Friday, February 15, 2013


I made a presentation to the Boulder Colorado Nature Camera Club on January 24, 2013, with this title.

I majored in art for three years at Texas Tech University. Although I did not get a degree, those three years served, and continue to serve, as the artistic foundation for my photography today. I always start my photographic process from an artist’s mindset, which forces me to quickly get into my right brain and ask myself questions like “What do I want this to look like?” “What do I feel?” “Why did I stop?” “What will my composition be?” “How do I want to interpret this?” Only after I have entertained those questions do I begin asking myself the dry, mechanical, and technical questions, like, “What f/stop will I need to achieve that?” “What shutter speed should I use?” “What exposure do I want to apply to get me what I see with my imagination?”

I don’t see with my eyes. I see with my imagination. My camera features and lenses are only the tools I use to achieve what I want. They are the means to an end, not the end. I use my right brain to create what I imagine, and then my right brain shakes hands with my left brain and says, “I have an idea. Now I need your help to help me achieve that.” The two work hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other, but it is the right brain that controls, directs, and gives my photo art life. In this particular slide show, I began with four Before-and-After images. I show what the average eyes see, then I show what my imagination created from that scenario. Here are a couple of examples:

                            BEFORE                                                AFTER
Learn Creative Photography 1  Learn Creative Digital Photography 2

        Learn Creative Digital Photography 3       Learn Creative Digital Photography 3  

Both of the “after” images are on my website. I use them to stress that if we only see with our eyes, we will miss a lot of great opportunities. We typically walk around waiting for something, whatever that “something” is, to hit us between the eyes and yell, “Here I am!” We have to see, not what our eyes see, as the little flowers and the lake on the left represent, but see what our imaginations can create. I prefer to see and create my artistic images in-camera, as opposed to using photo editing software. I always tell my students, create your images in camera. Use your photo editing software to fine-tune your images, not create them. But that is my style and it has served me well all these years.

After I showed fifty images to the Boulder Club, I received a lot of positive comments and several questions. One of the most common questions asked was, “If you don’t use HDR, what do you use? My answer has always been the same. I begin with determining my composition, then my depth of field, and then I use the entire range of exposure metering modes, not just matrix or evaluative metering. My favorite metering mode to create really dramatic images is spot metering, which is what I used for the image below.

So, go out there and have fun taking your artistic eye for a test drive! Visit my website for more examples, and e-mail me with any questions.