It will be a very special event, and I’m honored to be one of the speakers, along with an all-star crew of instructors. Here’s how the symposium organizers describe it:
“Jack Graham and Bill Fortney invite you to join them for a memorable experience in the Saguaro National Park and Tucson area. Their immense experience throughout the photographic industry, leading workshops and helping people “see” more creatively, all go in to creating this amazing symposium.”
Here are the details:
WHO: You, Me, and some of the best photography instructors in the industry WHEN: Next October 30, through November 3rd, 2023 WHERE: The Saguaro National Park area HOW: For more info or to reserve your spot (space is limited), click this link
There will be incredible shooting and learning opportunities, so mark your calendars now and I hope you can join us out West – it will be (wait for it…wait for it…) epic!
OK, it’s Monday – a week with lots of fresh opportunities – let’s make the most of it! :)
I had a moment Monday morning at the B&H Photo OPTICWEST Conference that will stick with me for a long time. At 6 AM, we pulled out of Monterey harbor before dawn on one of two huge whale-watching boats – each packed with hundreds of photographers, chartered by B&H Photo for the conference attendees. I was on the smaller two-deck boat – but it still had around 150 photographers on it, along with reps and loaner gear from Sigma and Sony (Canon and Nikon were over on the “big boat”). I was asked to be kind of an informal Cruise Director on the smaller boat (I shared cruise director duties with the awesome David Brommer on a cruise around Manhattan at the New York City OPTIC conference, so I was a seasoned tourboat sidekick.
You probably already know I am not a nature photographer or a whale expert. The only whale watches I had been on previously were pretty much a bust (they claimed there was actually a whale out there somewhere, way off in the distance, but it was probably a sea lion or some driftwood). But on this whale watch, not only did we see lots and lots of whales, it was “whale soup” out there. We had lots of shooting opportunities, and even some “Friendlies” – whales that would come right up alongside the boat while our engines were off – they were literally six feet away. They were so close you could pet them, as long as you didn’t mind falling in the sea and never being seen again. Anyway, they were right there, and photographers who only brought their 400mm lenses groaned at the missed opportunity because the whales were actually too close to get a shot, so out came everyone’s iPhones.
Luckily I was not alone on this whale-watching hosting journey – I shared mic duties with a really nice nature guide named Jacob, who worked on the boat, knew the waters, knew whales,and (bonus) he was a photographer with some great whale shots himself. So, all I had to do was fill in the dead air between him announcing, “Three whales at one o’clock!” over the mic, and then he would hand me the mic. At that point, I would say something silly, like “For those unfamiliar with nautical boating terms, the front of the boat is referred to as the “Frontus.” So, you can see I did a whale of a job (That bad pun should give you some indication of how little I brought to the party).
I did bring my camera, though, and I had a great view from up top with Captain Bill (super nice guy) and Jacob, “the whale guy,” and I got an okay shot or two, but I wasn’t really there to shoot – I was there to bring those crucial insights I usually save for the chapter intros of my books (stop snickering).
What this story is really about
So, Jacob spots a small group of whales 200 yards out in front of us (a group of whales swimming together is called a “Cankle.”). Anyway, we start heading that way, and I’m out in front of the wheelhouse all by myself, and whales are diving in front of us, and the sky was amazing, and it was gorgeous brisk morning, and I was just taking it all in, and suddenly tears started streaming down my face.
It wasn’t the whales, and it was. It was all of it. The nature, the moments, how kind and gracious Captain Bill and Jacob were to me, who was clearly a fish out of water (no pun intended) on this whale watch. What I was, was overwhelmed. I was just so grateful that I was there. There in charming Monterey, on this beautiful morning, seeing these amazing creatures God made, up close like this. I couldn’t believe I was getting to do this – any of it. I was so grateful that B&H had chartered these boats for us; that they asked me to be a cruise director on one of them that morning, and that they asked me to teach at the conference in the first place. I hadn’t been in California since the January before COVID hit, and yet here I was – on the front deck of a whale watch boat, crashing through the waves, tears in my eyes and my heart exploding with joy.
This conference – all of it – had been a blessing. I saw the most amazing wildlife images I’ve ever seen during Frans Lanting’s wonderful keynote speech, and I think seeing his work had an effect on me, too. His heart for animals and nature is a joy to behold, and his talent as a photographer is extraordinary.
I guess this post is really about gratitude and perhaps a new appreciation for being out in nature and seeing it up close, or even experiencing it through photographs. As amazing as this past week’s experience has been, I’m thankful to now be on a flight back home to be with my wonderful family – the greatest gift God’s given me and the one I’m most grateful for.
Here’s wishing you a weekend full of gratitude, joy, and maybe even a win for the Buccaneers (Hey, it could happen). :)
Diversifying Your Education with Erik Kuna, Skip Cohen, Dave DeBaeremaeker | The Grid Ep. 534
This week on The Grid, join Erik Kuna and special guests Skip Cohen and Dave DeBaeremaeker as they discuss photography education!
New KelbyOne Course: The Complete Guide to Fall Photography with Karen Hutton
What is fall color to you? Join Karen Hutton in the Eastern Sierra Mountains as she chases fall color while exploring what fall means and how to tell its story. From planning and preparation to shooting on location, Karen shares her thoughts, process, and techniques while challenging you to find ways to put yourself into your art, explore the relationships between your subject matter, and follow what you love.
Two of my favorite concepts in all of art and Life itself.
Oh, also pithy. I freakin’ love that word. It means: “a language or style that is concise and forcefully expressive.” Yeah, pithy is cool. And fun to say!
Scott Kelby… thank you for providing a place for all three of my favorite things to thrive in uncountable ways. And I don’t just mean for me – I mean for everyone who loves photography and learning. You are indeed a force of nature for Good.
BTW… I still get such positive comments about this episode of “The Chat” (a show I self-produced a few years ago, just for fun), from all the way back in 2014, I wanted to re-share it here. It was a revelation…
Which brings us in perfect full-circle manner back to Love and Awe; two of the most powerful creative forces in the universe.
Photography is Love Made Visible
That’s a statement, isn’t it? I could also say that “Art” is love made visible. Or creativity, period – if it results in something that is actually visible.
In my opinion, if you want to take a beautiful, defining image that speaks from your soul, you have to fall in love with it. Madly, truly, deeply in love.
A picture is a poem without words. -Horace
People sometimes think I’m a little “woo-woo” about all this. They (mistakenly) think I don’t focus on the technical aspects of photography.
At a certain point in my life, I got busy and focused so MUCH on the technical aspects of my photography that it simply doesn’t lead the show anymore. Sufficiently internalized, technique becomes like muscle memory in photography, just as it does in sports. It’s just there, like a car with a full tank of gas, engine humming, waiting to see where to next. Which, in turn, frees you to focus upon the feeling, vision or the message of your art. I call it: Technique in Service of Vision.
Of course, if a new technique were to present itself that I really wanted to master, then I’d get busy! I’d practice it, repeat it, over and over, till it was embedded into my nervous system, so that I could speak fluently in its language without thinking about it. Only then could I spontaneously create with it.
Mastering technique so you can go do cool stuff with it was basic to every sport and artistic discipline I’ve done to a high level, whether it was acting, singing, figure skating, equestrian sports, downhill skiing, voiceovers. I’m a great believer in “technique will set you free” in most disciplines. But only if it’s set into its proper place; which is “in service of” performing said discipline in a signature fashion – and not as an end unto itself.
It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here, this week from Scotland! I’m currently testing my van, Kofifernweh, to make sure everything is ship-shape ahead of my winter trip to the Arctic coming next month. This trip to Scotland is primarily for the purpose of van testing and second to that comes adventurizing!
This week I want to touch on a drone photography subject but one that can relate to what I suppose is called ‘terrestrial’ photography. Social media and the use of our smartphones has meant a lot more photos are best viewed in portrait orientation than before. When we shoot this way intentionally it’s important to bear in mind all the usual rules of composition, especially when we’re shooting with drones. Take this example:
This three-shot vertical panorama includes the mountain and forest draped with clouds in the background, the majority section of the forest as the middle-ground, and the twisting road in the foreground. This gives our image layers and depth as well as giving it interest. It’s far too easy to let some of these elements go when we shoot a vertical panorama (which we should definitely try doing!) and especially so when shooting from a drone where it’s easy to fall foul of the plane window effect.
The plane window effect is the name I’ve given to a condition that befalls a lot of us when we shoot with a drone. We often forget some photographic principles, merely playing with the drone and being impressed with this birds-eye perspective. Consider everything you already know about photography when flying a drone and try to be more intentional about it.
Shooting top-down drone shots is a perfect example of having to think harder. We have to rely on color, texture, patterns and composition to make up for the lack of sky and the often-repetitive elements in the scene.
Try vertical panoramas to make your social media photos pack more punch!
Capturing Action with Mirrorless Cameras with Erik Kuna & Jason Ralph Stevens | The Grid Ep. 533
Ever wonder what it takes to capture that pivotal moment with a mirrorless camera? Erik Kuna and Jason Ralph Stevens have you covered on the latest episode of The Grid! They discuss their experiences with using mirrorless cameras, the stories behind their photos, and even share some settings that will help you in your quest for that next amazing image.
New KelbyOne Course – Our Treasured Lands: Bringing Home the Memories with Moose Peterson
We are incredibly fortunate to have some amazing national treasures all across the land. Some like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon are well known. Others like the Redwoods, Badlands and others are not so well known. Let’s take a photographic journey through these lands with Moose Peterson and talk about planning, best times, best locations, hidden treasures and making the iconic shots so we can bring home the memories and share them!