August 23, 2011

Updated 12/11. Never has raising the bar on quality been so relevant to photography than in today’s crowded market. But never have the tools at our disposal been so powerful either. So today I want to share a few quick ideas on inching that bar up, each time we release the shutter. And few tips to help us shoot better and make our images as perfect as they can be.

1. Visualization. Really seeing.
It’s often said it starts in the camera. Well in truth it starts before that. I’m certainly no pioneer in visualizing, but I’ve learned how valuable it is. Sometimes our digital generation brushes aside with a chuckle the tried and true techniques, as if they were insignificant. As if because we have cameras with screens, it’s no longer necessary understand such things. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in nearly 15 years of pursuing photography. It’s don’t ignore the techniques of the old masters. My generation sometimes thinks they have a better way. They usually don’t.

I recently recorded a short podcast on how I use visualization right here. But the bottom line is you have to do more than just look and click. Visualizing takes practice. It’s NOT about not just seeing something that’s in front of you, or even just seeing an object or composition. It’s about seeing what you want in your final image. Everything you want. The objects, the lines, the tone light and dark of various elements, the colors, the composition. Even down to seeing in your mind the edits you plan to do in the real, or the digital darkroom.

I find using the Zone System to help visualize your scene and place the tonal ranges helps a great deal. Not to mention helping you expose better. But even if you don’t use the Zone System at every step, the zone scale can be invaluable in visualizing. And with practice will become second nature and will effect your work at every stage. You can learn about the Zone system in my article about Zones. Also here’s a classic video with Ansel himself talking about it.

Sunsets Hidden Falls, 2010. Having a pre-visualization of the scene I wanted helped me plan the exposures and edit this properly. More on this image at..

2. The Camera.
This is step 2. These first two could go together. But visualization deserved that first category. Do it before you raise that camera, because it’s easy to get caught in the moment and forget about truly visualizing. But after that visualization, the camera is where a great image is captured. Not the computer. You have a visual for what you want to capture, now you need to use your tools to make it happen.

Consider what you’re trying to do and how you need to leverage your equipment. Shutter speeds, supports, aperture, focus, timing, light. Read the Six Keys To Photographic Image Quality for more thoughts on the technical side of this. And of course, don’t forget your visualization and composition to help make it all happen. This is something to think about in a digital age where we tend to spray and pray. I’m a firm believer that as a whole, our industry needs to slow down. More images does not make better quality and I find taking your time with your camera and image setup makes a great deal if difference in your final result.

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August 2, 2011

The Whispering Brook, Olympic Forest, below Dosewallips Falls. Gavin Seim, Summer 2011

The water of the rainforest always seems to be moving,. Running, drizzling and dancing over the ground. Dosewallips falls rolls down a face of stone into the gathering pools below, overflowing them and running on towards into the deep forest, making a journey to the larger streams and rivers, then finally to the sea. It’s a mesmerizing dance of water set in one of the most beautiful places and is something to stop and look closer at.

We spent the past few days in the Olympic forest and as beautiful as the it is, I find it can be complicated. There’s so much to see that it can be a challenge to covey simple beauty in a single frame. Part of that challenge is deciding what element best conveys the feeling the the place when the image is initially made.

I found myself looking closely at the stream below the falls, all the rocks and paths the water had made. But I stopped in this one. It’s shape and line telling a story of waters journey in a simple scene. There’s a lot of little details here, but you have to take the time to look for them. It’s simple, but complex in it’s own way and as always, I am mesmerized the the subtle complexity and beauty of creation.

Release details: Prints available. Contact the gallery. Learn more about prices. Available prints…

For photographers. How it was made…

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November 16, 2008

Updated 10.10.09 to version 2.5 sampler (download below).

My free sampler of Power Workflow2 Lightroom Presets is  here. This has a small assortment of what comes with the complete set, but there’s some great presets here.

A key with presets is to build a good workflow. I spend a lot of time with that, and you’ll see some of it here. Start with a good auto preset for batches. This free set includes a preset from my new “Super” series auto settings. Apply it to a whole batch to get rockin, then move on and try some other effects.

There’s also a coupon inside that will save you a few bucks if you decide to get the whole set. If you already have PW2 you already have these, but stay tune because Christmas is near and I have some goodies in store 🙂

Download FREE PW2.5 Lightroom Presets Sampler:

Check Out My Video & The Complete Set:

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June 17, 2008

I‘ve been writing Photoshop actions for the up coming release of the Photographer Essentials collection (title subject to change)

I‘m pretty stoked about the progress. While the Hollywood effects action have a wide range of killer effects, I felt Seim Effects needed a collection that offered clean everyday effects and production tools. This set will not be replacing Hollywood Effects at all, but rather adding to the possibilities.

One example is the new Simple Soft. I wanted a softening effects that was not over the top. Just straightforward and cool looking. Simply soft is smooth and effective, without being complex. Heres a sample of Simply Soft II. It a subtle look that makes images amazing!

I‘ve also been working with a method to make Burn and Dodging easy and non destructive, yet have it apply to all layers. I’m really happy with the effects that are going to be in this set. It’;s not a repeat of our Hollywood Effects, but a whole new addition to the Seim workflow. There’s not an official release date yet, but these actions should be out in the next couple months. Stay tunes for news, or drop me an email to be notified… Gavin

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