Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Can you fit creativity in a formula?

twisted and convoluted musings... if you have no idea what I'm trying to say here, well me too! If you do, please share it with me!
I'm trying to come up with an explanation why I've fallen behind on my blog posts. I know that thousands of people wake up every morning and are disappointed that there's no new article posted here. I can't tell you how many people have written to wonder what's going on! Well I could tell you, but then I'd have to...
Some of you haven't gotten around to clicking that "Newsletter"button at upper right. Please do so I can give you a heads up when a new article is about to appear. Once a week or so. You can unsubscribe with just one click, so don't be scared!
It also helps me get the word out about deals available: for instance the 33% discount on Topaz DeNoise going on until the end of June. Click this link and use the coupon code, "JUNEDENOISE". 

I've developed a theory so here it is in all its glory. Please try to follow my convoluted thinking!  It's about a function called "Ж", pronounced "Zheh".

Someone said, "The Sum of a Man's Sins is a Constant". Unbelievably, Google doesn't know who said it! If I were guessing, I'd say Robert A. Heinlein, who also said one should grok life in fullness.

The implication is that if you decrease one indulgence, the others increase to compensate for it. Smoke less, you drink more. If you don't drink, you enjoy carnal pleasures. Or any of the other sins. You grok?

I eat.

I think it's not really a constant, it bears a topological relationship with age and life experience and one needs to do a differential analysis to define the function.
Let's call the function "Springer's Sigma". "ς"

I think creativity works the same way. The Sum of one's Creative Expressions is a Constant. If you get interested in one creative outlet, the others will decline. Make sense?

For example, a while ago I decided I really want to try putting a paintbrush on canvas. A real paintbrush, not a digital one. The creative spirit that was directed towards creating photographs has been partly redirected. So has my writing drive. Similarly, listening to Tommy Emmanuel's virtuoso guitar has really revived my interest in expressing myself musically. I bought a decent guitar and play it every day. But I haven't turned on my piano keyboard in months, that creative drive has also been redirected.

I'm slowly getting better at both of those things (guitar and painting). Although I've hit a plateau in both, which is really frustrating. And at the same time I'm shooting pictures, and I'm still writing but each day I have to decide on which endeavour I should concentrate that day.

I'm calling that function,  "Glenn's Zheh" or "Ж"

ς is obvious.  It's the lower case Greek letter Sigma (when it's used to end a word). Sigma is usually used to express "sum" and the word Sin begins with 'S'. 

Ж is a Cyrillic letter. It's a voiced palato-alveolar sibilant that has no equivalent in Western alphabets but it has "alvar" in it and I've been shooting bird pictures in the Carden Alvar, so there you go.

The total amount of energy one has to devote to creative pursuits is mitigated by one's perceived age and general state of health and can be expressed as:

Ж = f(λ)/π²•η

where lambda represents laziness, pi is perceived age and eta is health.

So I have a decreasing Zheh which has been spread over several disciplines so that's why I haven't written my blog in a couple of weeks. Make sense?

PanAm Games

And I'm gearing up for the PanAm Games. I did get my press credentials, it's really exciting!

Apparently with this I can go get my actual press pass and the vest they're issuing to photographers and journalists, without which you don't get in to any venues. The bad news is that I have to trek down to the CNE to pick it up next week.

The more I learn about the Whitewater venue, the less happy I am! They've sold 500 spectator tickets (yeah, where are they going to stand?) and they've closed the east side of the river to everyone because it's too dangerous. Press positions will be limited too, and spaces are first-come-first-served but I'll bet CTV and CBC and SportsNET will be hogging all the good spots! I guarantee it's going to be a challenge!

I might also try to go to the Shooting venue in Innisfil one day (I think it's the old "Toronto International Trap and Skeet" club). I just read that Susan Nattrass is leading the Canadian team: she shot in the 1976 Olympics! I worked with her brother Brett at one point. Also Don Kwasnycia is coaching. I knew him back then too.

Speaking of the Carden Alvar...

I don't want to bore you to death with endless pictures of exotic flora and fauna. If you're interested, I put images up on a SmugMug page here: If you click any image and hover your mouse over the lower left corner, you can see a description.

Here's one of my latest shots, it's a barn swallow shot at the blind on Wylie Road. Click here to see more images.

I thought I'd try a couple of the new features in Photoshop CC 2015. All this has is multiple strokes on the text but I thought it would make a good header picture. There's one really hot new feature – dehaze – but I'll show you that next week

I attended the Mud Bog last weekend. Last year I got my camera all muddy and it took me hours with Q-tips and other cleaning tools to get it clean. This year I was more careful!

If you don't know what a "Mud Bog" is, check out this video. Shot with the N70-200/2.8 on my D800.
This guy makes it look easy! It isn't.

A couple of my favourite shots from the event. 

They also had a "show and shine" and I should have stayed around but instead, I went to another event, the Food Fair at Wintergreen's.

Our host, Tom, was smoking a couple of turkeys. If this doesn't get your salivary glands working, you must be a vegetarian or something! 

Here are a few flower pictures for your enjoyment!

I'm waiting for the mailman to deliver the set of extension tubes I ordered. In the meantime, these were shot with my N70-200 f/2.8 and cropped a little bit.

This is a poppy-to-be, at my next-door neighbour's. 

An Iris, same place 

At my house, I have more plants than flowers. This is a Hosta (I think!) 

On the side of Highway 35 there's a Lupin patch. Some Topaz Impression gave it that painterly look.

One for the Road

We did a mini-food photography workshop at the camera club. This was a setup I styled, and I shot it using some continuous lights and a light tent, plus an off-camera strobe to soften the shadows. Again, Topaz Impression for finishing, using one of the Georgia O'Keeffe presets. 

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

I'm Famous!

I'm Famous!
(not rich yet, though)

PhotoLife Magazine has chosen my image, "Dahlia Impressions" for their June/July 2015 edition. And printed it... not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES!



On the Index page and in the story inside

It's quite an honour to be chosen as the lead image from all the photography clubs in Canada! As I write this, the original print is on display at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery in Minden and you can purchase this original image, impeccably printed and framed by contacting me directly.

Seriously. It's for sale. After this original sells, I'll start a limited edition of prints and prices will go up. Hurry.

There are matching prints of other floral subjects available as well.

Start, or expand your collection of Glenn Springer fine art prints now!

This is for the photographers in my audience.

Topic #1: A place to hang out on Facebook
I've long been involved in some discussion forums online, back to the old NAPP days and then when that died, to a smaller group called "TIF — The Imaging Forum", which still exists but it's pretty quiet (Here's a link to the forum itself. It's free to join...). That's because everyone seems to have migrated to Facebook, where it's harder to organize and maintain an ongoing multi-threaded discussion, but much easier to get a dialog going on a specific topic, to share images and get constructive criticism.

So I helped create a Facebook group called, well, "TIF — The Imaging Forum" and I've included a hyperlink to it here. It's different from the huge FB groups like 'Photoshop and Lightroom' which has over 100K members, but it's got some very friendly and helpful people in it that go back to the old days, as I mentioned. These are people who want to learn, share or help: some are new or novice and others are very knowledgeable and it's not limited by geography, we have people from all over the world! It's kind of like a "Camera Club in the Cloud"!

You need to join the group to participate: it's a closed group so 'anything you post in TIF, stays in TIF'! which means it can't be directly shared outside the group.  Click "join" and the moderator (me!) will approve you.
Note: this group is ONLY for friendly, helpful people. If you're a sh1t-disturber, you'll get kicked out right away. 
If you're on Facebook, have a look. It will take a while to get a critical mass of topics going, so be patient. That can be a good thing, too: you won't get overloaded with messages!

Topic #2: My new preferred shooting mode!
A few weeks ago, I started experimenting with auto-ISO, with the camera mode set on Manual. It's changed my shooting style some, so it's worth talking about.

Some background. I watched the following video from a fellow named Steve Perry.

I was somewhat skeptical but you know what? It works. He very clearly tells you off the top that (1) it works on pretty well all modern Nikons, but only some Canons and other cameras, but he tells you in the video how to find out if it works in your camera. And (2) it's not for everyone and certainly not for every situation. I find it useful when shooting any kind of action – could be wildlife, could be sports – but turn it off when shooting static subjects or landscapes, situations where I have time to reflect and don't have to shoot on the fly.

Now if you care about what ISO you're shooting, you have to be careful to preset the maximum ISO limit in your camera. When don't you care? Well, when you're shooting those action or quick shots and the image story or content is more important. I've found that the high-ISO performance of my D800 is awesome: I can get low noise images even as high as ISO 6400. But you don't have to go that high!

So what's the big advantage? I've long taught that what makes or breaks the quality of a picture is the aperture: you choose the depth of field you want to select the feel of your composition. So I recommend Aperture-Priority mode in most cases. But when you shoot action, the shutter speed is equally important – maybe even more so if it involves freezing (or on the other side, allowing) motion. And shutter speed is a consideration when you take camera shake into account.

So this gives you the best of both worlds! You can go into manual mode, choose both the aperture and the shutter speed you want, and let the camera choose the ISO! Like I said, it's not appropriate ALL the time, but it's now my go-to mode when shooting anything that moves.

Don't take my word for it: watch the video and try it. And let me know what you think! The best way to do that is on Facebook: link to the "TIF — The Imaging Forum" page as I mentioned above.

More from Carden Plain

First of all, I get why you need a big mother lens when you shoot birds. I've managed to capture some presentable images with my 70-200 + 1.7x teleconverter but you really want to have a 500mm or 600mm lens for this. I'm fortunate in that (a) I have an outstanding camera in the D800 that allows me to crop tightly and still have enough pixels to make an acceptable display image and (b) I have a lens good enough to retain the acuity that I need, but for the large format print work I'd like to do, it isn't enough. Someone suggested I trade in my car for a lens. If only I could!

That said, it's not only about taking their pictures, it's about SEEING the birds in the first place! I'm really not very good at that, which tells you that you really should think about visiting the Carden Plain because you're sure to do better than me.

Carden Alvar is not just about birds, it's about other indigenous wildlife as well, and flowers too. I hope to get back there to shoot some more before they're gone.

This is called "Prairie Smoke" and it is ubiquitous in Carden Plain. Hope they're still around next visit.

 The Scarlet Indian Paintbrush is hard to photograph effectively. I had to resort to Topaz Impression
(Palette Knife/Oil Painting) to get one that I liked.

Here's a few birds...

Pretty common Song Sparrow, doing his thing on a fence. I like the framing of this shot. BTW there were some out-of-focus weeds in the foreground, minimized by a large aperture.

American Bittern, not common here, in a typical stance. He's saying, "you can't see me! I have great camouflage and  I'm going to hold still"! Works better when you're not on a green background, dude!

The story on the bittern is that as I headed down the trail on the Sedge Wren Marsh Walk, a birder coming the other way said, "there's a heron just to the left when you reach the river". Guess she wasn't a birder either, I was expecting a great blue heron, far more common! I watched him feeding in the river, I got a few shots of him with a minnow in his mouth, but nothing spectacular. Another photographer joined me, someone with one of those humongous lenses and he got the same shots I did, but closer. I don't think he knew what it was either.

In mid-swallow. 

Yellow Warbler, singing his little heart out! I'm not an expert birder, but I think this is what you're going for
when you shoot "birds on a stick"! 

Whitewater Action

As my loyal readers know, I have received press accreditation to shoot the PanAm Games this summer. I'm still waiting for my press card from the Olympic Committee and I have to take it down to Toronto to get it validated and pick up my vest and press kit. I'm SO looking forward to this! We were told, "no vest, no get in". I'm feeling privileged. It better arrive in time!

Last weekend was the CanoeKayak Canada Slalom Team Trials and the winners of this event were seconded to the team representing Canada at the PanAm Games. There were a few foreign competitors trying their mettle against the wild waters of the Gull River, some of whom did very well!

Devin McEwan and Casey Eichfeld from the USA powered their way through the waters just below the "Otter Slide". 

Ben Hayward will represent us in the Men's Canoe Singles. Normally I discard shots where the paddle blocks the athlete's face but in this case the athleticism and power sold me on this shot.

Jazmyne Denholland is our Women's Kayak hopeful on the Canadian Team. 

This is a composite of six images showing Canadian team member Haley Daniels (Women's Canoe) navigating gate #10 on the course. Competitors have to pass through the gates: missing one costs a 50 second penalty and just touching one costs two second. I hope I can get this vantage point during the PanAm's! 

Here's a shot that says to me what this sport, and this river is about. I'm thinking about printing multiple copies of this one for sale during the Games. I'll probably do one original print on museum quality paper, frame it and sign it and make it available for sale as well as a set of limited edition prints. Any interest, speak now before the original is gone!

PanAm Games 2015 at the Minden Wildwater Preserve in Ontario, Canada 

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