The Joy of Digital Photography

Once not long ago, we photographers used our square contraptions to capture the vision we see on film. Whether a snapshot or “Art”, we would open our shutters to expose an emulsion of chemicals capturing the light we see in our vision. The instruments of our past kept our images locked in this chemical emulsion until our lab produced the negative and prints. With much anticipation we would wait for the appointed hour the images were available. Only quieting our excitement once we had shared our vision with family and friends.

Digital photography has changed that anticipation to instant gratification. Now, we press the shutter release and wait for our image to appear instantly. Not instant as the 45 to 60 seconds we used to wait for a Polaroid to process. No shaking, no peeling for our image. Today it is there on the back of our camera. Instant!  Delivered before our eyes in the same second our shutter clicks open then closed. Instant! We can share our new image with everyone in seconds. Some will argue this instantaneous process is not a joy. I submit, whether the image is “Art” or a snapshot, our image is the vehicle that transports a memory for all involved. It is this that is the real joy of digital photography. It is the excitement in each of us to see and relive the moments of time together and places we go without having to wait for the image to be released from it chemical carrier.

The joy of digital photography is the excitement in the eyes and heart of the next generation. Come with me as I share a story that I witnessed. My wife and I had stopped in at the local Costco to plan for the coming school year. We are pricing items we will need throughout the coming year. As a lot of photographers, I am a people watcher.  I notice a young family shopping. Their conversation goes like this: “you are taking lots of pictures” Mom said to her young son. You see, the young boy had his mother’s digital camera. While his mother pushed him in the shopping cart, he would bring the camera up and snap a picture of the subject of his interest. I watched his eyes each time and that excitement showed. Excitement! Seeing the image, that inspired him to release the shutter, appear on the back of the camera.  And later that evening, there will be the excitement of sharing the memories with his mother and father.

Memories are the lasting joy of photography.  With digital photography, we can relive those memories sooner (like on the way home from a trip. No waiting to get home and drop the film to be processed. The background image that accompanies this post is an image of a young girl that is fascinated with the baskets created by a street artist. The picture is of my daughter I captured many years ago on film. It was on one of our family trips that we love to take. It is the memories that continue to bring excitement to her face.  It is the memories that my wife and I share from our time wandering around the old city. It is an image that illustrates memories we love and discussed on our trip home. We waited a week for the image to be processed. This image is often the catalyst to relive those memories.

Sharing is the joy of digital photography. As photographers, we have the gene for sharing. Why else would we invest the time?  We are teachers. We are called to inspire the next generation and teach them our craft. What better tool to teach the craft to a new generation. I do not believe we ignore the techniques of the past but the digit camera allows us to teach composition far easier.  Remember without those willing to share their passion for the craft, where will the next generation develop the passion of an Ansel Adams, Edward Weston or George Hurrell.

Remembering Independence

"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated" - Thomas Paine, The Crisis

Thank you to those who went before us and won our Independence. Our freedom is given to us through shed blood. We must always remember to pray and give thanks for those so brave that they fight to keep us free.


For more fireworks

A Tale of The Right Place...

The decision made, a quick break was needed. The trip begins uneventful in contrast to the rest of the day. Traffic was light making the 30 minute drive into the mountains pleasant. This adventure serves the purpose of clearing the stress of another day in a long line of days, a short trip to a tucked away little pocket of rich greens and rushes of water.

A low hum, the song of the traveler, intertwines with the evening calls of insect unseen. Fewer houses give way to the rolling slopes of our little corner of the mountains. A place where the fenced yard yields to the fences of horse farms and tree lined grass fields replace a long week of heat, days baked under a June sun fade under the gentle touch of a cooling breeze. Light, soft already, softening with the passing miles, warm late afternoon light, the golden light photographers love. Good light warming all things on its way to the cool blues of evening.

Finally the gear is unpacked. Each piece checked and checked again for the adventure before me. The route chosen is along the river with it photogenic cascades. These cascades have produced in times of high water and in times when the leaves cover its gentle pools. The water nicely plays a calming lullaby for evening. A couple of butterflies playfully float above the river. Each pool is as nice as the one before. Each with signs of young life, fingerling trout slurp at my fly. The calm of the forest and the soft song of each cascade have eased the thoughts of many long days.

I decide to climb to the next pool to practice more casting. This is when I understand I am in the right place… with the wrong equipment. Before me on the sandy bank of this next pool is an array of beautiful yellow Swallowtail butterflies. The couple of this specimen seen floating above the river paled in the sight of a couple dozen swallowtails lining the ground before me. All I could do is stand leaning on a large rock with my fly rod and enjoy the scene.

… I plan to go back this weekend with the right equipment (camera, tripod, etc) and capture the images.

Choosing an Imaging Tool

There are two tiers of tools to working with digital files. Tier one is the import and organization tier and Tier two tools is the editing and printing tier. Although some Tier one tools include printing and limited editing

Tier one tools cover how do the images get off the card and how do we as photographers sort, store, tag, etc. and decide on the images to be printed or viewed in some manner. The tools that fit in this tier are Adobe Lightroom, Apple's Aperture (new release just announced), Nikon ViewNX, ACDSee Photo Manager Pro, Bibble 5, and others.

These tools may also include varying editing and printing abilities that for a lot of photos are more that adequate. Also, on the MAC and Windows platforms, there are built in organizing tools. Mac has the IPhoto and Windows Explorer and Media Center that serve the organizing and printing function.

The other tier (second tier) of tools include Photoshop CS, Photoshop Elements, CaptureNX, and others. These are full image editors and serve as the heavy lifters if an image requires more handling that the tier one application can handle. These are typically poor at organizing and searching for photos. They are usually used as an external editor to a management application.

Although some like the two Photoshop tools and CaptureNX have a scaled down organizer or browser tool. Photoshop Elements version is a scaled down set of tools found in the CS version. It is often adequate for most needs.

What should be the choice?

Try a tier two tool first (they all offer a trail period). Pay attention to how you would download/organize, tag/rate, search, sort and edit/print/display a card of 100(+) images. Then try one of the tier one tools for the same process.

In the end you will discover what works for the images you take. I have been able to use the Windows Media Center and Photoshop Elements (on the Mac: iPhoto) for my earlier work. This included mostly the scans from film slides and the JPG files I created before I went totally digital. If I shoot images only as JPG files , I can continue to use this combination.

But, since switching to a RAW based image workflow, I am finding that a tier one tools is becoming a necessity to replace Media Center in my workflow. I have been testing Lightroom and plan to test Bibble and one offered by wildlife photographer Moose Peterson.

I hope this helps.

Look for a tools comparison coming soon...

The Quiet of Winter...

Now that the gathering times are over and the days start growing longer, beauty still surronds us. Take the time to find where the light plays softly and time runs slow. The year will go quickly and we will stand looking back at the way we spent the time given to us.

The following photos are quiet scenes I found this winter in the Great Smoky Mountains.

GSM - Rock, Moss and Stream

Cades Cove Road

GSM - Little River and Falls

Even in the roar of a waterfall there is quiet.

GSM - Sinks Falls - 1

GSM - Sinks_Falls - 3 BWblue

I hope you all can find that quiet place that brings peace. Somewhere in this place stress fades away.