Bob Clark Photography

Outdoor Photography of the Rocky Mountain West

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Photographer's Blog

White Balance

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About seven years ago, I had the opportunity to photograph wild Chukar in the California Desert.  I was relaxing in my camper in the late afternoon when I thought I heard these wily birds.  I looked out the screen door and sure enough, there were Chukar feeding their way through the brush toward where I was parked.  I cautiously opened the screen door and waited for their approach.  They were soon crossing the dirt road about thirty feed behind me.

I grabbed my camera, at the time a D70, and began taking photos.  In my haste, I did not check the white balance.  After the birds were gone, I looked at the images on the preview screen and didn't like what I saw.  The color was way off, there was very poor contrast and you could hardly see the birds.  When I checked the white balance, I saw that it was set to an indoor setting.  If I had even changed it to auto, I would have had acceptable images.

The moral of the story is -- always check your white balance before shooting.  It will save you a lot of processing time later and yield much more acceptable photographs.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:11

Why Microstock Fails

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I recently went to the iStockphoto site to see what photos they had of hunting scenes.  One photo of a double-barrel shotgun laying on a table with the action open was labeled "loaded shotgun".  Another of a shooter with a trap gun was labeled "shooting sheet".  Two upland hunters in a field with blaze orange vests was labeled "bird hunters hunting Dove, Quail, Chukar, or Pheasant".  Don't they have anyone who knows anything about hunting looking at these things?  Any editor that would use one of these photos deserves to get laughed at.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:12

Desert Trash

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I was out in East Mojave recently and continue to be amazed at the disrespect shown to our outdoors.  Discarded beer cans, beer bottles, fast-food wrappers, empty shotgun shells, plastic bags, etc.  How do we get the message across to pick up after ourselves?  This applies to everyone using the outdoors, from hikers, hunters, and fishermen to birdwatchers.  Do we throw our beer cans on the ground at home?  Then why do it in the desert?  I enjoy bird hunting in the desert in the fall and winter, but I don't enjoy seeing trash left by slob hunters who spoil it for the rest of us.  If you are hunting with a shotgun, pick up your empties after shooting.  It's not so tough to bend down and pick up that empty shell and leave the area like you found it.

We recently hunted in an area of the Lucerne Valley that attracts target shooters.  To see where someone shot a box of shotguns shells and left all the empty shells on the ground is disgusting and disrespectful of our sport.  There are many areas of the Cleveland National Forest that are now closed to target shooting because shooters left empty shells, shot up targets, broken bottles, shot up appliances, and other debris behind.  If we don't want to lose the privilege to shoot in BLM areas, we need to clean up and make sure others do too.  Let's all show more respect for the outdoors!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:14

Photokina kicks off this week in Germany

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The news from Photokina in Germany is all about consumer and "prosumer" digital cameras, with no announcements from Nikon or Canon about anything for the pro market.  As camera manufacturers continue to flood the market with high end consumer cameras, it makes you wonder if they are not shooting themselves in the foot.  Many of the buyers of these cameras are the amateurs who upload anything and everything to microstock sites.  They are not looking for income from their photography, they are looking for recognition, they want to see their photos online, maybe make $.50 from the sale of a picture.  They are killing the stock photo market for the rest of us.

Are camera manufacturers contributing to lower stock sales with these products?  Yes.  Is it to their long-term benefit to continue to produce and market these products?  My opinion is NO.  What is yours?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:14

Need for Photoshop Questioned

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There is a discussion taking place on the LinkedIn "Digital Photography" group regarding the use of Photoshop.  One school of thought says that if you use good photographic technique, you don't need to enhance or alter the image in Photoshop.  Another school of thought says that photographers have always processed their photos after the shoot, just in different ways.  A third seems to use the no holds barred technique of anything goes.  If you can do it then it's OK.  In the days of film, custom prints were made using techniques of dodging and burning to enhance parts of a photo.  So the argument goes, how does that differ from the use of Photoshop to enhance contrast or bring out color in a raw image?  It probably doesn't.

My feeling is that if you are using darkroom techniques with Photoshop to enhance an image without altering the composition, then that is acceptable.  I see way too many "pro" shots lately that are overly "Photoshopped" to the point of becoming computer art rather than photographs.  In my opinion that is cheating.  If you have to add backgrounds, remove clouds, etc, then you didn't take a good enough photo to begin with.  My use of Photoshop is primarily using darkroom techniques for some enhancement, but I don't believe in making computer art out of a photograph.

What do you think?  I'd love to hear from others on this subject.  Send me an email!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:15

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