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Monday, February 27, 2017

Interview at New York Institute of Photography
and Update on what I have been doing
February 27, 2016

Several years ago I graduated from New York Institute of Photography.  I recommend this photography school. Recently I was asked by Michelle Echer of the School, as a former student, to comment about my life in photography. I am honored to be included among the School's Success Stories. Here is the article found at in their Success Stories among various Photography articles:

During 2016, I have done a variety of images while visiting Portugal (see my last blog post as well as more experiments in Infrared Photography and my trips to the Upper Peninsula Michigan and out west to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Badlands and areas in are few image & links.

Big Horn Sheep in Yellowstone (Monochrome)

Mysteries of the Dark Lagoon (Faux Color Infrared)

Grand Tetons in Fall

The Badlands (Infrared Monochrome)

Mackinac Bridge

Tehquamenon Falls

Sunset - North of Aruba

More can be seen at my website,  Fine Art America and Hotshoe:

Copywrite 2016
John D. Roach

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Portugal -- May 2016 Trip

Three highlights of the our recent trip to Portugal were our visits to Fatima, Alcobaca and Coimbra.

While our trip started in Lisbon where we spent several days exploring the city and ended in Porto and Duro Valley wine country, the visits we made to Fatima, Alcobaca and Coimbra were particularly special.  Here is why along with some images....

Fatima, Portugal -  

Our Lady of Fatima is the Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary based on appears or apparitions that are said to have occurred starting May 13, 1917 by three shepherd children at the small village o Fatima, Portugal. The three children were Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco.
Pope Pius XII approved to the veneration of the image enshrined at the Chapel on 13 May 1946. The reported apparitions at Fátima were officially declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church, which commemorates the event on the same date. The events at Fátima gained fame due partly to elements of the secrets, prophecy and revelations about the end of times, particularly with regard to the World War Two and global wars in the future. Chief among these is also the alleged urgent need for the Consecration of Russian to the Blessed Virgin.  Throughout the year this is pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics around the world and especially for the Portuguese who often travel hundreds of mile on foot to visit the Basilica that now exists in Fatima.  Indeed, on our visit on May 13, 2016, we witnessed tens of thousands visitors within the Basilica which is larger than St. Peters in Rome commemorate the 99th anniversary of that first apparition.  It is even purported that the shooting of Pope Paul II was foretold in the apparitions that occurred later.

There were perhaps 2 to 3 time number of folks behind me

The Interior Chapel in the Basilica

Pilgrims coming in the rain

Outdoor Altar and Ceremonial Stage

Pilgrims of all ages and nationalities

After the events of the morning a break for lunch

Alcobaca, Portugal --

The Alcobaça Monastery is one of the first foundations of the Cistercian Order in Portugal. It was founded in 1153 as a gift to Bernard of Clairvaux, shortly before his death, from the first Portuguese King, Alfonso Henriques, to commemorate his victory over the Moors at Santarem in March 1147. The foundation of the monastery was part of the strategy by Afonso Henriques to consolidate his authority in the new kingdom and promote the colonisation of areas recently taken from Moors hands during re-conquest of Spain and Portugal.
The building of the monastery began in 1178, some 25 years after the arrival of the Cistercian monks in this region of Portugal. Initially, the monks lived in wooden houses, and only moved to the new stone monastery buildings in 1223. The church was completed in 1252. The finished church and monastery were the first truly Gothic buildings in Portugal, and the church was the largest in Portugal. Its cloister was completed in the late 13th century.
The monks lived in silence and spent their lives in religious meditation and creating manuscripts that kept the Catholic Religion alive in Portugal. The monks from the monastery produced an early history of Portugal in the books they wrote. The Library in Alcobaça was one of the largest Portuguese mediaeval libraries, but was pillaged by the invading French in 1810, and many items were stolen in an anti-clerical riot in 1834, when the religious orders in Portugal were dissolved. Later, the property was turned over to the state and then eventually back to the local church.  The remnants of the monastery library, including hundreds of mediaeval manuscripts, are kept today in the National Library in Lisbon.  However, here we can see much of how the monks lived and worked for centuries.

A beautiful day at the Monastery

The Entrance to the Monastery and Church

The Interior of the Church

Gothic Architecture Revealed

One of the Interior walking areas

In the church there are sculptured tombs and one can learn the tragic story of Ines de Castro and King Pedro I from the 14th century.  Ines and Pedro were lovers and the Pedro's father King Afonso disapproved of the relationship.

Tomb of Ines

Detail on King Pedro's Tomb

Coimbra Portugal --

Coimbra is a city in Portugal with a population of around 140,000 people.  This city dates back to Roman times and one of the most pictureques cities in Portugal.  It is the 4th largest city in Portugal.
There are many archaeological structures dating back to the roman era,  Coimbra was the settlement of Amennium.  It has a well aqueduct system. For a time Coimbra was the Capital of Portugal with many of its buildings still existing from that period from the period when Coimbra was the capital of Portugal between 1131 and 1255. During the late middle ages, with its decline as the political center of Portugal which moves to Lisbon, Coimbra began to evolve into a more of a key cultural centre. This was in large part helped by the establishment the University of Coimbra in 1290, the oldest academic institution in the in the Portuguese world and one of the oldest in Europe. The University, then and now, attracts many European and international students.   The university as well as Coimbra is visited by many tourists to see the many monuments and experience its history. Its historical buildings are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  When that occurred, UNESCO stated that "Coimbra offers an outstanding example of an integrated university city with a specific urban typology as well as its own ceremonial and cultural traditions that have been kept alive through the ages."

One of Coimbra's main streets

Part of the Old University of Coimbra

View of Coimbra from University Hill

One of the walls that date back to Roman times

King Joao III who permanently set the University in Coimbra

Coimbra is a marvelous example of Medieval Europe with steep winding streets and a mix of old and new architecture.  The University sits above the city on a hill which runs along a major river.

Next up some images of Lisbon

June 29, 2016

by John D. Roach

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Image Making Post Processing with Topaz Impressions

By John D. Roach

During the past few months, I have been experimenting with more and more post processing techniques.  One of those techniques involves the use of Topaz Impression a software created by Topaz Labs that offers photographers the opportunity to create images that go beyond the usual camera capture and tonal renderings achieved within the camera or in more traditional post processing techniques.  

Topaz Impressions gives the photographer an opportunity to make painterly images with a set of adjustable presets that can make an image look like a pencil sketch, water color, pastel or a variation of a famous master such as Cezanne, Turner, Hopper, O'Keefe, Degas, and many more.   Sometimes I see an opportunity to create a "new" and creative look from an image I have previously created as a quite good traditional photograph.  Additionally, I have also found Topaz a useful post processing tool to occasionally create an alternative image for an image that had rather lackluster exposure or tonality into a photographic work of art.

Here are some examples:

Afternoon at the Lagoon (Original Infrared Image)

Afternoon at the Lagoon (in the Style of Van Gogh)

Chicago (HDR)

Chicago (Pencil Sketch)

Chicago (Original Exposure)

Chicago (Watercolor)

Hyacinth and Lily (Original)

Hyacinth and Lily (Watercolor)

Driftwood (Original)

Diftwood (Pastel)

There are option!  It is fun to discover possibilities and create something new.  So grab your camera, capture some images and then take a look at software options to create your digital dark room!

Copyright August, 2015

John D. Roach

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Summer Evening Light at Milwaukee's Lakefront

The Coalition of Photographic Arts held its annual picnic at Cupertino Park at the Milwaukee lakefront in the Bayview area on Tuesday, August 11, 2015.  There were many CoPA members there who shared great conversation on a beautiful summer evening.  In addition to the schmoozing everyone enjoyed eating their favorite picnic food including grilled burgers, hot dogs, brats, and even a steak.  

Some conversation was about not only what and how folks were doing, but also their cameras and their latest adventures in capturing the light.  iPads and smart phones were sometimes launched to show image captures of the members work as they talked about their latest photographic adventures.  

Additionally, some of the members walked down to the lakefront to capture some the golden light at sunset.  

This was an evening of great fun catching up with friends and acquaintances as well as meeting new folks.  I know that I had a chance to talk to some CoPA members I had not met before.  

Isn’t that what happens at picnics?  We get a chance to meet and connect more with those we already know as well as meet new members and share our common interest in photography as the fine art form it is and further nurture CoPA and its membership.

To learn more about CoPA visit their website at

Copyright August 12, 2015, 

John D. Roach

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My First Steps into the world of Infrared (IR) Photography

Today, I will offer you a little information that I have learned in my new adventure with IR Photography.  First, what is IR Photography?  It is for the most part light we can not see.  There is however some portion of the light spectrum which we can call "near IR" which is slightly visible to the naked eye.  Infrared is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is just above visible light.

The chart that you can see below shows the range of the electromagnetic spectrum.  The wave lengths in the electromagnetic spectrum consists of numerous waves that fall in to one of the ranges in the spectrum – radio, microwaves, infrared, visible, ultraviolet or gamma rays waves. The distance between two waves is called the wavelength and is measured in (NM) nanometers (a millionth of a meter). Using light’s wavelength, we can tell what color it is and which range of the electromagnetic spectrum it is in.

Humans can only see light with wavelengths of between 400nm and 700nm, as shown on the chart above. This range is called visible light. Humans cannot see any light with wavelengths above or below this range without special equipment.  
Ultraviolet light
Ultraviolet light has a frequency of 10nm to 400nm, meaning that it is not visible to the human eye. Its wavelength is longer than that of X-Rays, but shorter than visible light. Ultraviolet has a large number of uses at various wavelengths. Bug zappers use UV at 350-370nm because flies are most attracted to ultraviolet light at 365nm, whereas 250-300nm UV is used for forensic analysis and drug detection.
Ultraviolet is also heavily used for security purposes such as card readers. Many sensitive documents, such as passports or credit cards, include watermarks or images that can only be seen under UV light. 
Visible light
A typical human eye can see light from 400nm to 700nm on the electromagnetic spectrum. This range is called ‘visible light’.  Not all colors that humans can distinguish are in the visible spectrum; for example, pink is not included as it is a mix of multiple visible spectrum colors.
Some species can see light that is not in the visible spectrum. Bees can see ultraviolet light this helps them navigate to seek out nectar in flowers, many other insects and birds can also see ultraviolet light.

Near infrared light

Near infrared light is in the range of 700nm-1400nm on the electromagnetic spectrum and has wavelengths that are longer than those of visible light, meaning that humans can’t see it. Infrared photography most commonly uses near infrared light.   That area of the light spectrum overlaps visible light and infrared light in the 590nm to 920nm range.
A common misconception is that near infrared light is used for thermal imaging, but you actually need far infrared light that.  Near infrared light, is also used in in medicine for a technique named photo-biomodulation for the treatment of oral ulcers caused by chemotherapy and wound healing. 

Far infrared light

Far infrared light is in the 15μm-1mm region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Unlike near infrared, which can only detect reflected infrared light, far infrared can ‘see’ sources of heat. This makes it useful for thermal imaging. An example use of this would be for fire fighters to seek out bodies in smoky, dark conditions.  NOTE:  Everyday infrared photography does not use far infrared light, as it would be too expensive for most people to afford. However, specialised equipment is available for use by businesses and authorities.
In Infrared Photography we want we want to block visible light and only pass infrared light or some quantity of infrared light in order to remove much of the visible color we normally see when light is  reflected on the camera sensor.
My Adventure

My adventure in IR Photography began by purchasing a standard IR Filter rated at 720nm.  This filter was screwed onto the front end of my camera lens.  The images were created by first focusing without the 720 IR Filter and then attaching the filter (which blocked almost all light) and without changing any setting, focus, etc. on the camera and lens, hit the shutter release to capture an image which the Digital camera saw as primarily RED.  I then had to download that strange looking image and adjust it using software to change the RGB (Red, Green and Blue) relationships so that I could create an artistic image that could show unique color or be converted to Black & White for an artistic Monochrome look.

Subsequently, I purchased a filter rated at 590nm which blocked less IR light and experimented the same way.  It was only then that I decided it was worth getting one of my cameras converted to IR.  In that way, I didn't have to mess with putting a filter on the lens because the filter would be after the lens directly on top of the camera light sensor.  In this way, I can see the scene I want to photography and then the image is created with the same results of color removal that I would get with the IR filter attached to the lens.

Sometime in the future when I learn more I will write more about IR Photography for now here are 
some examples of images I have created with lens filters as well as the newly converted camera.

Taken with a standard 720nm lens filter

Taken with a 590nm lens filter

Taken with 590nm converted camera
with color manipulation

Taken with 590nm converted camera
with conversion to monochrome for effect

Taken with 590nm converted camera
with color adjusted for effect

Taken with 590nm converted camera
with color enhanced effects

Taken with 590nm converted camera
converted to monochrome

I see lots of possibilities with this art form.  One very special feature is that I can shoot in any type of light, even harsh mid-day light, and create fine artistic images.

More will following in another blog in the near future.



By John D. Roach
Copyright July, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Me and Street Photography

by John D. Roach

I consider myself a nature, flower, weather, landscape (both intimate as well expansive landscapes) photographer with some amount of cityscape and architecture thrown in.  I have never developed comfort or a lot of interest in most street photography although I admire the work of many others.  There are some photographers who make magic with their efforts.   And, yet, I have found myself starting to walk the streets when out for a good exercise with my camera and seeing what I can find. 

I have found that street photographers fit a number of categories.  Many create images that are nicely done compositions that generate a lot of interest, demonstrate tension, and even truly spark our imagination.  Yet, there is an equal number, (dare I say), images I see in that genre which lack interest, are humdrum, lack tension and fail to spark the imagination.

I suspect that might be true for all of photography, but for me it bothers me more when I see cluttered street images of rather mundane people doing mundane thinks or photos of very ordinary things (often decaying things) with ho hum lighting and terrible composition.  While there are many fine images with fine lighting and great composition there are just as many that are just are plain, in my opinion, and that do not take us to another level.  This thing called photography which is about capturing light around us in the city, in my opinion, should always lift us up and excite us about life.

With that said and off my chest, I will now share a few images that I recently captured as I attempt to discover street photography.  I just hope I don't fall in the negative ho hum side of my comments above.

Two Place of Worship?

Ok...the image above might not be street photography in the sense of many.  It might be argued that it is a ho hum street scene.  Indeed, it was taken with my camera through the windshield of my car when I pulled over to the curb to ponder what my eye saw!  What I saw though was a temple built to God (St. John's Cathedral in Milwaukee) framed next to and in front of a temple to finance (US Bank Building).  How does that grab you.  It did me.

Well, that image was selected to be in a Juried Art show through CoPA (Coalition of Photographic Artists) here in Milwaukee at the Art Bar.  The Exhibit is titled Reflections - A Place Called Milwaukee.  The Exhibits extends from July 31 through September 10 this year at Art Bar Riverwest, 722 E. Burleigh, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   There is a reception from 7 pm to midnight on July 31, 2015

The next image was also accepted for the exhibit.  It is a billboard I found on Farwell and Ogden Avenue in Milwaukee that lets you ponder a little about life, direction, purpose and a host of other things.

What is Your Mission in Life?

Now this next image was when I was out walking and decided to stop at the small boutique hotel (The Plaza) with my wife for some breakfast at its little lunch counter.  I think it says something about labor and the world of the kitchen as seen from my lunch counter seat.

The Breakfast Cooks

Finally, for the sake of some humor, here are two images that where found on Brady Street which is a quirky, honky tonk street with quaint shops, saloons, etc.  One has a bar with an interesting name next to a Milwaukee Fire Department Station and the other is one of those quaint shops with such a very interesting name.  I hope you enjoy.

Hosed on Brady

Art Smart's Dart Emporium

Copyright 2015, John D. Roach

Monday, June 1, 2015

The $10.00 Orchid

By John D. Roach

There are those days when you would rather be outside enjoying warm weather while capturing the light and making images.  Last week, I had one of those days, but knew that I had to stay indoors from 8am to 3pm to await the delivery of a new outdoor cooking grill.  So in preparation for that, I went to the store and purchased for $10 a small orchid (the instructions are give it one ice cube per week and keep it in decent light!).

The following are a series of processed images taken with my D700 with both a 28-300mm lens as well as one with my 90mm Tamron Macro Lens with flash and/or natural light and my 24x24 inch light tent and processed in Lightroom as well as some other post processing tools such Nik Silver Efex, One Perfect Effects and Topaz Impressions.  

There are so very many possibilities for capturing the essence of a orchid....I hope you enjoy!

80mm, Natural Light (Lightroom)

78mm, Flash (Lightroom)

90mm, Flash (Lightroom)

82mm, Flash (Lightroom Preset)

70mm, Natural Lightroom (Lightroom & Nik Silver Efex)

90mm, Flash, (Lightroom and Topaz O'Keefe Style)

70mm, Natural Light (Lightroom and onOne Perfect Effects)

My other work can be found at

Note:  The second image above received a 2nd place award for Flower Photography at May 2015 Contest.

Copyright John D. Roach
June 1, 2015 (Updated June 7, 2015)