last years ppa image entries

2014 was a very fine year in my Imaging Competition history. A Gold Photographer of the Year Award in my Photographic Open case entries and a Diamond Photographer of the Year Award for my Master Artist imaging entries.

As I’m doing a podcast for the 12 Elements with Mark Oehler today talking about last years entries and competition in general I thought I’d post the images so anyone listening to the post could view what we are talking about.

santa fe street portrait photo



Photographic Open PPA image




horn in f ppa loan collection image

Being a member of PPA and participating in Imaging Competition through PPA is one of the fastest ways to improve your photography. I firmly believe without the International Photographic competition I wouldn’t half the photographer I am today. You can check here for the entry information for the 2015 year.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS What’s holding you back? You don’t get into competition to win awards. You get in to learn the craft. Awards come after. If you are waiting until, “My images are good enough.” Then you’ll be waiting a long time…

PPS The awards will come…

ppa imaging competition

Wanna make better images?

I do.


Which is why I continue to participate in the Imaging Competition through Professional Photographers of America (PPA) after 16 years.

Probably the word Competition should be removed as it implies that you are competing against others as at a sporting event. Not so. You are competing against a standard and your personal past performance. This is an incredible learning opportunity

Entries are open for the International Photographic Competition (IPC).


You can get more details and see a slide show of the 2014 PPA Loan Collection here

If you are a PPA member and not participating in Photographic Competition I believe you are missing out on one of the best benefits of your membership. The feedback you get from putting your images in front of trained fellow photographers is very important. I would have to say that Imaging Competition has been one of the driving forces in making me a better photographer, growing my skills exponentially.

Take advantage of this opportunity. If you get the chance PPA members can view the judging live in Lawrenceville, just outside Atlanta, GA. Another option is to view the judging via the Live Streaming. If you have images in the competition don’t forget to order the critiques for your images. You get a video review with one juror giving you feedback on what was good about your image but even more important how it might be improved.

So get your images together and compete with yourself to be the best photographer and image maker you can be.

Yours in Creative Photography,         Bob

sbg wall of fame

There’s a new inductee into (onto??) the Sound Bites Grill Wall of Fame.

Renee Patrick has a marvelous voice. She was performing with the Steve Sandner Jazz Trio as a guest during Jazz and Juice that has been a Sound Bites Sunday evening staple for a while now.

Renee Patrick Jazz singer

Renee live on stage followed by an artistic treatment…

Original image captured with the Lumix GH4 1/25th sec f3.2 ISO 1600. The lens is one of my favorites for capturing individual artists on stage the Lumix Vario f2.8. A better camera setting would have been ISO 3200 at f2.8 to give me a bit more sharpness although I do like the movement captured here with her hand slightly blurry… With those settings I would also set the exposure compensation down about 2/3rds to a stop to make sure to not loose the highlights in the LED stage lighting.

Jazz and Juice is Live Jazz with 1/2 price bottles of wine with dinner. My wife Holly and I enjoy catching the Jazz music, good food and a great price on the wine!

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

small flower photo big impact


Oh wait. I’m a little carried away there… But, one technique for making an interesting photograph is to take a very small subject and fill the frame with it. This flower is about the size of a fingernail. Using the Lumix FZ-1000 I was able to bring this tiny subject forward. While I don’t often recommend bulls-eye composition I think it works in this case because of the bud in the lower left corner and the leaf in the upper right hand corner. The flower dominates but the additional subjects in the frame give you eye something else to look at and turns it into more modified diagonal composition.

mini daisy photo

The bud is barely the size of my pinky fingernail & the flower is just a bit bigger than my thumb. Settings 432mm Exposure 1/5000 sec to help freeze the flower in the breeze, f5.6, ISO 800

Constantly working and playing when not on a commissioned job. Without practice and really knowing your gear it’s difficult to grow as a photographer. Golfers are constantly trying to ‘find the groove’ and practice is a huge part of their ability to succeed.

When is the last time you tired something new?

Yours in Creative Photography,           Bob

sunday photo art quote 5/24

What excites you?

Have you made, or at least tried, to make an image from it?

Today’s Photo/Art quote comes from Edward Weston

edward weston quote

“Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.” Edward Weston

Even more important can you make the commonplace unusual? Who knew a green pepper could look so sexy?

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

dance of the ocotillo


That’s not a word you hear everyday… Even if you live in the Southwest where these very interesting cactus reside. Ocotillo are long stalks that most of the year look like they are a bit worse for wear and have moved on past the living stage.

BUT, when nature’s green paint brush, AKA rain, moves through the area at the right time of year these seemingly greyish brown sticks with thorns turn green and put on a show with bright crimson blooms.

Kinda gives you hope when you see this process. And that’s where a phrase you hear even less, the name of this post, Dance of the Ocotillo. Which I think is easier to say than Dance of the Fouquieria splendens which is it’s binomial name.

My model friend Pash Galbavy said she really enjoys these plants and wanted to be photographed with them when in bloom. “Was I game to get up and hike into the wild before the sun chose to make an appearance?” “Sure,” I said. “Always up for a challenge and creating some art.”

dance of the ocotillo

Pash made individual dance moves around the cactus. Camera was mounted on a tripod and multiple exposures were blended together using Layers and Masks in Adobe’s Photoshop.

dance of the ocotillo version two

This is an alternate version I enjoy even more created using multiple NIK filters. Included in the mix were Pro Contrast, Glamour Glow, Sepia Toning, Edge Efx and Film Noise.

I used the Lumix GH4 with the Vario 12-35mm f2.8 lens mounted on a tripod. I wanted to capture motion on each movement but I couldn’t get the shutter speed slow enough without some extra help. Camera settings 19mm, 2 sec, f22 ISO 200 manual mode.

Getting the shutter speed this slow required the help of a 2 stop neutral density filter. I had just received a set of very inexpensive filters from Neewer because I wanted to experiment with them for water effects. The kit is less than 25 bucks and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. I just happened to throw them in my kit before this shoot… Who knew??

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – If you want to talk about someone dedicated to her art here is a photo of Pash dressed in clothing more appropriate to the per-dawn temperature!

pash studying how to use the downed tree as a posing prop

Pash dressed for the 47 degree pre-dawn temps we were working in.

PPS – Making purchases on Amazon and through other links helps support the education on the Successful-Photographer web site… TIA.

springs a poppin article

Photography Marketing. There are lots of ways to be in your client’s face. (but gently)

Here’s one of the articles I wrote for the Villager in the Village of Oak Creek, Sedona. It’s a basic photography How-To for beginner photographers. This article featured information on how black and white conversions could change the look of an image depending on techniques and color filtration.

You can offer to do this for your local newspapers. There’s no pay but keeping you name in front of potential clients will hopefully cover the time to write and produce image examples.

photography how to article in villager newspaper

Villager article on how color filters change the look of black and white image.

Don’t make the mistake that I did in this article of not including my bio/contact information. This isn’t a paid gig and is to help people understand photography and remind folks I’m still around and know what I’m talking about.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

may flowers

Sedona has had a very wet (for us) spring and the result has been lots of flowers flourishing, in the wild and in the gardens. As you may remember I write a column for the local monthly paper, The Villager, to help keep my name out there. It’s called Photographer’s Corner and I offer tips on making better images. Usually the tips are pretty simple from a pro’s point of view but they are appreciated by the general public.

It was nice while on my Meals on Wheels route to have the Lumix FZ 1000 on hand to grab some flower photos as I saw them. Being able to zoom to 400mm made it possible to shoot from the car through an open window during the rain. (make sure you turn the car off to cut down the vibration) Here’s one of an Iris standing tall on an overcast day which gave good detail.

Iris in lavendar

Straight capture for the article illustrating the concept of ‘Filling the Frame’. Camera settings 1/320 sec F4.0 ISO 160

iris art image

Once I had the image in the computer I had to play just to see what I could see…

iris art

Here’s another version. Always try something new when I have time.

The images were created blending a photo of a wall of small leaves and a photo of some dead leaves raked into a pile. Textures can come from a myriad of places and subjects. Thought I’d keep these textures organic in keeping with the flower.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

simple image

Having a camera with you all the time allows you to see a quick moment and record it. This enables you to learn how different objects look in different lighting situations. I do a fair amount of commercial photography and product and often clients are looking for a natural setting photograph that has the feel as if not set up for an ad. Making little studies like this keeps me sharp when figuring out details for future shoots.

 commercial photo

Captured with the Lumix GH4 and 35-100mm Vario f2.8 lens 1/15 sec f2.8 ISO 1600

I really enjoy the warmth of this image. Light was coming from the sky through sliding glass doors. The repeating orange light gives this a lot of depth. If I was photographing this for a client I would have added some more controlled light onto the wine bottle with very soft edged highlights and perhaps have added a glass of wine to the set-up.

But since I was there enjoying the music and having dinner with my wife I didn’t push it toooooo much.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

sunday photo/art quote 5/17

When I first started photography I never put a filter on my lens cause I thought it would be ‘cheating’.

When I started using a darkroom it was to create ‘realistic’ photos.

Enter Photoshop and it was just another way to get ‘real’ photos.

Now that I’ve been photographing for thirty-plus years with twenty-plus of them as a pro I listen in wonderment as some photographers belittle newer cameras or Photoshop techniques when creating images as ‘cheating’.

All of the things mentioned here are just tools. The tools help a photographer attain his or her vision to put a final image on a receptor for show. Whether that receptor is a print or a screen doesn’t matter. It is the final image not the journey to it that matters.

Many folks trot our Ansel Adams as the quintessential ‘straight photographer’. He couldn’t have been further from it than the distance between here and the moon. The Zone System, changing exposure, development times, ISO ratings, paper grade choices, enlarger bulb choices and many more techniques went into the final images created by Adams.

Today’s quote is from Pete Turner a wonderful photographer known for his rich ‘in your face’ color images.

pete turner photographer quote

“I am steadily surprised that there are so many photographers that reject manipulating reality, as if that was wrong. Change reality! if you don’t find it, invent it!”    Pete Turner

Turner used all the tools available to push his images to an art realm. Pushing color to it’s limits. Sharp focus? Not necessarily! Check out his work for some inspiration to be freer with your camera captures and how you see and share your world through photography.

pete turner

Front page from Pete’s web page of images. © Pete Turner

Nowadays I don’t give a rats butt about how I get the image. Camera, Photoshop, computer are all tools I use. Working hard to share the vision that only I have.

What’s in your head that you’ve been afraid, or unable, to let the world see because you didn’t use the tools available to their full capabilities?

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob