Choosing a Digital Medium Format Rig and the Credo 40

Choosing a Digital Medium Format Rig and the Credo 40

Hello Mamiya

I switched to medium format digital.

Just typing that opening sentence brought a slight smile to my face as I sip my morning latte and wait for my two-year old toddler to wake up. I’ve always dreamed of owning a digital medium format rig; but let’s be honest, I could put a down payment on a very reasonable house for the cost of what the systems go for. So with that dream in the back of my head, I was a dedicated Canon shooter over the last 13 years of my photography career.

In fact, since 2002 I...

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Meet Garrett - Photographs of a Kansas Cattle Rancher

Meet Garrett - Photographs of a Kansas Cattle Rancher

As I raise my camera to eye level I pause, temporarily and existentially lost in a moment, where in that brief second between seeing my subject in the viewfinder and pressing the shutter of my camera, I begin to understand who I am photographing. In that moment, it wasn’t a rancher, a photographer, assistant, and some lights. It was just a hard-working and passionate rancher lost in the beauty and serenity of his cows grazing the landscape.

Click…

 

Meet Garrett....

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Meet Jane - Photographs of a Kansas Cattle Rancher

Meet Jane - Photographs of a Kansas Cattle Rancher

Meet Jane, a Kansas cattle rancher, wife, and above all else, a mom of two wonderful, hard-working children. Jane and her two kids, Jada (9th grade) and Brock (4th grade) run a cow calf operation, which means they...

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Headed to AMS

Headed to AMS

You may have noticed I've been a little quiet over the past two weeks. First and foremost, I've been busy conducting research through my work at Kansas State University and photographing and learning from some amazing Kansas farmers for my Farmer series. Secondly, I've been preparing "round the clock" for my two presentations I am giving at the Ag Media Summit at the end of this week in Indianapolis

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How I Edit a Photograph - Workflow Time-lapse Video

How I Edit a Photograph - Workflow Time-lapse Video

Years of working as a photojournalist, wedding photographer, agricultural photographer, and freelance artist, I've changed things around a ton in my workflow to include non-destructive methods on RAW images that, in a way, saves an enormous amount of time while bringing out the very best in what I capture. 

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Meet a Farmer - Kansas Sheep Farmer

Meet a Farmer - Kansas Sheep Farmer

This is a blog series where I will be introducing the reader (that's you!) to farmers who grow the food you eat and the clothes you wear. Each farmer lets me into their home for an afternoon to sit down and talk about what farming means to them. I record the conversations, take a few pictures, and leave with an ever-growing appreciation for the American Farmer and Rancher. 

Let me introduce you to Deb, a Kansas sheep farmer

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Photographs of a Kansas Farmer

Photographs of a Kansas Farmer

When I first set out to photograph America's farmers, I wanted to write about my experience with the hard-working life-blood of our country. But could my words ever really accurately depict their voice? How could I give America a glimpse into the lives of farmers and ranchers with my words? I couldn't. 

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What Does Compassionately Raised Mean?

Many people are far removed from agriculture and view the relationship between the farmer and animal as distant one. That couldn't be further from the truth. Agriculture revolves around the compassion and connection between the farmer and the animal, a commitment to sustainability and humane practices. It's an age old connection that continues to this day, although usually far removed from daily life of the urban and suburban consumer. The only thing standing in between this gap is experience, a voice, or an image. 

I think that is the biggest thing that concerns me about the rhetorically-driven advertisements of chains like Chipotle or Panera bread; without human experience driving your decisions, you are left to trust the merits of the content creator. When the purpose of the content creator is to increase sales through product differentiation there could be an inherent problem. 

So please let me introduce you to farmers you might not hear about in media or advertisements who represent the vast majority of US farmers and ranchers. 

 Meet Manuel. He's a hard-working and compassionate dairy worker here in the United States. He daily monitors all the cattle in the herd to make sure they are healthy and is present for nearly every birth at the farm. There is a quiet joy he portrays when slowing down his day to make sure that each newborn calf is fed. You can see the compassionate and tender touch and heart he has for his animals.   When Manuel sees a sick calf or a sick cow, he probably isn't concerned about the Chipotle and Panera advertisements that demonize the use of antibiotics. Instead, he makes note of the cattle, observes them, and uses antibiotics as needed to make sure the cattle are healthy and comfortable. When a cow is given antibiotics, she is isolated from the rest of the herd to prevent the spread of any sickness but also to prevent her milk from getting into the food supply. Instead, she is milked separately, and her milk is given to the newborn calves like the one you see above.  The sick cow is monitored and treated daily. Her milk is tested and when she is clear according to USDA standards, she is put back in with the other herd to continue producing high quality and safe milk. 

Meet Manuel. He's a hard-working and compassionate dairy worker here in the United States. He daily monitors all the cattle in the herd to make sure they are healthy and is present for nearly every birth at the farm. There is a quiet joy he portrays when slowing down his day to make sure that each newborn calf is fed. You can see the compassionate and tender touch and heart he has for his animals. 

When Manuel sees a sick calf or a sick cow, he probably isn't concerned about the Chipotle and Panera advertisements that demonize the use of antibiotics. Instead, he makes note of the cattle, observes them, and uses antibiotics as needed to make sure the cattle are healthy and comfortable. When a cow is given antibiotics, she is isolated from the rest of the herd to prevent the spread of any sickness but also to prevent her milk from getting into the food supply. Instead, she is milked separately, and her milk is given to the newborn calves like the one you see above.

The sick cow is monitored and treated daily. Her milk is tested and when she is clear according to USDA standards, she is put back in with the other herd to continue producing high quality and safe milk. 

 Perhaps one of the oldest photographs I still have, this image is of a rancher who has a family history of raising his beef cattle while improving pasture lands. His family has installed watering systems that are safe and beneficial to wildlife in the area, including migratory birds. He weekly rides his pastures with his horse to monitor grazing patterns and herd health. He described himself not only as a rancher, but as a steward of the land.   Unlike what people may have you believe, his ranching doesn't hurt the land...it improves it for not only his cattle but for the local fauna as well.  The Bureau of Land Management states that proper grazing of cattle on public and private land are vital to preventing severe wildfires. 

Perhaps one of the oldest photographs I still have, this image is of a rancher who has a family history of raising his beef cattle while improving pasture lands. His family has installed watering systems that are safe and beneficial to wildlife in the area, including migratory birds. He weekly rides his pastures with his horse to monitor grazing patterns and herd health. He described himself not only as a rancher, but as a steward of the land. 

Unlike what people may have you believe, his ranching doesn't hurt the land...it improves it for not only his cattle but for the local fauna as well.  The Bureau of Land Management states that proper grazing of cattle on public and private land are vital to preventing severe wildfires. 

 This is also one of the oldest photographs I have from my work in California. This is Mary, a tender-hearted dairy woman out of the Central Valley of California. She was constantly in the nursery of her newborn calves making sure they were healthy and happy. In this photo, she brought up a bucket and just sat down to be with the calves. The calves were just as eager to be near this tender-hearted woman. This is the face of the dairy farmer - wise, experienced, kind, and caring. 

This is also one of the oldest photographs I have from my work in California. This is Mary, a tender-hearted dairy woman out of the Central Valley of California. She was constantly in the nursery of her newborn calves making sure they were healthy and happy. In this photo, she brought up a bucket and just sat down to be with the calves. The calves were just as eager to be near this tender-hearted woman. This is the face of the dairy farmer - wise, experienced, kind, and caring. 

Thank you for reading. I always look forward to a great discussion about the hard working American farming and ranching families. 

Is Grazing on Public Land Good for the Environment? Ranch Photographer

The American rancher does more than raise cattle

   He is: a steward of the land, a conservationist at heart, and a manager of the range; for under his careful supervision, the cattle benefit from the land and the land benefits from the cattle, and man benefits from both. I photographed this cattle rancher as he tended to the grazing pastures while I hiked to the iconic Maroon Bells.

He is: a steward of the land, a conservationist at heart, and a manager of the range; for under his careful supervision, the cattle benefit from the land and the land benefits from the cattle, and man benefits from both. I photographed this cattle rancher as he tended to the grazing pastures while I hiked to the iconic Maroon Bells.

Grazing on public lands has been in the news recently for reasons unrelated to the environment. However, the sustainability of cattle operations is always a hot topic. Is grazing on public lands good for the environment?

According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), cattle grazing on public lands can positively impact the ecosystem by

  • Increasing the viability and number of native perennial grasses
  • Decreasing the amount of invasive plant species
  • Reducing the severity of wildfires
  • Supporting healthy watersheds and wildlife habitats
  • Supporting carbon sequestration

Livestock grazing on public lands helps maintain the private ranches that, in turn, preserve the open spaces that have helped write the West’s history and will continue to shape this region’s character in the years to come (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/grazing.html)

Cattle (and sheep) grazing on public and private lands is a good thing. Bison, elk, and numerous deer once roamed the countryside and naturally grazed perennial grasses and fertilized the soil along the way. The bison are gone, but thoughtful and responsible grazing mimics this natural process all while creating a nutritious and environmentally-conscious product. 

Most ranchers now practice rotational grazing where they divide their pasture into several "cells" and closely monitor the foraging habits of their cattle. Once the perennial grasses have been eaten down once, the cattle move on to the next pasture thereby allowing the old cell to rest and be restored. 

Scott Stebner is an agricultural photographer and videographer based out of the mid-west. To contact Scott, click HERE

Konza Prairie Trail Photography

Can I be completely honest and blunt with you? I've lived in Kansas for about a year now, and I've been really unmotivated and uninspired to go out and photograph nature. Let's back up. 

I'm from California...the beach. It's tough to take a photograph in my home town that didn't look amazing. The beautiful and radiant colors glimmering off the sand and sky during West Coast sunsets fill the memories of my childhood. My next move? The Colorado Rockies. Just being in the shadow of the mountains is awe inspiring enough. Photographing them can be quite difficult because the photographer is constantly doing God a disservice by not capturing the magnificence of the landscape. My vacation destination? Yosemite National Park and the Redwoods. 

Needless to say, my backyard for most of my life was what you would call a vacation destination for the entire world to see, and when I moved to Kansas, I allowed myself to be pretty negative about not "having anything" to photograph. 

I LOVE photographing agriculture and being an agricultural photographer in the Mid-West. I love photographing harvest, fields, and cattle. But I wanted awe inspiring and majestic landscapes that varied like what I was used to. 

Finally, I decided to end the pity party, grab my camera, and explore the great state of Kansas. It took a while (more for my recognition of beauty than finding it), but I'm starting to appreciate this state for its beauty beyond the humbling sunsets of the plains. 

Kansas has a subtle beauty. It's humble but majestic at the same time. It's like the quiet, comfortable, and reassuring friend you only appreciate the company of until they are gone. I found this beauty this weekend at the Konza Prairie nature trail. I went slightly off the beaten path and found the sun just peaking through the trees and just had to photograph this scene. 

I'm excited to pick up my camera again and not only give Kansas a second look, but my heart another chance to fall in love with photographing the beauty of my current state.

Konza Prairie Nature Trail Scott Stebner


Pursuing Passion - Telling a Story

First off, welcome to the new look and feel of my website. This day has been a long day coming, filled with plenty of soul searching, thought, and prayer. Now that the time has come to unveil my new website and direction for my business, I’m confident this is the right direction for me. I wanted a website that was simple, minimal, and didn’t’ distract from my images. Although it may seem boring compared to others, it’s perfect for me.

I’ve always been passionate about agriculture. I grew up in it, studied it, and poured seven years of my life into teaching it. Now I am back in school, but this time I am learning how to communicate the facts, stories, and culture of agriculture to anyone and everyone. I will always photograph weddings, although I will be keeping my wedding shoots limited to three to five local weddings a year (or Hawaii, Cancun, or anywhere else tropical).

Some friends have discouraged me when I talked about transitioning away from the wedding industry and focusing more on portraits and documentary of the agricultural community. I would often hear “Don’t you want to photograph something that has meaning, something that matters?” This was in reference to the honor it has been to photograph so many of my clients on their special day as they married. And yes, I do want to photograph things that have meaning. But what is meaningful? Does it have to be a wedding to be meaningful?

Is giving a voice and an image to the thousands of hard-working agriculturists as they toil with the land, unpredictable weather patterns and market conditions meaningful and important? To them it is…so to me it is.

Is showing the compassion a farmer or rancher has for his/her livestock and how he/she humanely treats and cares for them regardless of what some restaurants may lead you to believe important to them? Sure is. Is it important to me? Incredibly.

It’s important to me to educate the families who are desperately trying to make the right decisions about what type of food to purchase for their families but are overwhelmed by all the misinformation out there on the Internet. As a father, that’s meaningful to me.

I’ve never been one for brevity, so I can sum it up as follows. I’m passionate about agriculture, and I dearly love this community. Regardless of whether I can get hired to photograph this community and make a decent wage in the process, I am passionate about helping the farmer and rancher tell their story. I am passionate about showing the public that agriculture is a collection of small families desperately trying to live out their dreams like the rest of America. I’m passionate about educating the consumer in a meaningful, impactful, and ethical / unbiased way. 

To be honest, I’m not sure how this will play out. It’s tough to photograph agriculture when you’re not a farmer or rancher. You’re at the mercy of families who allow you to come into their lives. You’re at the mercy of agricultural marketing agencies that must take a chance on you and your portfolio. All I know is there is a story out there that means something, and I am passionate about telling it.

I'd love to hear from you. What are you truly passionate about? What is stopping you from pursuing it? 

This little bugger is all the inspiration I need, but I appreciate your support and encouragement along the way. 

Salina Four Square Church - Salina, Kansas Editorial Headshots

I had the amazing opportunity to provide some crisp and simple head shots for my church as part of a rebranding campaign they are doing. I love that spouses were involved, and I wanted to do something outside of the typical "smile and pose" shots you see on most church websites. After all, Church is community, passion, and love. When it came to images with spouses, I wanted this love and passion to shine through in something that wasn't static or overly posed. 

I gave zero direction. Instead, I just wanted people to be honest and real with me as we engaged in conversation. At the right moment, when the subject and I shared something truly special, I took the picture. 

christian church headshot
Church head shot

The Clean Dirt Farm - Sterling, Colorado Agriculture Photography


Well here comes the Clean Dirt Farm ,  a beautiful company with sustainable roots in Millet Production, specifically Organic Millet. Now many people may not know what Millet is or see it only limited to Bird Seed. However, Millet is naturally Glutten Free, so it’s a super healthy choice.The Clean Dirt Farm cleans and processes the Millet that farmers grow and ships it out to places like Whole Foods Market and countries all over the world.All of this in little ol Sterling, CO

So when the kind folks at the Clean Dirt Farm called me up to help them with a rebranding campaign and doing a few corporate type shots, I couldn’t wait!

It was a true blessing to be on this assignment, and I always feel at home when I can use photography and my passion for agriculture in one shoot

milletfarmer
ag12.jpg
Colorado Millet Farm
Millet Production
Red Millet
Colorado millet farmers

Photography Video Tutorial: How does Focal Length Affect a Photograph?

This is one of my favorite subjects to geek out about. How does the focal length of your photograph affect how your photograph looks? It's a pretty simple yet vital component to consider in your photography, so let's check it out...

Questions? Feel free to email me

Professional Head Shots - Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow

The National Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow's Professional Development Conference (that was a long introduction) was in Kansas this year, and I had the opportunity of photographing some very talented undergraduate students who will be the future leaders within the agricultural communications industry. 

I wanted to do something different this time around that didn't resemble a kindergarten portrait. You may ask, why are these not in your typical "portrait" form? Well with the advent of the internet, tablets, laptops, and even internet TV, the standard viewing orientation is slowly switching to horizontal. So, for the sake of progress, we did some stylized head shots in this manner. 

Do you need new head shots done for your Facebook, LinkedIn profile, or other professional needs? Give me an email and set up an appointment. Discounts are given for groups. 

professional head shot agricultural communicators of tomorrow
professional head shot agricultural communicators of tomorrow
professional head shot agricultural communicators of tomorrow
professional head shot agricultural communicators of tomorrow
professional head shot agricultural communicators of tomorrow