Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Finding your Niche

My photos are all over the place. I think the word "Eclectic" was invented for me. I haven't found my niche yet. Or have I?

The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) rolled out their new website a couple of weeks ago and although the old 'portfolios' will be available for a few more weeks, members have to recreate their portfolio from scratch if they want a continuing presence. For now, they've removed the limit of 24 images and some people have gone nuts and uploaded dozens and dozens. But I think (a) nobody's ever going to look at that many pictures and (b) that's a place where you want to post only the best of the best.
I still haven`t found the correct link syntax so that non-NAPP members can see your portfolio. I`ll post it when I find out. In the meantime, you have to take it on faith. If you ARE a NAPP member, you can see my portfolio here.

Update: it seems it does work. Try it if you`re not a member and let me know if it doesn`t link to my portfolio. 

So in the process of creating a new portfolio, I looked through my keepers and chose the pictures I thought best represent me. So far I`ve uploaded 16 images. It`s interesting that of the 16, 11 of them are landscapes, 2 are architectural, there are 2 of sled dogs and one shot of the band `FOG`. All but two of them are either HDR`s or have been toned in programs like Topaz Adjust 5.

I`ve shot some portraits. Some journalism. I`ve done tabletop studio work. I`ve shot wildlife and I`ve created some abstracts. I`ve done action — whitewater kayaking, hockey, motorcycling — none of these have made it into my top 16.

What that says is, I have found my niche. It is `Post-Processed Landscape Photographs`. These are my favourites. That`s not to say that I won`t put some different work up: in fact I want to add a couple of action shots and some abstract art but clearly my main thing is landscapes and I enjoy making textures and detail stand out. For that reason, I`m seriously considering upgrading to the Nikon D800 in the upcoming months because that camera is dedicated to what I do best.

Speaking of Wildlife photography

John Reed is a friend of mine, whom I met through the motorcycle instructor program at Humber College. He`s also a dedicated photographer but is so low key about it that I haven`t truly appreciated the images that he creates. Recently, John was on a workshop in Yellowstone Park and the images that he brought back are truly outstanding. He gave me permission to publish a link to his online album here. I especially love the wolf pictures towards the bottom of the portfolio. Click on this link for one of my favourite shots, then be sure to click the word `Yellowstone`at the top of the page to view the whole gallery. His other galleries are worth a look too!

John hooked me up with Mike Bertelsen and I`ll be doing a two-day workshop with Mike in June, shooting moose in Algonquin Park. Maybe I`ll have my D800 by then...

More news

A week or so ago, I posted about a Blurb book that I had created in response to a call for entries in a competition at the Richmond Hill Camera Club. It seems that I WON! The committee judged my book the most worthy (and there were some very fine entries so I feel very honoured!). I`m still not ready to put up a link to the book because it`s not yet in printable form, there`s some polishing to do, but I`ll post it soon.

The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP)  Forums

I`ve mentioned NAPP several times in my Blog over the years, and I HIGHLY recommend joining the organization to anyone who is into digital photography in any way. The learning resources are phenomenal and the subscription to Photoshop User Magazine is more valuable than the $99 annual membership fee (I`ve gone digital: I don`t get paper magazines mailed to me any more). Click here or on the link at right to peruse the site or to join.

As I said at the beginning of this post, NAPP has revised their website. There are many interesting and valuable areas but none more compelling than the Member Discussion Forums. Non-members can browse the forums, but you need to be a member to post messages or replies there. The link is the same (here): members should then create a login (it`s separate from the main site). It`s amazing how many questions about Photoshop, Lightroom, even the plug-ins, printing and general digital photography are answered by the gurus who hang out there. If you`re a NAPP member and you`ve not visited the forums before, please do!

Architectural Images

In my sometimes-not-so-humble-opinion, architectural pictures need to be straight. That doesn`t just mean level, it also means perspective. A vertical wall has to look vertical, not slanted away from you which is what you get especially when you shoot with a wide angle.

On Friday, I shot some pictures for a friend of mine who, among other things, facilitates signage and storefront renovations (Corporate Imaging is their mainstay: everything from signage to t-shirts, from web design to printed literature and logo design. Check out `StylesQ` here). Their website is being totally revamped which is one reason I was out shooting pictures for them but their contact email is working fine). Now I love Styles dearly, he's a great friend (friends will help you move; great friends will help you move a body! LOL) but I think he takes a very unsophisticated view of all things technical, including computer and photography stuff.

He wanted a straight up image of a storefront he did. Here it is.

Everything's pretty straight. I shot it from about 20' in front of the store, straight on, making sure that my reflection was not visible (hidden by the doorframe). I did have to use a wide angle because there's a tree right beside me and I couldn't go back any more. It is what it is, I hate to use the word "boring" but, well, if the shoe fits...
But Styles told me he wanted this picture for his website, to show an example of his work. So I shot it a little differently and then used my post-processing skills to come up with this one:

When you shoot on a angle, things are no longer square. That was the case here, so I used the Lens Correction tool in Lightroom to square it up. I used it in the other picture too, but just a little bit.
I also did some other stuff to the picture: it's an HDR so you can see a broad range of detail. I mixed in a line-art conversion to give some definition and focus to the textures and give it more of a graphic feel; and the vignette keeps the focus on their store, not on the surroundings. Here's another store he did, across the road:

I'd like the opportunity to do more of this kind of work. It's quite a challenge and frankly, I like the results! So if you want to hire me...

Lightroom 4 is out.

Just announced today and it's already available at B&H. The full program is $149 and an upgrade from Lightroom 3 is only $79. How can you not???

So that's it for today!  See you next time.

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