Do things always go right?

Kitty Hawk dunes on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.Outer Banks-0848People often comment about posted photographs and ask "Are the photos you take always that good?" My first response is "Sure," but in actuality no one takes perfect photos and all photographers have a certain "failure rate" for their photos. This prompted me to look back over the calendar year of 2012, when I was traveling and photographing full-time, to see how many shots I actually took and how many were 'keepers.'  

Acquiring digital images allows one to have a tremendous amount of data regarding one's images. The camera counts every shot and the editing and post-processing sorts the images so they can be graded and then deleted or saved with the grading. So, how did I do?

Let me set up the review process for you.  I was shooting from about mid-February until the end of December. I shot exclusively with my Canon 7D except for several days on a boat trip to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada where I used my old Sony H5 for convenience. I shot 16,018 photos during the approximately 315 potential photo days or about 51 shots per day. Now these figures a skewed because I really didn't shoot every potential day - some days were travel days, some down days, some bad weather days and some just plain lazy days.

In my personal work-flow I down-load the images from the camera daily and re-name them and apply key word tagging in a software program called Adobe Lightroom. I do my initial editing, classification, and storage in this program. After the photos are imported from the camera, I delete all obvious technical failures - bad focus, motion blurring, extreme exposure errors, and bad composition. Next, I do my first cut editing and remove additional, technically flawed images and near duplicate images I shot of the same subject at about the same time and viewpoint. These processes reduced my number of 'keepers' to 10,497 or only about 66% of the shots taken.

While I am doing the first cut editing or in later review I subjectively grade the images as to how they appeal to me.  I use a 5 star score with 1 star being a very good image that I like, 2 stars being an especially good image, 3 stars being an outstanding image of special significance, and 4 stars and 5 stars being something I have yet to attain. I have never shown any image to others that didn't get at least 1 star except occasional fun stuff posted on Facebook.  Last year yielded 1,071 one-star images or 7% of the total shots and 50 two-star images or 0.3% of the total shots. I didn't capture a single image rating 3, 4 or 5 stars last year.

So there you have it, an average of about 3-4 'good' images per day of shooting and 1 very good image in every 6 days of shooting. Now there may be more images from the 35,000+ keepers that I could use with further editing and some of these are variations on other images that might appeal more to other viewers but the bottom line is if I shoot a really good image in a day of shooting it has been a good day.  The point of all of this is, if you like photography, go out and take photos whenever you can, enjoy the time shooting, and don't become frustrated if every shot is not a winner.  We all improve over time and with experience so take a lot of shots and critically review every one.  Your keepers will increase steadily.

"Twelve significant photographs in any year is a good crop."  Ansel Adams

Website Services on Natural Photography

I want to make one more blog entry to let you know about all of the current services available on this site. After this posting, I promise, we will stick to nature and photography subjects.

The site is dedicated to seeing the natural beauty of our environment close-up. Many know about our national parks and public lands and many have visited these American treasures but few are able to spend long periods or frequent visits to understand the parks and their flora and fauna. Visits may be cut short by weather and the seasonal variation is great so to truly understand the parks, you must see them under many seasonal and meteorologic conditions - hence, Natural Photography.

What can you find on this site? First anyone with internet access can view the site but to really experience all of the features it is best to Register as a user.  Registration is not onerous, it is free, and it requires only that you Log-in and submit your name and email address so we, via the site, can contact you with updates, newsletters, and new photographs and galleries. Once you are registered you can view the public portions of the site as you do now or you can log-in to have greater access for comments and private features - the choice is yours.

The site has two large groups of photographs and there is some redundancy between the groups. The Portfolio contains a general overview of the types of images you can find here and is shown on the opening slide show on the home page. The Portfolio tab at the top of each page lets you see more examples of some of the most popular photos under the general categories of animals, birds, plants, and landscapes. The next tab at the top of each page, My Photographs,  takes you to much larger collections of photo galleries. Currently, the largest collection is images from National Parks and public lands. In this collection you will find many galleries with overview images from each of the parks. Within each gallery are about 10-30 images from that park. Future collections under the My Photographs tab will include flora, fauna, natural environment and our fabricated environment. Again, each collection will contain several galleries within the general topic. There is a space for you to leave public or private comments on every gallery or individual image.

The next tab at the top of the page is Guestbook.  Here you can leave messages, general comments, critique, or suggestions on either a public or private location. We value all of your thoughts and comments and will always be able to improve with your thoughtful suggestions so please enter the Guestbook.

Next is the Blog and you must have already found this area. Here, I will try to leave commentary, discussion, and my thoughts about nature photography and photographic equipment and techniques. I hope to update the blog at least weekly and I invite you to leave your comments and thoughts about each of the entries.

The next two tabs are pretty self-explanatory.  The About tab gives a brief summary of the history of Natural Photography and the Contact tab allows you to send a private email directly to me. Finally, the Search tab is a powerful search engine that allows you to find specific photos or text within the Natural Photography site.  All of the photos have key words embedded to help you find exactly what you want by location, state, type of image, season, and animal.

Almost all of the pages, comments, collections, galleries and individual photographs have built-in sharing features so you can email photos or links to friends, subscribe to all or individual updates via RSS reader feeds (both traditional RSS and Atom) and post links on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. It is very helpful to me to have you share the site with your friends and family.

The final feature of the site is your ability to purchase any of the images for your own use. There is a Buy pop-up on every image that allows you to obtain an immediate digital down-load of any image, a print on several styles of photographic paper from 5x7 to 24x36 inches that can be matted and framed in a large selection of custom frames, or novelty items and memorabilia. You also can order mounted canvas prints and stand-outs, or foam-backed prints that are ready for display. The prints are created in a high-quality, professional lab and sent in secure packaging directly to your address. Payment is by secure credit card or PayPal and your privacy is protected by secure, third-party servers and credit card information is not seen by me and no information about you can be shared.  Your support of these products allows Natural Photography to continue to capture and make these images available to you for your personal viewing and sharing with friends and family.

Thank you for checking out the site and this blog. I hope you will find it interesting and will bookmark the site in your Favorites so you can return often.

Selling nature photographs, or not

In my entire photographic life I have never considered the idea of making my photographs available for others. I photographed what I wanted and where I wanted and hid the old 35mm slides away in dozens of metal storage boxes and Kodak Carousels. The chore of dragging out a slide projector and setting up a screen made our guests fortunate that this was a rare occurrence.  My slides remained hidden away and lost even to my memory.

Digital photography changed a lot of things and made my images available to me on a laptop at any time. I could forward a photo with an email to selected family and friends and even send the shot to multiple people at one time. I started getting comments back and found that others sometimes enjoyed seeing the same sights as I did. When I became free to travel more, my photos became more diverse and more interesting and I finally started a travel photo website. It was cumbersome, time-consuming, and difficult to maintain so I abandoned the site. Later, when I started full-time traveling, I revived the site and decided that posting photos was almost as much fun as taking them. 

Full-time travel allowed me to visit places most people dream about and to stay in places of natural beauty as long as needed to capture lasting images of the experience. I invested in camera gear, lenses, and processing software that most hobbyists cannot and the quality equipment improved the quality of the images. They were more interesting to view.

Then Natural Photography happened. Now I have a site that is easy to navigate and more pleasing to view.  Friends have asked for copies of photos and freely given their comments. Now many photos from the 20,000 plus that were taken over the last couple of years are posted and available for viewing, digital down-loading, and printing in many formats. Any image on the site is available as a print of your favorite size, matted and framed in a selection of custom frames, or printed on canvas or a ready to hang 'stand-out' foam-backed print. As novelties, images are available on mugs and cups, key chains, magnets, mouse pads, buttons, coasters, and bookmarks.

I hope you will view the galleries and find images that relate to you, your travels, and your most personal experiences and will consider down-loading the images or purchasing prints or novelties. Thanks for visiting the Natural Photography blog.