Category: Uncategorized

To Photoshop or not? (No photo)

I was in South Lake Tahoe early last year shooting in the Taylor Creek area.  Maybe it was the year before.  While shooting, I came across another photographer.  We ended chatting for about half an hour, maybe more.  One of the topics we ended spending quite a bit of time discussing was the use of Photoshop (insert Lightroom, Aperture, or any other post-processing program here).

Now granted, the other photog and I both post-process, as do most photogs that shoot digital.  And I’ll admit that I occasionally even take those photos from my P&S (cellphone camera, old compact Canon SD750) and post-process them too.

The comment that started off the “Photoshop or not” discussion was he had seen a local photog’s booth at one of those Tahoe craft and art events specifically mention the fact that the photographs were not Photoshopped.  I suppose I get the marketing hook here.  I once thought about entering the world of big advertising agencies and there’s something to be said about things being organic as being more “pure”.  Maybe there are sales to be made with that approach…to people that don’t dabble in photography.

There is no nobility in not using Photoshop.  It is as though this photog is standing up and shouting that he is the only clean player in baseball’s steroid era.  But that would be a misinformed analogy.

But let us try to look at this objectively. If the photog is using any camera that is pro-sumer level and above, they are probably shooting in RAW format.  If they are not shooting in RAW, well, I have some concerns.  On a simplistic level, shooting in JPG format means you are applying Canon, Nikon and any other manufacturer’s engineers’ algorithm to your photographs.  You are letting someone else determine the final output, especially in the areas of color cast and contrast.  So in theory, some engineer in a lab has post-processed your photograph by some very common denominators.  So while the photog has not put the photo through post, by shooting in JPG, it has been in post through a computer algorithm and the final photo has been “unneeded” data (as determined by the algorithm) removed from the photo.

Now if the photog is shooting in RAW, there is a reason there are specific computer profiles in Lightroom, camera RAW profiles for Photoshop, but they are by not means perfect (as some profiles are proprietary) and a reason why there are different profiles for every camera manufacturer.  Yet here’s the thing.  RAW Photographs straight out of the camera and viewed on the computer screen look VERY different from what reality is.  Perhaps after applying camera profiles and some work in post, you can get an photo close to what was seen by the eye.   Post-processing for digital is the very thing the camera darkroom was to film shooters.  Otherwise it would be as though you shot film and sent it off to the local Fotomat or corner drugstore for prints.

Everyone has their preferences when comes to their approach to photography, but implying your art is better/more pure/organic because it has not been altered is disingenuous.


Unintentional, intentional, week-long hiatus (no photo!)

Sometimes, you just need a break. In the world of blogging, taking a break isn’t in the lexicon of successful blogs. Your stats, visitor counts, page views all tumble, and take weeks or months to recover, if at all.

Not to scare anyone, I’m not stopping. But this 4 day absence is the longest since I stopped blogging for over a week, maybe it was 2 weeks, just before the summer last year. That time I was completely disillusioned by the world of juried photography competitions.

This time, it is for the lack of time. For those of you that run 365 (1 post a day for a year straight and beyond) blogs, I salute you. For those the run 365 photography blogs, even more kudos. Photography blogs are time consuming. Besides going out to shoot, there is post processing of the photos, and trying to create content to go with the photos. It amounts to easily an hour per post and that’s not counting the time spent shooting.

The increasing workload at my “real” job now includes many nights hunched over my laptop coupled with the days/nights out with friends (to counteract that excessive work schedule and strike that work-life balance everyone talks about but rarely achieves). My archive of photos have run dry. With the daylight still ending early and my leaving the office at about the same time, my archives are not getting replenished. Clearly having no acceptable photos that meet my standard is a big problem. No photo = no post. Simple, I know!

And that hour for blogging is frequently used for things like random naps on the couch in the middle of the evening.

So bear with me the next few weeks. Maybe, the rain we are finally getting in California this winter will present some great photo opportunities. But in the meantime, it will be a slow trickle of posts until Spring and longer days appear. I might even publish up more of these “no photo” posts. I might talk about photography, or some random pondering of life.

But thank you for reading and I’ll eventually get back up to speed with the photographs again.

Aspen Trunk, Tree Eyes, B&W (Hope Valley 2012)

Hope Valley, CA

A closeup of the “eyes” on the aspen tree trunk, converted to monochrome via Nik Silver EFex Pro 2.

(Conditions as of last Friday: Post Trip Report: Hope Valley Fall Colors 2012-Oct-05)

Note: Sorensen’s fire road should be peak near Hwy 88 and probably past peak by the 2nd or 3rd turn now.  The area around Sorensen’s and across the highway should be 75-100% by now.  This is all based on how quickly the popular areas around Bishop have gone from 0-25% to peak this year, about a week.

The rest of Hope Valley should  be good the next week or two, barring any major storms.

Previous posts from this trip:

Visit the following sites for the latest color information:

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, 135mm, ISO 100, 1/30 sec, f/5

Aspen Trunk, Tree Eyes, B&W.  Hope Valley, California. October 05, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Sierra Foothills ABCs (ABC Award)

Alright, here’s the 3rd post in a row for blog awards!  I figure if another blogger is going to award me something, I should at least try and follow the guidelines of the award!  So thank you Erica from ExperienceNorthCape.  She’s an expatriate now living in Honningsvåg, North Cape, Norway and gets to use those cool letters with circles over or lines through them like: å and ø.  She’s also opening a gallery in her town and is posting a sneak peek of her work: >>HERE<<
The rules of the Awesome Blog Award:

1.  Thank the person who gave you the award.

2.  Nominate others to receive the award for their own awesome blog content, and notify them of their nomination.

3.  Use the ABCs to describe something about yourself or your philosophy in a word, a sentence or a short paragraph.

The ABCs of me and/or the Sierra Foothills:

A – Aspens. An hour away and an essential during the fall color season.

B – Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake. That’s right, I can follow a recipe’s instructions!

C – Clouds.  It seems like I constantly lament about the lack of them during my shoots!

D – Dogs. Love them, especially my long-haired chihuahua.

E – Eggs. I’ll take mine over easy…or scrambled with soy sauce and sesame oil blended in.

F – Fishing.  Tried it once, didn’t turn out well, never did it again.

G – Guinness Draught.  My alcoholic beverage of choice.

H – Horses.  I never knew they would physically lay down to rest if they feel secure, until I moved up here and saw it.

I – Instagram.  I don’t get what the big deal is.

J – Jury Acceptance.  What I’m worried about right now with a looming fine art competition coming up.

K – Kershaw.  As in Clayton Kershaw, ace pitcher for my hometown LA Dodgers.  He’s the closest I’ve come to actually purchasing a pro baseball jersey.

L – Loredona.  A winery from the Central California Coast that makes Rieslings I like.

M – Mono Lake.  It’s strange how such a small area where the tufas are can inspire some many photographers.

N – Not Gonna Work Here Anymore!  A great line from Office Space. “Next we have Samir Naga…Naga…not gonna work here anymore!”

O – Oak Trees. They are throughout the rolling foothills and a favorite subject of mine.

P – Pearl Jam.

Q – Quick wit.  If you know me and my sarcasm and jokes.  Be prepared and be ready to fire back!

R – Ranches.  Lots of working ranches still around here.  I can occasionally walk out at night and hear the cows mooing nearby.

S – Southern California.  Where I grew up.  I guess I sometimes phrase things a certain way (surfer speak) and people up here seem to identify me as from So Cal.

T – Tennis.  I used to play a lot when I was younger and was pretty good at it.  Played in high school, made the All-County team.

U – Uninspired.  I hate being uninspired.  So I use negative events and anger to motivate me and drive me forward.

V – Vultures.  Big ol birds that like to stretch out their wings on top of telephone poles in the morning.

W – Water.  I grew up near the ocean and beaches.  Now I live near rivers and lakes.  The idea of rivers and lakes grosses me out because its dirt and mud and not sand.  Weird, I know.

X – Xtra clothes in a duffle bag.  It’s always in my car in case I need them.  You never know what happens when you’re out in the field shooting photographs!

Y – Young Guns II.  Much better than the first Young Guns movie.

Z – Zero.  The number of times I’ve been to Europe.  I need to change that!


In breaking the rules, I’ll list some blogs I follow.  Yet, I won’t force them to do the ABC steps unless they really want to.  I also won’t message them.  If they read it here — great!  Otherwise, I’d rather just send readers from this blog to their blogs.  They’re interesting to and hopefully interesting to you.

  • jdtphotography – I’m a big fan of James’ B&W coastal photography (and his other works as well!)
  • Creativity Aroused – Art through creative photograph processing
  • thenicolniche – A blog with photography, writing, and everyday life
  • adrianpym – Photographer going through his own learning process about photography (technical and otherwise)
  • dianajhale – A photographer and painter with a focus on water and landscapes
  • photobypawelp – Mountaineering enthusiast that always seems to have a camera around!
  • cameravagrant – A photographer wandering through France
  • Slice of Life – Photographer that centers on the darker themes, often employing textures in post processing (I think?)
  • Natureview Photography – Nature and wildlife photography

And this miscellaneous reuse photograph for today is:

Mono Lake South Tufa

Sunshine Award

Alright, I’m on a roll…if you consider two being on a roll, with these blog award posts!  I would like to thank Christine from The Three Sixty Five Project for the Sunshine Award.  I would go absolutely bonkers if I tried a 365 project.  The only reason I have been able to post photographs every day for the past 6 months is because I had 18 months worth of shots to pick and process from when I started.  Anyhow, I enjoy the daily photographs on her blog and it is worth a visit and to follow.


  • The Sunshine Award has some rules — (and I’m going to break them I’m sure)
    • Include the award’s logo on your blog.
    • Answer some questions about yourself.
    • Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers for this award.
    • Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs letting them know they have been nominated.
    • Share the love and link to the person who nominated you.

    Yes, I will definitely answer these questions!

    1. What is your favorite color? It used to be British Racing Green on the old MGs, but over the years I’m partial to the Gun Metal Blue/Grey, if that’s really a color.
    2. What is your favorite animal? A koala as a kid until I noticed they had dagger claws and probably were not cuddly.  Meerkats amuse me, but I’m going with dogs.
    3. What is your favorite number? 8, 18, 28, or 38?  Also 10 (in honor of Pearl Jam’s best album).
    4. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink? White-chocolate blended ice coffee
    5. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter? Facebook by necessity, but I’d rather use Google+.  Why isn’t there WP/G+ integration yet?!!?
    6. What is your passion? Vintage Advertising Art, Designing Landscapes (but not having to do the grunt work), Traveling (if I get around to it), and Photography
    7. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? Giving.  People have a hard time figuring out what to get me.
    8. What is your favorite pattern? Partly cloudy skies in the 7-day forecast.
    9. What is your favorite day of the week? Saturday, especially if I happen to work from home on Friday.  So what feels like a Sunday is really only Saturday.
    10. What is your favorite flower? Daylilies and whatever flowers come from my trees and plants in the Spring to let me know they’ve made it through another winter.

    And here is a previously posted photograph from my blog that I’m reusing — and it does have a sun theme!:

    Carbondale Road, Ione

The Versatile Blogger Award

Over the past few months I’ve been awarded “The Versatile Blogger” award twice.  And yes, I did say months.  As many of you know, there are usually rules or guidelines.  For that close friends of mine, they know that I don’t do well with rules!  It is generally the part that requires me to say a bit about myself that makes me put off paying these awards forward for a period of time.  Yet, I really do believe that 3 months is a bit too long of a response time, so I apologize.  Anyhow, here we go!


  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
    • The Dilapidated Farmhouse – Chronically the efforts to save and restore a 100+ year old farmhouse.
    • Abu Zar from Visual Journey – A nature and landscape photographer much after my own heart in terms of subject matter, but also well versed in street photography.
  • Add the Versatile Blogger Award pic on your blog post
  • Share 7 random things about yourself
  • Award 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading – I’m posting links of up to 15 blogs I enjoy reading.  I dislike this selection process.  I follow blogs I enjoy reading – plain and simple.  So I have done a quick run through of blogs I follow and selected blogs that stood on for one reason or another.
  • Inform the bloggers of their award – Ok, I’m not a big fan of forcing awards onto people because if you’re like me, it’ll sit for 3 months before the guilt of not addressing it within the first week of receipt becomes too much to bear – sort of. 😉 That being said, if you notice that’s I’ve linked your blog below via pingbacks/trackbacks, you’ve been informed.  Plus, some of you have already received this award and there’s no need to go through this exercise again!  But thank you for creating a blog I enjoy reading.

Seven Random Things About Myself

  • I have never been to Europe (or Africa) for that matter.  For a landscape photographer that loves the idea of traveling and even has specific places on a must-photograph list, I have not done so.  Shocking, I know.
  • While I enjoy the solitude of landscape photography and generally keep to myself, other photogs that have stopped and talked to me say I’m a great conversationalist and not snobby like so many others they meet in the field.  I guess they’re surprised I’m not stuck on talking about my gear.
  • I had never tasted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich until 2 months upon when co-workers gave me an Uncrustable to eat. How I managed to avoid one of those living in the US is really beyond me.  I mean, I like jelly sandwiches.  I tend to like peanut butter.  But why put them together?!
  • I might do a Tough Mudder event this year.  Working out in the gym for the sake of being healthy just doesn’t have that much appeal, so I don’t do it.  But if there is a goal in mind, I’m much more motivated.  Being that years ago I was a sports junkie and even ran cross country in high school, it is sad 15 years of working in corporate office environments is forcing me to need to train for something like this.
  • I own a long-haired chihuahua.  He was purchased for an ex-girlfriend.  The ex eventually left and I got to keep my pup.  It worked out for me.  On the occasions I work from home, my dog thinks I should be able to hold him all day because I’m stuck in my chair staring at my laptop.  He knows if he sits there, stares at me, and whines, I’ll eventually pick him up.
  • I collect vintage advertising lithograph posters from the 1920s-1960s with special appreciation for works from Cappiello, Dudovich, and Robys.  For a few years I was also a subscriber to Jay Ryan’s silkscreen prints.  He does posters for rock bands, events, and art prints.
  • I should probably learn how to use Photoshop.  I recently did some work creating a logo for a Historical Landmark.  I felt like a 3 year old working with an Etch-a-Sketch.

15 (or slightly less than 15) Blogs I Enjoy Reading

And I’m posting one of my favorite photographs from the last 6 months of blogging…

Fort Baker Pier

I suppose I could try and put together a post like this, but why. This probably says it better than I can. Plus, there’s at least 3 more tips than I could have given.

nomadruss in words and photos

1. Look at photos, lots of them – It’s important to study the work of other photographers, especially those you admire. I look through photos every week. When I find a photo that I like I try to understand what makes that image stand out to me. I ask myself what focal length they used, how did they build depth into the photo, what is it about the background that I like? I find in this process that I’m unconsciously logging away images. Then when I’m in some future scene my brain will draw on those resources to help me create a compelling image of my own.

2. Put in your 10,000 hours – In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers he contends that to become an expert in any field you must first put in 10,000 hours of work. That means, make lots of photos and keep making them. If you…

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