sunday photo/art quote 8/31

I came upon this photography art quote that likened photography to a disease and realized that I have no desire for a cure!

photoart quote image

“Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.” Anonymous

How do you feel about photography. Go the bug????

Have a great Sunday on this labor day holiday weekend!

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

musician salute


And, extremely talented.

His name is Alan Ames.

He shared with me that he was pleasantly surprised that he was able to play along with the ‘A’ team of musicians assembled on the stage at Sound Bites Grill. I had enjoyed Alan’s playing before, he’s already on the SBG ‘Wall of Fame’ but I heard lots more. When I asked band leader Eric Miller about the additional sounds I was hearing he told me that Alan had built his own instrument. It’s called a Violyra. (I’ll check with Alan on the spelling of this) Instead of the violin’s traditional four strings Alan added two extra strings in the bass range with a different body design. His creation is so original the Musical Instruments Museum in Phoenix has commissioned him to make another for display in the museum. A true honor indeed.

Here’s a quick sample of some of the sounds Alan creates with his Violyra…

alan ames plyng violyra instrumentStill frame pulled from 4K video captured by the Lumix GH4.

alan ames instrument photograph

The sounds Alan can make from this instrument are extremely varied. He said he has fused the old techniques of instrument building with the new technology and this allows him to create an incredible range of sounds from traditional violin to cello and more…

Pretty amazing the new technology available in musical instruments and cameras. It’s a great time to be a creative. What are you experimenting with??

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

marketing photography business

As a photographer you need to be front and center in your town.

The best ways are through referrals and gentle reminders like staying on the pages of your local paper through press releases. As you know you can’t be featured in a press release too often, but you can be featured if you are willing to give back by spending time and sharing your knowledge. Here’s a case in point. I am now writing a monthly column for the newspaper called ‘Photographers Corner’. Here’s the first article.

article by bob coates in Villager newspaper

Article by Bob Coates (hey that’s me!) appeared in The Villager September 1st.

The article will talk about ways a non-photographer may make better images. “Why would you want to tell people how to do your job Bob?” I’m not. I’m helping people who are going to make images better for themselves. These will not be professional photos. When they need professional images they will remember that I was helpful and I have their best interest at heart. Sales trainer and professional speaker Zig Ziglar said that when you help people get what they want you will create a good living for yourself.

The articles will help people and people will remember me when it is time to have professional images made. A win-win-win. “Wait a minute Bob. I only count two wins in your blog post.” Ah the third win is for the newspaper who receive articles to add interest to their pages without having to pay a writer. My payment is exposure and the bio at the end highlighting where people can see some of my work.

I also do a monthly radio show but that’s for a different day… Stay in front of your community there are lots of ways… This is just one.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

service above and beyond

I want to salute Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Scottsdale, AZ. My wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary during an Arizona Staycation. We decided to do a little happy hour at Flemings restaurant. We enjoy the social aspects of dining at the bar and this was a great time.

Setting the stage, enter our bartenders for the evening, Brian & Erin. Our experience was wonderful all the way through. Greeted professionally and with pleasant personality. Given a very nice recommendation for wine choice. Food was well presented and flavors fabulous.

P1130545 a surprise for us
Gift box with our surprise sweets enclosed…

Remember, we enjoy the social part of dining at the bar and were chatting with a lovely woman named Jennifer and my wife mentioned in passing that we were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. A little while later Brian appears with a present of a box of chocolate truffles. He said, “Heard you were celebrating and here’s a little treat from Flemings… Congratulations.” (May be some paraphrasing here, but you get the idea.)

So a tip of the hat to Flemings in Scottsdale for a wonderfully memorable evening including stellar service.

But, that’s not really what this post is about…What are YOU doing to go above and beyond so your clients get so excited that they blog and tweet and share how excited they are about YOUR business??

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

wizard academy chapel dulcinia

Architecture here at the Wizard Academy is quite distinctive and a bit on the Old World side. I like it.

As always I create a self assignment to create some art from the places I visit. Here is Chapel Dulcinia. It’s a place to have a wedding if you are in the Austin, Texas area. It’s beautifully appointed and in a very wonderful quiet area on the Academy grounds. By the way, did I mention there is no charge?? Last year there were over 800 ceremonies on the property. This year they are on track to have over 1000 weddings here.

chapel ducinia art image wizard academy

Chapel Dulcinia at the Wizard Academy. The texture for creating the art came from a photograph of the elevator floor…

Captured with the Lumix GH4 and the 35-100 f2.8 Lumix Vario lens.

Any idea where the name for Chapel Dulcinia originated?? If so comment below…

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

wizard academy video class

HI Ho Hi Ho it’s off to school I go…

For the next couple days I will be at the Wizard Academy here in Austin, Texas learning about using video on the web to promote your business. Last night there was some informal conversations among the business people attending and I gotta tell ya there’s some stimulating conversation and ideas are already starting to flow. This is a business class unlike any other and I can’t wait.

prosser room at wizard academy

I’m staying on campus and here’s a quick shot of the room. It’s called Prosser and it’s quite comfortable and well appointed!

Everywhere you turn at the Wizard academy there’s an art touch, a nook with a surprise and little pockets of magic.

angel statue photo

There be angels and more here…

If you want to give your marketing a seriously creative push find a class here at the Wizard Academy. I’ll fill you in later with some of the rest of the story of my stay…

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob


sunday photo/art quote 8/17

That’s what I love about the art and profession of photography. There are so many different ways to think about how you work and present your work to the world… Today’s quote comes from National Geographic photographer Sam Abell. He has said that he could be perfectly happy with his photography even if his only subject was light itself. Here’s Sam’s quote which references a different way of thinking about photography than I do.

sam abell photographer quote image

As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something and show it to the camera.
A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs.”   Sam Abell

When you see light as well as Abell does, as well as knowing how the camera sees and interprets what our eye sees, you can make fabulous images without supplemental light. I often see and hear people say these days I’m ONLY a ‘Natural Light’ photographer. While there are some fabulous exceptions like Abell that phrase is mostly code for, “I don’t know how to use flash or other supplemental light and can’t be bothered or am too scared to learn my craft.”

All light is useful in creating the best image of our subject. In the case of natural light it often means returning to a place or scene when the light is more favorable to show off the scene better. many times especially when working against a time constraint like a deadline for a commercial project, or ‘the family will only be together for this date and time’ or other such reason. The true pro will still create a beautiful image because he or she will be able to use all of the tools available including flash and additive or subtractive lighting.

Want to be a better photographer? Study light in all it’s forms and permutations. You’ll be glad you did!

Here are two head shot portraits of Sam Abell. Tells of two different sides and conveys different messages. What’s the major difference? Light.

sam abell head shot photographsam abell head shot photo

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS I am still learning light and it’s language every chance I get attending as many conventions and seminars as possible. I’ve been doing this for about fifteen years.

Maybe I’m a slow learner.

Or maybe there’s a LOT to learn.

photoshop extraction tutorial

I often have to remove subjects from basic white backgrounds and thought I would share a technique using the Channels Palette to create the Alpha Channel to separate the subject very cleanly from the background with little fuss and muss. There is some Photoshop Magic involved. If you haven’t seen this technique before you will be pleasantly surprised by how much of a time saver it is!

Special thanks to my subject Tom Tayback of Tom Tayback and the Daddy O’s who does a 50′s & 60′s Graffiti Gold Show that is pretty darn cool. If you are in Arizona and see the show will be playing, go, I know you’ll enjoy it!

band photography daniel and the lion

Sound Bites Grill hosted Daniel and the Lion in the show lounge last Tuesday for Dance Night. There were quite a few people out on the dance floor and I’m pretty sure I heard talk of them coming back for another performance. Make sure you watch out for it if you are in the Sedona, AZ area! Or check their web site for other dates. BTW they are opening for the Counting Crows this summer.

If you follow my blog you know I create art images of the performers at Sound Bites Grill here in Sedona. Here is the image that made it to the ‘Wall of Fame’…

daniel and the lion art photo

I capture all the musicians individually and try to get their personality worked into the photo.

The individual musicians are selected in Adobe Photoshop then composed into the art piece adding drop shadows and others effects. Different texture images are also layered over the master with different Blend Modes applied. The signatures are done with black Sharpie on white paper. Then the signatures are scanned and laid out individually. I Invert the color and change the Blend Mode to Screen and the black disappears leaving just the autograph.

band photo of daniel and the lion

This is more of a straight capture of the performance of the band. Lumix Vario lens 12-35mm settings 15mm f2.8 1/30th sec at 3200 ISO

I’m using the Lumix GH4 which makes it easier to capture the large range of lighting that occurs in a live venue using LED lighting. This is a single capture. The image was then taken in to Adobe Camera RAW. Highlight slider was brought down to tame the blown out areas and the shadows slider was brought up to bring some detail out of the darker areas. This camera has a tremendous density range. If I was going to really work this image to control the light even more I would have blended bracketed photos together for even more range of density. It is very possible to accomplish this in one capture because the camera shoots at 12 frames a second and can bracket up to seven stops of light with one push button of the shutter.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

4K video still capture

Finally started playing with the 4K video capture to make still images on my Lumix GH4.

Why would you want to do that? Well having access to 30 fps images allows you to capture micro expressions during a fast moving shoot of a baby or if you want a photo from a video you made and couldn’t grab stills from. I didn’t realize how useful this could be until I started trying to photograph hummingbirds at the new feeder my wife put up. This is a pretty good image that will print fairly large. If you are using the entire frame you can grab an eight megapixel image from 4K video.

After grabbing the Frame for the video I opened the file in Adobe Camera Raw so I could use those controls by highlighting the image in Adobe Bridge and hitting Cmd R (Cntrl R for PC users). After some additional adjustments for color and sharpness and removing the bird feeder in Adobe Photoshop here’s the still photo result.


hummingbird photo

This image came in at 15 MB after cropping. Depending on the output media this could easily make a 20 inch or larger print.

Here’s the video.

YouTube Video on the original 4K video capture.

I’m thinking that his has more applications than I originally thought. When I first heard about this idea I was thinking there’s no way I’d want to dig through that many images for an expression or specific moment. Found out it wasn’t that hard stepping through the frames in Adobe’s Premeire Pro CC.

The photography landscape is changing as the lines between video and still capture get closer together.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob