The Halcyon hotel is hosting a series of Artist Talks and have invited me to speak on Thursday, December 15th at 5 pm. The location is 245 Columbine St, Denver, CO 80206. No RSVP is required, but space is limited.
During the one hour presentation I’ll be sharing the stories behind my favorite images, such as:
The Angel Gabriel, who is he and why did I call him that?
Swimming Towards the Light, how did I get this underwater shot? Is this an underwater shot?
How the Harbinger series got started on a hot summer’s day in the middle of Nowhere, Utah.
How did I photograph the Moai of Easter Island in a photo studio?
Are those real ghosts that you photographed at Auschwitz-Birkenau?
Why do all of these Ukrainians have their eyes shut?
How did I find and photograph so many icebergs?
And many others stories about many other images.
Please come and spend an hour with me and learn about some of my favorite images.
I’m proud to announce that I’ve contributed a small portion to my friends new eBook: The Black and White Landscape. Andrew Gibson has done a wonderful job of compiling relevant information and illustrating it with wonderful images…and he is selling it for a ridiculously low price. The wonders of eBook publishing!
I am self taught and learned a great deal of what I know by reading the Time-Life series on photography back in the 60’s. I wish I would have had this resource back then, Andy’s eBook is so much better, please check it out!
I’ve just processed the first images from my Canon 5D Mark IV and wanted to report back on what I’ve found. To recap my previous post regarding the Mark IV: I love the new features and increased resolution, but my litmus test is how much noise there is on images with long exposures of 2 minutes and longer, and particularly those images that have been underexposed (which is how I shoot).
I’m happy to report that the Mark IV does much better than what I experienced with the 5DSr. Exposures up to 2 minutes are very clean. The image above was a 2 minute exposure and I was very happy with the quality and noise levels.
But what about images that are over 2 minutes? Here’s a 6 minute exposure:
Monolith No. 97 – 6 minutes
This image was shot at sunset and was greatly underexposed (perhaps by 3 stops) due to the sun going down during the exposure. I found it had much more noise than a 2 minute exposure, but I was still able to work with it and salvage the image. So I was pretty happy about that.
Here is the same scene with a 2 minute exposure:
Monolith No. 98 – 2 minutes
There is no doubt that this image is cleaner and has less noise. But as I said, with a little extra work the 6 minute exposure was usable.
Patterning. I don’t really know what to call this phenomenon I’ve seen with the Mark III sensor, but I call it “patterning.” It’s a pixel pattern that shows dark streaking vertical lines in areas that have been heavily dodged and burned.
This is an example of light patterning from a Mark III image. Sometimes I have to back off my dodging and burning in these areas or I’ll break up the lines with dozens of healing brush taps.
Fortunately I have not yet seen this patterning appear with the Mark IV images, which is very encouraging. But again I’ve only shot and processed a few images.
Conclusion: I am very optimistic that the Mark IV images are going to serve me well with my style of long exposure and underexposed shooting.
I am in Bandon, Oregon and have just received my new Canon 5D Mark IV today. I have spent only a few hours with it and wanted to share my very, very first impressions.
First, it’s pretty easy to learn since it’s so much like the Mark III. That’s a good thing.
But they’ve added several new features that will make my life easier, including:
They have moved the position of the remote control terminal to the front of the camera. This means that you can now use the remote cable release and keep the left side connector covers in place. This is important because previous models have had a light leak on the left side when doing very long exposures. I’m hopeful that leaving the covers in place will now block the light leak.
The Camera now has a long exposure timer, something that they introduced on the 5DS. This means I can use Bulb mode to do very long exposures without a cable release, or more importantly, continue to shoot very long exposures if my cable release fails (as happened when my primary and backup cable releases failed on Easter Island).
A wonderful new feature allows the Mark IV to wirelessly transmit JPEG images to my iPhone. Here’s a Bandon image that I shot on the Mark III and then transmitted with the Mark IV:
My camera is set up to save a RAW and a JPEG, which I then transmit to the iPhone where I can do some minimal adjustments.
And then there’s the Mark IV’s sensor increase to 30 megapixels, which is a 7.5% improvement. I feel this is a more reasonable and balanced increase than what they did with the 5DSr going to 50 megapixels.
Which brings me to the real test of the camera (for me and my applications): how much noise is introduced by the new sensor during a very long exposure (greater than 2 minutes). If you will recall, I had a very bad experience with excessive noise on the Canon 5DS images
So I had the camera shipped to me here in Bandon, where I was hoping to do some long exposure work and put the camera to the test. However we have had two big storms and I’ve only been able to get out shooting twice.
And now they’re saying the storm arriving tonight will bring 80 mph winds, 40 foot waves and rain through the duration of my trip!
A good friend sent me these articles about writing and I thought to myself: the author really isn’t talking writing, but about creating. What he says applies to writing, painting, photographing and every other type of creative endeavour.
BySTEVEN PRESSFIELD | Published: SEPTEMBER 21, 2016
I stumbled onto the website of a novelist I had never heard of. (He’s probably never heard of me either.) What I saw there got me thinking.
What if we worked our whole life and never sold a single painting?
The site was excellent. It displayed all fourteen of the novelist’s books in “cover flow” format. They looked great. A couple had been published by HarperCollins, several others by Random House. The author was the real deal, a thoroughgoing pro with a body of work produced over decades.
Somehow I found myself thinking, What if this excellent writer had never been published?
Would we still think of him as a success?
(In other words, I started pondering the definition of “success” for a writer.)
Suppose, I said to myself … suppose this writer had written all these novels, had had their covers designed impeccably, had their interiors laid out to the highest professional standards.
Suppose he could never find a publisher.
Suppose he self-published all fourteen of his novels.
Suppose his books had found a readership of several hundred, maybe a thousand or two. But never more.
Suppose he had died with that as the final tally.
Would we say he had “failed?”
Would we declare his writing life a waste?
[I’m assuming, for the sake of this exercise, that our writer had been able somehow to support himself and his family throughout his life or that, if he had been supported by someone else (as van Gogh was looked after by his brother Theo), that that was okay with him and with the person supporting him.]
Then I asked myself, What if that was me?
How would I feel about those fourteen books? Would I consider them an exercise in folly? Vanity? Demented self-indulgence?
Would I say to myself, “What’s wrong with you? Why do you continue this exercise in futility? Wake up! Get a job!”
Could I justify all that effort and somehow convince myself that it was worthy, that it had been an honorable use of my time on Earth?
It won’t surprise you, if you’re at all familiar with my thinking in this area, to hear that I would immediately answer yes.
Yes, I would consider that hypothetical writer a success.
I might even declare him a spectacular success.
No, his writing life was not wasted.
No, he had not squandered his time on the planet.
And yes, I would say the same if that writer were me.
My own real-life career is not that far off from this hypothetical. I wrote for seventeen years before I got my first dollar (a check for $3500 for an option on a screenplay that never came near getting made.) I wrote for twenty-eight years before my first novel was published.
What, then, constitutes success for a writer? Is it money? Sales? Recognition? Is it “expressing herself?” Is it “getting her ideas out there?”
Or is it something else?
I’m going to take the next few weeks’ posts and do a little self-examination on this subject, which I think is especially critical in this era of the web and Amazon and print-on-demand and instant and easy self-publishing, these days when literally a million new books appear each year. How do we, how do you and I navigate these waters, not just financially or professionally but psychologically, emotionally, spiritually?
[Thanks to our friend David Y.B. Kaufmann for suggesting this topic.]
BySTEVEN PRESSFIELD | Published: SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
If you’re a writer struggling to get published (or published again) or wrestling with the utility or non-utility of self-publishing, you may log onto this blog and think, Oh, Pressfield’s got it made; he’s had real-world success; he’s a brand.
J.K. Rowling has earned her spot on the Elite List
Trust me, it ain’t necessarily so.
I don’t expect to be reviewed by the New York Times. Ever. The last time was 1998 for Gates of Fire. That’s eighteen years ago. The War of Art was never reviewed, The Lion’s Gate never. My other seven novels? Never.
I’ve got a new one, The Knowledge, coming in a month or two. It will be reviewed, I’m certain, by no one.
If I want to retain my sanity, I have to banish such expectations from my thinking. I cannot permit my professional or artistic self-conception to be dependent on external validation, at least not of the “mainstream recognition” variety. It’s not gonna happen. I’m never gonna get it.
If you’re not reviewed by the New York Times (or seen on Oprah) your book is gonna have tough, tough sledding to gain awareness in the marketplace. No book I publish under Black Irish is going to achieve wide awareness. BI’s reach is too tiny. Our penetration of the market is too miniscule. And even being published by one of the Big Five, as The Lion’s Gate was by Penguin in 2014, is only marginally more effective.
There are maybe a hundred writers of fiction whose new books will be reviewed with any broad reach in the mainstream press. Jonathan Franzen, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, etc. I’m not on that list. My stuff will never receive that kind of attention.
Does that bother me? I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t want to be recognized or at least have my existence and my work acknowledged.
On the other hand, it’s curiously empowering to grasp this and to accept it.
It forces you to ask, Why am I writing?
What is important to me?
What am I in this for?
Here is novelist Neal Stephenson from his short essay, Why I Am a Bad Correspondent:
Another factor in this choice [to focus entirely on writing to the exclusion of other “opportunities” and distractions] is that writing fiction every day seems to be an essential component in my sustaining good mental health. If I get blocked from writing fiction, I rapidly become depressed, and extremely unpleasant to be around. As long as I keep writing it, though, I am fit to be around other people. So all of the incentives point in the direction of devoting all available hours to fiction writing.
I asked hypothetically in last week’s post, What if a writer worked her entire life, produced a worthy and original body of work, yet had never been published by a mainstream press and had never achieved conventional recognition? Would her literary efforts have been in vain? Would she be considered a “failure?”
Part of my own answer arises from Neal Stephenson’s observation above.
I wrote for twenty-eight years before I got a novel published. I can’t tell you how many times friends and family members, lovers, spouses implored me for my own sake to wake up and face reality.
Because my reality was not the New York Times or the bestseller list or even simply getting an agent and having a meeting with somebody. My reality was, If I stop writing I will have to kill myself.
I have no choice.
I don’t know why I was born like this, I don’t know what it means; I can’t tell you if it’s crazy or deluded or even evil.
I have to keep trying.
That pile of unpublished manuscripts in my closet may seem to you (and to me too) to be a monument to folly and self-delusion. But I’m gonna keep adding to it, whether HarperCollins gives a shit, or The New Yorker, or even my cat who’s perched beside me right now on my desktop.