Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Tag Archives: photography

Going big…

I’ve had sporadic success selling a set of 8 by 10 prints at a local gallery, but recently the owner asked me for a number of larger prints to put on display. Now it’s one thing selecting a bunch of favorite shots to print as 8 by 10 prints, but it’s a whole other ballgame when you start working at 20 by 30! Many of my favorites were from my earlier days of shooting DSLR, and while they looked fine as 8 by 10 prints, the looked ghastly from a quality perspective at 20 by 30. While my early composition was just fine, the technical aspect of my photography wasn’t where it needed to be to support a 20 by 30 print!

The other aspect of this is cost – getting 8 by 10 prints done, even on good quality paper, is relatively cheap, and even with mats and sleeves the finished article is relatively inexpensive. When you start printing at 20 by 30 on good quality poster-board the cost goes up significantly, and so you really need to make sure your choices are going to work well.

With all of this in mind, I chose 3 pictures that I liked and that fitted the guidelines I was given by the studio for the subject matter they were looking for, and got them printed. As with anything you do for the first time, there is always an opportunity to learn and do better, and sure enough, one of the three images looked lousy once printed that large, even though I thought I’d done all the right things to make sure it’d come out looking OK.

Another of the three looked OK, but could have been better and needed a little tweaking to make it really stand out as something special. Thankfully I was more than happy with the third.

So I picked another image to replace the one that was a failure, tweaked and re-printed the second, and now the three 20 by 30 prints are going into the gallery tomorrow to ‘test the waters’.

These are the images I ended up going with…

1) Through the Gate

Through the Gate, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

2) The Cliff of Many Colors

The Cliff of Many Colors, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

3) The Lonesome Tree

The lonesome tree, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.


The freedom to soar comes at a price…

Red-tailed Hawk, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

Despite what others might think, and despite being in a position to actually make a little bit of money from it, photography is just my hobby. Like most hobbies that involve specialized equipment, once you start getting heavily into it you start to realize that it’s also very expensive if you want to see any sort of progression or want to further explore where your hobby can take you. Thanks to my job and my wonderfully understanding wife I already have a pretty good selection of tools to help me explore my hobby, but as always, the more you explore the more you want the freedom to go further and push that exploration as far as you can… and that freedom comes with an even bigger price-tag.

For me there are currently ‘just’ three big-ticket items left on the “wish list”, and because of the cost involved I’m going to have to spread these out over the next couple of years. One is a telephoto zoom lens with more range than the ones I have now. I had the opportunity to try one out at the weekend (this shot was taken with it) – it was 2-generations older than the model currently available, and was lacking some features that are important to me, but the current model has those, and so that one comes off the list this year.

The next is a good general-purpose “fast” lens for shooting in lower lights without the need to resort to either high ISO (some loss of quality) or use of flash (annoying for those in the area and can result in harsh lighting). There are a few offerings that are available that when looked at as a single purchase doesn’t appear to be too expensive, but when looked at with the purchase of the afore-mentioned telephoto lens is pushing the boundaries of budgetary “acceptability” for the year and so I am likely to defer this unless I get a pleasant surprise or two later during the year.

The last I am really debating, as it involves upgrading the camera body itself. I am pushing the technical limits of what can be done with a camera that does not have a full-frame 35mm sensor. The size and density of the camera’s image sensor makes an incredible difference to the technical quality of an image, which you’ll likely not see for “typical” shooting but makes one heck of a difference when doing some of the more technically challenging photography that I seem to be drawn to (just because it’s more challenging). Were I not in a position where I now have some commercial opportunities opening up for my photography I’d be looking to carry on with what I have, but in order to maximize my potential opportunity for earnings I need to move to a more “professional” camera to get the benefits of a full-frame sensor. Nikon are refreshing their whole pro-level range, and by the time I am ready to take that next step they will hopefully have worked out all of the initial post-launch kinks, so assuming things next year are still looking as they are now in terms of career and income, I’m contemplating moving to a full-frame camera from Nikon.

The current theory is that once these are off my list I’ll be happy for a while, but we all know how that goes, don’t we!! 🙂

Golden Ticket

Upon a sea of gold, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

This image was one of five I entered into a photo competition that was held by Camera West in Walnut Creek for attendees of their recent Night Photography workshop.

I was happy to find out today that it won!

What really made me happy about that more than anything else was that this helps prove that it’s not so much what you use to take the shots – it’s more about what you see when you take the shots. OK – so I was shooting with about $2,500 worth of camera gear, but I was up against people using gear up to ten (or more in the case of one of the other attendees) times that.

The camera is a tool – and for sure a good camera can help a less skilful photographer get good shots, but you can get great images regardless of whether you have spent $250, $2,500, or $25,000 on your gear!

… and the icing on the cake for me was that of the 5 “honorable mention” shots, two of them were mine too!

The Golden Gate Bridge at night


All the selected images can be found here…

Published (again)…

Published (again)…, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

Late last year I was approached by the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Miami, Florida, as they wanted to use one of my images in a fundraiser calendar they were producing for 2012. Honored to be asked, I agreed, and thought nothing more of it. Imagine the smile on my face when I got home from work today to find an envelope on my desk with 5 of the calendars in it as a thank you.

Check them out at, and see details of the calendar at They used my image for February! 🙂

… and if you like what you see and want to support their work, they’d welcome donations or calendar purchases (the other pictures in the calendar are fantastic too 🙂 ).

I ‘heart’ Camera West

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of attending a night photography ‘workshop’ organized by Camera West of Walnut Creek, and led by Leica’s Tom Brichta with help from Camera West’s Michael Maloney and Hal Kam.

Hal kept us all under control as we made our way across San Francisco to four different shooting locations, and Tom, Hal, and Michael were always on hand to offer help, advice, and encouragement.

I’d have loved to have been shooting with some of the kit I saw in use during the workshop, but accompanied by my humble Nikon D7000 I was able to get some shots that I am proud of, even though it is clear that I still have a lot to learn.

Thank you guys!

Check out their view of the event, including a shot of me in ‘action’ in Union Square at their blog…

This is one of my favorite shots from the evening…