Insights and ideas from Tyler Stableford
Capturing passion, light, and stories
I'm an outdoor adventure photographer, so for me light can make or break the perfect image. But when I'm hanging off a cliff, it's just not possible to have perfect lighting tools on hand. That's why Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 3 software is as important to me as my camera equipment. It helps me balance the qualities of light in my outdoor images so I can focus on capturing the moment, emotion, and story I'm trying to tell and not miss an opportunity because of the light.
My home base is in Aspen, Colorado, which is a mecca for outdoor activities. I shoot everything from rock climbing and skiing to mountain biking and fly fishing for both editorial and commercial clients. When I'm not working to pay the bills, I enjoy donating my time and photography skills to benefit non-profit organizations. Giving back in this way has been humbling and satisfying beyond words.
I try to be fearless in life, and in photography. I don't know if it makes me a better person, but it definitely makes me a better photographer. On any given day I may be photographing workers on an oil and gas rig, a motorcyclist riding over Independence Pass in Colorado, or a climber at 12,000 feet in the blaring sun. In 2009, I had the incredible opportunity to fly in an F-16 with the 120th Fighter Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado for an assignment with 5280 magazine.
Whether I'm shooting for a catalog, article, or stock, every single image has a purpose and I'll take any assignment if it will lead to dramatic, inspiring, or informative imagery. In my 15 year career I've learned that you don't need to get on an airplane to Iceland to shoot great images or to have personal and professional growth. I feel very fortunate-photography has opened many doors for me to see and photograph things that are a life passion.
That's not to say my passion doesn't come at a price. Shooting 10 frames per second can result in two to three thousand images at the end of a day, which is a hefty processing challenge. Lightroom 3 is my lifeline because I can quickly import images and video and use presets to apply basic adjustments. But what really saves me is the selective lighting tools that help me shape the light to focus attention on a particular subject or hold highlight detail in things like clouds or ice.
After editing images in Lightroom 3 my assistants and I use Photoshop CS5 software for advanced retouching and compositing. Lightroom and Photoshop are like skis and poles-they work together seamlessly to help us deliver powerful images that reflect the genuine style, thrill, or emotion of the moment.
In the end, photography is all about light, passion, and telling stories. Photography can give people hope about their journeys in life, inform them about others in need, or help them see something new in nature's astonishing beauty. I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to capture light and tell stories in ways that inspire and inform others. For other photographers out there, my advice is to see everyday things through kind and compassionate eyes, but more than anything-be fearless.
Tyler's vignette Lightroom preset: