Blurs of a Feather II - Susan Dimock

Thanks so much to Rick for asking me to do a guest blog on blurs.  I met Rick this spring in my hometown of Bandon and he graciously allowed me to join his Oregon Coast Caravan tour for their evening shoot on Bandon’s beach.  I’m no stranger to Rick’s work and have long admired his operation and beautiful images. What a great teacher, writer and photographer!  Talk about versatile!

This is a follow up to a blog post on bird blurs that I wrote last winter after a photo shoot in Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge.  In this post I will go into more detail on how I took the shots and why I like them.  You can find the first post on my website.

Above: Relay a “Goose Bump” Experience
Info: 1/25, f 13, ISO 250 Canon 100-400mm

The opening image of Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese I call “Peeling Off” because that’s just what the birds are doing as they fly up.  In-camera, intentional blurs are one of my favorite ways to shoot flocks.  Being in front of a large group of birds at take- off is an exhilarating, multi-sensory experience that is difficult to describe.  It’s one of those things that you simply must experience to appreciate. 

Never-the-less, as a photographer, one of the great challenges is to be able to relay to the viewer a bit of your “goose bump” experience.  Blurs can allow the viewer to feel a sense of motion and to even imagine the thunderous ruckus caused by thousands of wings flapping in symphony.  I often marvel at the organized chaos in a spectacle such as this. And in this particular image I think having some of the bird parts such as the legs and heads in focus help to peak the viewer’s curiosity and to draw them in more to investigate. 

For this blur I hand-held my Canon 100-400 mm, focused on the geese sitting on the ground and moved up ever so gently as the birds moved up.  As I move up I keep clicking off shots until the birds have dispersed.  For the most part, the movement of the birds rather than the movement of the camera is creating the blur.

Above: Panning Blurs…Steady!
1/20, f 10, ISO 200, Canon 1-400mm.

This second image is a horizontal panning blur of Tundra Swans.  As you can see the background is blurred to the abstract and the birds have quite a bit of focus to them except for their wings.   In this case, the movement of the camera as you pan is creating the background blur and the wing movement creates the blur there.  Common questions that I get regarding this style are, “How much blur is too much” and “do I have to have the head and eye in focus?”  Well, I wondered a lot about those questions myself and have settled on this; if the image is appealing to you then don’t fight your own aesthetic sensibilities.  If you really like your image then trust that.  I try not to let comments such as “that’s too blurred” or “I like reality more”, “that makes me dizzy” or my personal favorite, “that looks like a goose down pillow blown up” bother me.  And yes, I have had all of those comments at one time or another. These days they mostly make me laugh!

With panning blurs the ideal is to move slowly with the birds as they fly across the sky. You can do this with steady arms or by using a gimbal head on your tripod that allows you to move gracefully with the motion.  When using my Canon 100-400mm, I usually hand hold. Because of the weight, I go the tripod- gimbal head route when using my Canon 500mm.  In this image I hand held, focused on the head of one of the birds then followed it across the sky as it flew.  Many folks use Al Servo Mode (obviously I’m a Canon shooter) while doing this and that works.  However, I find that I have a lot more luck with One Shot Mode when attempting panning blurs. It seems to get the bird’s heads and legs sharper for me, which is often what I strive for with this technique.

Above: More is Sometimes Better
1/25, f 10, ISO 200, Canon 100-400 mm.

This third image is another version of a Tundra Swan horizontal panning blur.  I add it here to demonstrate that a panning blur can also have more of a softness to the birds and be a beautiful image as well.  Basically, in my opinion, sometimes it works to have more blur in the bird and sometimes it doesn’t.  You will usually know right away if you have a keeper or not.  You will get that sense of “Ahhh, this has symmetry and elegance and it just works.” or the feeling of “Nope, something’s just not right…it’s a tosser.” And again, it’s really a subjective process.  This is your art. Avoid Specimen Feel  Images

Above: Blurs are definitely on a continuum and vary stylistic. But one thing across the board holds true in my view.  They are not boring nor are they documenting in nature.  In this fourth image I have created a fly-up that is just slightly blurred.  While not tack sharp, the birds are generally in focus and the wings are softly blurred. This style is appealing  because I can see each bird individually but they are not frozen in motion so you still get the dynamic, fluid feel.  Sometimes when the birds are tack sharp and the wings are frozen in motion it can be impressive and interesting but may take on a bit of a “specimen image” feel to me.  I took this at 700mm with the tripod and gimbal head combo.  I kept my lens in one spot as opposed to panning and let the bird’s movement create a touch of blur in the wings.

Above: Create Flow and Float

This last photo I refer to as “Ghosts of the Farmland”.  This is one of my favorite blur images.  In today’s world everyone is a photographer. The challenge is to make your images unique pieces of art so that they stand out and cause a person to linger and wonder, ”How was this created?”  When someone calls one of my images ethereal or says that it looks like a painting I feel like I have created something more than a snapshot. For me, that is satisfying.  This last image has an other- worldly, ethereal feel , thus the ghostly name.  I wanted to include the farmland in some images to give a sense of place so using a small flock of Greater White-fronted Geese here helped me to accomplish that.  The ethereal feel comes utilizing a very soft focus in a panning rendition.  This allows the flowing and floating sensation to occur within the image.…. flow and float, that’s what ghosts do, right?   This was also a horizontal panning blur taken at 700mm.

Camera Settings…Be Nimble

Finally, it’s important to know how your settings interact with each other to create the desired amount of blur.  Nothing works better here than practice and experimentation.  And even then, it is not a perfect science because you have a lot of moving parts involved!  Because of this, many images get tossed and at first it is frustrating.  Conversely, you get unexpected surprises that are really cool!  My go to shutter speed for fly-ups is 1/25-1/30.  I like the amount of blur that it tends to produce.  But as you can tell 1/20th and 1/40th are favorites as well.  When you have found the bird or flock that you want to shoot get prepared and do some test shots.

As you do the test runs be sure to expose for what will be the higher portion of your frame.  In the past I have done tests pointing at the flock as it sits on the ground.  I then sadly discovered that the light gets brighter in the sky where the flock flies up.  Of course, those shots were blown out because I had exposed for the ground. 

Expose for the lightest part of your fly-up especially if you are shooting white birds.  Be mindful that your shutter speeds will change quickly as you move your lens up in tandem with the birds.   It’s a dynamic process and as the birds fly up into varying degrees of light your shutter speeds will change and the amount of blur will change with that variable.  I will often focus on the head of a bird while it is sitting on the ground and then I will expose for the light about two thirds up into the frame to get the amount of blur that I want in that portion of the photograph.  Again, the light changes as the birds move up and so you must account for that. 

A cool trick is to set your ISO to 400.  Using your dials you can then change your exposure quickly as the fly-up occurs.  You can even shoot off a bunch at different shutter speeds with this method to see what turns out the best.  You have to be mighty nimble though, as those birds move quickly! Once you get the hang of it more of your images will become keepers.  Warning! This can be amazingly addictive because you never know exactly what to expect.  And chimping is definitely allowed.  Gotta see if you’re on the right track!

Have fun and to check out more of my work please see my web site.

Also check out Susan Dimock Photography on Facebook and Google Plus.   You can also check out our bird photography community on Google Plus at “Bird Photography Community“ which now boasts nearly 30,000 members.

Thank you!

No Other Old Car City Photo Workshop Offers This Much!

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Above: Old Car City. Model photography is included in my October 2015 Old Car City/Southeaster Railway Museum photo workshop. Canon 5D Mark III, 17-40mm lens.

Registration is open for my October 2015 Canon EOS Destination Workshop: Capturing the Classics: Old Cars and Antique Trains. I can't wait to return to Old Car City and the Southeastern Railway Museum - both of which are located outside of Atlanta, GA.

I'll be teaching: composition (the strongest way of seeing), "croposition" (combining composition with cropping), storytelling,  lighting, HDR – and how to use reflectors, diffusers and speedlites when photographing a model.

My friends from Canon will be there to loan you the newest cameras and lenses (including fish-eye lenses and super-wide-angle lenses) to photograph some of the oldest cars in the country. You will also have plenty of time to process your images – for our group slide show/critique session. And, you'll even get to make a print or two on Canon printers.

No other Old Car City photo workshop offers this much. In addition to the teaching, model session, processing and printing, each workshop participant will receive an autographed copy of my three favorite books: Creative Visualization for Photographers, Exploring the Light and Travel and Nature Photography. In addition, everyone will also receive a free download code for two of my on-line classes: Master the Art and Craft of Bird Photography and Master Landscape and Seascape Photography - both available in my on-line store.

Total value of these items is over $100.

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Above: Lounge car, Southeastern Railway Museum. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 15mm lens.

Here's a look at some of my favorite photographs from my previous trip to Old Car City and the Southeastern Railway Museum.

The lounge car photograph (above) and the mail car photograph are HDR images, created in Photomatix. I recommend Photomatix for this workshop. You can get a discount on Photomatix on my Save on Plug-ins page.

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Above: Old Car City. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. 

I removed some of the reality from my images in this post either by using a fish-eye lens, by altering the true color of a scene, by applying a plug-in, by shooting HDR, by selectively blurring parts of an image –  or by using a combination of all these techniques.

I can show you how to apply digital enhancements during the workshop. Of course, I'll show you how to get awesome in-camera shots, too.

Above: Southeastern Railway Museum. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens.

About removing some of the reality from a scene: When we remove some of the reality from a photograph, the photograph can - but not always - look more artistic.

Photoshop, Lightroom and plug-ins make creating artistic images relatively easy - if you have a creative vision. 

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Above: Old Car City. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70mm lens.

On my workshops I stress light and composition, the topics of my two latest classes on Kelby Training. The picture above (taken on my previous workshops) of our model Hanna (she's coming back for this workshop) illustrates the benefits of shooting on an overcast day, when contrast is low. It also illustrates creative composition: shooting at an angle creates a sense of depth in an image, the Bel Air insignia adds a sense of place to the image, and shooting at eye level helps the viewer of the photograph relate to the subject.

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Above: Old Car City. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. Effects added with Nik Color Effects Pro. Several Photoshop CS6 enhancements.

Above: Old Car City.  Like abstracts? You will find them in pealing paint and in rust at Old Car City.

Another element of photography we talk about on my workshops is the importance of cropping. In the above photograph, the extremely tight crop (I know it's extreme) emphasizes the fins and tail lights of this cool Caddy.

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Above: Southeastern Railway Museum. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens.

Yes, the railway cars and old automobiles are awesome subjects. But hey, I especially enjoy photographing people on location. That is why I was so glad our model Hanna is returning! 

I hope to see you at Old Car City and at the Southeastern Railway Museum - where we not only make good pictures, but where we also have a ton of fun.

If you can't make that workshop, all my workshops are listed here.

Explore the light,

If you have any questions about this workshop, or any of my workshops, give me a call at 914 271-6132. Note: I'm in the Eastern Time Zone.

My New e-Book – Life Lessons We Can Learn From Mother Nature – is two e-books in one

Click images to enlarge.

My latest e-book, Life Lessons We Can Learn From Mother Nature, is here! It's actually two e-books in one. The two part e-book is on sale for $2.99.

Part I - Life Lessons (pages 5 - 54) features uplifting, self-help quotes that I've matched to some of my favorite wildlife and scenic photographs that illustrate the messages of the quotes.

Part II - Photo Techniques (page 56 - 105) is a quick guide to nature photography with photo tips and Exposure Information (EXIF) for every photograph. You'll see what lenses and camera settings I used – info you can use in similar situations to turn snapshots into great shots. The location for each photograph is listed in this section, giving you some ideas on where to go for great Mother Nature photographs.

Click here to download the e-book from my on-line store.

You can read the 105 page e-book in less than a half and hour – but I think the "Life Lesson" philosophies will stay with you for a long time (maybe a lifetime) – if you take the time to think about the messages of the quotes.

The photo tips are easy to read and easy to digest – so you can keep these "Photo Lessons" fresh in your mind for your future photo shoots.

Here are just a few pages from the e-book. As you can see, I had fun matching my photographs with the quotes. I also enjoyed sharing my photo tips and EXIF info.

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If you like photographing Mother Nature, I think you will also enjoy my classes (narrated Keynote shows) on landscape & seascape photography and on bird photography. Both are listed in my on-line store.

For hand-on photo lessons, check out my workshops.

Explore the light,

34 Sunrise & Sunset Photo Tips - all in one post!

This just in from my friend and app user, John Van't Land

Hi Rick( & Susan),

Just a note to let you know that I think you’re a really classy guy to share on your blog the photo tips that are lost by updating your sunrise/sunset finder app.  It’s a pleasure having you both as friends. John & Jo

• • •

Hey All - As some of you know, my sunrise and sunset app is no longer available. If you update the app, you will lose all my sunrise and sunset photos and photo tips. :-(

However, I don't want you to lose out, so I have put all those tips into this blog post. Enjoy!

Here is the sunrise/sunset photo app I now recommend:
Photo Pills.

Also, if you want tons of photo tips, mixed in with some motivation and inspiration, check out my latest (and 36th) book: Creative Visualization for Photographers.

Re my gear: All of the photographs were taken with my Canon digital SLR cameras and lenses. Click here to see all my gear.

Okay, on with my tips!

#1  Starburst Effect. When the sun is in the frame, set your aperture to f/22 to get the starburst effect. The wider the lens, the more pronounced the starburst effect. Also, make sure the front element of your lens is totally clean. Even a tiny speck of dust can look like a big blob in a picture when you are shooting into the sun. Location: Spearfish, South Dakota.

#2 HDR Images. HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is perfect for sunrise/sunset shots, due to the high contrast range when you are shooting into the sun. To capture the entire dynamic range of the scene, keep taking underexposed images until you have no “blinkies” on your camera’s LCD monitor, and keep taking overexposed images until you can see into the shadows in the image while looking at the LCD monitor. The greater the contrast range, the greater the number of pictures you need to take. I created this image in Photomatix, the best HDR program out there. Click here to get a discount on Photomatix. Location: Tucumcari, New Mexico.

#3 No Filters. When shooting into the sun, remove all filters from your lens, even your skylight filter. When a filter is on your lens, the sunlight passes through the filter and may (depending on the angle of the sun) bounce off the front element of your lens and back onto the filter, creating a ghost image of the sun in your frame. Location: Key West, Florida.

#4 Blue in the Sky. A good time to take city shots is shortly after sunset, when city lights are just coming on and while there is still some color in the sky. Location: Miami’s South Beach, Florida.

#5 Foreground Element. When possible, use a foreground element to add a sense of scale to your photograph.  Also, the more “layers” you have in a scene, the greater the sense of depth. Here there are three layers: bird in the foreground, birds in mid-frame, and the mountains/sun in the background. Like bird photography? Check out my Master the Art and Craft of Bird Photography class. Location: Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

#6 Horizon Line. Usually, placing the horizon line in the center of the frame is boring. When the sky is interesting, place the horizon line at the bottom of the frame, and vice versa. Want to master landscape photography, I have a class on that, too. Click here for info. Location: Kenya, Africa.

#7 Silhouettes. When photographing someone against a sunrise or sunset, have him or her look directly left or right so you can see his or her profile. If they look at the camera, you will not be able to recognize them. Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

#8 Rule of Odds. If you have the opportunity to photograph an even or odd number of subjects, go for the odd number. For some reason, the rule of odds usually makes for better composition than the rule of evens. Location: Los Osos, California.

#9 Softer Side. Before sunrise and after sunset is a wonderful time to take pictures without strong shadows. In lower light levels, you’ll probably need a tripod. Use a cable release or your camera’s self-time to release the shutter. That helps to prevent camera shake during long exposures. You can create images like this with Topaz Simpilfy. Click here to get a discount all Topaz plug-ins. Location: Key West, Florida.

#10 Rule of Thirds. Placing the sun in the dead center of the frame is deadly – usually deadly boring. Rather, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid placed over a scene, and try to place the sun where the lines intersect. Learn more about composition in my KelbyOne class, Composition - the strongest way of seeing. Location: Los Osos, California.

#11 Expose for the Highlights. In high-contrast situations, it’s important to expose for the highlights. Make sure your camera’s highlight alert feature is activated and avoid “blinkies.” Also check your histogram and make sure you don’t have a big spike on the right. Location: Spearfish, South Dakota.

#12 Have Fun with Plug-ins. Plug-ins can help us awaken the artist within by removing some of the reality from a scene. Here I used Topaz Adjust to increase the color, detail and contrast to my image. Location: Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

#13 Go for Black-and-White. Strong shadows at sunrise and sunset help to produce dramatic images. Those strong shadows can look even more dramatic in a black-and-white photograph. Topaz Black-and-White Effects and Nik Silver Efex Pro are the two plug-ins I use to create my black-and-white images. Location: Death Valley, California.

#14 Adjust Your Exposure. As the sun rises and sets, your exposure will be constantly changing – quickly. Keep checking your pictures on your camera’s LCD monitor to make sure you are getting good exposures. Location: Tanzania, Africa.

#15 Safety First. Don’t look directly into the sun at sunrise and sunset – or any time for that matter. The sun’s bright light can damage your eyes and may contribute to a loss in vision. This image simulates the harmful effects of macular degeneration. To protect your eyes, wear sunglasses. Also, use your camera’s live view feature, which is easier on your eyes than looking through your camera’s viewfinder. Location: Tanzania, Africa.

#16 Leave Room. If a subject is moving in the frame, leave some room into which the subject can move or run. Location: Spearfish, South Dakota.

#17 Check the Weather. Clouds and atmospheric haze are usually key ingredients in good sunrise and sunset photographs. Before your shoot, check the weather. In some situations, you may want to “sleep in.” Location: Botswana, Africa.

#18 Pack a Flashlight. For the best sunrise shots, you’ll probably want to arrive well before the sun rises, maybe even in total darkness. Wearing a head-mounted flashlight will let you set up your equipment without having to hold a flashlight. Location: Botswana, Africa.

#19 Make Pictures. There’s a big difference between taking pictures and making pictures. Here I made the picture by paying this man $5 to ride back and forth several times until I got the shot. When you are out shooting, always think about how you can make creative – and fun – pictures. Location: Rajasthan, India.

#20. Always Carry a Camera. This is my most basic, yet most important, tip. Always have a camera with you. You just never know when you might see, and want to capture, a wonderful sunrise or sunset. Hey! We shoot here on my yearly Rick's Backyard Photo Workshop. Location: Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

#21 Share Your Shots. Share your favorite sunrise and sunset shots and get inspired by other talented photographers.

#22 Include Reflections. When photographing sunrises and sunsets by the ocean, we can get beautiful reflections in the still, shallow water on the beach. When composing your picture, make sure that the top of your subject is not cut off in the bottom of your frame. Both images taken at the California Photo Fest in Morro Bay, CA.

#23 Capture the Night Sky. For a single image of the night sky, as opposed to time-lapse images, use a wide-angle lens and set your camera on a tripod, and try these settings for starters: ISO to1600, lens set to the widest aperture, shutter speed set to 10 second. Use a cable release or your camera's self-timer to avoid camera shake during the long exposure. After you shoot, check your image on your camera's LCD monitor. If it's too dark, increase the ISO. Longer exposures will show the movement of the stars. Keep in mind that you really can't judge the exposure by the image on the LCD monitor, especially at night. For best results, take several exposures at different settings. Use Lightroom or Photoshop to reduce noise. Location: Very Large Array, New Mexico (photographed by the light of the rising moon).

#24 Focus Carefully. Just because you have an autofocus camera, that does not mean that your camera knows where to focus. For this shot of a wildebeest, I used a focus point on the left side of my camera. Had I selected the center focus point, the animal would have been out of focus, as the background is here. Location: Kenya, Africa.

#25 Make a Montage. This image is a combination of three images: the birds, the moon and the landscape. When you are photographing a sunrise or sunset, in addition to photographing a wide view, take pictures that can use used in montage. Photograph only the sun or moon, only the landscape, only a subject, and so on. To add to the artistry of this image, I used the Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. Location: Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

#26 Paint with Light. Want to have even more fun, and more of a challenge, taking pictures at night? Paint a subject with light. Five million candle power flashlights are available that can illuminate even fairly large subjects at a distance. It takes lots of experimenting to evenly illuminate a subject, but practice makes perfect. For this picture of the New Croton Dam I used my powerful flashlight to add some light to the moonlit scene. A slow shutter speed blurred the clouds. Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY.

#27 Follow Your Heart. When it comes to image enhancements, follow your heart. Do what you think is best, not what someone else may like. If you like super-saturated images like this that burst with color, go for it. Speaking of hearts, check out the upside down heart in this image. Location: St. John's Pier, St. Augustine, Florida.

#28 Always Look Back. Don't forget to look behind you when you are photographing sunrises and sunsets. The light is good back there, too. These snow geese where taking off behind me when I was facing the sun. Good thing I looked back! Location: Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

#29 Dress for Success. If you are not comfortable when you are photographing, you will not be in the best mood to take pictures. I always dress for success. It was -1 degrees Fahrenheit (-18.3 Celsius) when I took this shot. Had I not had hand and toe warmers, plus warm gloves and a winter coat and hat, I probably would not have stood outside in the cold  waiting for two hours to get this shot. When I am shooting along the coast, I always pack waterproof boots. Location: Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

#30 See the light. When the light is low in the sky, it's important to see the direction of light – so you can see where shadows will fall. One idea would be to have a subject's face, or several subjects' faces, evenly illuminated. I took this photograph on one of my digital photography workshops. Off camera, three riders are herding the horses in exactly the right direction – so the horses faces are evenly illuminated. Location: Provence, France.

#31 Catch the Moon at Sunrise. Depending on moonrise, you maybe be able to get a nice shot of the moon at sunrise. Tight shots are nice, but wide-angle shots can tell more of a story or create photographs with a sense of place. Shoot it both ways. Location: Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

#32 Lenses to Shoot the Moon. I use two lenses to shoot the moon. Here I used my Canon 100-400mm IS lens. In the previous image I used my Canon 70-200mm IS lens. Longer lenses will show the moon larger in the frame, wider lenses will show the moon smaller. Location: Botswana, Africa.

#33 Bi-Color Gradual Filters Rock. Not great color in your sunrise or sunset pictures? Not to worry. Add colors with the Bi-Color Filters (pre-sets and user defined) in Nik Color Efex Pro. Location: Botswana, Africa.

#34 Don't Cry. "Don't cry when the sun is gone, because the tears will not let you see the stars" – Violeta Parra.  

Like these tips - and my photo teaching philosophy? Check out my 2015 photo workshops!

Explore the light,

P.S. Want even more tips? Check out the Digital Photo Experience (DPE) Podcast on TWiP - starting in late August or early September. We're moving there to be part of an awesome community of photo podcasts.

12 Tips for Writing a How-to Book

Have you ever wanted to write a how-to book? Need some advice? Well, you've come to the right place my friend!

Here are the tips that I have followed while writing my 36 books, the latest, Creative Visualization for Photographers.

I also following these tips when writing my e-books.

These tips apply to writing all types of how-to books, not only photography books, which is my book specialty.

1 – Study and know your subject - inside and out. Old saying: If you want to become an expert on something, write a book about it. As well as you may know a subject, hire (or have the publisher hire) a technical editor. He or she will probably catch stuff you miss and mistakes you make.

2 – Know where you are going. Before you start, have a detailed outline (which may change). If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?

3 – Respect the reader. This might be the most important tip. When writing each sentence, respect the reader. Remember, you are not writing the book for yourself, you are writing it for the reader. When writing your book, keep reviews in mind. You want as many 5-star ratings as possible, and you have a better chance of getting those rating if you respect the reader and do you very, very best.

Shortly after my my latest book was released, it had a 5-star rating and was #1 in three categories on Amazon. One reason: I respected the reader while writing the book.

4 – Leave no question unanswered. Don’t leave the reader asking asking the question: Why did the author not complete that line of thought? Go the extra mile when talking about a topic.

5 – Know your competition. Go on-line and see what other authors are doing on the same subject. Ask yourself: How can I make my book, better/different . . . the best?

6 – Have more material than you think you need. You need a lot of material to write a how-to book: photos, illustrations and text. In planning your book, plan on having more material than you think you need.

7 – Make it easy and fun for the publisher/editor to work with you. Be flexible. I am not the best photographer or author on the planet, but I do pride myself on being perhaps one of the easiest when it comes to working together.

8 – Give your editor specific instructions. For example, when I submit photographs, I tell my editor: "Crop my pictures and you're a dead man!" After which I add this symbol:  :-)

9 - Plan ahead. Never miss a deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to write . . .  and edit and rewrite and rewrite and edit, etc. Remember: Dates in your rear view mirror are closer than you think.

10 - Let your personality show/shine though. In reality, many other authors know what you know. What makes your book different? Your personality, your style. Write like you talk and don’t try to write too fancy. Tell a few (just a few) jokes and personal stories. Let people get to know you.

11 - Have fun! If you are not having fun writing your book, that will probably come though to your audience. Even if you are not having fun, write as though you are having fun. As I tell folks at book signings: "It's sometimes not fun writing a book, but it's always fun autographing one!"

12 – PR your book. After your book is completed, it’s really up to you to promote the book, though social media and on your web site. You are the best PR agent your book can have. Get your friends to help you promote your book, too.

When I talk about writing a book to potential authors, I share these three quotes:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. – Mark Twain

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done. - Steven Wright

Good luck  writing your how-to book!

Here is a link to my other how-to books on

Explore the light,
Rick Sammon,
Canon Explorer of Light

P.S. These same basic tips apply for producing on-line classes. Click here to read about the classes that I have produced. Again, the main element: respect the audience.