Archive for Samburu

Photo Editing

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2015 by chamimage
3 day old Elephant Baby

3 day old Elephant Baby

I had a recent epiphany about photo editing. In the past I have spent a lot of my time editing old folders of images that I felt guilty about not having finished with editing all of the images. The problem with that is that I have already gleaned the family jewels images from those folders so I am spending a lot of my time editing and Photoshopping my second best images.

Samburu Elephants

Samburu Elephants

That thought occurred to me as I looked at my Google Analytics one day and confirmed that Guanajuato, Mexico at night was still my most viewed image on my web site again for another week, as it has been for much of the past year. I don’t know why. But the point is that I also realized I had many more images of Guanajuato that I had never optimized.  Guilt be damned! I worked on Guanajuato images.

So now I let the fickle winds of supply and demand determine which images I will be editing, not guilt about old un-edited images. I check Google Analytics and my stock sites to see what images are being viewed, both my own site and in general. Today it was Australia, France, and elephants. I have elephants, so I’m working on elephants.

Elephant and Crocodile

Elephant and Crocodile

Being an elephant means you don’t have to bother about no stinkin’ crocodile.

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World Elephant Day

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2013 by chamimage
African Elephants

African Elephants

Happy World Elephant Day! These guys are crossing the Ewaso N’giro River in Samburu in northern Kenya. Yes, there are crocodiles in the river and no, they don’t care.

I like the Samburu elephants the best. The iron in the soil gives them the reddish pigment. They do interesting things, like predictably go to the river every afternoon. They travel in columns.

Not that elephants aren’t cool wherever you find them, but out on the savanna of the Serengeti they are just kind of there, in the middle of nowhere, eating.

Unfortunately, there is a good chance wild elephants will become extinct in my lifetime. Too much human encroachment and conflict and too much poaching to supply China with its insatiable appetite for ivory trinkets. Doesn’t seem worth it? To make elephants extinct just so China can carve ivory doo-dads? I don’t get it, either. But it’s a fact and it isn’t going away, in fact it’s getting worse.

There is too much money involved and too much government corruption throughout Africa to stop it.  Nobody with an equal amount of money from other countries has come forward to disincentivize the poaching yet. As with most of our problems, there is enough money and resources, just not the philanthropic and  political will. If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and Ted Turner suddenly developed a fondness for elephants there would probably be trained militias armed to the teeth out there protecting them.

In fact the very arms and helicopters provided by the United States to combat rebel militias in Africa have been used to shoot elephants for extra money for the soldiers involved. Too much money involved. Rangers were confused at repeatedly finding elephants shot through the top of their head and no human tracks coming or going. Then they caught one of the military helicopters in the reserve where it wasn’t supposed to be and the light bulb came on. The United States position is that it didn’t happen. Any of the multiple times it did.

So take a moment today to appreciate wild elephants today.

 

Prints

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2013 by chamimage
Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey

Up until now I have not had a good way to sell prints of my photographs other than the local gallery. I have a stock photography site that is headquartered in England so they are no help. I didn’t like the structure of 500px for selling prints.

I have decided to give Fine Art America a try, mainly because I know a couple of photographers that are using it. I haven’t really researched SmugMug as an option, but I may develop a portfolio site on Squarespace some day and they integrate with SmugMug.

For now give the new site a look and see what you think at http://thomas-chamberlin.artistwebsites.com/. I like that there are lots of options for canvas, metal or framed, as well as gift cards. I will keep you posted on how it works out.

I am excited that my images on Getty should be freed up to put on the new site in the next few weeks so there will be a sudden surge in quantity of images when that happens.

Red-eyed TGree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

Emotion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by chamimage
African Elephant with Calf

African Elephant with Calf

I’ve been struggling with emotions lately. No, not my emotions. The emotional impact of images. Specifically, naming the emotion that an image conjures.

I know it when an image moves me emotionally, I’m just not good at naming what emotion has been stirred. I have a feeling women are better at this. I’ve heard that women have way more words to describe shades of tan color than men do. I’ve also read that women speak way more words per day than men do. They have isolated a brain protein they think is responsible. It was probably not good to be a chatty male hunter in days of old. You either starved from scaring all of the game away, or attracted predators. Selected those guys right out.

The reason this has come up is that I have been working with a new stock agency that works on an image request basis rather than a catalog of images in a database (definitely the wave of the future IMHO), and they have advertising people and book publishers requesting images based on an emotion. The image above was submitted for the request for an image showing guidance or a helping hand, depicted with large versus small animals or plants or whatever.

Canadian Rocky Mountains

Canadian Rocky Mountains

Now, if you ask me for a photo of a mule deer standing in front of a western United States mountain range I’m all over it. Actually, when the requests are that specific it has been surprising to me that an image I thought I certainly would have – I don’t have. Just when you think you have all the deer images you will ever need in a lifetime, you don’t have the one you need.

I was stumped when asked for a landscape image with a sky that depicted support and reliability. What the heck kind of sky would that be? I live in Oregon. The sky is never reliable here.

Ny-Alysund, Spitsbergen

Ny-Alysund, Spitsbergen

Book publishers are always asking for gloomy shots. There are a lot of mysteries and they always want a cover depicting danger or foreboding. I submitted this one for a mystery that occurred in Sweden.  They wanted a stark, desolate rural landscape. No neighbors to rescue the poor soul, I guess.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get good at this emotions thing. The supportive and reliable sky is the only one that has completely stumped me so far. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do better with images that make people want to go to Italy and try not to be so clueless about the others.

 

My Best of 2012

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by chamimage
Lake Louise Boat House

Lake Louise Boat House

2012 was a rather odd year, but a good one, altogether. I think I am making more images that I consider to be good and I am growing, photography-wise. Here-in are some of the highlights of 2012 for me.

My Favorite Image of 2012 – The Lake Louise image above wins by a nose for me. It will go into the gallery in 2013.

Maasai Herding Cattle

Maasai Herding Cattle

Most Views on Flickr – I don’t even try to figure out what gets viewed on Flickr any more. The best images have few views and odd stuff gets tons of views. It is sort of whether you tap into a special interest of some kind. The second most views are of an old mediocre image of a wild horse. Horse images get a lot of views. I have no idea who looks at Maasai tribesmen herding cattle, but somebody out there looks at them a lot.

Samburu Chief's Hut

Samburu Chief’s Hut

Most Views on PhotoDeck – My own stock photography site is equally enigmatic. This image above gets the most views for a single image, but as for the most viewed subject, it would be two photos of blue lights in trees approaching the London Eye in London.

Sundial

Sundial

Best Selling Image of 2012 – The sundial wins in terms of stock photography sales. A tree frog wins for amount of profit from gallery sales.

Best New Software – Photoshop CS6 upgrade. I really don’t know how anyone can live without it. I upgraded Lightroom as well, but to be honest, if Bridge was faster and sharper I’d leave Lightroom in a second. It’s inefficiencies astound me, mostly because everything it does poorly is done better in Bridge, which is free with Photoshop. It’s hard to believe the same company makes both. They obviously don’t talk to each other.

Most Used Lens/Favorite Lens – This year it is the same lens for both, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR I. Usually the 600 mm is the most used lens, but this year I couldn’t afford to go to Africa or Yellowstone so shot more landscapes. Still haven’t upgraded to the VR II version because I like the one I have. Back in 2000 my trusty Nikon 80-200 lens was stolen and I replaced it with the latest version and hated the new lens. I learned my lesson about replacing a great lens just because there is a newer version out there.

Biggest Surprise – I had my first two gallery openings in 2012. And actually sold a few prints. Equally surprising was that the Oregon State football team, which was 3-9 last season, beat Wisconsin in our opener and went on to finish 9-3 this year.

Best Trip of 2012 – I have to say the Redwoods trip in May because I got two great gallery prints from that trip despite the sunny weather (you need fog and clouds for good forest photographs). I had more fun on the trip to Banff last fall. If it’s snowing, I must be on vacation.

Best Popular Book – The Hunger Games. It was a long year of starting books and setting them down out of boredom. And even though the first Hunger Games book was a page turner, the second book was unimpressive and the third book is sitting around half finished and haven’t picked it up in a week now so it obviously hasn’t gripped me. I only started it because the second book ended rather abruptly and I wanted to at least finish what should have been finished in the second book. Seems like there are no editors out there encouraging authors to cut the boring bits out these days (as in the entire first 300 pages of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Best Photography Book – I read quite a few photography books and wasn’t wow’ed by any of them. Art & Fear was the best of the lot, though it is about art in general, not photography. The Will of the Land wasn’t a photography book, but was written by a photographer and had the best photographs of any of them.

Biggest Blunder of 2012 – Again, so much to choose from this year. In Banff I spent the first couple of days realizing why you shouldn’t not pick up a camera for a long spell. I made every beginner mistake there was to be made. But, the biggest blunder was getting giardia somewhere in Olympic National Park in Washington in July. I didn’t drink out of any rivers or creeks so I think the filter system in a back country lodge must have been inadequate. It made for an interesting couple of months afterward before I finally relented and saw my doctor who nailed the diagnosis right away. Of course, it is self-limiting – about two months for it to run its course. Go figure.

Stuff I Really, Really NEED in 2013 – My needs are small. A pittance, really. 1.) A second tripod so I don’t have to constantly switch from ball head to Wimberley head. I have a little Giotto ball head on a bracket that I can put on the Wimberley head, but it is not ideal. 2.) Wacom Intuos 5 tablet. I have an Intuos 3 tablet and use it all of the time, but it doesn’t have the pen pressure sensitivity of the newer tablet. 3.) Nikon D600. I still need to sell my D300 and I have a D3 for a backup camera body to my D4, but for a lighter travel camera body I might need a D600 if I can swing a trip to Europe this year.

Frolicking Bull Elk

Frolicking Bull Elk

Warmest Memory of 2012 – When this bull elk  suddenly quit grazing and ran across the road I thought something had scared it. I carried my tripod through a ribbon of trees and on the other side was a meadow and this loony bull frolicking about like a calf. What a goofball! He was throwing his head around and changing directions just like a calf playing. I had no idea bulls did that, too. That’s my story, but an alternative less optimistic,  explanation is that maybe he got a bot fly up his nose, because I’ve seen a caribou do this when he got a bot fly up his nose.

 

Changes

Posted in Philosophy and Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2012 by chamimage

Rialto Beach

I blogged about this photograph earlier and how it surprised me because it didn’t seem like great light when I shot it, but I made an HDR and it turned out kind of nice. Nice enough to earn second place at the Oregon State Fair, it turns out.

The theme this week seems to be changes in photography. Specifically, does previous experience with shooting film, working in the darkroom, or even old Photoshop skills have any advantage?

I actually think learning to shoot in the film era was easier. Things weren’t changing so fast. New films came out. That was about it. Cameras were like rocks and auto-exposure was about the only new advance in ages. Even then, most camera instructors were decidedly in favor of using manual exposure. I used manual exposure mode exclusively in my film camera days. We did have to learn how to get a proper exposure then. Now, the very instructor that taught millions who read his books how to get a proper exposure by assessing the tonality of the scene tells people to “take a shot, look at the histogram, adjust.”

Now we have digital, and with it comes auto everything. A good digital camera makes getting a decent photo so easy that wedding photographers are complaining that laid off workers are making some extra money shooting weddings on the cheap and affecting their business. It doesn’t help that couples are marrying much later in life so are paying for their own weddings and wedding photographers and are less inclined to go for the expense of quality that their parents may have chosen.

With HDR and the latest software, even having great lighting is not as important, though strongly preferred. I recently listened to a wedding photographer say that he doesn’t waste a lot of time trying to get his lighting perfect now. It’s faster to fix it in Lightroom with the Fill slider and time is money when you shoot 800 frames on a weekend and have to get 150 of them processed for the client before the next wedding.

Samburu Warrior

The above image was made in deep shade with a bright bright background. Lightroom 4 is now good enough to tone down the bright background and bring up the shadow detail without artifacts. Bad lighting just isn’t the shot killer that it used to be. This was a moment that wasn’t going to wait for better light.

Last night I watched a discussion about dark room versus Lightroom. The contention was that having darkroom experience was of no value. I wouldn’t go that far. I think it taught killer editing skills. You were going to devote a lot of time into making a print in the darkroom, it had better be worthwhile. Now it is pretty easy to fine tune an image in Lightroom and post it so there is a lot of weaker work getting displayed. Darkroom does not prepare you to push sliders in Lightroom, but it prepares you to better decide what images deserve to be processed. There was a lot of argument about whether darkroom experience helped one to recognize what areas of an image need worked on and what needed to be done to them. I think experience is experience in that regard.

I think color darkroom work taught me how to recognize a color shift. You had to print little test strips and figure out which colors to tweak and how much. It was laborious and good riddance. Not to mention that now days you’d have to call the Hazmat team to get rid of the chemicals we used in those days.

Lightroom 4 and plug-ins like Nik, Topaz and OnOne filters have been game changers. They are getting to the point where Photoshop is not used as much or in the same way any longer.

Scott Kelby left the chapter on how to use a Curves adjustment layer out of his Photoshop CS6 book because the contrast slider in Lightroom 4 and Camera RAW 7 is now good enough to replace it. I still use a contrast layer right after I’ve added Tonal Contrast or whatever else I do in Nik Color Efex Pro. It adds a different kind of contrast. Curves doesn’t have to be the intimidating thing to learn that it was in the past. I hit the draw down menu and click on Linear Contrast. Then I usually lower the opacity to 50% for images that were processed with CEP4. It adds just a little je ne sais quoi. It is not THE way to add contrast any longer.

The point was made that Lightroom 4’s noise filter was all anyone needed so plug-in noise reduction is unnecessary. I still prefer to use Nik Define for two reasons. I like the results better and I always mask it in Photoshop. The lighter areas of the main subject like a face, eyes get 0-50% opacity, the sky and dark areas get 100%. You could try to do that in Lightroom with the adjustment brush, but it would be harder, take longer, and not look as good.

Things are changing faster and faster and the changes are making it faster and easier to get a great looking image so we ought to embrace them. The Buddhist philosophy is that change is going to happen whether you like it or not so you may as well embrace it or you will just become bitter and unhappy.

I think the one thing that hasn’t changed is that the old artists think their experience is invaluable and the younger artists think it is time to do things differently so experience is worthless. Then they age and become the old artists.

Samburu Boy

 

Inspiration

Posted in Philosophy and Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by chamimage

Burchell’s Zebra

I get inspired by various things through a typical week. Last week I was inspired by this article on the PDN Newswire about Florian Shulz. Florian is a German photographer that tackles big projects. His books have included Yellowstone to Yukon and Baha to Beaufort Sea. His latest is To the Arctic.

This kind of inclusive photography takes a lot of planning and a lot of financial backing because it takes months to years.

I was inspired by a couple of quotes in the article. Florian went to college because he was counseled that his dream of being a wildlife photographer was too risky, It was just too hard to make a living. After college he had to decide what to do and decided, “I’m not going to live a life based on fear that I’m not going to be successful at something.”

I remember hearing all of those people telling me that medical school would be too hard and take too long. Sometimes it doesn’t matter. Some people like a challenge. Why else would anyone volunteer to become a Navy Seal?

The other thing Florian said that got my attention was that rather than think of wildlife photography as his career, he told himself, “This is my life.” It is a lucky person that gets to live his passion and make it into a career.

Vervet Monkey_Samburu

This all got me thinking about who inspires me. I broke it down into mentors, contemporaries, and peers.

Mentors are those that are successful and who taught me the basics. John Shaw, George Lepp, and Galen Rowell come immediately to mind. Kind of dates me, but there it is.

Peers are those I go shooting with, who I share an image or a laugh on Google + or Flickr, or Facebook. If you like photography and you aren’t on Google + you ought to be. It is the single best place to have a conversation with and be inspired other photographers. Facebook is sooo 2009. This week we talked about Piper McKay’s persistent focusing problems with her old Canon bodies and whether she should give up and switch to Nikon rather than risk upgrading to a newer generation Canon. (Of course I think she should switch to Nikon, but not because I think Nikon will be any more willing to replace a lemon camera body). Vincent Versace (a mentor, not really a peer) asked whether a work is art when it is created, or does it become art according to the viewer’s opinion? Karen Hutton went to Florence, Italy and shared photos that took me back to that gorgeous city.

Contemporaries is what I decided to call people that I have been following on Flickr for a long time and I have watched their growth and their ultimate success. I’ve watched Miss Aniela (warning: nude content) go from a college student doing self-portaiture to a conceptual artist with books and workshops. I’ve watched Hennie Van Heerden get recognized for her incredible wildlife photography with a Japanese Canon commercial and a book and workshops.

Samburu Woman

The internet has opened up so many ways to get inspired, especially the social media sites where you can discover photographers you would never have otherwise known existed. It seems like I discover somebody new every day. I think possibly the best way to get a daily dose of photographic inspiration is to go to PhotoExtract on Facebook and Like it. There you will get to view about ten of the best photographs posted on Google + on any given day. Prepare to be awed.

Lioness with Gerenuk Calf