Tech Tip: Why I Use Time Machine…(and why you should too)

Powder skiing image of Parker Cook at Solitude Mountain Resort, UT

Alright. I’ll admit it. I’ve long been both a consumer and yay-sayer of all things Apple. As much as despise the cult-like following (of which I’m admittedly a part) and the near idol-worship of anything with a clean-cut apple logo on it…they do, in fact, make stellar products, especially for those of us in the creative field.

One of the most sensible and useful products from Apple is one that you don’t even have to pay for if you’ve purchased a Mac in recent years. For those Apple-filiacs out there, or for those less-informed, here’s the nutshell: Time Machine is an integrated backup system that (when configured) automatically backs up your hard drive (and other external drives if you so choose) every hour. Cool? Sure–cool enough. The best part, however, is that you can actually then enter “Time Machine” and travel back to the state of your HD at the given time of backup. Why does this matter? Because we all screw up, and if we back up BEFORE we screw up, all is not lost!

I’m in the thick of submissions for all the ski mags for 2012/13. Upon relentless inspection of my library from this winter, I found one file to be (gasp) absent. How could this be??? There’s no way I would have knowingly tossed this file (shown above). With palms sweaty and heart rate rising, I dialed up Time Machine and toggled back to the date just after it was shot, but BEFORE the shoot day was edited. Annnnd….VOILA! File found. (Visualize: triumphant music filling my office, fists raised, tears of joy, victory speech…etc.) Apparently, I had edited and processed the file and somehow stripped it of its ranking. At the end of every edit, I delete every image that hasn’t received a (self-imposed) rating of at least one star or higher.

Is this the next Powder/Skiing/Freeskier cover??? Probably not. But it’s sure as hell worthy of finding its place in a submission (especially in a year lean with powder days).

Bottom line? Back up. Often. Better bottom line? Use Time Machine. It’s ridiculously easy, and, most importantly, if you do it right, it will cure you of sweaty palms and a racing heart the next time you realize you blew it. Now don’t blow it, and go back up.

BTS Video: Lifestraw Commercial Shoot

We recently traveled south to Moab, UT on a location shoot for Lifestraw. If you’ve never heard of this amazing little water filter before, be sure to check it out. And enjoy the video! (many thanks to my assistant Nate Sorensen for putting this together!)

The World Open Photo Contest (I need your vote!)

Stoked to be featured as part of the World Open photography contest this week. There’s some inspiring work being posted over there. Check it out, and give ol’ ABP a vote while you’re at it!

Utah is Back

Julian Carr skiing deep powder at Alta Ski Area, UT

So stoked to see some freshness (finally) falling from the sky. Today was a good one at Alta. More on the way!

Julian Carr skiing deep powder at Alta Ski Area, UT

11 Best of 2011 from AdamBarkerPhotography

2011 was a spectacular year on all accounts. Foot upon foot of pow skied, fish from Wyoming to the Bahamas hooked, festivals in the far corners of the earth, ancient pathways crossed–all contributed to what could perhaps be one of my most productive years behind the lens. Cliche as it may be, I can’t help but look back in review and share some of my favorites from the past year.  As always, many thanks to my sponsors: Arc’teryx, Suunto, Mark Miller Subaru, Mountain Khakis, Manfrotto School of Xcellence, Clikelite Backpacks and Singh Ray Filters. Hope you all enjoy, and here’s to an even better 2012! (click on images to view larger versions)

1. Jesse Hall takes a moment to ponder human flight, as he stands inside the hot air balloon from which he’ll subsequently launch himself into gravity’s liberating grasp. Park City, UT.

2. Angler Al Chidester finds himself surrounded by all that is good in this world: fresh air, fall foliage…and fantastic fishing in some of western Wyoming’s most treasured water.

3. Fire and rain over Warm Creek Bay, Lake Powell, UT.

4. Hazy skies make for ethereal and ancient interpretations of East Jerusalem, Israel.

5. First light envelopes Agua Canyon in a glow only Mother Nature could furnish. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT.

6. Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch shows its true colors in crisp early morning light. Dallas Divide, CO.

7. Angler Geoff Mueller admires a healthy bonefish (caught and released) in Abaco Island’s skinniest of water.

8. Calm in the chaos of Hanoi traffic, Vietnam.

9. Bavaria’s finest color smiles upon a lone farmer’s shed in the fields near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

10. Skier Drew Stoecklein can, in fact turn right. At just the right time. In just the right place. Alta Backcountry, UT.

11. Angler Geoff Mueller and Oliver White tense up as they ply the waters off Abaco Island for huge permit.

The Value of Vision

Image of William Atkin House at This is The Place Heritage State Park in Salt Lake City, UT by AdamBarkerPhotography

It’s so easy these days to reduce photography to nothing more than pressing a button on the latest camera, with the latest lens, packed in the latest backpack, etc. etc. etc. There’s no question that photography has much to do with equipment. It’s also true that generally speaking, better equipment will yield better results, assuming the photographer has the technical knowledge necessary to utilize the added features and from more advanced equipment. It is most true, however, that exceptional photographers rely on that which is in their head, and not in their hands to produce imagery that will rise above the clutter of mediocrity.

Which brings me to this image from this morning’s shoot in Salt Lake City. I hadn’t planned on shooting this house. I hadn’t really even planned on shooting at all to be honest. But I woke up and the skies looked promising and I needed to breathe some cold air. The skies certainly delivered, but I soon realized that my vision for the scene in front of me had nothing to do with vibrant, cheery color.

This home is a replica of one built in 1877 by a mormon settler named William Atkin. It was located eight miles south of St. George on a 160-acred farm that later became the one-family town of Atkinville.

A one-family town in the middle of nowhere–I’m sure they saw some beautiful sunrises, but I can also imagine the over-abundance of hardships encountered in such an endeavor as well. Lonely. Bleak. Cold. And thus was born this image, which has moderate resemblance to the original (below). I can tell you exactly how I did this, but I’d rather you simply study the image and answer that for yourself. It’s about externalizing the internal thought process at the time of capture, and relies more on cognitive decision-making when shooting the image than reactive experimentation on the computer after the fact.

What’s the point of all this babble? The point is this: if you have no personal investment or direction in the final result of what you hope to create when you click the shutter, there really is very little substantive story-telling to be showcased. Without a story, you have no audience.

It’s likely that I will embrace the in-camera version of this image at some point. After all, I am a sucker for colored up clouds, and it is a beautiful and serene scene. However, on this morning, this was my vision. Vision has value. It’s value is far greater than the latest and greatest doohickey that just hit the interwebz. Vision, or the lack thereof, is ultimately a very large factor in whether you will succeed or fail in your quest to produce exceptional imagery.

Breakdown: Anatomy of a Stock Ski Image

It’s a pretty slow start to winter here in Utah this year, so I figured maybe I can tease ol’ Mother Nature into submission with some love from last year. I spend a great deal of time shooting skiing in the winter, and it’s about a whole lot more than shredding pow and high fives (though that definitely makes up a decent chunk of it!). There’s a great deal of work that goes into every image,  on both the part of the photographer and the athlete. It requires vision, communcation and an understanding of the end product from both parties. Read on for a little insight into the making of this image of Carston Oliver at Alta, UT.

1. Rule numero uno in most, if not all ski imagery is tack sharp focus. Obviously, there’s a little wiggle room here if you’re going after some other sort of creative effect (blur, etc.), but by and large, your images MUST be tack sharp if they are to stand any chance at getting published. This requires communication to the athlete as to exactly where you hope for the climactic action to occur. This is vital to communicate, as I typically frame my image around this “hot spot”. If the athlete misses it, the shot will likely be a throw away. Carston hits the mark nearly every time. When working with new athletes (to me), I’ll typically give myself a bit of tolerance in either pulling back from what I expect the final image to be, or by following the athlete to a greater extent instead of having him simply ski through my frame, holding the camera still. If I trust the athlete and can see the exact frame I hope to capture, I will pre-focus on the hot spot, as was the case here.

2. I am a stickler about paying attention to the edges of your frame. It’s vital to have that separation between the skier and the edge of the frame for both aesthetic and functional reasons. Firstly, it gives the subject of the image adequate breathing room, and negates the visual tension that would occur were the skier too close to the edge. Secondly, this is very usable (and necessary) space for copy. This image was shot for cover dimensions, and this space around the subject is a must!

3. With most side profile ski images like this, you need to decide what to include in terms of terrain and line choice. Do you want to show where the skier is coming from or where he’s going? Or do you want to include both? In this image, I knew the backlit powder trail would be an integral part of the shot, which means I needed to show a hefty chunk of turn behind the actual hot spot. Again, this is crucial to understand before the action takes place, as it affects the entire dynamic and composition of the image. Additionally, there was a small cliff directly underneath this turn. So–the shot was best when showing where the skier had come from, not so much where he was going. I’ve employed the ridgeline, turn trench and powder spray as leading lines, taking the viewer from the upper right corner, directly to the skier, where the viewer can then wander into the space below (see #2) and continue digesting the remainder of the image.

4. This background serves two purposes. First, it gives the viewer perspective and a feeling of exposure. It serves as the separating element between the skier and “all the rest”. It’s the contrast I always look for both in terms of subject matter, texture and color to give separation and add depth to an image. By using a telephoto lens here, I’ve compressed the scene, bringing that background directly in and almost “on top” of the action. This is a great way to fill your frame with the goods, and get rid of everything else. Lastly, this background serves as usable space for a magazine masthead. Ideally, it would be a little less busy, but it still works dimensionally.

5. More negative space. Again, crucial to the hopeful editorial success of this image. This space is absolutely necessary if this image is ever to have legs as a cover. Editors need aesthetic, functional space in which to add copy, headlines, etc. It also helps to provide that clean separation between foreground and background.

Want to make this work for you? Find aesthetic locations with good snow. Then hook up with skilled athletes that can exact turns with surgical precision, while maintaining that perfect photogenic form. Finally, learn how to communicate your vision in a verbal manner. It looks completely different from the athlete’s perspective, and it’s up to you as the photographer to make sure you’re both on the same page. Good luck!

Published Gallery Feature: Mountain Magazine

Mountain Magazine Photo Gallery Feature with Adam Barker and Jordan Manley (highlights added)

I am ecstatic and honored to be occupying a significant chunk of page space in the winter issue of Mountain Magazine alongside photographer extraordinaire Jordan Manley. Run by a stellar editorial and art team (including former Skiing magazine editor in chief Marc Peruzzi), Mountain Magazine is a sumptuous mix of mountain lifestyle, adventure and profile pieces. If you live and love life in the mountains, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy at your nearest bookseller. These images were shot at a number of local resorts including Alta Ski Area and Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, and feature local pro like Julian Carr, Cody Barnhill and Parker Cook (with an angling cameo from one Jay Beyer!). See my images below, and pick up a copy in print to see the entire feature!

Mountain Magazine Photo Gallery Feature with Adam Barker and Jordan Manley

Mountain Magazine Photo Gallery Feature with Adam Barker and Jordan Manley

Mountain Magazine Photo Gallery Feature with Adam Barker and Jordan Manley

Long Lens Morning: Cascade Peak & Middle Provo River

Winter image of Cascade Peak and Middle Provo River by AdamBarkerPhotography

Banger morning. Middle Provo River. Cascade Peak.

The quick and dirty:
Perfect comp for a long lens shot with engaging elements from front to back of the frame. Think of your photographic frame in three-dimensional terms as a loaf of bread. Long lenses squish that loaf of bread, putting the back slice right up against the front slice. Additionally, this was shot at exactly 90 degrees to the sun, allowing me to utilize the Singh-Ray Filters LB warming polarizing filter to the fullest, deepening the sky, and giving the snowy peaks extra pop.

The What/When/Why/How: Question 4

Osguthorpe Barn in Early Winter, Park City, UT

I recently answered several interview questions for a photography student and one of their projects. Thought it might interest some of you readers out there. I’ll post several of these questions/answers in coming weeks. See previous interview questions here and here.

How do you see the market changing, in the past 5 years, as well as the upcoming 10 years?

This is a tough question to answer. I began my career in the digital era. I learned how to shoot on film, but really, the entirety of my experience as a business person in the photo industry has been in this digital era. I wasn’t around for the “golden days” of the photography industry where $30K creative fees weren’t uncommon for deep pocketed commercial clients and five-star imagery wasn’t a green box auto-mode click away.

It’s tough to predict what will occur in the next 10 years, but as we’ve already seen, I think multi-media will continue to play a larger role in making a living as a professional photographer. Competition will likely continue to increase, but an understanding of how to consistently product exceptional, unique imagery and how to do this in a way that is both attractive and affordable to clients will remain key.

As much as things change (and they certainly will continue to evolve in this industry), many things do stay the same. The small things will continue to make a big difference. Things like timely email/phone/image request response, personal outreach to existing and potential clients, timely updates on one’s latest and greatest work and an upbeat and likeable disposition will still be the one last pebble that tips the scales in your direction when it comes down to you and the next guy with equally appealing imagery.

One thing is always for sure with this industry—if you’re not moving forward, you are moving backwards. There is no neutral. You must be aware of what’s going, and you must adapt. There are so many photographers that have said this industry is dead, and that it will become harder and harder to make a living as a photographer. I disagree with this entirely. It may or may not become more difficult, but more than anything else, it will become different. Like I said, adapt, or fail.