May Black and White Workshop

F-1 Engines, Saturn V Rocket, Huntsville, Alabama
Sony A7RII, Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART lens

In May I’ll be offering another session of my popular Creating Classic Black-and-White Photographs with Digital workshop.

This workshop consists of four online zoom sessions where I’ll explain the key processing components that I use in my processing to create the classic analog look you’ve seen from the masters of the craft.

This is a hands on workshop. Each session consists of a live one hour presentation followed by an hour of looking at your photos and applying the techniques to them.

Check out the eventbright page for more details and to register.

One Hour Talk with Atlanta Photo Group

Join me at the Atlanta Photo Group tomorrow night for my one hour presentation on Classic Black and White Photography. I’ll share why this approach is so inspirational to me as a way to tell my stories, and give you insight into how I process for gallery quality photographs.

A special thanks to Hahnemühle USA, who’s sponsorship for making this possible.

Check out the Atlanta Photo Group event page for complete details and to register.

Free B&W Lecture March 16 with Glazer’s Camera

Teaching workshops for me is about creating moments where the “light goes on” in a students head…where they gain a new understanding of photography that helps them better express themselves and enjoy the craft more. It always exciting because with new participants every time, no two workshops are the same, and their photos are always new and unique!

If you’re ready take your black and white photography to a new level, I’ll be giving a free online talk Tuesday night with Glazer’s Camera of Seattle where I’ll introduce you to the foundational principals I use in my B&W processing. The talk is free but registration is required, so sign up today if you think you’ll be able to attend.

This talk is the introduction to my more in-depth four session workshop where I’ll show you my process and techniques, as well as deliver hands-on live critiques and demonstration using your photographs. Working on your photographs provides powerful insight into the craft and vision of making expressive B&W photographs that will stretch and grow you in exciting ways.

Here’s what past participants have had to say about the experience:

I want to thank you for your classes and all the extra effort you’re devoting to your students. The information is worth far more than than the price of admission. 

Al H

This class has introduced me to new tools for vastly improving my images.

Dennis W

I hope you’ll be able to attend. See you Tuesday!

Tell Adobe to Add Local Tone Curves to Lightroom

If you’ve taken one of my workshops, you’ve seen how valuable tone curves are in Photoshop. So why can’t you do the same thing in Lightroom? Because not enough people have requested it!

If you’d like to see this feature added to Lightroom, click here and tell them!

Lots of other programs from other vendors allow local tone curves, like On1 and Affinity Photo, so it’s time Adobe adds this. Until then, you have to use Photoshop or switch vendors to get it. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Photoshop isn’t as hard as people make it out to be, and once you spend the time to learn it, it’s faster and offers more control than Lightroom. So either bark at Adobe to add it, learn Photoshop, or switch applications…those are your options for now if you want local tone curves.

February 24 Classic Black and White with Digital Workshop

I’ll be returning to Looking Glass Photo in February to teach my four session class on creating the Classic look of Black and White using digital tools.

Black and White photography offers us so many unique ways to communicate. Removing color can be a good thing, as it helps us focus more clearly on the shapes, lines, and forms that can be used to tell our story. It’s been a central part of my journey since the first time I saw a print “appear” from the developer in my friend’s basement around 1984. I continue to find new and exciting ways for black and white to tell my stories, and the materials continue to reveal new qualities and possibilities.

I teach these classes using Photoshop, which is my preferred tool, but I focus on fundamental concepts that transcend what software package you use. Every software package gives you tools to address the fundamentals I’ll teach.

You can book the full class use this link:

4 Session Classic B&W Class 2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17 $196

Or book sessions individually:

February 24 – Contrast and how to use it

March 3 – RAW processing and converting to B&W

March 10 – Local Control Dodging and Burning/Brushing

March 17 – Navigating Print Choices

Click on the links above for an extended description of what will be covered in each class.

My thanks to Jon and Jen at Looking Glass for having me back. Camera stores like Looking Glass are an important part of a vibrant, healthy photo community and I encourage you to support them when by purchasing your equipment and supplies through them, and dealers like them, that support the photo community.

February Update

I haven’t been posting as many articles lately because because I’ve been working on curriculum for my online classes. Zoom has turned out to be an amazing way to teach my processing classes online, but repurposing and reformatting everything to fit into four 2-hour sessions does take a bit of effort!

What’s great about these Zoom classes is they offer bite sized opportunities to learn and engage in an ongoing conversation about the tools and process of making great photographs that fit with most people’s schedules and our need to follow COVID guidelines.

My Classic Black and White with Digital class is a chance to learn how I approach the decision making process to make a photograph that achieves a “gallery quality” black and white print. Of course we learn some tools and how to use them, but the “why” we do something, and “what” we should do to our photographs is always central to the process.

I’ll be adding a color class soon that will draw on the lessons I learned helping make hundreds of thousands of prints at West Coast Imaging that will help you take greater control over your own photographs.

Join my email list over on the top left column of my page if you want to receive notification of new workshops and join me for one of these new online workshops! Looking forward to seeing you on Zoom soon!

Great Smokey Mountain Workshop April 20-24

I’ve just been added as an instructor on Visionary Wild’s spring Smokey Mountain workshop, and there is currently one spot available if you want to come along.

Tillman Crane and I will be leading you in the amazing opportunities spring presents us in the Smokies from blooming dogwood trees, roaring rivers, and hopefully some misty morning vistas.

If you haven’t seen Tillman’s website, be sure to check out his amazing B&W work that he prints in platinum from digital negatives made with a digital camera. I’ve long admired his work and look forward to instructing with him and seeing more of his prints in person.

Visionary Wild’s leader Justin Black taught in the Smokies last fall and has put together an excellent plan so we can be COVID safe and still learn while enjoying this magnificent landscape. We’ll be visiting mid week which should help us avoid the crowds too!

Check out the Visionary Wild page for this class to learn more and to register.

Free Presentation Tonight

A new photo to get you excited for my presentation tonight! I made this at the start of summer at Kennedy Space center. It was a super challenging subject to photograph because of the spotlit white tiles and the black tiles hiding in the shadows. Really made me push the limits of the camera. 

Tonight’s talk is an free introduction to my four week class with Creative Photo Academy on creating classic B&W photographs with digital tools. I’ll explain what the classic look is, and give you a sneak peak at the tools and thought process I use to create it.

The talk starts at 5 pm PST (California time!) but you need to sign up now at https://creativephotoacademy.com/events/richseiling/ to get the zoom invite.

Looking forward to seeing you all tonight!

What is “Fine Art” Photography?

Fine Art Photography is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around a lot in photography even though if we were really honest, we’d probably say we don’t really know what it means. And too often, it seems like it just gets slapped onto a product for marketing purposes,  as some validation of quality. 

While I have a really good image in my head of what a fine art photography, or a fine art print is, I admit I’ve been a bit stumped to articulate it when asked for a definition. I think that is because it’s not so much of a simple definition or measurement as it is a culmination of experiences and an understanding of the history of photography. 

It starts with understanding that over the last 100-150 years of modern photography, there have been some pretty amazing photographers, who’s vision, and ability to translate that vision through prints, have distinguished their work from the masses.

These photographers have captured the attention of curators, gallerists, and collectors who have an extensive breadth and depth of knowledge of photography, that has come from seeing so much truly amazing work up close and in person. 

If an artist’s work has been regularly shown over a period of time by these curators and gallerists in museums and collector galleries (not the photographer’s own gallery), and has developed a following of collectors, it’s quite probable that it is an example of fine art photography. 

Another place we can look to are photo history books. John Szarkowski’s  “Photography Until Now” or  Beaumont Newhall’s “The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present” will give you both depth and breadth on what fine art photography is. Newhall was the first director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s photography department and went on to serve as curator and then director of the International Museum of Photograph at the George Eastman House. Szarkowski served nearly 20 years as Director of Photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, as well as authoring many definitive photo history books. 

We can also look to the community of friends an artist associates with to find more examples. This was the starting point for my own education, when I became familiar with the work of Ansel Adams, then through his books discovered Edward Weston, John Sexton, Alan Ross, and at least a couple dozen other West Coast photographers, all who made extraordinary work. 

Pull on any one of these threads I’ve given you, and you will find an ever widening circle of understanding of what “Fine Art” means. 

But there is another vital component: looking at prints. For only a sliver of time have our phones been the most common way to view photography. And our screens are a disappointment compared to a well made print or even book reproduction. 

If you want to understand what a fine art photograph is supposed to look like, you have to put in the effort to go out and see as many original prints as you can. 

No one becomes an expert on wine from drinking one bottle. If your first experience was with a low quality table wine, you might think wine wasn’t even that great. But if you’ve been able to try different styles and qualities of wine (or Scotch, food, music, beer), you’d likely develop an understanding of what is good and what isn’t, and what you prefer.  Why should we think it be any different with prints? 

The good news is you can experience the best in photography for the cost of gas and a museum ticket. Fine art galleries exists in many metropolitan cities across the world, with new exhibits on a regular basis. You’re probably within a days drive of an art museum, if not closer. Get out and find what is near you, and avail yourself of the opportunities to see all you can. 

It’s only through this pursuit of knowledge and understanding that you can really understand what a “Fine Art Photograph” is, because knowledge, not some arbitrary measurement, gives the label meaning.

And the best news is that it’s fun! I can’t count the number of times I’ve been inspired by an exhibit or a gallery visit, and how it’s fueled my excitement and enjoyment in the continued pursuing of making expressive photographs. 

If you take the time to pursue this knowledge, you’ll deepen your understanding of photography and develop your own definition of what fine art photography is.  It will make you a better photographer and your photographs will be better for it. 

The Value of Looking at Prints

For me, looking at a finely crafted print is one of the most enjoyable experiences photography has to offer. But It’s wasn’t something I understood intuitively when I first started in photography, it’s an appreciation that developed from my experiences. And one experience in particular was a major turning point on that journey. 

When I was just 20 years old, I took a workshop with John Sexton and Philip Hyde in Yosemite National Park, two superb photographers and masters of the craft. 

During the evening sessions, we looked at prints. Lots of them. And not just quantity, but quality. The prints Sexton and Hyde showed were mind blowing, transcendent, of which I have insufficient superlatives to express. Prints where you have to settle with that knowing look and head nod that can be shared by two people who have a similar refined knowledge and appreciation for fine printmaking of just how amazing they were because they are beyond words.

It was a life changing experiences, and that may be an understatement. 

But why was this so profound? I’d seen their work in books before, but my real life exposure to truly fine printing was limited to what I’d seen at a couple museum exhibitions of vintage prints from other artists. 

What was striking was how much more expression was revealed in the actual prints than could be shown by the reproductions made by ink on paper. Reproductions are never as good as the original, and that still hold true today. 

Chances are the only way you’ve seen photographs from your friends and favorite photographers is on a screen, and maybe just your tiny phone. 

I’d like you to consider that you’ve seen just a dull glimmer of what these photos are really like, because the screen is not capable of conveying all that a print can.Our screens and devices have allowed us to be exposed to more photography than ever before, but what we’ve gained in breadth, we’ve sacrificed for depth. 

Just looking at a picture of a dish from a restaurant I want to visit isn’t the same as actually eating it. The picture is devoid of all the layers, flavors, smells, and complexities of the real thing. 

And honestly, seeing a photo on a screen is lacking the same way to me. Now granted, my experiences have made me a bit biased. In my time as a curator at The Ansel Adams Gallery, I was exposed to the finest printing the 20th century had to offer. And as a fine art printmaker, I’ve been able to make museum quality prints for many photographers who’s work I greatly admire. I’ve seen a lot, and that my expectations are based on that. 

But you don’t have to have the same experiences as me to appreciate this, and that is the whole point.

There is a much deeper layer of photography you can experience by looking at prints. There is a value in making your own prints, and taking the time to track down prints made by photographers who you’ve only admired in a instagram post. There is a whole world to discover beyond the screen, and all it requires is realizing this experience exists and taking the time to visit galleries, museums, and exhibitions to see real prints.  If you don’t, then you are really missing out on one of the best parts of photography. So what are you waiting for.