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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meditations In Black-And-White


A business proposal led to a new avenue of creativity

Labels: How-ToOn LandscapeColumn
It was Ansel’s inspirational prints that guided the black-and-white processing for this project. Once the images were finished in Photoshop, the printing began. Each file was sized to the final output dimensions, then sharpened for that specific size. The latest inkjet printers do an excellent job of handling black-and-white in their output. I used my Canon imagePROGRAF, and I was very pleased with the results. We shipped them off, and the client was pleased, too. Job done.

Now for a little Marketing 101—follow trends and give clients what they want! Black-and-white photographs are in demand. I’ve noticed more and more mention of them in magazines and on commercial websites selling photographic art. With the success from this one sale, we decided that other clients might find my newly created black-and-white images useful for their corporate art projects. In order to show them, we decided to put together a whole new portfolio. The fun and creative part of this process was sorting through 30 years of work, searching for images that would survive as strong images when converted. Once the editing was done, we used Lightroom’s Web module to create an online set of black-and-white landscape and nature images. I then sent the URL to my e-mail client list. If they don’t know what you’ve got, you can’t sell it!

The final step in this creative journey was the making of a book entitled Meditations In Monochrome (www.williamneill.com/store/books/meditations-in-monochrome-deluxe-edition.html), available as a hardbound print edition, as well as a PDF e-book. I’ve “published” two previous e-books, making them available as inexpensive downloads from my website. John produced a beautiful layout in Adobe InDesign and created a high-res PDF file. I wrote an essay for the book’s introduction. I selected 52 photographs for this digital portfolio, ranging from classic western landscapes to intimate details of nature. Locations include the coast of New England, the deserts of the Southwest and my backyard in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The selection covers a wide span of my career, with photographs dating from 1982 to many digital captures created as recently as 2008.

Becoming a better photographer is about building skills. It’s also about following one’s passions and pushing oneself creatively. My Meditations project started with a business deal that opened a door I had wanted to go through for a long time—adding a black-and-white portfolio to my collection of images. I hope Ansel would be proud!

To learn about his one-on-one workshops in the Yosemite area, online courses with BetterPhoto.com, e-books (Meditations In Monochrome, Impressions Of Light and Landscapes Of The Spirit) and read his PhotoBlog, visit William Neill’s website at www.williamneill.com.

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