Photography Outlook for 2015

With the new year just around the corner what is the photography outlook for 2015 ? Will this be a better year for photographers? What can we expect in terms of technology? Lots of questions to be answered! I will share with you some rumors floating around the web along with some predictions that I have. First lets start off by spreading some rumors. The megapixel war is back in full force. It died down for a little while but once Sony and Nikon (using Sony's sensor) released the 36 megapixel sensors in their lineup, it appears Canon is ready to take it a step further. Rumors have it Canon will be releasing a 52 Megapixel camera in 2015. It's also rumored that Sony and Nikon (using the Sony designed sensor) will release 46 megapixel cameras. With this kind of resolution it's creeping in on medium format photography. What is the future of medium format photography? Will Canon or Nikon enter this realm? Will the new high megapixel cameras put companies like Hasselblad and Phase One out of business? Medium format cameras are super expensive, upwards of 40-50k. If Canon and Nikon can produce similar image resolution in cameras that cost three to four thousand, I see why that would hurt the medium format companies. Time will tell, but I predict medium format will slowly die off. Maybe even Canon or Nikon buying the aforementioned companies.

Technology keeps improving at a rapid rate. New high end lenses being released are close to flawless due to new coatings and lens elements. In my opinion starting with the release of the 70-200 2.8 IS II, Canon is making the best lenses that photographers have ever seen. I own several of the newer lenses and have been very impressed with the results. I still have a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens on pre-order that is getting rave reviews. With the high quality glass Canon is producing, this reason alone is why I have stuck with Canon despite the great performance of Nikon and Sony sensors. Cameras are getting faster and better at high ISO. 10 fps on a sub $2000 camera is a new normal, and the rumored megapixel war will make the newer cameras capable of even more. Mirrorless is getting better, but in my opinion it's not ready to take over the DSLR market. Will this happen in 2015? It's possible, but I predict DSLRs will still be on top at the end of the year. I think it will remain on top until Nikon and Canon fully commit to the format.

As far as photography, it continues to evolve. Drones have made aerial photography easier for everyone. The FAA is trying to catch up with technology and when it does I believe licensed drone pilots will be in high demand. It's another avenue for photographers to explore. Video is slowly becoming part of a photographer's workflow, but video has yet to take over like others predicted it would. There is still a strong demand for stills, but the competition is high. Finding buyers is still a challenge and when finding a buyer they have many more photographers to consider. This makes customer service a must. I have been fortunate to have many repeat customers. I believe the reason boils down to customer service.

So the outlook in 2015 is very good in terms of technology and the economy. More buildings are going up, more business are getting started, tourism is increasing. All this provides opportunities for the nature photographer. Your goal as a nature photographer is to find a handful of customers that like your work and service. Hopefully these customers will keep coming back for more of your images. In reality you only need a dozen or so people to like your work. You goal is to find those dozen people and do everything you can to keep your name in the back of their head. Once you do that you will find success in your photo business.

This has been my photography outlook for 2015. It means a lot that you are reading this, and it also keeps me motivated to come up with new and fresh topics. Good luck to you in 2015 and thank you for your readership!

Best Season For Black And White

What is the best season for black and white photography? Well if you ask me it's right about now, between fall and winter. The colors of the fall foliage are gone, the snow (at least where I live) has yet to stick around, and everything is seemingly lifeless. It's somewhat the opposite of spring with all the wildflowers and tree blossoms. So with everything looking sad, how do we create good photographs? Shoot in black and white! With black and white photography we're focused more on shapes and textures and the absence of color is welcomed. The landscape has many opportunities for black and white photography. Long exposure photography is also great for black and white imagery. A 2 minute exposure of water will most likely render it completely white. This provides a dreamlike image. For more tips on Black and White photography click here. For some very inspirational black and white photography check out Julius Tjintjelaar's work. One of the best black and white artists out there.

While black and white is not my go to style, it's a great opportunity to practice and improve my vision. I believe it's important to try things even if failure is probable, because improvement in inevitable. Give it a try and let me know what you come up with!

 

 

The bare trees of early winter provided great interest with the branches  all snarled from the wind swept landscape.

Critiquing Your Own Work

Every once in a while I'll go back and look at some of my earlier work as a photographer. It may not be helpful critiquing your most current crop of images, but looking at past images we can see what we were doing wrong and what we do now that makes are images better. Here's my top mistakes I made as a beginning photographer.

1) Including too much in my image - As a beginning landscape photographer I wanted the widest angle possible and I included as much of the landscape as I could. Many of us have heard the saying, "zoom in to get close, now get closer". Some people take this to the extreme but the point is simple. Don't try to include everything you see. Simplify your images so they include just a couple elements. Most often less is more. Too many elements are distracting and considered cluttered. It invokes feelings of stress and anxiety instead of calm and serenity that well composed landscape images are known.

2) Over Processing - I would add too much saturation, too much contrast, too much clarity and sharpness. I over processed without direction or purpose. Almost all of my workflow was flawed and inconsistent. My early work is right about the time HDR was becoming really popular. I tried HDR and I liked it. Some of my early HDR stuff is horrendous. It should never be seen or even talked about again. Don't get me wrong HDR has it's place and I use forms of it even today, but the reason I was using bad processing techniques was to make up for bad lighting. Bad lighting can't be fixed by any software or photo editing workflow. That leads me to my number 3.

3) Shooting in Bad Light - I would photograph when I thought it was convenient, not when the light was at it's best. I knew I was supposed to shoot at Magic Hour, but I didn't think it was that important. Besides I was using HDR so my photographs were going to look great! I know better now, but just to reiterate, shoot just before/after sunrise and sunset. Your images will show tremendous improvement just by following this one tip. You won't need over process your images and in some case you may only need a minor tweak.

4) Not Caring About Your Subject -  I did some product photography back in the day. They weren't bad images per say and I still sell them as stock images, but I didn't enjoy my subjects. I like learning new things so product photography had me interested in working with flash and reflections. After a while I was bored and in the end I didn't like doing it. Passion and interest was no longer present and therefore I wasn't making images that met my personal standards. Having passion for your subjects is a key part of making quality images. This could mean landscape or wildlife, even portraits and weddings. If you don't love it, it will show.

So looking back at my images I can see what I was doing wrong. At the time I thought it was great. People were telling me the pictures were fabulous, but I really had no idea how far I would come. I sure do have a lot more to learn and my most current work will hopefully improve over time. The bottom line is you have to practice and increase your chances of great images by being in the right place at the right time. Learn what you have to do to become better, and practice it. Your images will eventually thank you for it!

 

Developing Photography Vision and Style

Many novice photographers spend a lot of time worrying about developing photography vision and style. While it is important, it's often overly emphasized. Style is identifying features of your work. An example would be a Picasso painting. Most everyone could pick out a Picasso out of a lineup. Since then his style has been mimicked over and over again. Picasso did not always have his modern surrealism art style. His early work was more realism. His style changed several times over his years as a painter. As photographers your style will probably change as well. So how do you develop a style? In this day and age of photography it's very hard to separate your work, but it's not impossible. The best advice I can give to develop your style is to look at work of artists you admire. Learn those techniques. Take in as much information in as possible. Whether it be certain subjects or post processing techniques. Maybe you like the composition of images from photographer "A", but you like the post processing of photographer "B". Picking out some of your favorite techniques and adding them together is how you create your style.  It's like going to the grocery store picking out a bunch of ingredients and then adding them together, hopefully making a wonderful dish you can call your own. It's your own recipe. Your own style.

Vision is one of the ingredients in your style. Think of vision as seeing what others can't. This could be any number of things. Maybe you are attracted to certain colors, patterns, textures. Vision to me comes more natural. I see my landscapes in wide angle. I often shoot at the widest focal length I can. It's how I see the world. I then take my wide angle view of the world and apply my favorite techniques to meet my vision. Some see the world in a macro environment. Some see it in a telephoto world. Some see it in black and white. Your vision is your vision. It's how you see the world.

My opinion? Don't worry much about it. Learn as much as you can from as many artists as you can. From here pick and choose what techniques you like. Apply these techniques to your images. It can be before or after the shutter click. Creating a style or finding your vision takes time. Sometimes years. Don't rush or force it. Once you have your technique and vision, repeat the process over and over and your style will be formed. One day someone will look at a image and say " That's a (insert your name here) photograph."

Here is an image from the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. Developing my style takes time and is ever changing.

 

 

Becoming A Better Photographer

One of my guilty pleasures, when it comes to TV watching, is the show "The Shark Tank".  Is this really the secret to becoming a better photographer? Possibly! I enjoy watching people that invented a product or are developing a business, try to get funding from some of the best business people in the world. A lot of the lessons learned from the show is basically about numbers. In business numbers are everything. From sales, to income, to profit, and cost margin. In terms of the business side, some of these lessons alone has guided me to becoming a better photographer. As I was watching the most recent episode, a guy was making a pitch for a product and in his proposal he was requesting money for a yearly income. For example he wanted 500k but 300k of that money was for a salary for 3 years. Two of the sharks seemed somewhat offended by this request. Daymond and Robert. These two men are multimillionaires, but when they first started out with their business, both of them stated they didn't make any money for about 9 years. Robert shared a story that once he was offered one million for his current product, but he had such belief in his work that he turned it down. It wasn't an easy decision because his family was financially strapped, and good thing he turned it down because some years later he sold his company for hundreds of millions.

The point I am trying to make is that becoming a better photographer, and improving your business takes time. Believing in the value of your work is also very important. Many photographers these days devalue their work to make a quick buck. Are you willing to work hard with little recognition or money for nearly a decade? Obviously this is different for everyone, but the common denominator is hard work and perseverance. There is a saying I've heard numerous times over the years, it states that you will become an expert at 10,000 hours. It's the 10,000 hour rule. So if you worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, it will take you nearly 5 years to become an expert at your field of study.

So if you desire a successful business, it may take 10,000 hours. If you want outstanding photographs it may take 10,000 hours behind the camera. There is no shortcut to becoming a better photographer with a successful business. My advice to becoming a better photographer is to take photographs everyday, even if you have no intention to showing them. Try to learn something new everyday. This may be reading through your camera manual or a book by one of your favorite photogs. Whatever you do keep moving forward. Keep trying to improve. Value your work and put in the effort to become better.

This weeks post image was taken at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Winter has set in causing lakes and water to freeze. This icy landscape was caused by the water of lake Michigan running up shore and freezing.

Ben_Neumann_fine_art_Sleeping_bear_dunes_winter