An Art Critic’s 33 Rules for Being an Artist

Photo: Amaury Salas

Art, as we all know, is about following a set number of rules handed to you by another person. In the latest New York Magazine cover story, art critic Jerry Saltz lists 33 steps to becoming a great artist, and what’s interesting is how many don’ts he’s willing to hand out. His refreshingly specific tips are all, at some level, optional. And that is why they’re useful, if you’re trying to be more creative.

The piece is dense with the kind of pithy advice you should write on a Post-it and stick to your wall. Some of the best lines aren’t even one of Saltz’s 33 tips, they’re just supporting material. For example:

  • “No one asks what Mozart means. Or an Indian raga or the little tripping dance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to ‘Cheek to Cheek’ in Top Hat. Forget about making things that are understood.”
  • “Make one hokey Dalí-like painting or mini Kusama light installation to get this out of your system.”
  • “Your skill will be whatever it is you’re doing differently.”
  • “If someone says your work looks like someone else’s and you should stop making it, I say don’t stop doing it. Do it again. Do it 100 times or 1,000 times. Then ask an artist friend whom you trust if your work still looks too much like the other person’s art. If it still looks too much like the other person’s, try another path.”
  • “Make a list of three artists whose work you despise. Make a list of five things about each artist that you do not like; be as specific as possible. Often there’s something about what these artists do that you share.”
  • “All art was once contemporary art. Never forget this.”
  • “Accept that you will likely be poor.”
  • “Artists must commune with their own kind all the time. To protect yourselves, form small gangs. Protect one another no matter what; this gang will allow all of you to go out into and take over parts of the world. Protect the weakest artist in your gang, because there are people in the gang who think you’re the weak one.”

Would you believe that this is a small percentage of the insightful advice in this piece? It is! Read it all!

How to Be an Artist | Vulture

from Lifehacker

How To: An Introduction to Street Style Dance Photography


Dance photography is absolutely gorgeous; so how do you get into it?

It’s quite easy for many photographers to scroll in their Instagram feed and double tap any dance photography that they see. The reason why is because it’s all pretty magical. Like everyone in the photography community says and does though, everyone wants to do it. But how? To figure this out, we talked to photographer Kien Quan and Omar Robles–arguably two of the bigger dance photographers on Instagram. In two separate interviews, we took a look at their work and asked for digestible quotes to help out other photographers.

Kien Quan

Kien has a unique way of approaching dancers. He is himself a former dancer. We’ve featured him in our Inside the Photographer’s Mind series where he talks about this in depth.

Phoblographer: How you do go about finding dancers to work with and collaborate with?

Kien: There are a few ways. As I’ve been in the dance scene for over 13 years, a majority of the people that I shoot are my friends even before I picked up a camera. If I haven’t met them, I either get referred or I get directly contacted through email or social media. I think a combination of my contributions in the dance scene and a strong social presence has opened up doors for me.

Phoblographer: How important is it to understand the type of dance that they do?

Kien: I like to think that I am partially creating art and partially documenting a person. I rather figure out what story the talent wants to feature and tell it. To understand that, you need to grasp the values in the niche or community. It’s built on trust and respect. If you don’t really understand what you are shooting, it’s very obvious that you are a poser or an outsider. These are things you can’t really teach in a textbook but you pick it up by submerging yourself in that world. This is a common theme when it comes to documenting people in any group, culture, or affiliation.

Phoblographer: What are some things that you typically do for each shoot that have just become routine?

Kien: I would say pre-planning is something routine for me. It is actually the hardest hurdle and the actual shoot is very easy once I have a game plan. Most of my planning usually manifests itself when I have these questions answered.

  • Who am I shooting and what is their story?
  • What can they do and cannot do? Move-wise and what they are comfortable with.
  • How do the talent want to represent themselves?
  • How much time do I have?
  • What are my resources (travel and money)?
  • Are they hard to work with?
  • What are my options with locations?
  • Can I make this different from what I shot before?

Phoblographer: Do you ever get tired shooting a dancer more than twice?

Kien: I get bored of everything after the first time. The question is how can you stay consistent and keep switching things up to keep yourself interested? I like to learn new techniques or do something completely different so when I come back, I have a new mindset. As of this moment, I oscillate between dance photography, video and commercial work. Either one can get stale but if I ever get bored I will focus on the latter. When I figure out something cool in one activity, it excites me to try it out in the other field.

“If you don’t really understand what you are shooting, it’s very obvious that you are a poser or an outsider. “

Phoblographer: How much does gear play a role in your photography?

Kien: I think the content and the story is the most important. Gear and technique is just the cherry on top.

Phoblographer: How do you go about choosing locations and times?

Kien: I don’t have an exact answer but I have to hash all of those factors to figure it out.

Omar Robles

Image by Omar Robles

Omar seems to really agree with what Kien says. Just ask a dancer is what they both say! It doesn’t hurt at all. As we’ve stated a number of times with portrait subjects, just have good intentions.

Phoblographer: How you do go about finding dancers to work with and collaborate with?

Omar: I mostly search for people through Instagram. I look for dancers with strong technique.

Phoblographer: How important is it to understand the type of dance that they do?

Omar: Extremely important. I would say it’s 90% of the work. Dance is a codified language. And you need to be able to communicate your vision with the dancers in their language as well as understand their feedback. I am as much as a photographer as I am a choreographer within the context of my work.

Phoblographer: What are some things that you typically do for each shoot that have just become routine?

Omar: I give dancers time to warm up, during which time I talk to them to develop a rapport and give them a rundown of the shoot.

Phoblographer: Do you ever get tired shooting a dancer more than twice?

Omar: On the contrary, the more you work with a dancer the more they can surprise you. Plus I’ve built over the time strong relationships with them.

Phoblographer: How much does gear play a role in your photography?

Omar: Some, but it’s more about style than anything else.

Phoblographer: How do you go about choosing locations and times?

Omar: For times I go with the sun, so close to sunrise and sunset. Location, I never know what I’m looking for until I find it. I go with a general idea of a place I want to meet up with them and from there we just walk and explore.

Phoblographer: You’ve gotten into doing a lot of nude dancers recently. Why?

Omar: I wanted to try something different. Nudity as a great way to show the dancer’s strength and beauty as well as their vulnerability. I feel it really makes for a strong and poetic image.

All images used with permission from the respective photographers.


from The Phoblographer

Astrophotography: How I shot Comet 46P from start to finish


If you have access to dark and clear skies, you should have a great opportunity to catch Comet 46P / Wirtanen leading up to it’s closest approach on December 16th. It’s great timing as there’s barely any moonlight to interfere with viewing the comet, too!

This is the second installment of my new series called The Process. Each time I’ll take you through the planning, shooting and processing of an image. On this post, I’ll also be sharing how to find the comet 46P, how I shot my images, and taking a special first look at the new Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART lens!

Let’s get going!

Planning: How to Find and Photograph Comet 46P

Almost as soon as it’s dark, the comet will be visible in the night sky. Comet 46P will continue to drift higher and become more visible as the week progresses, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait before heading out. This will be the brightest comet of 2018 and opportunities like this don’t come by too often so I suggest heading out as soon as you have clear skies!

I took a trip out to the Anza Borrego desert this past Saturday in hopes of catching a view of the comet and then the Delta IV rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB. Unfortunately, the launch was canceled with just 7.5 seconds remaining in the countdown, but we still had beautiful skies and a great first view of the comet.

Here are some behind the scenes photos and videos of what I took with me.

Gear for the Shoot

(Left Photo) Camera Body:  I brought both my Sony A7RII and my Nikon D800E with me. I planned on shooting primarily with the Sony and then maybe having the Nikon shoot a timelapse off to the side.


Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART (A7RII)

Sigma 14mm f1.8 ART (A7RII)

Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART (A7RII)

Sigma 20mm 1.4 ART (Nikon)

Sigma 50mm 1.4 ART (Nikon)

(Right Photo) In addition to my camera gear, I also brought my Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. If I caught a photo of the launch, I was planning on making my way back to the car and getting it processed and posted as quickly as possible instead of driving home 2 hours and then just starting to work on the image. Being able to get a shot like that processed and posted right away is a huge advantage when photographing something that can be considered newsworthy or that might have a lot of people posting images.

Finding Comet 46P in the Sky

Currently, the comet can be seen in the East / South East skies shortly after sunset and then setting in the Western skies later in the night.

Early in the night, I looked toward the easy to find constellation Orion and the looked up and to the right a bit to locate the comet. As each night passes, the location will be a bit different than the night prior. Keep that in mind whether you’re planning on viewing or photographing.

To the unaided eye, it can be a little bit harder to find. It doesn’t have much color, but will have a small diffuse glow to it. In your images, the comet will have a brilliant green glow to it.

The chart to the right shows the location each night of the comet in the sky. If you’re still having a hard time, you can use apps like StarWalk, PhotoPills or Sky Guide to help you find the comet. If you’ve never used one of those apps before they’re a really great tool in the field. You can use the search function and enter the object you’re looking for in the sky. The apps highlight your searched object or you can simply hold your phone up to the sky and it will show a live chart of what you’re looking at in that direction!

Have your phone pointed right at the section of the sky the comet should be in, but you can still can’t find it? Try pointing your camera in the same spot and then taking a photo. The comet will show up as a green dot and should be pretty easy to see on the back of your camera if your skies are dark enough. If you’re still having trouble, try picking out bright star or constellation on one of the apps and then located it in your test image.

Once you know the location of the comet, the next thing we’ll need to do is get the shot! We’ll take a look at why I used the lens I did, my camera settings and my edit next!

Comet 46P Path
Chart via Sky and Telescope

How to Photograph Comet 46P / Wirtanen

Like all other objects in the night sky, they’re a bit easier to photograph when they’re located further from the horizon. Being further away from light pollution at the horizon helps whatever you’re photographing stand out in more and helps you capture more detail. Despite this, I really wanted to get a photograph of the comet and still have some sort of landscape and human element in the image. This would help make the image unique and stand out a bit from the images that focus just on the sky and the comet. Those will definitely be awesome and I hope to capture some as well, but for this first night out my primary focus would be a bit different.

I had one night out with the Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART prior to this and I was so blown away by the results that I knew I had to use it again to capture the comet. Aside from the quality of the lens, shooting at a slightly longer focal length would make the comet appear slightly larger in the sky.
My photo showing Kona, Rachel and I was taken at 6:42PM. Although it was visible earlier, you can see the light pollution on the bottom right part of my photo. I waited until the comet cleared this area by a decent distance and then found a hill to shoot from the bottom looking up at the three of us stargazing.  Setting things up like this helped the comet stand out while keeping a landscape element to the image.


As referenced in the first post in The Process, there are a number of ways to capture a night sky image. Because this is somewhat of a news type event in the science field, I wanted to capture this in a single exposure. That meant all three of us would have to stand still for as long as the shutter was open. It took a few tries, but I think we did a pretty good job!

Here are the settings for the image below:

Sony A7RII

Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART

Exposure: 8 Seconds

ISO: 3200


As always, I had my camera set to capture images in RAW so I would be able to bring out the most detail possible while editing.  I used a remote shutter release to have the camera take the same exposure consecutively, similar to shooting star trails or a timelapse, so I’d have a few different photos to pick from. You end up with a bunch of very similar photos that you won’t use and some funny outtakes (see below), but it helps make sure you get the shot you’re after.
In other circumstances, you might approach a shot like this by taking a shorter exposure for the foreground and the people standing in the shot. After that, you can take a longer exposure for the sky that would pull more detail and blend the two images together in post. But, as I mentioned, this specific circumstance was about capturing the moment as true as possible.

You can see a few alternate takes and out takes below:

What Lens & Focal Length Should I Shoot the Comet With?

Depending on your desired results, you can really shoot the comet with a variety of focal lengths. Anything from an ultrawide 14mm to a telephoto 600mm will work! Keep in mind, the wider of a focal length that you pick, the smaller the comet will appear in the photo. This is exactly why I was excited to head out with the Sigma 40mm.

You’ll also want to make sure your lens has a fast aperture. Ideally, you’ll be shooting at f2.8 or faster. As noted above, I ended up shooting my images at f1.4.

A Closer Look: 

This section is a bit of a closer look at the comet and then a bit after a closer look at the image quality from the Sigma 40mm..

I was already a huge fan of shooting with the Sigma 35 and 50mm ART lenses, so I wasn’t too sure where this lens would fit. It’s a great focal length for panos, but the 35 and 50 are pretty killer lenses already. Well, all it took was one night of shooting and I was sold on this lens. Holy cow is this thing tack sharp from edge to edge. It’s early still, but this is already one of the most impressive lenses I’ve used to date.

First up, let’s take a closer look at the comet! The left is a 100% crop from the Sigma 40mm and the right is a square crop from the Sigma 135mm.

The comet might not have a large visible tail, but it’s still super exciting to see and photograph. Having that green glow show up on the back of your camera is really incredible.

During blue hour, I snapped a few photos of Kona and I on another hill. You can take a look at that image and then the image next to it to see a 100% crop of the corner from the Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART lens. Pretty impressive, if you ask me!


While I wasn’t quite in the same rush that I would’ve been if I took photo of the Delta rocket launch, I still did all of my editing on my Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. To be honest, the edit of this was pretty straight forward. The biggest part of this edit was nailing the white balance that I wanted. This would help the comet show up green and stand out in the sky. Most of edits were done pretty quickly in Lightroom with one additional curves layer being added in Photoshop. With the curves layer, I added a bit more contrast to the overall image and then manually erased part of the mask in the foreground. It’s a very subtle effect that hopefully helps draw the eye in and up.

I ended up cropping the image just a small bit to as I felt it balanced the foreground a little better than my framing in the field. Aside from that, there wasn’t much left!

That’s about it! Hopefully in the coming days I’ll be sharing more images of the comet and from the new Sigma 40mm lens! This wasn’t originally the content I had planned for the second installment of The Process, but I hope it will help people get out and take great photos of the best comet of the year!

If you have any questions about the information above, feel free to reach out on Instagram or leave a comment below! As with each new post in The Process, I’ll be doing an Instagram live to answer questions and chat about everything a bit more! So, keep an eye out for that, too!

I’d love to hear what you think and if there are any images you’d like to know more about!

Thanks so much for checking this out! Special thanks to Sigma for getting me a copy of the 40mm to head out and shoot with! Good luck and clear skies!

Enjoy a special bonus photo of Kona : )

About the Author

Jack Fusco is a San Diego-based photographer and Sigma Photo Ambassador. He specializes in timelapse, landscape and astrophotography, and he went from being a touring musician to being a full-time photographer. You can see more of Jack’s work on his website, Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

from -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time

Moody photo from Mars shows a giant crater loaded with ice


Moody photo from Mars shows a giant crater loaded with ice

A view of Mars' Korolev crater.
A view of Mars’ Korolev crater.

Image: european space agency

2017%2f12%2f04%2f7d%2fmarkpic.c6031By Mark Kaufman

Flying over the frigid northern reaches of Mars, the orbiting Mars Express satellite captured images of the 50-mile wide Korolev crater filled with ice.

Korolev is an especially alluring sight, not just because it’s a well-preserved impact crater but because it’s loaded with ice over a mile deep year round. 

Launched 15 years ago by the European Space Agency (ESA), Mars Express often focuses on glaciers and ice in the Martian polar regions. 

The Korolev crater’s ice is resistant to melting during the warmer summer seasons because the massive plain of ice creates a “cold trap,” ESA explains. When air travels above the crater, it cools and sinks over the ice, building a sort of cool “shield” over the ice. 

The Mars Orbiter looking down upon the Korolev crater.

The Mars Orbiter looking down upon the Korolev crater.

So even as the seasons change, Korolev remains brimming with ice. Most Martian craters, even in cooler regions, don’t remain full year-round. 

As Mars Express zips over the desert planet, it takes photos of different strips of land, and then transmits the pictures back to Earth. 

ESA scientists then combine the images together to build a coherent picture of different Martian landforms, dried-up lakes, and masses of frozen water. 

These Korolev images above are composites of five different photos, each taken during a separate orbit across Mars.

Korolev is named for a giant in space history: rocket scientist Sergei Korolev. 

Korolev headed the Soviet space program and famously beat the Americans into space. The Soviets, under Korolev’s leadership, sent both the first human and satellite into space. 

“He’s a key figure in space history — though he died much too early,” space historian Robert Pearlman said.

Mars Express continues to actively scour the red Martian terrain and transmit truly brilliant extraterrestrial images back to Earth.

from Mashable!

5 Ways to Apply Artistic Expression for Memorable Photography


The post 5 Ways to Apply Artistic Expression for Memorable Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Rickshaw rider, Kathmandu, Nepal © Jeremy Flint

Photography can be a wonderful way to express your creativity and artistic flair. Artistic expression is all about you and allowing yourself the freedom in your photography to satisfy your visual curiosity. Fundamentally, it is a means to fuel your imagination and a way of being artful, according to your mood. The subject matter is entirely your choice, whether you decide to capture wildlife, landscapes, architecture or abstract scenes.

You can apply photography techniques that inspire you, from motion blur to creative arrangements. Alternatively, work with what you find.

Here are 5 ways you can use artistic expression in your photography to capture some memorable shots:

1. Sharpness and blur

Freezing the action of your chosen subject can be achieved with short exposure times and result in sharper images. Photography doesn’t have to be about capturing the beauty of a scene in its sharpest and most natural form. You can be playful in your creations and apply a bit of artistic blur from time to time. Adding artistic blur is a great way to put some art and movement into your photographs.

Sharp images are dynamic and provide an obvious and real static representation of a scene. However, using blur can make an image more compelling. Using a slower shutter speed helps to provide motion and movement to photographs while adding drama and vitality.

Hyena Pan, Tanzania © Jeremy Flint

2. Light trails at night

At nighttime, as darkness falls, lights come on and provide excellent subjects to capture. Roads become lit by light trails from vehicles that give unique patterns.

© Jeremy Flint

Fairgrounds are great for artistic shots. This is due to their unique atmosphere, as well as the fairground’s color and excitement. Be inventive and artistic in your approach to capturing these scenes. Look for elements such as the vibrant and attractive Christmas lights and car light trails as shown in the image below.

London Xmas Lights © Jeremy Flint

3. Shoot a silhouette

While many shots taken during daylight hours tend to show all details in an image, get creative by shooting a silhouette. You can achieve a silhouette by mainly photographing a subject’s outline and making it featureless against a bright background.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK © Jeremy Flint

In the image example here, I have used the famous landmark of Stonehenge in the UK with a vibrant sky behind. Make sure you choose a strong subject for a silhouette such as the distinct shape of a person or animal. The best way to shoot a silhouette is to position your subject in front of a bright background and to expose for the background, rendering your subject dark and underexposed.

© Jeremy Flint

Silhouettes are an interesting way to convey drama and energy into your images and makes them stand out.

4. Shoot an abstract

Abstract photography can be made up of several characteristics. Usually, abstraction takes place when a photographer focuses on a section of a natural scene isolating it from its context. This could be a color, texture, line, shape, geometry, symmetry or reflection of a scene. The photographer changes our perception of the real and familiar subject or object. The viewer doesn’t immediately recognize it.

Abstraction facilitates a move away from the specific, the concrete and the obvious. You achieve abstraction by isolating, or eliminating an object and its texture, shape, and form. Color and tones can become strong elements in an abstract photograph.

Slot Canyon, Arizona, USA © Jeremy Flint

Details can be used to create abstract photographs by moving closer to our subjects. Alternatively, you can achieve abstraction through movement. Through subject motion, photographer motion, camera movement or a combination of any of these, information gets reduced, and impressions are created. For example, moving the camera upwards or downwards when photographing trees leaves behind colors, patterns, and lines.

5. Find patterns

Patterns are a wonderful way to add interest to your abstract photography. Our day to day visual life consists of patterns, shapes, and textures that evoke a certain mood or atmosphere.

We are visually drawn to patterns because they provide us with a graphic element that looks appealing and interesting.

© Jeremy Flint

Photographing patterns can make for good compositions. For example, you could show a small area of a broader subject. Macro lenses can be used to get in close and add more interest.


Learning to apply artistic expression in your photos can be a great way to create intriguing and unusual images that make a viewer stop and think about your image. Try out the 5 techniques outlined above and share your images with us below.

The post 5 Ways to Apply Artistic Expression for Memorable Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

from Digital Photography School

Banksy’s latest creation depicts a kid licking ash out of the air, and it calls attention to a global health crisis


banksy port talbot garage air pollution

  • Celebrated street artist Banksy is out with a new work, called "Season’s Greetings," which is located in Port Talbot, Wales.
  • From one side of the building, the image appears to show a child licking snowflakes out of the air.
  • But turn the corner and you realize that the kid is really ingesting ash from a dumpster fire.
  • The image draws attention to a painful truth: more than 90% of the world’s people are breathing polluted air, which can be deadly. The citizens of Port Talbot inhale some of the worst air in the UK. 

Banksy is sending the world a chilling holiday card.

The reclusive street artist is taking credit for a spray-painted work that went up on a cinder-block garage in the Welsh town of Port Talbot earlier this week. Banksy released in a video of the piece on Instagram captioned only "Season’s greetings." 

The image uses the corner of the garage to convey a striking message. When seen from just one side of the building, the art appears to show a child catching snowflakes on his tongue. But if you turn the corner, it becomes clear that the snow is actually ash from a dumpster fire — which the kid is then ingesting.

Banksy’s video (embedded below) zooms out from the artwork, revealing its particular geographical relevance: Port Talbot Steelworks, the largest steel plant in the UK, employs roughly 10% of the town’s population.

. . . . Season’s greetings . . .

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on Dec 19, 2018 at 6:53am PST on


Steel plants create ultra-fine pollution particles, which can lead to higher-than-usual concentrations of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide in the air. Studies show that people living near steel plants can suffer serious consequences, including higher resting heart rates and elevated blood pressure.

On Thursday, 55-year-old Gary Owen, a resident of the port town, told the BBC that he messaged Banksy in August to ask the artist to "do some art" for Port Talbot.

"The steel works is making lots of dust every day and the locals are sick of it," he wrote in a message to Banksy on Instagram.  

That note never received a reply, but Owen thinks it’s not a coincidence that four months later, the artist’s first display in Wales popped up in his hometown

Earlier this year, Port Talbot made news when the steel plant covered homes, pets, and children playing outdoors in a thick coat of black dust during a July heatwave, WalesOnline reported. 

"If I open the windows I’ve got to accept my furniture and window sills will get thick black dust all over them," local mother Kayleigh Humphries told the news outlet.

She said her family suffers the long-term consequences of living close to Port Talbot Steelworks. 

"Myself and my daughters suffer with respiratory issues. We recently went abroad and I didn’t even need inhalers or tablets," Humphries said. "But as soon as we get home we have chest infections straight away."

The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a worldwide air-quality database, and Port Talbot is near the top of the list of cities with the worst particulate matter pollution in the UK. 

But bad air isn’t just a problem for Humphries, Owen, and other Port Talbot residents. Nine in 10 people around the world are breathing polluted air right now. Air pollution kills 4.2 million people every year, according to the WHO.

Put another way, environmental contamination — chiefly from air pollution — accounts for more deaths than wars, obesity, smoking, and malnutrition. 

Read More: Pollution is killing more people than wars, obesity, smoking, and malnutrition

Air pollution can also impact the way children’s brains develop, lead to cognitive decline in older adults, and prompt asthma, lung disease, and allergies. 

banksy season's greetings wales

The majority of air pollution comes from fuel burning, which "accounts for 85% of airborne particulate pollution and for almost all pollution by oxides of sulphur and nitrogen,"according to a 2017 Lancet report

It doesn’t have to be this way. In the US, aggregate emissions of six of the most common air pollutants have dropped 73% since 1970 — the year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded— while the country’s GDP has increased.

But there’s still more work to do. In 2014, the EPA estimated that between 50,000 and 120,000 people in the US die prematurely because of bad air every year.

SEE ALSO: Pollution is killing more people than wars, obesity, smoking, and malnutrition

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Local Artist Gives His Take On Banksy’s Art And His Choice To Remain Anonymous

from SAI