Life As an Itinerant Artist - Redux

Upcoming Presentations in March

March 02, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

I have two interesting presentations coming up in March.

The first will be Sunday, March 10, in Rapid City, South Dakota. I will be speaking to the Black Hills Corral of the Westerners about my ongoing project, "Preserving the Legacy". Dr. Watson Parker left a treasure trove of lectures, slides and audio recordings, which I am in the process of transferring to digital media. The talk will focus on my workflow with some examples of Dad's captivating lectures. The presentation will be at Revel Coffee House, 719 Omaha St., Rapid City, SD. Lunch and snacks available. Socializing and munching from 12-12:30, a short business meeting to follow, and then the presentation. More info on the Black Hills Corral Facebook page.

I'm also scheduled to present at the Business of Photography Boot Camp at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, on Friday, March 15. I'll be discussing "Time Management & Business Strategy" as it relates to photographers, and anyone with an interest in professional photography is welcome to attend. The following information is from the Entrepreneurship Center at Washtenaw College.

This all-day event will give you an opportunity to learn how to start, build or grow your business through presentations and discussions with working professional photographers. These professionals in the field will give their experiences and tips to the audience on the following topics:

  • Time Management & Strategy – Jim Parker 

  • Marketing, Branding & Websites – Dayna Mae Mager 

  • Pricing, Proposals & Copyright – Steve Rich & Ann Savage

  • Networking & Getting Leads – Rob Woodcox

In addition, Rob Woodcox, fine art and fashion photographer and WCC Photography program graduate will give an extra presentation on Thursday, March 14. Here’s more information on each event:

“The Power Within You: Taking a Stand and Having a Purpose to What You Create”
Presentation by WCC Photography Program Graduate Rob Woodcox

Thursday, March 14 @ 7:00pm 

Morris Lawrence Building at WCC 

FREE event open to the public, no registration necessary 

Click Here for More Info

The Business of Photography Boot Camp 

Friday, March 15

Registration: 8:30 – 9:00am, Event: 9:00am – 4:30pm 

Morris Lawrence Building at WCC 

Cost: $25 or FREE to current WCC students – Lunch Included 

(call the Entrepreneurship Center at 734-249-5880 or email [email protected] to get the FREE student registration code)

Click Here to Register

Please let us know if you have any questions! 

Entrepreneurship Center 

Washtenaw Community College | Damon B. Flowers Building (Facilities), Room 120

734-249-5880 | [email protected]

EC Hours: Monday-Thursday 9:00am-4:30pm, Friday 12:00-4:30pm


Resources for Photographers

March 02, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

In conjunction with the next Photographers Business Boot Camp Friday, March 15 (2019), at Washtenaw College, I have revised this resource page. Many of the links were mentioned in the all-day seminar; others are lucky-strike extras. Please feel free to leave comments about other software or articles that you've found useful.

Here is a link to the updated presentation.  Time Management 2019 2Mb

Here is the presentation with speaker notes.  Time Management 2019 With Speaker Notes

I found it interesting that no one asked what the significance of the barrels and milk cans is in the first and last slides. They represent buckets of time. In case you were curious.

(Please note that this post is moderated, so if you add a spam link, it will be deleted.)

(Republished with revisions 3/16/2019)

Imaging Software

Adobe (Lightroom, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator…) 

Affinity Photo, Designer & Publisher (Adobe alternatives) Affinity

Aurora HDR and Luminar (Skylum Software)

OnOne Software


Nik Plug-ins (now owned by DxO

Topaz Plug-ins


Raya Pro

AstroPad - use your iPad and Apple Pencil as a tablet

Business Tools

FileMaker Pro






Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint

FotoBiz X



Google Calendar

Google Drive

Writing Tools


iA Writer

Pages (Apple)

Web site development

ZenFolio Use referral code 9BP-ZYX-ECM for a 10% discount


GraphPaperPress (WordPress Templates)

PhotoCrati (Photographer specific WordPress Templates)​

Elegant Themes (Divi)

Email Marketing


Vertical Response

Constant Contact


Navigation Tools - for mobile and desktop

FocalWare Lite - the original FocalWare is no longer available in the App Store...

The Photographer's Ephemeris -- web app, iOS and Android

PhotoPills -- another very useful tool to have on the mobile device. Both iOS and Android

Waze - Live traffic, crowdsourced accident reports. iOS and android

Garmin InReach Mini - A very useful satellite communication device for the backcountry

Articles for a Deeper Dive

David Allen “Getting Things Done” 

The Pareto Principle

14 Time Management Tips (All Creativelike) 

Creating a Business Strategy

How to Write a Business Plan

Guide to writing a NASA-grade mission statement 

The Big Lie of Strategic Planning 

Five Reasons You Should Stop Multitasking

Nine Ways Multitasking is Killing Your Brain and Productivity According to Neuroscientists

How to Get More Work Done in a Week Than Most People Do in a Month

The Eisenhower Matrix

Why Your Instagram Nature Shot is Breaking the Law (Outside Online)

Fine Art Resources


Juried Art Services

Entry Thingy

Art Show Photographers Facebook Group

Alyson Stanfield "Art Biz Success" 

Art Fair Calendar

Art Fair Insiders

Art Show Photo website

Larry Berman’s website


"Stories Told in Things Left Behind" Hardcover Book

December 06, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Stories Told in Things Left BehindStories Told in Things Left Behind48 pp hardcover 10" x 8" book, with over 42 images and descriptions from work in the "Stories Told..." series. One image to a page, with explanatory information about each image following at the end. Printed dustcover, not an image wrap. $85 + $15 shipping.

This first edition is limited to 25 signed and numbered copies.
I am pleased to announce that my second book is now available for purchase! The first edition features over 42 images from the "Stories Told in Things Left Behind" series, and is printed on heavy satin stock. Hardbound with a linen cover, the book also has a four-color dustcover. Each book will be signed & numbered. There are 25 books in this limited edition. Order before December 10, 2018 to ship in time for Christmas, and use coupon BOOKIT2ME for free shipping. 

Building on my early black & white photographs in "A Disappearing Agrarian Landscape”, the new book showcases over forty images with stories to tell. From the empty interiors of Bannack to the gold fields of Vulture City, each picture offers insights into the lives of the miners, ranchers and ordinary people who built these towns. Dishes left on the table, patterns of faded wallpaper, fields of flowers colored by the setting sun — each image illustrates another life, another time.

In this collection, I trace my development as a visual historian. Having spent the better part of my photographic career making pictures in these old homesteads and towns, the new book offers a glimpse into life as it was, each image stands on its own, and relates to the next in a never-ending thread stretching back 100 years.

Photographed with small-format digital cameras and lenses, these are more than pictures. They are romantic sketches of how we perceive the historical past to be. Many miles were traveled & many hours were spent behind the viewfinder. If you've ever wondered what the story behind a particular image was, this book offers up some clues.

“Stories Told in Things Left Behind” started as a tagline to succinctly describe the motivation behind this project. As the miles fell behind the rear-view, certain themes began to emerge. Doors, certainly. Chairs in shafts of light. Sparse interiors. Prairie churches and majestic elevators. 

Each of these stories lets the viewer bring their own experiences to the telling. This photographic journey covers many miles and many years. And if the tale ain’t true, it sure ought to be!



A Note About Image Sizes and Ordering

November 29, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

There are several options when you order prints from the website. Most of my images are in an aspect ratio of 3:2, the size of my camera sensors. All sizes listed are the inside frame dimension, not the actual image size. Since I carry both matted and un-matted frame types, this is the most consistent way to state the dimensions. 

When you click on the "Buy" button next to an image in a gallery, a list of options is displayed on the right hand side of the window. Your options include:

Matted prints. I offer three sizes of matted images, using the same 6-ply AlphaCare white mat and archival backing board. Other sizes are available for standard aspect ratios on request. 

Standard Image and Mat Sizes

Image Size

Mat Size

Border Widths

Mat Color






















Standard Framed prints. Generally, I stock two sizes of frames, in the Palladio black/brown style. Both sizes will come with TruVue Conservation Reflection Control U/V non-glare glass, a Tyvek dustcover on the back, plastic-coating hanging wire and hangers already in place, ready to hang. My stock sizes are 16x20 and 20x26. These sizes refer to the matted size, not the overall frame dimensions. For a Palladio frame, each arm is about 1 7/8" wide. Other sizes are available, and can be custom ordered by calling the studio at 248.229.7900.

Custom Barnwood Laminated Prints. Printed on canvas and mounted permanently to Gatorfoam, these images come in two standard panorama sizes, and two standard aspect ratio sizes. Each frame is unique, made by hand, and sizes may vary. Panorama and canvas laminate sizing refers to the size of the image, not the overall size of the frame, which may vary an inch or two in each dimension. Standard sizes for normal pictures are 24x36 and 32x48. Standard sizes for panoramas are 48x20 and 60x24. Other sizes can made by special request.

Canvas Wraps. Although not listed on the site, canvas wraps are available in the following sizes. 20x30, 24x36, 26x40, 20x48 and 24x60. Each wrap is custom made. Tryptchs and diptychs are available as well. 

You can see additional details about the piece you are about to order in two ways. From the gallery preview, click on the "Buy" button, which will open a list of the most popular options. Add one of these to your cart, and then view the cart. Clicking on "Edit" next to the selection's title will let you add a note or change quantities, and will display the full product description. If you use the "Visit Shop" button from the Buy panel, it will show all the options available in several categories. Choosing one of these categories and then one of the options will show the full details.

As always, if you have questions, please don't hesitate to call us at 248.229.7900.

Time to start thinking about the holidays

November 20, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Every year, Kozo and I send a Christmas card to friends & family. Years past, I've used a wintry landscape shot... a hay bale with a red bow around it, a buffalo with a Rudolf-inspired schnozzola. So this year, in keeping with some of the interior studio shots I've been making, I wanted to do something a little different.

Shooting in the studio requires a bit more preparation than just going out and finding an interesting picture. As a former art director, I start out with a concept, and a layout. Since this layout isn't going to be presented to a client, I can get away with a lot more than I did in the old days.

StillLife_10Concept Layout for Christmas Card  I use an app (GoodNotes) with my iPad to sketch -- it's easier than keeping track of 10 different yellow pads, and I can sync it via iCloud to my desktop machines for use in a blog for example. The Apple Pencil is by far the most responsive pressure sensitive tool I've used. Better than a Wacom even, for simple sketching. I wanted something that captured the magic of coming downstairs on Christmas Eve and seeing the tree all lit up, with the toy train magically making it rounds, waiting for Santa to arrive with a bag full of goodies.

Once I had the idea, I went looking for a pre-lit Christmas tree. Initially it seemed as if an old-fashioned feel would be nice, so I got some larger colored lights, and brought out my HO scale trains. I soon realized that the scale of the train, while it worked well for a real Christmas tree, was a bit small for the height of the tree for the base. It was a struggle to make up the space between the lowest tree branches and the train. I shot some test images with my phone, and then set up the tripod and camera. Initially, I tried a wider lens, my Sigma 35 Art f1.4 which is a beautiful lens that lets in a lot of light. But the depth of field was too shallow, and the tree looked messy no matter what angle I tried.

I switched to a longer lens. Having limited space in the studio, I fitted the Canon L 70-200 f2.8. A higher angle helped to minimize the distance between bough and track. Lots of little packages had to be wrapped and staged under the tree. The colored lights proved to be another scale problem, so the old-time angle was somewhat abandoned. The train also dates back thirty years, not fifty, and so I experimented with various combinations of locomotive and rolling stock until I had a basic feel for what I hoped to accomplish.

After I had the train track set up in position, I wrapped the tree stand with a white tree blanket to hide the ugly black legs. Staging the presents around the tree, and working to the camera, I started to get some of the feel I was looking for, but I still wasn't getting enough emotion.

I decided to press on, and hang some ornaments to get a better feel. Lighting had not been set up yet -- I typically will just use a big 1K Baby bounced off the ceiling as a work light, and while it's not terribly dramatic, it does let me see what's going on with the set. There were some big holes between the tree and the track that definitely needed filling. As I hung ornaments, it became apparent that using an artificial tree was going to help me, as the branches could be bent, and would hold their shape much better than a live tree. Score one for fake trees!

Test ShotA basic test shot with the iPhone to find the proper angle and distance for the camera At this point, I was ready to do some real test shots. The camera was locked down with some sandbags holding the tripod steady -- I have a tendency to stumble into things and wreak havoc on a delicate camera position. Still using the broad overhead light, I fired off a couple of brackets to see how everything lined up. The shot was still looking pretty bland. Colorful, yes. Dramatic, not so much.

Out came the small Mole Richardson "inkies". These are tiny little tungsten luminaires, with 150-250 watt bulbs, and the ability to block off the light with barn doors. They have fresnel lenses so they can be spotted down, or flooded out. Perfect for old-style drama. These are my favorite lights -- I like them over the big studio strobes, my LED flat panels, or the documentary style Lowell lights. For this shot, I didn't need a lot of light. After all, it's supposed to be night time. We're waiting for Santa!

Working in low light situations is interesting. It helps to tether the camera to a laptop so that focus can be determined more precisely. Canon has a utility that they ship with their professional cameras that lets you do this. Unfortunately, it doesn't function well under Mac OS Mojave, which is what the laptop is currently running. Lightroom has a basic tethering capability, but it doesn't let you control the camera remotely.

Enter Kuuvik Capture. When I discovered that Canon Capture wasn't updated for Mojave, some Googling brought me to this lovely bit of kit by Laszlo Pusztai -- Kuuvik Capture. It runs independently of Lightroom, saves images on the laptop and on the camera's capture card. It allows remote focus from the computer, as well as setting up brackets of 3-15 exposures, interval shots and more. And of course it's not cheap. But it is a finely written professional tool. Very useful. Lighting Set-upTwo Mole Richardson "inches" and a Mole "Baby" for the background

I tried adding tinsel to the tree branches. Still going for that nostalgic feel I remembered from my youth. It looked horrible. Luckily it didn't take long to decide to ditch that idea. Quite a bit of time was spent in noodling ornaments, repositioning boxes, eliminating odd overlaps, and getting everything still enough to stay sharp during the long exposures the shot required. I did a five-exposure bracket, with steps in 1 and 2 stop increments. To get the spectral highlight on the white lights I had the lens stopped down to f32, so my lightest exposure was 30 seconds.

The Burlington locomotive proved to be a bit dark for the scene. Down at Empire Train and Hobby in Troy, they hooked me up with a beautiful little Santa Fe DSD75M. The color works better with the shot, and of course it says "Santa" on the side! A few little packages in the hopper car add to the feel, along with a Merry Christmas boxcar from the 80's. Kozo used to buy new rolling stock for the layout every year until we stopped putting the train out with the tree. (Our cat Sasha liked to derail the cars when they were moving.) 

Adding another light to fill in the background a bit seemed to help define the caboose a touch. An out of sight mirror, some fill cards pushed little shafts of light around the set. Kozo suggested changing out one of the packages because the pattern seemed overly intrusive. Did that, it was a good suggestion.

Work in ProgressBack light added, package swapped, fill cards added in  Along the way, it should be pointed out that the brackets for each shot are combined into one image, using Aurora 2019. The shot above is a single exposure out of five in each bracket, without any post-production work. When I finally got an image that I was satisfied with, I made the HDR composite and then brought it into Photoshop for additional editing. The flooring on the left was extended, some minor issues with wrapping paper were fixed, and some reflections were cloned out. And then, the Photoshop edit was further refined for drama inside of Lightroom, where some additional emphasis was added, a vignette around the corners was placed, and some other magic waved over the file.

North Pole ExpressFinal image, after retouching and compositing

Here's the final product. I hope you like it -- if you'd like a copy of the Christmas card, please drop me an email at info at with your name, address and what you'd like Santa to bring you for Christmas!






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