography was photographing a black cat in an Irish field with my mother when I was less than four years old – and the amazed look on my mother’s face when the cat couldn’t be found in any of the several images we took.

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In June 2015, Olaf will be co-teaching ‘Visual Conversations’, a creative photography workshop with Eileen McCarney Muldoon at Maine Media College in Rockport. They will also be running a LightDance workshop in Brooklyn in Sep 2015. 

Olaf Willoughby is a photographer, writer and researcher. He is co-founder of The Leica Meet, a Facebook page and website growing at warp speed to over 7,800 members. After conducting many interviews for the Leica Blog, Olaf was recently interviewed there too. Read his interview here.

Here, Olaf shares his thoughts on interviewing and being interviewed.

What Makes Photography Tock?

This was the question uppermost in my mind when I started interviewing photographers for The Leica Blog some time ago.

We’ve all worked on ideas which tick like a Swiss watch. They have a magic flow resonating with ourselves and others. But some don’t, they linger on that haunting to-do list and never quite get done. Why?

Photographers are often considered not to be the best judges of their own work, so asking a direct question was unlikely to be productive. I was wondering how to tackle this dilemma in my interviews when, luckily, I stumbled on this quote from Duane Michaels,

‘Photographers look too much. They have to start thinking and feeling and make that the source of their work. Don’t just look for curiosity’. (For more words of great wisdom check Sean Kernan’s interview with Duane Michaels here.)

I understood. It identified for me what I love about Michael Ackermann in ‘End Time City’and the shortcomings I see in my own work. Time and again I pressed the ‘thinking & feeling’button in my interviews and it always resulted in a deeper more engaging response.

So when the Leica Blog turned the tables and interviewed me on my ‘Leica in London’Street Photography project (link below) I felt well prepared. Yet initially I fell into the same trap. Rationality ruled. It was only when I let go of the left brain that I could articulate the bigger picture.

Seeing that I had sat on both sides of the interviewing table JP kindly suggested that I might like to share any learnings on his blog.

Working through the process from the questions, to pulling together the images and text and finally telling the story, here are three pointers emerging from my interviews which have helped me to show the work of others in the best light. I hope they work for you too.

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Question the questions

Let’s start at the beginning. The fact that I (or anybody else) am asking the questions doesn’t mean they are the right or the best questions for you. If you have thought through your project then you’ll know the one or two critical points you want to get across. Sense check the questions to see if they  put the spotlight on these areas. If not, suggest changes or take advantage of the more generic questions to make your point. No apologies if this sounds ‘duh’, obvious. Apart from the big and experienced industry names, most photographers are honoured and excited to be interviewed. Often too excited to pinpoint how they think and feel about their project and whether the questions really search out the soul of their work.

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Enjoy this collection of my favorite quotes on listening.

“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.” – Alice Miller

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter Drucker

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.” – Sue Patton Thoele

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl A. Menniger

“One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other’s stories.” – Rebecca Falls

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

“Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.” – Joyce Brothers

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