Words & Musings

179 posts

Open Letter to Olivia Arthur & Magnum Photos

Ms Arthur et al,

Please believe writing this gives me no pleasure. I have watched events unfold with respect to the issues within Magnum relating to apparent child endangerment, admitted drug use by a member, and others, largely from the sidelines. I have read much of the coverage from Benjamin Chesterton (aka, duckrabbitblog), Columbia Journalism Review, Caravan Magazine, PetaPixel, FStoppers and have watched the debate unfold on Twitter. I have read several of your postings on the Magnum website and have read the newly published Code of Conduct. I feel I can no longer remain silent.

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Road Fuel – For the Road Weary Photographer

Coffee. The life-blood of the travelling photographer. Having spent a fair bit of time on the road, I’ve sampled a lot of coffee. Some pretty good. Some truly awful. What follows is a short list, not quite a compendium, and not comprehensive, of coffee joints I’ve tried in my travels. You may agree, or disagree with my assessments. That’s OK. Youi’re allowed to like bad coffee.

Let me know in the comments what good and bad coffee experiences you’ve had on the road.

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Bursting the Straight Out of the Camera Bubble

A movement has grown in recent years amongst digital photographers called Straight Out of the Camera, or SOOC. Please note, this commentary relates only to digital photography; film is a different animal.

The idea behind the movement is to spend more time actually taking pictures and less time editing pictures. The general idea is laudable. We would all love to spend more time in the field than behind a computer screen. Unfortunately, the broader mindset behind the movement is utter nonsense.

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Don’t Box Me In

In June of 2021 I gave a presentation on Intimate Landscapes. I was anticipating a question along the lines of, ‘Aren’t these really just nature photos?’ and I got the question, or at least a version of it. One of the group asked if the photos I was showing would fit in a Landscape category for competition.

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The Truth About Camera Backpacks

The truth about camera backpacks is they’re universally shit. There is not one on the market that is properly designed for hiking. At one time there was the Clik Elite Large Hiker, but Clik Elite went out of business several years ago. The camera compartment on that bag was quite small.

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The SEO Shell Game

SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Or, perhaps Search Engine Oblivion.

Grab some snacks, put on your comfy pants, we’re gonna be here for a while.

The idea of having our websites at the top of search results is a good one. We want to be seen. Particularly for photographers offering commercial services, the ability to be found by prospective clients is important.

What follows is one photographer’s experience navigating the random, nonsensical, frustrating, comical, bleep-show that is SEO. As in many things, the old saying applies: Your mileage may vary.

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Open Letter to Craig Peters, CEO Getty Images

Re: Recent announcement of Getty acquisition of Unsplash

Mr. Peters,

As a Getty contributor, I read about the acquisition of the free content site Unsplash with concern. Of particular note in the your press release announcing the deal, Getty stated the following: “The Unsplash team share our values and share our vision of enabling global creativity and communication.”

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Celebrating Female Photographers IV

The 2021 edition of this, not quite, annual post highlighting a few terrific female photographers and collectives on International Women’s Day. Their photography is compelling and inspiring.

Last year was the Instagram edition. This year, the Twitter edition with each followed by their Twitter handle.

As in past years, a variety of genres.

Black Women Photographers, @blkwomenphoto a collective supporting Black female & non-binary photographers available for hire.

Aster Reem David, @A__R__D

Megan Bendall, @meganthebendall

Leah Mills, @leahmills

Karene Isabelle, @BaptisteKI

Amber Brown, @amberjlbrown

Amber Bracken, @photobracken

Snapseed on Desktop? Hell to the Yeah! A Quick How-To.

You can get Snapseed to work on a Windows (and Mac) Desktop. Well….. Sort of.

Snapseed is a popular photo editing app from Google that’s available for both Apple and Android mobile devices. It’s quite good and has a lot of useful features as well as some of the fun filters and overlays. It can even open and edit RAW files. I dig deeper into Snapseed in my book The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Photography (it’s a good book, you should buy it ? ). A list of compatible camera RAW formats is available on the Google Snapseed site. I can confirm that it will not open RAW files from the Nikon Z6. Non-compatible camera RAW formats can be converted to DNG using the Adobe DNG Converter.

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Are Luminance Masks Still Relevant in 2020?

In a word: Yes.

When I wrote The Digital Zone System: Taking Control from Capture to Print in 2012, the concept of luminance, or luminosity masks was still relatively new. Tony Kuyper was the one who really introduced the concept to photographers back in 2006. Not a lot of photographers were aware of the concept, or the power that the technique gave them in editing their photos. Since then, several others have written and blogged about the technique.

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Building a Mobile Office


Many photographers travel for both work and pleasure.

Much of the time the travel is temporary. A week, or so of vacation. A few days, or a week traveling on an assignment. Managing images in these situations isn’t usually that difficult. You take along a laptop, perhaps an external hard drive, or two. Generally editing is kept to a minimum until back home.

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Shoot the Moon!

Go grab some snacks and your preferred beverage because this one will be somewhat lengthy.

In the digital era of photography, interest in astrophotography has really gone <ahem> sky high. The relative ease of capturing and processing hundreds of photos to create compelling star trail images and dynamic shots of the Milky Way has helped propel interest in the genre. Nightscapes are very popular and are beautiful to look at. Darkness only exists in our minds. There is plenty of light at night and lots of great photos to be made.

In this article, I’m going to concentrate specifically on the Moon.

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Celebrating Female Photographers III

In this third, not quite, annual post, I’m calling this the Instagram edition. Each is followed by her Instagram handle.

The women below are all very talented artists. Their work encompasses a range of genres. They have all inspired me and can likely inspire you, as well.

Netanya Smith – @netanyam.creative

Tracy Lee – @tracyleephotos

Rebecca Simrose – @beckylynnsim

Jeanine Holowatuik – @jeanine.holowatuik

Shawn Hamilton – @shawnclixphoto

Celebrating Female Photographers II

As I did a couple years ago, on International Women’s Day, I’m posting another short list of female photographers who inspire me and who can inspire anyone interested in photography.

It’s not enough just to be inspired by these fine artists. Female photographers should have the same opportunities and be paid the same as their male counterparts for the same work. Those are fundamental human rights which no one should be able to deny, or ignore.

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Creative Light Sculpture III – A Commercial Assignment

A couple years ago, a client engaged me to do a really fun and exciting project. It was a road widening in Kitchener. On the face, that doesn’t seem too exciting. What is fun is that the design included many elements that evoked the industrial and manufacturing history of the city.

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The Beauty of Motion – A Commercial Assignment

A client did design and consulting work on a new outdoor recreation complex in Toronto. The complex is in a gentrifying neighbourhood that, for many years, had a reputation as unsafe. The client wanted pictures of the new facility. They wanted people using the facility. They also wanted both day and night shots. Continue reading

Research and Preparedness – A Commercial Assignment

A few years ago, an engineering firm engaged me to shoot one of their projects. It was a major bridge redesign/construction project in cottage country in Ontario. Two requests were made by the client: They wanted the entire span of the bridge in a single shot; and they wanted a boat going under the bridge, if possible. Continue reading