Be awesome with your art and photographic journey!!

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Millions of people are now capable of pointing a camera or iPhone at a subject and capturing an image to share with all the world in an instant.

The sheer notion of one or ten people worldwide become the next Ansel Adam is slim. And I see many photographers as having extraordinary talent and no unique eye.

Let me clarify… a unique eye is equivalent to a writer having a unique voice. What is it about you or your images that stands out above the crowd? To be recognized you need this component.

Think… what makes you unique?

Is it your style, the type photograph you capture, your post processing, or thumb print on photography as an art source?

Truly I want you to take some deep thinking time on this subject. This is your very first step in creating awesome HDR images. It’s your thumb print on your work that matters most.

I can certainly share my work and my technique but it means not a hill of bean to you because your photos will breath their own life because of your unique eye.

Further, I really don’t intend to sound pompous by any means. My unique eye continues to evolve as well.

Currently, I have it nailed down to landscapes and cityscapes. Where I feel unique is in my HDR processing technique.

I have truly practiced over 10,000 hours capturing and processing my photos and learning each time I process and HDR image. To be really great you need to be willing to have a learners mind. And understand this…

You are failing forward daily just like the rest of us.

This was my process when I started:

Capture one shot and create virtual copies in Aperture and then process in HDR only. What I got from that process was interesting HDR images that were dark and resembled cartoons. The experts do not create cartoonish HDR work.

NedNed: A local Lamma in Snohomish, Washington

I mastered the bracketing button on my camera and created three shot bursts. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between one shot and three shot processed HDR images. Today, I could fool you with either method. However, my learning was to process better using more natural light and less cartoonish effects. I had improved 100%.

Pumpkins on a FencePumpkins on the fence in Snohomish Washington

I actually sold several to the Bailey’s who own this pumpkin and Christmas Tree farm in Snohomish, Washington.

Then… I started seeking out other HDR photographers and there work. I searched, HDR blogs, etc. And I did learn many new techniques. You should do the same.

After watching many videos I experimented with 3, 5, and 7 exposure HDR. Usually this was the culmination of many different exposures created using a virtual copy. Sometimes you can tell the difference in images processed using different exposures… and not usually. Just fancy jargon from bloggers interested in pontificating.

transportation, train, rail road photography, railroad, HDR, HDR photography, northwest, landscapeEastside Freight Railroad parked in Snohomish, Washington

fhc16Tallahassee Lasse at

Then, I set a goal to learn HDR. Hey now!! I had been doing it for nearly 5  years at this point and finally realized it might be to my benefit to pay for a course from someone making a living with their photography. I discovered Serge Ramelli. You should check him out as well.

My journey to discovery as a photographer continued. I thought and others said to me “Spence you should do real estate photography.” So I did!! You can see my webpage here. I decided to learn more about interior and exterior HDR photography. Again I turned to Serge Ramelli to learn. And he did not disappoint. What I discovered is I don’t need thousands of dollars of lights or sophisticated equipment. All I needed was a DLSR camera, a tripod, two software programs, and a 5 shots (not using bracketing on my camera). And as a side note I do earn money doing this now.


Finally, my newest learning is that each of us are unique. What I find as art is not necessarily what other find as art. That is ok. I am glad to WOW some and not other. If I WOW you please let me know.

I have heard that all you need to create really great HDR are these things.

  • A good DLSR camera that you can bracket your shots.
  • A tripod to keep your Nikon, Canon, or Sony camera steady.
  • A computer fast enough to process your photos.
  • A suite of photo (HDR) processing software.

Sounds about right… and specifically these are the photography tools I use to capture my landscape images.

Further, you need vision. What is it you are interested in photographing? What is your uniqueness (voice) as a photographer? Do you enjoy landscapes, ocean shots, nature images of birds and wildlife, street shots, cars, airplanes, still life, and on and on and on. Find your niche!!

So… step one is to determine what really excites you about capturing a photograph. And let me suggest that sometimes this does not come easy. Sometimes finding your niche (voice) can take a while. It may lead you on a multi-year journey to truly discover it.

Take the journey. Snap off photos. Practice editing with your software. Read blogs to learn new techniques, or watch videos. See other peoples photographic work and journey. And always remember your art is your voice. Do it your way and don’t listen to the critics.

One key component of being a really great photographer beyond simple composition is patience. A patient photographer is one who will capture that million dollar shot.

Along the way you will improve. This comes (again) through patience and practice. Gladwell has suggested it take 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. There is some truth to that statement.

Start practicing. Start sharing your photographic eye (voice). Share your art, your talent.