tppa convention speaking

Hey that image looks really familiar! Oh it’s mine…

It’s fun seeing your work in print.

Speaking later today at the Texas PPA convention at the La Torretta Resort in Conroe, Texas and found this magazine on the counter from when I spoke here in January.

TPPA magazine cover

Texas PPA Magazine cover

Looking forward to giving my program nad sharing some of the techniques that made it possible to create this image…

Just thought I’d share with you.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

sunday photo/art quote 6/28

I saw a blog post the other day from Scott Bourne on photofocus and he said, “Your photos are better than you think!”

And, it got me to thinkin’.

He said that your pictures are better than you think they are “because there’s only one you”.

I agree with that. But, I would like to expand on the idea a little more and from a slightly different angle using today’s photo/art quote from Harry Callahan whose (from Wikipedia Callahan) “technical photographic method was to go out almost every morning, walk through the city he lived in and take numerous pictures. He then spent almost every afternoon making proof prints of that day’s best negatives. Yet, for all his photographic activity, Callahan, at his own estimation, produced no more than half a dozen final images a year.”

harry callahan quote
“I guess I’ve shot 40,000 negatives and of these I have about 800 pictures I like”. – Harry Callahan

We all tend to compare our everyday work, our B-Roll’ if you will, to everyone else’s finished movies. The images you often see posted on the web on Google Plus, 500 pix, people’s blogs, or in magazines and elsewhere are usually ‘Hand Selected Prime Grade A Number One’ images from a large number captured and then massaged before being shared with the world.

So before you become frustrated with how much your images ‘suck’ – sit back, relax and and look at your best work, and only your best work, from about six months ago (so your a bit more impartial) before you start comparing your work with others.

I think you’ll be surprised.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – Have you had frustrations with your work? Share your story here how you got over it…

lumix GH4 book review


We want them to do everything, but when they can do most everything everyone would like them to do we complain that they are hard to operate. Let’s face it cameras have become mini-computers with powerful processors and a myriad of options. Some can get quite confusing until explained in-depth. How to get the the most out of your camera now involves more than just reading the GH4 manual.

You can also download the advanced GH4 Manual which will get you more information on the capabilities of the GH4 which is still pretty dry stuff.

Or, you can read and refer to ‘The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4′ The Unofficial Quintessential Guide’ by Brian Matsumoto and Carol F Roulard from Rocky Nook Books and get some down-to-earth easily understandable information on how to get the most out of this powerful computer also known as a camera.

I’ve been using the GH4 for quite a while and I thought I had a good handle on most of the features and capabilities. After a quick cruise through the book I was surprised to learn of some available features because I never even thought to look for them or glossed over the value of them. Having things spelled out simply, from a photographer’s point of view vs an engineer’s or manual writers point of view, makes figuring out – and using – camera features much easier.

Matsumoto and Roulard write in an easy conversational style yet impart all the goodies we need to know. For example, many photographers are frustrated when menu commands are greyed out because they are not available. The authors tell how to avoid frustration and tell you why… They also share how to use the Quick Menus to the fullest capabilities which speeds use in the field when you don’t have time to scroll through (or remember where) menu items are.

I’m going back in to read the book even more in-depth because I’m sure I’m still missing some of the powerful features in the GH4.

lumix gh4 book cover image

The Unofficial Quintessential Guide

If you own the Lumix GH4 and want to get the most out of it I’d recommend getting this Guide.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – As a bonus, you save 35% on Rocky Nook Books by using the Coupon Code BOBCOATES

new photo for wall of fame

Jazz singer Vivian Sessoms entertained at Sound Bites Grill the other night and here’s her image for the SBG ‘Wall of Fame’.

vivian sessoms singing at sound bites

 Vivian Sessoms in art treatment for the ‘Wall of Fame’

I was testing the new Lumix G7 side by side with the Lumix GH4. Both cameras used the same lens and same settings. ISO 3200 f2.8 1/60th sec. It shows me they are comparable and the G7 would make a great back up for the GH4. Price makes this a cool camera for those on a budget. The G7 does miss out on a few pro features on handling, like having to remove a tripod plate to get to the battery and SD card compartment. It also has smaller batteries and is built on a plastic body. But, image quality looks to be on a par. And, at half the price of the GH4 depending on your workload you might be willing to put up with a few non-pro features!

Here’s a sample of a couple stage captures from each camera with the same settings.

captured with the lumix G7

This image was captured with the Lumix G7.

image captured with lumix GH4

Captured with the GH4.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – If you are ordering gear from Amazon it helps to support this web site and the info shared if you buy through any link on successful photographer. TIA!


retouching old photo

OK this was a tough one.

My almost ninety year old client wants to use this image of her sister in a book about her life. Does that give you an idea of how old this photo is??

Oh yeah, can you please remove the ink?

original photo scan

This is the original scanned photo for repair. I make a safety scan to preserve the original before attempting any rehab on a photo

Can Photoshop do the whole job?

So off to the Internet to see how other people have conquered this problem. What did we do before the Internet? I found this suggestion to use hand sanitizer and a Cue-Tip to help remove the ink from the photo without destroying it. I made the scan above as a safety measure in case the idea didn’t pan out we at least would have the original to work with. My first thought was I might be able to see through the ink by working the Channels in Photoshop. But, it turns out the ink was solidly applied. I could rescue a little detail but not enough to see her hair.

To the sanitizer!

So it’s time to try the hand sanitizer. I had some Purell hand sanitizer ‘Refreshing Gel’ that I use when traveling and thought it would be better than straight liquid. And, I was right. Being in gel form allowed gentle application without too much moisture hitting the photo. Please note that this is a resin coated print which allowed this. I believe if this was a fiber print I would not have had near as much success.

scan after ink removal

Scan of the print after as much ink as possible had been removed.
(note: I made safety scans throughout the process on a regular basis of ink removal each time I acquired more detail)

Back to Photoshop (to the Rescue!)

With as much ink removed as possible enough detail has bee revealed to begin the process of restoration. Removing scratches, age spots, restoring color, retouching out the rest of the blue ink involved various tools including the Rubber Stamp (clone) Tool, Patch Tool, Spot Healing Brush, Dodge & Burn Layers, **NIK Silver FX Pro 2, **NIK Color FX 4, Add Noise and more.

finished image

Here’s the final image.

Yours in Creative Photography,   Bob

PS – **NIK software is now owned by GOOGLE. The whole NIK Suite of plug-ins is now available for only $149. If you own any of the individual programs and have the serial number GOOGLE will give you the rest of the suite at no charge.

lumix g7 macro art

You know me.

I gotta play.

Here’s the image from yesterday that started with multiple exposures captured with the Lumix G7 and Layer Stacking in Photoshop. Adding a little artwork using blend modes in Adobe Photoshop.

apache bloom plume art image

Apache Plume Bloom

Once the original capture is assembled then it’s time to select the plant image in order to separate it from the background. This allows the addition of a drop shadow which creates more depth. Then adding some textures in various blend modes I built a background to give the image a more painterly feel. I always encourage people to play with images and ideas.

When’s your next test/play session??

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

lumix g7 macro

Just got my hands on the new Panasonic Lumix G7 – Lumix G7 w 14-140mm lens ($1098) or G7 w 14-42 ($798) – and have been putting it through some paces.

There are some beautiful desert plants that my wife has been landscaping the yard with vs having water-sucking plants since we live in the super dry climate of Sedona, Arizona. This is the bloom of the Apache Plume plant.

apache plume bloom

Apache Plume Bloom

Capture info

I used the 45mm f2.8 Macro to make the details of the ‘plume’ feathering jump. In order to get the most detail I set the aperture to f8 and used studio flash. Shoot through umbrella to the side and just behind the plant with soft reflector fill opposite. Black background paper lit with flash with snoot and 2 layers of blue gel.

Here’s How to Focus Stack

I captured fifteen exposures with focus through the image and used Photoshop to stack them together and achieve sharpness from front to back. Take the images into Adobe Camera RAW and tweak any color or shadow/highlight settings. From the Tools menu ask Bridge to Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Highlight all Layers in the Layers Palette. Under the Edit Menu > Auto-Align Layers. With all Layers still selected, Edit > Auto-Blend Layers with the Radio Button Stack Images Selected with Seamless Tones and Colors checked. Then go through your image and look for areas that might not have been blended perfectly by Shift clicking on the individual Layer Masks to see if there is a sharp image that might be blended better. **Note – Subjects that contain a lot of white will have more issues with Blending the Sharpness in this process than others with more color and contrast.

Initial Thoughts on the G7 (more to come in future posts)

This camera would make a great back-up to the GH4 if you are a pro on a budget. Controls are slightly different but not so much you would have a problem switching in the middle of a job or if you are doing a two camera shoot. Pros – VERY light weight, super-easy 4K Photo Mode, interchangeable lenses,  image quality on par with GH4. Cons – Tripod plate needs to be undone to get to battery and SD card compartment, smaller battery, built on plastic body vs magnesium.

If you are really on a budget two or three of these cameras would make great kit to have pro backup capabilities.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob



stairway to heaven

Sometimes inspiration comes from different places…

Seeing what the Wilson sisters have done with the classic Led Zeppelin anthem Stairway to Heaven makes me want to create something special. Watch this video all the way through. It brought tears to my eyes…

Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven performed at the Kennedy Center with songwriter Robert Plant in the audience.
I’m not sure what I want to create… but the itch is there! How about you?
Yours in creative Photography,       Bob

sunday photo/art quote 6/21

“Look for the light!” is often shouted from the rooftops when telling new, and experienced, photographers how to create great images.

Today’s quote is from Trent Parke, an Australian photographer. He’s created photography books; won numerous national and international awards including four World Press Photo Awards; and his photographs are held in numerous public and private collections according to Wikipedia.

trent parke photography quote

“I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary to the magical.” Trent Parke

I have seen absolutely horrendous photographs of fabulous rock formations and exquisite images if mundane subjects.

What is the difference??

Light. And shadow.

I’ll give you a hint about finding that sweet light that makes images come alive with depth and dimension. Look for the the shadows that define the light. It is a change of mindset that I believe helped take my image making skills to a higher level. Think about shadow edge transition. It defines the light.

Deciding on the shadow can help set a mood. Soft shadow edge transitions help give shape and form and 3 dimensionality to your subject. Harsh shadow edge transitions can give an edgy harsh feel to an image, think sunlight at noon or a strong light source in a very low light situation.

I’ve found watching for the shadows makes it easier to find the ‘right’ light.

Go create some magic of your own…

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

imaging competition podcast

I was interviewed about participation in imaging competition in a Podcast put together by Mark Oehler called The Twelve Elements. We chat about my imaging submissions from last year where I was fortunate to have five of my eight image entries be added to the PPA Loan Collection and the rest made it to the Merit category.

12 elements header

12 Elements Podcast

The next International Imaging Competition from Professional Photographers of America is coming up very shortly. Get your image entries ready. More PPA Competition information can be found here on the PPA web site.

I feel that participating in competition has helped to make me the photographer I am today.Even though I have my Master and Artist degrees from PPA I still entered again…

What are you doing to push yourself to make better images?

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob