9/13 & 9/14 Saturday and Sunday Savings

From time to time I'll compile some cool savings here on my blog for creative photographers. Stay tuned and save a few bucks.

Save 41% on Photoshop Artistry (used to created the opening image for this post): Get a 41% discount on Photoshop Artistry: Fine-Art Grunge Composition.

Got an iPhone? Get 50% off this awesome iPhone course by Bob Weil. Offer expires August 31. Read more here!

Get a a 20% discount on all Frank Doorhof videos with WORKSHOP66 as code.

Get to know Frank, as I did at Photoshops World. One week were in Vegas, the next week we were in Holland in his awesome studio.

Project Photoshop: Compositing
Regular Price $59
with coupon code SammonSpecial $29

One of the hottest trends in photography continues to be compositing: shooting a subject on a plain background and adding them on to a different photo. This course will show you the secrets to making believable composite images, quickly and easily.

22 Lessons with over 2 hours of content, covering everything from planing and shooting to selecting and masking, to the finishing touches to make your composite look believable.

Right now you can get a 10% discount on Birds Through the Lens if you buy both episodes in the series.

Save 15% on Photomatix - the HDR program I used to create the above HDR image. Info on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page. HDR Soft, makers of Photomatix, were the first with an awesome HDR program. If you have tried the rest, now try the best.

Save a bundle on the Topaz bundle. Topaz DeNoise used to reduce the noise in the above image. Info on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

Save $20 on a Godfatherly Advice/portfolio review session until September 30. Click here for info.

Save 50% on my Craftsy Landscape Photography class. Click here for info.

Like learning on-line? I have 11 classes on KelbyOne.

Order my two favorite books from Amazon and save a few bucks. Click here for info.

Save 10% on my Florida Action Workshop. Offer expires September 30. All my workshops are listed here.

Explore the light,

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Back From 8 Days on the Masai Mara!

Hey Everyone! We are back from a totally amazing 8 days on the Masai Mara with our friends Jonathan and Angela Scott - the Big Cat people.

Photos, movies and stories to come. Just need to play catch up for bit. Our first movie is here.

Here's a movie on my one week in the Mara.

And if you like people photography, check out this movie.

For now, above is one of my favorite images: a portrait of "The Killing Machine." I'll explain more later.

Thinking of a photo safari? Shoot me an email to get on my email list. Also check out my on-line class for first time photo safari goers.

Explore the light,

Dates Set for My 2015 Florida Photography/Photoshop Workshops: Small Groups, Big Learning - and big fun!

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 7.20.48 AM.png

I've set the dates for the January/February 2015 Florida Digital Photography/Photoshop Workshops. You will receive personal attention on each workshop because you'll be in a small group.

You will learn a lot and have a ton of fun - while shooting in cool locations. I will also sit side-by-side with you and help you process your images.

South Beach Creative Photo Workshop • January 15 - 17
Highlights: Night, model, sunrise and sunset photography.

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Digital Delray Photo Weekend • January 30 - February 1
Highlights: Shoot at Butterfly World, Wakodahatchee and at the beautiful Colony Hotel. Street shooting, too.

Key West Small Group Workshop • February 3 - 4
Highlights: Sunset, street, and HDR photography. Only four participants.

Tampa-area Action Workshop • February 6 - 8
Highlights: Motocross, dance studio and horse photography.
Register today!

I am also giving private photography and Photoshop lessons while I am in the Delray Beach area: January 20 - 29. Shoot me an email for info.

I hope to see some of you in the Sunshine State.

All my 2015 digital photography/Photoshop workshops are listed here.

If you plan on mastering HDR, I recommend using Photomatix. Info on my Plug-ins page.

Can't make a live workshop? I also offer many on-line classes.

Explore the light,

Create Your Own Reality - In Your Life

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination." – John Lennon

"It's never too late to be who you could have been." – George Eliot

This post originally ran a few years ago. I'm running it again because my recent posts about going on a photo safari to Africa in a few days to shoot with Jonathan Scott, known as the Big Cat Man (because of his outstanding work on the TV series, Big Cat Diary) prompted many, "you are so lucky" emails.

Yes, I have been lucky to a degree, but we all contribute to our own luck. What's more, it's important to remember this: "The harder one works, the luckier one becomes." It a fact.

So the point of this post is that we create our own luck - and reality.

Jonathan and Angie Scott

Jonathan and Angie Scott

For example, I met Jonathan and his lovely wife Angie five years ago on a ship in Antarctica. We hung out. After the trip we kept in touch and became friends. Had I not kept in touch, I might be spending this Labor Day mowing the lawn.

I have two more similar "keeping-in-touch" stories.

I met a nice guy on a workshop that I was co-leading with another pro to Kenya.

We hung out and we became friends. After the trip he took me on a private workshop to Mongolia, and then to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. He has also stayed at my home, which is always fun.

After one of my Miami, Florida workshops, a participant hired me to give him a private workshop in Botswana.

Okay, on to the original post.

• • • • • •

I often write about altering the reality of a photograph – creating a new reality in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Today I'd like to do "something completely different," as they used to say on Monty Pythons Flying Circus. I'd like to share some thoughts about creating your own reality in your life . . .  as far out as that may sound to some folks.

Here's an example: On one of my workshops I scheduled a sunrise shoot at Mono Lake in California. The folks who showed up (getting up at 2:45 AM) experienced the beautiful sunrise in the opening image for this post. The folks who chose to sleep in saw this:

Two different realities were created. Two different choices were made.

Before I go on, I know that we are not 100% in charge of our reality. For example, if I choose to walk outside during a storm and then get struck by lightning, my choice did not affect my reality. Or did it? If it was thundering and lightning, maybe staying inside would have been a better choice.

Again, as far out as it may sound, we are in control of our reality - our lives - to a great degree. The choices we make affect the here-and-now and our future . . . and to some degree the future of others. 

Don't agree about how we affect others? Think about your parents and your kids. Your parents' decisions affect and affected you, and your decisions (actions, words, behavior) effect your kids' decisions.

If you need some reinforcement of this idea, check out Real Magic by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I read Dr. Dyer's book, among many other self-help books, and realized a long time ago that we have the opportunity to create our own reality. 

Dr. Dyer suggests that if you are unhappy with your life, start living the life you want to live – and that it's possible that that life can become your reality.

My story: For 10 years (1980- 1990) I worked in an advertising agency in NYC. Shirt. Tie. Vest. Shined shoes. Train. Subway. BS. Etc.

In 1985 I decided that I wanted out. On my vacations, I played travel photographer: dressing like one and traveling to exotic locations. Each year I took more and more pictures and took more and more vacations . . . until I got fired for taking too many vacations. :-)

I created my own reality. I had enough saved, a "cush" as my account calls it, to tie me over until I started generating some income with my photography. 

I wanted to write books. I sent out enough proposals to publishers that I now have 35 books. No proposal letters, no books. No time typing, no books.

I got the idea for this post after receiving this touching and sad email:

Hi Rick - You always seem so happy and to be enjoying life. My life is horrible and always has been. I'd love to be as happy-to-lucky as you are. What is your secret.?"

My response was to read Real Magic.

I also suggested that the sign of a true professional is to make a hard job look easy. Just think of an ice skater . . . or any professional photographer today. It's hard work.

If you are unhappy, change. It's up to you.

When you are through changing, you are through.

If you have a comment, please post it in the Comments section here on my blog for others to see.

If you need some inspiration, check out this guest blog post I did for my friend, Scott Kelby.

Happiness (as the Buddhist monks would say),


P.S. If you need more some inspiration, you can get it from nature. My favorite inspiration quotes are in my iPad app:

Life Lessons We Can Learn From Mother Nature.

Today's Guest Blogger: Dave Ray

Image 1 Hindu Dancers Laughing_00001.jpg

Today's guest blogger, from the other side of the planet (from New York, anyway), is Dave Ray. Take it away Dave.

Major thanks to Rick for granting me this opportunity to guest blog. 

 Like Rick, I don’t strongly specialize in any particular area of photography except that I seldom photograph in my region of origin, and I love capturing images of people. I used to tell people that I’m an ethno-photographer, but about the only person who ever understood what that meant was Lauren Stockbower—picture editor for Nat Geo!

The Power of People Images

As top wedding photographer Bambi Cantrell has emphasized, an image may be somewhat technically flawed, but it will still be compelling if it shows expression!

 Opening Image--Private Laugh, Hindu Dancers, Penang, Malaysia

Being ready to catch the moment when people’s candid expressions erupt is the critical. Typically, I smile & ask people if they mind if I take their picture. Then, I’ve found they usually feel most comfortable if I pull out my take-with-me-everywhere small pocket camera (like the Canon S100 series) to take a few images as they get used to me clicking away.  As the relationship warms up, I’ll pull out my pro DSLR. 

Back in the analog days I learned from an old pro who always got his best images of his kids playing after spending a few minutes pretending to take their photos without ever really pushing the shutter button & wasting film on camera-conscious poses. After they got over him aiming the camera at them & turned their attention back to their friends, he found many opportunities to capture genuine expressions as they played.

Often it’s not much different with adults.

Expression is revealed around the mouth, in a person’s posture and in the hands, but, of course, it’s caught, more than anywhere else, in the eyes. As a great teacher said, “The eye is the lamp of the body.”

Young Hindu, Ahmedabad, India

 I know I’ve captured the right catch light—when I can discern myself in sharp focus in the person’s eye. It’s usually most important and sufficient to achieve that sharp focus in the nearest eye.

Landscapes Plus

You can’t travel the world without also getting passionate about capturing landscape images.  But, even here, I usually prefer to include human figures.

Mamburit kids & boat, Indonesia

Subtle patterns & negative space in nature—supplemented with the powerful visual mass (David DuChemin’s concept) in the human figure—combine to form stronger images.

But what do you do when pesky tourists invade the frame of a great landscape image?  Usually you have to wait for, if not bait them, to leave!  But sometimes even they can help create a delightful image.  Concentrate on building your image from the back forward by choosing first a compelling background, then as the tourists mingle in your foreground, isolate one or two, quickly position yourself to gain a compelling perspective & capture!

Tourists on Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

It’s All About Light

Rick typically ends his blogs, Explore the light!

That jives deeply with how Galen Rowell started his book Mountain Light:  In Search of the Dynamic Landscape.  He opens there saying, “Most amateur photographers think of landscapes simply as objects to be photographed. They tend to forget that they are never photographing any object, but rather light itself . . . .  my thoughts center on light rather than on the landscape. I search for perfect light, then hunt for something earthbound to match it with . . . . When the light is right and everything is working for me, I feel as tense as when making a difficult maneuver high on a mountain.  A minute-and sometimes mere seconds—can make the difference between a superb image and a mundane one” (4, 2nd ed., 1995).

I was thinking of that insight one day as my wife & I were driving along Penang’s north coast & saw amazing light exploding all around us as the low afternoon sun radiated under an incoming storm. I didn’t know what subject I wanted to capture, but there was great light everywhere. So, my camera came out, & there it was—the earthbound subject to match the light. 

So, there it is.  Catch & explore the light!

Malay net fisherman, Malaysia

If you’d like to sharpen your skills in destination world photography, look at Rick’s Workshops page to capture your spot on our upcoming Java-Bali Photo Workshop in 2015.