Nov 29, 2012

Boston Skyline Charles River Reflection

The other morning I revisited one of my favorite Boston Skyline Photography locations at the Charles River on Memorial Drive near the Mass Avenue Bridge and MIT. I like this spot because it provides a good view of Boston landmarks such as the Prudential Center and the John Hancock building. The Massachusetts Avenue Bridge spans from MIT over to Boston and leads the viewer into the city. The weather forecast called for a little bit of clouds and lots of sun that day. I was hoping for a beautiful morning sky filled with pink clouds above the Boston skyline landmarks. There was little to no wind that allowed for a wonderful sky and skyline reflection in the Charles River. At twilight the magic slowly but surely unfolded and the sky beautifully became alive. I was intrigued by the soft hues of dawn over Boston and how it reflected on the Charles River. Clouds became more visible and abundant while I kept photographing. Unfortunately the clouds had moved out of the frame once they turned pink that morning but instead I was able to photograph an unique tranquil Boston scene that has a minimalist feel to it and that I love.

Nov 23, 2012

How to avoid Artist Scams like Best Art Marketing and Tuck Tucker – Tips and Case Study

Creating and Selling Art is a tough business and as in any other business (sports, modeling, fashion) with lots of people following their dream they become easy targets for shady predators. Keep in mind that nobody really will do the job for you and especially not for free. It all boils down to us doing the leg work of promoting ourselves and our art and how badly we want to succeed. This is based on a personnel experience. I fell for a rip-off that qualifies as an artist scam when I was tired of online marketing and looking for a break. I fell for Tuck Tucker who also goes by the name Bill Tucker and his shady online business Best Art Marketing. Bill also operates under websites like The Art Marketing Agency and his latest website Visual Arts Marketing which is geared towards all artists. He targets photographers and artists in his Fine Art Photography Resource group on LinkedIn. My experience with his false advertisement promises and art scam inspired me to compile the following tips to avoid email spam, artist scam and rip off or fraud. In addition I provide you with my personal experience with Tuck Tucker and Best Art Marketing.

Tip#1: Keep your guard up at all times and never let them down. Double-check with other artists, research online, and do not trust anybody. If you suspect an artist scam most likely it is one.

Tip #2: Do your research. If it is an art scam, somebody else may have already fallen for it and written about it online. A quick Google Search for company name or person with the words artist scam or art scam will hopefully identify the scammer and scam and put an end to it.

Tip #3: Be aware of spam, phishing, or scam emails. Common warning signs in emails are misspelled words, poor grammar, or an urgent hurried buyer from overseas. When receiving an email from an unknown sources or identified as spam, phishing, or scam, the best is just to delete it. In any case do not respond because you might open your computer to be hacked.

Tip #4: Pay attention to warning signs on malicious websites. A badly designed website with bright, flashy colors or poorly drafted emails should immediately ring the alarm bells. Take matters into your own hands and start an intensive research and query the site or company you are thinking of doing business with before spending your hard-earned dollars.

Tip #5: Be cautious when a buyer wants to make their own shipping arrangements or have somebody else pick up the artwork, usually an indicator of a spam and warning sign for a rip-off, scam, or fraud.

Tip #6: Avoid overpayment and ensure the payment has cleared before shipping your art. Be skeptical if a potential buyer is offering to pay by cashier’s check or money order. Make sure not to be overpaid and never agree to return the overpayment.

Tip #7: Always ask and request references or a client list so that you can follow up with other artist and questioning them about their experience. If there isn't one you probably want to stay away. Also challenge references and credential by running a google search for artist, company or other info that was provided may provide important background information.

Tip #8: Take action when you suspect a rip off, scam, or fraud or have become a victim. File a complaint, share resources, and share your experience with fellow artists and photographers.


Tip #9: Spread the word and tips to make other artists aware. Share this post with other artists, friends and family … hopefully it will prevent them from falling for an art rip-off scam like I did.

Tip #10: Don’t dwell on being a victim to an art scam for too long. Try turning a negative experience while selling and marketing your artwork into a positive by sharing and connecting with other artists. Build an alliance against artist rip-offs, scams, fraud and post your own experiences here.  

Case Study Based on my own Experience with Best Art Marketing and Bill Tucker: At the end of July 2012 I had my guard down and was a victim of an artist scam and rip-off that falsely promised online marketing assistance. I lost money to Bill Tucker and Best Art Marketing. Bill also goes by the name Tuck Tucker and runs the Fine Art Resource group on LinkedIn where he targets photographers and artists. He operates this group to advertise his bogus services in group posts, obtains your email address and sends out email advertisement of his false services. When I visited his old website the alarm bells already should have rung. It was poorly designed; colors and font just screamed scam. A quick Google search afterwards revealed that there were already posts complaining about his marketing service and his bad business ethics. Obviously I did not do my homework properly. However, I was tired and looking for an online marketing break and remember thinking that it would be nice to get that desired break and thinking how bad could it be. Tuck Tucker must provide something of use, even if it is only the promised Search Engine Optimization (SEO). So eventually, I paid using Paypal. Besides SEO, Bill promised promotions through Best Art Marketing and of course in the end more sales and exposure worldwide. Needless to say, that initially nada was provided as promised which classifies it as an artist scam. There was only communication when I filed a claim with Paypal but it turned out that Paypal is useless for these kinds of claims and it was lifted at one point, letting Bill of the hook. The 100% money back guarantee that Bill Tucker and Best Art Marketing offer is bogus too and he has no intention of refunding any of our hard earned dollars that we transfer. Based on the initial experience I decided to apply pressure via my social network on Twitter, Facebook and on LinkedIn. I am very thankful to my network for sharing because it must have been somewhat successful and impacted his revenue since in October 2012 I received an apology email from him and The Art Marketing Agency. He said I fell off the radar and within the email was the report that was promised and advertised originally. The report was embedded in the email but had no value to me. Its main features were a list of links to common online art galleries where we can sell our artwork, recommendations to use social networks like Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Facebook, to start writing a blog, and a list of SEO keywords that are very common for fine art photography and that I already use. The main push of his service is to get you to apply to an art online auction site in France. I never did since it cost extra money to apply. In my opinion he is counting on artists not being accepted, then dropping the ball and not bothering anymore … easy money for Tucker but worthless for any artist and photographer. At the end of his email Bill states that if I am not satisfied with the report and service a refund will be granted. Since the report has little to no value for anybody and the overall experience was horrible I asked for the refund. Needless to say the refund has not been granted yet and as of 31 October 2012 he is working out details with Paypal. In the meantime I revisited old posts in the discussion forum of Fine Art Photography Resources on LinkedIn and learned that he removed my access from the group to post comments, deleted my previous comments to warn other photography artists of the shady business practices of Tuck Tucker and Best Art Marketing and deleted negative comments from other photographers as well. It is funny to see that there are still comments from others thanking Juergen when the original post is gone.

In conclusion Best Art Marketing and Tuck Tucker or Bill Tucker badly represented the artist online manager and art marketing management business industry. I would not expect any better services from The Art Marketing Agency and his latest website Visual Arts Marketing. My clear recommendation for every artist and photographer out there is to be aware and stay away from Tuck Tucker and his false fine art marketing gimmicks and perform an extensive research on any other art marketing service you think of to sign with. Last, please spread the word here if you find an excellent art consultant that provides helpful and outstanding services to the art community and world.

Thanks, Juergen

Nov 20, 2012

New England Fall Foliage Glory at Bubble Pond

Bubble Pond in Maine Acadia National Park is a location I always wanted to visit and explore with my camera but the incredible seascape, landscape, and nature Photography Opportunities along the park look road distract from that ultimate goal and so I never before arrived in time for the prime lighting conditions at the beginning and end of the day. The pond is a short drive along the park loop road from the Jordan House parking area. This last October I decided to go straight to Bubble Pond without stopping along the way and I was not let down. The pond’s shoreline provided brilliant and beautiful New England fall foliage at its best. The waters of the pond were still and beautiful reflections were present. Although there are rocks and grass along its shore, lazy bones Juergen decided to set up tripod and gear not far from the parking area. There were plenty of other American and international photographers present but I found a great spot where I incorporated the grass and a rock as foreground features into the composition. After chit chatting with fellow photogs for a while I started focusing on the scenery and my composition. The evening light slowly but surely beautifully enhanced the bright colors of autumn while the evergreens remained in the shade of the surrounding mountains. The reflection was only interrupted for a short time when an otter decided to create a frenzy making us photographers change to our long lenses trying to capture the wildlife with our cameras. I tried myself but quickly realized that there would be no decent wildlife shot for me this evening because of fading and limited light.  So I switched back to my wide-angle lens for capturing the brilliance of an awesome autumn landscape. The aperture in this fall foliage picture was set to f/11 for maximum Depth of Field. The small aperture combined with an ISO100 setting resulted in an exposure time of  1/6 of a second. By accessing the scenery I decided to expose on the water reflection in the shade of the mountain and use a Neutral Density Filter across the sunlit fall foliage, bright sky and pond reflection thereby retaining some detail in the shadowed part of the image. During post processing I minimally adjusted contrast, lighting, and color saturation before sharpening the final fall foliage image.

Nov 13, 2012

12 Insect Macro Photography Tips


Photo Tip #1: Turn off auto-focus when time and photo object permits and get into the habit of using manual focus instead. Use the magnifying camera feature to precisely pin your focus point. Works wonder when the insect remains still but when the bug is on the move consider final sharp focusing through carefully moving camera and lens back and forward.

Photo Tip #2: Get up early and take advantage of insects being often lethargic and moving slowly. This will allow for a calmer photo gear set up without the insect immediately fleeing the scene. A carefully composed image will result in more attractive compositions.

Photo Tip #3: Use a Sturdy Tripod or monopod and head to stabilize camera and lens and minimize camera shake during photo exposure.

Photo Tip #4: Choose an appropriate aperture setting to control and achieve sufficient Depth of Field. Large f-stop number (small aperture) provides maximum depth of field while small f-stop number (large aperture) minimizes depth of field. The photographic goal is to obtain a razor sharp bug picture while leaving the background in blur. An out of focus background solely stirs all attention to the insect and is much desired for insect macro photographs. Adjust your ISO setting as necessary to compensate for slower shutter speeds when shooting with small apertures.

Photo Tip #5: Capture frame filling images and explore different angles and perspectives for more compelling compositions and close up pictures. 

Photo Tip #6: Take multiple photos to increase your chance for a striking and in focus insect macro photography image.  

Photo Tip #7: Keep an eye on the background and eliminate glare on leaves or distracting branches. Isolating the insect against a clean background is crucial for a successful photography image. Utilize colorful scrubs and flowers to your compositional advantage as an attractive backdrop of color when appropriately blurred out via aperture or focal lens setting. Including an Attractive Background features like a second flower may add a story to the image.

Photo Tip #8: Get down low and photograph the motif at eye level. At times it will be uncomfortable and difficult but it will provide more compelling and better photography results.


Photo Tip #9: Avoid direct or harsh sunlight. Plan your close up photography shoot on overcast days since a cloudy sky softens the light and beautifully balances color and image.


Photo Tip #10: Start photographing from a distance and then slowly move in closer for your next shot. Often they remain on the spot or return shortly after.

Photo Tip #11: Watch the bug’s behavior and habitat. Insects often return to the same spot over and over again. Keep your setup ready and be patient, it will pay off in the long run.

Photo Tip #12: Finding a suitable macro photography subject is probably the most challenging part. Know what you desire to photograph and study the environment the insect can be found in. Once you discover a desired insect start watching its behavior. Pick a local butterfly garden in a nearby wildlife sanctuary or your own garden and choose a certain area like a bush, leaves, or flowers. Watch carefully and see what nature provides. Train your eyes to discover the masters of camouflage and enjoy the hide and seek game most insects will play with you.

Nov 12, 2012

Photo of the Week

Every week I choose one of my favorite photographs of the week from my Fine Art landscape, cityscape, flower and macro photography collection and offer it throughout that week at a discounted rate. This week's photo of the week on sale is Dusk on the Charles showing city of Boston skyline landmarks such as John Hancock building, Prudential Center, Charles River, and Mass Ave Bridge at dusk as seen from Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA.

Starting today through the week of 12 November 2012 this Boston skyline photography picture from my City Skyline Photography Gallery, available as art photo print, acrylic print, metal print or on canvas, is on sale.

Nov 7, 2012

November Macro Photography Art

In most areas Fall Foliage in New England has passed and the glorious colors are further south. Don't hang up your camera for the year quite yet though because leaves on the ground make for beautiful macro photography objects. Visit your local nature wildlife sanctuary, park, garden or arboretum to explore the grounds and find these beautiful gems to photograph. Look for leaves on walls or the edge of a local pond where beautiful leaf composition can be found. Have an open mindset and eye so you don't miss and overlook these little treasures, just waiting to be photographed. Raindrops always add a little extra to the picture and I regularly head out on rainy days or thereafter to beat the odds for higher success ratio. Most often I prefer to work with limited Depth of Field to keep the focus solely on the subject and eliminate any background noise. Overcast sky beautifully balances the colors and contrast. Don't forget to bring your polarizing filter that will help eliminate glare on the leaves and water while also saturating colors. That way Exposure times may be a bit longer but since we always use a tripod, there are no worries. Good luck and make sure to share your photos and tips with me ... looking forward to them!

More Tutorial Reading and Photography Tips: 

Love Jigsaw Puzzles and flowers? 

Favorite Flower and Gardening Quotes 

Painting with Light like Georgia O'Keeffe 

15 Flower Photo Tips and Photography Inspiration

Nov 5, 2012

Photo of the Week

Every week I choose one of my favorite photographs of the week from my Fine Art landscape, cityscape, flower and macro photography collection and offer it throughout that week at a discounted rate. This week's photo of the week on sale is Red Surge showing a beautiful abstract flower fine art photography image in red.

Starting today through the week of 05 November 2012 this abstract flower photography picture from my Flower Photography Gallery, available as art photo print, acrylic print, metal print or on canvas, is on sale.

More Reading and Photo Tips you may enjoy: 

Love Jigsaw Puzzles and flowers? 

Favorite Flower and Gardening Quotes 

Painting with Light like Georgia O'Keeffe 

15 Flower Photo Tips and Photography Inspiration

Nov 3, 2012

Who Inspired Ansel Adams?

Riled Up provided me with a guest blog and their own view on this: Ever wondered who might have inspired Ansel Adams, the dean of landscape photography? Was it a cowboy painter like Charles M. Russell, a native American portraitist like Edward Curtis, or a dust-bowl documentarian like Dorothea Lange? Perhaps, but more likely it was a Civil War veteran, Timothy O’Sullivan, who traveled to the “wild west” to photograph the grand landscapes and people of Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico in the 1870’s at the dawn of media technology.

O’Sullivan’s amazing photographs, very modern in their natural composition, directness, and appearance are now the subject of re-discovery. It’s about time!

timothy-o'sullivan-     western-us-map    o'sullivan-mobile-darkroom-carson-sink-nevada

Timothy O’Sullivan c. 1871-74, Western USA, 19th Century, O’Sullivan Photo Processing Wagon.

Read Riled Up's complete story with more Landscape Photos and Background Info.

Consider visiting Indiegogo campaign by SWP Media to raise money to help port and polish first of its kind smartphone application.

(credit: Riled Up)