25. March 2015 · Comments Off on Plan, Prepare, Practice, Patience · Categories: patience, Philosophy, Plan, Practice, Preparation · Tags: , , ,
At times those skills were really hard to do because not only was I having to contend with the camera, but I was having to learn these new skills and the ball was always kind of doing what you didn’t want it to do. So it got a little bit frustrating at times but we got there.- Parminder Nagra
Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.- Winston Churchill
Girls Volleyball,Stanford,Volleyball

Girls Volleyball, Stanford, Volleyball

I have ADHD.  For those that know, it is well like DUH! So, for me to write, let alone an article on Plan, Prepare, Practice, Patience is quite something !

Regardless of whether you are an Instagram shooter, shooting for a paper, portraits, landscapes, you name it; Plan, Prepare, Practice, Patience all  pay dividends.  Seldom do we get a chance as photographers to do over again. and even the ability to do over again, requires planning and preparation.

  •  A product shots requires planning to allow a redo.
  • I think of my son who posts on Instagram and Facebook multiple times a day of friends, food, activities; there is no redo for those occasions.
  • Landscape photography, will the lighting be the same, will you be in the same spot, will the landscape be the same?
  • Portraits, will the person(s) be able to have the same expression, will you have the same lighting?
  • As an event photographer (think sports) the moment is fleeting and gone forever.

Not all photos, and types of photos require the same degree of Planning, Preparation, Practice, and Patience.  My Instagram son, who uses his phone for photos plans, as do every other photographer I know.  What do these four “P”s  really mean?


Planning is the process of mentally looking into the future and imagining what is going to happen, and how you will respond.  And then, taking notes (mental or otherwise) on what you will do.  Here are a few examples:

  • To take an early morning  sunrise photo, I will need a light to see the camera, I will need a tripod for long exposures, I will something to keep me warm.
  • To get pics of elephant seals fighting I am going to need a longish lens.
  • What are the settings  I need on the camera for what I am shooting.

Most of us do some amount of mental planning, but do we actually pay attention and think about what it is that we want to do? Often, planning is the result of learning from things not well enough planned.


This is an action step: This is where I collect what is needed, or the process of getting what is needed available.

  • Buy gloves and a headlamp for my before sunrise photo
  • I find out if the elephant seals are visible to public and obtain needed permits
  • Charge batteries
  • Pack the camera bag
  • Get water and munchies for during the day
  • Clean the camera & lenses
  • Fresh memory for the camera

All of these types of activities are implicitly the result of planning and recognizing what actions need to happen.  I often make a work list so that I won’t forget something, and that I can add to as I remember other things.  I set up various categories that I need to deal with such as clothing, camera, lighting, props, batteries.


There are many times  and types of photography where there is not a lot of time to figure something out; kids, wild life, event photography, even landscape as the light is changing from predawn to dawn.  I remember, one pre  dawn at Mesa Arch, and three guys came in late, but they had a tripod, but they didn’t know how to connect the camera to the tripod.  Some types of photography, such as sports or wild life, require a knowledge about the subject if you want good photos.

Mesa Arch, being prepared

Canyon Lands National Park,Island in the Sky,Mesa Arch,Southwest,Utah,buttes,canyons,sunrise


I am in some ways surprised that I am a photographer with my ADHD.  Waiting for the moment and not getting frustrated in the waiting and not just clicking frames out of impatience that later have to be weeded out.  The elephant seals, and the volleyball practice are both examples of this.


In parting, if you think about it, what would you do more of, what would you do less of: Plan Prepare Practice Patience?


18. March 2015 · Comments Off on A Prepared Photographer · Categories: Preparation · Tags: , , , ,


Not so recently I was in Canyonlands National Park for a sunrise shoot through Mesa Arch.  There were a number of other photographers there before sunrise.  What was a surprise was the degree of  not prepared.

  • Several people didn’t have tripods, so they couldn’t take photos other than setting the camera on a rock.
  • Others didn’t know how to operate their cameras
  • Still others didn’t know how to put the camera on the tripod
  • Only about half had a flashlight or headlamp.

All of the above doesn’t mean that you can’t get nice images, it is just harder to get good images; your options are more limited. Learning to be prepared can occur via the school of problems, or you can get some coaching so that you are more likely to be successful.  Being unprepared may mean you miss the shot you wanted, or that it doesn’t turn out as well as you would like.

Take the sunrise shoot at mesa arch; someone who has shot there previously can tell you how long it takes to drive, and then walk to the arch. What lens combinations work from each location.  Which locations work for sunrise, what works for sunset. Or you can do like we did figure out the mileage and the walking distance and make an estimate.  In our case, we did not allocate enough time and I had to run on the trail in the dark.

Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch

Ask someone who has been where you want to go and see what tips you can get.

Ask and answer these questions for yourself

  • How much time will it take me to get setup?
    • How long to get there?
    • How long to set up?
    • Do I know where I am going?
  • What equipment do I need? (trying to get a shot under pressure, when it is the first time with the equipment is a recipe for failure!)
    • Do I have the equipment I need?  Is it pre setup? or am I going to fumble when I get there?
    • Do I know how to use the equipment?
    • Is the equipment ready? (clean, batteries, media, extra batteries for the cold)
  • Do I have the non camera gear that I need?
    • Snacks; an army or an individual marches on their stomachs
    • The right clothes; few things are more miserable than freezing (sub zero & breeze) and not having the right clothes.
    • Map/directions, permits
  • Other
    • Am I planning on meeting someone? If so how are we going to rendezvous?
    • Is the car gassed and ready?

The Boy Scouts really have something with ‘Be Prepared’



16. March 2015 · Comments Off on Dreary weather – The Cat in the Hat · Categories: memory, Mental Process, Philosophy, Uncategorized

“The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.”   The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss

North Zion -What would the Cat in the Hat do on a dreary cold day?

North Zion What would the Cat in the Hat do on a dreary cold day?

The Cat in the Hat… and photography?  What could the   The Cat in the Hat possibly have to do with photography.  As with so much of Dr. Suess (aka Ted Geisel), his stories had morals built into them.
It is Sunday of a men’s ski weekend, and it is drizzly rain outside. What can be done? I have been convinced that the rain hasn’t ruined all the snow, so later we will try skiing. Laurie in large lupine What does all of this have to do with photography? or Fall Colors? Well with my passion around photography, this time gives me an opportunity to visualize and rehearse. The technique has long been used by athletes, and studies are showing that the mental rehearsing changes the brain to make it easier or more familiar. So, I use it here as well as with athletic things.

What do I rehearse? The number one thing that I visualize is checking composition; checking the corners, checking to see where the lines are. I imagine myself checking the focus point; is it on the eye?



or if it is a landscape, how is the depth of field?.

All of this checking may not be as rewarding as a day in the field but, constructive day dreaming is way better than worrying or being upset with the weather.
This is kind of like the fisherman who organizes the tackle box waiting to go fishing. And when rehearsing gets old, I remember beautiful places and the expectation to visit more of them.

What do you rehearse? Why not rehearse something that is enjoyable and beneficial when you have time rather than the something negative? Try reading Dr. Suess.

“The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.”   The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss


11. March 2015 · Comments Off on Details – Learnings from a workshop · Categories: Mental Process, patience, Philosophy, processing photos, Uncategorized

The Courthouse from main streat

The details are not the details. They make the design. Charles Eames


Success is the sum of details.   Harvey S. Firestone

Now this is a laugh!  Me with ADHD, the big picture guy writing about details!  But maybe that is why this is an important note for me.  Four months ago, I took Charlie Cramer workshop on printing.  Now I love printing photos, and I already knew most of the techniques that Charlie taught. What I didn’t recognize until recently, was what it was that I did learn.  Paying attention to details.  In lots of different ways, the message was pay attention to details, not just the big picture; the big picture takes care of itself if the details are observed.

I was reviewing some photos of the southwest that I had previously posted on my site.  Wander through the galleries and see if you can detect the details that have not been attended to ! In reviewing the photos, I was appalled at the poor quality that I had posted before.  I haven’t updated all of the photos yet, it takes time…. Details I noticed that had escaped me the first time around.

  • Spots, particularly in the sky
  • Halos
  • Shadows too blocked up
  • Horizons not quite flat
  • Unsharpened photos
  • Not cropped well
  • Photos too dark

It is amazing the improvement in quality in the photos from paying attention to the series of details that are available.  It wasn’t as if any of these things was new at all, but was new was instilling the eye to be able recognize the series of details that needed attending too!

One of my photographer sons says over and over, when I talk with him (sons are like that, probably learned some place LoL) is that we have to become ‘engaged with the picture’ but I think I might answer back, pay attention to the details, the picture will take of itself..

04. March 2015 · Comments Off on At lunch – what works for learning Photography · Categories: Mental Process, Preparation · Tags: , , , ,

Early morning. Any time, anyplace is good for learning photographyThe other day, several of us who are interested in photography, got together and had a beer over lunch (sorry, no photo of the beer).   The lunchtime conversation was interesting in that we spent most of it reflecting on what worked for each of us and what did not work.  Below is a quick summary of the conclusions we had and the common shared philosophy around teaching and learning photography.

  • There are good workshops, and not so good workshops
    • Not so good have things like:
      • ‘Here is what is wrong with that photo’ followed by a long devastating list
      • ‘Oh, there are no photos or anything to take a photo of here’
      • Where the workshop people are more interested in taking their own photos than helping you with yours.
    • Unfortunately it is kind of hard to figure this out without having been on one of these types of workshops….
    • Good workshops
      • Instructors are there to help you
      • Interactive question & answer (not pontificated at)
      • Instructors give each person something to work on for their own improvement based on where they are at.
  • That the learning process takes practice and gentle feedback
  • That we can learn to give ourselves feedback with practice.

In one workshop that was led, one of the participants was complaining that the sun was in the wrong position and that it was the workshops fault…

Part of what any workshop should teach is how to work with what is there, not what you wish were there.    The joke was about a guy who always won whatever bet he make.  Life became uninteresting…. Part of what makes photography what it is, is the learning of how to work with what we have.

There was one workshop that we bumped into at Bodie,

Shanty town, Bodie. Learning Photography can occur anywhere

Funniest places to meet people. Learning Photography can occur anywhere

one of the participants of that workshop had a question that the workshop instructor couldn’t answer.   We looked up the answer out of curiosity, and then ran into the same workshop group at dinner (there are only a limited number of places to eat).  We sat around and discussed the answer with that whole workshop, even though it was not ours.  The goal is about sharing, not hoarding.