Wednesday, December 9, 2020

What is Fine Art Photography

 Many ask, "What is the difference between a picture or snapshot and Fine Art Photography?"

That is a great question, the main goal of fine art photography is to express a message, maybe an emotion, or even an idea. 

Image of Mt Rainer showing my fine art photography
When I travel around looking for the images I take for landscape photography to use as fine art on my website I am always looking for the image I have not seen before. What is the landscape saying to me, what story can I tell with the image?  When I see what I am looking for it takes great care to make sure you have the right lighting and to make sure you frame or stage the image that creates the WOW factor.

 Many times I will see a potential image but the light is wrong, there are people in the image, it is raining, or worse. I cannot count the number of times where I made numerous trips to one spot looking for the shot I want. Heck, I've been known to hike into a remote area, set up camp, and spend up to a week in one spot waiting for the perfect shot. Even then, I may not get the shot.

When I am shooting wildlife or birds, the action is many times very fast.  Everyone has pictures of Eagles but, what can I capture that is different.  How do I make sure and capture an image that is truly fine art? Many times you have just an instant to capture the image such as this Hooded Merganser trying to eat a Frog and you are walking with a camera with a long lens mounted on a tripod. My birding camera setup weighs in at almost 30lbs so it takes practice to be able to get fast opportunities that most miss.

Just getting an image is just the start, in post-processing you need to be very careful that your image is absolutely color correct, the focus is dead on, the image is properly cropped, and most important the image has the right resolution so that a 30X45 print is not pixelated making the image look horrible.

To me, it is not "how many times I click my shutter" it's "when is it the right time to click".  Professional fine art photography is not easy as you spend many hours on the road, hiking trails, enduring harsh environments, and yes the occasional fall down a hillside or twisted ankle.

When it is all said and done Fine Art Photography is not an easy job, equipment is expensive, getting prints that are Fine Art quality can be a challenge, everything wears out or gets damaged and has to be replaced.

Fact is, when it is all said and done, when you add up the costs versus what you get for a print I am positive there is very little if any profit but I love what I do and hope that those who spend time on my new website appreciate the time/dedication it takes.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

What Equipment do I use for Fine Art Photography?

Basic go to camera used by Norm Stokes for Scenic and Landscape Photography

Well, over the years I get asked regularly "what equipment do you use to take pictures for Fine Art Photography?" That's a fair question but not a short answer as I use a combination of cameras and a few lenses depending on what I plan to photograph.

Scenic and Landscape Photography

I love Scenic and Landscape photography and for that my go-to camera is the Nikon D810 with a vertical grip and expanded battery allowing up to 4000 shots on one charge. 

My standard go-to lens is my Sigma 24-105mm ART lens. Of course for me, since I try to capture the entire bandwidth of the image in-camera so I do not lose any details I use other support equipment such as my Wine Country Filter holder. This filter holder in my opinion is the best of the best as it is the only filter holder that I can use a circular polarizer, graduate filter, and even a neutral density (ND) filter all at the same time as conditions require it. The polarizer I use is made by Wine Country Camera as it is designed with the filter holder, easily removed in seconds, and is so easy to adjust. 

My graduated filters and ND filter are from LEE but I will be switching to the amazing graduate filters and ND filters produced by Wine Country Camera as they fit in what they call the vault system s you never have to touch the filters and holds them much more securely. They are very impressive and maintain color accuracy without producing any unwanted color casts.

Of course the higher the megapixel rating of your camera the more prone you are to possible camera shake even with OS stabilization especially in low light conditions so I got a beefy Enduro Tripod and bought the Really Right Stuff Pano Head (RRS) with the viscous damping fluid controls designed more for video work but meets my need perfectly.

With this setup, I can shoot panoramic images on the fly as I have everything all set up and ready to go. Of course, I have the Really Right Stuff quick releases on the tripod so I can switch ball heads in seconds if needed. There is nothing good about missing a shot because you have to change configurations, I can change my configuration in literally seconds.

Just in case I carry my Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 Lens and my Nikon 105mm macro lens as well. All lenses for my D810 are of course Full Frame Len's.

Sports and Birds in Flight (BIF) Photography

For Sports and BIF photography I switch over to my Nikon D500, this is a great camera and with my vertical grip and expanded battery I can shoot up to 10 frames per second (FPS).  Since the action is typically a ways away my go to lens is my Sigma 150-600mm (S) lens.  for occasions where i need a little more reach I will add my Sigma 1.4 Teleconverter.

Since my Nikon D500 is a crop sensor I have more theoretical reach by 1.5 times the rating of the lens making it pretty extreme.  For 90% of the shoots I do with this combination I use the same Tripod I use with my Nikon D810.  All my gear is setup with Arca Swiss mounts for easy swapping. 

Of course I can also use my Sigma 70-200mm lens as well if I want to travel lighter.

Portrait, Senior, Family Shoots

I love using my Nikon D810 with the same Sigma 24-105 lens but many times I switch to my Nikon 105mm/Macro lens depending on the shoot conditions.

Make sure to swing by and visit my Photography Website

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Norms Photography Website and Blog are up and Functioning


Eye of the Tiger converted to black and white

It has been a lot of work designing a website that is easy to navigate. I have finally got the bulk of the job done. Both my new website and blog are fully functional and ready for visitors to enjoy.

The Website

The website is for sharing my photography from my travels and make a few sales along the way. 

The images are edited from a RAW format captured by my camera and made into works of fine art that will add a touch of class to any wall. 

The Blog

My blog is the go-to place to find out more about me, learn photography tricks and tips, share ideas. All comments need to be approved first for the enjoyment of everyone.

I hope to build a large following and have fun as you join in.  Make sure to visit my Photography Website

Monday, November 30, 2020

Welcome to Norm Stokes Photography Blog

Norm Stokes at Clingmans Dome TN, getting ready for some scenic photography for Norm Stokes Photography's website

One of the things I have been wanting to do since launching my photography website was to add a blog so I could share.

As you read the articles i publish place feel free to leave comments or ask questions.