The Proof Sheet…Revisited

Proof Sheet

Random Proof Sheet –  August 1994, Arctic Ocean

The proof sheet is something that has pretty much gone by the wayside in recent years since the advent of digital photography. For the visually motivated and inspired, holding a tactile representation of your work forces you to be a bit more critical throughout the creative process, and here’s why.

For the next couple of paragraphs it may seem like I’m getting in the weeds a bit, but I assure you, keep the faith and hopefully you’ll be rewarded in the end.

Holding a photograph in your hand use to represent the finality in the image making process.  We’d go through the process of dropping off a roll of film at the drug store: fill out the slip, tear it off, and proceed to drop the envelope in the bin full of other people’s great shots from vacation, a piano recital, or just walking around the house during a party or a family gathering. That envelope was full of so many possibilities without knowing ahead of time what we were going to get. Let’s face it, we’re way beyond that today.

We are a people of instant gratification; so much so that we now don’t even have to wait if we so desire. A number of years ago, Polaroid started that trend with the incredibly affordable (for the time) instant camera and since then there have been others, the Fuji Instax, to name a recent brand. Instant film took off in late 1948 with the introduction of the Polaroid land camera, but it wasn’t until the mid-60’s that they began offering an instant camera that everyone could use. In 1972, Polaroid introduced the SX-70 Single Lens Reflex Land Camera, using film that was no longer roll-type instant film, but sheet type instant film that could be loaded with ease. As far as the technology of this process goes, it never really went beyond their original design and as many of you know, the Polaroid Corporation stopped making film in early 2008 and the machinery and film production process is now handled by a company in the Netherlands that calls itself, “The Impossible Project”.  So it seems that even though instant gratification may still be possible, photographically speaking, the process still falls short of what most would call practical and a financially viable option. If only there was a better way to still get that tactile feel through modern techniques…

You might think I’m going to get all old school on you and tell you to print out proof sheets of your photographs…nothing could be further from the truth. Might I suggest a more modern way to introduce some old school techniques into some modern day processes; a bit less tactile if you so desire, but functional all the same.

Proof Sheet LR5

Proof Sheet – Created in Lightroom 5 (Print Module) and marked up in Photoshop CC

Being able to create a working JPEG file of images in your library not only satisfies the tactile need for the proof sheet but also allows you to view all your images (free from distraction) in one place. Sure, when in Lightroom you can hit ‘G’ on the keyboard and then hit ‘Shift’ + ‘Tab’ at the same time to eliminate the navigation and tool bars, and that may work for you. Having something you can mark up when showing images to a client or preparing for a presentation is worth its weight in gold with most photo editors, even if comments and suggestions are done using a PDF editor or an image editing application such as Photoshop.

I’ve included a template for the Lightroom Proof Sheet you see above here (right click and choose ‘Save As’).

In a world full of so much noise and instant gratification, sometimes it’s kind of nice to sit back and take your time with projects and having a choice of what you’d like to print and what’s destined for the “circular file”. That, and using technology to your advantage is kind of cool, even for someone as old school as myself!

For many other great suggestions and some inspiration, check out “The Light Imagined: Seven Steps to Improve and Make Your Photographs Powerful”. For just 5 bucks, you’ll be glad you did! -DvK

Setting White and Black Points in Photoshop CC

There are many methods for color correction in digital photography, but I’ve found that simple is usually better. Here’s a quick and easy method for all you Photoshop users out there that will keep you from banging your head against the wall the next time you’re trying balance the color in an image. Enjoy!

Quick Black and White Processing in Lightroom 5

This [short] video covers a simple black and white conversion in Lightroom and goes over evaluating an image or RAW file for processing as a black and white image. I’ll also touch on a bit of the histogram and why that’s important in the processing of your images and getting them to a good starting point for the conversion.  Please feel free to leave comments in the area below!

The Light Imagined – An eBook

Do you often find yourself getting overwhelmed with all the information out there about how to improve your photography?  Do you want something that could potentially open your eyes to other possibilities and encourage you to take your work in a more defined direction without forcing you into one particular style or another?

A digital download that’s compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices alike, ‘The Light Imagined’ gives you ‘Seven Steps to Improve and Make Your Photographs Powerful’ without having to worry about [most] of the so-called rules. This short eBook focuses your attention on what really matters when striving to make beautiful images.  It’s beautifully designed (in full color, PDF format*) and portable, making access to the information easy when you’re out doing what you love, making photographs!


It’s yours for only $4.00 for the next week by using the coupon code: IMAGINED.  That’s 20% off the normal digital download price! After that, it’s still just five bucks!

I encourage you to join in the conversation on Facebook by liking Doug van Kampen Photography and sharing your experiences with many other people just like you.  We are all in this together, isn’t it time we all started sharing a bit more of what we know?

Imagine Your Light,

Doug van Kampen
Maine, USA

*may require Acrobat Reader on some devices.


Let My Words Be More Powerful…I Suppose

Hanging By a Thread“Hanging By a Thread” – North Atlantic Ocean, Winter, 2013

Never have I witnessed such a motivating environment…
Those that are subject to perils at sea.

We trust our lives to massive assemblies of machinery,
Built by the lowest bidder and maintained by those…
With hearts of giants.
Breathing new life into this old goat.

I wish safety on my fellow seafarers
Looking out beyond the horizon,
With each change of watch
Unable to see beyond the next gale
or crashing wave.

-Doug van Kampen, 2015.

A Primer on Sea Smoke

As amazing images of sea smoke flood the interwebs, wouldn’t it be nice if we knew what actually causes it?


Just like the birds in the sky and the water in the ocean, this phenomenon is actually quite common for those living in extremely northern or southern climates near water (salt or fresh). From the Arctic Ocean to the Antarctic, sea smoke (sometimes called frost smoke or steam fog) occurs [simply] when the air temperature (accompanied with wind) is much colder than the water temperature; in this case, seawater. It can also form over sea ice when large areas of open water (polynya) occur within an ice field – usually in the Arctic or Antarctic Oceans, but can also occur on the Great Lakes. Warmer water tends to have a saturated layer of air above it and when the warmer air is cooled well past the dew point and can no longer hold water vapor, the excess condenses forming a variety of beautiful (and cold!) atmospheric conditions for those brave enough to photograph. (Bowditch (1962). The American Practical Navigator. U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office. p. 614.)

Clip made in 2013 during the Storm dubbed “Hurcules” (please pardon my poor narration skills; -2˚F with 30 kts of wind is actually -30.01˚F – the wind chill index changed in 2001)

As seen in a few articles over the last couple days, the turbulent nature of sea smoke can and will form spiraling columns, which can rise 30 to 40 feet in the air.  If you’re lucky, those columns will join with low cloud cover and form what appears to be a tornado or waterspout.  these are the gems that very few have the opportunity to witness.

For those interested, here’s a great bit about the phenomenon published by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute back in 1963!  Oh, and it goes without saying that when exposing yourself to sub-zero temperatures, wear appropriate winter attire!

(Author: Doug van Kampen is a Photographer and Coast Guardsman living in Mid-Coast Maine.)

Let My “Words” Be More Powerful

All Rights Reserved

I suck at writing organizing my life making lists Setting goals for myself.

However, on my more creative side of life, I learned in 2014 that my words, no matter how powerful I felt they could be, needed a little tweaking to make them great.  Like all great authors, I suppose, words find a way into your life from a variety of different places and people we interact with on a daily basis. I am a person that craves that interaction.  It satisfies a need in me that I can’t explain and only someone who is like me can understand.  2014 was a myriad of thoughts, in no particular order, distilled onto paper without a particular purpose or goal. Even though I have been pretty successful on the writing side, getting help from my wife, my family and my friends has proven to be a bit humbling…to say the least. When you look at your own words a thousand times, you don’t see what they see. Writing, when done well, can weave a tapestry of imagery for the creative mind; something that I have struggled with accomplishing in years previous.  But just like anything, practice does make perfect.

Goals are something that for years my wife has been trying to drill into my thick skull. Making lists is something she has always been phenomenal at, but for me the menial task of sitting down and actually doing it is another matter altogether. I’ve recently began using an app many of you may have heard of, Evernote. this app has everything I need to stay organized, even during periods when I don’t have access to the cloud. I could go on and on about it, but would you just trust me and check it out if you haven’t already. One of the best things about it is it’s not just for creatives, it’s an app for everyone.

Goals should be specific. For example, if you want to ‘get better at writing this year’, simply adding those words to a note will not cut the mustard.  What kind of writing? About what? To what audience? And the always forgotten, what do I hope to gain from this goal? A brief description of where you expect to be when the goal in attained.

I believe that adding this one little thing to my workflow this year will drastically change the way I go about projects (both work and personal), interact with people, write, and let my goals rise above the noise that are our extremely connected lives. I cannot even begin how much this could change my life if I stick to it.

Many times, we get so cough up on how perfect people seem on line, but in reality we all have our faults. Shouldn’t this be a way we can share and learn from each other, enabling us to lead a more full, enriched, and productive life.

In a couple of years, I want to look back in the proverbial shoebox full of pictures and sit in astonished silence as I realize what I’ve done and how far I’ve come. -DvK

Photography Exhibition – Topsham, ME.

A Photography Exhibit is currently underway at Sea Dog Brewing Company (Topsham) located at 1 Bowdoin Mill Island #100, Topsham, ME 04086 from December 18 through January 18, 2015.

This collection of photographs made in Maine and North America are are available for purchase on my square site at:

If you have any questions, please feel free to message me. Thank you!


The “Draft” that never was…

Red Fox – Cattle Point – Washington, U.S.A. :: © Doug van Kampen, 2011

This post has been in my “drafts” folder for some time now, lost to one of my creative moments long forgotten.  Please excuse it’s tardiness and realize that the narative really hasn’t changed much in the last couple of years;  its the important things that always matter…

Originally written in June 2011:

I have given much though lately to how I can bring the viewer into the image and make them feel as though they were there. I doing so, it lead me to discover a lot about myself and that of my image making process and the way I “see”. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to take a trip with the one person who has, perhaps, inspired the most in me for last seventeen years. What gets me about my wife is that even though the explanations of my images seem simple on the surface, the actual way they make her feel is far from what is expressed through words spoken directly to me or in print. While pulled over on the side of the road on San Juan Island, she briefly took a glimpse into what really makes me tick as a photographer – I get involved with my subject and sometimes forget that they’re not human. Some would argue that this puts me in danger from time-to-time. Me, I would prefer to use the word, “opportunity” simply because if an opportunity is missed, you may never get a chance to witness or experience it again. Which brings me to my next topic…

Something that has always intrigued me about wildlife is that no matter how far away from the big city, nature not only seems to find a way, but some animals go so far as to even take food from a lone traveler.  I’m pretty sure that the reason I was able to get this close to the den of a Red Fox was because someone was giving him/her a handout on a regular basis. I encourage you to enjoy the company of wild animals and let them sustain themselves. Enjoy their beauty and educate yourself on how and when to keep your distance. -DvK

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

“Classic Light” :: Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
© Doug van Kampen, 2014.  All Rights Reserved

Simple as it may seem, the act of making a photograph is fairly easy.  The hard part comes when it’s the height of the tourist season in Nova Scotia and you’re all set to photograph one of the most well-known landmarks on the region.  I give you early morning at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia…and not a soul was around.

By far, sunrise is my favorite time of day but lets face it, most of us don’t have the luxury of getting to bed at a decent hour to facilitate an early rise the next morning. If we’re lucky, we get out to shoot before sunrise, maybe once in a blue moon. It is in those moments that you may be on to something – I’ve seen more photographers come away with a decent body of work from one early morning shoot than most people accomplish in six months. The idea behind this is simple – Quality, not quantity. Pay attention to the weather, watch the reports, and be purposeful about where you plan to shoot. It never hurt anyone to look online and see what other people have done in any given location. There are very few places on earth that have not been seen and shot by a photographer. That being said, the magic comes from finding the perspective no one has ever seen before, which, in turn makes the endeavor of rising before any sensible person…worth it.

Hence the age old adage…enjoy and have a great weekend.

About the image:  Shot on the Fuji X-E1 using a Singh Ray LB warming polarizer.