“Gotta have those megapixels…” Really?

The above image is made from a composite of four iPhone panoramic shots. L & R vertical and top and bottom horizontal images.
Stitched together using Photoshop and cropped to – 8000×8000 pixels!

Recently a camera was announced having 64-megapixels. With more being announced regularly…

64 MEGAPIXELS!!!! Each RAW image will be 64 megabytes – are you kidding me? Oh, I’d love to have one…but do I ‘Really’ need one?

That’s going to take a wee bit of computer processing, especially when you have a whole card (or cards) full of images from your recent shoot.

So that brings us to the topic of “All the other stuff you’re going to need…seriously. (Caveat: We’re talking about your enthusiast or semi-pro photographer’s needs)

We are talking about a whole new game when it comes to processing those sizes of files. I mean imagine the power it takes to process 8 or 9 images of that size and make a Pano! You either let your old computer “cook” while doing the laundry, roast a turkey and drink a six-pack or whatever, until those files are processed.  Your two-year-old laptop is going to “Freak!”

Processing power, we’re talking the latest multi-core processor, mega amounts of memory (RAM), super video cards, and motherboard installed solid-state drives. Don’t forget storage and if you use the “cloud”, upload times. And if you build your own computers (Windows) we’re talking thousands of dollars just in components…Even your Mac is going to struggle at some point sooner than later. I’m all for progress, especially when it comes to technology, but for the average photographer there are limitations, IMHO. (Does not apply to Lotto winners etc…)

My go-to camera is my trusty Canon 1Ds mark II circa 2006. Yes, there it is…a dinosaur, just like me. But I make stunning 36-inch-wide prints with only 16 megapixels. So how big do you really need? Yes, I must admit that I wish I had a bit more MP, but realistically around 24 is plenty for most folks. And at that size, your average 2 year old computer can render those files quite handily.

Recently I have been experimenting with my iPhones. (Various models over the past few years) I was at one of my favorite areas awhile back and saw the above scene. I made the image using the “Panoramic” mode by creating two verticals and two horizontals. I overlapped them each by about 10% making sure there were landmass edge detail in each. I then stitched them together in Photoshop. The resulting image was huge, and I cropped it to a file size of 8000×8000 pixels. Frankly, I was blown away at the detail.

Pretty amazing what you can do with just a mobile phone and a little effort.

So now we get to the point of “what do you really need to convey your artistry”? I’ve been professionally doing photography for the last 20 years now and I am starting to have some very real questions. Not being uber-famous or rich, do I really need this new stuff to keep up? My answer to me is NO!

In fact, most people I talk to who attend my training surprisingly don’t really do anything with their images later. Except for posting on-line, many don’t print them even for their own viewing satisfaction in their homes.

Make no mistake, I would love to have a camera with a higher ISO capability and a few more MP, but my old Canon is still pumping out really nice stuff.

So, the question remains… do you really need 64+ megapixels, or should you spend your money on getting to those places on your bucket list of photogenic places…?


Hard Life

Sometimes we need to pull ourselves back a bit from our frenetic “modern life”…so it is for me when I am in the White Mountains just south and east of Bishop California.

Known for the famous Bristle Cone Pine trees growing at 11,000′ feet elevation, life is harsh. Surprisingly dry…how it survives in the jagged rocks is in and of itself a wonder of nature. This tree is likely only several hundred years old whereas others in the area have been dated to over 5000 years of age. They may grow only a few needles a year…maybe…

Yet in the near distance, no rocks, and instead, dirt, with only scrub brush and a few trees. For me the contrast was amazing.

This scene humbled me…

Note: This image was taken on a bright, sunny, blue-sky day. I elected to create it in black & white to fit the mood and beauty in which I envisioned it.


For the last few years I have been using iPhones as my Smartphone and for making images. It started out simple enough, a snap here and there when visiting friends and such…

But then one day I had an idea. I would use it when scouting locations for workshops and private lessons that I conduct. Sure beats lugging my backpack with gear around. Then I found use for showing clients a visual demo of what we were discussing in the field. It didn’t take long before I was using wifi to transmit images from my clients camera to my phone or iPad for real time review and critique. (My clients love that!). So I really starting finding a real use for the camera both for the convenience and certainly Apple’s product quality.

 Not only are many images on my website produced with my iPhone but I am furthering my own skills so I can pass them along to clients during their training with their DSLR’s.

 Case in point is the photo used in this post. It was captured and edited using only my iPhone 8 plus. I used the native camera “Live” to capture the image as a long exposure and then used the in phone editing software and Lightroom CC to put some final touches on the image. All using the phone!

 Now is it as good as I can do with my Canon 1 series camera, desktop computer and Photoshop – probably not, but it’s definitely usable for my purposes.

I believe it won’t be long before technology steers us away from the large DSLR’s to tools such as the smartphone or something like it . It’s already occurring with the mirrorless and other more diminutive cameras. Don’t get me wrong the big guns will be around for awhile but I believe in more specialized circumstances going forward.

BTW  do you see the little sea lion taking a nap?

Till next time…Happy Shootin’

“I love you, you old Boat!” I really do…

Out in the little hamlet of Inverness California, behind an old market, sits an old fishing boat aptly named the “Point Reyes”.
When I first laid eyes on her back in early 2001 she showed signs of neglect and to the untrained eye looked like she could actually go to sea once again with a little TLC.

From her layout and rigging style she looked to have been a Salmon trawler/rockfish rig typical of the California coast. Numerous legendary stories surround her mysterious beaching, but one thing was certain, and as time has shown true, it is her final resting place.

If you’re a “Daydreamer” you can imagine her life along with her owner and crew plying the coastal waters and delivering her bounty to restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m sure she has plenty of stories of her own…

When I first came across her I was just starting to “play” with photography. The first image you see here was taken in January of 2001 when at that time, I found her to be a curious object to photograph. I thought it was “cool” that Ravens were
alighting from her signifying what was to become a long slow process of decay.

Over the years every visit to the Point Reyes National Seashore brought me to her and I would photograph her each time, noticing with increased sadness her decline.

However, just as she had brought healthy and fulfilling nourishment to diners her in heyday, she wasn’t done…


She’s still beautiful…

In the following decades she has garnered an incredible amount of attention from visitors all over the world. Google her and you’ll see thousands of images of her – more than many runway models!

As if Mother Nature’s way wasn’t harsh enough on her, ‘ignorants’ have abused and vandalized her and most recently, set her afire. Thus hastening her demise.

She was built to withstand the wild Pacific Ocean and even through all these years beached, still she gives it her best smile. Tough but in a strange way elegant. Maybe that’s why sailor’s love their boats? (maybe photographers too…)



Over the years a lot has changed and nowadays I take my workshop clients to her first thing, to discuss shapes – textures – and tonality.

I will be hard pressed and quite sad when she’s gone.

She has contributed greatly to my evolution as a photographer and to many others as well…and that’s why I love her.

For more information on my photography workshops and training please visit my website at  www.jgunther.com


On-Site Workflow

On-Site Workflow

A while ago I did an article on Pre-Shoot Workflow…well that’s all fine and dandy….Pretty straight forward.

But what do you do on scene? What do you do and what do you look for?

It’s one thing to research your trip from your nice chair in your office or wherever, but once you’re there maybe it doesn’t look quite like you thought it would.

Here’s what I do.


Usually the first wrench in the monkeyworks is weather…if it’s too bad but worth waiting, have a cup of coffee and hang out. Kind of like fishing…
If its just uncomfortable, well then, put on your best “uncomfortable weather clothes” and get out there!

I first think, ‘well if its gray and gloomy – black & white images might be the order of the day’

Storm clouds can add incredible drama to many images…Quite often you also have wind. So the consideration is shutter speed. Long slow speeds get those dreamy, ethereal images. (Man, I love my 10-stop ND) Otherwise super fast speeds will stop most any action such as trees or grasses, or waves or anything else blowing around. Just remember, the faster stuffs moving the faster your shutter speed needs to be. If 1/8000 sec doesn’t do it – go back and enjoy that coffee you were nursing…
Tip: if it’s really howling wind – maybe there’s something nearby that you can use as a shelter and can still get a nice composition from that place.


Is it just me or are there more tourists messing places up? (and I mean REALLY messing places up – no regard for the environment)
My friend Andy used to say “there’s too many people suckin’ up my air” – well said Andy (R.I.P.)
We’ve all been there, but what do you do? Well, you can ‘try’ and nicely ask them to step 3 feet to the left so they’re not in your shot. That don’t work…

Here’s my suggestion. I know we all have time issues as to when we can get away but I make sure I don’t go out until 2 weeks AFTER Labor Day and 1 Week BEFORE Memorial Day (USA)  That way the crowds (most of ’em) have gone back to wherever they came from and there’s less pressure on the location.
Tip: Check with the local Rangers or coffee shop waitress and see when they say they can catch their breath – wait a couple of days and then go.

Okay here’s where I get a bit serious…

When you’re on site and looking for your composition here are some things to consider.  Aside from what you have researched and why you’re there in the first place…

Look for shapes – not only shapes that might be interesting but how they jive with other shapes.
Look for patterns – check for repetitious patterns. Maybe you find a nice abstract image.
Look for textures – texture brings detail to your images – definitely use them
Look for tonalities – Look for lights and darks and how they relate, particularly to the fore mentioned.
TIP: I like to include a strong element in my foregrounds. I like to anchor my image and then have something else lead the eye to the main subject of the image.

When you’re scoping out the above don’t forget to get low, get high (you know what I mean – bring a ladder – seriously I have a step ladder in my truck) go left, go right, check your best aspect for your compostion.
And don’t forget to look back over your shoulder from whence you came – it’s amazing sometimes what compostions are laughing behind your back…

So you see? it’s not rocket science…but coming from an “Old Guy” whose made many mistakes, well, this is what I’ve learned…

Hope it helps.

Cheers and Happy Clicks!