In this issue of What’s In My Bag, I talk about the two pieces of rain gear I always have with me when I go out to shoot photographs.
The weather in Arizona changes, especially in the monsoon season. The news never seems to get it right. It will say there is a 0% chance of rain, and we get a downpour for an hour or two. Or they say there’s a 90% chance of rain, and we get nothing. I think the monsoons are too unpredictable for the weather man or woman to figure out.
I would rather have rain gear, and not need it, then need it and not have it. I’ve experienced the latter several times, and I didn’t like it. And rain gear is so small and light, that there’s no reason not to always have it with you.
With a little creativity, rain gear can serve many functions.
If you get lost, a couple of cheap ponchos can be made into a tent.
A poncho can be used as a solar still to make drinking water.
If a strong, cold wind is blowing, a poncho can stop the wind from penetrating your cloths and keep you from getting hypothermia.
There are also several first aid situations where a poncho comes in handy.
I will often stroll around old towns, just to explore and see what I find. This was a house that was built on stilts. It was condemned as it was toward another house. A couple of weeks before it was to be demolished, a contractor bought it.
He replaced the stilts with a cinder block basement, which added more usable space. Then, over the course of a few years, he rebuilt the house. It looks brand new, but in Jerome, if you remodel or tear down a home, you have to use a certain amount of the original building material in the new home. I think it’s 10%. This lets Jerome keep it’s “historical” classification in the state.
I’ve seen remodeled homes that left old doors, beams and columns in the house, and boards from a kitchen floor used to make a wrap-around porch.
Much of the wood in this house was destroyed by the elements, and pieces of the outside wall were missing. You could look right into the house through these large holes.
The day I was there, the wind had grabbed the curtain and blown it out of the window, where it snagged onto the wood. I went back the next day to take some more photos, but the curtain was back inside the house.
You never know what you’ll find when you want around, but take lots of photos, because you never know if some great subject you find will be there tomorrow.
June 29, 2021
by admin Comments Off on Inspiration – 1
I love these flowers because they are such a vivid yellow. They grow everywhere in Arizona. I see them in the fields around my house, on the side of the road and in many places I go to hike. This hand-held photo was taken on Anderson Mesa at the end of a hike. I loved the composition with the way the flowers lined up. It creates a leading line that draws the viewer into the photograph.
Using ON1 Photo RAW I kicked up the yellow just a little bit, used a vignette to draw attention to the front flower, and softened the image a little.
Anderson Mesa is a nice, flat hike. A while into the hike you come to a cliff where you can look down on Lake Mary and the valley. While the hike is flat, much of the trail has rocks in it that can beat up your feet. On my last hike there I did a 5 mile (8 kilometers) round-trip hike and found myself limping back to the car with my feet in considerable pain. The entire trail is almost 18 miles (29 kilometers) long. The trail also connects to the Arizona Trail.
One thing to warn you about is that there is very little shade. So if it’s a hot day, be prepared.
June 1, 2021
by admin Comments Off on More Blog Posts For You
I want to apologize for not posting more often, but for the past year I’ve been dealing with a major health issue. Unfortunately, I live in the Verde Valley of Arizona, which includes Sedona and Cottonwood. The Verde Valley is well known for its subpar quality of medical care, so my condition wasn’t being dealt with or even identified.
Then a couple of months ago everything went nutz. I had two trips to the Verde Valley ER in two days and one trip to the Barrow ER on one of those days, and encountered a neurologist at the Verde Valley hospital who actually knew what he was doing. He diagnosed my issue as a brain tumor. A couple hours later he had me in an ambulance for a two hour ride to the ER at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Barrow is one of the best neurological facilities in the country.
I finally received the proper tests and evaluations. A team of doctors was assembled and a treatment plan was created. I have a long road ahead that includes chemo, radiation and possibly surgery, but I’m finally getting the treatment I need.
The problem is that the condition, medication and treatment leave me constantly tired, weak, unmotivated, dealing with balance problems and brain fog. I have to use a walker on the sidewalks in our neighborhood because of the balance issue. So no carrying my camera pack, hiking or going on any trails for a while.
It’s time for me to adapt to the situation. I will be doing more photography with my phone of what I find around, and in, my home. For example, today a bud on my Venus flytrap opened. That has only happened once before, and it’s so cool. I will also be doing composite photography.
But during all of this I’ve been working on a plan to put more content on my blog and monthly newsletter for you.
To that end, I will put at least two posts a month up that will both show you my work, the beauty of Arizona and help you to improve your photography.
These posts will include:
My photographs – How I took them and why I took them.
Videos – Showing my equipment, How To, DIY and more.
Memes – Inspirational to help you stay motivated.
Business tips – To help you improve your business.
Articles – On various topics.
Let’s start off with this photo.
I took this photo of a Saguaro cactus in 2010. What I love about this shot is that I was able to shoot the buds and flowers at eye level. You almost never get this kind of shot because the tops of these arms are often 10 – 20 feet (3 – 6 meters) above the ground, so you usually only get a profile shot. These make great shots, but getting the entire end of the branch is something special.
What most people don’t know is how slow growing these saguaro cacti really are. They won’t start to grow their first arm until they are 95-100 years old and aren’t fully grown until they are 200 years old. Some saguaro will produce dozens of arms, and some produce none. I would assume this is a 200 plus year old cactus and the arm may be 100 years old.
I took this shot because I wanted to immortalize this rare chance to shoot the arm at this angle, and to record its beauty.
A couple of years later, I went back to this cactus hoping to get some more shots, but that was now impossible. Probably several months before I returned, someone had hacked the branch off the cactus and chopped it into four pieces that were lying on the ground.
Because of someone whose heart and soul was filled with hate and pain for themselves, nature and beauty, this cactus was damaged beyond repair. No one will ever be able to take a photograph of this beautiful cactus arm again. It’s really so sad.
Besides this damage, I’ve seen graphite scratched and spray painted onto rocks, pictographs and petroglyphs defaced, Native American ruins torn apart, and more. People really need to respect the nature and beauty that is around us, and to protect it for future generations.
We all have our reasons for taking the photographs that we take. But once in a while, something happens at the hand of people or nature that destroys something we have photographed. Thanks to our work, we have immortalized it for future generations.
Do you have a photograph of something that has since been damaged or destroyed? Show us what you saved for future generations.
March 16, 2021
by admin Comments Off on What’s In My Bag – Waterproof Notepad
Do you ever need to take notes when it’s wet outside? Snow, rain, waterfalls, fog, rain forests, sweat and more can make it difficult to take notes when you’re out photographing. But there’s a simple solution. Check out my What’s In My Bag video about the Rite In The Rain waterproof notepad.
When you’re out taking photographs in nature, you need to be responsible for your own security. If you’re like me, you can be hours away from any law enforcement, while carrying a few thousand dollars of camera gear. In this video I talk about a couple tools I use for my security and to protect my gear.
I hope you enjoy this video. How do you protect yourself and your gear out in nature?
I hope you’re all enjoying winter. We had snow last week for the first time in a few years. I love watching the flakes drift down and cover everything with a blanket of white.
Don’t forget to go and take photos before, during and after a storm. Some of my best photos were taken while out in rain or snow.
Be sure to dress you and your camera properly, and stay safe. Stay aware of your surroundings and don’t take risks. I don’t mind being cold and wet, but I avoid injury at all cost.
When shooting storms and clouds, look for the unusual, as I showed above, and for the power of Nature, like this moon over a storm cloud.
Having a checklist to go over before you leave the house will help you remember every you need for the shoot. Since you don’t go out shooting in storms often, it’s easy to forget something. The checklist will be sure you have every you need with you to take great photos.
I also shoot lightning, and have a lightning bag. It has all of my special lightning gear, including: a window mount for the camera, a lightning trigger, Rainsleeve, headlamp and more. I keep it in a corner of my office next to my umbrella. I check my list, grab the bag and umbrella and head out.
Make this the best New Year your photography business has ever had. Update your portfolio to give you the best chance of success. Check out my ebook, How To Assemble And Show Your Portfolio, at www.creativecauldron.com/portfolio
You’ll not only learn how to put together a top-notch portfolio, but how to show your portfolio in a professional manner and what follow-up you need to do after your presentation.
Have access to my years of experience.
Be able to avoid common mistakes that every beginner makes.
Cut years off of your learning curve.
Look like a pro on your first presentation.
Show your clients that you know what you’re doing, and will not waste their time or money.
Don’t wait another minute to make this year your year.
Have Fun, Jeff
January 6, 2021
by admin Comments Off on Farewell 2020