Previsualizing for Potential…2011 Workshops…Savings from NIK Software & Hunt’s Photo…NANPA Summit 2011… Getting it Right

Greetings from Oregon!

Things are pointing to years end and the beginning of another new year. And as usual I am trying to get caught up! First, I would like to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. We all have a lot to be thankful for.

There’s quite a lot of information included in this entry and some important thoughts on some important  photographic topics. Thanks for taking some time to read through.  I’ve included some information on the new NIK HDR PRO program from NIK SOFTWARE as well as some pretty amazing discounts for those of you who don’t already own these programs. They have become standard tools for processing images by most of the working pro’s I know.  Also, there is a link to some specials that Gary at Hunt’s sent me today. Please check out the NANPA summit information as well.Your comments are always appreciated.



Article: Previsualize the Potential

Ansel Adams introduced the method of pre visualization into the photographer’s dictionary.  This was a term he used to stress the importance of seeing in the photographer’s mind, exactly what the final print would be, prior to attempting to make the photograph. Remember that word “make”.

There are three times we as photographers must go through this pre visualization process.

I) —Prior to reaching a potential location:

I can not remember ever being successful the 1st time I visited a location and tried and make quality images. It always amazes me to see other photographers, and also photography workshop leaders take their students to a location like Mono Lake, California for instance, walk them down to a shooting spot, many times in the dark and ask them to try and make a quality photograph of the sunrise over the tufa. This is almost an impossible task even at ones 2nd or 3rd visits to this area. It’s important to study the area, weather etc and be prepared to make your attempt at a decent image.

However, once you’ve been to a location a few times, it becomes easier to predict what the weather, seasonal environment etc can be. Understanding these criteria, you can now set in your mine where you may locate yourself, and what the best potential for a quality image might be. I do this sometimes even before going to bed, prior to a sunrise shoot. (I always hope for the best but often am often disappointed). Try previsualizing while driving to your location. Instead of blasting music or God forbid the news on the way to a location, try some music to set the mood or maybe no music at all, and think about what the potential of the day could be. Is the image your out to attempt better vertically or horizontally? (I always start with composition). If the light is good, and the subject is what you feel is strong, then think about what lens you may need. Might you need a graduated filter? Without this preconceived image, more often than not, the final image will fail due to lack of technique, however creativity, or the ability to see an image is always primary.

Previsualize the potential

II) Now that you are at the location, previsualize even more.

Upon arrival at your location you’ll find the conditions are either what you though they were, no where near what they could have been, or more often somewhere in the middle. It’s time to previsualize again.

While looking at the scene, think of your final print. There are no cameras, at any level of sophistication can imagine what is in our mind and how we see an image. You now need to think if you must frame the scene differently, and technically make necessary changes as best you can to make the image (and thus the print) look the way you want.

I often hear many of today’s amateur photographers say that their cameras (no matter how sophist aced they may be, just do not produce the images they expect. What they are saying is that they are not getting results the way they see them in real life, or through the viewfinder. Inevitably, many of these photographers blame the camera for failing to deliver the desired results. By previsualing we are far more likely to capture the desired image rather than be disappointed because of not preparing, and trying to photograph a subject without previsualizing.

Making fine art images is not luck. Sure, rarely may you just hit it right. I tell folks to think about their top 10 images they have photographed. I bet none of them were due to luck. You were either prepared beforehand and knew technically what you were doing. The photographer must be part of the creative process from beginning to end

Previsualize the potential

III- The Print……. Think about the print, while in the field!

The final print is where we determine the success or failure of an image (not what we see on a monitor, viewing high compression jpegs.). Believe me; Ansel Adams previsualized exactly what he was going to do in the darkroom, at the time he was making the image in the field. You must do the same.  After the image is made in the field, your aesthetic tastes are now the method of pre visualization.

Before making the image in the fields think about the final print. Should it be black & white? What kind of paper should we use? Will I be using any creative software… and on and on.

The photographer is an artist and as such must be a willing to be an active participant in every step leading up to the image’s final result, which is the print. This theory is explained in depth in Galen Rowell’s book, The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography. However without previsualizing the entire process more often than not, your images will be less than desired.

Previsualize the potential.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams


2011 Workshop Schedule…...

Below is lots of information concerning my  2011Photography  workshops. Please note the discounts: The most important one certainly is the 10% savings if you pre register by Jan 1 2011.

I also put together a 13 page PDF regarding my 2011 workshops. Dates, pricing and descriptions are included. Please contact me if you have any questions.

2011 WORKSHOP SCHEDULE Dates & Descriptions)         REG MASTER 2011 (Registration Forms)        and…. #2 DW_GENERAL WORKSHOP QUESTIONS_FAQ’S INFORMATION


1)       10% discount for returning attendees (you all qualify!)

2) 10% discount if you pre-register for a workshop(s) prior to Jan 1, 2011. Deposit must be received by 12/31/2010.

3)       10% discount for NANPA members (

4)       Bring a friend ( new attendee) — –new attendee comes at ½ price

5)       Refer a friend –choice—a $50.00 credit off your registration is you attend (can be put to a future workshop) or a check for $25.00. No restrictions on referrals.

6)       Buy 4 get one free…..   Attend 4 workshops.. Get one free.


BLACK FRIDAY at NIK SOFTWARE    click here to access:    NIK SOFTWARE

For those of you who have taken one of my workshops and those who know me have heard me say that “the difference between a really good image and a great one is usually not a lot”. You also probably know my feelings about the great products at Nik Software ( In the interest of time; suffice to say that every image I process uses NIK Software in some way. Nik Software has been accepted by working pro photographers across the board and is almost the standard software used to improve your digital images. Over the past month or so there have been 2 new exciting additions to the NIK family. First, now all programs are in 64 bit. Second NIK has introduced the long awaited, highly touted HDR PRO software. I’ll be doing an extended review with examples of the HDR software on my blog very soon. I’ve been using HDR PRO from NIK now for a few weeks and frankly I am blown away not only by the results, but by the ease of operation. And yes, Nik has incorporated its “U-Point” technology into HDR pro, setting it away from the competition.

OK… enough horn blowing for now! NIK has made you all an offer you can’t refuse. If you thinking about purchasing NIK Software by the program or together in the suite, here is an offer you can’t pass up. If you use my code = JGRAHAM when ordering online….

Promo period: 12:00am Wed., 11/24 through 11:59pm Tue., 11/30

Discount Pricing:   remember to use this code JGRAHAM when ordering to receive these discounts  —  click here to access:    NIK SOFTWARE

  • Complete Collection Ultimate Edition $419.95 ($180 savings)
  • Complete Collection Light room/Aperture Edition $219 ($80 savings)
  • Color Efex Pro 3 Complete $209.95 ($90 savings)
  • Dfine 2 $69.95 ($30 savings)
  • HDR Efex Pro $139.95 ($20 savings)
  • Silver Efex Pro $139.95 ($60 savings)
  • Sharpener Pro 3 $139.95 ($60 savings)
  • Viveza 2 $139.95 ($60 savings)

Nik Viveza helped bring out the shadows in the foreground here, using the patented U Point technology!

Remember, the difference between a really good image and a great one is usually not a lot. NIK can put an image over the top. Oh yes–check out their informative web site with tutorials, videos and demo on their entire product. The folks at NIK certainly don’t leave a stone unturned when it comes to education. Find the NIK Radio section under “community”, scroll down to the interview on or about September 1 (I did it with my good friend Mike Moats) and check out the interview I did for NIK radio if you have not already.

Speaking of NIK Software, I’ve really been enjoying the results of the new HDR PRO Program.

Here is a set of 5 images taken at Ft. Point in San Francisco. I used a 1.5 stop setting.

This image would not have been possible without HDR processing. Nik made it simple and the results speak for themselves.

So next I wanted to see what NIK’S  HDR PRO would do in a outside location…..  again very impressive. These frames were shot only 1 stop apart. Different lighting requires different settings.

I did a bit of cropping and used NIK’S Viveza, Color Efex Pro as well as Define to add the  finishing touches

HUNT’S PHOTO & VIDEO   SAVINGS: My good friends at Hunt’s have some super specials starting tonight.  At 10PM. I have been using Hunt’s for my equip needs for quite a while now and I guarantee that one you experience the personal service and guidance, you’ll be please as well. About a year and 1/2 ago I drowned a Nikon 200 Macro lens. They were 9 and I think still am) impossible to find… well Hunt’s found one for me. I recently had a workshop attendee looking for a new Nikon D7000 (go try and find them today!–next to impossible) well John at Hunt’s found one for my workshop attendee.

You can call Gary Farber (Hunts VP) (800-221-1830 x 2332) or his assistant John Duggan direct: 781-462-2314 for the best service, the same or better pricing than NYC and extras for NANPA members!

Here is the link for the specials starting tonight.   HUNTS SPECIALS_STARTS WED 11_24 at 10PM EST



The 2011 NANPA (North American Photography Association) Summit is in Mc Allen en Texas this coming March. NANPA is a growing organization dedicated to everything that we are all concerned about regarding Nature Photography. I encourage you to visit the website and drill down to see the great things NANPA does to help preserve our great landscape for our fellow nature photographers.

If you have never been to a NANPA summit before, it’s really hard to explain the benefits of attending. The networking alone is worth more than the price of admission. There are breakout sessions featuring some of the best nature photographers sharing their information making this one amazing learning experience. Come see Jack Dykinga give the key note address they year in Mc Allen. I could go on, but click here for lots if great information. I hope to see you there!



I edited lots of images last night and as usual trashed most. I really believe to become an above average photographer you must be really tough on yourself and only keep images that are superior… not the ones that are kind of ok.

I think my background in music has made what I am about to talk about really clear to me.

Painted Hills, Oregon

The frustrating thing to me is that every now and then, you (I) actually “Get it right”, meaning getting the image just the way I saw it, wanted it to look and that I did all that needed to be done to make a great shot. This doesn’t happen every time out. It may be every 2nd shoot or 3rd shoot or just once in 6 months., but every now and then you (I) “get it right”… you really “nail the image”, You see it, you know everything you need to in order to create a perfect image… and I mean perfect.

What makes it worse is when you do “Get it right”… you then know you CAN do it, and you know you’re not crazy… and that there is some kind of a truth there.

This “truth” is a standard or a level of proficiency needed to be at, or the level you want to climb to , to be able to “get it right” more times than not,… in what ever you do, in my case in photography.

I think that each time we (I) set out to make images the goal is to become more consistent and get closer to that truth that you have established in you’re mind.
But here’s the kicker! As you get closer to that truth, that truth moves at the same rate, higher and away from where you are, as your standards change and grow. It becomes harder to reach that “level”

This is why creativity can be such a challenge. This is why so many of my fellow photographers are really happy with 10 great images per year, and 3 or 4 “signature” ones!