Marketing Benefits From Using Competent Photography

Many people know by now that using a photo is useful, even critical to include in social media posts, but what impression are you forming with that photo, are you making the most of the opportunity?  Here’s what research says about photos in your marketing efforts online:

– Posts that include images produce 650 percent higher engagement than text-only posts.
– People form a first impression in a mere 50 milliseconds.
Source: https://www.inc.com/larry-kim/visual-content-marketing-16-eye-popping-statistics-you-need-to-know.html

If the people you are trying to reach are forming their impression within 50 milliseconds, when you need photography for your marketing efforts or online activity (social media posts, ads or Web site), work with a photographer who can help you capture and present your subject in the most favorable light! This is particularly true now that so many people carry a decent camera in their smart phones. Bland or over-processed photos, or glaring errors such as unlevel horizons, only waste your time and marketing budget. Many organizations try to use low cost photos these days or even get them for free, but how much does “free” actually cost?

Multiple Photo Posts Increased Clicks 1290% – Facebook Case Study
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-tools/multiple-photo-posts-increased-clicks-1290-facebook-case-study/

When the Mono County Economic Development, Tourism, and Film Commission wanted to put its best foot forward with a publisher designing a magazine for global film location scouts, they turned to Eastern Sierra photographer Jeff Sullivan.  A landscape photographer and travel guidebook author living at Topaz Lake, Jeff has led dozens of photography workshops for night photography at the local ghost town of Bodie, as well as landscape photography workshops in the broader Eastern Sierra region of California, especially in the Mono Lake to Tioga Pass to Mammoth Lakes area of Mono County.

The publisher, Boutique Editions, liked forwarded samples of Jeff’s work so much, they selected the Bodie image above for the cover of Location International 2015!  The magazine is launched each year at the Festival de Cannes in May.  The publicity enjoyed by Mono County continued from there:

“The magazine is distributed to 15,000 movie professionals worldwide, and is also available at Locations Trade Show in LA; Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; Berlinale; MIPTV and MIPCOM; Sundance Film Festival, Utah and at AFM in Los Angeles.” 

It's Here!Producing stunning photos of locations is nothing new to Jeff.  He wrote a 320-page guidebook to the best photography locations in California from Mono County and Yosemite to San Diego: “Photographing California Vol. 2 – South“.  Locations, and great photos of them, are exactly what he focuses on.  Using the proceeds from the sale of this book to fund the creation of in-depth regional guides, he’s on a mission to help you discover “the best of the West”!

The popularity of photo sharing and social media sites in recent years had given him excellent opportunities to showcase his work.  Participating on Flickr since 2006, he is one of the most-followed photographers on this site popular with serious photographers, with over 45,000 contacts and an average of about 10,000 views per day.

Posting his images on the new Google+ social media site in 2011 as he worked on his guidebook earned him a Top 100 ranking on the site in the site’s first two years, amassing nearly 2 million contacts.  At least one of the common beliefs about social media post success id true: competent photos really do give social media posts a huge boost!  This helped Jeff succeed with his photography workshop business, since a post’s reception on Google+ has been determined by Internet marketing consultants to be the #1 factor in helping a site achieving favorable placement in Google searches.*

* It’s puzzling that many organizations invest in maintaining social media activity, but don’t pay more attention to the quality of the photography in their posts!  That’s like entering an auto race at Laguna Seca Racetrack in a Honda Accord.  Unless you drive a track-ready Porsche, your family car has no business running with race cars.  Similarly, investing in online marketing activity but using consumer-quality photography will cause your investment in marketing on the Internet to under-perform against the competition as well.  If you’re going to compete with the best in the world at anything, including getting your social media posts noticed with the lowest possible investment of time, put your best foot forward and don’t skimp on high quality, eye-catching images! 

Mono County and Boutique Editions weren’t the only organizations noticing Jeff’s work in 2015.  A travel company in the U.K. noticed his work and named him a “Top 100 Travel Photographer in the World 2015“.   Upon his book release in late 2015 he took a celebration lap of the Western U.S. and Canada, and one of his photos from Yellowstone National Park won an Outdoor Photographer MagazineiPhone and Instagram” contest.

To see Jeff’s work from 2015, both new images and reworked images from past years, see his blog: “Top 10 Favorite Travel and Landscape Images From 2015“.

Snowy Fall Aspen
Late Fall Colors on Conway Summit
Shaft of Water and Light
Sunset Rainbow at Topaz Lake
Rainbow over Standard Mill
Rainbow Over Bodie’s Standard Mill

Don’t settle for simply “filling the space” where a photograph is needed. Understand the value of better photography, and work with a professional photographer to get it done right!

www.JeffSullivanPhotography.com
#marketing #advertising #tourism #travel #photography

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Fireworks Under Dark Skies: Mammoth Lakes

I’ve added several more fireworks photos to my Mammoth Lakes album on Flickr. The Mammoth Lakes fireworks display over Crowley Lake is one of the best ones in California for seeing and photographing fireworks in a truly dark setting!  Search this blog to find my articles on how to photograph fireworks.

If you’re thinking of seeing this year’s fireworks at Crowley Lake, you can stop by the Visit Mammoth and Mono County Tourism sites to get some ideas for other great things to do in the area while you’re up there: visit Mono Lake, the historic Wild West ghost town of Bodie, explore Devil’s Postpile National Monument… there’s so much to do, you might need a week or two!

Also see my Crowley Lakes Fireworks album on Google Photos:
Mammoth Lakes Fireworks at Crowley Lake, July 4, 2013
11 new photos · Album by Jeff Sullivan

+Visit Mammoth +Mono County Tourism

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Conditions for Our 2016 Eastern Sierra Spring Workshop Next Week

My early May blog post on spring Eastern Sierra conditions contained a collection of possible outcomes and opportunities for spring.  I’ve been out a few times since then, checking the emergence status of various wildflowers, the water level at Mono Lake tufa sites (and their muddiness, since they form over springs), unpaved road access conditions, snow levels and lake iceout conditions around Tioga Pass, pond water levels and reflection opportunities in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, bird and wildlife photography opportunities, and so on.

 

Wildflowers vary in intensity and timing from year to year, which is why I do these scouting trips before the workshop, and not while dragging customers around.  Even knowing where various species can be prolific, checking the current year’s status and timing involves many less than fully productive searches.  Wild iris seemed to be a bit behind in timing.  Mules ears have been starting to emerge over the past 2 weeks, and could peak in the next week or two.  The few days of clearer, warmer weather in the forecast early next week could help them along.  Paintbrush was doing well at low elevations but it is too early to tell how prolific it’ll be at mid to high altitudes.  Lupine were healthy in some areas and should still be available for another week or more a lower altitudes, and emerging at mid altitudes.  Wild peach has been strong, and yellow bitterbrush has bloomed as enthusiastically as many local residents can remember (one even mentioned that this native must be a new invasive species), but the peak is now past for both.  Isolated patches offered a variety of other species, sometimes dense, but you really have to search for them.  I’ll be back out over the next few days to see if some of the patches have increased in intensity, enough to warrant a visit during the upcoming workshop.

All of the photos in this post are from May 2016

The weather has been unsettled, great for daytime photography as but less conducive for many types of night photography.  That’s pretty typical for May, which is one reason why I only ran a couple of Bodie night photography workshops then, but currently focus more on June and later.

Some locations are on the wet and muddy side, not unsurprising for spring, but certainly good to know before you show up for a sunrise or sunset and can’t access the compositions that you might have enjoyed in the past, in summer, fall, or simply a drier year.  In other cases, a site might be more dependent upon long term trends, and the long term drought continues to provide cracked earth foregrounds.  If you’re shooting in one basin and the weather and light looks like it might be better 25 miles north or south, you can save an hour of driving if you know that the site that you have in mind isn’t in great condition that week.  Conversely, you can make your day, week or month if you know that a site is in great shape, and you arrive to find great light to complement the site’s full potential.  A good workshop is made great when you can “connect the dots” to consistently arrive at a series of good sites, in great seasonal condition, offering optimal lighting, while reacting to the day’s weather conditions.  There are no guarantees in landscape photography, and that’s part of what makes it exciting, but scouting trips do resolve what would otherwise be unknowns in the mix, increasing the odds of everything coming together just right.

A quick iPhone snapshot is good enough to record conditions, break out the DSLR upon returning in better light

The somewhat early opening of Tioga Pass is not surprising given a fairly dry month of February and the winter’s overall normal to low snowpack (93% in the Mammoth lakes area, closer to 100% north of Tioga Pass).  It has re-closed at times as moisture causes afternoon and evening storms, but it’s open again now.  Lakes are in various stages of losing their ice.  Tenaya Lake was clear by the time the pass opened, Ellery may be completely clear now, Tioga was mostly frozen last week, so it may still hold some ice into next week.  The terrain is complicated up in that area, so having spent many sunrises and sunsets up in that area is important to knowing what is likely to be productive, vs. a bust.

Tuolumne Meadows currently offers a lot of seasonal ponds.  Determining ahead of time which of them provide decent compositions at current water levels helps keep the workshop moving efficiently.  Many workshop leaders spend a lot of time and money marketing, and do a great job filling their workshops.  Good for them.  I prefer to spend my time in the field, develop extensive site and condition knowledge, and over time earn the reputation for delivering great opportunities and results.

It’s important to me for my knowledge to include photographic technique and post-processing skill.  Anyone can apply a filter in post-processing software or use a certain technique to make a landscape look wacky, and there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with that, it it’s the style someone chooses, rather than is trapped into through less than optimal exposure technique or lack of alternate post-processing workflow options.  Getting through the end-to-end digital photographic process with realistic results is like walking a tightrope: bay far the easiest thing to do is to fall off.  There are subtle things you can do all along the way to optimize results.  You don’t need the latest camera or software, it’s more about fine tuning the various steps.

Backlit storm clouds at night

Ansel Adams produced timeless results by producing heavily manipulated but seamlessly realistic results, while popular trends included hand-tinting photographs to add color.  Most of us don’t know the names of his contemporaries today.  No doubt Ansel could have had great commercial success producing those colorized postcards, but any era’s hot trends can look cartoonish years later, out of the unique social context of the time.  We’re not immune from that today: I have over-saturated digital photos from the mid-2000s, tonemapped HDRs from the late 2000s, and I’ve dabbled with luminance masking, color light painting, and lately software filters.  I gravitate more realistic results, and for the experiments with various trends, I’m gradually re-processing many of the more over-the-top post processing results.  It’s useful to try a range of things to settle on your own preferred style, and to continue to try new things for variety and to see if you want to broaden your options for post-processing any given scene in the future.  So I want to maintain a broad enough collection of experiences to be prepared to help photographers who want to expand their own skills.

While the goal of my pre-workshop explorations are mainly to visit locations to assess conditions, it’ll be a fun challenge to line up the sites for great light and weather during the workshop next week.

iPhone 6S+ panorama

With the storms in the past weeks I haven’t been out for night photography as much as I would like, but we should have a great time in Bodie June 4/5, and I hope to be out a few times in the coming nights to assess a few new locations as well.

Starry Night over Bodie Church

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Eastern Sierra Photography Workshop in June: What’s in Store?

Eastern Sierra landscape photography workshops

Eastern Sierra wildflowers, late May

“The Traveler sees what he sees. The Tourist sees what he has come to see.” G.K. Chesterton

North Peak Sunset AlpenglowUpdate 1, May 31: Tioga Pass opened in Mid-May, so we can include Yosemite”s Tioga Pass area in our workshops starting this Thursday.  I’ve already been up there three times in the past couple of weeks to assess and monitor conditions.

Update 2, May 31: One of my customers has asked to extend the workshop with a few days in Yosemite Valley, so we’re adding June 6, 7, and 8 next week to the schedule!

The first week of June is amazing for the Eastern Sierra for so many reasons. Some snow remains on the Sierra Nevada (and possibly the White Mountains) to catch alpenglow, and there can be a fresh snowfall around the end of May to refresh that surface. Several species of wildflowers are starting to bloom, profusely in some areas.

This year the new moon and Milky Way shooting timing coincides with this week, and we have the possibility of a late spring storm from the northwest for interesting sunrises and sunsets, or warmer monsoon moisture from the Baja coast that could bring dramatic afternoon clouds, showers and rainbows, or evening thunderstorms.

I used to be nervous about the thunderstorms interfering with night photography, but I’ve learned through experience in Bodie and the surrounding area that convection-driven storms tend to break up or blow east by the time the sky is fully dark around 10/10:20, so they’re really just bonuses for sunset and twilight shooting, even when rain showers interfere locally for an hour or so (and even then they often give way to rainbows).

We’ll start with a sunrise on Thursday, pursue wildflowers and weather during the day, have an early dinner, and head back out for sunset at Mono Lake.
Entering the Earth's Shadow

We’ll pick from a number of spots for Milky Way shooting, and arrive by the time it’s fully dark at 10:07, when the galactic center of the Milky Way has already risen 6 degrees, perfect for placing it in our compositions.

Mono Lake Milky Way Panorama

Friday we’ll catch sunrise at Mono Lake before the weekend crowds arrive, shoot different wildflowers, maybe explore some interesting geology or head up to Tioga Pass if its open for snowier views. Another sunset spot, More night photography, and turn in not too late since most of us are continuing on to Bodie the following night, and Bodie interiors the following morning.

Storm Over Mono LakeWorkshops take me out of the field as I work on permits, itineraries, write descriptions, set up payment / registration buttons, and I perform a some kind of marketing to get them seen, if only a mention or two on social media. I’m not going for volume, and I personally lead all of my workshops, so they are designed to place you in a stunning place, in a peak season, as the exact best time.

Eastern Sierra Mules EarsI have to be efficient and pack as much opportunity as I can into my time in the field. Every day has the sun rising and setting. Some weeks have wildflowers. Fall colors may be peaking in a given location for only a few days to a week. The Milky Way is available during a few weeks of the year, a moon rise at sunset or moon set at sunrise about a dozen times each. So I am careful to hold my workshops in a prime season, and I then select the most likely peak days and times, including astronomical considerations.

Along Yosemite's Tioga Pass Road

Tioga Pass Road sunset reflection, May 2016

Plans are all well and good; I frequently plan something as simple as a sunset moon rise composition weeks in advance.  But landscape photography is about light, so if you’re on a workshop, you want a leader have enough depth in detailed regional knowledge to be ready to ditch all plans and react to the weather and light if there’s more potential 20 or 30 miles from where you are.  So leave the tourists behind who are stuck to their fixed agenda, and rather than a traveler who reacts to the weather and looks for a place to shoot it, you can travel with a local who knows the opportunities in every direction, and anticipates the conditions before you pick the next destination and hop in the car to arrive there just in time.

Sunset Rain Clouds Over Mono LakeEarly June in the Eastern Sierra offers an annual convergence of so many factors which could make photography conditions stunning.  Photography is more fun shared, so I can’t wait, and all the better that I get to share all of this bounty with old and new friends!

Spring is Coming to the High Sierra!

Most of the participants are returning customers, but we have room for one or two more if anyone’s interested!

Bodie's Standard Mill

Milky Way Arch Over Standard Mill

Connect with me in all of the usual places for photographers: Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+YouTube, 500px, Tumblr, or my Web site.

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Weather Time-lapse: Lenticular Clouds Forming in the Eastern Sierra

Lenticular clouds are my favorite weather phenomenon, and my favorite to photograph and produce movies of. Fortunately we get them several times each year.

Here's the complete story of some we had earlier this week through sunset, in photos and video on my blog:
http://activesole.blogspot.com/2016/03/weather-timelapse-lenticular-clouds-eastern-sierra.html

#landscapephotography #weather #timelapse #photography
+Instagram

Weather Timelapse: Lenticular Clouds in the Eastern Sierra

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The Nik Collection is Now Free

+Nik Collection by Google has announced that its entire suite of photo editing tools is now free. When I evaluated the suite in 2013 I found the tools to be interesting and useful, but I wasn't ready to pay the premium to augment my existing workflow. On the tests i performed from this Summer 2013 trip, I found Nik Color Efex particularly effective on the orange bark of giant sequoia trees. I'll definitely try it again to see if there have been further improvements since then!

#niksoftware #nikcollection #google #photography #landscapephotography

Originally shared by +Jeff Sullivan

Images from Sequoia National Park
"You cannot learn the message that these trees have for you in merely passing by. A day in their presence passes quickly, and with each moment you will be better able to appreciate their singular beauty and the miracle of their existence. To be in harmony with them, cast aside your worldly cares. In our battle for wealth we are prone to forget the real things of life, the things that cannot play us false."
– Herbert Earl Wilson, "The lore and the lure of the Yosemite" (1925)

I post-processed these in a trial copy of +Nik Software plug-ins for +Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I used the Color Efex Pro 4 to further adjust a few images I had already take a pass at in Lightroom. So far it seems that the images can exhibit a little more color without taking on an over-saturated look. Some of the filters like Polarization can adjust complex areas of the photos much like dodging and burning in a darkroom, without a lot of tedious selection and masking work in Photoshop. So far, so good. I hope that I can find more time to play with this module and the others before my trial runs out in a couple of weeks!

         

In Album Nik Software Trial, April 2013

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iPhone 6S+ Samples: Added 20+ from Death Valley

Sometimes grabbing a mobile phone is more convenient than changing lenses in a dusty, pollen-filled environment. I can also use accessory lenses without the complications of getting dust on my sensor. I've added a couple of dozen new photos to my iPhone 6S+ album on Google Photos so you can see some of the shots I've tried it on lately.

#iphoneography #deathvalley #superbloom #landscapephotography #macro #photography #photographyworkshops

iPhone 6S+ Photos
49 new photos · Album by Jeff Sullivan

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2014

Milky Way rising behind the Standard Mill in Bodie, California

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015, here are some of my favorites from 2014.

Sierra Crest Sunset Layers
The Minarets and Sierra Nevada at sunset
Snowy Day at Mono Lake
Mono Lake tufa rock formations selectively lit by the sun
Bodie Sunset Re-edit with HDR
Sunset in Bodie State Historic Park, California
SUCCESS!
NASA’s Orion EFT-1 launch at Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Sunrise Yesterday Morning
There’s no place like home.  A rock sheep enclosure at sunrise, Topaz Lake (on the California/Nevada border).
Revisting an Old Friend
One of the Death Valley slot canyons disclosed in my “Photographing California – South” guidebook
Partially Eclipsed Moon Setting, October 8, 2014
Moon setting over the Sierra Nevada, while emerging from the earth’s shadow during a lunar eclipse!
Wild Mustangs
Wild mustangs in the Eastern Sierra

Bristlecone Pine
Playing with depth of field in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (iPhone 5S)

This was a selection of a few of my favorites from an album of over 45 photos from 2013, so there are many more that you might prefer over these. To see more of them, click on the link or album photo below.

More of my favorite photos from 2014:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157650285822751

2014 Favorites
#landscapephotography #travelphotography #photography #top10

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2013

Fall colors season came early and went really fast in 2013
Sunset Over Bodie Main Street
The most amazing sunset I’ve experienced in Bodie so far!

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015.  Here are some of my favorites from 2013.

Wild Iris at Sunset in Bodie State Historic Park
This is during that same June 2013 sunset in Bodie as the photo above!
Valley View Times Two
What amazing light at Yosemite’s Valley View!
Moon in Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Rising Over Mono Lake
I don;t know how many times I’ve pursued the moon rise at Mono Lake, but it’s different every time!
Monitor Pass Sunset Sun Rays
Amazing sun rays over Ebbetts Pass, as seen from Monitor Pass
Zabriskie Point Morning Light
Gower Wash below Zabriskie Point
Light Painting in Badwater Basin
Light Painting on the Badwater Salt Flats in Death Valley National Park
Lenticular Clouds at Sunset
Lenticular clouds at sunset in my front yard at Topaz Lake, on the California / Nevada border.
Cloudy La Jolla Evening
The “potholes” on the California Coast near La Jolla

This was a selection of a few of my favorites from an album of over 45 photos from 2013, so there are many more that you might prefer over these. To see more of them, click on the link or album photo below.

More of my favorite photos from 2013: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157651147968922 2013 Favorites

#landscapephotography #travelphotography #photography #top10

 

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2012

Mid-October, 2012, about a week before a storm dropped 3 feet of snow on the Sierra Nevada.
First Strike
I was out camping to catch the Lyrid meteor shower in April, and this storm started as I was cooking dinner on the campfire!

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015.  Here are some of my favorites from 2012. Although this was my second full year covering Southern California for my guidebook “Photographing California Vol. 2 – South, A guide to the natural landmarks of the Golden State“, I still had an absurd amount of ground to cover for the book!

Moon Rise Behind Half Dome
I pursued a lot of astrophotography in 2012, including many moon-landmark alignments, which change every year
In the Pre-Dawn Mist
These fishermen didn’t even see the coyote on the beach behind them!
Starry Night over Bodie Church
In 2012 I started my night photography workshops in the authentic Wild West “ghost town” of Bodie. Join us this year!
Eclipse Moon Set Under Belt of Venus
This alignment I anticipated weeks in advance was photographed from over a dozen miles away.
Twilight at Mono Lake
Sometimes the soft  light of twilight can be better then the adjacent sunrise or sunset!  Mono Lake.
Lake Tahoe Winter Sunrise
Lake Tahoe in sunrise light
Storm Light at Bodie State Historic Park
Bodie during golden hour, after the park visitors have left and we have the place entirely to ourselves!
Venus Transit of the Sun, from Earth
Everyone was going to shoot Venus crossing in front of the sun, but I added earth to the composition as well!

This was a selection of a few of my favorites from an album of over 50 photos from 2012, so there are many more that you might prefer over these. To see more of them, click on the link or album photo below.

More of my favorite photos from 2012:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/sets/72157651147837112

2012 Favorites

#landscapephotography #travelphotography #photography #top10

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