Robert Rodriguez Jr Photography http://robertrodriguezjr.com Landscape Images from Beyond the Lens Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:31:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 http://feeds.feedburner.com/BeyondTheLensVideoPodcast Creativity, inspiration, and the pursuit of excellence- landscape photography from a more philosophical and creative based perspective. A podcast that explores landscape photography and its nexus with creativity, inspiration, and philosophy. Robert Rodriguez Jr clean Robert Rodriguez Jr robjr@robertrodriguezjr.com robjr@robertrodriguezjr.com ( Robert Rodriguez Jr) ©2012 Robert Rodriguez Jr Photography Inc A podcast that explores landscape photography and its nexus with creativity, inspiration, and philosophy. photography, nature, landscape, Hudson Valley, workshops, lightroom, photoshop, printing Robert Rodriguez Jr Photography http://robertrodriguezjr.com/btl_podcast_logo_sm.jpg http://robertrodriguezjr.com TV-Y Hudson Valley, New York Monthly Photo Journal: Simplifying Chaos in the Smoky Mountains http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/16/photo-journal-simplifying-chaos-smoky-mountains/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/16/photo-journal-simplifying-chaos-smoky-mountains/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:31:40 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=11080 I’m in the small town of Townsend, Tennessee just outside the Great Smoky Mountains teaching a 4 day workshop next week. It’s a long 12 hr drive from my home, but thankfully I made it safe and sound. It’s always hard to leave the family for two weeks, but the internet makes the distance seem much less than it is, and I’m able to respond...

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I’m in the small town of Townsend, Tennessee just outside the Great Smoky Mountains teaching a 4 day workshop next week. It’s a long 12 hr drive from my home, but thankfully I made it safe and sound. It’s always hard to leave the family for two weeks, but the internet makes the distance seem much less than it is, and I’m able to respond to “crisis” issues between my kids much faster.

The tress are just starting to bloom. Redbuds are vivid and the dogwoods are at their peak. I always arrive at a workshop location a week before it starts so I can do more scouting and make my own photographs—on my own time. Once the students arrive, I’m working for them and making sure they get everything they can out of the experience.

Out on my own yesterday morning at sunrise I decided to head to Cades Cove, a beautiful valley with infinite photo opportunities. It was a crystal clear day, not a cloud in the sky, which to me means I’ll have to work hard to find the softer diffused light I prefer. Usually that makes me head into the forest instead of open areas, but that also poses its own problems due to high contrast. I came across these trees next to a stream that were back lit creating a nice glowing effect on the leaves. I was also drawn to the mostly dark trunks of the tress with just enough light to wrap around them creating a sense of dimension and depth.

But, so much going on—very cluttered and busy with tress everywhere. And for an image that means potential chaos. So I start by separating things out visually, breaking down the basic elements of what I think might be a workable composition. I look for strong graphic elements, relative to the surroundings. Strong lines, repeating patterns, interesting color. And eventually I found something, the tree in the foreground which I placed slightly left of center became the “anchor” for the image. Everything else has to complement that anchor for the image to work. If not, I need to choose a different anchor or subject.

Why did I choose that particular tree? The shape of the leaves together with the light made it interesting to me – it captured my eye, and my imagination if you will. It captured a small sense of what I felt when in this darker part of the forest. Even in this secluded area, the light could still be dramatic without being overwhelming, which is typical of open landscapes with clear bright light.

I had to work this particular scene for a while, not taking many photos, but rather moving and looking—deeply— to see what composition would work best. And most of all, how to eliminate distraction yet keep the essence of this location intact. I made 5 exposures, then the light became too strong. I was there for about 15 minutes, but most of my time was spent trying to see something more than the obvious.

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I made 5 images over the course of about 15min. The one in the top right is the final keeper – for now.

Managing chaos is very much about directing the eye to what is most important, and making sure the subject is not diluted in any way by distractions. The more I look at this image, the more I realize I made light the subject—I used the tree to complement the light. One anchor becomes another.

Questions or feedback, please leave your comments below – I will try and post more of these posts over the coming days. Thanks for reading!

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Inside the Canson Paper Mill With the Olympus E-M1 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/11/inside-the-canson-paper-mill-with-the-olympus-e-m1/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/11/inside-the-canson-paper-mill-with-the-olympus-e-m1/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:00:08 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10922 Earlier this year I spent 10 days in Annonay, France, a small city just south of Lyon, and home to the Canson  paper company. I was invited as a guest artist to their bi-yearly “Customer Days” event, where distributors from around the world come to learn about new products and attend seminars and training. As a Canson ambassador, I gave a daily presentation on how...

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Earlier this year I spent 10 days in Annonay, France, a small city just south of Lyon, and home to the Canson  paper company. I was invited as a guest artist to their bi-yearly “Customer Days” event, where distributors from around the world come to learn about new products and attend seminars and training. As a Canson ambassador, I gave a daily presentation on how and why I use Canson Infinity paper, and shared my thoughts on the best ways to help and educate photographers about printing in general.

A short drive from the resort where the conference was held is Canson’s world headquarters and distribution center. It’s where most of Canson’s products, like notebooks, drawing pads, and fine art inkjet paper is packaged and shipped around the world. But the real highlight for me is visiting the paper mill, a totally separate building a few miles away. Canson is one of the few paper suppliers in the world to own their own mill, and that’s something that attracted me to their paper from the very beginning.

Taking pictures inside the mill is not allowed, so I was really excited when they gave me exclusive permission to bring my camera and photograph whatever I wanted, with the condition that any photos shared publicly would be cleared first. It was fun but challenging, and I just tried to react to the environment visually, looking for graphic elements, strong colors, and capture a sense of what the experience was like. It was also my first real opportunity to use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and a set of prime lenses in an unfamiliar environment. I’m quite happy with the setup, and it’s a nice complement to my other cameras (more on the setup below.)

The Paper Mill

Canson’s paper mill is a fascinating combination of old and new technology, which you quickly become aware of as you make your way through the various stages of paper making. You see cellulose fibers being loaded onto a conveyor by hand; huge tanks of swirling pulp (what paper is made of, mostly fibers and water); large mechanical machines operated by humans; a control room with dozens of switches, dials, and computer monitors. You can see and appreciate how Canson leverages their heritage of paper making, adding the old and new to produce paper for both traditional artists and digital print makers.

Laser scanners check the paper for thickness and consistency, and every aspect of the process is controlled by computer. Yet the aesthetic quality of the paper is still methodically checked by hand, where texture, smoothness, and overall feel are evaluated by a trained technician, or sometimes by a visiting artist. It’s amazing to me that with all the technology involved, they still rely on a human hand to give the final stamp of approval.

Walking through the mill is a total sensory experience, including all sorts of sounds, vibrations, and rumblings that keep you constantly alert to potential danger. Yellow traffic lanes warn you to watch for speeding fork lifts, beeps and alarms signal some activity about to happen. From one area to the next, temperatures and humidity levels change dramatically, and I had to keep a lens cloth handy for condensation and moisture on my lens.

The Fourdrinier Paper Machine

The huge and imposing Fourdrinier machine is where the magic happens; pulp enters one end and emerges as a two ton roll of paper on the other. Just before the pulp starts its journey, it generates a lot of mist, and taking photos was difficult since my lens would instantly get covered with water vapor. After lots of wiping and a few carefully timed shots, I started to get a little “damp” myself, so it was time to move on.

The pulp moves onto the “wire”, where the water is drained to create a continuous paper web that is gradually pressed into a super wide sheet of paper. It gets squeezed through countless rollers of varying sizes, changing direction as it goes up, down, sideways, and every angle in between. It makes for rather graphic photos, and I tried to isolate sections with a longer focal length to emphasize this. I was amazed at the sheer number of moving parts, wondering how maintenance and repairs were carried out, especially since the mill runs almost round the clock.

Eventually you reach the end of the machine where a huge roll of fine art paper about 20 feet in width and weighing two tons emerges. I was struck by how white and pristine it was, given the rather dull gray look of everything else.  Within minutes a technician rips off a large poster size sample and it’s carefully inspected for quality and consistency. From there the roll gets cut up into smaller rolls of varying sizes and is sent to the distribution plant for packaging. Paper destined to become digital inkjet paper is sent to another facility to receive the micro-porous coating that enables it to be printed on an inkjet printer.

I Think I’m Lost

Canson provides factory tours to guests, and the guides are great at explaining every aspect of the mills operation. You’re not allowed to wander off on your own for safety reasons, but I was encouraged to do just that. “Just don’t get lost, and stay alert” I was told.  Easier said than done. Before I knew it, I lost track of where I was, but kept wandering because the next photo opportunity was too hard to resist (sound familiar?) “I’ll find my way back to the group,” I thought, “this is too interesting to pass up!” Stacked rolls of paper 20 feet high, long conveyor belts, more fork lifts, and I don’t know how to speak French! Though it was fun, thankfully I saw a guide waving at me to hurry or I’d miss the bus back to the hotel. We both laughed at my predicament, and he seemed genuinely happy that I found the factory so interesting from a photographic standpoint.

It’s always a treat to visit the mill, and the Canson employees really seem to value the work they do. I know it makes my appreciation of paper making that much richer, and I love sharing that with students and patrons that purchase my prints—which are of course printed on the same fine art paper I saw being made at the mill.

Camera Setup

As I mentioned before,  I used the Olympus OM-D E-M1 which I had purchased just before this trip. I added the Olympus battery grip (which I find an absolute necessity for ergonomics and extra battery life), plus a set of carefully selected prime lenses: Olympus 12mm f/2.0, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, Olympus 45mm f/2, and the Olympus 75mm f/1.8.

The camera performed flawlessly, especially the EVF (electronic view finder) which was one of my main concerns.  The E-M1 has one of the best EVF’s I’ve ever used; clear, sharp, and fast, which is so critical when shooting handheld as I did here.  I was also impressed with the sharpness and optical performance of each of these lenses. The Oly 75mm is definitely in a class of its own, matching or exceeding my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L lens (my favorite lens in terms of optical quality). The others performed great as well, a standout being the Oly 12mm – ultra sharp, very little distortion, and oh so fast for a wide angle – something I’m not used to in a small package.

I’ll have more to write about the E-M1 in a future post, including how it performs in a very familiar setting – the landscape. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the photos.

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A Simple But Powerful Exercise For Any Landscape Photographer http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/09/simple-powerful-exercise-landscape-photographer/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/09/simple-powerful-exercise-landscape-photographer/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 21:01:56 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10991 In my last post, I shared photographer David Ward’s take on making evocative images; how we should do more than just describe the landscape. We need to let others see what we think about a place, subject, or a moment in time. How to go about doing this leads to all sorts of questions, including whether it’s possible in a single photograph. Perhaps an approach...

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Beacon Light, New York

In my last post, I shared photographer David Ward’s take on making evocative images; how we should do more than just describe the landscape. We need to let others see what we think about a place, subject, or a moment in time. How to go about doing this leads to all sorts of questions, including whether it’s possible in a single photograph. Perhaps an approach that considers our mindset, goals, and what we bring to this creative process is worth considering.

Connection and Instincts

One of the things I slowly realized when I started photographing the landscape was that there was an instinctual response inside. In other words, there were conditions that just felt right to me; the light, or mood, vivid colors, or a particular subject that gave me a sense of beauty, or truthfulness about what I was experiencing. In short, I could not imagine being anywhere else at that moment. I had a deep connection, and that seemed a good reason to press the shutter. Now of course there’s more to it than just pressing the shutter—there’s the important question of how to compose the image, carefully considering what to include and what to exclude.

That is one of the most critical decisions in any landscape photograph. The more we include in the composition, the harder it gets to create balance and harmony in the picture, and hence the amount of expression it provides. This makes it difficult for the viewer to get a true sense of that connection I mentioned before. Thinking in musical terms, the degree of harmony we imbue can always be unbalanced with dissonance, or tension. That often creates mystery, or a sense of incompleteness that allows the viewer to develop their own feelings about a picture.

For example, I often use areas of deep shadow or bright highlights to add tension to an image. In other images, I try and exclude as much as possible without losing the essence of the moment, whether that’s the vastness of a grand landscape, or the feel of a dramatic sky. There’s a certain amount of ambiguity, not to be confused with vagueness, that helps move an image forward in the imagination.

Flowers at Bowtie

Practice and more practice brings us closer to connecting with our instincts—trial and error becomes our great teacher…believe me, I know.

A Simple Exercise

Lots to think about for sure, but I’d like to recommend a writing exercise I practice often and has been helpful for me. Grab a blank sheet of paper (yes paper works best, forget the digital equivalent, ) and find a quiet place to sit for 5 or 10 minutes without distraction.

Now imagine being able to transport yourself to any place or location, real or imagined, which would make you most inspired to share it with others. If it’s an actual place, where would that be? Think specifically about the location – what you would see, hear, experience, and how it would feel to be there.

Once you’ve contemplated that for whatever length of time you choose, write down two things in a free flowing manner…

  1. Why did you choose that location? What makes it meaningful for you?
  2. Why would you want to photograph it?

I’ve tried this exercise many times, and the interesting thing is that I often get slightly varying answers. When you write something down, it forces certain parts of your brain to think more clearly about the questions than if you just thought about them. And writing down your thoughts in general is a great way to gain clarity and insight into what’s important to you. The writer Ingrid Bengis said, “Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.”

Ultimately, the closer you bring the viewer to the answers you wrote down, the more effective your images can become. And most interestingly, as David Ward says, it can instigate a dialog with the viewer, which is far more interesting than simply showing them a vista or scene.

Try this exercise, maybe several times, and share your feedback below. Did it help you in any way? Did you discover anything unexpected?

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Landscape Photographer David Ward On Making Evocative Images http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/07/landscape-photographer-david-ward-on-making-evocative-images/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/07/landscape-photographer-david-ward-on-making-evocative-images/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:01:19 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10907 One of the few photography magazines that I read regularly, and highly recommend if you haven’t heard about it already is On Landscape, based out of the United Kingdom. It features great articles and photo essays from some of the best landscape photographers working today, including several that have been instrumental in my approach to making images. One in particular is David Ward, who not...

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Finder001One of the few photography magazines that I read regularly, and highly recommend if you haven’t heard about it already is On Landscape, based out of the United Kingdom. It features great articles and photo essays from some of the best landscape photographers working today, including several that have been instrumental in my approach to making images.

One in particular is David Ward, who not only is a fantastic photographer but also writes eloquently and effectively about the art and craft of photography. He’s a frequent contributor to the magazine, and in a recent article he writes:

“I believe that in order to hold our viewers’ attention we need to do more than merely describe. It ’s not good enough to stand yourself in front of the most amazing view in the world (suggestions on a postcard please) in breathtakingly beautiful light. That might elicit a wow but it won’t instigate a deep and subtle dialogue with the viewer.

For the image to transcend its subject , to become more than an illustration, we need to make images that are intriguing and evocative. Only then might our images be considered art . I consider this ambition to be one of the hardest but most satisfying things to strive for in landscape photography.” – David Ward

For me the most thought provoking idea is the notion of photographers doing more than describing the landscape. And the reason is that though a camera is perfectly adept at describing a landscape in terms of the way it looks, it fails miserably at doing more than that – specifically making an evocative image. An image that is evocative brings strong feelings and memories to mind – it elicits the imagination in a way that a snapshot does not. It invites the viewer to consider the meaning of the image, the perspective of the photographer, and how they relate. That is the ultimate pursuit of the landscape photographer in my opinion.

Tomorrow I’ll share a simple exercise that might help you consider when and why to press the shutter button.  Thanks for reading! In the meantime check out On Landscape and consider subscribing – I think you’ll find it worthwhile.

 

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April 2014 Free Desktop Wallpaper http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/02/april-2014-free-desktop-wallpaper/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/04/02/april-2014-free-desktop-wallpaper/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:24:59 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10901 The April 2014 Free Desktop Wallpaper is now available for download. The coast of Maine has always been an inspiration for me, but as the saying goes, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This image was the result of 6 consecutive visits to this location – I almost gave up, but glad I didn’t. As always, come closer to nature in the Maine. 1920...

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The April 2014 Free Desktop Wallpaper is now available for download. The coast of Maine has always been an inspiration for me, but as the saying goes, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This image was the result of 6 consecutive visits to this location – I almost gave up, but glad I didn’t.

As always, come closer to nature in the Maine.

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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”).

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Harness the Lightroom Develop Module for Creative Impact – B&H Seminar http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/31/harness-lightroom-develop-module-creative-impact-bh-seminar/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/31/harness-lightroom-develop-module-creative-impact-bh-seminar/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 16:15:51 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10893 Just a quick update that I will be at B&H Photo Video on April 28th from 1-3 pm delivering a talk on the Lightroom 5 Develop module. Creative processing is one of the cornerstones of digital photography in my opinion, and one of the fundamental skills that I think all photographers should master. In this talk I show a bunch of examples comparing before and after versions, I...

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Just a quick update that I will be at B&H Photo Video on April 28th from 1-3 pm delivering a talk on the Lightroom 5 Develop module.

Creative processing is one of the cornerstones of digital photography in my opinion, and one of the fundamental skills that I think all photographers should master. In this talk I show a bunch of examples comparing before and after versions, I illustrate the process of how to think about developing images, then I spend some time working on a few images  to show my general approach. Hope you can make it!

Register for the seminar here

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Thoughts on Workshops and Learning From Students http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/29/thoughts-on-workshops-and-learning-from-students/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/29/thoughts-on-workshops-and-learning-from-students/#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 13:25:19 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10884 Bill Bogle has a nice blog post on his website about his past experiences with photo workshops. He’s been on several of mine, and I am very grateful and appreciative of his positive thoughts and recommendations. I’ve written many times about why I think workshops are a great way to accelerate your photography skills. They provide a concentrated, focused environment that is hard to duplicate...

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Bill Bogle has a nice blog post on his website about his past experiences with photo workshops. He’s been on several of mine, and I am very grateful and appreciative of his positive thoughts and recommendations.

I’ve written many times about why I think workshops are a great way to accelerate your photography skills. They provide a concentrated, focused environment that is hard to duplicate in every day life. In terms of how I approach workshops, I believe they should also provide so much more.

Gratitude towards the beauty of nature, a sense of how each of us can express that creatively and uniquely, and how that can translate to making life richer and more meaningful in general. Ambitious ideals and goals for sure. But I’ve learned that making just one meaningful photograph can be the start of this worthwhile journey.

These are just some of the things I try to teach in every workshop, and Bill was there supporting me from the very beginning. Thank you Bill for helping me grow as a photographer and teacher.

Read his article and see some his latest workshop in Bryce National Park.

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More Books for the Beginning or Advanced Landscape Photographer http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/25/books-beginning-advanced-landscape-photographer/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/25/books-beginning-advanced-landscape-photographer/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 14:24:16 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10872 At my talk this weekend, I brought along a few books from my library that I highly recommend for anyone trying to become a better photographer – that would be all of us. Yes there are tons of books out there, and I certainly don’t own many of them. This is just a sampling of some that I hope inspire, educate, and are worth adding to...

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At my talk this weekend, I brought along a few books from my library that I highly recommend for anyone trying to become a better photographer – that would be all of us. Yes there are tons of books out there, and I certainly don’t own many of them. This is just a sampling of some that I hope inspire, educate, and are worth adding to your personal collection.

Do you have any favorites to share? Please let me know so we can add them to our collections!

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The Inner Landscape of Making Images http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/24/inner-landscape-making-images/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/24/inner-landscape-making-images/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 14:30:43 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10861 We had a great turnout this Saturday at my free talk on photography titled “The Making of a Landscape Photograph”, and I am most grateful for those who attended. The response was overwhelming for those who wanted to attend, and I apologize to those who were not able to register in time. A large part  of the reason I limit the size is because I...

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We had a great turnout this Saturday at my free talk on photography titled “The Making of a Landscape Photograph”, and I am most grateful for those who attended. The response was overwhelming for those who wanted to attend, and I apologize to those who were not able to register in time. A large part  of the reason I limit the size is because I prefer more intimate settings where there’s more discussion, more opportunities for questions, and just a sense of conversation versus lecturing – kind of the atmosphere on workshops. I am looking into future venues, so stay tuned.

For those that didn’t make it, here are my opening remarks from the talk, together with a few images.  Tomorrow I’ll share some resources and books I had on hand that I’ve relied on for inspiration and education.

What Makes Landscape Photography Different?

Atlantic Dawn, Nova Scotia

In my opinion, landscape photography is one of the hardest disciplines of photography, and the reason is simple. It pushes the limits of creativity, originality, and perseverance. And it demands the most from the photographer personally. You can’t hide behind the camera, or a pretty picture, or a trendy subject. To quote Ansel Adams,

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

Yet the subject is a vehicle for the photographers story, his imagination, his vision. And the best landscape photography demands interaction from the viewer. It asks questions, and often those questions change over time.

There’s an investment that is made when an artist fully commits to his work, and that’s a very scary thing. I’ve been dealing with fear, insecurity, and second guessing all my life. It’s the fear of failure, rejection, and criticism. I’m so used to it that it’s like a friend now, who appears predictably, always on time, and always ready to claim victory.

Rugged Oak, Vermont

But trust is the only way to beat fear, even if the war never ends. Over time you learn that sharing your opinion, your particular way of seeing, and finding that important emotional connection to the subject is all that really matters. It’s the only thing that really feels genuine and worthwhile. Trusting in your conviction, and your desire to do something for its intrinsic value, means the praise of others becomes less important, less likely to influence your approach. Less likely to affect what you tale pictures of.

When executed properly, a photograph is a window into the photographers mind and heart.

If the investment hasn’t been made, it’s about a location, a place, a vista. A postcard.

Now what is this investment? It’s a journey of time, emotion, connection, opinion, and deep retrospection about why that investment matters. What makes it worthwhile. What makes it meaningful.

And meaning is what is severely lacking in much of todays photography, and especially landscape photography.

Stillness, Acadia NP

Why Landscapes?

Any discussion about making images for me starts way before we even talk about cameras, technique, prints, or even vision for that matter. It starts with a questioning of motives, a sense of my place in the grand scheme of things, and what nature means to me.

In nature I find those things that make me a better person. A more generous, loving, kind, person. And if that’s the effect it has on me, than I trust it can have the same effect on others. To me that’s one of the greatest gifts I can give.

Perhaps generosity is at the heart of why I do what I do.

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The point is that I’ve thought deeply about these questions for decades. And I believe they’re essential to anyone who wants to find meaning in their images. This doesn’t need to be a deep metaphysical exercise, though that would certainly enhance the questions and the answers.

But rather a simple understanding of what really matters to you.

From Meaning to Vision

Sharing what matters to you starts with vision. There are many definitions of vision, but for me it’s when what you see becomes something you relate to, something you need to share, a way of seeing that is more than just what’s in front of your eyes.

Vision is what happens when what you see causes something to change in your mind, or better in your heart. When you recognize that change, when you can feel it, then you start to become familiar with vision, what it is, and what it isn’t.

Vision is not seeing a beautiful sunset and feeling warm and fuzzy. That’s just human nature, and we have billions of photographs of sunsets to remind us of that.

Vision is the particular way you see something different in the mundane, the ordinary, the commonplace.

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“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” – Jamie Paolinetti

As always, thanks for reading, and please share your questions or feedback below, your thoughts are always valued.

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Dream Tide, Nova Scotia http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/19/dream-tide-nova-scotia/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/19/dream-tide-nova-scotia/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 16:08:13 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10849 You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger. —John C. Maxwell

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You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger. —John C. Maxwell

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What Matters, and Other Thoughts About Photography http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/18/what-matters-and-other-thoughts-about-photography/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/18/what-matters-and-other-thoughts-about-photography/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 16:54:16 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10841 La Cauma, France / Olympus E-M1, f/11 @1/80 sec, ISO 400, 24mm I’ve spent the last week literally off my feet fighting off the flu. Six days of fever and body aches left me a little sore physically, but the good news is it’s out of my system, and I’m eager to get back out again with the camera! I wanted to share a great...

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La Cauma, France / Olympus E-M1, f/11 @1/80 sec, ISO 400, 24mm

I’ve spent the last week literally off my feet fighting off the flu. Six days of fever and body aches left me a little sore physically, but the good news is it’s out of my system, and I’m eager to get back out again with the camera!

I wanted to share a great post by Michael Reichman from luminous-landscape.com titled “What Matters” that summarizes the current state of the camera industry from a sales perspective – in one word, lousy.

His thoughts echoed many of my own over the past few years, the idea being that the industry has plateaued and buying more gear does not equal better images. I suggest you read the entire article, but in particular here are a few key points quoted directly from the article and worth thinking about:

  • Most cameras are better than most photographers.
  • Most cameras frustrate their owners with too much complexity and unneeded and unused functionality.
  • Most cameras are highly flawed in one way or another, but their users just don’t understand how and why.
  • It doesn’t matter what camera you have if your photography has nothing worthwhile to say.
  • A high quality lens will always trump the sensor when it comes to producing superior image quality.
  • Sensor size and high megapixel count matters little, unless one is making very large exhibition sized prints.

All of these struck a very familiar chord with me not only because I agree, but because I see them play out with students on every workshop I teach, every lecture and talk I give. Most are overly consumed with the mechanical aspects of photography, and while there is a genuine desire to reach beyond that, it seems more elusive and harder to grasp than ever before.

I think these ideas are critically important and I’ll be discussing them at my upcoming talk at the Beahive in Beacon this Saturday. I’ll also continue to write about them and offer ways to get beyond the pixels, and find meaning in your image making.

PS – There’s a huge difference between meaning in images, and meaning in image making. While both are important and offer worthwhile rewards, I think it’s only when you find meaning in your image making that you can tap your true creative potential. Or in other words, it’s the journey, not the destination where progress is made.

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Gura Gear Chobe 19-24L Field Review http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/13/gura-gear-chobe-19-24l-field-review/ http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/03/13/gura-gear-chobe-19-24l-field-review/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 13:15:43 +0000 http://robertrodriguezjr.com/?p=10809 DISCLOSURE- For the record I am a member of the Gura Gear Pro Team, and do receive bags for testing and review. However, I purchased all of my GG bags before my association began, and would happily do so for a future model.This post is not sponsored by GG. I like to keep things up front and honest, and I always suggest use what works best for...

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DISCLOSUREFor the record I am a member of the Gura Gear Pro Team, and do receive bags for testing and review. However, I purchased all of my GG bags before my association began, and would happily do so for a future model.This post is not sponsored by GG. I like to keep things up front and honest, and I always suggest use what works best for you, that’s what matters most.

Intro

One of the things I rely on daily, whether heading to my local coffee shop to write, or flying to a workshop or event, is a good travel bag. In it I carry those extra but important things that help me stay sane or help me get a particular task done. A camera, a moleskine notebook, a MacBook Pro or iPad, my “never leave home without” noise cancelling headphones, maybe even a few 8.5×11 prints – you never know who you’ll run into.

Until recently I used a variety of travel bags, many of which have logged thousands of miles of travel. None has ever passed the “long-term” test for some reason or another, until I started using a Gura Gear Chobe.

Chobe 19-24L

Let me start by saying that I love the Chobe. Period. It’s an over the shoulder travel bag that’s light, comfortable, loaded with cool pockets, and is made of the same black sailcloth material other GG bags use.

But my favorite feature is that it can carry your camera gear in a dedicated insert if you need it, OR the insert can be removed for general laptop/business type use. The size of the bag can be adjusted to match what you carry, and this makes it adapt to your needs. Via a wrap-around zipper, it be expanded from 19 liter capacity to 24 liter capacity – hence the name.

To me that makes it so versatile, whether you want to carry a DLSR with extra lenses, a smaller mirror-less camera with lenses, or just a laptop and notebook. But for the mirror-less users out there, you can fit a complete kit in a bag that looks very inconspicuous and is easy to access, especially when you don’t need a backpack.

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Here’s the bag expanded to 24L via the zipper.

Design and Quality

You can really appreciate the design and quality of this bag where ever you look. Super strong zippers, large and comfortable shoulder strap with heavy duty connectors, and good padding inside. I like lots of pockets, and it has a combination of zippered and open pockets making it easy to get whatever you need without hassle. There’s a also a dedicated laptop pocket with zipper that offers good protection as well.

The camera insert is very flexible, and can be configured for whatever gear you have. While I prefer a backpack for my landscape work, it can be used with a DSLR and lenses. On my recent trip to France, I carried my Olympus E-M1 with 4 prime lenses and accessories without any problems whatsoever. I used a backpack for clothing meaning I didn’t have to check in any bags.

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Shortcomings

I can’t really think of anything I don’t like about the Chobe or where it can be improved. Perhaps a half size insert would be nice for those times I want a minimal setup – camera with one lens. Also on occasion, the shoulder strap gets jammed on the ring attached to the bag, but that may be just the way I’m handling it.

Conclusions

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If you need a travel/business/over the shoulder bag that is designed to carry a camera, take a look at the Chobe. I think its versatility is what sets it apart from others, especially since you can purchase the bag without the insert if you don’t need it or want to save a few bucks. When I’m riding my bike around town with a laptop and camera, I will still probably use a dedicated backpack, but for everything else the Chobe is my first choice.

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