Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

What Do You Do When You Get Home After A Photo Workshop

I recently had the opportunity to co-lead a week long photography workshop on the Oregon Coast. It was a truly wonderful experience and was made that way because of the great group of participants that were on the trip. Once everyone was happy and settled in at the various locations and had their questions answered I was able to do some shooting as well (while still always being open and available for questions). I thought a good follow up to that trip would be a blog post about how to approach all those photos once you get home. Obviously, what I do doesn't necessarily apply to everybody, but you may find some good suggestions in my list that also work for you:  

1) The obvious first step is to download your images if you haven't done so already, and not to delete any back-ups you made on the trip until you are sure that you have the images where you want made back-ups while you were away, right? Please tell me that you did! 

Cards are so relatively inexpensive these days that I keep the originals on the cards and just put a new card into the camera when I need to. If I have my laptop with me, I download the card to the laptop but don't delete the card and then make a copy of the files on a small portable hard drive.  When returning home I put the small portable drive into my luggage that is being checked. That way I have a copy of the files in my checked luggage as well as on my laptop and original cards. Now, if the airline loses my checked luggage or if someone steals my carry-ons in the airport I still have copies of those images saved.

2) Once I download the files at home, I make a backup to a large external drive  and then the small drive I use on trips and the camera cards can all be reused.

3) So lets get editing....whoa there.....that's not what I do next, though it may be tempting! Why not? Because the images are still too up close and personal to me. When all the pleasant memories are still fresh its very easy to get lulled into thinking that your images are fantastic or that they are terrible. There are probably some of both......but it is far easier for me to be objective after having distanced myself from them for a period of time. More importantly, as time goes on, I am going to forget things about the shots, such as the location each image was made. So my next step is to keyword them as to location, subject etc, before the memory fades. 

4) After keywording, I go through and stack (using Lightroom) the various iterations of the same shot made with different apertures, shutter speeds etc. That way if the image ultimately becomes one that I want to work on I have all the iterations to compare neatly together. Also, if I did any exposure bracketing sequences for HDR I will stack the brackets together and color code them so I know the stack is a HDR sequence.

5) OK, now I can get down to editing (with ruthlessness) my shots and choose the ones I want to spend time processing. Alternatively, I might let them sit a bit longer to be able to evaluate them more objectively.

That's my post-trip protocol. If you do anything differently or have other suggestions please do comment!



Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia

A few weeks ago I posted some indoor images I had made during a trip photographing with friends at Callaway Gardens in Georgia. Those particular images were made indoors because it was raining quite hard outside. But that was not the case for the entire trip. We also had some great weather conditions.

I was drawn to make this image because of the light, the pink leaves, the reflections, as well as the way the tree branches swooped gracefully. During processing, I tried to bring these features out. It was a very peaceful location indeed!


Bandon Beach, Oregon

This was taken a few years ago when I was on an Oregon Coast workshop with Nancy Rotenberg. Short of pouring rain or the densest of fog it's pretty hard to go wrong at Bandon Beach. In fact it was pretty much impossible to go wrong anywhere with Nancy!

Bandon Beach   © Howard Grill

And a black and white version I made some time ago:

Bandon Beach, Platinum Toned    © Howard Grill

Bandon Beach, Platinum Toned    © Howard Grill

Rolling Hills Of The Palouse

As I mentioned in my last two posts, I recently returned from a superb workshop in the Palouse region run by John Barclay and Dan Sniffin.  The workshop started with a visit to a location meant to orient us to how to see and photograph what is so characteristic of the area.....rolling hills that seem to go on forever.  The best way to portray them, at least in this particular area which did not have barns or grain elevators (and, yes, we visited many areas that did have both and that added another dimension to the photos), was as abstract images using a long lens.  The long lens (in this case a 400 mm f5.6) was able to isolate interesting areas of the landscape while also 'compressing' the distance between the hills. As you can see from the crop, even a 400 was barely long enough on my full frame camera.  So if you visit, bring the longest lens you have and/or a body with a crop factor that uses less than a full frame sensor.

The rolling hills of the Palouse form an abstract image.

Rolling Hills

Where I've Been

It has been quite a number of years since I have been to a photography workshop....but that is exactly where I have been for the last week.  I just returned from an absolutely wonderful workshop in the Palouse led by John Barclay and Dan Sniffin.  They truly exemplify what a well run professional workshop should be like.  More specifically, they had been to the Palouse many, many times before and knew where the excellent shooting locations were. Moreover, they had a plan for every and any weather situation.  And by that I don't mean just overcast vs. sunny.  They had pre-arranged locations in mind for that, but also for blue skies vs. cloudy skies, chasing the changing light etc.  And even though this was theoretically a photo 'tour' as opposed to a workshop, there was really no difference.  They both made themselves readily available for any and all questions in the field and also had several didactic sessions that contained tidbits that would be helpful to those at all levels of processing experience.  Perhaps most importantly, they were both an absolute pleasure to be around and, needless to say, are superb photographers. I certainly plan to attend more of their workshops in the future and would highly recommend them to anyone.  It was both a pleasure and an honor to be photographing with them as well as with the many other very talented photographers who were participants with me in the Palouse!

I hope in the next few weeks, as I go through the many images that I took, to have many to share on this blog.  I just have to get through the keywording, editing, and processing stages first!

Photographic Personality

Over time, I have been to many photographic workshops that I have really enjoyed. But several years ago I went one that was was the only workshop that I did not like attending.  And the reason for that helped me to understand a bit about my photographic 'personality'. This particular workshop was about five or six days in duration, and during that time we photographed at Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, and Canyon De Chelle.  What could be bad?  Well nothing really, as long as you like moving from spot to spot fairly rapidly and are OK with ending up being at some prime spots during the bright afternoons when conditions for photographing are not optimal.  It made me realize that my photographic 'personality' is to move slowly and take in all the nuances of a location; to steep myself in the feel of a place and photograph it under many conditions and times.  I would much rather have spent the entire week, or at least half a week, at one of those locations and gone back to multiple areas within it for sunrise and sunset and to get an opportunity to explore it more fully rather than get the classic roadside shots that have made the locations famous for being a photographer's paradise.

Please understand, I am not complaining about or denigrating this particular workshop.  I am just talking about how participating in it made me realize more about my personal photographic technique.  Not that it's always good.  I often do need someone to push me along a bit, lest I not move for hours to see what is around the bend.  But it is the way I am most comfortable working.  Others like to shoot and run, and that works for them.  But I do think it is helpful to understand the way you work best and plan accordingly.

This particular image was one where we ended up at the right place at the right time.

Monument Valley 'Mittens'

Copyright Howard Grill