Here's a thought

The most recent three videos are available below.
The entire collection (including all previous episodes)
is available to members of LensWork Online.

March 2022

April 2022

May 2022
























HT1123 - Maximum Detail

Which is more important in a fine art photograph, maximum detail or maximum impact? When you look at a painting, do you judge it on the amount of detail the painter has recorded? Or is its impact that really counts?


HT1124 - Ansel Adams Fuzzy Prints

A few years ago I saw the Ansel Adams Masterworks set of prints on display in North Carolina. I was surprised how necessary it was for me to place these prints into historical context to really appreciate them. They are all products of the technology of his day and as such, looked to my eye all a bit out of focus. The definitions of sharpness has changed in the last 50 years.


HT1125 - The Most Breathtaking Photograph

I've been looking at photographs for 50 years, but there is one moment that stands out above all others. Seeing this one photograph changed so much for me that I now realize it was a true watershed moment in my photographic life.


HT1126 - Another Breathtaking Photograph

Yesterday I was talking about the most breathtaking photograph I've ever seen in person. Here is another moment that changed my life in photograph, a print from Bruce Barnbaum.


HT1127 - Make It Special

If art has a universal quality, that quality is that it is "special." Most spectacular and renowned photographs depict something that's special - a special landscape, a special person in a portrait, a special kind of light, and even if the subject is ordinary it's presented in a special sort of way. I think this applies to the medium of presentation itself. It was this train of thought that eventually led me to folios, chap books, and PDFs rather than matted and framed prints on the wall or more recently, Instagram, et al.


HT1128 - The Most Important Component

I was just watching a photographer's presentation about "The Three Most Important Components of a Successful Photograph." They proposed the three are subject, light, and composition. I kept thinking that they had missed the even more important component: emotion, idea, content, connection, relationship.


HT1129 - A Hundred Years from Now

How much has changed in photography in the last 100 years! Just think what was happening in 1922! Now try to imagine the state of photography 100 years from now. Do you think the megapixel count of that camera of your dreams will be of any interest in that distant future? If not, what will be important when people look at our photographs 100 years from now?


HT1130 - Sharing Prints

I miss sharing prints. In the 1980s, I was part of a group in Portland, Oregon that met once a month for sharing prints and talking shop. It was invigorating and motivating. Today, we share our images via the internet to a global audience, instantaneously. It's great, but it's not the same as sitting in a room with a bunch of fellow photographers and showing each other our latest prints.


HT1131 - Keepers

In my youth, I remember thinking that if I got one picture out of a roll of 36 exposures that I should consider that a success. A whopping 2.8%. As of today in my Lightroom catalog, I've used 2.2% of my RAW captures in one project or another. I guess I'm getting pickier in my old age.


HT1132 - My Photo Book Library

One of the things I miss most about my life on the road this last year has been my photo book library. There's nothing quite like curling up in an easy chair with a book and getting lost in the images. I guess I'm an addicted armchair traveler.


HT1133 - Books

It pains me to even think about this, but I can't help but conclude that books are simply not as important in photography as they used to be. I hope I'm wrong about this and missing something, but I can't find any evidence to dissuade me.


HT1134 - A Product of Our Times

There's no escaping the fact that we are a product of our times. As photographers, that's incredibly easy to see in the realm of technology. It's less obvious, but no less true, that we are also a product of our times in the realm of aesthetics.


HT1135 - Tutti Fruitti Roslyn Shootie

An example that illustrates the value of producing a group portfolio. Four guys, the same weekend, all photographing the same small town, each producing work that was completely different than the other three. And we each now own a copy of the portfolio with each other's prints.


HT1136 - Invisible Technique

In his book, The Print, Ansel Adams insisted that darkroom techniques like dodging and burning were supposed to be invisible in the finished print. That premise holds true for today's digital processing, too. But what about pushing things beyond reality? I wonder what Adams would think about the current trends of oversaturated color, the sky replacement tool, or content-aware fill?


HT1137 - Your Favorite

I observed an important lesson very early once I started working in projects rather than in trophy images. My favorite image in a project was not the universal favorite. Never. In fact, the feedback I received from people who saw the project evenly divided their "favorite image," much to my surprise. If there were 10 images in the project, each one of them were "the favorite" to about 10% of the audience.


HT1138 - The Clock in Your Camera

I've discovered an important reason to be sure the clock in your camera is accurate to the time. A Lightroom plug-in I've been using for a few months now allows me to filter my images by the hour of the day they were shot. But it only works if the clock in your camera is accurately stamping the EXIF data with the correct time. Anyfilter can be found here.


HT1139 - Proofreading a Photograph

Proofreading a page of text involves fixing mistakes like typographic errors and misspelled words, but it also includes a search for clarity and structure. It can be useful to employ some of the same principles in "proofreading" a photograph. For example, check the edges of the image, view against the correct background, correct contrast, color balance or toning, distracting bits that need to be cloned out, and metadata for copyright and contact information.


HT1140 - Projects Are Puzzles

Working a jigsaw puzzle is a useful analogy for working a photographic project. You start with a chaos of pieces and search for connections that build toward the finished vision. And just like with jigsaw puzzles, it a good strategy to start with defining the edges and work your way in by building clusters that eventually connect to complete the picture.


HT1141 - Massive Projects

I have a few massive projects that I don't know what to do with. For example, I have 873 abstract images from Fort Worden. I have at least that many from the Dakota Creek Shipyard that's across the street from where we lived and had the LensWork offices for a couple of decades. What do we do with massive projects like this?


HT1142 - Framing Glass, Again

Visiting a friend's house, I really wanted to admire his photographs on display on his walls. Unfortunately, I couldn't see them because of the reflections in the glass. And then he showed me some photographs framed with non-reflective glass and it was worse.


HT1143 - The Importance of the Artifact

There are good reasons that a photograph should be an artifact that exists in the physical world. But is that true for every image? There are equally good reasons that we should be making digital publications. Each has its unique advantages. That said, I still wish more photographers would make prints.


HT1144 - A Card Game Analogy

It struck me how similar it is to play a card game and to organize a project in Lightroom. In both cases we are presented with a random variety of elements that we try to arrange into a group that makes sense. Whether it's arranging our cards or our photographs, in both cases we are trying to arrange a little order from the chaos. Card games have rules and predefined goals. Can the same be said for art making?


HT1145 - Protect Those Highlights

The photographic mantra of ETTR is some pretty good advice. But like all such advice, too much of a good thing can turn into a really bad thing. Overexposed (blown) highlights are one of the worst unrecoverable mistakes you can make. I'd much rather be challenged with recovering noisy shadows than blown highlights.


HT1146 - Just the Right Word

What is the difference between being angry, livid, pissed off, bothered, and upset? Each term has its own subtle connotations. Choosing just the right word in your title, caption, or text can either add or diminish the effect.


HT1147 - Being Photogenic

When something, or someone, is said to be photogenic, what does that really mean? Doesn't it seem to imply that the photogenic subject has inherent properties that imply that a photograph of that subject will result in something that looks like we expect a photograph to look? Set another way, a photogenic subject is highly prone to make a cliche.


HT1148 - Less Photography, More Curiosity

There is a behavioral trap that I often find myself succumbing to. I grab my camera and go out looking for a photograph. What I should be doing is following my curiosity and letting the photographs come from that. Whenever I go out looking specifically for photographs, I usually come back with pretty boring pictures. "Photography is nothing; it's life that interests me." Henri Cartier-Bresson


HT1149 - One-click Filters

Here in the digital age, the one-click filter has always bothered me because it risks turning the art making process on its head. In my way of thinking, technique is always a function of more clearly expressing our ideas. One-click filters run the risk of creating an idea which gets imposed on our minds — which seems to me to be exactly backwards.


HT1150 - The Golden Thread

Who we choose as our heroes can illuminate what we value. My photographic heroes include Wynn Bullock, Minor White, Aaron Siskin, Paul Strand, and Paul Caponigro. What is the golden thread that all these photographers share in common? I've spent my life trying to answer that question.


HT1151 - You've Changed

For some time now, you've heard me talk about the importance of spending time looking at your images in your Lightroom catalog. I've even gone so far as to propose that a lifetime of work exists in the images you've already taken. Part of the reason I value that time spent reviewing my own images is that I've changed.


HT1152 - What versus Why

The subject of a photograph seems to be the most important consideration at first thought. I would propose that the more interesting question to explore is not what to photograph but why you choose to photograph those things that you do.