Musical Inspiration

What inspired you today? What made you get up and do your best with what you have, not wishing for things you don’t?

Wishing isn’t doing. Doing is doing.

Hanz Zimmer

Be inspired by Hans Zimmer, one of the greatest composers of our time. In two notes, he created the sound for the Batman trilogy. Just two notes! It’s all about how they’re presented and they’re emphasized. That means everything.

Through this promo for his music master film class, I was inspired. Even though I have no musical skill, he made me feel like I could create something. I’m not going to delude myself by buying an instrument and trying to make something, though!


I love his quote:

“The interesting ideas come from some kid in a garage in the Bronx.”

Hans Zimmer’s promo video

Watch his Youtube trailer and be inspired.

“If you have a story, you can do whatever you want to do.”

What’s your story? What’s your skill? I’ll bet you have something lurking inside that’s just waiting to burst forth and shine. What’s stopping you from sharing it?

What do I do?

Instead of trying to compose music, I perform the music in my heart. I have a conversation with audiences, sharing my experience of risking everything to pursue a dream.

They see a guy who doesn’t look like someone who could drag a refrigerator across a continent. experience how a software engineer became the second only American to successfully ski to the South Pole against all odds. That’s what I do.

People learn my improbable story in Antarctic Tears. They see a guy who doesn’t look like someone who could drag a refrigerator across a continent standing in front of them. Audiences experience how a software engineer became the second only American to successfully ski to the South Pole against all odds. That’s what I do.

What Will You Do?

You were put on the Earth to do something, to share and use something special inside of you. Do you use it? Are you afraid of it? That’s okay, so many of us are afraid to fail. But really, what’s the worst that happens? You learn something that doesn’t work. That’s okay. Failure is a necessary path to success. Failure and failing doesn’t mean you’re a

That’s okay. Failure is a necessary path to success. Failure and failing doesn’t mean you are a failure. It only means you gained more knowledge than you have before. And the next time you’ll be better for it.

Getting away from iPhoto

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 5.00.49 PMIf you own a Mac and have ever downloaded pictures to your computer, you’ve been prompted to add images to iPhoto. This is a very handy program for you to organize, edit, and share your photographs.

The program is built in, it’s free, and it’s quite powerful for the cost. Many people use the software and been quite happy with it.

However, if you photograph a great deal, are serious about your shooting, and really need to upgrade your images, the only major software on the market now is Lightroom. It has far more capability than iPhoto, being able to manage images with  keywords, collections, heavy editing, and seamless integration with Photoshop.

iPhoto to Lightroom

What happens when you have overwhelmed the abilities of iPhoto and you want to expand your repertoire, go pro, or whatever else you might like to do with your images? How do you get these images out of iPhoto and into Lightroom easily? Unfortunately there’s no easy answer. There are software packages out there to do the conversion but there’s nothing that’s truly dominating the market.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 5.10.40 PMYou are most likely going to need to convert manually. Before you break out in a cold sweat, don’t worry, it’s not a terribly complex deal, just a bit laborious. However, once you make the switch to using Finder to organize your photos on the Mac then use Lightroom to edit the ones you want to work on, you’ll be set.

Mac, iPhoto and Lightroom tutoring

I spent the afternoon with a private lesson student working on exactly this process. There were over a hundred events in iPhoto to convert. At first it seemed overwhelming, but once I shared the tricks and procedure of how to make the conversion and organize the files, the student saw it really wasn’t a complex process. Just a bit laborious. Once the folders are set up in Finder and the files are exported as originals out of iPhoto, it will be much easier to manage, view, and share these images.

If you’d like help with this process, contact me and I can arrange a lesson show you how to make the daunting task manageable.

Post-processing symposium

DSC03347smThis weekend the Teton Photography Group is hosting their 3rd symposium, Post Processing for Digital Photography in the Black Box theater at the Art Center in Jackson Hole.

If you have taken many photographs but aren’t sure how to process them to get them to the next level, this is the event to attend.

Many photographers take shots and then just email/print/post them as is and they receive a tepid response. Why is this? Because they aren’t sure what their final image was going to look like when they took the shot. Visualization of what the final product is going to look like is of the utmost importance when photographing. Otherwise you end up with shots looking like they were taken in a parking lot.

You will be motivated and excited by the speakers, as all of us have experience in how to make images better. But it’s not about our ability to make images better, it’s about us teaching you how to make YOUR shots better. All of the speakers are entertaining, educational and, most importantly, accessible. We do our best to answer questions and to help guide you through the labyrinth of photo editing.

9 panel, 3-d panorama stitch
9 panel, 3-d panorama stitch

This symposium will cover some shooting and composition with respect to post processing, that is, what you do after you click the shutter. How do you use Lightroom, what’s the best way to edit your shots, and more advanced techniques for:

  • Panorama multi-image shooting
  • HDR (high dynamic range) images
  • Focus stacking
  • Black and white processing

These symposiums have been very well received because attendees get a lot of education for their time and the nominal cost. If you have ever wanted to learn the basics of how to make your photographs look better, this is the event to attend.

Click here for the symposium link and become a better photographer today.

Jackson Hole Daily news article about the symposium
Jackson Hole Daily news article about the symposium


Photoshop for photographers

Photoshop interface
Photoshop interface

There is still time to sign up for my Introduction to Photoshop for Photographers at the Jackson Hole Art Association. In this class, we will cover all of the basics you’ll need as a photographer to get the most out of Photoshop.

The software is complex and can be daunting. In this course, we’ll get you comfortable with making your way around the software, getting everything set up and helping to improve your photographs. If you’re serious about your photography, this class is definitely worth the time.

You’ll learn some of the tip, tricks, and power-user techniques that will make you more confident and efficient with your Photoshop use. Whether you like to just dabble or you’re looking for some more serious usage of the software, this class is a great introduction. You’ll learn what all of those icons in the picture to the right mean and how you can use them.

Storm over the Tetons

Jackson Lake Lodge view
Jackson Lake Lodge view

After attending Thomas Mangelsen’s talk at the Willow Turnout just south of Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, I decided to head over to the lodge for lunch. As I had all of my camera gear with me, I could not resist taking some photographs with the tourists.

These shots were taken way too late in the day, though they still show the beauty of the location. If you click on the picture, you will receive a scaled down version of the 46MP (megapixel) panoramic photo. This image was stitched together from my Nikon D800 shot with a Nikon 85mm f1.4D lens at f11 and 1/320 of a second.

All of the technical superlatives aside, this was a great day for shooting because there was a storm roiling over the mountains and made for much more interesting shots than we’ve had in the last week.

A few flakes of snow fell as Manglesen was giving his talk in conjunction with the Grand Teton Park Association. He was the first photography speaker they’ve had at the location. Normally they’ll have writers or painters, but I was told they were finally able to coax one of the local famous photographers to share some of their stories. I also saw Loren &  Barbara of the Teton Photo Group as well as Roger of Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris at the talk.

D800 dreamyAlso, while I was enjoying my ham and cheese sandwich, my favorite after my return from Antarctica, I shot a time-lapse of the clouds rolling across the mountains. While the camera was clicking away, a lady walked up to the camera and tried to look through the viewfinder. I asked her to be careful and not touch the camera. She said she didn’t and continued on. As I had the D800’s viewfinder cover shielded, there was nothing to see except a flap of plastic. But she sure tried. Once I process the time-lapse, I’ll find out if anything went awry.

I love shooting time-lapse videos on the D800. I’m able to use my manual focus lenses with their manual control aperture rings, eliminating the annoying flicker that normal G lenses suffer from. I’ll have to re-post my article on how to eliminate flicker from time-lapse shots without using software. As the D800 has a built-in intervalometer, I don’t have to worry about having another annoying cable floating around. Granted, I can only shoot 1000 shots with the built-in version, but I’ve rarely had the need for more.

As I’m writing this, I’m sure I’ll find a need for it. But at 30 frames per second (fps), a 1000 frame sequence gives me 33 seconds of 1080p HD video. That’s more than enough for editing videos unless I’m going to do something exotic. That exotic might justify the expense of a fancy intervalometer and a time-lapse rail from Milapse’s Dynamic Perception group. We talked years ago when he was figuring this out and he’s got it down to a science now. Their products are highly recommended.

Photoshop for photographers

Photoshop logoMy Photoshop for Photographers class at the Jackson Hole Art Association is taking students now. Enroll for the class and learn how to use photoshop to improve, adjust, and deliver your photographs.

This is the class description:

If you want to make more of your photographs using Photoshop, then this class is for you. You will feel comfortable making your way around the software by the end of the course. We will cover workflow, setup, filters, rotation, cropping and retouching techniques. You will learn how to use layers to apply effects non-destructively, how to set color, curves, hue and saturation. Resolution, resizing, and sharpening will also be covered, as well as how to place and decorate text. This is a hands-on class.

Rollerderby Matrix
Rollerderby Matrix

One of the keys to this software is the ability to make non-destructive edits to your photographs. Why is this important? Say you’ve made several modifications to the curves, levels and color tint of your photograph. Just as you are making some corrections to dust, you notice that you don’t like the curve adjustment. With destructive software, there is no way to go back. Photoshop has what are called layers. These layers, when used properly, allow you to make a huge amount of changes and selectively add and disable them as you desire.

Photoshop is an amazingly complex and daunting program. For the first time user, it can be quite intimidating. I will demystify some of the basics you’ll need to get more out of the software as a photographer. So often, Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) is used by graphic artists to do incredible work.

As the name implies, the original software was designed for photographers to manipulate and improve their photographs. Over the years, Adobe added a whole slew of capabilities and tools to the software to make it useful not only to photographers but graphic artists as well.

The picture at the right shows you just a smattering of what you can do with the software. From Photoshop CS3 and on to CC, Adobe added the ability to do basic 3-D work as well as edit video. Photoshop is not After Effects or Final Cut Pro, but it gives you the ability to add the amazing effects that you see in any movie that has special effects.

But before you get to the point where you’re doing some insane work, you have to have a handle on the basic controls as a photographer. This class will help you get there.

The intermediate class Photoshop for Photographers in August will touch on the above plus how to do selections, cloning, masking, and how to use some of the more advanced features of this software.

Added private lessons

DSC03347smI’ve added private photography lessons to my offering of courses after several requests during today’s Teton Photography Symposium.

We had an excellent turnout for the talk, even though the Snow King Hill Climb was taking place at the same time. There are some very dedicated photographers in the valley. The group was enjoyable and we received very good feedback on topics for future classes. There were a stunning 13 different ideas for photography classes. If someone has a suggestion, please let me know and I’ll pitch it to the Jackson Hole Art Association.

With private photography lessons, you can learn in a comfortable, private setting at your own pace. If you don’t understand something, I will review whatever is confusing you. There is no threat of feeling foolish in front of a class full of students. I am patient and remember when I was struggling with my camera, too!

Thank you to everyone who attended the Teton Photography Group March 2014 symposium!

Strobe flash photography DVD produced

We are very excited that we have completed production and post-production work on our latest training DVD,

Introduction to Off-Camera Strobe Flash Photography
Introduction to Off-Camera Strobe Flash Photography

Introduction of Off-Camera Strobe Flash Photography.  Working with the wonderful production team at TVLVideo, we have created an educational 76 minutes of training on the basics of how to get much more out of your photography with off-camera strobe techniques.

We had a great time producing this DVD.  Like all video projects, this one took quite a bit of planning and work before we ever began shooting.  And, like all video projects, we discovered that some of our planning just didn’t pan out into what we thought it should look like.

Fast forward 2 months through tough video work, 14 hour shooting days, and working through editing system issues and we have the final image file for our DVD.

We are now preparing media to send to our distributors.  We investigating if we can make pre-production copies available at a 30% discount.  If you are interested, please contact us through the website and we will make it happen.

Strobe flash introduction class

I enjoyed teaching the first class in my series on strobe flash photography techniques.  In this class, I’m

Aaron instructing strobe photography
Aaron instructing strobe photography

teaching the basics of getting the strobe (flash) off the camera and making some really interesting images with it.  It’s been a long time since I learned and it’s good to check my skills.  It’s fun to bring other photographers into the fold of managing their light and making far better images.

One of the students said:

I really wish I would have had this information last week.  I could have made much better images when I photographed the Wilson [Wyoming] snow sculptures last week.

It was good to know I was teaching very useful and timely information to these photographers.  As as in instructor, I always have to mindful that not everyone knows these techniques and that I have to be completely patient.  If the students aren’t understanding my explanations, it’s because I’m not explaining it properly.  The onus of understanding is on me, not the student.

Flash photography class

The listing for my first flash photography class at the Art Association of Jackson Hole is up!Flash photo class listing

Click here for the site link.

If you ever wondered how photographers get some of those wow shots, I can promise you that they probably didn’t use an on-camera flash.  They took their strobe (flash) off camera.  If you think getting started is expensive, it’s not.  Basic ones cost less than $100.  They just need manual power control.  A hot shoe connection or an optical slave are very inexpensive, too.

How do you do get your strobe off camera, you ask?  Well, sign up for the class at the art center and find out.  Even if you don’t own a strobe, you will learn a lot more about photography and how to get better images out of your camera.

For the amount of education and time you get with this class, the price is incredibly cheap!  To get this much private time with a photographer would cost you at least 5x what the class costs.  My private workshops aren’t this inexpensive – it’s a steal.  This is better than online tutorials, too.  You will have the chance to pepper me with questions, ones that you just couldn’t find or get answers for on the web.  And even if you found those answers on the web, I’ll be able to show you how to make it happen.

There will be plenty of time for in-class demonstrations.  Live.  Right there in front of you.  If you want to try something a little different, maybe photograph an object you want to look good, it’s possible we can adjust and toss it on the table.  You will see what it really takes, what the process is, and how to get the end result.  The best part is, I will have my camera hooked up to the computer and then the projector so you will be able to see shots as they happen.  I won’t try and show you just the back of the camera LCD.  That’s lame and not high-tech.  You will be able to see the shots as they come off the camera.  What the mistakes are, what they look like, and how to develop your shot.  How cool is that?

Strobe photography is fun!
Strobe photography is fun!

There will be a second, more advanced class in late February, too.  This class will focus on the use of one or two flashes.  The second flash photography class will focus on three and four flashes to really take your photography to a wow level.  Even if you are not interested in doing commercial work, which multiple flash photography usually entails, you will learn so much more about photography and the process than you ever imagined.  You will look at the world, through your lens, with completely different eyes.

We will be using the camera in manual mode, too.  This will be one of the major topics of my intermediate photography classes in March and April.  Dont’ miss those.  You will get out of basic automatic mode.  You certainly didn’t spend $700-$6000 on a camera only to use it in the mode with the least control.  You might have paid that much to have the camera do all the thinking for you, but your camera can do so much more.  So can you!

Once the other class links are up, I’ll post them here.  If you have questions about the class, email me, contact on Facebook, Twitter or whatever.  Heck, even do the old-fashioned thing and call.