Big Bend Workshop – March 2018

I will be conducting a night and landscape photography workshop in my favorite place in the world: Big Bend. The workshop will run March 19 through 23 next year (2018).

The Details:thomasjavery.com/workshops/ws_mar18.html



light painting under the Milky Way
click for more info

This workshop is the usual format. There will be up to 12 students.

This is a spring workshop, so the Milky Way will rise early in the morning. Our night shoots will be very early, possibly starting as early as 4am.

The workshop is also scheduled to be after most spring breaks in Texas, so we’ll miss some of the heavy visitation periods.

Please CONTACT ME if you’re interested.

Big Bend Oct 2017 Workshop Details

The fine details of my upcoming landscape and night photography workshop in October 2017 can be found here. If you’re interested, please contact me.

Quick Summary:
• October 16 – 20, 2017
• Based in the Big Bend region of Texas
• 12 students maximum
• Tuition: $625

The format of this upcoming workshop will return to that of previous workshops (2014 and earlier). I.e. this upcoming workshop will not be an advanced workshop.

There will be two assistants helping during this workshop: Wes Clavey and Lacy Olson.

• Details of this workshop: thomasjavery.com/workshops/ws_oct17.html
• How to contact me: thomasjavery.com/contact

Big Bend Photo Workshop Oct. 16-20, 2017

I’m holding a night and landscape photography workshop in the Big Bend of far, west Texas from October 16th to the 20th, 2017.

Details are being worked out right now. Stay tuned for more information.

Tuition will be $625. The workshop will return to my usual format.

If you’re interested and want to get on my email announcement list, please contact me: Contact TJ Avery

Practice and More Practice

I’m trying to prevent sliding into a photographic rut again. By that, I mean that I’m trying to avoid those long periods of time (1, 2, 3 months) of not seriously photographing anything.

Last weekend I took a half-day trip out of town to photograph an old cemetery. It’s not my ideal type of photography, but I did enjoy it. I went with several other photo-buddies and also enjoyed the company and our discussions.

I then spent some quality time with a camera around my home. Within minutes of wandering around the backyard I found something really interesting: a 4-inch wide polyphemus moth hanging upside-down in the loquat tree.

I didn’t shoot any landscapes or the Milky Way. I didn’t get to travel anywhere that would be considered scenic, like the Big Bend. But I came away with photos that I like and had an enjoyable time doing it.

I just gotta keep doing it… :-)

Backlog

Most of my work day is spent sitting in front of a computer screen.

As I get older, I’ve become less tolerant of staring at a monitor for long periods of time. My head and neck hurt sometimes and I’m losing my ability to quickly focus and re-focus my eyes when looking away and then back at the screen.

I know I’ve said it before. The last thing I feel like doing when I get home is to spend more time sitting on my butt and basking in the electronic glow of a monitor.

The amount of photos that I’ve shot but not processed or edited has stacked up considerably over the past year. And this seems to get worse as time goes on, i.e. I feel less and less motivated to park myself in front of a screen do actually do something with my photos.

I’ve tried making things better for photo viewing and editing. I rearranged my desk to be more comfortable and easier to get things done. I bought a new (used) 2560 x 1440 monitor to have a larger screen. I kept my old monitor so that I have dual screen setup. Both are wide gamut NEC’s and are color calibrated.

But it still does not help :-)

Last weekend I forced myself to sit down and work on images. I got through a couple dozen, and it felt good to make some progress.

But I still can’t find the trick that makes it better. Maybe I’m just getting older and need to accept it :-)

Photography and the Day-to-Day Life

How do you fit photography into your life? And perhaps that should be stated real life: the life where you must eat, sleep, and take care of basic things like making sure you have food to eat and a roof over your head. Those things can require a lot of attention and time.

Photography is not a full time career for me. And I think even professional photographers (which is hard to define, but let’s just say it’s someone who earns a living from photography) have a difficult time putting real photography as a significant and meaningful activity into their lives.

And by real photography I mean the creative act of engaging visually with your environment and then, fast-forwarding through a lot of details, making meaningful images…. images that satisfy your creative itch. Images that fulfill something important deep inside your mind or heart.

I frequently want to go out and engage in a meaningful, creative act involving a camera in some manner, but then I’m usually faced with a daily schedule full of daily responsibilities combined with the schedules of my family and the things they need to do. Photography then takes a much lower priority on the big list, i.e. shit I gotta get done today.

I could say I’m a victim of regular, real life. Everything important to keeping my life and family going happily forward takes time and effort and most days I can’t spare even a moment to pick up a camera to do something meaningful and creative with it. But saying victim implies that the situation is out of my control, and it’s not despite how it might feel.

So what can be done?

Making some changes is an obvious path forward, but there are some things I cannot change and others that I don’t want to change. My family keeps me pretty busy and I happen to really like them :-)

Photography, unlike a lot of other activities and hobbies, is quite unique. It can be done as a primary activity or secondary as you perform some other activity. It can even be done without a camera.

Uh… wait. No camera?

Right, no camera.

No Camera

The important part of making an image is dialing-into something that interests you and thinking and visualizing how you might take a picture of it.

It can be anything. An interesting shadow. A caterpillar hidden away beneath some leaf in the landscaping outside of a building. Two people holding hands walking ahead of you on a sidewalk.

You see it. You engage with it in your thoughts. You enjoy the details and start working out a composition and think about how you’d make an image of it. You visualize the shot or a combination of shots to capture it.

That part of the photographic process is the significant and important part of producing an image. The rest is kind of technical and involves actually using a camera to capture the image you’ve visualized in your mind.

You can do this front-end process (everything but the camera) over and over easily as you go about your busy day.

In Practice

Yesterday I was busy. There was work (occupies about 11 – 12 hours of my day, typically), exercise, dinner, a few things to fix at home, time with my family, etc. A fairly typical day.

As I rode my bike I tried to think about photography. I enjoyed details here and there as rode past. But I passed them on purpose. I had to be home at a certain time and I did not want to stop and take a picture. (As a side note, I’ve put an priority on getting exercise because I really need it. So it is a conscious decision that puts my health first… because I’m now 40-something and my flabby middle section is not doing me any favors.)

During the ride, of all the things that attracted my attention, I really enjoyed seeing my shadow in front of me and how it changed depending on the direction of the path. As the sun set behind me my shadow grew and spread out in front of me. It was a simple sight but interesting.

And thinking about it was refreshing as well as mentally beneficial. Rather than letting my mind chew on the details of my day and the plans that are ahead, I explored creative thoughts.

I did take the shadow idea to the next step just because I did have a camera with me and didn’t have to stop to do it. It was a quick technical execution to capture the image I’d been visualizing.

I finished my ride and went home to wrap up my busy day. But the collective few minutes that I engaged in the photographic process (or at least part of it) was nice.

All of this is mostly advice for me – to remind me to keep doing this because I enjoy it.

Stop. Just Stop.

How many times has something attracted your attention and that little voice in your head spoke to you? You know, the one that tells you to stop for a photo?

Call it photographer’s intuition. If you haven’t yet, it’s something you should learn to tune in to.

I struggle with it. There’s always something catching my eye that I might process for a moment and think about whether or not I want to stop and attempt to make a photo.

It’s usually the second part of that process that gets me into trouble. If I think too much about whether or not to stop for it, it being the shiny sparkly sight that’s pulled me out of my usual daze, then I’m likely to over-think the situation and pass it up.


Slow down and enjoy the scene? Or speed up and blast through it? :-)
click to enlarge

I’ve regretted the things I’ve passed up. And I’ve enjoyed and been rewarded for most of the things I’ve stopped and made time for.

There’s some advice I can offer here, and this advice is pointed mainly at myself. I have to remember these things every time I go out.

1. Allow yourself extra time. If going from Point A to B, then add a bit of extra time so that stopping for a photo doesn’t disrupt your schedule.

2. Don’t have high expectations. Don’t have any expectations. Some scenes work out great. Some don’t. The main point to all of this is to exercise your photographic eye and practice the photographic process. And you might also have fun doing it. I know I always do.

My Camera Does Not Shoot People

I sometimes get asked to take photos of people and other subjects outside of my usual areas of expertise and liking. Portraits, products, horses, groups, and even weddings!

It’s usually because someone has seen either my landscape photography work or my camera gear when I’ve been out shooting. I see what’s going on in their heads, and sometimes they even tell me. “You have a nice camera!”

I’ll stay out of that argument for the purposes of keeping this short. Let’s just say that it has little to do with the camera.

So, over the years, I’ve done the rare portrait session or the like for friends or family. I always advise against it. The usual disclaimer is something like, “if you want good photos, hire a professional that does this type of work on a regular basis” (i.e. not me). It’s not that I don’t want to do it. The problem is that I can’t live up to what’s expected from a photographer that is skilled in this kind of work.

So, my son’s cub scout pack wanted to do portraits for this upcoming school year, and guess who was asked :-)

I really don’t mind. And knowing that these photos would be used for the online scout messaging and events website only accessible by the scouts, I didn’t think there would be high expectations. With the help of a friend and also our den leader, we got it all done within an hour.

My photo-buddy, Wes, has been in the same type of situation many times before. And his response? “My camera does not shoot people.”

There’s no fooling around. There’s no discussion. He shuts down the discussion right away.

Maybe there’s some wisdom there :-)