Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What's a "Cliche'," and Are Such Images Worth Pursuing??

I've recently received comments on a couple of my vineyard and lone tree photos that they were "cliches."

I don't view that as negative feedback; I've been pursuing illustrative photos for a photo travel guide. Cliches? Bring 'em on! Over-shot viewpoints? Heck yeah, I'll provide detailed directions! As we all dig deeper in the field of landscape photography at our own pace, it's easy to forget that not everyone has the classic shots in their portfolio, and even fewer of their friends, family or fans have have ever seen them. So rather than assume any certain required level of quality or originality in the reader base for my book, I have to provide something for everyone... the now-classic views, the more original compositions available a few steps further from your car, and the totally unique views that I've never seen anywhere else. Something for everyone! So much of my current work is illustrative/documentary. Hey, if I can save you 5 gallons of gas and help you focus on the best locations at any given time, the book will pay for itself very quickly, or hopefully, many times over. Add the variables of seasons, weather, sunrise/sunset, weather, night and astronomical events, and photographer intervention (light painting), and even the most trite viewpoint can offer unique possibilities. I intend to provide the most interesting, diverse, and truly useful guide ever. Will I succeed? Who knows; readers will be the judge. But in my experience I have observed that people rarely exceed their goals, so to provide the best guide possible, I have to shoot for the moon (often literally), and see how close to that ideal the end result cam come. I'll probably never recoup my investment in time and travel, but if I'm going to put my name on it, at least it'll be the best darned photo travel guide that I can possibly produce!

The book aside, a huge percentage of the market for photos is for ones that are "good enough." Not art prints, just stock photography of a representative shot of Half Dome and dozens of other landmarks. I don't currently participate in that market, I value my control over my images way too much (and frankly, microstock has driven the value of such shots way too low), but I want the shots in my portfolio in case I ever decide to pursue that "least common denominator" demand. If someone wants a "one stop shop" for Yosemite images, I want to be able to fulfill that need.

The classic national park viewpoints are often there for a reason. They offer stunning views. If you want that image for your portfolio, don't worry about others' approval, go for it! In the context of your broader portfolio it may fill a valuable role. Only you can decide what you'd like to cover. Shoot for yourself.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Report: April 6, 2011

Figueroa Mountain was less impressive than I expected. Although here are many species blooming, the biggest patches are several of poppies and one small one of lupine in a recently burned area. For now at least, Figueroa Mountain is more of a flower portrait than a flower landscape destination. It's probably worth visiting if you're in the area, but with gas currently over $4.00 it may not be as attractive to visit if a long drive is required.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Laurent Martres to Publish California South Guidebook

Where Winds Collide, originally uploaded by Jeffrey Sullivan.

Fans of the popular "Photographing the Southwest" series will be thrilled to hear that Laurent Martres will be publishing a new guidebook to the best landscape photography locations in California. Fans of my photography and workshops will be thrilled to hear that I'm the author!

The announcement was made last night on Laurent's Facebook page.

I'm averaging 5000 miles per month as I chase key astronomical events, seasonal conditions and weather events around the state. I'll be posting updates as I go to my blog, to my Facebook account and to my JeffSullPhoto Twitter feed.

Antelope Valley Wildflower Report 2011

Antelope Valley Poppy, originally uploaded by Jeffrey Sullivan.

Like many place in California the wildflowers aren't as prolific as last year, but it's far form a poor season. You'll have to hunt for the best patches, but here's a sampling of what I found in the Antelope Valley area over the past couple of days.

Carrizo Plain Wildflowers Spring 2011

Tidy Tips at Sunrise, originally uploaded by Jeffrey Sullivan.

Here's a quick photographic tour of conditions at Carrizo Plain a couple of days ago. Opinions on this year's bloom range from normal to "past peak" to "slow and coming," and all three may be true in places. Whatever the high level summary you want to assign, you'll work harder to find less compared to last year, but you can still find some great patches to work with if you put in the time and miles.

Note the new sharing options that will allow you to share this report with your friends on Facebook, etc!

Shell Creek Road Wildflowers

Shell Creek Road, originally uploaded by Jeffrey Sullivan.

Here's a quick update on wildflowers this year. The ample rains we've received can be critical for wildflower growth, but in too much quantity or at the wrong times, they also result in a bumper crop of grass, which seems to crowd out the wildflowers. Let's give it a couple more weeks before we declare this a normal to weak year in this area. For now the color tends to be sporadic and modest, favoring photography of a plant or bloom instead of landscape-scope carpets.