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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!

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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?

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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:

https://squareup.com/market/imagineyourlight

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

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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

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“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.

It’s All About Pebbles…

A Sense of Scale

“Pebbles” – Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
© Doug van Kampen, 2014.  All Rights Reserved

I’ve always been fascinated that if one throws a pebble in the ocean in California, no matter how immeasurable it is, the sea will rise ever so slightly on the coast of Japan.

Just like ideas, we all had very small beginnings.  But given the appropriate amount of time and nurturing, we grow into adults, capable of the most immeasurable things…great things.  Our sense of scale can be so stunted by what lies around us in our busy world, when in reality, your spirit is bigger than you think.  We all have the ability to dwarf anything we come up against and you’ll never be given anything you can’t handle.

That being said, don’t be afraid to get as much of yourself out there; you never know what might come of it.  Your success lies in your persistence.  If you throw enough pebbles in the ocean, eventually someone will take notice.

Have a great week! -DvK

Accomplishing What’s Beyond: The post for EVERYONE.

What's Beyond

“What’s Beyond?” :: Casco Bay, Maine
© Doug van Kampen, 2014.  All Rights Reserved

Did you ever think about where life might take you in a year to the date?  Have you ever looked back on what you were doing this time last year?

Our visual memories have an uncanny ability to take us back to a place we may have been and even fill in details that may or may not have been. Sometimes not having a clue is the best place you could ever possibly be.  There is much to say in the wonder of not knowing where you’ll end up in a year from now and indeed, the prospect frightens even the strongest of wills.  Not knowing what the future holds for me or what is”‘beyond the waves” brings me a great deal of solace.  It basically shows me that the world is my oyster.  An idea, much like a tiny grain of sand in the beginnings a pearls existence, starts incredibly small.  Ideas rarely, if ever, turn into something grand.  Some end in failure…some get around half way there before the zeal of it’s birth, its focus, and initial excitement of the endeavor winds to a close, leaving you feeling as if you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing.

There is much hope.

Giving up is so much more easy to do…right?  But what if, what if only one of those ideas ended in something truly worth having a memory of; something so grand that there would be no need for the mind to fill in the blanks of what may have happened a year ago.  Like a mariner guiding a ship beyond the horizon, there’s no way he or she could know what’s out there without actually doing it.  So what’s stopping you?

Fear.  Motivation. Money. Not Smart Enough.  Not Mobile Enough (upwardly)

That last one (not mobile enough) is and will always be an excuse to me, even though I have full use of my faculties.  A dear friend of mine, who is near an dear to my heart, never let a disease get in the way of his success, raising a family, and accomplishing his dreams (to which he is still working on).  If having a boatload of money and the resources to spend it is your idea of success, then so be it.  But the reality is that most of us, are perfectly happy waking up in the morning, going to work and doing what we love.

Those are all reasons (excuses more like) that I myself, have chosen to stop before I have started.  The irony being is that I’m a mariner and have spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years at sea. Never knowing what may be beyond the horizon, I am amazed and full of wonder at what the sea brings with each crashing wave, each gale, and each storm I’ve weathered through the years.  See this if you need to get a scale of how truly small we are in what makes up 70% of the earths surface – the ocean.

Your ideas are awesome, by your standards.  You could get lucky and someone else may like them as well.  But I’m guessing if you’re anything like me ,that thing that you do is not for anyone else in the first place; it is your very own little slice of therapy.

Last July, I forked over $1400 and purchased a Fuji X-E1 mirrorless camera making the goal for myself that I would spend the year [mostly] using that camera alone.  Beside a few occasions where the format didn’t lend itself as a fit for the job, the exercise in creativity that a year has given my through the constraint of a single lens has been gratifying.  I seem to have not made as many photographs, but the quality of my photographs seem to be more thoughtful and deliberate.  Sure, there have been plenty of occasions in which I’ve desperately wanted my full frame camera…no need for explanation.

Basically, much like you, I’m tired of not doing what I want for what amounts to extremely futile and unsubstantiated reasons “To Not To.”

Here are some things that have made me the most successful at what I absolutely love doing (for me it’s photography, but it really doesn’t matter what it is):

  1. Wake up early:  Even though I profess not to be a morning person, most of my deeply fond memories were made early in the morning before and during a sunrise.  Early mornings are deeply spiritual and usually involve coffee and someone you love being around. ;)
  2. Exercise:  It doesn’t really matter what it is, just get the heart moving at 30% of your max heart-rate.  Not that this one is habit forming by any means, but even a walk counts.
  3. Eat what you want, not what you’re suppose to (in moderation):  I keep telling my Father that he can’t eat Ice Cream (capitalized on purpose) on a regular basis.  He’s 75 and can’t hear so well from years of working on a dairy.  I guess that explains the hearing part.  But to be fair, he has had a lifelong commitment to #2.
  4. Don’t settle:  I realize that money may be a prohibitive factor for most people, including myself.  So with that, work with what you have and save your money for what you want and not what you can afford at the moment.  You will be much happier creating with something you’ve had time to think about rather than something that just works for now.
  5. Be spontaneous:  I can’t stress this one enough.  Having everything planned out is nice, especially when you’re out to sea for months at a time and there’s no mail buoy out there (that was a joke…there really aren’t mail buoys), but the reality of it all is that letting your creativity drive your focus and what you do is where the magic happens.  If you’re a planner, get outside your comfort zone and stop being so rigid!
  6. LISTEN the one you love (or those that deeply care for you):  My wife is more responsible than anyone else in my life for talking sense into my sorry ass.  It’s those times when I listen to her that she usually ends up saying, with a swift punch in the arm, SEEEEEE!  Outside perspective is everything, especially when they have no idea where you want to go with your ideas.  Suggestions are everything and can be extremely thought provoking for creatives.

There are many in my life that have been incredibly generous with there time and advice for me in the last year…you know who you are.

What’s out there beyond the horizon can sometimes be a blur.  Steadying your course and sailing to what’s beyond, more often than not, brings everything into focus.  Imagine your light beyond…

Set realistic goals. Be yourself. Create. -Doug van Kampen

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