AdamBarkerPhotography Bio Video (revised edit)

Just in case you missed it the first time around, here’s a revised edit on a bio video done by the boys over at HIP Visual Arts. I can’t forget to mention my wonderful partners and sponsors that help me to do what I do! Special thanks to Gitzo tripods, Clikelite Backpacks, Arc’teryx, Mountain Khakis, Singh Ray Filters and the Manfrotto School of Xcellence.

Adam Barker Profile from HIP VISUAL ARTS on Vimeo.

Seven Tips for Better Cityscapes

Christmas Lights at Temple Square. A Salt Lake City must see!

Every year, during the month of December in downtown Salt Lake City, visitors and locals alike delight in the luminary display at Temple Square. For many, this is a must see (and rightly so).

It also serves as the perfect location to work on urban shooting at dusk. It seems one of the most frequent questions I get is how to get those glowing cityscape images that just sing with life.

The answer really is a matter of timing more than anything else. The key is to be shooting at the time when the ambient (existing) light balances with the artificial light in your scene. Most commonly, this artificial light is displayed in building windows or street lights. At Temple Square, however, this is displayed in thousands upon thousand of Christmas lights.

Below are a couple of tips that will help you in your quest for that dusk/dawn city keeper.

1. Be prepared and ready once the magic moment arrives. This period of time when all the light balances goes very quickly. Shoot too early and the sky is pale an uninteresting. Shoot too late and the sky is black and…uninteresting. The indigo sky is what sets everything else off. It’s what gives the artificial lights their special glow as it contrasts heavily in color and tone.

2. Decide whether you’ll be shooting into or away from the horizon. This makes a huge difference in timing. The part of the sky opposite the setting sun horizon will hold much less light, and will go dark much sooner.

3. Take your tripod. These are often times very lengthy exposures given the fact that there is little in the way of ambient light. The image in this post is a 5 sec. exposure.

4. Bump up your ISO. Woah there! No need to send it through the roof, but I routinely bump it up to ISO 400 or so. This simply allows me to capture more images during this fleeting time, while sacrificing little in the way of image quality.

5. Don’t forget your Grad ND filters. They are particularly handy when shooting the western sky (where the sun has just set), as this will still be a good deal brighter than your foregrounds during all but the last moments of dusk. I used a 2-stop hard step Grad ND in this image.

6. Don’t forget composition! Colors and shapes and new times of day to shoot are all super cool, but it still doesn’t negate the need to put it all together in a manner that engages the viewer. I chose to create a frame of sorts around the main subject (Salt Lake Temple) in this image with the prolific Christmas lights on either side of the image area.

7. Use live view to check focus. Many times your camera will struggle to attain focus when there’s little light out. Take advantage of live view on your camera’s LCD screen and zoom in to check your focus and make sure you don’t end up with a soft image.

Hopefully, these tips will help you in your efforts to shoot dynamic cityscapes!

The Wasatch is Raging!

Forrest Coots sampling zee powdah at Deer Valley.

With 100+ inch bases before Christmas at many of the area resorts, winter is officially on like donkey kong here along the Wasatch Front. I get many questions from people wondering as to whether ski photography is simply a matter of lugging your camera up on the mountain and shooting random skiers as they shred by. This may come as a shock, but what many consider to be the best job in the world really is quite a good deal of work that comes with its own unique challenges and obstacles.

So the big question is, how does it all come together? In a nutshell, it goes something like this:

Check weather. Check snowfall. Text athletes. Check snowfall. Check weather. Charge batteries. Text athletes. Field bro-brah calls. Dismiss the guy down the street who says he loves to “get rad” and do “extreme skiing”. Check in with resort personnel for early chair or early tram. Finalize athletes. Have athlete bail. Text more athletes. Check snowfall. Check weather. Check avie report. Backcountry? Sidecountry? Resort? Hmm….

Hayden Price "getting rad" at Alta.

Get pack ready. Check batteries. Lay out gear so you don’t wake the kids when you wake up. Fill giant bag o’ stuff with apparel to throw on athletes. Check snowfall. Check weather. Set alarm clock. Hit the sack.

Wake up early. Throw gear on while still in a sleepy haze. Drive to resort. Pit stop at 7-11. Down breakfast of champions: Red Bull & Sausage McMuffin. Let recurring regret settle in after breakfast of champions. Arrive at resort. Bro-brah with bros. High five. Yell at token late athlete. Make him feel stupid for being late. Hug it out. Throw on more layers than you should. Check in with patrol. Get on lift. Freeze until sun hits you. Wish you had thrown on yet one more layer. Head to promised land of fresh snow, good light and milk and honey. Pull out camera. Watch athletes get rad like the guy down the street. Click away annnnnnd…voila! You’ve just captured one of your best images born to a life of sitting on a hard drive before being sent out to an editor who will call dibs, hold onto it for a couple of months, and release it back to you just in time to NOT submit it anywhere else for the season. Congratulations!

Drew Stoecklein at Alta, UT

Raise your hand if you want to be a ski photographer.

Oh. I forgot one more thing to add to the list. SKI POW. That seems to happen here and there as well…(but don’t tell my wife).

Photographer Adam Barker, product testing at Alta, UT.

Ski Utah Powder Lounge: Video Interview

Check out this vid for a look inside my ski photography pack. I also share a couple of solid ski shooting pointers at the end. Thanks to Ski Utah, and enjoy the vid!

Breakdown: The what, why and how of a successful ski image

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We all know that quality ski images don’t simply fall into one’s lap. They require vision (pun intended!) communication and cooperation. Read on to get an inside look at what went into creating this keeper of athlete Jamey Parks at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort.

1. Skier Position

I’m referring to two things here—where I’ve placed the skier in the frame, and the actual body position of the skier. The most important part of ski photography really is communicating with the athlete. They need to know what your vision for the image is. They need to know where they should be dialed in. I made it clear to Parks that “the shot” was going to be primarily from his transition between turns and into his right hand turn. This makes all the difference in skier position.

I wanted to capture lot of action/energy in this shot and thus directed him to really push his left hand turn, which would send up a big cloud of snow and make for an engaging background. I manually selected one of my AF points in the mid to lower RH third of my camera viewfinder, and kept it on him through the entire sequence. Why down there? Check #3.

2. Texture/Separating Elements

I purposely set up in a location that had me shooting “through” this chunky snow, lying on my stomach. I asked the skier to flirt with the edge of this chunky snow section, knowing it would add lots of texture to the image. It also serves as a good separator between a secondary FG focus and the main subject in our mid ground.

3. Open Space/Contextual Background

For me, this is the element that makes the image. The image I had in my head before actually clicking the shutter was one of a skier ripping a turn back through a cloud of snow from a previous turn. This does two things: it infuses the images with energy and gives the viewer a great sense of the speed the skier is carrying (context). It also provides me with a clean background. The sharp skier really pops against this soft cloud of snow. As a heavy AF user for shots like this, it was imperative to pre-visualize where the skier needed to be in the frame to make this image work, and select the AF zone accordingly.

Lastly, this cloud of snow really fills the open space in this image with “value added content”. Not only is it giving us space to see where the skier is going (also contributing to the overall balance of the image), it tells us much more about where he’s been and what he is doing (as mentioned above).

4. Tack Sharp Clarity

I wanted definition in every last little chunk, ripple or speck of snow with this image. It’s amazing what the camera can pick up in a fraction of a second that the human eye doesn’t have time to process. To do this, you must shoot at high enough shutter speeds to freeze the action. This image was shot at 1/3200 sec. at f 4.5.

ABP Cyber Monday Super Sale!

Hello Folks–

See below for the second annual ABP Cyber Monday Super Sale. Lots of savings! Sale ends at 5 pm MST on Tuesday, November 30.

All 12 x 18 prints 35% off. (Save $53.00)

All 16 x 24 prints 40% off. (Save $90.00)

All 20 x 30 prints 45% off. (Save $162.00)

Each of these cyber monday special images is available (in limited quantities) in the following package:

12 x 18 print plus a gift card set of your choice for just $85.00! ($165.00 value) Substitute my instructional DVD on creating the complete outdoor image with landscape filters for just $20 more (normally $39.99). All prints are signed and numbered by myself.

Check out www.adambarkerphotography.com to see a full selection of images available as fine art prints. Contact us at adam@adambarkerphotography.com to place an order. We accept Paypal and Visa/MC/Discover.

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Cascase Springs Maples, UT

Cascase Springs Maples, UT

Blacktail Ponds Sunrise, Grand Teton National Park, WY

Blacktail Ponds Sunrise, Grand Teton National Park, WY

Devil's Castle Stormset, Alta, UT

Devil's Castle Stormset, Alta, UT

ABP Gift Cards Are Here!

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Look no further! ABP Gift Cards are the answer! Delivered in an elegant glossy envelope, these are mini works of art in and of themselves. All gift card sets come with six cards and envelopes. The cards are blank on the inside, with a small ABP monogram and image details on the rear of the card. Please see below for details.

Gift Card Sets: Utah, Skiing, Fly Fishing, National Parks

Price: $13.95 each (does not include shipping)

All sets in stock right now. Order all three or more sets and shipping is free! See image gallery below for detail images.

To order, please contact us at adam@adambarkerphotography.com. We accept Paypal or Visa, MC and Discover. We will have a shopping cart available soon.

AdamBarkerPhotography Video Bio

Three minutes with yours truly. That may be three minutes too many for some of you. And if it is, escape is just a mouse click away. Otherwise, you’re mine! (or I’m yours…)

Many thanks to Garrett Smith, Dustin Butcher and Nate Balli for putting this video together. If you’re local here in Salt Lake City, I’d love to see you at the upcoming Hammers Inc Arts Festival. Great artists and fantastic work on display, all for a worthy cause. For more details on attending, and how you can help donate to the Access Fund (for which the Arts Fest will be raising money), click here.

Artist Profile: Adam Barker from Hammers Inc. Photography on Vimeo.

Southeast Asia Slideshow

Southeast Asia was an unbelievable experience on so many fronts. It really is difficult to encompass even a fraction of it in a slideshow. Many thanks to M&M Photo tours for giving me this fantastic opportunity to lead this trip as a guest pro! In a nutshell:

  • Over 7,000 images shot
  • 1,000 keepers
  • 104 selects presented in this slideshow.

Shoot like it’s your last day on earth. EDIT RELENTLESSLY. And enjoy the show!

Four Questions with photographer Adam Barker

I was recently contacted by a friend giving a presentation to a high school on photography as a career. He sent me a number of questions that I responded to by email. I figured it might be of interest to many of you as well. Have a read if you feel so inclined…

1. What area of photography do you specialize in?

I specialize really in three areas of photography, those being Editorial, Commercial and Fine Art work. Within those areas, I focus on several genres of photography, those being active lifestyle (ski, fly fishing, trail running, etc.), destination (resort, architectural, tourism) and scenic landscape.

2. Did you always want to be a photographer? At what age? If not, what did you want to be?

I definitely didn’t know I wanted to be a photographer the minute I picked up a camera. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t one of those things where I felt I was destined to do it. Skiing has always been a huge part of my life, and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wanted to work in the ski industry. Really, I dreamed of being a pro skier, I guess. Upon returning home from serving a religious mission in Italy, I began to approach photography more seriously.

3. What do you love about your work life? What are its challenges?

I love that I work for myself and that really, the only thing that determines the level of my success is me. Sure, there are many factors that I can’t control, but ultimately, my fate and the well being of myself and my family rests in my hands. It’s a scary thought, but it’s also liberating to know that there is no ceiling for what I can accomplish or what I can earn. Happiness in my personal and professional life is paramount, and making a career out of one of the things I’m most passionate about in life really is a dream come true.

With the sweet comes the bitter, however. There certainly are challenges to running your own business. One of the biggest challenges as a freelance photographer is bringing in consistent income. I may have several really good months where I make a decent amount of money, only to be followed by several dry months where the income is much less consistent. The bills don’t stop coming just because clients aren’t knocking on my door. Fiscal responsibility is huge, and it’s very important to always be aware of how much money you have both in the bank, and in outstanding invoices (money coming in).

Another challenge is balancing work time and time with my family. While most individuals have consistent 9-5 work schedules each day, my schedule is never really set in stone. Much of my work is done very early or very late when I’m out in the field shooting. It definitely puts a strain on family and extracurricular activities. It’s also tough to balance travel and being away from my family. Many photographers are either single or divorced for reasons of which I’m now well aware. It’s hard to turn away work, even if it takes me away from my family, but you have to keep the big picture in mind every day and weight the pros and cons of each job. It’s also super important to maintain open communication with your spouse and to make sure he/she feels like a player in the decision making process.

4. What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing photography as a profession?

This is a question I get asked at least once a week by aspiring photographers around the world. There are a couple of key pieces of advice I always give.

1. You must be ridiculously impassioned with photography. Especially now in this digital age, there are many, many obstacles to achieving success as a full time photographer. It can seem like an utterly thankless and impossible job at times. At the end of every day, it is key to be doing what you do because you love it. In the end, that is what will get you through the hard times and push you to work harder and find greater success.

2. Build your portfolio. Shoot as many images as you possibly can. Study where you succeed, and where you often fail. Understand your weaknesses and find a way to overcome these photographic challenges. Given the relatively low literal cost of shooting digital images, there’s no excuse not to click away. Study the metadata–understand how aperture, shutter speed and different lenses affect your imagery. Shoot everything and anything possible that grabs your interest. Soon, you will begin to establish your own personal style. It’s vital that you find this style and begin to carve your own photographic path.

3. Learn to write. Whether it’s a simple email to a potential client, or a 1,500 word story for Outdoor Photographer,  creative and proper writing is an undeniably legitimate compliment to impressive imagery. It will exude professionalism, and will make it ten times easier to get your work published. From a purely editorial standpoint, delivering a complete package with both stunning imagery and a cohesive story is a grand slam. Editors dream of receiving the whole package, and there are countless exceptional images that are simply overlooked because there’s no story to accompany them. Being a proficient writer will also aid you in your social media endeavors. Believe it or not, many people in the creative arena enjoy engaging words just as much as exceptional imagery.

4. Take business classes. Better yet, study up on the business of photography. There are countless photographers out there who are incredibly skilled behind the lens, yet they are terrible at business. On the flip side, there are many average photographers out there who are very good businessmen (and women). If you can be both, you will have a leg up on 90% of your competition. Understand how and what you should charge. Learn the art of negotiation. Perhaps the most important aspect is to learn the value of effective marketing and PR. Being a successful photographer means running a successful business. Remember that.

5. Commit yourself. If you want it, stick with it. Don’t ever give up. Work harder and smarter than everyone else. Ignore the naysayers and be confident in your ability to produce exceptional work on a consistent basis. This comes with experience, and experience comes with time. You must commit for the long haul. Good luck!