Tips from the Field #2: Who Inspires You?

In this tip, I invite you to consider all those who have inspired you, then write down their names and how each one inspired you. Through that journey, I hope you will strive each day to become each of those things, becoming an even more terrific instance of yourself.

I am reminded of a quote from late 1800’s Irish poet Oscar Wilde, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” that might well be true. When it comes to bringing into my work certain elements that I have discovered in the work of others, I can’t help but do it.

Those who know me best will attest to the fact that I am often guided by quotes from the past. “The best camera is the one you have with you,” is one that I often quote, from Creativelive founder Chase Jarvis. “Never try to catch falling knife,” from CNBC anchor Jim Cramer. And this quote from Margaret Thatcher on the perils of socialism: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

It turns out that Wilde is correct, at least for me. I don’t recall even one quote that I find offensive or that I find lacking in inspiration. I don’t believe these flashes of inspiration actually changed or educated me to believe something new, but rather they help me crystallize concepts that represent how I am or how I desire to be.

The year 2020 has provided me with time to reflect on inspirations that have significantly impacted my work, my art, and me as a person. I would like to share just a few of them with you.

Harry Rogers, the Author, Norma Curby (October 2015)

Harry Rogers. My only sibling, Harry was born ten years and 7 months after me. I was able to watch him develop from infancy into his early teens, after which life intervened from time to time as first me, then both of us, followed the path of life through college, military service, marriage, divorce and career. As the ‘big brother,’ it appeared to me that Harry looked to me for inspiration, coaching and experience whenever he encountered a roadblock. It’s a role that can be challenging – keeping ahead of a growing, developing, sibling in a way that I could always deliver on the next ‘roadblock.’ Thank you, Harry, for helping me remain relevant.

Larry Williams (July 2012)

Larry Williams. The absolute best photographer and artist known to me, Larry does his work without fanfare. He has taught me the fine points of wildlife art, willingly and from the heart. You haven’t seen his work (yet) because notoriety is not something on which Larry places a high value. It is Larry who instilled in me perhaps the most important aspect of wildlife art: The photo or wall hanger is not the primary reason we do what we do. No one will ever understand why we spend hour upon hour, day after day, waiting for a special bird to appear in perfect light. We do it for ourselves – it is the experience, not the picture, that keeps us going back.

Norma Curby, 2015

Norma Curby. One of my best friends in life, Eric Curby, often travels with me to really remote, wild places where we can experience a place so wild that everywhere you look, the hand of man cannot be detected. Norma is now in her early 90’s. Being Eric’s mother, she has gained some insight into why Eric and I do what we do, seeking out the wild instead of the beach. Norma never ceases to amaze and inspire me, as she not only accompanies Eric and me on these trips to the edge of civilization, but she participates step-for-step. Often, these are places none of us have seen before. Traveling with two photographers would bore some, as we set up tripods, move from place to place for better compositions – not Norma! The sheer wonder in her eye as she gazes around, picking up a pine cone here, a rock there – reminds me just how blessed we are!

These are only a few examples from a treasure trove of influencers who have challenged me on the one hand, and kept me grounded on the other. I am the product of all those who have inspired me.

Who inspires you? I invite you to write it down. Do that for yourself – the experience of compiling your list of names and inspirations will exceed the value of the list itself.

Think about it. Who inspires you?


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Tips from the Field #1: How I Plan for Better Shots

Hint: It’s All About the Light

This article is for anyone who enjoys taking pictures or shooting videos outdoors. Your camera does not matter. Whether you typically take pictures with your phone, tablet, or a professional interchangeable-lens camera, this tip about situational awareness will help you take command of your environment to get the results you expect.

Get great pictures and videos like you see in magazines and on TV by planning for the best light

For background, I’m a wildlife and nature photographer. A good day for me is any day that I’m outdoors with a camera. My first Tip From the Field (TFF #1) addresses an issue that has been my nemesis for many years – a nemesis in the sense that my primary light source, while working outside, is quite often a difficult partner to work with. If only I had chosen to shoot indoor portraits! To adjust the light, I would have the option to move a light box or a reflector and life would be good.

Being an outdoor photographer, I had to think of a way to ‘move the sun’ in a way to get the best possible light on my subject. What I do now is plan in advance, by creating a ‘shot list’ with GPS coordinates for each subject location, planned camera location, camera angle to the subject, and best time-of-day to have the sun properly illuminating the subject. Most times I can do all of this from my computer using free tools. Then, once I have visited the actual site, I use actual experience to update my shot list archive for future planning.

Recently, I wondered if other people might benefit from all of this research I have done, to get amazing light on their favorite subjects. So I have started creating a series of tip sheets based on my personal favorite places. Each tip sheet contains a specific subject, camera location, angle to the subject, and best time-of-day to get perfect light on an iconic outdoor scene, such as Mount Rushmore.

How Can I Find a Tip Sheet for My Favorite Places?

It will take some time for me to create custom tips sheets for every iconic place in the USA, let alone the world. So, for a limited time I’m giving away for free the process I use to create them. Along with each location-specific tip sheet, I will include a second sheet with detailed instructions about how I derive all the information I need from free resources like Google Maps. You can easily create your own tip sheets for better lighting on your favorite outdoor scenes. I get consistently better pictures and videos using this technique.

To receive a free download of the M0unt Rushmore tip sheet, plus the free instruction sheet entitled ‘Landscape Photography: It’s all about the Light,’ contact me using the CONTACT link at the top of the page. In the SUBJECT field, enter FREE TIP SHEET OFFER. Please allow five business days to receive your free PDF containing the Mount Rushmore Tip Sheet (TFF#1) and instructions for creating your own tip sheets and shot lists for places you plan to visit.

What about Cloudy Skies?

On cloudy days, use my tips sheets for light planning as a general guide, just know that cloudy skies are sometimes a blessing and other times a curse. Whenever my scene will include the sky, I consider it a blessing to have up to 40 percent clouds against a blue sky. A total overcast sky falls into the ‘curse’ category for shots that must include sky.

On the other hand, many of my outdoor shots need not include the sky. I often shoot in canyons of the southwest United States. Overcast skies do soften shadows, but the good news is many cameras these days produce better color reproduction on overcast days.

My experience over many years in the field has been that I almost always go to the planned location anyway, unless the forecast is for truly inclement weather that would endanger me or the equipment.

Does this System Work for Wildlife?

While the light planning approach presented in this post always applies to still subjects, anyone who has spent time photographing wildlife knows that animals are completely unpredictable. With that said, I have found some wildlife to be creatures of habit. In Yellowstone, for example, year after year I have found a small herd of bighorn sheep in the same exact meadow along the northern boundary road, and the same blonde Grizzy in the vicinity of Fishing Bridge.

If you are planning a first-time trip to a new location, you won’t have prior experience with local wildlife, so the technique described here should only be used as a reference in the field – whenever you can, get the sun behind you for better light on your subject. But, always take the shot when it’s there! It may be gone by the time you move, and a great wildlife shot in so-so light is way better than no shot at all.

Where Can I Get the Tip Sheets, and How Much Do They Cost?

To receive a free download of the M0unt Rushmore tip sheet, plus the free instruction sheet entitled ‘Landscape Photography: It’s all about the Light,’ contact me using the CONTACT link at the top of the page. In the SUBJECT field, enter FREE TIP SHEET OFFER. Please allow five business days to receive your free PDF containing the Mount Rushmore Tip Sheet (TFF#1) and instructions for creating your own tip sheets and shot lists for places you plan to visit.


Larry Rogers Art & Motion on YouTube

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on Instagram

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on Facebook

Larry Rogers on LinkedIn

Larry Rogers on Twitter

Photo Trip Journals by Larry Rogers