20090108

January 8, 2009 | Leave a Comment |

27 hours is too long to spend in a plane.
You work, you read, you sleep and it’s still to long.
Arrival is welcome.
A comfortable bed is even more welcome.
Ushuaia, “the bottom of the world” is nestled in high mountain peaks along the Beagle Channel. It’s a sporting town – fishing, skiing, hiking, boating … you name it. They often display maps that look upside down from a northern hemisphere perspective.

Because it offers so many more options, digital imaging may change the way you use your tools.

For instance, I use only 3 filters – a circular polarizer, a neutral density filter, and a infrared filter.

No other filter is as useful to me as a polarizer. Polarizers remove glare making colors more saturated and reflections allowing you to reduce or remove images on the surface of reflective surfaces. No software filter can do this. I use Canon’s circular polarizer. Whenever possible, I prefer to match filters to the manufacturer of the lens,

I’ve been experimenting with long exposures. Singh Ray makes a unique neutral density filter – the Vari-ND filter. Rotate it and you can slow reduce light between 2 and 8 stops. This eliminates the need to carry multiple filters and to stack them during exposure. It’s fantastic. (As an aside, I prefer all graduated filtration to be done with software because you can control both the effect and the graduation precisely.)

For infrared imagery I use an infrared filter. It’s not exactly the same as converting a camera to infrared, but it’s closer than simulating IR effects with software and it’s doesn’t permanently change your camera. I prefer to carry as little equipment as possible, move freely, and take long walks. Because I prefer to keep my options open, many times I will shoot in full color and use software to create an IR effect. If you take both a full color and IR filtered exposure of the same subject you have many more options.

I demonstrate these kinds of techniques in all of my field workshops.

See more of the products I use here.

Check out my full Review on the Singh Ray Vari-ND filter here.

Get Insights free here, for upcoming alerts of new Reviews.

Read about essential camera tests techniques here.

Check out my field workshops here.
Get a 20% discount on my Iceland (8/18-22) workshop here – expires 8/10.
Get a 15% discount on my Fall Foliage (10/17-20) workshop here – until 8/17.
The first 5 Insights Members get $1000 off South America (2/2-14/09), thereafter $250.



I just saw Pilobolus Dance Theatre’s Lanterna Magica this weekend. It was an inspiring performance! Two hours evaporated!

Honestly, as interesting as the video clips here are, they don’t do a full performance justice. (In two hours you get to know each dancer. Each experience builds on the previous one generating a big final effect.) But don’t let this stop you from watching more. They’re great!

You can see more Pilobolus on YouTube.

Find out more about Pilobolus here.

I’ve been intrigued with dance since I was very young. The Nutcracker and Firebird ballets captivated me at the age of 4. Mumenshantz modern dance / mime at 5. The Whirling Dervishes at 6. At 7, I moved to New Mexico and began attending native american ceremonial dances. Martha Graham’s Rites of Spring at 19. Cirque du Soleil at 40. And recently Alison Chase (former creative director of Pilobolus) was a guest instructor during a weeklong workshop on creativity led by Sean Kernan. (See my posts between June 9-13, 2008.)

I enjoy seeing anyone do anything really well. But watching other creative people engaged in different disciplines is particularly interesting to me. I learn about creativity. I learn about communication. I learn about myself. Often, I’m asked what does work in other fields offer me directly for my own work. Ideas. Ideas that I can apply to my own work? Yes. I find that if you don’t get stuck on specifics but make more generalized or abstracted statements about quality and perception that these become vital wellsprings for new ways of thinking. Here’s an example. Dance and sculpture have been increasingly influential to me with respect to representations, expressions, and experiences of two essential elements in my work – time and space. The stimulus in these two other disciplines has led me to develop many new images (For just one example, see my series Allies here.)

The other question that often arises is once you’re inspired by another discipline, should you engage it professionally. Yes. No. Maybe. You have to weigh many things before making this leap – talent, passion, means, etc. My recommendation is to sleep on it long and hard. Personally, take a little time to be stimulated and energized by a wide range of experiences, free of professional pressures. Professionally, stay focused on your core passions. I don’t plan to do dance or yoga professionally. Sculpture on the other hand … well stay tuned. It’s a long standing desire of mine to work with sculpture that goes way back to early childhood and simply won’t go away. That impulse is about to bear fruit this summer. It may well become a very strong current in my work for the foreseeable future.

Stay tuned here this summer.

Sign up for my enews Insights for alerts here.

My wife made the comment that we should all make it a habit to spend a little time each year getting out and experiencing new things that will inspire and motivate us. I agree!

What was the last or most inspiring creative event you’ve attended? Comment here!

Landscapes of the Spirit is one of my favorite landscape books. It’s out of print. But now it’s available in a digital edition. You can download a PDF version of the book for $15.

Its 120 pages offer 72 images arranged in portfolios introduced by texts from writers such as Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Terry Tempest Williams, and many others.

It’s pure inspiration.

Find out more about William Neill here.

Focus on Nature (Photography Workshops in Iceland) announces the combined forces of John Paul Caponigro and Vincent Versace in a special weekend. John Paul and Vincent will work on location discussing their varied processes before, during, and after making images. Participants will be able to photograph side-by-side with John Paul and Vincent and ask them questions as they work. The weekend (August 16 & 17) is free to participants of their workshops.

Read more about Vincent’s Iceland workshop (August 11-15) here.
Read more about John Paul’s Iceland workshop (August 18-22) here.

Focus on Nature (Photography Workshops in Iceland) recently announced 15% discounts on their 2008 workshops. The discounts are made possible by excellent response from sponsors.

Enroll now! Space is limited.

What’s Iceland like? Stay tuned for future posts!


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