Recent Articles

My Trip to the Palouse

January 15, 20122 Comments


Palouse MorningI’m just getting around to looking at some of the places I was fortunate enough to visit in 2011 and the great photography opportunities that happened as a result.  This photo of the Palouse, in Eastern Washington really stands out for me.

A couple of my photography friends from L.A.  (Linda I’Anson, Scott Stulberg and Holly Kehrt) met me in the small town of Colfax, Washington where we set up our base.  By the way, check out their web sites, they are all very accomplished photographers (, and  We wandered the numerous paved and unpaved roads that cross the countryside looking for barns, old farm equipment and of course, the great rolling fields that the Palouse is known for.

On this particular day, we left the hotel before dawn in hopes of a sunrise shot of the fields of the Palouse from Steptoe Butte.  As you can see from the photo we were greeted with low hanging clouds, but we made the best of the situation and I think we all came back with some great shots.  There is so much to photograph in the Palouse, it’s almost hard not to get a few great shots.  Just an amazing landscape!

I highly recommend a visit to the Palouse in the late Spring when the fields are green, or in the Fall when everything is being harvested.  You won’t regret it.

I processed this in Lightroom and Photoshop using Nik Color Efex.


Lightroom 4 Beta Released

January 10, 20121 Comment

I just noticed Adobe has released the Lightroom 4 Beta.  I’m excited to check out the new features.Adobe Lightroom logo

Here are some of the highlights that you can do with the new Lightroom 4 Beta.  If anybody gives it a try, let me know what you think.

  • Bring out detail in highlight and shadows.
  • Create photo books using automatic layouts or select from a variety of page layouts for a custom design.
  • Find, group, and display images by location.
  • Easily organize, view, and edit video clips.
  • Use new local editing tools for white balance, noise reduction, and moiré.
  • Ensure more accurate color in your prints and online images with soft proofing.

You can get a free trial version of Lightroom 4  HERE.

If you still need to upgrade to the latest released version of Lightroom 3, you can find it HERE.

Get your camera and take some photos today!


Abstract Architecture Photography

January 3, 20122 Comments
Back in early October 2011, I took a trip with my wonderful girlfriend to London and Paris.  I’ve been to both cities several times and have some wonderful photography to show for it.  As much as I love the wonderful old architecture of both locales, I was very keen on seeing and photographing the modern architecture of La Defense in Paris.  The area is much larger than I imagined and I could have spent a couple of full days there exploring.
Lately, I’ve been getting into abstract architecture photography.  I find it interesting the things you can discover in the viewfinder with a long focal length lens.
I think the trick is to try out different angles and perspectives.  Walk around the building or structure.  I find I do best with the camera up to my eye.
Here are a couple of shots I like:
La Defense Abstract
And the Grande Arche:
La Defense Grande Arche Abstract
Look for another post soon.

My Favorite New Photoshop Shortcut

February 8, 20111 Comment

I recently came across a Photoshop shortcut, I can’t remember where I learned of this little gem, but I’m grateful I found it.

Basically, if you make a selection and then click the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel everything will be masked except your selection.  If you hold the alt key on Windows or the option key on the Mac the opposite will be true, your selection will be masked and the rest of the image will not.


I get excited about the smallest things. Smile

Until next time!


New Web Site –

January 23, 20110 Comments
JM Clark Photo Website

My Photo web site - JM Clark Photo

My new website is live! I decided to make the move to Livebooks to save on cost, ease of posting new photos and now I can also sell prints of my photography.

It’s still a work in progress, but take a look and let me know what you think.

Until next time!

Catching a Moment in Time

November 9, 20101 Comment

I recently attended a photography workshop in Death Valley lead by Scott Stulberg and Jennifer Wu

On Saturday evening,  just before we were going to head out to Rhyolite, a ghost town near the Nevada border, a thunderstorm rolled in.  Of course being photographers we saw lots of photo opportunities, one of them capturing lightning, not exactly an easy thing to do.  You never know when it is going to occur where it will be in the sky.  We all ran off to our rooms to grab our cameras and tripods and set up in a line outside our rooms.  I’m sure the other guests thought we wacky, but we were excited and having a good time.

I shoot with a Nikon and I used the following exposure settings in manual mode; ISO200, 15 second shutter speed at f9.  I also used auto white balance.  I set up the intervalometer on the camera to pause for 2 seconds between shots.  If you have a Canon or another brand, you may need to use a remote shutter release/intervalometer.  I got lucky!  I captured a wonderful lightning bolt, even the framing was perfect.

Lightening - Death Valley

Thanks for reading! – Jim

Travel Photography and Preconceived Expectations

August 10, 20100 Comments

I’m lucky in that I have a job that allows me to travel internationally 9 weeks out of the year.  I usually travel to Europe, Asia or South America.  My travel also gives me an opportunity to indulge in my favorite pastime, photography.  We usually have half a day or so when we arrive in a city to take in the sights.  I also occasionally extend a trip by taking some vacation time.  Prior to trips I map out what I’d like to photograph, though I’m invariably a little too ambitious,  I’m generally able to check off some of the locations on my list.  
On my last trip to Europe in July I extended a business trip and I met my mother and daughter in Paris.  My daughter hadn’t been to Europe so we spent a few days in Paris being the typical tourists, then we hopped on a train to London.  I guess I haven’t been to a major European city in the middle of summer because I’ve never seen so many tourist in one place, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting.  A big part of my photography goals for the trip was to do some night photography, specifically of the Louvre.  Additionally I wanted some really wide angle shots of the Eiffel Tower, some of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero and possibly the Arc de Triomphe.  The second night I was there I ventured onto the subway and strolled into the main courtyard at the Louvre along with a couple hundred of my new Parisian  friends.  It was just before sunset so I hung out and waited, figuring many of the people would leave once they attempted to take pictures after dark without tripods and viewing a blurry mess on their LCDs.   After an hour and a half or so, the sky turned to a deep blue, most of the people disappeared and I started shooting.  It wasn’t always easy, there was a lot of litter on the ground, people walking in front of the camera and a couple and their dogs decided to use one of the reflecting pools for bathing.  Here is one of the shots.
The next evening I decided to tackle a picture of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero.  There are some interesting statues, nice patterns in the main courtyard, etc.  I thought I would have lots of photo opportunities.  I arrived at the Trocadero around sunset and to my dismay, hundreds of people, trash, vendors, nothing was as I expected.   There was not a shot to be had without someone or something in the way.  I fumed and fussed for a while and then made my way as far forward as I could.  I made the best of the situation by getting a shot of the tower, but not what I had envisioned in my head, something I’ll add to the list for a future trip.
Eiffel Tower
I had a much better experience in London, not that there weren’t a plethora of people, but I was able to work around the masses and get the shots I wanted, though I only hit one location on my list of night shots, St. Paul’s and the Millennium bridge from across the Thames.
St. Paul's and Millennium BridgeI’m pretty happy with the night shots I brought home, though I’m still looking forward to getting some great shots of Paris.  My photography friend, Linda I ‘Anson is arranging a trip with a professional photographer for a private workshop in Paris next spring, so I should get my chance…fingers crossed.
I always have high expectations of what I’m going to accomplish and I always visualize the perfect situation, but that’s rarely the case.  When traveling, all we can do is make the best of the conditions and do what we can.  It may be that we don’t get the shots we envisioned, but we can enjoy the views and the culture.  There will always be another day.
Until next time – Jim

Lightroom 3 Resources

July 4, 20100 Comments

If you’ve installed the new version of Adobe Lightroom or are trying out the 30 day trial, here are a list of resources that might come in handy.

1/17/2012 – See the following post about the new version of Lightroom.

A Great Few Days of Photography

June 7, 20100 Comments

Recently, I traveled down to Los Angeles to visit my good photography buddy, Linda I’ Anson.   We planned to do some night photography around L.A. and then a photo shoot with an aspiring lifestyle model, Jules.  The few days I was there exceeded any expectations I might have had in anticipation of my trip.

I arrived at LAX on Thursday, we had an early dinner with Linda’s daughter and husband and then headed out with our tripods to the Walt Disney Concert Hall located in downtown L.A.  Great place for abstracts.  The architect, Frank Gehry is the same architect that designed the EMP in Seattle.

Linda was taking some very cool shots with her Lensbaby.  I’ve posted a couple below.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Downtown L.A.

And a couple of mine (obviously, not with a Lensbaby).

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall

We also spent some time taking some long exposure shots specifically to capture the streaks of lights from cars and buses to give a sense of motion.  We spend some time at the Concert Hall and then moved on to a great freeway overpass about a mile away.

Long exposure - Bus lights Walt Disney Concert Hall

Downtown 6th Street

I spent the next day at the The Getty.   I wasn’t too much into the art exhibits, but the grounds and architecture are amazing as are the views of the Los Angeles area.

The Getty

That night we headed down to San Pedro to get pictures of the Vincent Thomas Bridge.  There is a wonderful little park and boardwalk near the bridge that make for great pictures.

San Pedro - Vincent Thomas Bridge

The next day we met Jules, our aspiring model, at 7am down near the Santa Monica pier. 

Here is my favorite picture from the beach.  Linda was holding a diffuser, I think it was 2 stops,  it sure helped with the harsh light.  Great eyes!


After some breakfast and a break, we headed out of town to a client of Linda’s who generously offered the photography studio in his home for us to use.

We spent a few more hours trying to figure out the lighting and came away with a few shots I like.


Wow! What a great few days in L.A.!!  Linda should put on photography workshops.  I’m looking forward to going again.

Until next time – Jim

Adding Dimension to Your Photos in Photoshop

February 1, 20100 Comments

You’ve just come back from a great trip and have a boatload of photos to process.   You’ve narrowed your cache down to a few really great shots for further processing and you want to make certain that the viewer’s eye focuses in on a particular part of the photo.   One way to do this is to shallow depth of field and direct the viewer’s eye in Photoshop.

The photo was recently taken in Cambodia by a friend of mine, Linda I’Anson.   You can see more of her great photography here:

Linda I ‘Anson Photography

I'Anson Photography

I really like the subject and the way Linda composed this photo, I just wish the depth of field was shallower.  My eye keeps wandering back and forth between the statue in the background and the darker statue in the foreground.  The statues seem to be competing to gain my attention.  I can tell by the focus in the photo that the statue on the left was the intended main subject and emphasis of the photo.

Photoshop to the rescue!

One way you can create the simulation of shallower depth of field is by using a blur filter in Photoshop.   Basically, I want to reduce the prominence of the statue in the background and make the focus the statue on the left, as initially intended.  Using a blur filter will also give the photo more dimension.

Original –

Cambodia - Before

Modified –

Cambodia - After

I probably could have added even more blur to the statue in the background, but as you can see it really gives the photo depth and causes the statue in the foreground to pop.  Since the statue in the rear is brighter, I also added a burn layer so it is not as prominent.

How did I do it you ask?  Well, it is really rather simple.  First I made a copy of the layer by clicking on Layer | Duplicate Layer…

Photoshop Layer menu

Then I added a Layer Mask.  You can add a layer mask by clicking on the icon that looks like a front loading washing machine in the layer palette, or from the Layer menu (Layer | Layer Mask | Reveal All).

Photoshop Layer Mask menu

Now add the blur.  In the layer palette, be sure the image in the layer  is selected.  It should be outlined with box as you see below.

Adding blur

On the Filter menu, click Blur | Gaussian Blur…

Gaussian blur selection

A window will appear similar to the screenshot below. Now adjust the radius for the amount of blur to obtain the effect you are looking to achieve.  At this point the entire photo will be blurry, but don’t worry, we’ll fix that in a moment.

Gaussian blur screenshot

Click OK.  Now we want to mask the statue in the foreground so the blur is hidden and the statue is sharp.  To do this we paint on the image with black with the layer mask selected.  Remember this, black conceals, white reveals.  Be sure the layer mask is selected or you will end up painting over your image!

Layer mask

Now select the brush tool, set the hardness to 50%, make sure black is selected and start painting over the section of the image where we want to conceal the blur we applied earlier.  If you make a mistake, you can switch to white and go over the area to reveal the blur again.

In Linda’s image you can see the mask that was applied revealing the foreground statue sharp and the statue in the background blurred.

Result of mask

If you want to apply some feathering and reduce the hard edge of the mask. you can blur the mask, but I’ll leave that to another lesson.

Until next time – Jim

Back to Top