Blogodocious ramblings of a landscape photographer living in Maine.

Triptychs and diptychs oh my!

July 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Otter Cliffs Shore Path and Hurricane Arthur, Acadia National Park, Maine.

Hey there folks- been busy lately, the blog has mouldered and I haven't been in the mood to just post for the sake of posting, so it took this long to be inspired enough to come back with something to say. Get to that in a sec- first, I've been wicked busy. After hauling 200 or so pots of lobster out on the bay with Danny it takes a lot of inspiration to want to go to make new work. So I've been on a shooting schedule of about once a week if I'm lucky. There has also been a fair amount of printing and licensing to do so that has cut into the rest of the free time along with lawn mowing and I gotta watch last weeks episode of Deadliest Catch at some point. You know how it is! So the blog has mouldered. There was a time when I tried to post 6 times a week, if for no other reason than to have that as a discipline which made me feel constructive-  but it'll take the deep of winter before that'll happen again, and it has been just gorgeous here lately if not downright hot. We New Englanders have a pretty poor short term memory when it comes to the seasons. We're like: "Oh winter wasn't that bad this year, all the snow was nice!" while clutching a beer wearing shorts and sandals baking in the summer sun on the lawn. Seriously- do you remember the winter that was hammering us only three months ago? It was just over 90 days ago when my fiancee totaled her car the morning on black ice after a blizzard slammed us here in Maine and with air temps around 12 degrees f. 80 degrees later and we can't remember a thing about those times! Unless that's just me? Anyways...

Last weekend brought a rare July hurricane up the coast and whenever there is a storm like that coming the photographer part of me gets all excited. High surf warnings were forecast along with sustained 40+ knot winds, which wasn't hardly as bad as North Carolina had, but I have seen two story house sized waves pounding the granite along the coast of Acadia before (seriously 25 feet tall+ would shake the entire Earth when they broke against the cliffs) so I was psyched! Simultaneously fearing how the lobster gear would fare, while at the same time hoping for terrifyingly exciting waves to photograph- I went over to Otter Cliffs at high tide saturday afternoon. That was also the time when the storm was supposed to break and the downpour would stop, and the leading and trailing edges of storms are always amazingly dynamic for photography. Rolling into the park the signs were in place: for 'Danger High Surf proceed at your own risk' kind of thing. But it was hardly anything to freak out about- there was definitely a longer period strong swell breaking into upwards of 8 foot to 12 foot heavy wide waves, but there was a strong north wind that seemed to push most developing seas back. In the end however it was my excuse to go out and try to make something and the breakthrough moment was ultimately a printing and presentation idea. 

I've always loved a good panorama, used to compulsively make them and would hardly shoot anything but them! But it was half with the intention of how I wanted to represent an image and half to make up for some of the limitations of my poor quality consumer dslr. When I was fortunate enough to upgrade to a great camera I left all that panorama stuff behind and have been just photographing in a mostly standard fashion. And that's all been good until finding tilt-shift lens shift panoramas completely addictive, which has been for the last year or so mostly. Recently I had had an inquiry for a print commission for a bar/restaurant where one of the wall's would have 3 prints. I had been considering a group for it but then went and photographed last weekend's storm and when working on the images in Lightroom in the grid view I happened to notice how freeking nice they looked next to each other! Therefore the triptych. But instead of having 3 images in one frame this would be a partial panorama split into three vertically framed images that is the scene. And the ultimate success is if the finished installation has the feel of looking out a bay window onto the coast. Because if a print can transport a viewer in that way of immersion then that is a great success! Obviously this is not a breakthrough in the art world, just in my own sensibilities as to how to package a product and sell a solution. I didn't photograph the scene with printing it as a triptych in mind and that has caused more work in postproduction than I would have liked, but, now knowing the correct workflow: in the future I think I will start a gallery on the old website here of prints as triptychs and diptychs and have that as a project to pursue. Gotta love projects! 

So, I feel that although I haven't been as productive making new photography as I would sometimes like to be- my sensibilities and ultimately my work, at this point in my photography development (play on words there) has matured as well if not faster than if I had been photographing much more. Because then I would be distracted from conceptualizing by finishing and presenting imagery. Interesting that- I think I've often grown more through visualization doing the things I've pursued than through the actual doing of them-? And we'll leave it there for now...

Right then. That's what I've been doing, what have you guys been doing?

Have a good one - from Maine, Nate!


On maintaining creative momentum, or How I learned to stop worrying and love the process

April 21, 2014  •  5 Comments

 

"Seaside Meditations" Seaside, Oregon. (I don't understand what that white line is doing on the right- some kind of uploading artifact that I'm figuring out on right now-)

Every once in a while I find myself struggling to keep up the pace of making new 'good work', photographs that is, and the haunting idea of "maybe there will never be another 'good picture'" crosses my mind. It's not an impossible possibility- but that would be bad, hang it all up and put the kit up for sale on Ebay kind of bad. The worst kind of bad! A very real challenge that faces my photography is that I live on an island, it's attached to the mainland by a bridge but it's still an island. The island (Mount Desert Island on the coast of Maine), does happen to contain Acadia National Park, which is completely beautiful and has all kinds of different terrain and always gorgeous and varied landscapes, but I've been photographing on this island and in Acadia for the last 14 years and after a while it feels like I've made all the photographs of all the places in all the weather, from macro to 360 degree panoramas from dawn till dusk and into the night. That's not really true- there's always more places to find and more weather to influence them and more ways to photograph them, but I'm human and sometimes it can seem like there are a finite amount of possibilities. Certainly it does become more challenging to tour around the island and through the park with my gear and feel as inspired as I felt ten or five years ago while I was doing the initial discoveries. And the chances of going out to find something new and exciting are definitely not as productive feeling as it used to seem to be. So sometimes that can be a bummer. I remember "back in the day" while I was chasing sunrises thinking that if I get skunked today then the chances will be better tomorrow for getting something amazing, and if it didn't happen tomorrow then the chances would be even better the next day- somehow thats permeated into maybe sometime this month I'll find a novel photograph to make and work on that thrills me close to what I used to feel. And that's scary. 

So I've been fighting this skeleton in the closet for a while now and more and more it seems each time I go out to make new work. It's so easy in comparison to go someplace new even if it's as close as 2 hours away by car and see clearly an exciting image to make- and that's one of the great values of travel, but I don't get to do that too much. My folks live on Cape Cod though in Mass and whenever I visit them I can usually charge up with the inspiration of finding something new, and I'll often stop in Boston on the way to partake in some street photography and get some fantastic pizza in the Italian North End, but I'd like to think that it shouldn't take going so far in order to satisfy the desire to make a good image.

Therefore I've picked up a few tricks along the way that helps break up the feeling of being stuck on the hamster wheel and repeating myself like a stuttering photographer in a terminal feedback loop. I added filters (neutral density, graduated neutral density, polarizers), I went on a panorama bender for a few years, an HDR addiction for another few, now black and white with the occasional digital filter from the Nik Suite, abstracts through camera motion (kinetic photography), macro studies (not as much there so that has plenty of room for exploration), still lifes in my home studio using natural light and off camera flash. And there's really lot's more to explore so there's no reason to panic. 

Part of the problem though lies in that there have been years when it seemed like I could make as many as three or so great portfolio worthy (my portfolio that is, not Ansel's) images a week- week after week after week. So to compare the productivity of now to then seems like I'm way off the mark. But the root of that problem would seem to be the idea of competition. Competition with myself. Comparing now and then. Surely I feel like I'm a much more mature photographer than I was two or three years ago, (last year is too close to consider without imparting emotion into the images and remember when making them). So I do feel like I'm on the right track. And I try to stay somewhat removed from considering what my peers are making and comparing with them- I hang out on the social media a bit but hardly as much as I used to, there just isn't enough time! Speaking of time- it's time for a graph. This is what I'm feeling that the graph of my productivity might be represented as: the old bell curve. Nobody like a bell curve!

Quality of photographs vs time spent photographing.

Realistically the graph wouldn't bottom out on the right like this does, I just didn't really feel like creating my own graph so I apportioned one from the internets. This graph would go to show that initially as a newb photographer there is nothing but dung, but after not much time has passed you develop enough skill to make dependably satisfying imagery, then you're on fire!, then you develop your harsh critical inner voice that informs your sensibilities regarding making new work and it's all down hill from there! But my point here isn't to be pessimistic, my point is to share the conversation that I've been having with other artists over the past few weeks regarding this.

Key point number 1- focus on projects. Ken Perrin my glassblower cohort (http://www.atlanticartglass.com) and more recently my photographer friend Heather McKenney (http://hmckenney.tumblr.com) reminded me that cohesive work is buoyed through focussed projects. This is no new news to me but a helpful reminder, especially coming from people who's opinions I respect. As mature photographers we all know this lesson, we aspire to make work that compliments our previous work, we fill out our catalog of work in as succinct a way as possible. The "everything photographer" is a tough game played best by those Nat Geo guys like Joe Mcnally and Steve McCurry, but even those guys have a shtick and a style and there are very few "one-off" images or "friggers" (in glassblowing jargon). But after a while even the deepest project becomes worked, and then overworked, and then worked to death! My thing has always been about seascapes- I love landscapes but if there is no water in it I'm more than a little bummed out. And if there's a lot of water in it then I'm the most happy. But after a while worked stuff needs a rest! So this winter, which was one of the coldest and craziest that I can remember, I took to the still life studio and started messing more with photoshop compositing and stuff like that and the refreshing change that I felt making that imagery was like a very real breath of fresh air. However my portfolio doesn't have any of that kind of thing so I felt torn- like: is this what I really want to be doing? It's fun and all but does it fit? And those questions are the really complicated ones that we as artists have to occasionally consider. Can we make a drastic departure in style and not put off our fan base? Is this really the direction that I want to go in?  How will it be received, etc. See it's pretty complicated in the end. I have this idea that my reputation is all that I have, I don't have lots of money and I don't have lots of Brad Pit-ness but I do have something of a style that I've worked hard at and therefore a sense of what is good and bad and right and wrong, especially when it comes to photography. So is the artistic pursuit of photography that hopefully will get me through my whole lifetime, which will hopefully be long, and hopefully will be as interesting and fascinating to me 20 years from now as it was 2 or 3 years ago. Am I overthinking this? Do you guys ever think on this kind of thing? Has any of this made any sense? Have I just spent the last three hours lining up words vainly and should I have been trying to make pictures instead? Did the chicken really come before the egg? Does it matter that I am even alive? 

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this in the comments- 

I do know that I will be pursuing two newish seascape projects that will keep me entertained. I do plan to go back to the big cities a couple times this year to make more street, I'm looking forward to some more still life bones and photoshop projects, and who knows what next year may bring in the area of inspiration. Maybe by then I'll have taken up something freaky like skydiving and start in on freefall photography- that's the great thing about life and living, you never know what tomorrow may bring! Right?

For now, have a good one-

Nate.


Revisiting old processes reaching for new results.

April 05, 2014  •  2 Comments

Traps Dock. Bass Harbor Maine. ( 3 shot "shift panorama using Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens + 3 bracket HDR using Nik HDR Efex Pro)

Maine's finally starting to shake off winter for good, (knock on wood, loudly!), and Spring is putting a spring in my step. Starting to feel properly inspired to want to make stuff again. This particular past winter was furious to the point where it just wasn't that too compelling to revisit the places that I've been so many times before to photograph on this island- I had nothing new that was burning in me to pursue there enough to overcome the effort and pain it would take to do it. I mean here's the deal- it was usually 10 degrees f and blowing 25 knots everyday from the beginning of January up until last Tuesday. And this is April.

So things got a little dusty in the old inspiration drawer and after a while guilt got a chance to get some screen time and before you knew it I was in the artists death-spiral of "I'm worthless and will never make anything good ever again" mode. But I wasn't worried too much. Been there, done that- like the common cold "it's got to get worse before it gets better" I knew it too would pass. 

With the 'down time' I dug into the new version of Photoshop- CC, and did some online training and have a much better sense of the potential that that program can offer my own future work and some ideas for projects using compositing- which I would never have thought I would ever pursue. So that's cool. And I had a lot of time to think about where my work is now to think again about what I want it to amount to or mean and why etc. Which is always heady stuff and goes much better with a beer or two and a healthy dose of "what if none of it at all matters, at all", etc. Which is important- because when you have lot's of creative momentum and keep making and making without occasionally coming up for a breath of air to check the progress like, well- then you can't check the progress, like. :-) Long story short, it wasn't my most productive last few months artistically but I definitely think I've grown. Which is good. Either that or I'm a blind optimist. Bah. 

Right then- let's get on to some tech talk! 

Tech talk topic #1: Revisiting panoramas. I used to be hooked on making panoramas. From around 2004 through 2009 or so just about every image I set out to make was going to be in a panorama format. This started because I just wanted a much wider field of view- I'd be out photographing in the park in a cove along the ocean and everything from the North end of the beach to the South end at the cliffs would be crying out to be photographed. Or in this case a stream through the woods-

Hunter Brook Acadia. 2004.

Bubble Pond Acadia. 2004

Old Rotten Skiff over on Deer Isle. 2004

And an old two shot stitch of my doggy Grover on top of Dorr Mountain above the fog. It's got dust in the sky and the stitch is sloppy but I like it! 2005

The learning curve to make a properly pleasing perfectly plumbed and passably produced panorama took me awhile to figure out. I was using Adobe Elements back then to do the stitching of those first handheld pans which worked ok but I kept getting stitching artifacts at the seams which I would try and smooth away by cloning (terribly). So it became obvious- not so quickly though, (remember the internet wasn't hardly what it is now back in 2004), that I needed a proper nodally centered panoramic tripod head- but then, how to afford one. The popular heads back then were the Really Right Stuff heads I think and then some British special models which were all about 1000 dollars. So eventually I found the Panasaurus head in 2005, and I loved that thing for the next 4 years, almost too much.

 

here's the link http://gregwired.com/pano/Pano.htm only 99.00$! crazy inexpensive and works solid and great and is easily adjustable for all kinds of kit. -Absolutely no sponsorship for me I just loved it.

 See in order to make a proper panorama you need to eliminate parallax error (which is the change in field of view you would get if you close first one eye and then the next) and the nodal point is just in front of the sensor so you need to be able to calibrate the tripod head to align to that point. Then the tripod head can rotate around the nodal point in any direction and there will be absolutely no stitching artifacts in post production. These days it would just take a tutorial or two on Youtube and you'd be making perfectly awesome pans in a week, back then though it took me about a year and a half to start making pretty good pans. There other part of the equation was PTGUI (Panorama Tools graphical user interface) which was a hundred bucks back then and could handle elaborate stitches and render in a variety of formats for a completely different look- mercator projection vs equirectilinear etc or even render as a VR out to a Quicktime file. So I was off to the races and started painting 360 degrees of view onto my little Rebel XT's sensor. 

Tool shed. 360x not quite 180. Tripod legs and all. 2006

Great Meadow Acadia. 2006

My old bachelors pad in Hulls Cove. 2008

The Bean in Chicago with Sophie. (This one has a stitching artifact but I like it for the sentimental value. The stitch problem probably came from either a sag on that old tripod or maybe it moved a bit. Also these days I could probably have aligned it better with more modern tools.)

Then at some point along the way there I found HDR and Photomatix, distressingly now in hindsight- especially that I was only shooting in jpeg and not backing up original files well- so I consider a few years of work lost due to crappy workflow!~ Be warned! Always keep clean RAW files and never fall for fads! Easier said than done. 

Great Meadow HDR pan. 2008 (sky so ugly-!) 

Farm HDR pan- not too bad until you look up at the sky- so noisy! Arg! What was I thinking!!??

Miami Neon + HDR omgawd! such Andrew Lloyd Webber technicolor Rubbish!! Have you had enough yet?!

On the run, South of the Border- deeply under the influence of HDR blindness. -"What happens is the user becomes so impaired by the absolutely surreal lack of reality that normal perception is often completely obligated". (from the HDR recovery 12 step program users bible). I got my 5 year coin 2 weeks ago! For anybody new to the program I will sponsor you- just contact me in an email.

Those were troubling times. I'd hit my bottom. Who can blame me that shortly thereafter I never shot another panorama or HDR'd anything again until I accidentally happened across it on the iPhone years later. Went straight to black and white single shot landscapes and minimalist black and white fogscapes and long exposures with large open areas in the image. It did help massively to invest in quality glass and a much better sensor of the Canon 5D2. 

Until this past last year. My go-to lens of choice for landscape is the 24mm tilt-shift made by Canon, anyone who knows me knows how much I harp on about that lens and I've done it a lot here in the past. http://nateparkerphotography.com/blog/2012/10/the-canon-24mm-f/3-5-ts-e-the-best-lens-for-landscape-shooters--hands-down I've found myself using that lens more and more though to make 3 shot shift-pans to give the scene a larger field of view and it fits my preferred 4x5 crop format perfectly and adds a lot of dpi to the final print. This is how it works- locked off on a tripod and in manual mode you make the first shot centered then shift the lens 12 degrees full left (or up) and again full right (or down). I send the 3 files out of Lightroom to stitch in Photoshop CC, which has a much better stitching engine then ever before and layer masking can usually fix any trouble spots. The final 3 shot stitched file off my full frame 5D2 is about 65 megabytes or so which prints noticeably cleaner.  Of course shooting in RAW protects my file for the future and having good back up strategies ensure no matter how I choose to render the final image now years from now I'll be able to go back and adjust it for any changes in taste or more modern methods. 

Also last summer I wanted to upgrade my old Nik Silver Efex version before Nik got swallowed up by Google so I ended up getting the Nik Complete suite which happens to come with the HDR efex pro app. Which will introduce tech talk topic #2-

I resisted running any brackets through it for quite a while until eventually curiosity convinced me to give it a go. Went out and shot a morning of fog scapes along the shore at Wonderland and misty scenes along the trail and came home and ran the set through HDR Efex Pro. It was nice. The stuff came out fine, the control and interface of the program was enough to make powerful adjustments with enough precision to keep artifacting at bay and noise out of the process. So it was cool and all but really for all the work of initially in the field bracketing in camera properly- to running it through the extra steps of HDR Efex, I'd rather just make 1 good exposure in the field and finish it with Lightroom and Photoshop plain and simple. With good technique you can get pretty close to an HDR now anyways, However: there's one more thing.... there is one more method of HDR'ing by using just Lightroom and Photoshop to create the 32 bit image which is then 'tonemapped' using Lightroom. And I think this is the most interesting and simple approach therefore probably the one I will do occasionally moving forward. You send your bracketed images from Lightroom to Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop- Photoshop creates the HDR file and gives you a dialog box that offers a bunch of tonemapping sliders in 8 bit mode. Don't use those sliders! Instead select from the drop down bar that shows mode: 8 bit change it to 32 bit and all those sliders go away and you hit Save file which exports it to Lightroom as a 32 bit file which you then develop using the Lightroom sliders that are so much more precise and controllable and the result is theoretically a file that has stronger detail in the shadows and cleaner less noisy images. 

The bottom line here is I think it's funny how things come around full circle sometimes. Where I'd loudly sworn off the old techniques that I used to use with enough distance I can still recognize that some aspects are good about a certain processes sometimes. I guess it's a reminder to try to not be too stubborn or proud about a thing or else I could end up right back in the trappings of those dumb old technicolor HDR pans days all over again!

Bernard Maine in the fog. Lightroom HDR method. I like it enough- there is very fine grain that is not unpleasant whatsoever. The round trip process takes a few minutes on my 8 gig quad core i7 but it's not unreasonable for the special occasion that I would consider the technique.

That's it for me for now. Any thoughts on any of the above I'd be interested to hear in the comments. Have a good one!

 


Cape Cod before's and after's's's's...

February 24, 2014  •  1 Comment

I opened the 'fridge and found the blog mouldering under some old lettuce so in an effort to keep the Google web crawler fed and to prove to the rest that I'm still alive, here's some content. The old before and after trick!

"The Cape", which is home to my Ma and Dad and where I went to High School- is always good material for landscapes (Cape Cod Massachusetts). Long sweeping sanding beaches, gorgeous dunes, extensive empty parking lots (in January when it's 20 degrees f and blowing 30 knots at least), and waves and old cottages and a distinctively different offering than my rocky coast home of Maine. That's the great bit about going back home with a new journey to explore- seeing the place in a different way for the first time, the only problem is that the arm of the peninsula that is the Cape is only so big that now after photographically exploring it for the last 10 years whenever I go to visit the folks, I'm starting to feel like I've been there and done that. But it's still fun to go try again. Another thing I try and do is to stop in Boston on the way through and park the car somewhere reasonable like at a meter or find some Sunday free parking and grab some awesomely awesome pizza in the Italian North End neighborhood- seriously I used to walk for a half an hour when I lived a few miles away going to college to grab some slices at those excellent and delicious little pizzerias- this time it was Ernesto's on Salem Street- and oh it was so good! Before the before and after Cape Cod shots here's some Boston's North End on a snow day: 

Salem Street.

Waiter on a smoke break.

Modern Pastry Shop.

Snow cars.

Young smoking girl and bow-legged old guy.

Delivery guy.

Cool old stylish building.

Joey Cecco and his "boy"

And then I was off to the Cape- and here are the before and after images. For some I made some significant changes, for others just a quick buffing up and a trip over to Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, all of these following images except the first pair went to SEP2, the first pair was a more simple set up that I finished in Lightroom. My approach was trying to show and feel the harsh open winter cold beaches down there, I was hoping for some interesting skies with a more even light but faced a hard clear sky with full sun and strong cold winds for two out of the three days. Clear skies are always the bane of my existence when I'm out with the kit, but I had to take the opportunity as it was. If anything, clear skies always show you where the dust is on the sensor at a stopped down aperture and the good news is that I'm fairly clean in that department! 

felt like some kind of Edward Hopper scene-

Sunset snow reflections

Off season feel-

saw this scene when I made the first shots of the weekend and went to make it two days later-

Jetty

Snow beach fence shapes

A curve that reminded me of the shape of Cape Cod-

And there you have it. My basic workflow is normalizing the RAW file in Lightroom by setting white balance, white points and black points, contrast adjustments, a touch of clarity depending on the subject, and then going right away to the Nik Silver Efex Pro black and white converter. This is old news but the black and white converters (whichever one you happen to choose) do a great job of controlling the darks and lights but while maintaining and generating a glowing dimensional luminance- if you do it right. After the conversion ships back to Lightroom I'll make some further adjustments if necessary to anything that seems to be needing- then I'll round trip to Photoshop CC for further dodging and burning and a touch of sharpening using either the Smart Sharpen filter on a Smart Sharpen Layer or the Unsharp Filter. Lastly I'll check the toning as for the most part I like a warmer feel than a cold print and then it's done and it's on to the next. 

Kind of waiting for the winter to break before considering more landscapes around here as nothing is really screaming at me to 'go make that photo'- so I'm thinking of using the still life studio some more. We'll see. 

Until then, thanks for stopping by and have a good one! -Nate.


On Breaking the Rules= Don't Always Show Your Best Work?

February 01, 2014  •  2 Comments

Deer Isle Ice Cakes

There's a popular photography euphemism that goes: "only show your best work". I get it. There's another that goes "your first 10,000 photos are your worst". And then there's another that's something like- "you'll be remembered for your worst photo?", and another that says "My favorite picture I'll make tomorrow". I get all of that. But it occurred to me after looking at the Ansel Adams calendar that my Mom gets me for Christmas every year that there are some images in those calendars that I've never seen before therefore aren't necessarily his most iconic and famous pictures, like Moon Over Half Dome or Moonrise Over Hernandez are. And I've seen a lot of other Ansel images over the years like his color panoramas when he was doing his ad campaign with Polaroid and close up detail images of barns etc that you wouldn't necessarily associate with Ansel. He produced a lot of photographs in his life and all of it wasn't always necessarily spectacular in the way those Moonrise Over Hernandez and Moon Over Half Dome are. But don't get me wrong, I love almost all of it. And it's the very nature of having a varied and diverse portfolio that makes those standout shots even more stunning and impactful.

If I were to stick by the virtue of only showing my "best work" then I would be a scarce entity around these parts. I hope for around 12 good shots a year which comes from another of those popular photographers euphemisms. I think it's more important to keep a presence and to keep a slow but dependable drip of content coming in these days of the social internets. My way of producing is pretty much make images around once or twice a week of maybe 3 to 12 scenes and then work on them over the next few weeks/months/years to nurture something out of them. After a while your work accumulates and makes for a body of work that you call a portfolio and which will have natural high points and low points. Just like a symphony, it's not always forte and in your face, sometimes it's the more quiet connecting periods that are more beautifully nuanced. And those are what makes it interesting to follow someone over a long period- to see what someone is going to make tomorrow, can they top that last awesome shot, what changes will you make over time, etc. And if we were only showing our "best" work then it would be a lot harder to get an average of the whole thing, to see the arc. Know what I mean? Now don't think I'm making excuses for boring content- every new time out with your kit and post processing session in front of the monitor should be another opportunity to do your best work, to keep the learning curve moving in an upward and or forward direction!

There's another reason why it's useful to show your work- to get feedback. Not just out of pride fluffing or on the other hand being dealt a pity party, but if you subjectively consider how your images are being received then you can modify accordingly. I find it rewarding to show my images and track the feedback and popularity of particular pictures sometimes out of just sheer entertainment but other times to see what people and other photographers like. Not that we should care what others like, or think, (make that work for you artist person: I dare you!) but it always gets me when I post an image that didn't make the initial cut and seemed to be a big mistake but which later is a big hit with everyone else. That always leaves me shaking my head. Therefore maybe your best photograph you have already made you just haven't realized it yet? Woah. That's heavy.

One more time: that doesn't mean that anything goes. Standards are everything. With every new image I'm giving it 'my best shot'. With every new image I'm continuing trying to master the workflow of creating a "fine art" photograph, I'm trying out new approaches and modifying technique that will hopefully all go to making a better image tomorrow. You see where I'm coming from here- you have to keep up with your game in order to build on where you've come from, and hopefully in the process there will be standout opportunities that make the definitive shot of the year. 

Anyways- just goes to show that the "rules" are there for a reason but also are there to be broken and exploited and twisted and manipulated to our satisfaction. Just keep the Lolcats and duck face selfies and what we had for lunch to a minimum and everybody wins!