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12 Tips for Productivity

29 Apr
Wild Beauty :: CO

Wild Beauty :: CO

 

So much of running your own business is about staying motivated and focused on your goals, and about time management.  It’s pretty common for the people around me to express surprise or admiration about how much I manage to accomplish in any given week.  It’s come up enough that I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

  • Self Care: Your body is the vehicle that you use to accomplish tasks, and treating it right will go a long way towards maintaining your energy level and focus.  Eat right.  Sleep well. Work out. Drink a lot of water.
  • Peak Performance Times: Everyone has their own time of day when they work best.  Some people jump out of bed ready to tackle the day.  Others (me) are sloths who don’t feel awake until about 10 AM.  Once you start to realize your brain functions best at certain times of day, it’s an easy leap to realize that you will benefit from scheduling the more complicated, deep thoughts or creative tasks during that time frame.  For me, after a long day, my creative juices just stop flowing so I try to get the difficult stuff done either in the morning, or after my afternoon break when I feel refreshed.
  • Know How Much Your Time Is Worth: Narrow your to-do list down to things that really matter.
  • Have a System: Everyone has a process that works best for them.  Find yours and use it.  If you go into each day organized, with attainable goals and a system that works for you, you’ll see productivity soar.
  • Set Deadlines: It’s so easy to fall into the trap of procrastination.  If you set yourself deadlines to accomplish tasks, you have a clear way to stay motivated and hold yourself accountable.
  • Is There a Better Way?: If you approach the world with the attitude that there is always something you can learn, then you’re bound to find ways to be more efficient at your job.  Continue to educate and improve yourself.
  • Why Is This Important or Necessary?: If you can’t answer that question, there is a good chance you aren’t spending your time wisely.
  • Stay Positive: Negativity can kill motivation quickly.  Yes, there will always be people better than you at XYZ.  But what other people do doesn’t define your journey.  Know that your efforts are enriching your life, and surround yourself with people who value what you are contributing to the world.
  • Take Breaks, but Make Them Reasonable: We only can stay focused on something for so long.  It is completely reasonable to get up from your desk, stretch your legs, clear your mind and come back re-focused.  The trick is to keep the breaks manageable, so that they don’t become a distraction.
  • Evaluate What’s Necessary and What’s Distracting:  One of the biggest secrets to my productivity is that I rarely watch TV.  I’m not opposed to it, per se, I just see it as a waste of time when I could be working on something else…like a productivity blog. 😉  Once you’ve identified whatever your distractions are – TV, social media, etc – limit them when possible.
  • Get Involved in The Community: We are stronger as a group, and networking can have a huge impact on how effective and efficient you can be.  I’ve frequently met people who had a skill I didn’t know I needed until I needed help with it.  Getting involved in your community is a great way to make connections, and build a client base at the same time.
  • Stay Up-To-Date on Changes in Your Town/City/Community/News: Staying in the know can prevent you from having to do double work when you belatedly find out something impacting your project has changed.  Always stay informed, especially about laws or regulations that may impact your work.

 

  • Bonus Tip: Create a lifestyle of learning and productivity outside of the work environment.  Beyond just running a photography business, I’m also dedicating time these days to salsa dancing lessons, horseback riding, travel (aka experiencing new things) and writing classes.  I’ve learned to play instruments and sing (poorly), I’ve taken kickboxing classes, and I’ve tried learning to cook and attempted to learn new languages (also poorly).  None of those things are necessarily related to photography, but all of the them strengthen the brain or encourage creativity.

Bullseye :: CT

25 Apr

 

They say bad things come in 3’s, unless you’re one of the unfortunate few (me) for whom there is no limit to the amount of short straws you can draw at once. That means that like most stressed out Americans, I have a full complement of coping mechanisms.

 

Most of them involve alcohol and eating too much ice cream…er…I mean exercise and wholesome board games. But the best escape is through art! So sometimes when insomnia hits, I’ll take a drive with my camera.

 

This is the sort of magic I come home with….star trails obscured by a cloud bank and light pollution. Lol  At least it was pretty. 🙂

Want more info on how to make star trails?  Keep your eyes peeled for David and I’s next project!  You can sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about that.

Newest Magazine Article is Live!

28 Nov

lightlandmag

Like free landscape photography articles?  Want to learn from the experiences of experts?  Check out Light & Landscape Magazine, a wonderful resource that I love contributing to.

Not an iUser?  You can also follow along on their instagram page!

This month’s article is about our photo-walk in Acadia National Park last month with some of the students over at the Light & Landscape Members Area.  If you are looking for that perfect gift for your favorite photography enthusiast, consider a private lesson through the instructors (David and I) or a monthly education subscription through the Member’s Area!

New Photography Workflow E-Book ….Coming Atcha!

21 Oct

workflow_guide

Want to know more about the basics of a landscape photography workflow??  Yeah, so did our students!  So we put together a little (almost 90 page, comprehensive, step-by-step) write up.

You can grab your e-copy over at our online store or, in a few days, through the Light & Landscape Magazine for just $5.99.  If you become a student in our growing Member’s Area through the magazine, all of this information is available as part of your monthly tuition in our resources section. 🙂

Want a little taste of what you’ll be getting?  See the included pages below!

Have a question?  Shoot us a message on any of the various social medias or an email at seespotsphoto at yahoo dot com!

Name Suggestions Wanted

26 Jul

IMG_0878sm

 

Sometimes I think that one of the hardest parts of releasing a photo is thinking of a name.  Anyone have any good suggestions?  I’m all ears! (I mean, not literally. I couldn’t type with just ears.)

Oh…and yes, this is a photo.

This image was a long exposure, of a stand of trees bathed in some tasty golden light, while moving the camera vertically.  As you can tell by the silly-string looking wisps, I do not have the steadiest hand for slow-panning.  In this case, it turned out alright though. haha

Interested in learning a bit more about the various techniques I use in the field and while editing?  I teach!  Email me for information. 🙂 seespotsphoto at yahoo dot com 

 

The settings, for those who like that technical stuff: f/11,  sec, 135mm, iso 100

Subtle :: OR

12 Jul
Subtle :: OR

Subtle :: OR

 

Did you know there is a massive sea of sand dunes in Oregon?  Yeah, me neither.  But they’re there, and they’re awesome!  (I put that adventure up on The Outbound, for those of you who want to learn more.)

Now, the nerdy stuff…this is a simple focus stack, of two layered images.  The first focused on the foreground, the second focused on the ridge line in back…I merged the two in PhotoShop using masks.  Interested in learning more about things like focus stacking?  I offer private lessons and structured online lessons through Light & Landscape. You can contact Matt over at L&L for more information about the program.

Rush Hour :: ME

22 Jun
Rush Hour :: ME

Rush Hour :: ME

This month, our students over at L&L wanted to learn about HDR.  Now, while some HDR created using algorithms is very good….well….some is not.  It’s very easy to go too far, to create halos, unnatural colors, unnatural light, etc.  Blending by hand tends to give you more control while still extending your dynamic range.

Similar to the last photo (Insomnia), this is a mash up of three different exposures – two for the sky, and one for the long exposure water/foreground rocks/lighthouse.  To create the base composite, I used layers and masked what I wanted from each shot into one final image.  That created a base on which to build, with the standard curves, levels, etc.

The final image is similar to the treat Mother Nature gave me the morning I took this.  This is sunrise at Nubble Light in York, ME from early June.  It was one of four light houses David and I stopped to see on the Great Lighthouse Tour of 2016.  This one, by far, had the best light of the day.

Interested in more in depth help with your own images? For more information about our teaching program over at L&L, go here. 🙂

The Guardians

25 May
The Guardians :: OR

The Guardians :: OR

“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.” – G. K. Chesterton

These sea stacks were found along the Oregon coast on an overcast, not so sunset-y sunset.  But then, I’m a landscape photographer, and I enjoy the weather that no one else likes because it’s so darn photogenic! lol

I’m working on a new tutorial project to help supplement my teaching materials for the Members Area over at Light & Landscape.  You know….a few free videos to help you learn, my gift to you!  Can’t beat the price, right? 😉

If you want to keep informed about the upcoming tutorials as they are released, make sure to sign up for my newsletter.

 

Salt and Light

24 Feb
Salt and Light :: CA

Salt and Light :: CA

Not snow.  Salt!  (But honestly, our New England brains had a hard time with the concept.  We kept expecting to fall through a frozen lake the whole time….except it wasn’t water beneath our feet.)

This image was taken at Badwater Basin in Death Valley last December.  There had been some flooding in October, which affected the traditional salt patterns.  We did end up finding some famous hexagons, but not in time to catch this awesome sunset. (booooo!) Guess it’s a reason to go back someday. 🙂

For those of you who like the camera settings: f/9 0.8 sec, 10 mm, ISO 100

Also, as a reminder, there is a crazy awesome deal going on for those of you looking to improve your photography experience with lessons at your own pace, feedback to help you improve your images, and a supportive community environment.  The 40% deal that the Light and Landscape Magazine is offering ends tomorrow though, so seriously, don’t wait! You can see more about it here: http://www.lightandlandscape.co/learn-with-light-and-landscape

Always Growing

23 Feb
Cracked :: CA

Cracked :: CA

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” – C. Joybell C.

As many of you know, besides just taking photos and authoring books (shameless promotion) I write for Light and Landscape Magazine (#1 landscape photography magazine through itunes), and teach local to my area.  A few months ago, the magazine approached David and I about a brand new venture involving a large-scale teaching format for their readership.  Basically, they asked if we would be interested in teaching photography to people all over the word via the interwebs.

Pfffttt.  No way“, I said.  “Why would I want to do that??

Oh.  Wait.  That’s not what I said.  I believe my exact quote was, “Hells. F’n. Yes.”  I adore teaching, and encouraging others to grow their passion and I am very excited to be able to help more people reach their photo goals!  So, for those of you interested in growing your photography skills, in a nutshell, the magazine is offering a monthly subscription to grant you access to the Member’s Area.  That access gets you lesson plans, feedback, how-to videos, live hangouts to answer questions, etc etc.  Basically, a whole bunch of awesome.

If you’re interested in learning more, Matt (the brains behind the magazine) is doing a 40% off sale until Thursday ONLY.  You can (should!) watch a video all about the new awesome learning program that all of the cool kids (you are a cool kid, right??) are doing here: http://www.lightandlandscape.co/learn-with-light-and-landscape

 

As for the image above, for those of you interested, it was taken in Death Valley in December after some historic flooding (yes, I said flooding) in October.  These mudtile areas were just drying out, and the patterns were so fresh and full of texture.  Unfortunately, in some places, they were also full of people writing “I love DV” and “Sally wuz here” because, I suppose, some people just can’t help themselves. *sigh*

I know I just posted something about it recently, so I won’t preach, but please….as a good human being, make an effort to preserve the spaces we have and enjoy collectively.  Just recently, a historic icon in California suffered some severe fire damage because people were thoughtless with their actions. They didn’t think about the consequences of spinning steel wool near the old, dried wood of a beached boat in Point Reyes and because of that, a local and tourist favorite spot is now partially destroyed.  Leave no trace, friends, or future generations won’t have anything left to photograph.

Cracked: f/9, 1/40 sec, 22mm, ISO 100