Digital Photography

Whose Reality Are You Interested In Anyway?

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“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” – John Lennon

When I teach a workshop or give a seminar, I often ask the photo workshop or seminar participants, “Whose realty are you interested in anyway? Yours or another person's perception of reality?”

I go on. I ask, “Do you want to get the sharpest, most realistic image, or do you want to create your own reality in Photoshop, perhaps using plug-ins to produce a one-of-a-kind image?”

Most often, the photo workshop participants go for the strait shot. But I’m thrilled when someone wants to experiment and express his or her creative vision.

I created the image that opens this post in Photoshop. The image below is a straight shot. I took the images in Bosque Del Apache, New Mexico.


One method for creating a creative image is to remove some of the sharpness from a scene. When you remove some of the sharpness, you remove some of the reality, and when you remove some of the reality, you often get a more creative image.

I removed the sharpness from the image with the Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. (See my Save on Plug-ins page for info on all the plug-ins I use).

The opening image is a composite of three images: the sandhill cranes, the moon and the mountains are all from different files. Creating composites is another way to create your own realty.

Getting back to Nik, I used the Detail Enhancer filter in Color Efex Pro to bring out the detail in the moon.

Get this: I’m writing this post on an airplane at 30K feet. The guy sitting next to me looked the opening picture and said, “Wow, that does not look like a photograph, it looks like a painting.” I said thank you, and told him what someone said about a similar shot that I showed at a seminar. He said, “I don’t like that picture. It looks like a painting.”

The next time you are working on an image, think about the reality that you can create with that image – and create the reality you see in your mind’s eye.

I hope to see you on one of my photography workshops. I teach photography and Photoshop. I can help you create your own reality on your computer monitor. Of course, I can also help you get the sharpest possible images in the field.

Hey, that gives me an idea: Maybe I should run a “Create Your Own Reality” workshop. Or maybe I can talk my friends at Nik Software into a webinar on creating your own reality with Nik plug-ins. Interested? Shoot me an email.

And, I’d love to hear your thoughts on your photo reality. Post ‘em in the Comment here. If you want, include a link to a creative image. To post a comment, you need to go back to - for now.

By the way, one “rule” in wildlife photography is to have some separation between the animals so that the animals stand out clearly in the frame, which is not the case in the opening image for this post. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that all the heads are separated.

In addition, the opening image tells the story of how close the birds fly to each other. 

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It’s good to break the rules. These images of small heard of elephants that I photographed in Africa tells the story of how the adult elephants protect their young. Not much separation here.

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I guess the message of this post is this: Follow your heart and create your own realty, maybe while listening to a John Lennon song on iTunes.

If you like stuff like this, you can subscribe to my blog here.

Explore the light,

This post sponsored by Adorama - great gear at great prices. Check out their awesome Holiday specials on Canon lenses and Speedlites. Click here for info.

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Landing At Squarespace


"It's been a long time comin'."  -  David Crosby

I finally have a web site that represents my photography and my photo philosophy. I chose a SQUARESPACE web site as my home on the web for my blog, galleries, workshops - and more - because it's the only self-publishing web site that I've found to be easy to manage and fun to use. Customer support and all the creative options for photographers are yet another reason why I landed here.

Explore my Galleries. Check out my workshops and seminars.

Of course, please subscribe to my blog, which will be the home page for I will try to post useful info every day . . . when I am in the country.

Click here to subscribe to my blog. Thanks in advance for following along.

If you have an idea for a post, please shoot me an email.

And speaking of my blog, notice that the pictures look bigger and better. That's quite nice!

If you are looking for an awesome place to host your website, check out SQUARESPACE.

Explore the light,
Rick Sammon

My Classes at the California Photo Fest

I'm getting ready for my classes at the California Photo Fest next month. Can't wait!

I'll be teaching Social Media Marketing, which includes info from my Social Media Marketing for Photographers app.

I'll be leading a few photo walks, at sunrise and sunset and in between. The highlight being a photo session with horses running on the beach.

I have a speedlite class, where I will share a few one-light wonders, some of which are included in my apps.

And I have two plug-ins sessions where I'll talk about removing the reality from a scene, as I did below on my image from Coney Island.

I hope to see you at the festival. It's not only a great learning experience, but it's a ton of fun!

Explore the light,

P.S. Click here to see all my events, which includes my Alaska workshop with Hal from Light.

Compose and Expose Carefully

What do the above and below photographs have in common?

Both photographs were composed and exposed carefully.

When you think about it, photography is all about getting a well-composed and creatively exposed image. Master those techniques, and you are on your way to mastering photography.

I know, I know! A good subject is important, too. :-)

Actually, those two elements - lighting and composition - are important in painting, too - as illustrated my Vermeer's "Girl with the Pearl Earring" painting (left), and my humble rendition of the masterpiece on the right.

In my workshops, I focus on those topics. If you can't make a workshop, I have two classes on Kelby Training that I think you will enjoy:

Composition - the strongest way of seeing.

Light - the main element in every photograph.

Quick composition tip: stick out your neck and break the so-called rules.

Quick lighting tip: Shadows are the soul of the photograph.

As always . . . .

Explore the light,

10 Countries, 10 Days, 10 Tips: Day 4 - Galapagos, The "Enchanted Islands" of Ecuador

Photograph by Rick Sammon
It's Day 4 of my series on travel photography here on my blog. Scroll down for past posts in this series.

Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Tip: For wildlife, bring your wide-angle and super wide-angle lenses as well as your telephoto lenses. Because the animals are not hunted, they are not afraid of tourists and photographers - so you can get very close to them.

Above, marine iguanas: Canon 15mm lens. Below, sea lions: Canon 17-40mm lens.

Note: marine iguanas "sneeze" a saltwater spray, so perhaps you don't want to get too close. :-). If you do get a "sneeze" on the front element of your lens or filter, wipe it off carefully with a lens cleaning cloth. The salt can scratch a lens or filter.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
When it comes to a telephoto lens, I'd recommend the Canon 100-400mm IS lens. I used that for the photos below of the blue-footed booby and the giant tortoise.

All my gear recos: My Gear.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
In Galapagos, when you are not on the beach, you must stay on the paths. Keep that in mind when thinking about your lens selection.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
Finally, plan to visit the Galapagos on a live-aboard boat. . . the best way to see as many islands as possible in a relatively short period of time.

You can see more of my Galapagos images in my SmugMug gallery.
• • • • • 
If you like traveling and photography, check out my workshops and photo tours.

If you want travel photography tips at your fingertips, check out my app: Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet.

Explore the light,