Always Ready!


“Tie Downs” – Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean

(ATLANTIC OCEAN) The men and women I work with each and every day inspire me in a way that I can’t get from normal life on land. Dependent on ourselves to get the work done in the middle of the ocean, we sacrifice our normal lives on land to ensure mariners are safe at sea and our inland and coastal waterways remain protected. Part of that mission sometimes involves the use of airborne assets that are employed for SAR (Search and Rescue). Getting fuel in the middle of the ocean isn’t like landing on a gigantic aircraft carrier…no sir…the footprint of the flight deck on a Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutter seems like it’s the size of a playing card viewed on the ground from the second story of an apartment building. Simply put, it’s incredibly small! Combined with the fact that you have two giant pieces of machinery, moving above and within an ocean, containing thousands of moving parts – landing an aircraft (helicopter in this case) on the deck of a ship this size is dangerous.

Safely on Deck

Safely on Deck

The downdraft that flight deck personnel experience during the landing of the Coast Guard Jayhawk (the Coast Guard’s version of a Blackhawk) helicopter is upwards of 50 miles per hour. As soon as the aircraft lands, tie-down personnel must rush out and tie the aircraft down to pad-eyes located on the heavily abrasive deck; this keeps it from moving with the pitch and roll of the ship. On a fairly calm day, there isn’t nearly as much danger as there is when the seas don’t cooperate. Fact of the matter is, sometimes we don’t get to choose when a SAR may occur, in which case this entire procedure may need to be done when the sea isn’t quite so cooperative.

If you have ever wondered what the Coast Guard does, this is just one of the many missions these men and woman are a part of. Since 1790, we’ve been there – for 225 years we’ve been keeping mariners out of harm’s way and protecting the nation’s coastal and inland waterways. Semper Paratus!

Keeping Art Alive: The Glass Harmonica

The Glass Harmonica
“Glass Harmonica” – Boston, MA.
© Doug van Kampen, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

In 1983, Vera Meyer discovered a man playing 70 tuned wine glasses on the street in Harvard Square and immediately fell in love with the etherial sound of glass. About a month later, she discovered the builder of the instrument, a scientific glass blower by the name of Gerhard Finkenbeiner. Today, he is the only man in the world building such an instrument.

The glass harmonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. He saw a man in Haymarket Square in London playing 50 tuned wine glasses and got the idea to fabricate a device made of a spindle containing glass vessels joined with cork, coupled to a pedal driven drive to spin them. Playing musical glasses was hugely popular in high society London during the latter part of the 18th century and became popular throughout Europe for about 40 years until it was banned by the German police. It was thought to cause insanity, nervous disorders, convulsions in dogs and cats, marital disputes, and wake people from the dead. Mozart was perhaps the most popular composer of music for the glass harmonica.

Vera insists she feels fine…she also insisted that I stay and make her photograph as she entertained people from all over the world, playing their national anthems from memory. Vera says she’s been playing multiple forms of glass for the last 35 years, but the glass harmonica provides the best sound and allows her to get the public involved. Years ago, she removed the drive wheel from the instrument and now asks people of all ages to turn the handle connected to her ‘glasses’. The reaction seen on the faces of people as they turn the handle is priceless.

The People that do the Work…

"Bullshitting" - Portsmouth Harbor, NH. © Doug van Kampen, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

“Bullshitting” – Portsmouth Harbor, NH. © Doug van Kampen, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

The people that do the work.

This Navy tug boat has been a fixture in my professional life for the last 2 years during my tenure aboard CGC Campbell. What strikes me about these shipmates is that it could be the middle of the night and at a moments notice, they drop everything and ensure we make it back to safe port to do the kings business.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard opened in 1800. In the 215 years they’ve been around, they’ve been supporting service mariners into port. So, if I may, pointing out the obvious, they’ve been dedicated to service for a *bit* longer than you and I have dedicated any time, to anything!

It’s these people that make the world go round, or at least part of it!

Enjoys the photo, and always remember, sailors are great sources of reliable and sustainable bullshit. :)

Fuji X-T1 fitted with the M-Mount adaptor.
LEICA 90mm f/2

Rock Star – Rockland Breakwater Light

Rock Star - Rockland Breakwater Light

Rock Star – Rockland Breakwater Light
© Doug van Kampen, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Since 1902, this lighthouse has been helping mariners navigate back into Rockland Harbor after full days and weeks of fishing in the waters off Maine and New England. The Gulf of Maine is part of one of the largest fisheries in the world, contributing to the almost two billion dollar a year industry in all of New England.

Considerably warmer than the last time I was out here! This time I didn’t nearly freeze to death. 😉 Enjoy!

Treeline Study – Maine in Winter


Treeline Study – Maine in Winter
© Doug van Kampen, 2015.  All Rights Reserved

With snow still falling in the Western Mountains of Maine, people are beginning to wonder if Spring will ever be fully realized… Hang in there! :)

Here’s a shot from Maquoit Bay, Maine this past January, when the temps were well into the teens and the snow seemed unrelenting.

“Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinitephotographic possibilities.” – Michael Kenna

From a very young age while seeing his prints on the walls of my childhood home, Kenna’s influence has driven much of the way I approach photography, giving the art of the process quality over quantity.

Happy Monday!

Break-Ups aren’t all that bad…


“Post Break-Up” – Brunswick‬Topsham‬ Green Bridge and the Androscoggin River.
© Doug van Kampen, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

I’ve been waiting all winter to get down by the river and make this shot with this framing. Given that there’s been a ton of ice on the river this winter and since the Spring break-up the water level’s been high, this 50˚F day finally made the conditions (and the rock you see in there) nearly perfect. The wind made for a perfect combination of fast-moving clouds and long exposures. It continues to astound me how versatile the Fuji mirrorless camera bodies and lenses are, especially when shooting with filters.

If you’re interested in my work, head on over to my new portfolio site here:

Thank you! Have an awesome weekend! -DvK

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.