Tuesday, November 24, 2009


So I am currently unemployed, which sucks. However the silver lining is that I have time to do more photography related stuff. So when Chase Jarvis announced he was having a contest and the prize was a trip to hang at his studio for a day in Seattle, I was very excited! The contest involved taking a picture of his new photo book in some location and he would pick the most clever or interesting or whatever he decided.

So I decided to take a picture of my dog, Frisco, fetching the book. But I also wanted this to be another chance to learn new photoshop skills, so I decided to do a composite shot, merging a bunch of frames together to show the motion Frisco went through to catch the book. Chase and his crew do some amazing shots like this of skiers.

So I took Frisco out in the park to do his favorite thing, fetch frisbees, and mixed the book in for some of the tosses. I used a tripod and took all the shots from the same location to make the merge as easy as possible. Once I felt like I had enough shots, I came home and then spent 2 and a half hours merging them together using layers and masking in photoshop.

Below is the finished product, which actually WON! the week's contest!! Hopefully it will be good enough to win the trip to Seattle because that place is ridiculously cool and I'd love the chance to check out their studio and their workflow etc etc. But if not, I won a signed print and I had a great time doing it and learning new photoshop skills.

And thanks to "Anonymous" for the kick in the pants to start posting to my blog again! (I have the time!)

And thanks to Chase for selecting my photo and inspiring me to shoot!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Did you Photoshop that?

Photographers often get asked whether they use Photoshop on their images. There are many blogs out there that have talked about this, but I am going to add my 2 cents. It is often pointed out that Ansel Adams had his own version of photoshop, the darkroom. He manipulated his images using advanced darkroom techniques and even has multiple versions of the same image out there. There is a great Ansel gallery in Santa Fe that has many original prints of same images he did over many years as he gained new darkroom skills. It is really neat to see the different prints hanging next to each other.

Back to today and digital imaging. Most serious photographers shoot in RAW format so that they can make adjustments in the computer later. When a RAW image is first opened in the software, it is often a very dull image because there is no saturation, white balance etc applied to it. SO it is necessary to make adjustments. In many cases, these adjustments are done in photoshop.

Below are 2 versions of the same image I took last fall. The first is the RAW image and the second is my finished version(processed with Aperture and Photoshop).

I look at it this way: the RAW image is the negative and the post-process software is the darkroom. Now, of course there is another question around all this and that is are you striving to present a realistic image or a manipulated piece of graphic art? In my case I am usually striving to present it as it looked when I shot the image (although I admit I sometimes try and make it "pop" a little). If I stuck a giraffe in the above image, and presented it as a picture of Crested Butte, that would be unethical... :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Photoshop Training

I am working on getting better at photoshop... I took a class last week but have found that there are so many resources on the internet, that if you just take the time to explore and practice you can learn a lot more that way. So last night and this morning, I was working on a tutorial I found on the web. I added my own elements to it and cut a few corners for time's sake, but here is what I came up with:

and in case you didn't know, grass fed beef is really good for you, in fact it is better than farm-raised salmon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring in Boulder

One of my favorite things about living in Boulder County is seeing all the baby cows running around the open spaces in spring. They are so cute when they are running full speed. I wonder if they know that they are only going to be runners for like 6 months?? Then they spend the rest of their lives just wandering around eating grass and mooing. I hope they aren't bitter at all the running humans in Boulder when they get older.

So I went out into an open space area full of the breeding cows this weekend to try and get some images of the calves and their mothers... I got a few good ones, see below:

There are a few more on my website, under "New Images".

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just Show Up

Sometimes I have trouble motivating to get out and shoot. It is especially hard to get up at sunrise in winter. This past weekend, we got a light snow on Friday night and I planned to get up and shoot at a lake near Boulder, knowing that it had been warm all week so the lake would not be frozen. In this situation, the lake will have steam coming off it at sunrise, which increases the potential for dramatic sunrise shots.

All of this worked out as predicted, the fog was rising off the lake at sunrise and there were some geese on the lake. However, my favorite shot of the morning had nothing to do with the lake. And that is the point of this post. If you JUST SHOW UP, you could get a completely unexpected shot!! If I had stayed in bed, my body's preference that morning, I would not have gotten this shot:

(can be seen larger on my website under new images)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ever wonder what it's like to live in NYC??!?!?

Sara's sister and brother-in-law, two new york artists who are way cooler than I will ever come close to being, got their living and working spaces showcased on a blog today.... pretty fun stuff!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beautiful Snowy Sunrise

I woke up at 6 am this morning in anticipation of a beautiful sunrise after a pretty heavy snowfall. It didn't disappoint. I have displayed many of them on my website.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Change in America

The only change Frisco wants is MORE FRISBEE!!

Found a fun website where you can create Obamicons with your own pictures...

Microstock and Taxes

I just finished my taxes and I am relieved that I am getting a nice refund. It was a crazy year, in that I worked for 2 companies, was unemployed for a while and also made more money than I could have ever imagined selling photography on iStockphoto.com.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. Paying taxes on my stock income was a little tricky, since iStock doesn't give us any 1099's or any other record of our income. I use TurboTax for my taxes every year, partially because they were my best employer to date and partly because I love the ease of use. For my stock earnings, I followed their instructions for a Schedule C which is for Profit and Loss from Business(Sole Propietorship).

I was very conservative about what I deducted as business expenses. I claimed depreciation on my equipment and hotels/mileage on my car for two trips I took last year that were 100% photography. These trips had only one purpose, to get more images into my portfolio. I had the mileage and the hotel receipts so I felt confident in using these expenses.

I'm sure there were many other deductions i could have taken throughout the year but I didn't keep detailed records of everything, so I didn't want to create any red flags in my return.

I'm wondering what other stock contributors do for taxes? Sole propietorships? Other Deductions? Do you use accountants? I'd love to hear!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My favorite picture of the kids in the Bahamas

Here is my favorite of the shots I mentioned in the previous post:

Model Release mania

So I took a bunch of great shots of my cousins in the Bahamas last month and I am uploading them to iStock. This has been quite a headache! First I sent the MR's to my sisters to get them signed. Then I scanned them all into my computer as Jpegs...

Now the hard part, iStock only allows one upload of a release. SO I had to figure out how to combine them in Photoshop. What I did was combine them as a contact sheet. I'm not sure if that is how everyone else does it, but that is how I got all the releases into one jpeg. (they only allow jpeg)

To do this, I followed this path File->Automate->Contact Sheet II and here is what my settings looked like for 2 (change the columns field for more):

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New website!!

I just got my new website up and running!! Check it out!!

Work or Shoot?

So I was leaving the garage today, heading to work on a frigid morning, when I noticed the clouds were lifting from the Flatirons. The trees and rock were all plastered with snow and looked absolutely beautiful. I had my camera in the car but had to get to work!! Now that I work in Arvada, it is not so easy to stop and shoot in Boulder on the way to work, and I miss it!

So, I decided I could run into Boulder quick, get some shots and then race to work. Maybe nobody will notice if I am late?!?

It was well worth it. I chased a coyote out of a field so I could set up my tripod, got set up and captured some good shots, I think. You can judge for yourself below. And I made it to work by nine so it wasn't too bad.

Friday, January 23, 2009

iStock Ebb and Flow

Funny, now today I had my best day ever!! I had my biggest Extended License sale which brought my month back on track!!

My big sale was for this image:

Monday, January 19, 2009

iStock ebb and flow

I am glad that I do not count on iStock income!! My sales have dropped dramatically this month. I was excited since I just moved up to the silver level which means I get a bigger cut of the sales. Oh well, hopefully it is just a cyclical thing and it will come back up next month!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bahamas in my Portfolio!

Just got back from a cruise in the Bahamas. I got a few good pictures, one of which was just accepted onto iStock... I think it has some potential...

Friday, January 9, 2009


I am creating this blog to share my experiences as I prod along in my photography "career". I am currently selling photos on iStockphoto.com and constantly trying to learn more about photography.

I plan to blog about everything photography as well as anything else that strikes me. If anyone reads it i will be pleasantly surprised!!

Ben Klaus