Book Cover: The Grand Landscape

August 1, 2017
by Matthew Schmidt

Prizes for Completing SoFoBoMo 2017

Great News!

This year we were able to work a deal with Ian Plant to provide some of his eBooks to participants in SoFoBoMo 2017!

Ian has graciously agreed to help us sponsor our event. Today I wanted to announce that we will give a copy of “The Grand Landscape” to everyone who completes a book.

Once you complete your SoFoBoMo book, we’ll send you a link. Ian’s eBooks are inspirational, filled with good information, and full of fantastic photos.

Get your copy by signing up today!

November 15, 2016
by Matthew Schmidt

Life, Hanging in the Balance

I don’t have the time to do a book, exclaimed Darnell.

Sure you do, Marc responded in a soothing voice.  You’re out shooting every week anyway.

I couldn’t get enough shots anyway.  There’s not point in even trying!

We all have considerations we need to deal with in our lives, some more important than others.  This past SoFoBoMo was quite a trial for me.  When life doesn’t seem to go the way we planned sometimes we have to just accept it, do the best we can, and move on.

Setting priorities.

The priorities in our lives vary, and if you’re life is at all like mine, it can feel like we don’t have any control.

I work for a TINY company and we all have to pitch in when the going gets tough.  This past summer, that tough time was directly on top of SoFoBoMo.  I try to balance my personal needs with that of my business, but this summer was way out of whack.

I had planned to start my SoFoBoMo book over the 4th of July weekend, with the rest of July to finish.  There would be 5 weekends, plenty of time to get in 35 good images.

So on Sunday, the 3rd of July, I went out and shot a bunch of images.  Mostly nature images, but there were a few architectural detail shots as well.  I like a wide range of subject matter and I wanted my book to reflect that.

Miss one weekend?  How bad could that be?

My company’s summer party was the following weekend and that would consume most of my weekend.  Since I would still have 3 more weekends, I felt I had everything in hand.  Plus I had a week of vacation planned at my Dad’s house in North Carolina.  Plenty of time to capture more images and think about the book.

After that weekend, my company received a Thursday evening request for proposal (RFP).  The request stated they needed “a response by Monday morning at 8:00am.”  So a second weekend was completely shot, at the same time canceling my vacation.

Now that little voice in my head keeps repeating “you’ll never get done, you have to take some time off” over and over.

And the work keeps coming.

During the third week of July, we got another RFP.  This one with a more reasonable deadline, but with summer vacations, I was on my own.  I worked that entire next weekend too.

And now that little voice is screaming “there is no way you’ll EVER finish!!!”

I’d shot images for exactly 1 day in 28.  I had one weekend and a Monday after work to finish the book.

I took one weekend day to shoot some more images.  Then I spent the second weekend day processing my selections.  After work on Monday, I sorted my processed images and used Lightroom to create a PDF book.

I posted my book with only hours left in my 31 days.

So like Darnell, I could have given up.  I certainly had reason enough to quit.  And who would be the wiser if I didn’t finish?

But doing that work.  Finishing that book gave me a great sense of accomplishment.  It was just what I needed during a period when my personal life was… hanging in the balance.

And we won the work from both proposals, so business life wasn’t actually hurt in the process.


that little voice in my head is being quiet.  Just as it should.

September 13, 2016
by admin

Techmart – making my SoFoBoMo 2016 book


The making of my Sofobomo 2016 photo book, just like years past, was a struggle – in finding a good subject to worth an entire book of 35 photographs. For those of you unfamiliar with SoFoBoMo, it is a photography challenge where photographers all over the world make solo photo books in .pdf format in 31 days from start to finish. They make 35 photos, write needed text, lay out the book, and produce their ebook, in one SoFoBoMo fuzzy month – a continuous 31 day period between July 1 and August 31.

So back to my book, or rather the troubling subject of finding a subject for my photo book – my problem is always that I cannot envision more than a handful of photographs on any given subject – in other words it is a problem of a limited imagination.

So, I default to a trial-and-error approach. I start with a theme, and then when my imagination runs out, abandon it and go to the next theme on my pre-prepared and well-thought-out theme list. Most times, as I look at the already taken photographs of a given theme, an alternate theme pops up. And once I actually shoot about 35 or so photographs, the photos in front of me suggest the theme.


Gift of the Commonplace by Ruth Bernhard

This year was a little different. I wanted to shoot something “common” to me, something I see everyday. A big influence in this is my copy of Ruth Bernhard’s ” Gift of the Commonplace“, a beautiful beautiful book with amazing photographs about ordinary things.

I realized I love the light and reflections in my glass and metal office building. The reason I notice these in the first place is because of my previous SoFoBoMo book – Shadows and Reflections. In making that book, I had to closely notice the light and shadows and reflections of just about anything, and I have not stopped that after I finished that book… I digress.

After a couple of shoots, I had about 50 photographs, but just about 15 which were good enough to go in the book. I was at the end of my imagination, and didn’t have any alternate ideas for themes, nor enough time to brainstorm and go through an iteration of my trial and error method. I came home one evening and started looking at my collection of LensWork magazines. And then, sitting among other books, I found “Building Blocks” by Barbara Bender, LensWork Monograph #6. It is a beautiful book. After a little while, it is easy to forget that what you are looking at are buildings!


Building Blocks by Barbara Bender

Inspired, I shot some more. And then I decided to experiment with Lightroom develop presets. Especially those presets which accentuate or change the mood of the photograph. After some trial and error, I ended up using these, or a combination of these presets on some photographs

And so, I have my SoFoBoMo 2016 book. The book was laid out and converted into a pdf in the Lightroom Book module. I found the book module sufficient, but left a lot to be desired in terms of additional layout flexibilities. I definitely need to find a better software and create layout templates for next year.

So this was a first analysis of my SoFoBoMo 2016 experience. I might write more here as I ruminate more over this.

I hope to see you participate in SoFoBoMo in 2017, and show me your photo book, and tell me about your experience.

Techmart – making my SoFoBoMo 2016 book  first appeared on Rope and Tire

June 21, 2016
by Matthew Schmidt

Creating Your PDF

“It’s too complicated,” said Joan.  “I’ll never understand how to make my pictures a PDF.  Why can’t this be easier?  It seems like computers are created for engineers.”

Making it Simple

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Why is it that so many tasks, that seem simple, become so complex?

Part of the problem comes from the designers of the applications.  If you understand enough to write the application, understanding what is happening is trivial.  If you are a user of the application, you may not understand what is happening at all.  You just know when you do A, B should happen.

What is happening under the hood is “magic.”  But there is good news, we can create PDFs at the press of a button with several applications.

Today we’ll discuss applications that exist on the Windows and Mac computers 99% of us use.  Lightroom, Windows Explorer, and Photo.  Lightroom is arguably the most widely used photo management software.  Windows Explorer is a bundled application with Microsoft Windows.  And Photo is a bundled application with Apple’s OS X.

Lightroom to PDF

To create a PDF in Lightroom has become simple.  Choose your photos, go to the Book tab, select PDF, and click the Export to PDF in the lower-right.

Windows Explorer to PDF

Windows Explorer is the application most of us use to navigate the file system in Windows.  Starting in Windows 10 Microsoft included a right-click menu item Print for JPEGs.  In the Print Pictures dialog, there is an option to choose Microsoft Print to PDF.  Selecting this option provides the options for creating a PDF albeit with limited control.

Windows 7 & 8

If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8 you can download doPDF to add a PDF printer to your system.

OS X Photos to PDF

Starting in El Capitan Apple provided Photos as your image viewer.  To create a PDF, select the images you would like, then select File, Print.  You can choose any format or printer, then click Print.  In the Print overlay dialog, choose the PDF button in the lower-left and Save As PDF…

OS X 10.10 & Earlier

For earlier versions of OS X, the procedure is similar, except you use iPhoto.

Although it once required specialized software, today you can print to a PDF.  On a Windows or Mac computer it IS trivial to create a PDF.  Simply print your images to a PDF printer.