macro macro photography

No I didn’t stutter in naming this photo blog post it just seems that way…

Macro macro was exactly what I was trying to say. I thought I’d take the macro photography to another place and see what happens. I used the Leica DG Macro-Elamarit 45mm f2.8 Aspherical mounted on the Lumix GH4 with a set of Vello Extension tubes (10mm + 16mm stacked) to see what would happen. Since I was trying to keep Weight down on the trail I used a MeFoto Backpaker Travel Tripod.

Some serious detail comes forward with this setup. I photographed this Yellow Desert Flower bud and love the detail I was able to bring to the image. Almost looks hyper-real.

yellow desert flower bud photo

I’d love to be able to tell you the specific name of this desert flower in the photo but there are so many varieties that look similar to each other… Ah what the heck let’s go with Yellow desert daisy bud.

yellow desert flower photo

Here is what our bud will turn into short of being eaten by wildlife or beaten into submission by rainy weather.

On the first image I added some sharpening using NIK Silver FX Pro2 and adding Structure and Fine Structure to the preset #4 High Contrast (smooth). Then I changed the Photoshop Layer Mode to Luminosity. Since I was shooting at a very high ISO 3200 because of the low light the sharpening also sharpened the overall noise in the image so I added a Layer Mask to allow the background to be soft while the flower bud was sharp.

Mix and match your photo tools, add a little post production to see what happens…

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – Please remember using links to products from this page helps support the information being presented and shared

tale of three photos


We get to make a bunch of them and I’m still playing with ideas as I explore the photographic world in which I have chosen to immerse myself. How about you?

What kind of decisions can we make to change the look of a single scene? Here’s an example of three images made with a Macro lens of a flower that is about the size of my thumbnail.

white horsenettle flower

First capture of the White Horsenettle. Full sun. Looks a bit harsh. (why do they call it White Horenettle when it’s lavender??)

white horsenettle flower photo

Placed a 20 inch scrim from a Westcott 5 in 1 to increase the size of and soften the light.
This has the effect of softening the shadow edge transitions and, to my eye, renders the flower in a more pleasing fashion.

white horsenettle flower image

Same capture with lighting as above but changing to a wider aperture softening the background allowing the flower to stand out more.

These are very similar images with subtle, and not so subtle, variations. Could there have been more choices made in this capture? You betcha! Could have taken a higher angle and not included the sky area. Could have changed the composition. Changed the lens. Changed the camera distance to subject. Could have added flash. Could have moved the scrim to the shadow side and reflected light into the shadows. You get the idea…

Point is when you have a subject explore the many possibilities and variations because it’s not unusual to improve on your images as you ‘work the scene’.

Capture information – Camera: Lumix GH4 Lens: Leica DG Macro-Elamarit 45mm f2.8 Aspherical Extension tube: Vello 10mm

Explore. Play. Practice.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

sunday photo/art quote 9/14

Before you start to read this post you might want to click on the song below… Go ahead, you can do it!


If you think about time is the ultimate currency in our lives. Twenty-four hours in a day. Some of those are, of course, survival type hours eating, sleeping, bathing and generally tending to health in one way or another. When you start to whittle away at you day like that you start to realize that time is as the Steve Miller and song says, ‘Slipping into the future…’

So lets take just a bit of time to think about how we are using it. Roy H. Williams puts it succinctly in today’s Photo Art Quote.

roy williams quote image

“What are you buying with the hours of your life?” Roy H Williams
(Roy is the author of the Monday Morning Memo which is a place I recommend you spend some of your time…)

I believe it’s a good thing to ponder ideas such as this occasionally as we as artists/photographers tend to throw ourselves into our businesses and many times creative work and family lives suffer as a result.

Can you find a way to have someone else do the menial work within your business? Things like editing, or retouching? Is there someone who would be better at selling you than you? Think about ways you can spend more time focused on your art and the creative aspects of your business and on your family and friend relationships. I think when you accomplish that you’ll get a much better return on your ‘investment’. Every time you start a task ask yourself, “Is this going to give me the best return in quality of life?”

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle

wildflowers in sedona

What a difference a lens (and some extension tubes) can make!

I went back out to the trial chasing some wildflowers in Sedona, Arizona. But this time I came a bit more prepared for the subject with some extension tubes and a long lens to isolate and magnify the beauty something a wide lens just can’t do. (see images from the day before)

sedona wildflower photo

Having trouble finding the correct names for my desert flowers. This might be a Four O’Clock something or other. Any help from you botanical types??

sedona arizona wildflower photo

Been trying to identify this flower… Has the shape of a type of Morning Glory but the
pistols extending out from the bell I think are telling me it’s something else. Any ideas for me?

OK enough with the flower naming conventions… Here’s the down low on the gear used.

Because I was on the trail I wanted to stay fairly light so I grabbed the MePhoto Backpacker Tripod. Pretty versatile and folds up to around 15 inches with it’s own shoulder case. Nice ball head with firm controls. Wasn’t sure I would like this tripod but it’s been serving me very well.

I wasn’t traveling to far so the Lumix GH4 was the camera of choice with a 35-100 f2.8 Lumix Vario lens. Extra lenses, extension tubes and other photo stuff was in the Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 20. Good build with enough room for a good selection of gear but still is unobtrusive on my belt.

I added some inexpensive extension tubes from Vello. When you shop for extension tubes make sure you get matched to your system so the auto-focus and exposure are automatic. If you only shoot macro images occasionally extension tubes can work great and save you the price of a dedicated macro lens.

To help control the lighting I used a 20 inch 5 in 1 reflector from FJ Westcott. This is small and light yet big enough to cover flowers fro the sun and give a nice glow to the lighting.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – If you like like the information you receive on this web site please shop for your gear using the links from this site. I am an Amazon affiliate and it helps to support the web site. Thanks!

sedona arizona hiking

On the Big Park Loop Trail this morning leaving from Bell Rock Vista Parking lot. Flowers are littering the landscape! Add a bit of rain to the desert and it responds in very short order. Pleasantly surprised as this spring was very dry and the flower show was fairly quiet.

The hiking is prime as temperatures are in the high 50′s to low 60′s around sunrise. Here are a couple of images from the walk but not as wonderful as I’d like as I didn’t come equipped with the correct lenses for getting up close and personnel with the blooms… That will be rectified tomorrow!

desert wildflower photo mojave sonoran chihuahaun

As close as I can tell, because there are so many similar desert blooms in this family, this is a
Great Basin Mojave Sonoran Chihuahaun AKA Yellow Spring Daisy.

jones Penstimon flower photo

A Jones Penstemon flower bloom. I love how nature dropped the bloom to accent and intertwined with the Yucca…

red rock reflection image

Little surprises can pop up if you stay aware. Like this reflection of first light on Courthouse Butte in the puddle left in the wash.

Camera data. Images captured with the Lumix GX7 and Lumix 20mm f1.7. Photos are SOOC. (straight out of camera)

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

busy week

Thought I’d share some of my commercial work with you… Been going at it pretty hard this week. Shooting images for the Sky Ranch Lodge (not my images yet on the web site they are still in post production) in Sedona, AZ.

One thing I like about my job is getting to know my community more intimately. I’ve been living in Sedona for over fifteen years and always knew about the Sky Ranch Lodge but never had cause to go there. Very cool property! It has a nostalgic feel, the grounds are gorgeous with multiple water features and the views are indescribable. But that’s where the photos come in handy!

sky ranch lodge cottage photo

This is one of two cottages at Sky Ranch Lodge.

sky ranch lodge double queen room photo

Double queen with a garden view.

The interiors were captured with the Lumix GH4 and 7-14 f4.0 lens. Having the articulating screen is handy when I am trying to squeeze the camera as close to a wall corner as possible.

Added fill light to the rooms with Fiilex LED lights. The 360EX 3 light kit worked well. This was the first time I used continuous lighting and it sure make the job easier. The fact that you can dial in color temperature on the lights saves time in post production.

Bracketed exposures to balance indoor and outdoor light to be stripped in in post.

I’ll share a trick I use to get a nice glow from the room lighting without blowing out the highlights. Change all the bulbs out to a 15 watt size. Saves a ton of time in post production!

landscape water feature image

Water feature and gardens at the Lodge.

sedona view at sky ranch lodge

Put yourself in this rocker lounge chair. (Think I’d have a glass of wine or a cold brew in my hand too)

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

ppa diamond and silver photographer

I compete to stretch my photography skill set in order to keep growing and to get some feedback from my peers on how my work is stacking up.

This year I received a more than pleasant surprise as my most successful ever in imaging competition at Professional Photographers of America International Photographic Competition. I will be awarded the Diamond Photographer of the Year for my Master Artist entries and The Silver Photographer of the Year for my entries in the Photographic Open case.

I also inadvertently answered another question that comes my way from fellow photographers when referencing the Lumix line of Micro 4/3rds mirrorless cameras… Is the chip big enough? Is there enough quality to use this camera for professional work? The answer is a resounding, “You betcha!”.

I entered eight images overall. Seven were captured with various Lumix cameras. Five images were accepted into the PPA’s prestigious Loan Collection. Variety was the watchword with the entries including a portrait, art images, architecture and a scenic.

Here are the images from the Master Artist case in which judges are looking for the skills involved in post production. Guide images are used to show some of the process going from RAW capture to finished product. These images earned the Platinum Photographer of the Year designation which will be awarded in Nashville at the PPA convention.

horn in f ppa loan collection image

‘Horn in F’ original image captured with Lumix GH2. Textures with Lumix GH2 &  Lumix GH3.
Used my ‘Step & Repeat” Photoshop action to make multiple copies of the French Horn. Images were copied, rotated and multiple texture layers in various blend modes were used to complete the art.


‘Musical instruments Museum’ original image captured with Lumix GH2. See above description for technique.


‘Nautilus’ original captured with the Lumix GX7. The blossom was isolated and
copied, resized and manipulated multiple times to create the Nautilus shape.


‘Thistle’ image captured with 5D Mark II using Helicon focus and focus stacking then worked with textures and color.

Here are the Four images submitted in the Photographic Open category. Three were accepted into PPA’s General Collection with one image admitted into the Loan Collection leading to the Platinum Photographer of of the Year Award which will be given at the PPA annual convention in February. If you a not already a PPA member it’s a great idea. If you join you can go to the convention for free in Nashville next year.

Photographic Open PPA image

‘Rooftop View’ captured with Panasonic Lumix GH2. NIK Color FX Pro was used along with textures, blend modes and layer masks.


‘Sedona, Arizona Panorama’ Captured with Lumix GH3. Multiple images stitched together in AutoPano Pro then some NIK Color FX Pro to enhance the depth and dimension.


‘Still the One’ Captured with Lumix GH3. Converted to sepia tone with partial spot color mask for the flag.

santa fe street portrait photo

‘Santa Fe Street Portrait’ Captured with Lumix GX7 a great street camera with a very low profile and lots of features I really enjoy. It’s my favorite “With Me” Camera.  Converted to Black and white using NIK Silver Effects Pro 2.

When I first started working with the Micro 4/3rds format I was a little concerned about sensor size but as the new Panasonic cameras and pro glass were introduced I was able to put those fears aside and now I’m exclusively using the format for all my commercial and fine art work including architecture, product, portraits, fine art imagery and more.  Is this the be all and end all format for every photographer and every need?? No, of course not! I’ve found it fits my working style and as long as my customers and I are pleased with the final results that’s what matters.

Questions? Give me a shout.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS Just in case you haven’t read my disclaimer section I am a Panasonic Lumix Luminary and I travel around the country teaching photography with them as my sponsor. If you would like me to come teach at your photography organization get in touch my contact info is at the top of the page.



sunday photo/art quote 9/7

Today’s quote comes from Oscar Wilde, Irish writer and poet. “A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is.”

I often wonder if I am unique or the work I produce is unique. You often hear you can’t create anything new under the sun and after a while you can begin to believe it. I fight this on a regular basis. I ask myself if I am copying something I saw in the past that was ingrained in my memory? Then I realize I am standing on the shoulders of the photography and art giants that have come before me.

I find I create from many of the things I have seen. From many of the things I have studied. From many of the things I have learned. The brain will combine all of the things that it has been exposed to and hopefully will come up with something original.

Garbage in = garbage out.

I suggest you fill your head with wonderful art, great photography, beautiful architecture, great imagery of all kinds. I make sure that every city I get to that has an art museum gets a visit from me. I will stand in front of a single painting for five minutes, ten minutes and sometimes up to 45 minutes drinking in the colors, lines, composition and style. I now see impressionist influences working their way into my photography. I try to look at art just before turning in for the night so that during sleep my mind can feast upon the last images presented.

Oscar wilde art quote image

“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is.”  Oscar Wilde

I am looking to create unique art. I hope I also have, as Wilde says, a unique temperament to help make that happen.

How about you???

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

kudos to Bob coates photography

Well I must say this gave me a surprise! I didn’t even know I was in the running…

The Readers of Kudos Entertainment Magazine in Sedona, Arizona voted me as the Best Photographer for the year Two Thousand and Fourteen.

kudos readers chioce certificate

Readers Choice Award 2014 from Kudos Certificate

I say thank you to all who voted! I appreciate the confidence. If you are in need of photography from the ‘Best’ : )> photographer according to the readers of Kudos give me a call. As always the work I do for you is guaranteed. If you are not not thrilled you get get you money back. Get in touch today to see if we are a good match. All contact info is in the header of this web page or click here.

Above was the post I used on my business page. As a photographer in business you need to leverage all recognition you receive to get the most benefit out of it. So the award is tweeted, Posted on my FB page and posted on LinkedIn. When good things happen you need to help spread the word and ask others to help you do that too…

So with that thought in mind… if you read this post would you be so kind as to send out a tweet and share on your FB page with a link back here? You’ll be doing me a good deed but you’ll also be exposing other photographers to the information I share here on Successful-Photographer. A win-win don’t you think?

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

robert & sara genn newsletter

As photographers we need to find inspiration and ideas outside of the photography family. I have been following the twice-weekly newsletter of Robert Genn for years and have occasionally shared some of his ideas with you. Unfortunately, Robert has passed and is no longer with us in body. Fortunately, his daughter Sara is picking up where Robert left off and is continuing the tradition by sharing some of his best letters and posting her own thoughts and ideas. Some really good thoughts here for artists. Thanks for keeping this alive Sara!

I post this with permission. And, I encourage you to sign up for the newsletter.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob
Robert & Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letter
Click to read this letter online and share your valuable insights.

An artist’s mind

September 2, 2014

Dear Bob,

My friend Joe Blodgett said, “There’s two ways to walk this path–one for the path and one for the spirit.” In a cathedral of Douglas fir and alder, blown twigs from the night’s storm over a carpet of autumn, Joe crouches down and watches the steady miracle of a spotted woodland slug.

Joe says he feels an artistic moment coming on, surrendering to the need to make something: a guilt or work-ethic thing. He’s a guy in tune with “tuning in.” Joe works with water-soluble marker-pens which he augments with watercolour washes–a technique which diffuses lines not held with fixative. The can of fixative sticks out of his jacket pocket. His method is fast and loose. After only a few minutes, he moves on.

The artistic mind, flowing properly, sees the world differently. Call it what you will–a Celestine moment, synchronicity, serendipity. There’s a higher harmonic. It’s got something to do with receptiveness and alertness. Those who expect, receive. We can leave it to the gods where it comes from. The important thing is to give in to it–allow this dream mind to run free. My friend is a living example of one who trusts dreams, hunches and intuition. Joe’s not a child–he’s just curious. On the side, he’s a good businessman, father, bookkeeper, track-keeper. It’s not a pose–it’s a desirable and natural state of being. On the path he has wandering eyes. On the path his hand becomes busy because it has to. T. S. Eliot suggested that the paths we walk are made of hints and guesses. The artist says, “What can I make of this?”

Best regards,


PS: “Intuit higher meanings in mysterious happenings.” (James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy)

“God is only another artist–like me.” (Salvador Dali)

Esoterica: Artists are often dreaming, wondering, wandering and idling in the fanciful department. It seems that artistic types can actually “live in” a world of their own creation, perhaps preferring it to the real world, their work being an extension of it.

This letter was originally published as “Artist’s mind” on December 1, 2000.
Included in this letter is an excerpt from “My idle mind” published on May 18, 2010.

Subscribe for free to the Robert & Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letter.

This letter is always illustrated on The Painter’s Keys website.