Michael wins 1st Place in Sportsshooter.com Clip Contest

The image I spoke about in an earlier blog post which was shot while covering the 2007 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has shown itself to be a solid image. In the recent October 2007 Sportsshooter.com clip contest this image won 1st place in the Feature category. To see the winners go to:


The sportsshooter.com clip contest brings top notch photographers from across the world and asks them to submit their best images from the month prior. The winners are selected by over 7,000 sportsshooter.com members.

Fall 2007 Newsletter available for Download

The Fall 2007 issue of the Michael Clark Photography newsletter is now available for download from my website. If you'd like to sign on for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I'll add you to the mailing list.

This issue includes an editorial on hanging tough and giving back, an article entitled "Digital Photography - Where do we go from here?", and an article on how to expose for digital capture and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over a thousand photo editors, photographers and enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Fall 2007 issue and back issues on my website at:


Please note that the newsletter is best viewed in the latest Adobe Acrobat reader which is available for free at http://www.adobe.com. If you see lines accross the images in the newsletter this is due to the reader you are using - please download the latest Adobe Acrobat reader from the link above if you wish to view the newsletter without lines in the images.

Being in the right place at the right time

Yesterday, while shooting images at the 2007 Albuquerque Ballooon Fiesta I was looking for a shot of people standing outside of a balloon while I was standing inside the balloon as it was being inflated. I had no control of anything as I was shooting in a photojournalistic style and I had nothing really set up. I knew it would look better with a bright balloon so I picked one out that was just starting to be inflated and chatted with the owner and pilot - hoping that I might get what I was looking for.

As I have found to be the case quite often, if you are prepared luck seems to find you more often than not. In this case four figures started to help pull the balloon out just opposite me and I got the above photo which seems to have some kind of religious overtones. It is as if the people, who look like ghosts or apparitions are worshiping the balloon or the early morning sun which had just risen. Of course they turned out to be crew for the adjacent balloon and I just got lucky - and snapped 40 or 50 images before it was too late.

I just thought I would share this image on the blog. I was really excited when I saw those folks and got some incredible images yesterday morning at an event with thousands of people and 800 + balloons rising into the desert sky. It is a photographers dream event...look for more images in the winter issue of the newsletter.

Devils Tower, Wyoming

I'm just back from Devils Tower where I got some stunning images (like the one above of Jacopo Aliamo on 'El Matador') - and we had a fantastic time. I went up to the Tower with some good friends, Gabriela Baumeister and Jacopo Alaimo who is a certified climbing guide in Italy and quite strong. While up at the Tower I also shot portraits of Frank Sanders and a phenomenally talented singer/songwriter (and rock climber) Jessica Kilroy.

I have been shooting a few assignments and working here in the office since my return and am just now getting these images out. It looks to be a very busy fall with workshops, stock shoots and perhaps another trip back up to the tower. This is just an update on the latest news and I thought I would also put up a few of my favorite images from Devils Tower.

My many thanks to Frank and Jessica at the Devils Tower Lodge for their wonderful hospitality.

Michael wins 2nd Place in Sportsshooter.com Photo Contest

I just this morning saw that I won 2nd Place in the monthly Sportsshooter.com photo contest for an image I shot in July of Timy Fairfield rock climbing in a cave at sunset. The caption for that image is: Timy Fairfield hanging from the lip of the Crystal Cave on "Super-Dope" (5.13b) while rock climbing near Jemez Springs, New Mexico.

Here is a link if you want to check it out:


Microsofts answer to the iPhone

Just in case your Monday needs a little injection of comedy I was sent this link to a video on You Tube - its a parody of a possible Microsoft iPhone - quite funny! Here is the link:


It is called the ZunePhone. You'll laugh for sure - take a minute and check it out....

The Importance of Professional Photography Organizations

One of the best articles I ever read on making it as a professional photographer was written by David Lyman, the founder and director of the Maine Photographic Workshops and published on digitaljournalist.org. You can check it out at:


I highly recommend this article to both seasoned and emerging photographers as an incredible resource for career development. One other addition I would make to that article is to stress the importance of joining your peers in a professional photography organization. There is nothing as informative as talking with other photographers about their experiences both shooting and working. There are a lot of very good photography organizations out there including ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), APA (Advertising Photographers of America), EP (Editorial Photographers), NPPA (National Press Photographers Association), and PPA (Professional Photographers of America), which are just a few of the better known organizations. I belong to ASMP, EP, TOPA (Travel and Outdoor Photographers Association) and Sportshooters .com and I have found the resources they provide invaluable to furthering my career. If you are a professional photographer you owe it to yourself and to this profession to join one of these organizations and get involved.

I find that the membership dues are paid for by the discounts available to members (especially with ASMP). Also, the reduced insurance rates specific to the professional photographer are fantastic and only available to members. On top of the discounts, ASMP in particular has a fantastic Find a Photographer database on it’s website that many clients use when selecting photographers for a job. Just last week I got a call to shoot some portraits from a magazine in Washington, DC that found me via the ASMP Find a Photographer database. That assignment more than paid my dues and just being listed as an ASMP member gives a photographer a lot of credibility in an overcrowded industry. Aside from the database, ASMP has so many discounts and perks available for the professional photographer it is hard to keep track of them – so every time I am buying gear or have to rent a car for an assignment I check their website to see what the options are. They also have some of the best articles, digital know-how and photo information of any website on the internet today. Check out their website at www.asmp.org.

Editorial Photographers (EP) is another organization that is inexpensive to join but has an incredible amount of information available to their members. The EP website has a magazine database with the circulations and ad rates of just about any magazine you can think of. This greatly helps when pricing editorial jobs. The EP forum is also a treasure trove of information especially related to the business side of editorial photography. APA also has incredible digital and business forums where top-notch photographers talk about the state of the industry and the latest tools and techniques – and you don’t even have to be a member to sign onto these forums. And speaking of fun the folks over at sportsshooters.com have a crazy good forum that offers the latest news on anything in the photo world - sometimes funny, sometimes serious and also sadly it can become a serious time sync.

Meeting and talking with your peers is a key aspect to growing as a photographer, a business person and a human being as well. I have learned so much from other photographers in ASMP, TOPA and EP – not to mention the incredible forums on sportsshooter.com and APA – that I certainly would not be the photographer I am today without them. Information I’ve found on those forums has led to some incredible opportunities for me including some big time jobs. Need to figure out how to put together your portfolio? Ask a few thousand top pros on APA or EP. Need to get your digital skills dialed in? There is a lot of great info on all of these organizations websites to get you a long way down that road. Need someone to talk about pricing? Get involved, meet some new people and you’ll have plenty of folks to call when you need to talk money with a client.

Last but certainly not least, by joining a pro photography organization you support your profession because they hire lobbying firms to represent our interests in the U.S. Congress (e.g. Orphan Works). And since photographers in general are a very splintered group we have very little bargaining power save for when the organizations ban together for the good of the industry. Hence, your dues go towards furthering photography as a career both now and in the future. Just imagine what your career would be like if ASMP hadn’t stepped in back in the late 70s to help pass the Copyright Act for photographers.

In the old days, back in the 1990s, most photographers were very secretive about how they conducted their businesses – or how they got that incredible image. In my experience that has changed drastically, most photographers are willing to share war stories, pricing info and much more. A mentor of mine, Marc Romanelli, one of the top stock photographers in the U.S. always said there is “room for all of us”. I was amazed by that comment (made back in the mid 90s). And now ten years on, the local ASMP chapter here in New Mexico is a model of photographers mentoring photographers. Perhaps this is because most of us shoot and work in radically different segments of the photo world, but it is also a result of the great attitude that my good friend Marc related to me so many years ago.

So if you want to further your career, join a pro photography organization asap.

Summer 2007 Newsletter available for Download

Just in case you didn't get the Summer 2007 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter in your email today, it is now available for download from my website. If you'd like to sign on for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I'll add you to the mailing list.

This issue includes an editorial on the updated higher resolution newsletter, a short review of Photoshop CS3, an article on backing up your computer and images and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over a thousand photo editors, photographers and enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Summer 2007 issue and back issues on my website at:


Please note that the newsletter is best viewed in the latest Adobe Acrobat reader which is available for free at http://www.adobe.com. When you click on the above link it will appear in your browser or may start to downloadimmediately depending on what internet browser you use. If you see lines accross the images this is due to the reader you are using - please download the latest Adobe Acrobat reader from the link above if you wish to view the newsletter without lines in the images.

Digital Photography and Medium Format

Excerpt from my Spring 2005 Newsletter

I wrote this "Perspective" article over two years ago and was recently re-reading it and found it intersting just how accurate my predictions were based on a little physics. Hence, I thought I'd repost it here on my blog for those that may have missed it. If you'd like to check out the back issues of my newsletters, they are available for download from my website here:


Here is the article as it was originally written in May 2005:

Before I was a photographer I was a physicist. I helped to create the worldʼs first low temperature STM microscope that could slow the particles of an atom down so they could be “electronically” photographed by a chemically etched probe. All of this happened on a scale most people can hardly even comprehend. I bring this up because my experience with micro-electronics and CCDʼs gives me a different perspective than that held by the masses out there shooting digital. Donʼt get me wrong, digital is rewriting what is possible in photography, but we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what it can resolve, and that is where medium format will come in.

I hear a lot of people saying “medium format is dead.” Pro photographers are selling off their medium format gear everywhere you look. Medium format seems redundant next to the latest 12 and 16 MP professional 35mm DSLRs. As a result medium format camera companies are having a very rough time staying afloat. But I can see in the very near future that they will have reason to celebrate once again. Physics tells us that in order to increase resolution you need to increase the size of the lens and the size of the medium the information is being recorded on. In digital we have already seen this - an 8 MP image from a tiny ʻpoint and shootʼ sensor is inferior to an 8 MP image from a 35mm sized DSLR sensor. And it is well known that the larger the photo site on a CCD the lower the noise and the higher the image quality. All this boils down to the fact that as resolution increases the sensor size and lens diameter will have to increase as well and that is where medium format cameras will make their comeback.

A perfect example of this is Canonʼs EOS 1Ds Mark II with its 16.7 MP sensor. It is a fantastic camera and Canon is to be commended. Sadly, I donʼt own one personally but I am hearing from many who do that they have to use the best lenses Canon makes because the sensor is very close to outresolving the lenses. No matter how well you make a 35mm lens it can only resolve so much information. A Hasselblad lens still out resolves any 35mm lens, that is just physics. Optics will be the limiting factor for digital imaging. I predict that 35mm DSLRs will top out around 22 to 25 MP. Above that you will have to use medium format to get higher resolution with digital. And I predict the limiting factor will be the size of the lenses, not the sensor size. Of course at 22 MP you may ask why would we need anything larger? But one look at a life-like print from a medium format 35 MP camera will have us all drooling.

Adobe Lightroom Workflow eBook updated to cover Lightroom Version 1.1 and Photoshop CS3

I have revised the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: A Professional Photographer's Workflow eBook so that it now covers Lightroom Version 1.1 and Photoshop CS3. New topics covered in this workflow include:

Lightroom Catalogs *NEW*
Five Ways to Speed up Lightroom *NEW*
Synchronizing Folders *NEW*
In-depth explanation of Clarity Slider *NEW*
In-depth examination of the new Sharpening sliders *NEW*
Explanation of new Lens Correction controls *NEW*
Lightroom 1.1 and CS3 Compatibility *NEW*

Also, since I have sold an incredible number of these eBooks I thought I would offer it at a new lower price.

The new Price is $24.95.

To purchase this e-book contact Michael directly at mjcphoto@comcast.net. Payments accepted viaPayPal. Drop me an email and I can send a payment request to you directly via PayPal.

For more information on the Workflow eBook go to:


Also, for those of you that have bought a previous version of the workflow eBook - drop me an email and I can send you the upgraded version for only $12.95!

New Mexico Magazine runs Portfolio of Michael's Work

In the July 2007 issue of New Mexico Magazine, Michael Clark's work is featured in an article entitled Focus on the Extreme: The Photography of Michael Clark. The article, written by Steve Larese, details some of Michael's more harrowing adventures and dispels several myths about being a professional photographer, especially in the adventure genre. The six-page layout also contains a nice set of images shot in New Mexico and one portrait of the photographer at work while shooting images on assignment for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom in Moab, Utah.

The teaser in the table of contents reads: "See the heart-stopping action shots of Michael Clark of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and learn how this avid climber made the journey to become one of the country's top adventure photographers."

And the opening few paragraphs set a super-hero tone: "Whether it's photographing a mountain biker launching off of a 40-foot-high cliff, kayaking through boiling Class IV rapids or rock climbing with nothing but 200 feet of air between himself and oblivion, for Michael Clark, it's just another day at the office."

"Santa Fe-based Michael Clark has made a name for himself in the world of extreme sports by capturing beautiful, death-defying shots of athletes pushing the limits of their physique and, some might argue, sanity. If you've ever breezed through any climbing magazine, Bike, Men's Journal, National Geographic, or have seen ads for Patagonia or other outdoor sports companies, chances are you've seen Clark's work. When editors or marketing teams need big air or whitewater, Clark is high on their list of shooters to call."

To read the rest of the article pick up a copy of the July issue of New Mexico Magazine or you can download a PDF version of the article from my website at:


Michael wins Teva Mountain Games Photo Competition

Michael was just recently awarded the overall grand prize "Best in Show" in the Teva Mountain Games Zest for Adventure Photography Competition for his image of Chris Sharma deep water soloing on Big Momma (5.13d/14a) in Mallorca, Spain (see image above). The image also won "Best in Category" for the Ice & Rock section of the competition as well. With close to 400 images submitted it is a great honor to have my image chosen as the "Best in Show".

The image of Chris Sharma - who was also awarded an Everest Award for "Male Climber of the Year" - will appear in Outside Magazine this summer and it was also on display at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado.

For more info on the Teva Mountain Games and the winning images visit:


ASMP Los Angeles Presentation Recap

I was just recently in the City of Angels giving a presentation for ASMP Los Angeles. About 75 people attended and it was a 3-hour extravaganza of digital workflow and discussions. My thanks to ASMP Los Angeles for having me out and to Digital Fusion for hosting the event. I had a great time and it is always nice to hang out with my peers.

I also had a stock shoot in Encinitas, California the day after the presentation. I was shooting some surfing and surfing lifestyle images for my stock agency Aurora Photos and the Outdoor Collection. Thanks to my good friend Laura Perfetti, pictured above, who was kind enough to meet me and be my athlete for the day. The weather was perfect and the waves weren't bad either. And I even got to get out and try surfing again - my second day ever out on a board. I have to say that surfing is an awesome sport - if only I lived closer to the ocean I would be out there every day I could.

Spring 2007 Newsletter available for Download

Just in case you didn't get the Spring 2007 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter in your email today, it is now available for download from my website. If you'd like to sign on for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I'll add you to the mailing list.

This issue includes an editorial on blogging and my new blog site, equipment reviews of the Epson R1800 Photo printer and Pocket Wizards, a tutorial on CMYK conversions and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over a thousand photo editors, photographers and enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Spring 2007 issue and back issues on my website at:


ASMP Los Angeles Presentation

Michael has been asked to speak to the Los Angeles chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers on the topic of digital workflow on June 5th , 2007. The presentation will be held at Digital Fusion in Culver City (part of West LA). The presentation will start at at 7 PM officially and will go for three hours. Michael will cover his digital workflow from shooting through processing and final preperation of his RAW images using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop as well as his cataloging and archiving systems. If you’d like to attend you can get more information through the ASMP LA chapter and on their website at www.asmpla.org.

Risky Business

This article was originally published in the Summer 2005 issue of my Newsletter.

A few months ago I photographed some good friends, Ryon Reed and Nate McKay doing some extreme mountain biking (aka Freeriding)at a brand new secret location near Moab, Utah named Canfield Canyon. Having photographed these guys before I knew it was going to be extremely dangerous, not for myself but for the riders. When we got to the canyon, which was basically a set of sandstone bowls dropping into one another Nate gave me the scoop on what he had done and what he wanted to do that day. As I usually do, I encouraged the riders to start off casual and I gave them the lecture “don't do anything you aren't sure you can do.” After some casual warm ups, or at least what the riders would call casual - 20 foot jumps off the lip of one of the bowls they moved onto jumping off another drop - this time the lip of a 25 to 30 foot overhanging cave. All of this went off without a hitch and without too much fanfare.

But the piece de resistance was an 80 foot near vertical wall ride Nate had done only a few times before (see photo on the contents page). When Nate told us what he was going to do Ryon and I stood there silent with our mouths agape. I had never seen or heard of anything like this or on this scale before. The upper part of the wall was at least 80 degrees, just off vertical and it also had an overhanging cave in the middle of the wall so that if something went wrong Nate would free fall from 80 feet at the top of his arc onto sandstone rock! On his first go Nate hit the line perfectly and it was unbelievable. By the time he dropped into the lower bowl he was going in excess of 80 mph. He thought it was so fun he did it three more times for the camera (so I could get different angles) and on the last ride he almost stalled over the cave - so we called it quits.

On the way out, Nate told us about another drop he had been looking at and we went over to check it out. I looked over the edge and the rock climber in me took over. I was looking down an 80 foot sheer vertical rock face. The bottom was a smooth transition but that wasnʼt what alarmed me. A small ledge halfway down was the only break in the cliff. I tried to talk Nate out of doing it. If he hit the ledge he would go headfirst all the way to the bottom but he was sure he could do it. At that point I told Nate I wouldnʼt photograph it even if he did do it and that I was going to hike out. I didnʼt want to watch someone die. He was still adamant that he was going to drop in and got on his bike. Luckily, Ryon, an EMT talked him into waiting
until he could get down there on another day and Nate took his advice. I was very much relieved. But I would not be surprised if he has since dropped that line. I still would not want to see it.

This article is an excerpt from the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter which is available through my website. To check out back issues of the newsletter cick here.

Shooting in the Studio

I recently shot some new images of outdoor athletes in a studio for my stock agency Aurora Photos. The image above is a portrait of my good friend Celine Cousteau, member of the Ocean Futures Society, scuba diver and all around elite world traveler. This image of Celine was worked up using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CS3. If you would like to see the process involved in working this image up you can see that in my post on the Inside Lightroom website here:


It is always refreshing to do something completely new, and while this wasn't my first photo shoot in a studio - it has been a while and it was a lot of fun.

James Nachtwey on Documentary Photography

James Nachtwey is one of those photographers that has always inspired me as a photographer and as a human being. If you haven't seen the "War Photographer" documentary I highly recommend it.

This afternoon, while updating my website I found a video of Mr. Nachtwey accepting the 2007 TED prize. It is a heart wrenching acceptance speech and a very timely injection of clarity for the news media world. I highly recommend watching this clip if you have a spare 24 minutes - well worth your time. Here is the link to the high res version:


TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Each year over a thousand of the industry leaders, movers and shakers get together for the TED meetings. For more info on TED visit their website at http://www.ted.com.

The Straight Skinny

An excerpt from the Winter 2007 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter:

The more I look at recent photography trends the more I see Photoshop becoming an accepted reality in the photography market. I’m not saying Photoshop is bad or that manipulating your images is impure or anything. I see more and more images in magazines, ads and even newspapers that have been helped out in one way or another. The fact is that every image, digital or film, is manipulated in some way, shape or form. With film the film itself magically altered reality with deeply saturated colors and stark contrast built in. With digital the photographer basically takes a RAW image file and tries to make it look as the original scene did - albeit with a little more drama and warmer skin tones than really existed. And if that isn’t good enough then the image gets photoshop’ed (verb tense) to help it out. Is this a good thing? Is it sacrilege? Some photojournalists might think so but they do it too even though they would argue they don’t.

The truth is all photographs are skewed - images reveal the photographer’s view point just as much as a writer can imbue an article or a book with their own ideals. I can crop out the trash and poverty in an impoverished region or city and make it seem like paradise or I can focus on the poverty and change the entire message of the photograph. Photographs are like seeing the world through a keyhole. They only tell part of the story as everyone knows. But they can also bring worldwide attention to both good and bad in a way that few other mediums can.

Digital photography and the many methods we have of “developing” digital images has leveled the playing field to some degree so that everyone with the knowledge and a decent computer can alter their images to improve them - to make them more interesting and more arresting. When you get down to it, photographers are artists. And every artist loves to have a new tool to work with so they can create something they’ve never seen before. Photographers have had Photoshop for some time but the combination of Photoshop, digital cameras and the plethora of plug-ins and image manipulations tools are too tempting to ignore. In the end, it is all about the image. Save for the photojournalist - who should keep an image as it was shot for credibility sake - the rest of us are creative artists and any tools we can use to produce better work are an advantage.

The flip side of this is that images can be manipulated to look a million times better than they started out. I’ve looked at a few of the before and after images shot for huge commercial jobs and some of the before shots look like my Grandmother could have shot them with her point and shoot. It just goes to show you there are many ways to get a final image and many photographers aren’t doing all the work in-camera anymore.

If you'd liket o subscribe to the newsletter please email me at mjcphoto@comcast.net. Backissues of the newsletter are available for download here.

Michael's Lightroom vs. Aperture article on Inside Lightroom

As a contributor for O'Reilly's Inside Lightroom I was asked to conduct an extensive comparison of Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom. The article and the results of my comparison are featured on the Inside lightroom website at http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/2007/03/05/lightroom-vs-aperture.html.

Michael's images featured on the Adobe Lightroom Website

Michael's images are featured on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom website in the top tutorial (as in the image below) and they are also featured in the User Manual that comes with the software. These images wee shot on assignment for Adobe last April - see blog post below. To see the Lightroom instructional video with Michael's images visit http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/.

Michael signs on to be a blogger for Inside Lightroom

Michael was asked to become a contributor for O'Reilly Digital Media's new website Inside Lightroom. As a contributor, Michael will write and publish blog posts every Monday and he will also be writing extensive articles from time to time. Inside Lightroom is one of the top five Adobe Photoshop Lightroom websites and is sponsored by Adobe. The website will feature a huge amount of information and resources regarding using Adobe Lightroom as well as working with digital imaging in general. You can visit the Inside Lightroom website at http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/lightroom/.

About O'Reilly:
Since 1978, O'Reilly has been a chronicler and catalyst of leading-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism. Long the information source of choice for technologists, the company now also delivers the knowledge of expert early adopters to everyday computer users. Whether it's delivered in print, online, or in person, everything O'Reilly produces reflects the company's unshakeable belief in the power of information to spur innovation.