08 July 2017

How to Keep Shooting Despite the Hot Weather


Art Model, Chloe Ann © 2017 Terrell Neasley
"If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?"
~ Steven Wright

I don't know where you live, but Las Vegas was 115°F yesterday. That's 46°Celsius for those of you who relate more to that temp scale. Here in the desert during the summer months we come to expect that, but it doesn't mean we are comfortable with it. I call it vampire heat because just being in the sunlight can turn you into an ash replica of yourself. And also because my mom says the heat can suck the life right out of you. So does this mean that you need to suspend all outdoor shooting for the next 3 months? Are you now restricted to solely studio work during this time? Well, lets see...

Both Mirrorless cameras and DSLR's have a standard operating temperature max of about 104°F. So at 115°, that sensor is cooking. Cameras that don't have weather sealing will have a tougher time in these temps, especially where humidity is a factor. And don't even think about doing video at these temps. Try to do 4K and your goose is cooked. And by goose, I'm not referring to the relatively large well-known waterfowl. I'm talking about your camera over heating with permanent damage.

So let me share with you FIVE good options on how to keep shooting despite the hot weather.

Art Model, Chloe Ann © 2017 Terrell Neasley
1. The most obvious thing is to keep the camera out of direct sunlight. Just shielding your camera with your own body or covering it with a towel can go a long way. Keeping the sunlight off of it is the culinary equivalent of simply taking a boiling pot off the fire. Yeah, it might still be hot, but the boil suddenly stops. SHADE is your friend. And while I'm at it, remember this tip. Treat your camera like you would your kid. DO NOT leave your camera gear sitting in the car while you go grab something out of the grocery store. It doesn't matter if you'll only be in there a minute. Take your gear with you. On this matter, it has less to do with preventing theft.

In Vegas heat, the plastic molding of your camera body can actually melt inside a car as the interior temperature rises to 180°F. You can actually ruin the lubricants inside your camera as well as causing seals to expand beyond the factory specifications. Then you are left wondering why your lens has such a rough feel when you zoom out. Or why your shutter assembly suddenly fails. The heat affects your sensor big time. The reason you get noise when shooting at high ISOs is because of the heat produced at that level. Well you can be at ISO 100 and still get noise like that in high heat environments.

Art Model, Chloe Ann © 2017 Terrell Neasley
2. I've done model shoots at practically all hours of the day even in this desert heat. What I do is simple. I seek out shaded areas in the two C's of Shade. Canopies and Canyons. Its not that hard to find trees that afford enough cover from the sun. You can Google Map it and find adequate locations to help you. When I first moved to Las Vegas, I ran my art nude workshops in the shade. Some participants were a bit out of shape to handle too much heat. I had some who's age required less strenuous environments. I even had an actor who performed in "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Venetian. Getting a really dark tan was not in the script! Finding a strip of trees will be easiest in places that still get water such as in the low grounds of canyons. But canyons themselves can also serve shade just due to the steepness of the rocks. As long as the sun is not directly overhead, there'll be shadows coming from one side or the other.

Art Model, Chloe Ann © 2017 Terrell Neasley
3. In Vegas, its coolest earlier in the morning. So schedule shoots to be completed BEFORE 9am. By 10, the temp is already in the high 90's if not already 100. Its going to stay in the 100 range until 5 or 6pm before it begins to cool. I've seen it to be over 100°F after 9pm on the Strip. People don't realize how much glass, steel, and asphalt are collecting heat during the day and giving it back off at night. So schedule shoots early in the morning. Oh, and don't forget extra batteries. Heat can really tax the battery power. In fact, don't leave batteries in your camera when you are not shooting. Take them out of your camera. The last thing you want is for a battery to explode INSIDE your camera. You're welcome.

Art Model, Chloe Ann © 2017 Terrell Neasley
4. Along with early morning shoots, try your hand at some night time shooting. You can get adventurous and paint with light or use the full moon as your only light source. You might also consider speedlights or on-location studio lights with Vagabond battery packs. B&C Camera has some 500ws Phottix Indra500 TTL Battery Powered Studio Lights that also have High Speed Sync up to 1/8000th of a second. You can buy them for about $1300 or you can simply RENT them from the B&C Camera Rental Department. See...Too Easy!

Art Model, Chloe Ann © 2017 Terrell Neasley
5. Or you can get the hell out of Vegas! Do a day trip to Mt Zion National Park. Its still high 90's there, but compared to temps in the 100-teens, 90° feels a bit nippy. Actually, you don't even have to do that far. Wanna know what the forecast is this week for Mt. Charleston? MID-80's!! So the name of the game is elevation. But let me even keep you even a bit closer to Vegas. Check out ICE BOX CANYON! You can expect anywhere from a 10 to 15° temperature drop back in that canyon and in some cases 20. Again, Google Maps some of these areas and go scout them out during the time of the day that you'd like to conduct your photo shoot. So there you go. 5 good tips to keep shooting despite the hot weather. Be smart, but most of all, be safe. Happy Shooting!

Art Model, Chloe Ann © 2017 Terrell Neasley
Bonus Tip: Consider keeping a ice pack or cooler handy. You can even put a frozen water bottle in your camera bag just to keep the temperature down. You don't need to put the bottle right up against the camera though. Be careful because the sudden temperature change from the cooler to the ambient air can cause condensation. If that happens, let the camera sit in the ambient air for a bit til the condensation evaporates. And be sure to take care of yourself as well. Sunscreen. A wide-brim hat. Light-weight clothing covering exposed skin. And most importantly... HYDRATE!!! Even if you are not thirsty, drink water anyway.

03 July 2017

Its Going to Be Southeast Asia


Its now July and after much deliberation, I've decided Southeast Asia is going to be my next travel adventure location. Primarily, I'll be concentrating on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia this time around. Why? I love Central America (and will likely be there next year), but this time I want to see something completely new. I'll be focused on getting more fine art landscape, especially at night, and scouting possibilities for future workshops. When? Well that's a good question and I'm so glad you asked because that's where YOU come in.

I'm looking at a 3-month excursion doing one big loop that'll have me tromping through the length of each country starting in Hanoi and playing around Northern Vietnam. I'll then travel to Laos and fiddle-faddle in the northern region before making my way south and into Cambodia. I haven't made specifics with Cambodia as much, but from there, I'll likely make my way to Southern Vietnam and back up to Hanoi again. Could be 4 months...I don't know. Flights are so much less during the fall.

However, with this undertaking, funding is paramount and I want your help. Over the next three months into September, I want to be working my ass off to cover my trip expenses for an October start date. So the more I get help from you guys, the faster I get gone and the faster you get to see all my interesting and highly intriguing pics of the glorious Southeast Asia region. I want a huge focus on the Mekong Delta!


You want to help? Okay:

1. Keep me in mind when you need your next photography service. This is what I do, after all. No, I'm not cheap, but I'm damn good and right now is the best time to catch me while I'm willing to negotiate a bit more given this high volume of service traffic you guys will be bestowing upon me. You already know I like to travel, so if you're out of state, I certainly welcome that. I love seeing new places! And don't act like you hadn't seen my portraiture work, especially with the beard series. You know you love it. Its time for you to get some new pics. Mine are made for the wall in your home and not just the wall on your FB page.


2. Keep me in mind when you hear of someone needing photography services. I do a 10% kickback on contracts for gigs that you recommend to me under $2000. Recommend a gig that results in $1000 service, you get $100 back from me immediately upon receipt of payment. I'll do 15% for any contracts $2000 and over. Do the math. That's $300 and up. So as long as the contract books and payment is made...you get paid.


3. You've seen my fine art work. (I hope you've been paying attention to more than just my art nude work.) Well, here's your chance to own some and virtually everything is for sale. Check out my website at PhotoAnthems.com (or even this blog) and see what you like. Yes, I still hold some pieces off the market for the time being, but if you have something you're interested in, let me know. I print big. The smallest would be a 16x20 or something at least 300sq inches.


4. Photo Classes - I do One-on-One week-long photography classes that are intense and in-depth. I cover information on your specific camera before getting into the fine nuances of photography. My classes are customized to you and your needs. Nobody really gets the same class because each of you are so different with different needs and learning styles. I don't teach one generic class that everybody gets in cookie-cutter format. Nope. You tell me what you need and I tailor it specific to you for 5 days with a minimum of 4 hours and we do a whole lot of shooting, both in studio and on-location...daytime and night...covering speedlights and studio lights, and so much more.

So email me for more information at my Gmail account, using PhotoAnthems in front of the @ symbol. You'll be helping me get started sooner on my journey.


26 June 2017

B&C Camera Rentals

Art Model, Faerie
“A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye.”
~ Roger Kingston

In Part II of my Photographer's Block series, "Get Some Gear" was Tip #5 and that covered renting photo/video gear as an option to help you break free of Photographer's Block. I thought it might be a good idea to cover that in a little bit more depth.

B&C Camera is an independently owned brick and mortar camera store, owned by German photographer, Joe Dumic. It is one of the fastest growing stores in the western U.S. and is steadily evolving. The Camera Rental department is what I'll obviously focus on in this post. Joe continues to add more and more camera gear to the rental inventory. You can now get the newly released Sony A9 to rent if you want to try it out before you buy it. Testing gear is one thing. Businesses and professional shooters will rent out a lot of gear at one time. I remember when Matt Damon came to Las Vegas to film his latest "Jason Bourne" movie last year. You'd think those guys would have brought everything they needed, but nope. They came to B&C Camera for gear.

Art Model, Faerie
If I had to guess, I'd say film crews need more lighting gear than anything. Especially out-of-towners who don't want to pay the extra airline baggage fees for lighting equipment. Locals will spend more on camera and lens gear when they get a gig which calls for an upgrade on what they may currently already own, particularly lenses. You can get anything from 8mm to up to 600mm glass. Special events come to Las Vegas all the time. That's when you see the 70-200s of all brands began to disappear off the shelves. The Super moons will make demands of the Tamron 150-600 for both Canon and Nikon models. And its all easy as pie to rent. So how do you get some gear? Glad you asked.

“The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”
~ Robert Frank

The first thing you have to understand is that B&C Camera is a retail camera store who happens to do rentals. So Joe has to secure his inventory with credit card deposits usually for the replacement cost of the rental. We get plenty of people who come in with cash deposits as well. They may need an extra speedlight and will do a cash deposit of $400 or so. You you'll need a credit card and you ID. But first, you online and choose some gear! You can reserve it right there on the spot for the date you need it for. Be smart and make your reservations as soon as you know you'll need the gear. There are multiple availabilities on a lot of rental gear, but not for everything. There's only one A9 at the moment, for instance. So reserve it before some other smart photog beats you to the punch.

Art Model, Faerie
You can see how much the deposit is when you make your reservation. You don't pay anything at the time of reservation. All that's done at the store when you go pick up your rental. So make the reservation online. One the day of pick-up, bring your ID and credit card. The credit hold will go on the credit card. Debit cards are not advisable and they won't usually take them for deposits. For whatever reason, banks don't release the deposit hold very quickly. It can take up to 30 days and that will usually piss some people off. Coming up to the store to complain won't help. Its got nothing to do with the store. Its a bank issue. So bring a credit card.

Art Model, Faerie
You'll usually get an email notification alerting you that your rental is ready for pick-up. Someone will test out the gear you are renting, make sure the battery is charged, and bag everything up, making the process more efficient. All you have to do is sign all the rental paperwork. At this point, they'll run your card for the deposit authorization which will then put a hold on those funds. So if you're renting a camera and a lens, the total deposit might be $2000. You need to have at least that amount on your credit card available to you. Lets say you have $2500 available on your credit card. When they run your deposit, $2000 will be held on that card and you will then only have $500 available to you until you bring back the camera gear and the hold falls off. It may take another day or two for the bank to release that hold, but in any case, you are not charged anything. It won't even show up on your statement.

After that, you simply pay the daily rental fee up front. You rent for 3 days at $50 per day, then you'll be charged $150 right there on the spot. But get this... Saturday, Sunday, and Monday count as ONE day... a weekend rate. So if you reserve it for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, you only pay for ONE day, not 3. Just have it back on Monday before 7pm. So make your reservation online, bring in your credit card and ID, and sign all the paperwork. After all that, you're walking out with your gear with high expectations! Some things to keep in mind, though. You may need to also rent some extra batteries. And if you're getting a high resolution camera, you just might need some extra SD cards. The Sony A7rII is a 42-megapixel beast with large file sizes. I shoot with 32Gb cards. Maybe you'll want 64Gbs. So keep all that in mind. Happy Shooting!

Art Model, Faerie

20 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part III

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
"The thing that's important to know is that you never know. You're always sort of feeling your way." 
~ Diane Arbus

I broke this series up into three parts for a reason. I wanted to use my first post to drive home the fact that those 4 realization points were imperative before any benefits from any tips could come to fruition. The next post dealt mainly with elements that involved a more direct focus on photography. However, this last post of the series has a bit more focus on the issue of mental health, itself. When you look at creative blocks, its your mental ability to cognitively contribute that's impeded. So, let me dive on into this.

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #6 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get a medical check up (and some rest)

If its been a while since you've had your last doctor's visit, maybe it's a good time to make an appointment. Getting a clean bill of health can be mentally comforting all on its own. At the least, you can get a doctor's recommendation to help you deal with stress, know what vitamin/mineral deficiencies you might be suffering from, or find out in advance if there is something more serious which can be caught in early stages. 



Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
If you can't do that, then at the very least, get some rest. Spend a day or weekend doing absolutely nothing. And when I say nothing...I'm talking about getting up to eat, bathe, or go to the bathroom and that's it. Take a chill weekend. Prep for it. Prior to your do nothing day, get errands done, pay bills, and arrange for a baby-sitter if necessary. Me and my girl did a staycation at the Artisan earlier this year just to get away for a bit. I let her go on her own for a few days and then joined her for another 2 days after upgrading our room to a huge suite. Netflix and chill.

Tip #7 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Spend some time with family/friends


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Sometimes hiding away or going solo is not the better option. It can be just as important to remember why certain people are important to you and then treat them as such. Call them up and arrange some hang out time. Do the phone only if there are miles and miles of separation that makes eye to eye a bit challenging. Invite a friend (some friends) over and get some pizza and beer. Hang out on the back patio and just talk. Its not necessary to have to spend a bunch of money or make a big to-do about the matter. Relax


"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Tip #8 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Take a day trip 150 miles away

Now this one is more of a task or assignment, but it definitely belongs here. Look at a map from where you live and plot out a sight, place, city, or landmark that is 150 miles away from you or the closest to it. Pick a date within the next week and go. You don't have to even bring your camera but at least have your charged cell phone. Nothing at 150 miles...do 200 miles. But now you've got 3 hours one-way to kill and beyond that gets into more than a trip you can make in a day. Here out West in Southern Nevada, I'm grateful that I can travel in any direction and see wondrous landscape of all kinds. I can head up further into Nevada, head south into Arizona, southwest into California, or Northeast into Utah. Any direction I go I can find a major State AND National park to visit. 


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #9 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Have sex (or at least exercise)

I wouldn't think it necessary to go into details on the benefits sex has on your life, but you'd be surprised. And I'm not talking about meaningless sex for the sake of simply having sex. For the purposes of this post, lets assume intimate relationship sex. But regardless, who's going to argue with me on this one? The health benefits are too staggering to ignore. You want to freshen your mind with a splash of creativity? Get with your partner and become awash in the dopamine and endorphins that will rest your body and heal your mental incontinence. Its relieves stress, helps you sleep better, helps reduce depression, and more. At least, that's some of the stuff I read in this recent Medical News Today article. But do you really need an article to tell you this...


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #10 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Grab your camera and go shoot something

And finally, when it comes down to it, do the things that you can do. You don't have control over everything. You DO have control over somethings, though. And when you can't do the things you want to do, do the things you can. You may be blocked, but you CAN still pick up your camera and press the shutter release. You CAN get in your car and drive 150 miles to a location and explore it. You can tell your mother you love her and go pay her a visit. You CAN actually do a lot of things. Go. Volunteer. And if its taskings you need or assignments, I have that too and I'd love to share them when requested of me.


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
* BONUS Tip on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Pray

And sometimes you have absolutely no control what so ever. Sometimes any and everything you can think of crashes down like a house of cards set aflame. I had a school project due in a photographic final presentation. I was to photograph a couple in their mid-50's and it was to be a great project. For whatever reason, they bailed on me for our shoot. I could come up with nothing else and time was running out. At the end of my rope, I prayed about my predicament and honestly didn't really expect much. On my way back to my dorm room, I ran into Elizabeth sitting on a bench, whom you see featured in this blog post. I hadn't seen her in a year and even before that I didn't really know her. We had mutual friends, only. 

We talked briefly and said our cordial, "Hello...long time no see" to each other. As despondent as I was, I just wanted to get back to my dorm... Until she asked about my photography and did I have any need for any models. She turned out to be one of the best I have had the privilege to ever work with. Answer to prayer? Yes. Directly, so. The girl was a God-send, because I had no control, no power, and no idea how I was going to get any of it done. So yeah...Prayer.

17 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part II

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” — Pablo Picasso

Now that you have given close and careful consideration to the Four previously posted Realization Points, let's get into some of those actual tips on dealing with Photographer's Block. There are a myriad of different taskings you can assign yourself. I have written more than a hundred just for the explicit purpose of speaking or writing on this before. But I want to challenge you just a wee bit differently here in this post. The goal isn't so much to just give you all the answers and have you mimic programmed robots that execute commands. The objective is two-fold, but they run together. I want to prime your pumps, so to speak, and get you into the habit of thinking. In the majority of these examples I give, it still leaves open room for your input, creativity, and values that are important to you. Here are the first FIVE, I'll challenge you with in this post. You can let these digest a bit before I do the last FIVE later on.

Tip #1 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Volunteer

One of the best cures for dealing with your own troubles is to help someone else out of theirs. Find a "Give Back" project and open yourself to it as much as you dare to. I won't tell you what to do and it doesn't even have to be in a photographic capacity. Volunteer somewhere that you feel is meaningful and that you know you can make a contribution. The specifics don't matter so much. Photography doesn't matter that much either. The reward should be purely intrinsic and your intentions completely altruistic. Start there and spend some time in this endeavor. When you are ready, pick up the camera and consider documenting this cause, but only when you begin to see the story in it.

I've spoken regularly about my efforts to help out NowILayMeDownToSleep.org which offers remembrance photography services primarily for little babies that don't make it long after birth. These are professional portraits done that mark a child's time on this planet much better than a birth/death certificate can do. Its likely the only portraits that will ever be done. I reached my limit with this program after about 5 years. Trust me. Its good to know your limitations. Now this is a give-back program that already involves a camera. However, there have been several more causes that I've taken up whereby I brought the camera in later. So you search yourself and look for opportunities to give back.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Tip #2 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Act like there is no block

Yes, it sounds crazy, but think about it for a minute. First, staying positive about the situation is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself. Second, conducting yourself and your affairs as if there IS NO block is the ultimate in self affirmations that will help you actually BELIEVE there is no block. But lets take those two points of fact out of the picture for a minute. The third reason is that you can easily FORGET that you are blocked by allowing yourself some distractions. When you take the pressure off, you can bring in some much needed reprieve by catching a movie or spending some time with someone important to you. Before you know it, you're not blocked. See? Not so crazy.


"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." - Aris Moore

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #3 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get Desperate

Right. I know what you're going to say. This sounds like the opposite of Tip #2. Well, that's chiefly because it is. These are not systematic tips that you are supposed to methodically utilize one right after the other. If only one of these tips helps you, then that's all you need. Getting desperate is a trick I used to play on myself during my military days. When a task seemed insurmountable, but absolutely had to get done, I'd change the stakes. Which is to say that I'd imagine much more dire consequences if I failed at my mission. Failure became an unacceptable option simply because the mission perspective changed. I'd do the same thing in high school. I may have an assignment due for which I procrastinated til the last minute. Getting my ass whooped by my mom became the unacceptable option that made me desperate enough to put something on some paper and get an assignment turned in. You'd be much surprised to learn that many of my final grades on last minute projects where over a B. So if you have to, Get Desperate!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #4 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get a mentor

As self-promoting as this may be, you need somebody like me. I'm an ass-kicker. I'm going to be in your face and I will hold you accountable. That's not to say I go all out drill sergeant on you, but think of me like that big brother that honestly cares about your success and well-being. Because, I do. Finding a mentor like that is priceless. Well, let me not say priceless, because I do sometimes have quite a specific price. But once you got me, you got me. I've got several students that have paid me to teach them photography in my week long one-on-one courses. Its a rare thing to never hear back from them again and some have become very close to me. I'll get a call back from any one of them asking about advice and counsel and it doesn't have to even be photo related. Get a mentor like me.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #5 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get some gear

I work at B&C Camera on an on-call basis...maybe a day or two a month. We have a Rental department that is absolutely exceptional. I spent the first part of the day yesterday prepping rental equipment by getting people's rental reservation gear tested and ready to be picked up. Its been a while since I had worked there and there have been a plethora of new additions in all sorts of cameras, lenses, LED lighting, audio and video equipment, action cameras, you name it.

You can reserve 135mm Zeiss Batis glass which is perfect for those indoor sports gigs, the Hasselblad X1D-50s, Rode or Sennheiser Wireless Mics, Profoto studio lights, a DJI Osmo X3, or a million different items in the Canon, Nikon, Sony, line-up. And there's plenty of  the latest Tamron and Sigma lenses to even mention. So I'm not even saying you have to go out and buy your own gear. Just go online and reserve it, then pick it up at the store. Wanna play with a Nikon Tilt-Shift lens? Reserve it. Go get it. And see what it looks like. Then see what you can do with it! Get some gear!!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley


15 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part I


Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." 
Aris Moore

I think this year has been tough on a lot of photographers, including myself. As a mentor, friend, instructor, and counselor, I often get calls asking for help, inspiration, and advice. I try to oblige in any way I can, and that's usually by first dealing with the attitude about the problem via a change of perspective and or perception about what's actually going on. I've noticed a few common origins to many people on creative or artistic mental blocks. So here are a few realizations you need to come to terms with before any tips can be meaningful. So I start with these FOUR Realization Points as they will be the focus of Part I of this 3-part blog series. Bear with me, as it might get a lil' bit preachy.

REALIZATION POINT #1: Its okay to put the camera down for a while.

There is no rule that says you absolutely have to ALWAYS be shooting. Life happens. Sometimes you may need a little bit of self healing before your creative outlets can manifest its work in your own self expressions. To pressure yourself when you are not ready internally only exasperates the issue. That'll feed negatively on itself. Its so much liberating to put the camera down and rest your mind, your soul, and your body. Get your center back.

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

For me, the camera helps me find my center. If that is the case for you as well, then I definitely invite you to pursue that option. However, my warning still stands. If you bring in the camera but also bring in the pressure...you'll ruin yourself on photography.

REALIZATION POINT #2: Get it out of your mind that everything need to be perfect.

This is another one that is so stifling that no wonder you are artistically constipated. Not everything is going to be perfect. You want to do your best with any endeavor you pursue, sure. But ofttimes, that perfect project comes up from an imperfect idea, that done well becomes more akin to perfection. There are times when I honestly had no idea that something would turn out the way it eventually did. I've shot something that I wasn't so pleased with only to see a client lose themselves in it and call it, "perfect".

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Your goal should be to just go shoot and do the best you can in that moment. Drop back to fundamentals if you have to and begin anew. Try to understand and find out what or where the blocks come from and make adjustments. You might be looking for the next perfect concept because you've spent too much damn time looking at other people's art and end up comparing yourself too harshly on it. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. I can promise you, your work will develop faster and more freely when you rid yourself of the unrealistic burden of comparison. Just be you. Open yourself to your own world and your own calling. You'll find your ambitions will gnaw a hole inside you and your need for self expression will attempt to fill that cavity. But if comparison is the soil in which you sew your seed, you waste yourself.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley


REALIZATION POINT #3: Nothing says you have to do this alone.

In so many ways, I'm definitely a loner. However in those moments of photographic blocks, seeking help is a winning proposition. Check out the most miserable times in your life and see if one of your habits is to hermit yourself in your special room and shy away from people who "don't understand you". Okay, well I respect that. But if you want to get out of those doldrums, you're going to have to ask for some help. This may not be direct requests to someone. It could be indirectly by joining a photo group, taking a class, or finding a mentor. Hell, BE a Mentor! Okay, I'm getting into some of my actual tips to be covered in a following blog post, but you get my point.

Original ideas don't have to come to you in a dream. Talk to people. Better yet, LISTEN to people. Here their stories and challenge yourself to interpret them photographically. These aren't epiphanies that drop like an apple of inspiration onto your head. The opportunities are swirling around you like leaves in the wind. Just be still. Listen. Let the stories come to you.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

REALIZATION POINT #4: Don't worry about the money.

Granted. This is a hard one. Especially when you need to be about making that money! However, in terms of getting over photographer's block, the money issue comes into play when there is a lack of resources. You begin to believe that you can't come up with the perfect idea, like Mr. Pro-tographer down the street, because you don't have the resources, access, connections, or camera gear, like he/she does. Listen to me. If you spend your time looking over someone else's shoulder and using that comparison as the measuring stick to gauge your own ability, you're in a sad place. Stop doing that to yourself.

Conceptualizing a good project begins in the mind, and not with the camera in your hand (or the lack there of). Yes, there are projects that require resources and in some cases, a lot of money. But we're talking about just getting past the block. When you get the creative nectar flowing, the ingenuity kicks in that open up doors and possibilities. You'll begin to see how to work a budget or form partnerships and trades to get it done. Don't let money be the driving force though. Have your reasons, but don't let money be the primary impetus. When you aren't making money, then what? What do you do? Stop shooting...No! You improvise and figure out how to work with a Canon 60D that you can borrow from your neighbor's high school kid. Either way, you go get to work. And by the way... I profess to be no master at any of this. Its a progression.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley




04 May 2017

Gear Equilibrium - The Pinnacle of Photographic Achievement

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"An equilibrium can never last. Dynamic forces are always at work. But there are times when even those forces must rest. It is in that moment that life finds it's balance."
~ Terrell Neasley

Last month I picked up the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master Lens. Today, my pinhole body cap came in the mail. I haven't yet played with it, but upon that acquisition, for the first time as I can recall, I think I have reached a point in my life that I might just have everything I need as a photographer! It is at state of photographic achievement whereas the equipment you need is in perfect balance with the equipment you have. I don't know for how long this feeling of "Gear Equilibrium" will last, but I do not have a compulsion or longing to buy another camera or lens. Its like that final scene in Matrix Revolutions where The Architect asks The Oracle, "How long do you think this truce will last?". And she replies, "As long as it can."

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
So who knows how long this equilibrium will sustain itself. Currently, my repertoire includes  2 bodies, 3 wide-angles, a macro, and portraiture glass. I haven't had a real need to have telephoto in my arsenal since I last shot Canon's 70-200mm. Upon my transition to Nikon's high resolution D800e which gave me the ability to crop in quite a bit, I had less need for the telephoto applications and perspectives. In addition, some timely advice from a travel mag editor suggesting more environmental portraiture, as well as inspiration from Gregory Crewdson, particularly his work in "Beneath the Roses", shooting wide has become more prevalent in my work. My main workhorse lens is my Sony 16-35mm f/4 which is the only zoom lens I own.
Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley
The recently announced Sony A9 won't be anything I will add to my current line-up of bodies. Great camera, but not anything I need for the time being. That doesn't reflect negatively on the A9 as much as it credits the badassity of the Sony A7RII. This is simply an amazing system. I don't need the 20 fps speed. My a6300 will give me 11fps when I need it, albeit, cropped. I am fine with 1 card slot for the time being. The 42MP resolution is my main preference.

Art Model, KristiC ©2015 Terrell Neasley
I have no doubt that Sony will likely announce the A9R maybe even by the end of the year. And maybe even an A9S. I'm still good. It'll still be a full-frame system and even if its 50MPs, I'm cool at 42. If I'm looking at another camera body...and I'm not...I currently reside at Equilibrium Ave ...But IF I'm looking at another body, it would be the Fujifilm GFX 50s Medium Format system. Granted. I'm fine with my Sony A7RII right now. But if funding suddenly wasn't a factor to possess that body and a good 3 lens line-up, yeah I'd be all over it. Like ALL over it. But seeing as how that would easily be upwards of a $15K investment...I'm good with the gear that's already on my shelf.

Art Model, Leslie ©2015 Terrell Neasley
With all that said, I can still hook myself up with some accessories. I could use some more SD cards, batteries, and another cable release. I lose those things so easily. I may even find myself in the market for a good slider and a drone has crossed my mind a time or two. I could also do with an upgrade to my computer. Or a new one. It mainly needs a better video card, but after 6 years, I'm sure a new one with the current processor speeds may favor my workflow better. Storage and RAM...I'm good on that.

Gear Equilibrium is a good place to be. I thought it was in imaginary place, but apparently not. How long will it last? As long as it can!


20 April 2017

Return of the Panda


Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
~ Nelson Mandela

If you haven't seen it or heard the news, Sony just announced the much awaited and rumored Sony a9 system. Its a beast of a system, at that. You can see the details of the camera on the Sony website. The thing has almost 700 phase detect AF points which now practically covers the entire sensor and can shoot continuously at 20fps WITH AF/AE on each shot. Its got dual SD card slots now. I really miss that from my Nikon and Canon days. The battery life has doubled. It can shoot silently with a shutter topping out at 1/32,000 of a second. This thing definitely set new standards of what can be done in photography.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

But its not for me. Its designed for sports, but I'd love to have it for my own purposes as well, mind you. However, it still doesn't suite me better than the Sony a7rII. I still love that camera and if I need speed, I have the fully capable Sony a6300. Yeah, its the same one I bought for my girlfriend, but I traded her my full-frame a7II AND my beautiful 55mm 1.8. On the surface, its a dumb trade. I'd have to be entirely stupid to make this trade with anybody else. The operative word here is "girlfriend". So that makes it a good deal, albeit selectively. But that's okay. I lost the 2nd best lens available for the a7rII. There's only one lens better and that's the Sony G Master 85mm 1.4. And I just picked it up. So don't cry for me... I'm good.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"I'm a storyteller; that's what exploration really is all about. Going to places where others haven't been and returning to tell a story they haven't heard before." 
~ James Cameron

And then guess who came back to town for a visit. I'm sure you figured that out from the pics. If you've followed me for more than a few years, you'd know that Panda was the one model I had photographed most. (Now Tracie...er...Art Model, Covenant holds that honor.) As an artist, she's one of the few among hundreds who has allowed me to get better as a photographer. That's the actual function of a muse. I might have 5 like that in my life right now. I always want to tell a story with my camera and she's aided me in my own self-exploration and expression. She was on her way to Peru and knew she needed a new camera system to make some great pics on her journey. She gave me the specs on what was most important to her and the Sony a6000 fit the bill. Am I a bit biased towards Sony gear. Nope. If Sony is the best for the job, then I'm just truthful, wouldn't you agree?

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

So she picked up the camera and then flew back in to Vegas for me to train her on it. Remember...I teach One on One photo classes for YOUR specific camera system.  She stayed with me for a week and of course between training sessions we got to do some shooting. Its been 3 years since Panda moved away with her family. So it was a pleasure to see her again and shoot. What's changed about her in 3 years? Well, she's got "mom" all over her now. She's had another daughter since I last saw her who's about 2 years old now. Herding TWO girls, two years apart has stained that mommyhood varnish over her in a double thick coat. Nonetheless, we practically picked up where we left off except this time, I also explained a lot of what I was doing while shooting her.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Seeing how this time around, shooting her was also a teaching session, we shot A LOT! 3 different shoots and 3 different locations. For a 5-day class session, the first two days are in-house going over the camera on day 1 and then general photography principles and fundamentals on day 2. The remaining 3 days are spent out in the field and/or studio. I hated having to see her go...again...BUT, its likely her hunny bun might be getting a job out this way this summer. So who knows...

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley



27 March 2017

Where To Next?



I'm long overdue for one of my Epic/Adventure/Experience the World trips and its time to get back to those considerations. So the question is now, "WHERE?". I have no problem whatsoever heading back to Central America, but it'll be hitting rainy season there soon which can be tough on photography gear. Shooting in general can be tough with all the humidity hanging in the air which takes away from the nice deep depth of field landscape shots.

So what are some other options that can afford scenic, but off the beaten path shots that won't break the bank if you stay there a while? Well, there's always South America with regions for all seasons year round. Depending on where you go, you can avoid the humid areas, but heading up in the the Andes. It still gets cold up in the mountains practically any time of the year. Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia are definite considerations. Possibly even Bolivia.


Some of the lesser traveled and less popular islands of the South Pacific can be destination alternatives as well. Everybody knows about Fiji and Tahiti. You don't hear about Tonga, or Rarotonga as much though. Each of these archipelago island countries has hundreds of smaller islets of which many are not even populated. Getting to them can be a bit tricky though. Its not so cheap to fly out to them. If I had my wish, I'd find someone sailing throughout the South Pacific and join them. That would be a grand adventure to spend 6 months or so sailing and exploring these Polynesian island nations.

Outside of these, I'm not sure. Western Europe? Eastern Europe? Continental Africa? Asia? I'm open to ideas and opportunities. That much, I can say for sure. No one place has an advantage of selection right now. My options are open for opportunities. The chance to see, shoot, and experience more cultures takes precedence. So if you are sitting on a catamaran contemplating an idea to sail the open seas with a need for a photog to document the experience, call me. We should definitely talk about this.


I could also ask the same question of you, dear reader. "Where to next, for you?" Do you have your passport in hand and updated? When do you next plan to get some new stamps on some of those blank passport pages? Granted, its not all about getting stamps, mind you. You can hop from one place to the next, stamp collecting and you'll not be any more enriched had you taken a through a Wal-Mart parking lot on the good side of town. Traveling entails getting to know life from the local's point of view in the country you are visiting. And I don't think you'll see much fulfillment if you just visit Cancun and never leave the resort.


But maybe that's exactly what you need...who know's. Sometimes its just a break from your normal routine that does the trick. This is not what I'm talking about though. To each his own. I understand that. But you're not broadening out your humanity by simply taking a vacation. Vacations are useful to help you reset...like the weekend break from your normal 9 to 5 work week. Traveling and experiencing new cultures and God's creation helps you learn a little bit more about humankind, and thereby you learn about yourself. Not just the superficial you, but rather the deeper self, that you may rarely get to connect with. Okay, that's it. I'm doing a blog post about Traveling vs Vacationing real soon.