Enhance Your Photography: Look Into the Smaller “Landscapes”


My personal work includes a lot of landscape shooting, and I usually try to take in a large swath of territory. I often like the grand vistas, the sweeping plains and looming mountains. In urban landscapes I might include wide-angle shots of buildings crowded together, along with bustling streets and milling people. But sometimes it’s the things at my feet that intrigue me too. Here’s a few images from a trip to Bodie, California, a 100+ year-old ghost town built around a gold and silver mine.

These were originally shot in digital color and converted to black and white.

These images are all from the machinery used to extract the gold and silver from the rock ore.

_MG_5783 stamps copy


_MG_5773 nuts copy

_MG_5779 detail copy v copy

Recorded Webinar: Architectural Photography and Editing with David Saffir and C. David Tobie

Watch as Datacolor Experts David Saffir and C. David Tobie walk you through the issues they have encountered through their years of architectural rendering and photography and offer helpful techniques to be utilized.

Architectural photography offers accurate representation of a building or structure. Achieving this is often complex. Even though photographing interiors and exteriors can be similar, they do have some differences and may require different equipment.

Perspective and context issues may arise when photographing exteriors, while distortion issues may arise with interiors. Other issues may include scale, vignette, chromatic aberration and color accuracy. Technique is key. Helpful tips focusing on low light images, various HDR options, one-point and multi-point perspective versus elevation and isometric will be shared.

You can find the recorded webinar here: http://blog.datacolor.com/architectural-photography-and-editing/

Recorded Webinar: Exploring Photographic Composition in Landscape and Still Life

Just completed my collaboration with C. David Tobie in this webinar: Exploring Photographic Composition in Landscape and Still Life
Co-sponsored by Datacolor and Digital Silver Imaging

Photographic composition is a key element of photography. To master composition, one must learn the ability to see compositions as shapes, lines, forms, masses, etc., and not just as recognizable objects. You must be able to visualize how objects function as forms in space under light, and how they will relate to a two dimensional composition. This webinar gives an overview of the use of photographic composition in landscape and still life photography, drawing examples from the work of masters of photography, as well as our own photographers.


Here’s a few comments offered by those who participated in the “live” version:

-Thank you for conducting an “artists” seminar. Getting the correct exposure and color balance are important, but understanding the complexities of visual interpretation and the psychology of experiencing images is so important. Your comments relative to the “human elements” within the images were very strong. Thanks for expanding your topics to include this so a deeper appreciation of the artistic aspects can be appreciated!

-Guys… this was a simply AMAZING webinar. One of the best I have ever attended. I am teaching two classes as we speak, and you have both given me a whole lot more to include in my instruction.

-Thank you guys. One of the most interesting webinars I’ve attended.

Creating Custom Folios for Self-Promotion & Presentation

This article was originally published in Photo Technique Magazine, Nov/Dec 2012. It appears here with some minor changes.

Creating Custom Folios for Self-Promotion & Presentation
by David Saffir

A teacher of mine once told me “nothing matters except your book” – referring of course, to my portfolio. Photographers use portfolios for self-promotion, to share a story or point of view, to help create a body of work, or to establish or reinforce professional identity.

The range of options in portfolio design and presentation makes for a number of choices—format, size, paper type, books, boxes, albums, printing processes and more. Other considerations: Budget? How much time to invest? Can new work be added, or can old work easily deleted? How do I pitch my work to different audiences?

In this article I’ll discuss a presentation option I’ve been working with lately and it’s one that I like quite a bit. Simple and inexpensive with straightforward construction, it’s changeable, elegant and a bit different.

The ready-made folio itself is made from a precision-cut sheet of heavy paper, folded to create a recloseable envelope or pocket that holds 10–15 prints. I’m currently using this design to showcase a dozen of my images printed on 310gsm Ilford Gold Silk inkjet paper. Each image is imprinted with my name, the title of the body of work and my web address.

Folio Cover – Closed and Opened

I created my own simple Photoshop templates (vertical and horizontal) that photo technique readers can download for free to create their own folio pages with a minimum of stress. (See link at bottom of this post).

Design Concept

There are pros and cons associated with any choice in a portfolio. I’ve experimented with options ranging from mounted prints to a bound book. The folio design I’ve settled on delivers a combination of versatility, artistic experience, modest cost, reasonable time investment and a degree of elegance.

I’ve always enjoyed books and prints. The experience of picking up a fine art book or print can’t be duplicated—a digital display doesn’t come close. I enjoy the experience of feeling the texture of the paper and seeing the print without glass in front of it. So one of my requirements—the tactile experience—is satisfied in this format.

Completed Folio – © R. Russell 2011-2012

These folios are versatile in that a photographer can create a body of work around a concept, story, location, culture or time period. Pages can be moved in and out of a collection, reordered, or reprinted and re-made. I use my folios as a marketing tool for my general photography business and also to promote sales of larger versions of my prints.

A folio like this can be shared with a group. Prints can be passed around, discussed and so on. A customer might un-bundle them and frame individual prints.The folio cover also has a die-cut window that allows creation of an introduction image with title—and of course this can be changed as desired.

Folio Materials

The folio consists of three components: the folio cover, a mat board inserted for reinforcement and the prints. Pre-made folio covers from Neil Enns of Dane Creek Photography in Seattle, Washington are offered in a variety of colors. The colors are cut from Royal Complements 100lb. acid/lignin-free paper, the white covers are made from Domtar Cougar Opaque. Mat boards are made from different sources depending on color and all are acid/lignin-free.

When assembled with a mat board the folio holds up to 15 pages depending on paper thickness. I am currently using Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk, which is about 310gsm. Thicker papers will limit the capacity of the folio.

Image Editing and Media Types

My image editing leverages the relative high Dmax and nice black point of this Ilford paper. This paper has a 96 brightness rating and a relatively warm baryta base. Working best with pigment inks, it’s a robust all-around paper and it doesn’t impose its personality on the image.

Of course you have many different choices for inkjet paper. Pick your favorite to showcase your images. I usually shoot in 16-bit RAW, and process in Phase One Capture One to 16-bit, ProPhoto RGB. Normal image edits in Photoshop or Lightroom usually include color correction, black/white points, midtone contrast and sharpening.

I designed a pre-formatted template in Photoshop to prepare each image for folio printing. I edit the image first then copy/paste it into the template. The screen shot shows the layout guides (in blue) that help me position the image on-screen. I use Edit>Transform to fine tune size and position to balance the image and text on the page. Adjust the boundaries and image size to your preferences.

Folio Template Screen Shot (Photoshop)

The pre-made folio covers also have a window on one side. Create a small image that is a bit larger than the window—perhaps including a title and your name and attach it to the inside of the folio. This adds a nice touch of professionalism and personality.


Given the 8.5×11 format of the folio, I’ve found it’s easier and less time-consuming to purchase cut sheets at this size. I’ve been using the Epson 3880 and the HP B9180 printers for these jobs, as both have nice ink sets and straight or almost straight paper paths. Printing on larger sheets or on roll paper could be less expensive, but there are issues that I’d rather not deal with such as including crop marks, trimming, paper curl and more. At current prices ink and paper together should be less than $1.50 per page. With 15 pages and the cost of the folio, the entire package should come in around $25.

I recommend that you print using “application managed color” and use an ICC paper profile in your printing. Most paper manufacturers offer paper profiles online for a range of printers. I’ve also gotten excellent results making custom paper profiles, particularly when using matte-finish fine art media. If you are using matte-finish fine art paper, consider using a spray or other protective coating to reduce vulnerability to scratching and scuffing. Some people use an interleaving sheet—but this may reduce the number of prints that will fit in the folio. I print these as unsigned open editions unlike my larger gallery-sized prints.

Texaco Station, The Palouse. © David Saffir

Collateral Materials

You can include an artist statement that might contain an introduction to your images, a description of the scope of the work, project objectives and the like.

Brooks Jensen who made some of the earliest digital folios suggests adding a colophon, which is a brief description of the provenance of the work and methods and materials used. Generally, the artist’s statement is placed at the beginning of the print series and the colophon at the end.

I feel that this design is a sometimes-overlooked option in presentation and promotion—it’s easy to set up and execute and the results can be very satisfying. I find it helps to differentiate my work—the form and format are different than books and boxes most commonly seen in the market. I certainly plan to continue to create and use these folios in the future!

Link to Photo Technique Magazine

Link to download page templates (please leave me a note if any problems)

© David Saffir

Images, Autumn 2012, Eastern Sierra

a couple of images from Eastern Sierra, late September 2012…..


Aspens near Lundy Lake © David Saffir 2012


“The Lost City” – Mono Lake at Sunset


New Photos From the Palouse Workshop by David Saffir

A sampling of images taken during my latest workshop with Jack Lien…

Colors of the Palouse © David Saffir


Rolling Farmlands © David Saffir

HammerHead Barn © David Saffir


Come to our new Master Class on Digital Printing – more info here.

Techniques for Floral Photography; or Any Photography

Here’s a cool article by C David Tobie on photographing flowers, with emphasis on options, composition, focus, color, combining elements, and much, much, more.


© CD Tobie

Palouse Photo Tour and Workshop

Join David Saffir and Jack Lien, June 19-23, 2012,  in an intensive photo tour and workshop in the beautiful Palouse – a region of rolling farmlands, fertile hills and prairies – making it one of the go-to places for photographers in North America! Capture some lifetime images and great memories! NEW DEVELOPMENT: WE WILL HAVE A BRAND NEW EPSON 3880 17″ PRINTER AVAILABLE DURING INSTRUCTION/CONSULTATION TIME SLOTS.

Early bird registration (before May 10) is $650, after that $795. This 5-day workshop, includes intensive field work, plus hands-on, practical, image-editing and printing instruction. Call Jack Lien (360) 481 4575, or email palousetours@comcast.net. For details go to https://fourseasonsphototours.com/ or to https://davidsaffir.wordpress.com/workshops.


© R Russell

Photography Quote of the Day – April 9, 2012

Ladybug, © Sue Saffir

All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget.  In this – as in other ways – they are the opposite of paintings.  Paintings record what the painter remembers.  Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it.  ~John Berger


Take a look at the WORKSHOPS tab above for info on our new Palouse Photo Workshop, June 2012!