Waiting for the Light

Nature and landscape photography are not for everyone. It takes perseverance to find a good location and a great deal of patience to wait until the light is just right. I find that on almost every outing I’ll waste 20% to 30% of my shots taken way too early in the evening before the light has that golden warmth to it.

If you’re anything like me, you want to setup as quickly as possible and start shooting that wonderful location or subject you’ve driven so far to find. Patience you see, does not come naturally to most of us and learning to wait is just not in my Irish nature. But I’m learning and these days I’ll usually pack a light-weight folding chair and a good paperback so that I can sit comfortably while waiting for the light.

Sunsets take time. They begin with a little warmth and glow and slowly evolve into deeply saturated reds, yellows and blues. After 30 – 40 minutes more they deepen to ambers, indigos and violets and sometimes when the atmosphere is just right they sky may begin to glow a rich, deep purple before turning to true black.

So the next time you’re out looking for some great sunset shots, remember to be patient. Take one or two shots every tens minutes or so and plan to stay put for at least two hours. Let nature take it’s course and enjoy the wonderful show. Life is too short!

Late Afternoon Overlook

Late Afternoon Overlook – Kingsland, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 40D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/13 for 1/8th of a second at ISO 100 on Sandisk digital film. Post capture processing was done entirely in Lightroom 2.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

It’s That Dry

Not to harp on a subject too frequently, but yes, it’s that dry here in Texas at the moment. Please send rain!

It's That Dry

Dry – Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/14 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

One Enchanted Evening…

One Enchanted Evening

One Enchanted Evening – Llano, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 21mm, f/16 for 1/13th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter and 2 stop, soft graduated neutral density filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Please Send Rain…

We’re still 24″ behind in our rainfall this year and the landscape certainly shows it. If y’all have any influence up North, please tell them to send us some rainfall this winter. I love the desert but not across the entire state…

Sandy Creek

Sandy Creek – Llano, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 35mm, f/9 for 1/400th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Beware the Trolls

Winter Wheat

Winter Wheat – Fayettville, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using a TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/16 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Much of my commercial work comes to me through word-of-mouth advertising and referrals, not through this blog, my Flickr stream or through my incoherent “twitterings”. I’m from the generation where “face-to-face” customer meetings often lead to “handshake” agreements and business was done more with “personal” contact and less telephone, email, text messages, blog postings and twitter feeds. My business clients often became my friends and my friends often told their friends about my business.

I’m from a time when my “competition” was also my friend or at least a respected acquaintance and when a client needed a photographic service I couldn’t provide (senior portraits, weddings, etc.) I would refer them to my competition. It was in many ways, a much simpler time just a few short decades ago.

Oddly enough, much of my landscape and nature photography business comes to me through the Internet from Google, Flickr and Twitter referrals. Social media plays an ever more important role in “marketing” my favorite works taken around the beautiful state of Texas these days. Potential clients seem to “find me” more often than not by referrals from search engines like Google and Bing. There are days when one of my images hits Flickr’s front page and I’ll see my blog hits triple and my emails quadruple from their normally sedate rhythm.

On average, I get five to ten emails a week from folks “trolling” for landscape and nature images on Flickr. Some are from legitimate prospects like the small agency from DC that purchased five licenses last week (many thanks folks) and some are from regional NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) seeking artwork for their projects but most are from “trolls”.

Trolls are those individuals and companies (both large and small) that search the Internet looking for inexpensive or “free” images to use for their advertising, decorating, marketing or sales promotions. Trolls often pose as legitimate prospects “with really tight budgets” hoping to find inexpensive images posted on a blog or on Flickr from amateur photographers that don’t understand the value of their work. The troll’s goal is to “con” the naive amateur photographer into selling his or her images outright for a measly $50 rather than licensing them as is the standard in our business today.

Tips for Spotting a “Troll”

  • The person contacts you via Flickr asking to “buy” an image rather than asking to “license” an image. Legitimate art directors and agencies don’t “buy” prints like consumers do, they license an image for an intended purpose.
  • The person asks you to email a “high resolution proof” (300 dpi) rather than a normal (72 dpi) proof. Legitimate art directors and agencies never ask for high resolution images until payment is received. They will also have very specific requirements for the final image format (JPEG or TIFF), resolution (240 dpi ~ 300 dpi) and color space (sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB or CMYK).
  • The person asks you to supply the “raw” image file along with or in place of the final output. This is the biggest “tell” in the troll’s con game. No legitimate art director or ad agency would ever ask for a raw file.
  • The person contacts you saying “they’re looking at several other photographers work” including your own and that your “price” has to be competitive. This is pure bull hockey. By the time a legitimate art director or agency has tracked you down, they know exactly what images they need and what their budget can afford.
  • The person flatters you and your work unnecessarily. Most legitimate art directors and ad agencies look through thousands of beautiful images each week and after a while they become jaded to all but the very best. Remember, there is only one Joe McNally and you ain’t him.
  • The person offers you less than $200 for each image. I don’t care what state you live in or what the current economic conditions are. No self respecting art director or ad agency would “expect” a professional photographer to “license” an image for ANY commercial use for less than $200.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
Dealing with the “trolls” is a part of the photography business today, whether you’re a serious amateur or seasoned professional. Learning to tell the difference between a legitimate prospect and a troll is a skill every photographer must develop and hone.

I’ve walked away from dozens of bad deals in this business by respecting my “value” as a photographer and the value provided by my peers. When well-intentioned amateurs unknowingly “give away the farm” to these trolls, they gain a few quick bucks but damage the entire market.

If your photographic work is good enough to attract the “trolls”, it’s probably good enough to license properly for a reasonable fee. Remember that fact, the next time you receive an email telling you how great your Flickr photos are and asking to “buy” them for $25. The job you save may be my own!

Grapevine Hills Trail – Big Bend National Park, Texas

Grapevine Hills Trail

Grapevine Hills Trail – Big Bend National Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/11 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Product Shots

Here are a few simple product shots I’ve been working on for an article on custom firearms. This is a highly customized “1911″ pistol built from an inexpensive Kimber firearm for competitive shooting. Building this “race gun” was almost as much fun as setting up the lighting and props for these product shots.

For those of you unfamiliar with the 1911 semi-automatic pistol, this gun’s design dates back to the late 1890′s and early 1900′s. It was invented by one of the world’s most famous gunsmiths, John Moses Browning. The M1911 was introduced for the US military before World War I and has seen continuous use around the world for the past 100 years.

Kimber Competition 1911

Kimber Competition Gun - RightAngle

Kimber Competition Gun - Magwell

Kimber Competition Gun - Left Angle

Kimber Competition Gun - Rear

Kimber Competition Gun - Details

Kimber Competition 1911

Custom 1911 Build Product Shots – Sugar Land, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual using an EF 24-105m f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. Lighting was provided by natural light through a 1-stop diffuser and with a single 580EX II with a soft-box for fill and highlight. Post capture processing was done n Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Click on the images above for larger versions.

Using a Tilt & Shift Lens for Distortion Correction

Tilt & Shift LensIn a post last year I discussed using Tom Neimann’s PTLens program to correct for barrel, pincushion and perspective distortions in your architectural images. Tom’s program and Photoshop plug-in filter are nothing lens than amazing at correcting distortions that are easy to overlook with the naked eye. For most of us, using PTLens is definitely the way to go.

There is another way to correct for perspective distortions however, using a “Tilt & Shift” lens such as Canon’s brand new TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II. Since I’m a newbie at using a Tilt & Shift lens I’ll leave the complete explanation and demonstration of this unique lens’ features to Bryan Carnathan at The-Digital-Picture.com. Bryan does a much better job of explaining the technical aspects of this unique lens than I ever could.

Goliad CourthouseI was fortunate enough to be able to try out this lens last year during a shoot in Goliad, Texas. I started by setting up my tripod and taking a few quick shots of Goliad’s historic courthouse using my EF 24-105mm zoom at 28mm.

As you can see in this image, the top of the courthouse seems to lean away from you and the vertical lines tend to converge. This is typical perspective distortion caused by the wide-angle lens being tilted up to capture the entire building in the frame.

Correcting this using a Tilt & Shift lens is very simple. You first level your camera on the tripod (which cuts off the top of the building in the frame) and then simply turn the shift knob until the building “shifts” down and into the frame as shown in the final image below. I finished this image very simply using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro plug-in filter. I find that most architectural images look best in black & white.

Goliad Courthouse

Historic Courthouse in Goliad, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/16 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro filter. Click on the image above for a larger version.