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.

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Read about essential camera tests techniques here.

Check out my field workshops here.
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We started my Fine Digital Print Expert workshop today with extensive group portfolio reviews. The reviews are useful for unveiling issues that need resolution and for helping frame how to apply techniques in ways that are appropriate for and sensitive to an individual’s vision (rather than applying technique formulaically, which tends to make everyone’s images look the same). My workshop participants not only get my feedback, and the feedback from other participants, but they also learn a lot of ways to approach looking, commenting on images. The right questions can be just as important as the answers. Sometimes they’re best left open for future revisitation because more can come to light. And activating collective intelligence in group sessions can be very helpful. You get to see when you do and don’t have consensus and many more ideas come to light.

You can’t take a one size fits all approach. You have to take into account the experience level of the person and their artistic goals. Rather than criticism, I prefer to offer useful feedback. The new field of Appreciative Inquiry (born out of the science of qualitative analysis) has a lot to offer when it comes to making valuable statement about quality. It opens dialogs by first identifying core strengths and then discusses how to make them stronger.

How participants present their work alters the type of feedback they get. You can present work without commentary and get spontaneous responses or you can speak about your work and get more focused commentary. You can present your images one at a time (this often highlights singular images, linear progressions of thought, and reveals memorable images – it’s best for more resolved work and when you want comments on broader issues and general thematic concerns) or many all at once (this makes it easier to see more subtle and complex connections between images, either formally or thematically, that might otherwise remain sensed but unseen – it’s best for more specific feedback). One isn’t better than another. They’re just different. The point is it’s important to decide what kind of feedback you’re looking for and to present your work in a way that encourages that type of feedback. Either way, you’ll often be surprised by the feedback you receive. That’s one of the great things about getting feedback from other people. You get exposed to new perspectives on your work.

Here, Claudia Rippee presented two bodies of work – a smaller set sequentially and a larger set contextually. She got very different kinds of feedback. At the end, she discovered that when the viewers understood that the two very different bodies of work were created by one artist that knowledge modified the responses of viewers to both bodies of work. Your images may be seen in reference to other artist’s images, but most importantly your images are seen in reference to all the other images you create.

Whether an individual’s goals are professional or purely personal I emphasize the development of an authentic voice and personally relevant themes. Signature Styles, Singular images and Bodies of Work are all core concepts that I reinforce. You can find out more about these keys to artistic fulfillment in my free Creativity Downloads.

See my PDF Portfolio Reviews and Artist’s palette here.

See my PDF Singular Images and Body of Work here.

Check out my column in AfterCapture magazine to read more.

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Find out about my Fine Digital Print Workshop series here.

Find out about The Fine Digital Print Expert workshop here.


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