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New NIK’s HDR Efex Pro 2 – Save 15%


NIK recently announced a new version of their exceptional software for HDR imaging – NIK’s HDR Efex Pro 2. It’s the HDR solution with the best visual interface, one that helps you compare your options at a single glance.
Use the code JPCNIK to get a 15% discount on all NIK software
NAPP’s RC Concepcion (Check out his HDR book here.) demonstrates the latest version in this video.

New features include …
Improved Tone Mapping Engine – Develop superior results with better color rendering and improved natural styles
Interface, Interaction, and Workflow – Benefit from improvements to the merging interface, tone mapping and enhancement controls, visual presets, and more
Depth Control – Enjoy added depth and realism in images with the new and proprietary Depth control, which helps counteract the flattened look commonly associated with HDR images
Full GPU Processing and Multi-Core Optimization – Gain even faster performance with GPU processing that takes full advantage of the processors found on modern display adapters
Ghost Reduction – Improved ghost reduction algorithm ensures that artifacts created by moving objects are removed with a single click
Chromatic Aberration Reduction – Reduce color fringes around objects
Graduated Neutral Density Control – Access the full 32-bit depth of the merged image, providing a natural effect especially on images with a strong horizon line
Full White Balance Control – Take full advantage of the white balance in an image with a new Tint slider, which along with the Temperature slider, can be applied both globally as well as selectively using U Point technology
History Browser – Easily review adjustments and different HDR looks via the History Browser which records every enhancement used in an editing session
Extended Language Support – International users benefit by the addition of Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) to a list of languages that includes English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Japanese
Find out about even more features here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How I Title My Images

Illumination I, 2000 

Titles have always been challenging for me. While I always use a working title for a developing series, often, I don’t know what to title the works until I truly understand them – and that can be long after they’ve been created. Sometimes I change the titles of a few of my images after I’ve released them.
Most of my images, being a combination of at least two images from different times and places, don’t fit the typical place date format. To date, I’ve only used this type of title for one series, Antarctica, because I want that work to be seen as more editorial in nature.
Because I want to leave plenty of room for the viewer, I avoid titles that impose a single interpretation on a work of art – Exhibit A : Evidence Of My Failed Relationships. I also don’t want a title to make up for what’s not already strongly felt in an image – Unimaginable Grace.
Initially, I grouped work according to the dominant natural element in it, using a set of six series, interlocking because many images can fit into more than one series, under one larger title – Elemental: Dreaming In Stone; Waterway; Fire Within; Aerial Boundaries; Songs From Wood; and Animalia.
Later, I came to understand there was a further reason I didn’t use standard place/date titles. I want my images to be seen not as records of things (a materialistic viewpoint) but as traces of processes (a wholistic viewpoint).
I’d like to use an active verb for my titles, but the image isn’t the active process itself, it’s some thing made from observing processes. So instead of the word Illuminating, I use the word Illumination.
I use a number to indicate the order of creation in a series.
The date attributed is the date of release, not the date of exposure.
Read How To Title Your Images here.
Read more about how writing can help stimulate your creativity.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How To Title Your Images

Neko Harbor, Antarctica, 2007

(Watch how focus and content shifts when these alternate titles are used – Freezing Point, Glacial Retreat, Blue, Constellation.)

When in doubt, when selecting titles for your images keep them simple and neutral. Less is more, more or less.
Good titles complement works by giving viewers more relevant information that makes their experience richer, indicating it’s creator’s relationship towards a subject and medium and audience, suggesting but not limiting attention to dimensions of a work that might otherwise remain overlooked, all the while leaving room for viewer’s extended interpretation.
Bad titles dominate or subvert works by attempting to make up for what’s missing, focus attention on one aspect of work and deflect attention from others, add heavy-handed interpretation leaving less room for viewer participation, or tell viewers rather than show them.
To avoid bad titles, rather than becoming a master of language, keep it simple. While there are notable examples where this maxim has been defied with success ­– singer/songwriter Fiona Apple titled one of her albums with a complete poem containing over four hundred characters causing a buzz-worthy stir which reinforced her reputation for being both poetic and eccentric ­– at a minimum it takes a significant flair for style or even genius to pull a stunt like this off.
You might be tempted to keep it really simple. Remember, Untitled is still a title. It’s the most neutral to the point of being non-descript and almost uninformative. Sometimes it works – well. Many times, it’s not enough. But eliminating it altogether and simply stating the medium used is almost always never enough.
In a majority of cases, just a little more will do just fine. The classic convention for titling an image is to identify the subject (name the person, place or thing) and add the date of creation: if it’s a photograph use the date of exposure; if it’s a painting use the date of completion; if it’s a composite photograph default to the latter; if it’s an image of an historic event add the date of the event in the first part of the title and add the date of completion of the image.
It’s the times when this convention doesn’t fit that more creativity is warranted.
Use this list as a springboard for exploring your options.
1     List the subject and date, Neko Harbor, Antarctica, 2007 for instance.
2     State a relationship to the subject, yours or someone else’s; i.e. My Mother or Her Home.
3     Use a general category for the subject rather than an individual one, such as Slave or Statistic.
4     Name a formal element in the work – number, shape, color, size, etc.
5     Refer to another medium, such as poetic or musical form.
6     Loosely interpret the subject subjectively; similes and metaphors often work well here, such as Smells Like Teen Spirit.
7     Use a technical term, related to either the subject or the creation of the work, in a way that furthers more inquiry, Ascent or Descent for example.
8     State what the subject is not – Is Not Untitled.
9      Create a contradiction ­– think of Magritte’s famous painting of a pipe entitled This Is Not A Pipe.
You’ll no doubt find ways to expand this list.
It’s interesting to note that when you keep it simple and conventional, specificity works in your favor, yet the more creative and unconventional you get the more ambiguity, sometimes coupled with a dose of irony or contradiction, works in your favor
You may hit upon one ingenious title. If you should be so lucky quickly ask yourself, “Can you repeat it?” One genius title amid a cluster of duds will stand out like a sore thumb. Bodies of work beg some consistency. That said, you may find that varying your titling conventions between different projects is an effective way to further differentiate them.
Consider creating a standard for your titles, after giving considerable thought to both its short and long-term effects on the way audiences will respond to you work. There are many benefits to creating a consistent practice, including the creation and fulfillment of expectations and the reduction of the time and energy you put into resolving new terms. This will also call more attention to the times when you deviate from your standards, which can be advantageous if used strategically.
Like your art, titles are all about communication. Titles become a part of your art. Make sure your titles make a contribution to effectively communicating what you want to communicate. It’s worth the time you invest to put some thought into how you title your work.
How do you title your work?
Read more about how writing can help stimulate your creativity.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Visible Traces – Adam Fuss




Adam Fuss’ photograms encourage you to think about photography, in different ways and much more broadly. His life-sized camera-less photograms represent one man’s attempt to work with, explore, and see subjects, media, and perception more directly. By making camera-less images, Fuss eliminates many distortions inherent in optical systems that employ lenses.
The turning point in Adam Fuss’ work came when he accidentally processed a piece of film that recorded only a grain of dust and its shadow. He had the sensitivity to see something extraordinary in this ordinary moment. Since then, he’s explored many ways of making photograms, including producing images from the chemical reactions created by photosensitive materials coming in contact with viscera and decaying objects.
Fuss’ photograms highlight the idea of the photograph as a trace made by light that has come in direct contact with the thing recorded. Fuss takes this one step further in his photograms, as the objects, not just the light reflected from them, literally make contact with the recording device, which becomes the final art object. Akin to abstract painting, the thing made represents itself more than the subject.
In Fuss’ work, the absence of light reveals as much or more as the presence of light, reversing our conventional expectations of photographs (‘light-drawings’). This is more than just ironic – it’s insightful.
Like Plato’s The Allegory Of The Cave, where men raised in a cave are bound in such a way that they only see shadows and mistake them for the real things not just reflections of reality, Fuss’ photograms ask us to consider the limited nature of our perceptions and not to confuse the recordings we make with the things themselves.
Who are your influences?
Find out more about my influences here.
Read my extended conversation with Adam Fuss here.
Read More

Green Action – Clean Your Beach


Be more green!
You can make a difference today!
Make many small changes to make one big change!
And you’ll save a lot!
Take action now!
Here’s one idea.
Clean your Beach! 
It’s summer here in Maine and the temperatures are rising.  Like anywhere else in the world when it gets warm – we head toward the water.  Be it an ocean beach, a river bank or a lakeside retreat we grab our snacks, beverage bottles, and towels and head toward the cool embrace of our local watering hole.
With approximately 80% of the worldwide population living near water, that translates into millions of tons of bottles and snack wrappers ending up on the worlds beaches.
We all know the importance of clean water, but more often than not, the full weight of this responsibility seems unfathomable.  Lets look at some numbers…  The total length of the worlds coastline is estimated to be close to  217,490 miles, or to put it visually, roughly equal to the distance from the Earth to the Moon.  The United States alone has more than 250,000 rivers equaling to 3.5 million miles of shoreline.  These numbers can become overwhelming in terms of tonnage and clean up.
But it can be done.
On September 15 for the last 26 years, the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has held a volunteer clean up day for ocean and waterway health.  Each year these indefatigable volunteers not only scour our shores and waterfronts but additionally keep a running total of each specific type of item collected.
During the 25th anniversary Cleanup on September 15, 2010 nearly half a million volunteers combed the shorelines around the world to collect a total of 9,843,121 items of debris.  Some numbers are overwhelming…  980,067 plastic bags; 75,168 balloons; 1,094,921 plastic beverage bottles; and 1,892,526 cigarettes or filters are amongst a myriad of other refuse from vacuums to baby bottles, and washing machines.
What can you do?
Start with leaving the beach in better condition than it was when got there.  Leave no trace that you have been there, take all your garbage, any neighboring debris and your belongings with you.
Volunteer to clean up your local beach and get your friends and relatives involved.  Many local communities ask for help with clearing debris.
Don’t feed the birds!  The more food they receive means the more they hang out on the beach which increases the amount of bird droppings on the beach.
Don’t leave debris near storm drains.  Most of these drains run directly into the waterways without any filtration. After taking a swim in the nearest waterway these debris will most likely end up on the beach.
So grab those snacks and beverages and remember to clean up your area after you enjoy the cool clean water!
See you at the beach this summer!
Find more resources that will help you take action now here.
Find environmental organizations to support here.

Why I Can't Wait For My Crossing The Antarctic Circle 2013 Workshop






People keep asking Seth Resnick and I why we keep returning to Antarctica.
We’ve made four trips and every trip was different. We visit new locations; there are over 40 locations cruises land at and with each visit we get to visit an average of 12. The ice conditions are always different; one month can make a big difference. Surprisingly, the thing that we’ve found makes the biggest difference is the weather, which affects the light dramatically. We saw riotous colors during four hour long sunsets on our 2005 Peninsula trip and “nights” where the sun only skims the horizon but never truly sets south of the Antarctic circle in 2009. Every time we go, we keep wondering how much more could there be to see and how different could the conditions be and every time we’re surprised that we discover so much more and that locations we know look so different. Each voyage has had an entirely unique character.
The two most sublime landscape experiences I’ve ever had were at Sossusvlei, Namibia and in Antarctica’s The Gullet. The Gullet was the remotest, purest, whitest experience I’ve ever had. It felt like being in a frozen heaven. Quietly cruising on mirror calm waters through the dramatic mountains of Crystal Bay to find the narrow channel through The Gullet (like seeing clouds cascade off high peaks to touch the water and be frozen in place) and through to Margueritte Bay lit up by endless hours of midnight color was one of the most beautiful 24 hours of my life. Many of us didn’t sleep that ‘night’ because we didn’t want to miss anything. We knew while we were there that few people on earth had ever had an experience similar to the one we were having.”
See more images from Antarctica’s The Gullet here.
There are still a few spaces available in our Antarctica 2013 workshop.
Email me at jpc@digitalphotodestinations if you’d like to join us.

Why Drawing Is So Important To Me





 
I love to draw. I began drawing before I could speak. I’ve never stopped. It took me decades to learn to draw the way I wanted to. I spend less time drawing than I used to, now I rarely draw to produce finished results, but hardly a day goes by when I don’t draw, to record or refine ideas.
Drawing is a way to understanding. There’s a difference between knowing things mechanically (with a camera) in 1/125th of a second and knowing it manually (with a pencil, pen, or brush) over the space of hours or even days. Both ways can inform one another.
People often ask me, “Do you draw before, during, or after I photograph?” I respond, “Yes.” There are different benefits to drawing at every stage in the process of creation.
I sometimes draw before arriving at a location to structure my visual explorations. I sometimes draw while on site, to record ideas that cannot be photographed. I sometimes draw after visiting a location, from unfinished photographs made there, to identify the many ways they can be combined with other photographs. I sometimes draw on finished photographs to identify patterns of thinking and ways to develop them further.
There are many reasons to draw and many ways of drawing.
I take the definition of photo-graph literally – light-drawing. For me photography is one more way to draw.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.