Interview With Wildlife Photographer from DPE Juan Pons

•February 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

Hi everyone, today we are fortunate to have another one of those extraordinary photographers from DPE with us.

Mr. Juan Pons is a Professional Nature and Wildlife photographer that I first became aware of when I heard Rick Sammon had a new pod cast out. As someone who loves to be outside and shooting nature, I am just in actuality super excited about this interview. He is just a great individual and to be honest I think he is just a wonderful photographer. Everyone knows how I look up to Moose Peterson when it comes to wildlife and Nature photography. Well Mr. Pons is standing right there beside Mr. Peterson when it comes to people’s work that I admire.

He is one of those that when I look at his work. I go “ohhh” Then I go. “I would never have though to frame it that way” He is actually one of those people that I learn just as much from looking at his work as I do from reading one of his articles. So, let get started!

1, I know that you started your training in photography while still in high school. Who or what influenced you to become a photographer?
I had an incredible photography teacher in High School, her name is Alice Solorow. She was inspirational, and taught us that anyone can make great images no matter what equipment you had. She would often give us assignments where she pushed us to experiment, both with different equipment and with different techniques. Now this was in the time of film, so we went thru an insane amount of film. But we were developing it all ourselves and doing all our own printing so it was not too expensive to do all this experimentation. I can just imagine what those classes would have been like had we had digital cameras then.

2. What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
Wildlife is by far my favorite subject, and by that I mean ANY wildlife. Believe it or not, I don’t really play favorites within the wildlife category. I am as happy shooting bison in Yellowstone, as I am shooting Grey Treefrogs in my backyard.

3. What would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?
It has been a desire of mine for a very very long time to go to Antarctica, especially to South Georgia Island to photograph the colonies of king penguins! Close to Antarctica would have to be Alaska, specifically the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Next in line would have to be Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Yes I do recognize that these are all pretty extreme locations, but what can I say.

4. What is your favorite lens for wild life photographery, and is that the one you use most often?
This one is easy, that has got to be my Canon 500mm f/4 IS L lens. It is HUGE, it is heavy, takes time to learn how to use one properly and costs as much as a cheap compact car, but what a lens! It is incredibly sharp, allows me to make images that would be impossible to make without disturbing wildlife (something I never do, and no one should ever do). This types of super telephoto lenses are not for everyone (even if you can afford them) because they are not easy to use, they require quite a bit of specialized equipment to make full use of them and they are not fun to carry around. But you can’t beat them for the reach they provide.

5. How do you feel about digital manipulation and to what extent do you utilize it?
I know that there are a lot of photographers out there that don’t like any sort of manipulation and claim that any image that has been manipulated should no longer be considered photography. I usually challenge those comments by saying that one of the words greatest manipulator of his photography was Ansel Adams. Adams did an incredible amount of manipulation in the wet darkroom, yet no one dare claim that what he produced were not real photographs. I like to say that if Adams were alive today he would love photoshop.
Digital manipulation is no different; it is just a bit easier to do. So to answer your question, I don’t mind folks who manipulate their images in the digital OR wet darkroom. BUT be honest, this is very important, don’t try to deceive, and be upfront about what you have done. Don’t try to pass a manipulated image as one that was untouched.
I, myself, do surprisingly little digital manipulation of my images, except for the usual color & white balance correction, and cropping. My digital darkroom work is usually limited to adjusting an image to make it look like what I saw when I tripped the shutter.

6. How do you feel about cropping?
I crop my images more often than not. Especially when the images are being displayed on some sort of electronic device, meaning a computer monitor, digital projector, etc. When printing I am a little less prone to crop mostly because that means that I then need to cut custom sized mats. I do all my own framing, and cutting custom mats is one of my least favorite things to do. Having said that I do cut quite a few custom mats, many more than I care to count.

7. I see that you are very interested in conservation photography. Can you explain exactly what this is & why you believe it is important?
I feel the most important aspect of my photography is that it enables me to help preserve the wildlife and their habitat. The way I do this is by helping organizations like the Adubon society with their mission of conservation. I truly believe in helping at a local level first and I have worked for many years with Audubon North Carolina and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, providing them with my images to use in their conservation and educational efforts.

8. What exactly is wildlife and natural habitat conservation & why is important?
As we all learned early on in our formal education, all life on this planet is interconnected in one way shape or form. All animal forms on this planet rely on healthy habitats to survive and thrive, even us! If we, as a human race, want to maintain a healthy quality of life we need to help preserve natural habitats and wildlife. We depend on these habitats and this wildlife for sustenance, not only physical sustenance (as in food), but also mental sustenance. Most of us have gotten so disconnected from our food sources we forget where most of our food comes from and how healthy ecosystems and habitats are crucial for healthy food production. It is incumbent upon each of us to do our best to help preserve natural habitats not just for the benefit of wildlife but for ourselves and generations to come.

9. How can we as photographers help protect the wildlife and conservation?
Volunteer with your local habitat conservation organizations, share your images with them, help them spread the word that preserving nature as a worthwhile endeavor, not just for wildlife but for ourselves. I know this is controversial with many photographers, but there are a number of organizations that have given permission to use ANY of my images free of charge to further their conservation efforts. It is amazing the need that a lot of these organizations have for good photography. They very much understand how effective a good photograph can help their message and connect with potential donors and volunteers, but unfortunately their funds are limited and in most cases they are unable to license high quality imagery. In most cases I am not even able to even claim a tax deduction on those donations, but to me that is inconsequential, I am donating my images because I believe in their cause.
Talk to your local conservation organizations and ask them how you can help, you would be surprised how needy they may be for your skills as a photographer.

10. Is there anything you would have done differently during your photography career.
Maybe getting started sooner. I spent a long time climbing the corporate ladder, and put aside my photography work for many years. I can’t complain too much though I have been pretty successful in that career which has enabled me to live a pretty comfortable life. However, I still can’t help wonder what things would be like now had I worked harder as a photographer all those years ago.

11. How has your carrier in Photography led you to DPE?
I was extremely fortunate to meet Rick Sammon late last year while co-leading a workshop with him. We got to spend a few days together and we immediately hit it off. Rick was involved in another endeavor at the time, so we just kept in touch. A few months later that relationship ended and I approached Rick with the idea of DPE. Rick being someone who really likes to share his knowledge liked the idea immediately and we quickly put plans together to assemble a team of different photographers to offer different perspectives. Up until now all other photoblogs have been a one or two person affair, and we thought there was an opportunity to offer more. So DPE was born!

12. What are your hopes for DPE and how do you think your experience in photography will help DPE to grow?
Our hope for DPE is to make it the best and most honest photo resource on the internet for photographers of all stripes. We plan on doing that via a multi-pronged approach, including the daily posts on the website, the podcast, the instructional video podcast, the DPE Learning weekends and we have more in works that we hope people will benefit from. DPE is still very new, we just launched on Dec 1st. 2009 so we still have a lot of growing to do. The response we have gotten has been far greater than we ever hoped at this stage, and we are very grateful for that. Running DPE takes a HUGE amount of work but as long as people are finding it a useful resource we’ll continue to pour our hearts and souls into it.

Well that is the end of our interview. However, I just like to say that I find it a great resource and I think it can only get better as time allows the site to grow.  Thanks for such a great interview Juan your the best!

If you would like to know more about Juan Pons just follow the links below.


Juan’s articles at DPE

Juan’s Photo Blog. WARNING; Following the link below will only lead you to inspiration. If your not in the mood to be inspired today then don’t follow the link below. It will ruin your day…


Link Love Thursday

•February 18, 2010 • 1 Comment

Hi everyone, here are some things that I found interesting this week. I hope you do to.


Watch the Big Photoshop Celebration Party Tonight LIVE!

Color Me Badd: Color Correction for Photographers “Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski use their shared wit and photo-editing expertise to show you every cool trick in the book for color correcting photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.”

Sephia and Metallic Portrait Effect –
Add Space to Your Studio in Photoshop

How to Plan, Show and Promote a Photography Exhibit

Quick Tip on Fill Flash

Essential Camera Support – The L-Plate

Lightroom 2 How-To: Iris Enhancement!/note.php?note_id=190800259675

Creating an HDR-like Image From a Single RAW File in Lightroom

Just How Good is Recovery in Lightroom

Happy Birthday Photoshop! You ROCK!!!

A DPE Interview With Alan Hess!

•February 15, 2010 • 4 Comments

DP is a hip, fresh, young, photography information site that I am excited about. It came about when two talented professional photographers Rick Sammon and Juan Pons crossed paths and decided to unite forces for the greater good. Us, their readers.

Together they have gathered an extraordinary group of photographers from all walks of the photography field to share their experience and knowledge with us.

One of these extraordinary photographers was gracious enough to share his time with us for a mini interview. Mr Alan Hess. Mr Hess is a concert and live-event photography and author of several photography books. His latest being “Exposure Digital Field Guide” Now lets get to the interview!

1. How long have you been a photographer?

I have been carrying a camera around for a long time. I used to take a small point and shoot with me everywhere. I loved to document everything and soon found that the point and shoot was limiting so I moved up to a SLR and the rest is history.

2. What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

My dog… Actually, my favorite subject to shoot is still concerts. I don’t care who is playing or what the style of music is, I still get a jolt of adrenaline and a feeling of excitement as I go into the photo pit and the lights go down. I hope that never changes.

3. What would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?

Everything. I love taking photographs. There are so many things I want to shoot that I could never list them all. I think that is part of what of what makes photography so much fun. I can never see myself picking up my camera and thinking.. nah.. I’ve shot it all, nothing left to photograph. That is just not going to happen. I still want to shoot any music act that I can. I will never turn down an opportunity to shoot a concert. Some of the specific acts I haven’t shot but would love to include Eric Clapton and David Bowie. I have seen both of them in concert but never had the opportunity to shoot them.

I am looking into shooting more sporting events this year. It is a lot harder than it looks. I shot some High School Football and Volleyball last year and was amazed at how tough it was.

I need to shoot more landscape and wildlife photographs and need a lot of practice in shooting people. I was lucky enough to be at a resent Joe McNally shoot and was blown away at how easily he worked the room, got the models in position, and got the pose and look he needed in what seemed like no time at all.

4. What led you to Concert and live-event photography?

That is an easy one, I love music. Back in the early 80’s I started listening to and following the Grateful Dead and they had a very open camera policy. They didn’t care as long as you respected the other concert goers. I got hooked on shooting live shows and have never stopped.

5. What is your favorite lens for concert and live-event photography, and is that the one you use most often?

There are two lenses I use for 99% of all my concert images. The 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. These lenses can give me a huge range of focal length, from wide angle to close up. If all things were equal, I would carry two bodies, one with each lens attached.

When it comes to concert shooting, gear is important. You need to use the fastest glass possible, which means apertures of f/2.8 or faster. I do also use a selection of prime lenses that give me a little stop or two in the really dark places. My favorite is my older Nikkor  85mm f/1.4 which has saved me in many dark venues.

6. Is there anything you would have done differently during your photography career?

Everything…  Nothing….
I never planned to be a professional photographer, author or instructor. My goal was to be a computer programmer for MicroSoft or something similar. I left college with a degree in Computer Science and English and went to work in the family textile business. I was always interested in photography and as manufacturing in this country started to die off I found myself photographing more and more. What started as a hobby has ended up as a full time job and I love it.

Had I known where my life was going to take me I might have paid more attention in the photography classes I took in college but part of me believes that everything has happened for a reason and if any of was different I would not be here now.

7. How do you feel about digital manipulation and to what extent do you utilize it?

There is nothing wrong, or right, about digital manipulation. It just is. It is like saying that there is something wrong with the way photographers used to use the darkroom chemicals to change their images.

If you are talking about photography in the newspaper or National Geographic or some other medium where the image needs to be an accurate depiction of events then adding a extra missile or removing a person in the digital darkroom is not a great idea. However, to think that the photographers choice of lens, exposure settings and composition don’t influence the image is just being naive.

I use Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture and try or test just about every other digital  program. Writing the books on digital photography made it necessary to understand all the options for photographers out there. My favorite programs right now are the Adobe 1-2 punch of Lightroom and Photoshop. I do my importing and main sorting in Bridge (part of Photoshop) then move to Lightroom for tagging, sorting and small edits. I use Photo-shop for those images that need a little extra work, then it is back to Lightroom for output to the client. My main digital editing is to make sure that their is nothing really distraction in the image that doesn’t need to be there. Adjusting the contrast and sometime the color. I don’t spend nearly as much time in Photoshop as I used to. I find that the more I shoot, the better I have become at getting the shot i need in the camera with very little post processing. Since I used to actually work in a darkroom back in college, I still love the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop.

8. How do you feel about cropping?

hahaha.  I crop.. There are times I have to. When shooting live events, stuff can hap-pen. The 70-200mm sometimes just doesn’t have the reach I need, the shooting area is moved from in front of the stage to the soundboard, the angles are off. I try to fill the frame how I want the image to be seen, but I have no problem cropping if I need to.
I did it in the darkroom when using film and still do it when making 8×10 prints for customers. Right now, I use a full frame Nikon camera that does allow me to use part of the sensor in a crop mode, but what is the difference between switching to the cropped mode on the camera or cropping later in Photoshop orLightroom?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anyone else to crop my work.

9. What drives you as a trainer?

I have come across many photographers who want to keep the information secret. I have never understood that. I like learning from other people and I really like giving others the tools to create the images on their own.
Being an instructor at Photoshop World is amazing. The amount of talent and information that is available is staggering. What really gets me excited is when someone takes the information they got from me and then goes out and puts it to use. After we taught the concert photography pre-conference at Photoshop World in Las Vegas I had a student come and tell me how they went and put the advice from the class to use and scored a photo pass the very next day to a local concert. Not only that, they successfully shot the show and had a great time doing it. I love stories like that. It makes it all worthwhile.

10. How has your career in Photography led you to DPE?

I have written three books for Wiley, two on Sony DSLRs and one on Exposure. During the writing process, I was offered a job as Rick Sammons technical editor, which I immediately took. I have edited the last four of Rick’s books and during that time, he asked me to join the DPExerience team. It feels great to be a part of the DPE team and I think that Rick and Juan have put together a great team that covers a wide range of photography subjects. I tend to cover the Nikon announcements and will continue writing articles on concert photography and other basic photography subjects. Right now, I have written a series of articles to do with photography at the zoo and after that, well you will just have to wait and see.

11. What are your hopes for DPE and how do you think your experience in photography will help DPE and it readers to grow?

I see DPE as a place for photographers of all skill levels to go and get some inspiration, some instruction, and some news. The wide variety of subjects and styles means that there is something for everyone. The website has about two new posts everyday right now, and that’s a lot of information coming out everyday. Add the podcasts and live events and you have a great place for everyone to learn about photography.

Well everyone, that is it for this interview. I would like to send a big thank you out to Mr Hess for his time and a very interesting interview. If you have enjoyed learning about Mr. Hess as much as I have. You will find some great links below to some of his articles at DPE.  For me as a photographer in training, Mr. Hess’s articles and the rest of DPE articles are an essential read. They are actually the first site I hit in the morning after I have put on a fresh pot of coffee. There is nothing better then a hot cup of coffee and some good photog reading to start the day off right. And I’ve not even mention the pod casts with Rick Sammon and Juan Pons. However, I don’t think Mr, Hess will mind if I slip the link to the pod casts in here. 🙂

I am excited to watch DPE grow. Because I know, as it grows, so will I. Thanks again Alan it has been a great treat to get to know you better. You ROCK dude!

Here are those yummy links I promised you.

Manual Mode Rocks!

Off to the zoo

Back to the zoo

Here is a great article he wrote on Concert Photography at Scott Kelby’s blog.
His newest book release.”Exposure Digital Field Guide” This book has been flying off the shelf!
Contact information.



Next week we will have another great interivew from Juan Pons at DPE who is a nature and wildlife photographer. I am really excited about this one too. You guys know how much I love to shoot animals and nature.

What A Professional Means To Me.

•January 24, 2010 • 84 Comments

Ok, this is another update.

Ok guys, yes I have heard of Mr Bourne blog today. And to that I say this. I will not allow someone to drag me down to name calling or allow anyone to deflect what this subject, is really about. The original conversation might have started out as a price war thing or what ever you want to call it. However, once that first DM came in, it stopped being about what someone charges, but instead became about someone who calls themselves a Professional. Acts on the up and up in public but brings out full-blown rude behavior behind closed doors.

It is not like we are walking up to him and going, Hay! I hear you’re a professional Photog, do you know how to do this and this? He is presenting himself as Professional Photog and a Professional Trainer.

Juvenile 2 faced behaviour is unacceptable in any profession and if you work with big names, rubbing elbows with them and trying to aligning yourself with their good name then you owe them and those that are looking to you for guidance the respect of keeping yourself in good public standing as well. Professionalism is deeper than face value, you have to be willing to live it in all aspects of your life not just in the public eye…

to the bottom of this article from another person who was sadly abused by the same said professional.

A professional to me is NOT someone who can make a lot of money at something they do, but instead one who knows their field inside out and produces top quality work from the knowledge they have gain though experience and training. They present themselves in a professional way.

Tonight on Twitter I had a run in with someone I though was a Professional and who I thought I respected in the photography field. Imagine my surprise when the so-called person removed the wool from my eyes himself.  First let me say, that said person made the comment and I quote;

‘I’m consulting with a wedding #photog studio selling against a studio doing $500 weddings. Our new ad – “We fix $500 wedding photography.”

Ok, I didn’t say anything when I read this. To a degree I do understand. It wasn’t untill I saw the next tweet that I thought I would reply.  I quote again;

“To all those defending the $500 wedding guy I have a simple statement – if you have a $10 head buy a $10 motorcycle helmet.”

Like I said earlier  I agreed to a degree with what he was saying. But I also understand the other side.

People are losing their jobs, and with a lot of our jobs going overseas these days. It is not like you can just go down the block and get another job like you could 10 yrs ago. People are not just losing their home they are becoming homeless and ending up in homeless shelters and some with their children.   People are just struggling to get by these days.  People are afraid to spend money and if they do they want the best bang for their buck.

Soooo I tweeted back “We are in hard times, people are trying to survive and keep a roof over their families head. :(”

Now keep in mind I thought I was dealing with a rational Professional.  So image my surprise when the FIRST DM from said PROFESSIONAL came in.  And I quote;

By the time the third one hit my feed I had to block him to stop reading his egomaniac racist dribble.

To top it off, he made sure he wasn’t following me so I could not reply to said DM’s. Wasn’t that nice? To bad he didn’t know me better to know I wouldn’t let a little thing like that stop me.

Does he know this other studio that has slashed their prices? Are they someone like me, just starting out and breaking into the field and feel they don’t have the right to charge the going price because yrs of experience isn’t in their back pocket yet? Or could they be someone with experience but have fallen on hard times and are just trying to keep a roof over their families head and while trying to keep their business a float.  Could they be someone with an ill family member and had lost business because they had to take care of a love one and now must rebuild their business? In this economy who am I to judge someone else for how they run their business?

I can say this was a real shock and an eye opener for me. I see no integrity in his words or the actions he took by trying to hide his true self behind close doors while attacking me. Where is ones integrity when you would put your business before your childs health? And to even suggest such a thing to a parent is NOT acceptable at anytime ever.  Is that really a Professional? To me no, but greedy Gus does come to mind. The only thing that I can see that he values is his wallet and ego….

I think the DM’s speak for themselves.

Pursuing Photoshop Has Moved

•December 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

As you all know, my plans for this blog was to grow as my knowledge in Photoshop grew.  Since I wanted to start writing tutorial and things.  I found a host where I would not run out of space with pictures for the tutorial and bought the domain pursuingphotoshop.

So I would like to welcome you all to the new and improved Pursuing Photoshop Blog. I hope to see you there soon.

Energy Twirl Tutorial

•December 1, 2008 • 4 Comments

SoI found another tut that just looked really interesting and had to find out how they achieved that look.  As I learn the basics of PS I am starting to break out of my shell and experiment. Filters are turning out to be a very wonderful thing! So the first picture is what the orginal tutorial should look like when you are done.



So as I sat there looking at it I wonder what I would ever use it for.  That is when I started experimenting to see where I could take this tutorial and I accidental turn it into what I think looks like a vortex! I was so excited with the end results that I just had to share it with the rest of you.


Now to achieve this affect once I was done with the original tutorial I then went on to selected the smudge tool. I then proceeded to dragging from the inside out in just a random pattern around the swirls.  Not really sure if I like the look but as I said I was just experimenting.

(Next I wonder what it would look like with a pattern under it. So I went down to the create new fill or adjustment layer in the layer pallet and choose pattern. Ack! My whole design turn into a big bubble or something so canceled out of that. I realized now as I type this what I was actually thinking about was another filter under artistic. Well, I am glad I didn’t think of it then or I wouldn’t have ended up with my finish work. )

Your next step is to go down to your create new fill or adjustment icon in the layer pallets and choose Gradient. In CS3 it is the second one down.

When the Gradient Fill Dialogue box appears. Choose Black to Transparent. 



Scale/100 and make sure Align with layers is checked. Then click ok. Then change your blend mode in the layer pallet to color burn.  (Remember your blend modes are in the drop down box beside the opacity box in your layer pallets.) And TADA! You are done.

I Would just like to give a big shout out to This was a really neat tutorial and I had a lot of fun doing it. Follow the link to create your own Energy Twirl!

A Tutorial From Hell…

•November 27, 2008 • 5 Comments

As you know, I’ve been posting some xmas tutorials for the coming season. Well, I was really looking forward to trying some of them out.   So last night I fired up Ole Blue and open PS and got down to business. Only to find out that there are a few major steps and explanations left out. Ok, so I keep wading though the rising tide of aggravation that was starting to boil, and start to try different things because I really liked the finished picture they had. After much grumbling and several bouts of naughty words I finally get to the end of page one and am starting to feel better about things because my little project looks like it should. Click the link for page two to read you will need the following brush set for this next step. Ok, but wait. Wheres the link? Click on the name of the brush. No, it’s not a link. Scroll back up. No, not there either. Oh I got it, they put it on page one and I just over looked it. Go back to page one. Can you guess what came next? You got it. More naughty words! Because, there certainly was no link for the brushes needed for this tutorial. By now I am in melt down city because I had just spent over an hour to work though this crappy tutorial to begin with but now this? So I run off to twitter ranting and raving to blow off some steam. With in 2 minutes my mentor Firgs comes to the rescue with not only the brushes I need but the encouragement and support I needed at that moment.  I am telling you all she just RULES!!! So off I happily go to finish my tutorial. And finish it I did. It’s not perfect and I need to figure out a better way to do it but I was still really tickled with how it turn out considering everything I went though to get it done.

So I would like to give a shout out to Get your stuff together before you write any more tutorials for people. You put me though hell last night and it didn’t have to be that way. Take some lessons. Go read other people tutorials, observe. Your heart may be in the right place. I really don’t know. However, people with your skill level for writing tutorials do nothing for the profession. You help no-one with an ill prepared tutorial. If your going to do something at least try to do it right or better yet. Just leave to those that can.