A Professional’s Retrospective: Exploring The Fine Art of Nature

I was talking to someone recently who asked me what kind of photographs I make. I paused for a moment to ponder this basic but critical question, then answered that I specialize in photographing the details of nature. Although I revel in capturing the majestic grand scene when the elements all come together, I prefer focusing on the intimate landscape. Rather than describing the full scene in front of me, I zoom in tightly, attempting to imbue my images with…

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How Photography Inspired Me to Love Science and Preserve the Planet

Science has a way of making heads turn away. The more complex it gets, the more abstract it becomes. And if you’re not constantly putting effort into working out the fine intricacies of it all, you might just get too overwhelmed to commit any interest to it. Science communication has been around for a while, then, trying to work out different ways to bring people closer to scientific issues. Today, we see an impressive production of films, videos, podcasts, lectures…

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Commuting with a Camera

I suspect that a lot of landscape and cityscape photographers, like myself, are not always able to devote the time necessary to wait for atmospheric conditions and astral bodies to be in that “ideal” position for the image you have in mind. Some of the early landscape masters were known to camp out for days waiting for all the variables to line up just so. The realities of needing to make a living and driving to and from work five…

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My Hard-Won Photography Lessons

The old axiom that we should learn from our mistakes is sound, although sometimes those lessons can be a bit on the painful side. As a 15-year-old, freshman high school student in 1960 I was excited to work as a photographer on the school yearbook. Assigned the task of developing a tank of 4×5 inch negatives, I wanted to make sure I got it right – so I set up individual beakers of developer, stop bath, and fixer, pre-measured, to…

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The Importance of Creativity in Photography

In my previous article for Photography Life, I wrote an article about stage photography, where I discussed some of the modus operandi I use to take professional stage photographs. That article was a lot more straightforward, technical, and objective than the one below. That’s because I’m hoping to explore the philosophical, cultural, and spiritual aspects of the creative process. It is less about the technical, and more about the inner journey of photography as an art form.

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Photography as Part of the “Second Act” of Our Lives

I have been interested in photography since I was a teenager. However, as so often happens to all of us, life gets in the way of our interests and passions sometimes. Jobs, mortgages, kids, and family responsibilities become our priority in what I have come to call the “First Act” of our lives. Having successfully raised two children into adulthood and recently retired from our jobs, my wife and I have now entered what I refer to as the “Second…

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In Birdland with No Camouflage

In this article, I will guide you to the world’s largest northern gannet colony. The Bass Rock (that’s Baah-ss, not the 4 string instrument) is a (very) big volcanic basalt rock in Firth of Forth, just off the coast 20 miles from Edinburgh. Quite old, too: 320 million years, give or take.

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Photographing Snow in Paris

Last winter, the weather was really special in Paris. Snow surprised residents on two occasions. It had not snowed so intensely for more than five years. So, it is easy to imagine the excitement with which the city received this event. Hundreds of photographers went out into the streets to capture the moment. Of course, I was among them. In this article, I would like to show you my  selection of the best photos taken those days and to share with you…

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Taking Pictures Outside Your Comfort Zone

After deciding to take my photography a little more seriously about three years ago, I came up with a strategy (a somewhat loose one) for how I might improve. My end goal was to find myself as a photographer and improve my skills along the way. In the back of my mind, I still harbour hopes of turning professional, but for the moment I am content with just spending some of my spare time learning and developing my skills. At…

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Innocence and Emotion: Portrait Photography of Children and Elderly People

Through the years, I have seen hundreds of thousands of moments pass in front of my camera lens. Happy ones, sad ones, gloomy ones, serene ones. Some full of life, as well as others – with nostalgia. Which of those moments have I captured in my images, though? Within this essay, I would like to pay attention to something which has always fascinated me and has made me press the shutter button: taking portraits of small children and elderly people.

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The Practicalities of Not Becoming a Pro Photographer

There is so much antagonism in photography: light versus darkness, DSLR versus mirrorless, geek versus artist, Nikon versus Canon. And yes, soon after getting involved in it, one will inevitably face the ultimate dilemma: professional versus amateur. I got my first DSLR, a Nikon 3100, a good few years ago as a birthday present from my wife. At some point during the process of reading an astronomical number of articles, blogs and reviews, shooting thousands of pictures, buying (and then…

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What Is the Limiting Factor in Your Photography?

Everyone has a limiting factor. Everyone has some reason why they aren’t taking exactly the photos they want, 100% of the time. The best photographers in history didn’t capture a perfect result (or even something good) each time they clicked the shutter, and neither will you. But your ordinary or bad work is perhaps the biggest gold mine of information you have at your disposal, and it would be absurd to overlook it if you’re trying to improve your work…

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Getting Motivated Again After a Newborn

Having a child cannot be described, it can only be experienced. Having a child will bring you joy in ways you never anticipated, but will also test your resilience skills like never before. Having a child will change you physically, and mentally. So what’s the relation with this and Photography Life? Nasim recently posted a Guest Post Contest. As I was going through the Suggestions section, I felt none of these articles would have been useful for me 1.5 years…

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Automation is Coming – How Will it Affect the Developing World?

Automation? Developing world? This is supposed to be a photography blog, not The Economist! I know. I know. Have patience, dear reader, and it will come together soon. And I promise there will be photos. Let me explain: I have a fascination with photographing Pakistan’s working class. I was born and raised there and have a tremendous amount of respect for the resilience, work ethic and ingenuity of the common people. Whenever I visit, I try to capture elements of…

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Photographing the Long-Necked Padaung Ladies

Two ethical issues might obstruct your visit to Kayah State in Myanmar to visit the “long-necked ladies” of the Padaung Tribe. First, you might not wish to visit a country whose army is committing genocide against its Rohingya minority, never mind that you are at the far end of the country from that sadness. But, your tourist dollars are supporting the guides, restaurant owners and their staff, and all the other people who rely on them for their livelihood. And,…

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Taking Winning Shots is Never Incidental

After I had retired, and my wife and I had moved to Kelowna, BC from Montreal I became quite serious about digital photography, a luxury I could never have enjoyed while working. Exploring the beautiful Okanagan Valley while hiking with my wife, Jane and our Golden Retriever became a large part of our new outdoor life. Having been married only a short time, I can remember my wife, who knew I was a committed photographer, once asking me why I…

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Life is More Interesting with BAGS

There’s something about photography that can cause it to become deeply intertwined with our lives. Of course some folks are professional photographers and their image-creating skills, as well as their ability to market those skills, are fundamental contributors to their economic well-being. For many other people who’s livelihood does not depend on earning a living from their images, photography is still an integral part of their lives. The simple fact is that life is far more interesting with BAGS, and…

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Never Stop Seeing

What do you do if you spend weeks planning a photography adventure, and then when the time to experience that adventure arrives, something comes up that spoils all your preparation? Maybe its the weather, maybe its a park closure, or maybe the fall colour was two weeks late. Experiences like these can happen to anyone. And unfortunately, I have seen too many photographers throw up their hands, stow their camera, and abandon all that they had planned just because things…

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The Benefits of Revisiting Older Photographs

I must confess that I very seldom go back through my older photographs unless I’m focused on a project that specifically requires me to do so. That’s been the case lately as I’ve been working on a number of eBook projects. What I’ve discovered is that there certainly are benefits when making the time to revisit old photos, and it is something that I will be doing on a much more regular basis.

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