The Moment

Image of Monastere St. Claire, Jerusalem, Israel captured by AdamBarkerPhotography

I’m actually not speaking at all about the moment of which many of you are likely thinking. It’s not that magic moment. The moment the shutter clicks. I’m actually thinking about the moment I transitioned in my photographic approach from amateur to professional.This moment occurred when I decided to never postpone nor pass up an opportunity to photograph. All of those times I’d said to myself, “I’ll just get it next time” came to a head, and I realized that next time, no matter how special and unique, would ever be the same as that moment right then.

This image of a small, unknown monastery in Jerusalem, never would have been captured had my approach not been altered many years ago.

I was walking home from a sunrise shoot of the city, when I passed several nuns entering the grounds to the monastery. I walked past them several feet, intent on returning to my hotel to eat breakfast. I paused, turned around, and walked through the gate. I followed the nuns to the monastery doors, where a short discussion in Italian ensued and they invited me in to observe the service.

Except for the words of the sermon, and the occasional singing from the choir, it was silent. I quickly changed lenses and set up my tripod before entering the chapel itself, as to make as little noise as possible.

I knew, as soon as I entered through the chapel doors that this was a special place, not only in religious terms, but this was a visual gold mine. Warm, diffused light was entering through large windows on the east side. It enveloped the room with promise. Light, lines and story all converged to make for an outstanding and unforgettable scene. This, truly, was a moment.

Shalom!

"A" for effort, no?

From Jerusalem!

After a hefty number of hours in the air, I touched down in Tel Aviv to find a pleasant man named Michel waiting to take me to Jerusalem. I’ve been here less than 5 hrs, and can already feel the fantastic vibe of a city steeped in history. I managed a very quick and impromptu dusk session from the hotel balcony, and I’ll be spending the next several days in the Jordan desert with the crew from Manfrotto/Kata Backpacks. Can’t wait to share some imagery from this unique part of the world!

East Jerusalem at Dusk

The Over/Under: Quick Tutorial to Underwater Fly fishing Photography

Angler Geoff Mueller sizes admires a bonefish caught and released on the fly at Abaco Lodge, Bahamas

As skinny as it comes!
And I’m not talking about the fish here. In saltwater flyfishing, shallow water is commonly referred to as “skinny” water. Let’s just say this stretch of water at Abaco Lodge, Bahamas was on a tidal diet on this particular morning.
Underwater photography is unpredictable and challenging, but that all contributes to an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction when it all works out.

Over/under shots like this are heavily dependent on the right equipment, knowledge and always a bit of luck. It’s key to have a legit housing with a dome port. If you don’t have a dome port, you can still pull these types of shots off, but it’s much more difficult. I always spit on the dome glass and rub it around before getting it wet–this keeps the water from beading up on the part of the glass that remains above water.

Ideally–you will set your exposure just before shooting the sequence (on manual mode, of course). It’s always an approximate guess on lining up all the elements and shooting away. Here, I am kneeling down in the water, holding the housing at waist level or so. Obviously, there’s no looking through the viewfinder, so you need to understand very well what your chosen lens will include depending on where you hold the camera. Pointing and shifting the housing slightly up or down can drastically affect where the dividing water/air line will be in your frame. Experiment each and every time until you start to get a better idea of where that line will fall.

Note that even if you’ve put that line right in the middle of the dome port, it may not be dividing your image in half. Water moves up and down very quickly, and you’re much less steady than you think when holding the housing.

Two last tips! Get a diopter to place on the front element of your lens (before it goes in the housing). This will help mitigate the softness on the corners that is a constant issue when shooting through domes and it will also decrease your minimum focusing distance for your lens–which is key when trying to fill the frame when shooting.
Annnnd, shots like this benefit from front and/or sidelight to properly expose the image both above and underwater. Obviously, the brighter the ocean/river bottom is, the better it will balance with the sky.

UW housings are pricey, but they’re worth every penny. Rent one for a day from manufacturers like AquaTech and see if it might be a good fit for you. Have fun!

Recap: Bavaria Photo Workshop

Curious cows. Captured during an AdamBarkerPhotography Photo Workshop near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

I’ve been back from Germany now for a week or so, but it feels like just yesterday that I was dining on schnitzel and watching the sun rise and set over some of the more fantastic shooting locations I’ve experienced behind the lens. This workshop was conducted in cooperation with the Edelweiss Lodge & Resort, located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The facilities were great, and as a vacation resort catering solely to our United States Military service men and women (and spouses), it was a pleasure to be amongst so many that contribute on a daily basis to the freedom that we enjoy in this great country.

Photographer Adam Barker with student during Germany Photo Workshop p: Brad Hayes

Garmisch is quintessential storybook Germany. When you think of spending time in a classic German setting, you’re thinking of Garmisch-Partenkirchen–you just don’t realize it. Aesthetic church steeples, colorful window flowerboxes, quaint chalets with painted murals on the walls, cobblestone streets, beer steins served full to the brim with the best Bavarian brews, towering limestone peaks, lush green farm fields and rolling valleys, misty mornings, and yes–guys sporting their lederhosen loud and proud–it’s all there, and it’s all a part of every day life in this unique part of the world.

Endless shooting opportunities on an AdamBarkerPhotography Photo Workshop near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Needless to say, there was no lack of photographic subject matter. If anything, there were times when it was all a bit overwhelming–difficult, even, to capture in multiple clicks of the shutter. I taught two 3-day workshops back to back (14 and 17 students respectively). Mother nature was here and there and…everywhere. The weather in Garmisch moves in and out quicker that you can imagine, and thus–we needed to be flexible with our schedule. The students were fantastic, all very open to changes in schedule and shooting location. I was fortunate to be paired up with Edelweiss Dir. of Marketing Brad Hays, a legit photographer in his own right. Brad has lived in the area for ten years, and was indispensable in helping me to become familiar with the locations and shooting options.

Workshop students at an AdamBarkerPhotography Photo Workshop in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

I quickly found that sunrise and sunset were a crapshoot on any given morning or evening. The weather was always in and out, which really, was much more desirable than clear blue skies each morning/evening. Many times we would arrive at a location, shrouded in dawn mist, only to be spat out of the clouds minutes later witnessing rose-colored peaks in the distance with rolling farm fields in the foreground. I discovered that the minutes and hours just after sunrise, and leading up to sunset were the most reliable for direct light. We did have one or two morning and evening shoots where the clouds just exploded with color, and it was a riot to see eager photographers scrambling every which way trying to capitalize on the gift from above.

Farmer's shed and Bavarian Alps at an AdamBarkerPhotography Photo Workshop near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

The landscape was ideal for mid to long focal length shots. Wide angle images were just a bit tougher to come by as there wasn’t an overabundance of foreground objects to plant in the immediate in-your-face foreground. Curious cows, of course, were the rare exception, if you could persuade them to stand still! We worked extensively on finding dynamic compositions, and balancing the light that made for challenging exposures at times. It was the ideal setting to instruct everyone on how to use Singh Ray Filters to capture the scene as our eyes saw it. It’s always amazing to see the light bulb go on when students finally overcome the hurdles that have challenged them in their photography.

Students at an AdamBarkerPhotography photo workshop near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

All in all, and despite some particularly inclement weather for the second workshop, it was a fantastic experience (see attendee comments on the workshop below). I hope to return to Garmisch-Partenkirchen again some time–it looks to be a stunning photography location during the fall season! Are you interested in having a spectacular time learning how to take you photographic skills and creative vision to the next level? I’ve got domestic and international workshops/photo tours coming up this fall that are calling your name! Check out my workshop at the upcoming Telluride Photo Festival, or travel across the pond to the Far East with myself and M&M Photo Tours during our Southeast Asia photo tour.

Misty morning shoot near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany during an AdamBarkerPhotography Workshop

Bavaria Workshop Attendee Comments:

“Adam Barker is a fantastic instructor. So much energy and passion for photography. He was very patient with everyone
and a whole lot of fun to hang out with. I truly enjoyed this workshop and would attend another Adam Barker workshop if
you bring him back.”

“All I can say, it was an awesome workshop and will do it again if Adam comes back!”

“Let’s just say there was no bad memories. Garmisch, Adam Barker and Edelweiss Lodge & Resort. It was a win-win-win
situation…”

“The additional evening shoot that we did on Friday night was incredible. It really left me excited and inspired to get out
and really focus more on my photography. It was truly a fantastic workshop. Adam Barker was INCREDIBLE!”

Hello from Bavaria!

Domed Church, Garmisch, Germany

Or Garmisch-Partenkirchen to be more exact. It’s been far too long since checking in on the blog, and I’ve finally got a moment to share just a few images from this spectacular part of the world.

The Overlook

I’ve had a couple of days to scout the greater Garmisch-Partenkirchen region and I can say, without a doubt, that I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. This Bavarian Alps are overwhelmingly beautiful, with jaw-dropping vistas around every corner. It takes focus and just a bit of tunnel vision at times to capture even a piece of this gorgeous natural puzzle.

Curious Cow, Geroldsee

I’ve been fortunate to have Brad along from the beggining. Having lived here for the past ten years, he’s been an invaluable resource in showing me some of his favorite shooting locations. We’ve even found a couple of new ones for him to throw on his bucket list.

Partenkirchen at Dusk

The first of two three-day workshops begins in a couple of hours, and I’m looking forward to helping all the attendees improve their photography in one of the most photogenic locales I’ve ever visited. Check back soon for more images. Cheers!

ABP Travel Photography Seminar at Pictureline (with M&M Photo Tours)

Photographer Adam Barker presenting at Pictureline Camera Store in Salt Lake City, Ut

What an awesome event last night at Pictureline (read: better than Disneyland for every photographer). I presented some of my favorite images from my 2010 SE Asia Photo Tour with M&M Photo Tours to a packed house. The audience participation was fantastic, M&M shared some useful travel tips and great travel imagery, and everyone left with their entry fee returned to them in the form of a Pictureline gift card. I’ve included several images from the event, as well as some of the imagery I wasn’t able to share. Click this link to check out more images from the event and some commentary from the attendees.

Photographer Adam Barker presenting to a packed house at Pictureline Camera Store in Salt Lake City, UT

Photographer Adam Barker presenting to a packed house at Pictureline Camera Store in Salt Lake City, UT

Water Buffalo on terraced rice fields in Can Cau Village, Vietnam

Banteay Srei in early light, Angkor Thom Complex, Cambodia

Two monks at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Serene evening at Angkor Thom, Cambodia

Fishing boat dwarfed by towring limestone cliffs in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The Bayon at Dusk, Angkor Thom, Cambodia

Woman bartering goods at night market in Luang Prabang, Laos

Apsara dancers, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Southeast Asia Slideshow

Southeast Asia was an unbelievable experience on so many fronts. It really is difficult to encompass even a fraction of it in a slideshow. Many thanks to M&M Photo tours for giving me this fantastic opportunity to lead this trip as a guest pro! In a nutshell:

  • Over 7,000 images shot
  • 1,000 keepers
  • 104 selects presented in this slideshow.

Shoot like it’s your last day on earth. EDIT RELENTLESSLY. And enjoy the show!

Belize Part 2 (plus helpful photo editing tips)

Well that was a doozy! Finally through the Belize edit after countless hours of editing/processing/tearing my hair out/more editing/you get the point…check out the gallery here if you like.

Digital photography can be a monster. There’s a false understanding out there of digital photography giving us the opportunity to shoot as many images as possible, with little to no cost at all to the photographer. And really, that’s technically true. Although what many don’t understand is that it costs lots of time and energy to properly manage and maintain a viable, working library or archive of photos. If you don’t maintain a vigorous editing schedule on everything you shoot, before you know it you have terabytes of unsearchable imagery that just sits on a hard drive and keeps you from sleeping at night cause you know you have to take care of it.

Angler Mikey Weir, about 25 minutes into a lengthy battle with an 80+ lb. tarpon on the Belize River.

Angler Mikey Weir, about 25 minutes into a lengthy battle with an 80+ lb. tarpon on the Belize River.

What’s the point of all this drivel??? In short, be committed to editing your images on a regular basis. Below are a couple of tips that will help you to be a better editor.

1. Edit immediately: If you can, it’s best to get on it right after the shoot. Why? Well, for the obvious reason, the sooner you get started, the sooner it will be completed. The more important reason, however, is to get on the edit while the imagery and experience are still fresh in your mind. It’s best if you still have a connection to the shoot, with the conditions, feelings and conscious thoughts of the imagery still right there on the surface. Many times, if you wait to edit, you’ll be editing on only what you see, and sometimes, there’s more that goes into whether or not an image is worth keeping around.

Looking for permit tails in the last light of day near Robinson Point, Belize.

Looking for permit tails in the last light of day near Robinson Point, Belize.

2. Edit voraciously:What does this mean? In simple layman’s terms, it means don’t be afraid to hit that delete button. Especially as a pro, you must be judicious with your HD space. Don’t keep anything that won’t serve a purpose in the end. If it won’t add to your portfolio, suit a client’s needs or make for a viable stock image, get rid of it. One way I do this is by rating my images from 1 to 5 stars. Anything that doesn’t get a rating gets axed.

Up close and personal with the Silver King.

Up close and personal with the Silver King.

3. Edit continuously: If at all possible, try and get through the edit for a shoot in one sitting. I do this because I believe there is a certain flow to an edit session that contributes to the overall quality of the final edit. I know what I’ve been keeping and what I’ve been throwing out. I know if I see repeat images or concepts and avoid keeping too many of the same types of images that will just clutter my hard drive and selection process in the end. This will be difficult on larger shoots, but do your very best–it will pay off in spades.

Angler Jamie Connolly, reviving a permit after a worthy fight.

Angler Jamie Connolly, reviving a permit after a worthy fight.

4. Edit at 100%: I don’t mean to edit every image at 100%, but when you are deciding whether the image is a keeper or not, do yourself a favor and check the image for sharpness at 100%. It doesn’t matter if the image looks good at thumbnail size–it has to look good at 100%, cause that’s what end licensees/users will be checking. Aperture (and many other editing programs) has a nice loupe feature which allows you to zoom in at 100% on your image, following your mouse cursor around instead of zooming the entire image to 100%.

40 feet at 9 o'clock!! Mikey Weir spots a cruising permit near Robinson Point, Belize.

40 feet at 9 o'clock!! Mikey Weir spots a cruising permit near Robinson Point, Belize.

5. Edit to Edit: Not to process. This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do, and I struggle with it more than any other tip on here. It’s tough not to narrow in on the 5-star images right away and process those in your RAW software app or Photoshop. But be warned that if you get into this habit, you’ll end up with a couple of processed 5-star images and a whole bunch of other crap that never got properly edited. Get through the edit first, and then go back through and watch your images come to life as you work your processing mojo.

Trusty pangas soaking up golden late light just outside of Belize Harbor.

Trusty pangas soaking up golden late light just outside of Belize Harbor.

Hope these tips were helpful. If you found them helpful, please feel free to share with friends on Facebook or fellow tweeters on Twitter!

Vancouver: Olympic City Revealed

I’ve had opportunity to visit the city of Vancouver, Canada several times in the past couple of years. As far as big cities go, I think it’s one of the coolest around. It buzzes with culture and is a melting pot of people, food and lifestyle. Given the fact that Vancouver will host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games here in the next month or so, I thought I’d post up a couple of images from my travels there, along with some interesting tidbits about this coastal hub.

Vancouver is surrounded by water from three sides. Its climate is one of the mildest in Canada not only because it is on the south side of Canada, but more because of Pacific Ocean and the prevailing south easterly winds that keeps Vancouver mild and damp.

Vancouver is surrounded by water from three sides. Its climate is one of the mildest in Canada not only because it is on the south side of Canada, but more because of Pacific Ocean and the prevailing south easterly winds that keeps Vancouver mild and damp.

Vancouver is very rich with parks having close to 200 parks including well known Stanley Park of Vancouver City (pictured here).

Vancouver is very rich with parks having close to 200 parks including well known Stanley Park of Vancouver City (pictured here).

Vancouver was rated the best in the world for quality of life in 2001. Pictured here is False Creek Bay.

Vancouver was rated the best in the world for quality of life in 2001. Pictured here is False Creek Bay.

Vancouver is North America's second largest Port (in tonnage & physical size - after New York) and one of the worlds major cruise ship ports.

Vancouver is North America's second largest Port (in tonnage & physical size - after New York) and one of the worlds major cruise ship ports.

Vancouver is Canada's 3rd largest city (Toronto is 1st and Montreal 2nd) with an area population of 2 to 2.6 million.

Vancouver is Canada's 3rd largest city (Toronto is 1st and Montreal 2nd) with an area population of 2 to 2.6 million.

False Creek Bay (pictured here) is a quiet residential area along the water and it’s also home to the Olympic Village.

False Creek Bay (pictured here) is a quiet residential area along the water and it’s also home to the Olympic Village.

The Lions Gate Bridge has become of landmark of Vancouver and the North Shore. In 1986 the Guinness family, as a gift to Vancouver, purchased decorative lights that make it a distinctive nighttime landmark. In July 2009, the bridge's lighting system was updated with new LED lights to replace this existing system of 100-watt mercury vapour bulbs. The switch to LEDs is expected to reduce power consumption on the bridge by 90 per cent and save the Province about $30,000 a year in energy and maintenance costs. With the new LED bulbs, which are designed to last 12 years, it could be a decade before any work crew is called out to do a replacement.

The Lions Gate Bridge has become of landmark of Vancouver and the North Shore. In 1986 the Guinness family, as a gift to Vancouver, purchased decorative lights that make it a distinctive nighttime landmark. In July 2009, the bridge's lighting system was updated with new LED lights to replace this existing system of 100-watt mercury vapour bulbs. The switch to LEDs is expected to reduce power consumption on the bridge by 90 per cent and save the Province about $30,000 a year in energy and maintenance costs. With the new LED bulbs, which are designed to last 12 years, it could be a decade before any work crew is called out to do a replacement.

Vancouver has the highest proportion (per capita) of Asians of any North American city. This makes for a great selection of Oriental restaurants. It has one of the largest and oldest Chinatowns in North America.

Vancouver has the highest proportion (per capita) of Asians of any North American city. This makes for a great selection of Oriental restaurants. It has one of the largest and oldest Chinatowns in North America.

Anatomy of a Commercial Lifestyle Shoot: Loon Outdoors

Ever wonder what’s involved in a smaller scale commercial lifestyle shoot? Have a read.

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

This past week I was fortunate to work with Loon Outdoors, a company committed to providing environmentally friendly fly fishing products to anglers. We had arranged for a one-day shoot up in Sun Valley, ID. In the days leading up to the shoot, I’d been checking the weather incessantly, hoping for something other than the obvious–rain and cold and general nastiness on the day of (and only the day of) the shoot. Murphy’s law was definitely proving itself on this one. After a bit of dicussion with company president Alan Peterson, we decided to go ahead with the scheduled shoot.

Alan Peterson and Jay Burke looking for lunkers above the Big Wood River in Sun Valley, Idaho

Alan Peterson and Jay Burke looking for lunkers above the Big Wood River in Sun Valley, Idaho

The truth of the matter is this: some weather is fantastic for photography, and fly fishing photography in particular. It provides for interesting shooting conditions and unique atmospheric opportunities. Too much weather, however, can be a literal game ender.

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

AdamBarkerPhotography commerical shoot with Loon Outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho

My alarm clock went off on the morning of the shoot and without even looking out the window I knew I would be encountering some unique weather-related challenges throughout the day. I could hear the rain drops on the windows. Not so good. I parted the curtains and was surprised to see 2″ of snow had fallen overnight. Wow. Cool! Snow would provide for something a bit different. Throughout the day on the Big Wood River, we had steady rain moving in and out, providing for alternately inspiring conditions and  an utterly miserable, wet hell for a photographer. By late afternoon, the skies had dropped the majority of their bounty and we decided to head south to Silver Creek for what turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous evening of dramatic skies and golden light. We returned to the cars under waning dusk light low on energy and high on life. I was spent, but the client was grinning and the mission was accomplished.

A fisherman strips line out on the Big Wood River, Idaho

A fisherman strips line out on the Big Wood River, Idaho

I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on this shoot with its associated expectations placed upon the photographer. There was a bit of extra pressure considering we were allotted just one day to capture a wide range of images. These are certainly challenging times for many photographers and business owners alike. There still remains, however, a noticeable gap between the true professional and eager amateur. A true professional will always deliver, regardless of conditions or obstacles placed in his path. He/She relies on past experience and draws from his technical skill and creative vision to create something out of nothing (when nothing is presented) and to capture the magic in a quick and proficient manner when Mother Nature decides to lend a hand.

To see more of the images from this shoot, check out the online gallery. Special thanks to Simms, William Joseph and Clikelite backpacks for helping to make this a productive shoot.

A trio of fishermen pose for the camera after an evening on SIlver Creek, Idaho

A trio of fishermen pose for the camera after an evening on SIlver Creek, Idaho