© TYLER STABLEFORD
This month, the award-winnnng adventure photographer Tyler Stableford answers PDN readers' questions about shooting in extreme conditions, succeeding in stock photography, taking better environmental portraits, and succeeding in stock. To submit your question for Tyler Stableford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We'll be posting his answers all this month.
An award-winning adventure photographer from Aspen, Stableford has an international clientele that includes Disney, Patagonia, Stetson and Sports Illustrated, among others. Men's Journal named him one of the seven "World's Greatest Adventure Photographers." Tyler has won numerous awards from PDN, the International Photography Awards, Communication Arts, American Photography and National Geographic Traveler. His stock images are represented by Getty Images, and he volunteers to shoot at least one week a year for nonprofits. He is a member of the SanDisk Extreme Team and one of Canon's Explorers of Light.
Stableford says he uses SanDisk Extreme® memory cards to ensure he gets the speed he needs to capture the every adventure.
What advice do you have for shooting in cold weather?
Holly Hughes, PDN
Keep your gear cold during snowstorms -- it's much easier to brush snow off your gear if your equipment is already below freezing; that way snow won't melt on your equipment and then refreeze. It's particularly hard to remove melted-and-frozen water on lenses!
-When bringing your cold gear back inside, keep it in your camera bag, or even better in an airtight plastic bag, during the rewarming process -- this will limit the condensation that forms on your gear.
-Use high capacity SD and CompactFlash cards. In Colorado's powder snow, a dropped flashcard can disappear forever; so try to limit your flashcard changes. I use the SanDisk's 64BG Extreme Pro Compact
Flash card all the time in cold/wet conditions to prevent having to change cards too often.
-On cold days when I need to use my bare hands for climbing or changing flashcards etc, I will sometime tape handwarmer packets to the inside of my wrist. If you have a particularly hot handwarmer packet you could be burned, so use this sparingly -- I've never had an issue with them being too warm, but it's worth a word of warning.
-Keep your camera gear on a hip belt rather than a backpack, which you need to put down in the snow to access. It's much easier to keep gear out of the snow if it's all available on your hips.
You have a successful business in the increasingly competitive field of stock photography. Do you have advice about shooting successful stock images?
H Hughes, PDN
Those who were used to the 'easy days' of stock shooting a decade ago, before the digital revolution, are finding a tough market. Yet the good news is that there are more venues for selling your stock images than ever before. The average rates for each image have gone down dramatically; but for those getting into stock photography, there are myriad ways to sell images. I saw my stock agency sales fall almost 50% last year. They are regaining some of that lost ground, but I'm not optimistic that they will regain their height.
Think of stock photography as a chance to expand your portfolio and perhaps have a fun field trip -- this mindset will help you push your work to higher levels and avoid burnout. I try to separate my stock images by shooting singular, high-selling images in places that aren't easy to access -- places like coal mines and oil rigs, high mountain peaks and steep cliffs. For many of these shoots, I get access by shooting an editorial assignment for a magazine or newspaper -- the size of the publication or their pay hardly matters; the access is much more valuable!
Plus, these shoots make for memorable experiences.
Which of the RAW converters do you prefer?
H. Cabrini, via email
My favorite RAW converter is Adobe Lightroom 3. The updated processing engine is cutting edge and produces outstanding raw conversions; plus it's quick to use along with all of the other great processing tools.