Today's Guest Blogger: Jason Whitman

I would like to thank Rick for asking me to write a post for his blog. I want to share some of my photographs that I consider the strongest, and some tips that might help you to become a more effective photographer.

Rick and I met on social media, Twitter to be exact. I found out he was slated to be the keynote speaker, and lead a workshop, at the Wild West Photo Fest in Casper, Wyoming, which is where I live. I participated in his Creative Visualization workshop, organized by Wyoming Camera Outfitters, here in Casper at the world famous Wonder Bar, and it was a fantastic learning experience to say the least. (Click here to see Rick's post on the event. He will be returning in June, 2015 for another awesome workshop.)

Opening Image: Speaking of creative visualization, the first image I want to highlight is called “Get Off My Land.”  This is an image I took at a workshop with David Stoecklein near his ranch in Mackay, ID. I prefer for all of my images to tell a story. I want the viewer to be involved in the photograph. I directed the models to move to this location and took these images. The composition was very compelling. I then edited the images in Lightroom to create this painterly effect. Gear: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6L at ISO 800

Above: When I am making photographs of wildlife, I always try to compose the image in such a way as to elicit an emotional response from the viewer. In this photograph of an old bison bull in profile, I was drawn to his facial expression and his eyes, as if he is remembering something from days gone by. I called this image “Remembering the Old Days.” Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L w/ 1.4x at ISO 800

Every year, Fort Caspar in Casper, Wyoming commemorates the Battle of Platte Bridge Station where young Lt. Caspar Collins lost his life.

Re-enactors were planning to do cavalry drills, so I found a location from which to shoot where the background was true to the period. Being prepared before the action started allowed me to capture an image in-camera that I was pleased with before I even started editing.

When editing, remember that we are artists. I wanted a picture that would transport the viewer back to the era being represented in this event. I applied a sepia tone and dramatized the lighting and shadows.

This process allowed me to make a photograph, not just take it and hope for the best. Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO 200

When I am shooting, I always position myself in a place where the lighting will help me achieve my goals. This requires visualizing the result you want. Of course, wildlife does not always cooperate, but when they do the results can be quite dramatic. This coyote was engaged in an evening hunt along Pelican Creek in Yellowstone National Park. The lighting created a very interesting mood in this photograph. I’m glad I was prepared. Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L w/1.4x at ISO 800

On this cold, August morning in Yellowstone, when we received our first late summer snow of the season, my daughters and I were skipping rocks on the west side of Yellowstone Lake. I realized that this location would make a dramatic black and white photograph, so I grabbed my gear, which I always take everywhere I go, set up my tripod, and took this photograph. I processed it as I envisioned it in black and white.

Another important point about this image is that cropping is your friend. This photograph, as originally shot, had a lot of negative space. I carefully cropped it and made it a significantly stronger image. Don’t be afraid of the crop tool. Gear: Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 24-105mm f/4L at ISO 100

The most important thing when you are making photographs is to have fun! Your enthusiasm will improve your work and your viewers will sense, and appreciate, your passion. I hope these tips will prove useful to you in your photography.

I hope to see you over on my web site.

And Rick and I hope to see you our his 2015 Casper, WY workshop!

Shoot the Sweet Light,
Jason B. Whitman

Today's Guest Blogger: "Sushi Steve" Inglima

Above:  (L) "Sushi Steve" Inglima, (R) Rick "Sushi Sammon" at Yama Sushi in Las Vegas. The photos were taken about a year apart.

This post is actually an expanded email that my friend and fellow sushi lover (and awesome fellow musician) Steve Inglima sent to me after he read this article (screen grab below) about eating sushi.

I took the photos below at Samurai restaurant here in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Notice the Rick Sammon roll on the menu! What an honor. :-)

Take it away Steve!

• • • • •

As the article says, more Japanese people prefer to eat sushi with chopsticks then their hands! But, the history of sushi does suggest it was meant to be finger food.

What we think of as sushi (Nigiri) was "invented" in the feudal period of Japanese history where the class of warriors (samurai) were very revered and respected mercenaries. They were basically hired swords to protect various wealthy rulers. They wore protective gear, and it was a bit of a nuisance and a security risk at times to remove all of that stuff, so it was a very welcome invention to be able to simply walk up to a counter (Edo, in Japanese) and order some bite sized pieces of fish on rice that they could eat with their hands without the disrobing etc.

It was the original "fast-food". So, its heritage suggests that in fact nigiri style sushi should be eaten with your fingers. In fact, this form of sushi was known in that time as "edo-maii", or "in front of the counter".

However, the deeper behind the scenes creation of sushi was a method of preserving fish prior to the invention of refrigeration. Rice was soaked in vinegar, and then wrapped around fish that was sliced to put it in contact with it, then wrapped in seaweed, and then put in a wooden box and buried in the ground for cool temperature stability.

So, that's the reason that the current sushi rice (knows as "Shari") is seasoned in vinegar, and the rolls are wrapped in seaweed paper. So, when that box was taken out of the ground and the assembly unwrapped, the fish was just sitting on the rice.

Today, you can order sushi somewhat like this, called Chirashi. It's chopped up sushi grade fish just sitting on top of the rice in a box. And THAT is eaten with chopsticks. So, the real origin of sushi is in fact a chopstick utensil meal...

So, when anyone tells you (who thinks they know what they're talking about) that you should eat sushi with your hands, you can tell them "well, yes and no," and then tell them why and then to stuff it in their maki hole :)

• • • • •

Thank you Steve for sharing!

When in Vegas, don't miss out on some of the best sushi ever at Yama.

Explore the light,

P.S. Interested in the business side of sushi? Check out The Sushi Economy.

Interested is learning more about sushi, check out the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.


Seven Reasons to Attend My South Beach Speed Learning Photo Workshop

Each year, for the past four years, I've run photo workshops in Miami's famed South Beach in January. This year I am doing something a bit different: I am offering a small group speed learning class from January 15  to 17.

If you have never been to South Beach, and want to learn a ton – and have a ton of fun – in a short time, here are seven reasons to join the workshop. Another idea: give the workshop, or any of my workshops, as a gift.

1) Above: You will shoot at night and learn about long exposures - and how to get the very best in-camera exposure.

2) Above: You will learn about seeing the light, composition and creative visualization, the key to getting a good photograph.

3) Above and Below: I will show you how to enhanced your images in Photoshop and in Lightroom.

3a) Did I mention that l like to make learning fun? :-)

4) Above: You'll learn about HDR. I recommend downloading Photomatix for your HDR image processing. Learn about HDR in advance with my iHDR app.

I will also teach creative plug-ins, which you can download here.

5) Above: We'll shoot at sunrise, and work on our images during our download session.

6) Above: We'll photograph sun worshipers, and learn how to work with people, reflectors and diffusers. You will also master daylight fill-in flash - I promise you. So bring your speedlite.

7) Above and Below: At the end of the workshop you'll reflect on how much you learned and how much fun you had.

If you can't make South Beach, my other workshops are listed here.

If you like to learn at home, I also offer on-line training,

Explore the light,

P.S. The image below illustrates a good reason for snowbirds to register for the workshop. :-)

Creative Visualization is the Key to a Creative Photograph

There is no such thing as taking too much time, because your soul is in that picture. – Ruth Bernhard

Creative visualization - envisioning the end result - is the key to making a good photograph.

Image capture is only part of the process. Unlimited creative, and corrective, possibilities await us in Photoshop, Lightroom and with plug-ins, such as Photomatix, the plug-in I use and recommend for HDR. and Topaz DeNoise, the plug-in I use for reducing noise.

Opening pair of images: On my Iceland workshop with Tim Vollmer last week, when the light was not quite right in this glacier lagoon scene, I envisioned opening up the shadows, toning down the highlights, increasing the saturation, cropping, reducing the noise, and adding a painterly touch to the image. I took the shot with my Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105mm IS lens. (All my gear is listed here.)

When I got back to my hotel room, I got to work in the digital darkroom. Tim and I also sat with the workshop participants and helped them enhance their images on their laptops, which is always a rewarding experience and great fun!

I teach creative visualization, Photoshop and plug-ins on all my workshop. Tim and I hope to see you in Iceland in 2015.

I also teach creative composition and exposure on-line.

Above: Here I envisioned two different end results. Moving just few inches made a big difference in the images.

Need help finding the best light for a creative photograph? My Photo Sundial app can help.

Right now it's available for the iPhone and iPad.

Envision the end result,