Photo Journal: Branches of Trees, Hudson River – Capture to Print

Capture

“There is always something to photograph; the question is what?”

That’s something I used to tell myself every time I went out into the field with my camera. I believed that if I thought positively about each and every situation, it would help me to see better. After all, vision is as much about what is inside our minds as is  what is outside. And it was helpful to the extent that it made me much more aware of the environment, the light, the details.

But I realized over time that it also created a different problem, one of expectations, or what eastern philosophers call attachment. Because I was starting from the perspective of “wanting” to photograph, it rarely resulted in images that were personal. And personal images are the most important images you can make because they keep you on the only path that matters, your path.

“Branches of Trees” was not an image I was looking for. In fact, I had walked past this spot several times before finally setting up my camera. But from the beginning something had caught my eye even though I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

So I waited.

I didn’t need to make an image to be happy, I was already happy just being there. From the moment I had stepped out of my car and onto the trail, I was grateful. It was a cold but clear morning, and it felt good just to get out and feel the stillness, the silence, the space between each breath. And I was in nature.

“Art will never be able to exist without nature.” – Pierre Bonnard

Sitting by the shore, I watched the surface of the water get brighter as the sun rose higher on the horizon. Clouds appeared and then slowly drifted away, reflecting their ephemeral shapes against the deep blue water. And as I focused on the open spaces in the scene; the sky, the water—I suddenly realized what attracted me, even if I didn’t know whether it would work.

I setup my tripod with an Olympus E-M1 and a 20mm lens at f/8, and framed the jumble of branches in the foreground right in the middle of the composition. I wanted them to anchor the image, because it was the repetition of the branches that lead my eye towards the background and the sky. It’s the patterns within the patterns that held my attention the most, and I think using the negative space of the water and sky helps make it the “story” of the image. I focused slightly in front of the farthest branch (using the water as a guide) and exposed to make sure I didn’t overexpose any of the clouds. 1/100 sec @ISO200.

I made a few exposures, then moved slightly to the left and made a few more, but by then the light had changed, and I didn’t have the same clarity about the image as before. Did I know I had captured a good image? Not really, because I have my doubts about almost every image I make. But I try and remind myself that the experience is more important than the result.

Editing

Lightroom

Original RAW file and histogram.

 


Final edit before converting to black & white

In Lightroom, I started editing the image in color, but converting to black and white brought the image to life for me. Removing the color emphasizes the tones and shapes, and that’s what caused me to pause, to think, and to feel.

There are several themes for me in this image. One is the contrast between the chaotic rhythm of the branches in the foreground and the water behind them. The other is the seeming stillness of the image even with all of the visual activity created by the repeating shapes. There’s a certain tension between those two ideas that I noticed initially, but didn’t really “see” until I decided to slow down, to wait.


The red circle shows the main subject area that “points” to the repeating themes and patterns in the image, highlighted in yellow. The orange lines represent the negative space that slows the eye, and creates the tension I wanted to convey. There are also groups of threes in various places which are helpful in visual design.

The Print

I’ve written before about why I think making prints  adds greater depth and direction to your photography. Because of this I make a print of  any image I think is strong enough to be in my print portfolio.

When you print an image, the papers character becomes part of the photograph, and so you have to have a good idea of what the image is about, what you’re trying to convey, and how specific papers either enhance or weaken your vision for the final print.

I chose Canson Infinity Platine Fiber Rag for it’s rich black density and organic subtle texture that still preserves the high frequency detail found in this image. Separation between the branches and surrounding water is important, as well as all of the textures in the trees, branches, and grasses in the background.

Screen-LR
The Lightroom Print module with the image centered on a 13×19 layout.

Lightroom_2
Here is the image’s native resolution for a 13×19 paper size with 1″ borders.

 


Because the native resolution of the image is higher than 300ppi (the native resolution of Canon printers) I chose to interpolate to 600ppi and print at Canon’s highest print resolution which os optimized for 600ppi. I explain this in greater detail in my printing workshops and also my Digital Fine Art Printing Book

 

2015-03-01-13.02.29
Printing on the Canon iPF8400.

 

2015-03-01-13.00.00v2
Final print on Canson Platine Fibre Rag 310, my favorite fiber paper.

 

2015-03-01-13.03.56
Here you can really appreciate the subtle but dimensional texture of Platine and how it helps give the print that extra depth in the smooth areas without being distracting.
2015-03-01-13.05.31
Fine detail of the grasses and tree branches is nicely enhanced by the surface of Platine, and printing at the native resolution of the iPF8400 (600ppi) helps as well.

Final Thoughts

I’ve covered a lot in this post, but I wanted to provide you with an overview of my thought process from “capture to print.” It’s not meant to provide a formula for making images and prints, but inspire you to think about your process, and question any assumptions. We all need that in every part of our lives, and I want to share as much as I can as I learn myself.

Many of these ideas may seem a little abstract or non-specific, but it’s the only way I can express a thought process that happens without words, and relies on patience and intuition rather that specific steps.

For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. Henri Cartier-Bresson

Don’t be afraid of intuition, learn to trust it when it speaks loudly. It’s the only way to develop your vision, whether or not you choose to make a picture.

Don’t look for photographs, let them come to you.

Questions, comments, feedback? Please join the conversation. Thanks for reading!

Read More

March 2015 Free Desktop Wallpaper – Adirondack State Park, NY

The March 2015 Free Desktop Wallpaper is now available for download. A recent trip to the Lake Placid region of NY, one of my favorite “local” landscape locations, yielded this image on a cold, cold day.

As always, come closer to nature in the Adirondacks.

WP-Mar-15_700

1920 x 1200

1920 x 1080

1680 x 1050

1280 x 800

Instructions:

First determine your screen size. Your Current Resolution Is:

Then click on the link for the correct size. When the image opens in a new browser window, right click on the image and select “Set as Wallpaper” (on a Mac, select “Use Image as Desktop Picture”).

Read More

Photography Questions Answered From Facebook Community

IMG_20141203_161736

I hold a regular Q+A session on my Facebook every every so often, and this weekends session was full of great questions. I’ve included them here with some extra clarification on my part since I usually have limited time to answer them live. Thanks to all for participating, I’m always grateful for the opportunity to help in any way I can.

What would be the largest acceptable print in terms of resolution from an 18 MP camera?

Assuming a good capture that is sharp and low in noise, you can easily print up 20” x 30” from 18mp. Again, the quality of the raw file is paramount and this is dependent on the sensor quality. The quality of pixels has gotten much better, and so making larger prints from the same file size is much more possible today that it was years ago. The quality of printers has also improved dramatically in the past few years.

What’s your opinion about Nick collection software. I use Lightroom for photo editing; it gets done almost all my work. Would Nick improve quality of the photos or cut down processing time? Thanks!

I don’t use NIK, but they offer good plugins that some of my students like. As to whether they will cut down processing time, I doubt that unless you use presets. Also you will be converting your raw files into Photoshop files – I prefer to keep raw files as much as possible in my workflow.

What percentage of your photos on any given shoot do you consider to be worthy of further review, and what percentage would you consider to be head-scratchers? We’re having a rare snow day in GA, so I just spent 3.5 hours in Cloudland Canyon taking snow pictures of waterfalls. Out of 97 pictures I have maybe 3-4 that I want to continue working on due to their composition, etc. The others just have me asking myself what I was thinking.

Sorry, I have no idea really…it depends on so many different variables like weather, location, mindset and attitude, and gear I’m carrying. I don’t do it for the numbers, I do it because nature gives me something I can’t get anywhere else. Having said that, failure is the norm…but I don’t look at failure as negative. Only the fear of failure is what stops us from success.

I am going to Italy next month with a group of high school students, and plan to do a lot of photography. However, I have to watch the weight limits and don’t want to be carrying around a lot of equipment. If you had to pick one lens to bring, what would it be?

Which camera system?? From your kit or want to buy new?

Canon T3i. I have a 18-55 that’s my default lens, but would consider buying new. Also have telephoto lens, but not sure I want to carry it around all day!

For a little more range and image quality, I would recommend the Canon EF-S 15-85 – great quality and has Image Stabilization. For an L lens, the Canon EF 24-105L is hard to beat, but you’ll lose a little on the wide end. Either would be great for your trip. Have fun!

Do you offer one to one classes at all and if yes would you be able to do them on Sundays?

Sorry my friend – a busy super schedule and family keep me as busy as possible…but stay tuned for future mentorship programs…

What Lens are you using on your E-M1?

Olympus 12mm, 45mm, 75, and Panasonic 20mm – all primes. I cover that in my field test: Exploring Creative Opportunities with the Olympus E-M1

Is Gatorfoam a good method to display, say, in a coffee shop? What size? How good of an approach has this been for you in generating interest?

Yes gatorfoam is a great way to display prints in an inexpensive yet professional looking presentation. I wouldn’t recommend it for galleries where customers want to purchase framed pieces on the stop, but for coffee shops and similar venues, it works for me. If there’s’ interest for a piece, I receive a customer order and make the print for the customer. Size is dependent on venue, budget, subject matter, etc. And if you market the event properly, it will generate interest. See this how-to video

No question, just a thank you! learned a lot from you, especially from your videos/presentations on Lightroom and of course from your blog. i became significantly better in my photography and post processing in a short period of time, and i guess that’s to a large extent thanks to you.

Many thanks really appreciate that and glad to help anytime.

What types of tripod we can use most of the places ? Any Link ? Or suggestion…

I like FLM and Manfrotto Tripods – you can read a recent review of FLM tripod and ballhead here.

Looking for a printer, larger format, 11×17 or so. Any suggestions? Thanks

Canon Pixma Pro-1 OR Epson 3880 – both great, and both work with 3rd party papers like Canson Infinity. I have both and can hardly tell the different between print quality, it often comes down to the actual image. In general, Canon’s are easier to use with many different types of paper, but Epson can be used with any paper as well – they just don’t make it easy :)

What is your best selling print size? Do you find that certain images/subjects are more visually and artistically effective when printed a certain size?

Probably 20” x 30” (24” x 34” matted and framed), but that has less to do with customer demand and more with what and how I sell my work. And yes, for sure print size is highly dependent on image – at least for me, which is why I don’t sell smaller sizes. I cover this extensively in my printing workshops and printing ebook.

Robert what part of the Hudson valley do you do most of your shooting at ?

I tend to re-visit locations between the Bear Mountain Bridge and Esopus. That’s about a 60mile stretch, but after 10 years, all of it is home to me. I probably visit Mt Beacon more than any other location – it keeps me fit and beats going to Golds gym any day!

Any suggestions or links about the use of white balances in landscapes ? Where & what to use properly ? Thank You…

White balance is very much subjective when it comes to nature – it depends on your memory and judgement, as well as the feeling and mood you want to convey. Morning and evening light in particular is very much subject to atmospheric conditions as well as our psychological dispositions and interpretation of color. I tend to prefer warmer colors because it conveys what I feel inside. Others may feel differently, which is we try and make art.

Thanks to all for the questions, and hope to hold another session soon.

Read More

Success Stories: How A Printing Workshop Changes Everything for a Student

2014-06-14-09.00.48

During the Digital Fine Art Printing Workshop, I ask the students to bring an image that we can develop and print in class. I received this email from a recent student and wanted to share it here (with his permission) together with my thoughts.

“Robert, the image you printed for me during the workshop has been printed dozens of times by several different labs. All of those results were disappointing, which led me to believe I hadn’t captured it correctly. I had hesitated to give you that image because those earlier printing attempts convinced me the image wasn’t worthy of being printed.

The print you made changed everything for me. For the first time, I held a print that contained every nuance of the image I had wanted to create when I pressed the shutter. Thank you, Craig”

I was stunned when I read this, for several reasons. First, because it shows that even with today’s technology, vision and commitment to excellence always win. Few labs can interpret your vision; only you as the artist can do that. Working side by side with another photographer that understands that helps as well.

But something else much more important resonatated with me. The print we made together gave him confidence, not only about his image, but also in the value of making prints. And I was also humbled and deeply moved to know I had helped him in a meaningful way.

Of course, a print is only as good as the quality of the image being printed. Craig’s image was certainly outstanding, a sublime capture of a small intimate creek in fog, with lots of detail and color. I used Lightroom to make subtle but significant improvements that brought it closer to his vision for the print.  Even though I work on the image, the entire class is involved, asking questions or making suggestions. That’s something I encourage because it’s the underlying concepts I want to teach, not specific steps or formulaic ways of processing images. It puts the art first, and the tools second.

This simple shift in how you approach photography will clarify your goals when processing, or printing, or choosing the right paper. Art before the craft. It’s the one thing above all else I want every student to take away from a workshop.

cj-hocking-hills-2015-01-31
Image ©Craig Johnson / Hocking Hill

During the workshop, I emphasize that I can only suggest certain directions in the adjustments, but in the end, it’s the photographer’s vision that really matters. I often ask the student if I’m going in the right direction or not, and make sure they’re comfortable with my suggestions. If they aren’t, I backtrack, and we keep exploring creative options. That’s what individual interpretation is all about, and as artists and photographers, we need to assert that in today’s self-conscious world.

Yes, this sometimes makes the student uncomfortable, because it forces them to think deeply about their vision. But that’s where it starts regardless of where you are in your photography. At some point, you have to start asking the important questions, such as, “Why am I doing this?”, or “What do I want to accomplish?” “What does photography mean to me?” “What do I truly want to convey in my prints?”

The answers will make a huge difference, and keep you motivated even if you’ve faced failure many times in the past. Craig had his doubts, but he also had a vision which thankfully, for all of us, he brought to the workshop. We printed his image on Canson Infinity Rag Photographique, a great fine art paper to complement his image. Soft shadows, painterly colors, and a buttery smooth texture to maintain the crisp but organic detail in the trees and leaves.

The satisfaction of holding something in your hand that you made, physical and tactile, is a feeling worth pursuing for a lifetime. For photographers, a fine art print is one of the most direct ways to experience that.

And the only thing that tops that for me is helping someone else experience that same feeling.

Read More

Field Test: Carbon Fiber Tripod and Ballhead from FLM

IMG_0372

A good tripod and ballhead is one of a landscape photographers most important investments. Camera stabilization is critical to achieving the sharpest images, and the quality and operation of a tripod should be an enjoyable experience, not get in the way of your image making. So often that’s exactly what happens when we struggle with tripods, and either see them as a necessary evil or avoid their use altogether unless absolutely necessary.

On workshops, I don’t blame students when they avoid using their tripods in spite of my nagging that they should. I can see their focus and concentration disappear as soon as they have to deal with the dreaded contraption. This isn’t every student, of course. But in general I notice that when someone is resistant to a tripod, it’s usually because the tripod is of “questionable” quality. When it comes to tripods and ballheads, you certainly get what you pay for.

But is it just price, or is there more to be considered when choosing a tripod and ballhead? Afterall, what’s so complicated about three legs and a ball to attach the camera to? Well as it turns out, quite a lot that can make a night and day experience out of using a tripod in the field. And using it “in the field” is really the key, because that’s where the real test happens, not in a camera store.

But first, let me share a true story.

How Not to Start a Workshop

I awoke to the sound of high pitched whistling and realized it was the wind outside my hotel room door. I was in Maine for the start of the Acadia Autumn Adventure workshop, and my fears were confirmed when I looked out the window and saw the trees bending sideways under the stress of a steady 25mph wind, with higher gusts every few minutes. We were heading to an open expanse of rocky coast on the Atlantic Ocean, and I worried about how students would we’d all handle the wind.

As it turned out, quite well actually, except for that one sound I would remember for the rest of the workshop. I had advised everyone to hang their bags from the center column of their tripods for added stability, and to make sure they tightened everything before setting up their cameras. As I chatted with a student, I heard it – splash. We were far enough away from the water to know it wasn’t the ocean, and when we turned around, my greatest fears were confirmed. There in the middle of a large tidal pool were two and a half tripod legs sticking out of the water, and in the water, completely submerged, was an expensive DSLR.

Long story short, he had a decent tripod, yet didn’t tighten the legs properly, and it wasn’t solid and steady enough to withstand the high winds. So it tipped over.

This is just one example, but there are plenty others. Legs that don’t adjust easily, knobs and levers that resist your will, clamps that don’t quite work the way you expect, and let’s not forget the tripod that gets heavier with each use, becaue the owner is frustrated with it. I’ve seen and experienced them all, ranging from cheap Best Buy tripods to European and Asian brands.

I’ve learned to value and trust good design, function, and attention to ergonomic detail.

And this is where FLM comes into the picture.

2015-02-11 07.43.51
Gura Gear Uinta and FLM tripod

A Matter of Trust

I rarely review products on this blog, but when I do it’s because I use them myself every day in the field and they’ve earned a spot in my “toolbox” so to speak. My tripods hold a special place in my toolbox, and I often wonder if they contribute more to my work than any other item I own.

A good tripod should be a “set and forget” item. That doesn’t mean you forget about its importance or function. When it works well it generates trust – something that develops brand loyalty and support. And most importantly, good design gives peace of mind, which I’ll return to later. The last thing I want is to second guess my gear while I’m focusing on great light or a once in a lifetime moment.

So all this to say I was skeptical of any tripod that I might choose over my trusted brands, even if I was already looking for alternatives. Why? Numerous issues, some of which were normal wear and tear, but also design features I had grown to dislike. For example, the locking mecahnism on tripod legs varies depending on the manufacturer, and I’ve used both the lever-clamp style (Manfrotto) and the rotation style (Gitzo) extensively. Yet both left something to be desired (based on the way they were implemented by these companies.)

Then there’s the whole issue of ballhead design and function, which again varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Bottom line is I was generally happy with my setup, and had learned to live with the quirks and weaknesses of each. They were also showing their age and wear, and I was beginning to wonder if it was time to start looking for a potential replacement. Upgrading to newer model seemed ideal and reasonable. But might there be an alternative, another brand I might actually consider?

I’d browse the tripod section at B&H Photo from time to time, looking at the different offerings (so many these days) but nothing really caught my eye, and I eventually returned to the tried and trued, my trusted tripods back home. Then I attended Photo Plus Expo in NYC this fall and discovered FLM.

The Company

FLM is a family owned business started in Germany that has been manufacturing tripods for different industries for 22 years. While they originally started out making surveying equipment, they are now committed to the photography industry and it has become their main focus.

FLM stands for F(photography), L (light), and M (metrology – the study of measurement or precision.) I love that acronym because it captures what we do with our tripods; we use them to capture light with our cameras in a very precise way.

Their ballheads are manufactured with a tolerance of 1/1000th of a millimeter, and most of the parts are produced in-house which means quality is maintained throughout the process. That’s certainly the first thing I noticed when I handled one of their ballheads. It felt so smooth and precise, whether the knobs themselves, or pivoting the head on its base. It almost felt like there was oil at every joint, yet was totally dry.

IMG_0351

I wondered why I had never heard of them before, and the owner told me that while they have had great success in Europe and Asia, they are still relatively new to the US market. The owner of the company was there, demonstrating the products and very eager to answer questions at length about the operation and use of his products.

That also impressed me, since a personal connection is something I still value when buying products that I use every day. Yes, corporations get large and lose their personal contact, but that doesn’t mean they have to forget about the individual, something that happens all too often in today’s profit driven industry.

As an aside, I realized part of the reason I enjoy working with other brands I promote, like Gura Gear and Canson Infinity, is precisely because they are dedicated to the individual photographer – they care about you, and not just another sales line on a speadsheet. FLM is no different, and that was another good sign that I had found my tripod and ballhead replacement after all.

Design

I’d use the words precision and elegance to describe the design of FLM tripods and ballheads. Right from the outset, I could feel the attention to detail, and the thought that went into designing a product that ultimately falls away and you forget you’re using it.

Lets start with the tripod I tested, the CP26-M3S.

Ari Tapiero at FLM Canada recommended the carbon fiber CP26-M3S based on my gear and preferences. By the way, Ari was amazignly knowledgeable and helpful, and another reason why I was so impressed with FLM.

Why carbon fiber? Two main reasons – strength and weight. Carbon fiber is stiffer than metal which translates to more stability. And it’s also lighter, which means less weight to carry into the field. Another important detail is that FLM uses a total of eight layers of carbon fiber for all of their tripods, where as most of the competion uses six, except for their most expensive models. The more layers used, the stiffer and stronger the construction.

The CP26-M3S has a maximum height of 162cm (5.3 ft) and supports 10kg (10 lbs), more than enough for my Canon 1DS Mk III with a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens. And it weighs a mere 1.23kg (2.7 lbs). I prefer 3 leg sections to 4, simply because the fewer the sections, the more stable the tripod is. Also there are less rings to twist to get the tripod open and ready to shoot. FLM uses a twist lock system that have a rounded shape, which means they fit into the palm of your hand, unlike flat locking rings that just don’t feel as comfortable. They are smooth and silky, and lock the legs very securely. Plus they are designed to protect against dirt and accidental opening – which has been a problem for me in the past.

The legs have 180° of movement which means the tripod can be folded in the smaller position for travel. The locking mechanisms are smooth and easy to use, and don’t require super human strength to release. Metal edges are rounded off for smoother operation – no sharp edges to get your skin pinched.

The bottom of the legs also have quick change tips, only requiring a minor twist to go from rubber feet to steel tips. Let me clarify, you only have to twist them about a 1/4 turn to go from rubber to steel—not 20 or more like on other tripods—nice.

IMG_0469

Ari recommended I pair the CP26-M3S with the CB-43FTR ballhead.

Talk about a piece of precision machinery – craftsmanship is everywhere, from the design of the knobs to the cork/rubber blend material used at every limit to prevent vibration and ensure weather resistance. And the operation is smooth and silky.

The main locking mechanism has a dual ring that adjusts the locking of the ball, and a friction adjustment that remembers its setting for future use. Once locked, the camera is as stable as a rock, and does not move at all. There are three more knobs which control the following:

  • A knob to lock the panning of the head
  • A knob that engages a 15° notch with a clicking sound while rotating the camera for easy panoramas. This knob also has a button that locks the rotation to make it easier to tighten the head onto the tripod.
  • A final “tilt knob” with a very unique feature – it locks the ball so it can only be tilted or swiveled at 90° to the knob. This limits the axis of the head to two dimensions instead of three as normal. This has some interesting uses, for example vertical panoramas when you want to tilt the camera forwards and backward, but not left and right.

There are several options for attaching your camera, including a quick connect system using a locking lever with a security feature that prevents the camera from accidentally disconnecting. There is also a standard clamp that is compatible with most camera plates, and that’s what I got. Once again the knob is well designed and easy to tighten and loosen without losing any skin. They also have matching camera plates including L brackets. While not custom designed for specific cameras, they are adaptable for any camera which does increase their long-term usefulness.

Details like these show a commitment to design and an understanding of how a tripod and ballhead are normally used and abused in the field.

So often I feel that products are never tested where we use them – in real world situations where subtle or minor design flaws become significant issues, like a tiny pebble in your boot. And that’s where I really appreciated the FLM gear, when it came time to take it out into nature.

In The Field

The tripod and ballhead with attachment plate weighs 1.62kg or 3.58lbs, the lightest tripod I have every used. In fact every time I pick it up I’m pleasantly surprised by its nimble quality. I’m used to carrying heavier tripods on the trail, so this was a welcome change.

I have to admit the knobs were disorienting at first, partly because the included instruction manual needs a little more clarity. I’ve already mentioned this to FLM and they are aware of the need for improvement. There’s also the disorienting learning curve that comes with any new piece of gear, especially one that becomes muscle memory over time. But after the second outing with the FLM tripod and ballhead, I felt right at home.

Opening and closing the legs and selecting the leg angle is easy thanks to the spring loaded adjustment. Extending the legs is also easy, but what really impressed me is how they lock easily at the desired height without any drift – and without tightening them with super human force.

Attaching the camera is also uneventful, and once attached, the tripod just works. The ballhead is extremely secure, and I never had any problems with either my Olympus E-M1 or Canon DSLR setups. The tripod does include a center column, but I remove that from all my tripods right away so that I can get my camera as low to the ground as possible for dramatic perspectives. Even so, the hook to attach a bag for extra stability is still available.

Improvement

My only criticisms are as follows:

  • The included manual can be improved for clarity (how about making it a little bigger.) In all fairness the FLM Canada website has a bunch of videos to explain the operation of the tripod ballhead, but when you want to get up and running right away, a simple visual guide to the ballhead would be ideal.
  • The operation of the friction knob can be confusing until you learn how it interacts with the main tightening knob. Because I don’t use the friction feature at all on any ballhead, I simply screwed it all the way out as far as it would go (as per the manual), and never had any issues again. I think more clarity in the manual would have prevented a few moments of frustration when I first started using the ballhead.

The Value of Peace of Mind

The trust we put in our gear is directly proportional with how comfortable and confident we feel in the field, and ultimately how easily we can get into the flow – so critical for creativity.

I know that for me, when my gear works as expected, that is to say, performs without getting in the way, and better still, elevates my practice of the craft of photography, I make better images. Are there other good tripods on the market? Sure, and I always say if what you have is working for you, than focus on your art, not the gear.

Yes, tools are just tools, and they should function to support our creative goals. Given that definition, the FLM tripod and ballhead are my new trusted companions on that journey.

Read More