Is imitation really a form of flattery?

I’m certain you’ve heard the phrase “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” or something similar. I normally agree with the statement—in most cases. I don’t think it can be applied globally as some would suggest. As a photographer, artist, musician, etc., inspiration comes from a variety of sources. We may or may not be aware of where it came from, but it is what makes art forms evolve into where they are and where they will be in the future. It’s built upon each other whilst improving or enhancing what currently exists.

But where do you draw the line of copying? I’m not necessarily referring to straight up plagiarism. But a mimicking, to the point of where it’s obvious of where the inspiration came from with zero credit to the origination.

It seems like when someone does copy you, somehow the offender feels it appropriate to warn you ahead of time that they may seem or look similar to your version, like somehow that makes it okay. I’ve been copied many times, some more obvious than others. I find it more interesting to observe those that think copying will render the same result monetarily or just in sheer social likes or views.

When I photograph various spots or subjects, I want something different and unique. I try my best not to research angles or anything before I go because I don’t want to be influenced by someone else. Instead I like to get there early and scout out the best location.

It’s one thing to have the same angle. It’s another to edit/mimic a style. When someone has a portfolio of work, you can see a certain consistency or style that usually pertains to them. It’s understandable to like someone’s editing style. But when you deliberately copy it to try and further your career, that’s where I have an issue.

It really comes down to intent. Accidents happen. But I honestly can’t see how a blatant copy of style happens by accident.

to be updated…

Nikon Z6 / Z7 Single Memory Card Slot - Opinion

I am a professional photographer who shoots almost exclusively with Nikon.  In the rare cases, I use a different brand like Canon or Olympus, or technically a DJI drone.  I haven't yet shot with the Sony A7 series, nor do I plan to.

Over the course of the last few days, there has been so much consternation over the lack of dual memory card slots.  I just wanted to throw my opinion out there.

First, many of these people that are upset the camera doesn't have two slots seem to be the same people who claimed they would never switch to mirrorless in the first place because it's not professional grade.  If that is the case, why are they complaining?  They wouldn't use it anyway.  They just seem to be complaining because they have a keyboard and an Internet connection and have nothing better to do.  I also would be willing to bet this seems to be a non-issue with their drone....hmm.

One must realize as a business, your goal is to be profitable.  If you aren't, then you're not in business anymore.  Nikon took a giant leap, and a good one at that.  I feel they exceeded my expectations in almost every way.  One of the things you don't want to do is directly compete with yourself or dismiss your own product lines.  Unless it's a clear upgrade, it's just bad business sense to do this.  Nikon has a few main product lines, everything from your kit-type consumer cameras, to prosumer and professional. Nikon just released the D850. For most things, it's the perfect camera for general purpose.  It wasn't designed to compete or replace the D5, if it did, then there would be no reason to sell the top line of bodies. This is exactly what the Z series is about.  If you have a new camera that, essentially, outdates your newly released D850 and directly competes with your D5, you've created a problem business-wise.  Furthermore, adding all the new features, such as the new Z mount is a huge [necessary] risk. Dumping more R&D money into a product that is not only new, but new to Nikon as well.  Cautious, yet aggressive.

As far as the memory slots are concerned.  I am a huge proponent of dual card slots just for the backup mode.  I love having the simultaneous writes for a few reasons.  Redundancy, peace of mind and flexibility.  When I have finished photographing a certain area, I like to take the SD card from my camera and put it in my wallet.  So I have the data in two places, and one is physically on me, until I can copy them off to the computer and uploaded to my server.   

For paid gigs, weddings, remote hotel/property shoots, it's almost a must. But then you must ask yourself, why would you be doing it with a new, untested product anyway?

That said, I am a little disappointed it doesn't have two slots.  However, I also recognize some reason as to why.  Some may be pure speculation; cost, feature competition, market testing, etc. But what I have said previously, this is not a professional grade camera [yet] and therefore, it's not a deal breaker.  I have my D850 and D810 and they have done the job I needed and will continue to do so.  If I were to get the Z7, it would be for backup purposes or a camera to take when I want to hike, sightsee, or something of that 'nature'.

This is only the start of the full-frame mirrorless cameras from Nikon and I expect them to perfect it over time.  Remember, Sony has many iterations of the A7, and they still don't have it right.  Nikon did a lot of things right the first time, even doing things Sony hasn't done in the last 4-5 years.

In summary, I prefer dual card slots.  But it's not the end of the world.  Most real professionals wouldn't dump their current equipment for the newest shiny object anyway.  And it seems like the biggest complainers can't distinguish between the different lines.  My guess is their photography consists of shoot, upload, filter, hashtag.

 

I will update this as I feel like adding more.

I welcome any comments of course, but remember these are my opinions and I reserve the right to disagree with you as well.

It's official! My first book is available.

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Hardcover book with over 300 beautiful photographs and 216 pages of LDS Temples. Includes every temple in the United States.

I worked over 3 years on this book.  Taking thousands of pictures, driving thousands of miles, visiting every state in the US.

I am super excited.  It's so cool to see something tangible and in my own hands.  Dream come true.  Thanks to everyone that helped me along the way.

This book can be ordered in multiple places.

 

 

Shout out to Karyann and AJ.  Thanks for your help.

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Celestial Temple Series - Are They Real?

I try to be as open as I can when it comes to my art or photography.  I have several styles of what I try to do.  Quite a range of definitions exist when it comes to photography vs. fine art.  I get asked this question a lot, so I decided to write my thoughts on it.

 Provo City Center Temple - Celestial Series

Provo City Center Temple - Celestial Series

Photography is something that can really be defined into a few parts, in my opinion.  Documentary, Style and Fine-Art.  Documentary is where I don't edit anything, no Photoshop, with the exception of standard color, contrast and sharpening.... something your camera does anyway if you shoot in JPG.  Style is where I will remove things like construction cones, cars, fire hydrants, and do various clean up on the image.  This is generally something someone will want to hang in their home or put on their desktop wallpaper.  In my opinion, most people don't want a picture with caution tape, orange cones, etc. on a picture they will be looking at almost every day.  Fine-art is something where anything goes.  It's as equivalent to art as you can get, digitally. Images such as these can include swapping or replacing a sky from boring to dramatic.  Dodging and burning, fine texture details, adding elements into, and compositing.

The Celestial Series of Temple Images are what I would consider Fine-Art.  They are a composite of two separate photos. One for the sky, and one for the temple and grounds.  Most that do photography understand the limitations of cameras and their inability to capture a wide dynamic range.  In the case of the Milky Way shots, the sky is way too dark and the temple with its lights on is way too bright for a camera to capture in a single shot.  Furthermore, the likelihood of having the Milky Way in the right place requires too much time than I could put into it.

To shoot the stars, it requires you to gather as much light as fast as possible into the camera without making the stars leave trails.  I won't go over the math or specifics.  I have other posts about that.  However, when you photograph a lit-up temple, the bright lights actually force you to do the opposite and let less light into the camera.  So you have extremes on both ends.  This is where compositing comes in.

Composites are nothing new.  The concepts and practices have been in use for quite some time.  Mostly in the advertising industry.  But we see it in photographs and images a lot more.  While we are not adding people or cars into the scene, we are adding the temple and sky together.  You shoot the stars and Milky Way completely separate.  Then you photograph the temple completely separate.  You end up with two different photos, which need to be merged and matched to make a piece of art.  Originally I wanted to make it a bit more "realistic" but came to the realization that it was a bit bland.  So the idea was to turn it into something a bit more artsy.   

After I started creating a few of the images, I realized that the milky way itself is always the same.  The stars are always the same.  The only thing that changes is the position of it in the sky due to the earth's position/tilt/etc. in orbit.  My decision was to make the image appealing to the eye and stray further from the realism.  I also decided that instead of photographing the sky 100 different times, I would just use the same photo.  After all, they really are all the same photograph, even if you have 100 of them.  At first I thought that would be a problem because it's the same, however I had to look at it as if I were the person that wanted this on my wall.  Sure there are eighty-something temple images, but only one (maybe two) will hang on someone's wall. 

Many other photographers ask me how this is done.  I can respond with "it's a composite" and most will understand.  But I also get a lot of the buzz-kills that come in and pick apart the image because it's scientifically inaccurate and how the Milky Way band would never be in that position, lol.  Hey, I get it.  Trust me I do.  But this is fine-art, not a documentary.

Cheers.

Source: https://temples.alanfullmer.com/Celestial-...

Snow in Hawaii?

Snow on the road in Hawaii

Believe it or not, yes. Since snow is pretty basic, you just need some water and cold, and voila!  Ok, it's a bit more refined, but on one of my two recent trips to the Big Island of Hawaii, trying to get up to the top of Mauna Kea, the road started to become slushy... something I generally see in the beginning of winter back home in Utah.  I rented a Cadillac Escalade, and honestly it was one of the worst in snow.  Long story short, it couldn't make it up the hill.  

We had to turn around and go back down.  I did end up seeing some snow on the road, and about 3" on the sides of saddle road.  But I wanted more.

Fortunately, the opportunity came along to see the snow again on a separate trip.  A few friends and I went to the top and saw some amazing snow and sunsets.  It was a trip well-worth it.

Yes. Sometimes there is snow in Hawaii.

Snow in Hawaii.  Mauna Kea - Big Island

WHAT'S THE STORY? PROVO CITY CENTER - FAMILIES ARE FOREVER.

Often times people ask me if there is any significant meaning or symbolism behind my photos.  The short answer is "sometimes."

My goal was to create something with a story. 

 Provo City Center Temple - Families Are Forever

Provo City Center Temple - Families Are Forever

In the case of my Families Are Forever image, there are a few intentional things I added to give a side-story behind the photograph.  If you have been to any of my art showings, you've probably heard me tell the short-story behind it.  Some people notice some things and ask questions like; "Why is the child off-centered?" or "Why are only half of the windows lit?" or "Why didn't you Photoshop out the wilted flowers?"   All valid questions of course.  Since we can't control all elements of a photo, such as what lights are on, why didn't the landscapers pull out the dead flowers, etc. We try and change a few things in post-processing to help tell a story.  Although there are very few things done to this photograph in post, I will go through a couple things I did and why.

First, we must understand some things about the sculpture.  It's called "In The Family Circle" by Dennis Smith.  Although the sculpture itself is about "Taking your first step is part of every person's life."  (http://www.smithsculpture.com/in-the-family-circle-sm/)  

When I did a little bit of research on the subject, I found some information about a story called "Melissa Walks" by Jeremy Goff here.  It touched me greatly.  In short, Melissa was to be the model for Dennis as he made the sculpture.  As time went on, they found that Melissa had Cerebral Palsy and that "Melissa will never Walk."  Obviously, there were some challenges associated with this.  I invite you to read this story about it.  

Melissa lived to the age of 19 and never was able to walk without the use of body braces.

There is a full-size cast of the original statue at the Alpine Art center in Alpine Utah.  The plaque reads:

Melissa Walks

"In Memory of Melissa Wilson of Alpine, who, with her parents Keith and Teri Wilson, modeled for this sculpture in 1977 before it was discovered that Melissa had Cerebral Palsy.

Melissa never walked, but lived to the age of nineteen with loving support from her parents and siblings, Jodi, Jason, Justin, and Rebecca.

This sculpture is dedicated as a memorial to Melissa and all others who minds or bodies keep them as Children while upon this earth.

Free from the bondage that held her captive, free from the struggles that challenged her mortal years, the love she received from others and gave back again a hundred fold is finally open to new horizons.

Somewhere, at last, Melissa Walks."



So many stories and parallels within the statue and the temple that I felt that it went beyond the first step and into the after-life as well--the Plan of Salvation, Resurrection, etc.  "The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time..." 

There are a few questions I get asked from time-to-time:

 

Why is the child off-centered?
Composition-wise I believe it should not be centered.  My focus is the temple and the details therein.  Having her in front of the magnificent window architecture covers that up.  Although the statue is part of the entire composition, the main subject is still the temple.  Furthermore, the perspective of the temple is greatly altered by moving to the left.  I wanted to still show details of the temple itself.

 

Why aren't all the window lights on?
I couldn't get the temple workers to turn them all on for me. :) Kidding aside, I wanted this composition to tell a story.  Think of the path and progress of passing through the veil.  From left to right.  The lights symbolize entering into a brighter and happy life after this.  The lights on the right side are on and the brighter sky/sunset on the right further accentuates that.

 

Why didn't you remove the wilted flowers?
As with the previous paragraph explains, and after the resurrection we are made whole, the flowers on the left show that in this life, we will die.  As you move from left to the right, the flowers themselves have the same symbolism.  I didn't alter the flowers in any way.  I felt it it portrayed the image already without having to do any modifications. 
 

So in short, all the pieces combined represent the passing through the veil and the resurrection.  

-Alan Fullmer

 

The full image can be found here: https://temples.alanfullmer.com/LDS-Temples/Provo-City-Center-Utah-Temple/i-Qd8KJ2f/A

TEMPLE ROAD TRIP!

The day has come.  I will be travelling the United States visiting, photographing and  documenting all of the LDS Temples.  

I didn't know exactly what to call this portion of my blog, or the name of the trip itself.  Despite my creativity with photos and such, I am not good at naming things.  So I decided to keep it simple and call it the Temple Road Trip.

I'll start officially updating every mile when I am loaded up and on the road.  Okay, not every mile because Kansas would get pretty boring--fast.   Also, I won't be updating anything while I am actually driving because that would be bad.

Until tomorrow...

0 TO 13,796 IN 60

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There’s never a dull moment when visiting the islands of Hawai’i.   Oh sure, there are some people who never see the outside of their resort except to arrive and depart.  Those people are odd.  Hawaii has so many things to offer and they won’t see any of it, except some nicely groomed lawns, some perfectly placed coconut trees and a sandy beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas.  It’s nice to relax on the beach–don’t get me wrong–but there’s so much of the islands to explore!

On our last trip to the Big Island, one of the days we spent the morning at Kua Bay (there’s another name for this beach, but that’s what the locals call it.)  This is the lowest elevation one can get before actually submerging themselves below the sea level (which I guess technically we did since we were snorkeling and were able to swim with the sea turtles.)  Back to my train of thought… In a matter of a couple hours we did two interesting things without the use of an airplane or jet: go from 88 degrees to 25 degrees (brrr) and from a negative sea level to 13,796 feet.

On top of Mauna Kea - 13,796 ft

Mauna Kea is one of the tallest peaks in the world.  According to Wikipedia, it is ranked 15th. Its elevation is 13,796 ft above sea level.  I’m from Utah and we have tall mountains, but I never got light headed like this when hiking Timpanogos.  It was interesting to say the least.  Whenever I bent over to get in my camera bag and stood back up, I felt very dizzy.  The oxygen is pretty thin up there.  It was cold, and there was snow.  I knew there was snow in Hawaii but I never thought I’d be able to see it first person.  Anyway, the view was spectacular.  You were above the clouds.  We timed it perfectly.

We watched the sun set above the cloud cover.  The colors were beaming off Mauna Loa (the other large peak, which is an active volcano).  It was gorgeous. Having shorts and no real coat, my hands were about to freeze off.  I got a couple shots of the sky with the most stars I have ever seen with my naked eyes.

 Me photographing on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Me photographing on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii

It was hard to pinpoint constellations because there were so many stars in the sky.  Light pollution by stars!  I can definitely see why they have all the observatories up there.  It is a perfect place for that sort of thing.

After some time, I couldn't take any more of the cold.  I didn't have the proper gear to be up there for that long with those temperatures.   I wish I could have stayed longer, but it is what it is, and we had to descend back down the mountain.  That day was very eventful.  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something to do that isn't cliché.  I love the beach and I love photography.  But there’s only so many pictures you can take of the same beach before you have 8 gigabytes of sand photos.

0 feet to 13,786 feet in 60 minutes.