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Interview With Photographer Bob Jensen

Gwich'in Warrior

Gwich’in Warrior—Native American Powwow

Texture: Tin Type from the Glorious Grunge collection.

(NOTE: free texture download at the end of the post)

Bob Jensen is a very prolific photographer. Have a look at his sites to see his stunning insect macros and other diverse subjects. I love what he does with my textures, particularly the Civil War Reenactment and Powwow images. In fact, Bob was the driving inspiration behind the Glorious Grunge collection. He has a wide variety of interests from the Civil War Reenactments, Native American Powwows, Insects, classic and unusual cars, animals and more. He’s polite, generous and just seems like someone you’d want to be friends with. It’s pleasure to present this interview.

French Kiss Collections (FKC)

Bob, please tell us a little about yourself and your photographic awards and accomplishments.

Bob

My name is Bob Jensen and I live in Los Angeles, California, with my lovely wife and two great kids. I have been a nature photographer for many years, but in recent years have branched out into other subjects. I have a Master’s Degree in Biology, with a specialization in Entomology (Insects and Scorpions). Along with my extensive field experience and contacts, I have been able to capture God’s miniature world of insects. Knowing the behavior of particular insects, and where and when they are available, gives me a definite advantage in capturing and photographing them. Trips to Arizona have yielded many new images, including some being used by the United States Forest Service for educational purposes. I love using the computer to create posters, bookmarks, and greeting cards that I can share with others.

Madagascar Hissing Roach by Bob Jensen

Texture: Heirloom from the Glorious Grunge collection.

My wife and I attend Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. She helps critique my images while the kids inspire me with their artistic talents, none of which were inherited from me! I couldn’t do this without them. In my “spare time”, I enjoy teaching a realistic self-protection class called “The Great Escape”.

Awards Published
Various photo awards, including:

  • Grand Prize in the Kodak/Popular Photography Annual Medium Format contest (back in the good old film days)
  • First and Second Place in the Popular Photography Annual Photo Contest for Animals and Digital Imaging
  • Best of Show in Contemporary at the Photographic Society of America’s annual competition
  • Finalist in the Photographer’s Forum Canon Photo contest.
  • Grand Prize winner BetterPhoto.com (USA)
  • Grand Prize winner in a year-long contest at Photography-Unlimited.jp (Japan).
Books:

  • BBC Books, Capstone-Press, Harcourt Brace & Co., Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill Science, Scholastic Inc., The International Library of Photography, Time-Life Books, World Book Publishing, World Wildlife Fund

Magazines:

  • Answers, BBC Wildlife, Birds and Blooms, Conservation, Creation, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, Kids Discover, National Geographic, Ninja, Peterson’s Photographic, Popular Photography, Ranger Rick, S.W.A.T., Zoolife

Newspapers:

  • Various UK newspapers.

 

FKC

How long have you been photographing and what drew you to photography? Do you also have traditional art skills? Did you go to school for photography/art or are you self taught?

Bob

I have been hooked on photography since the age of 15 when my grandmother in Japan gave me my first camera, a Yashica Electro 35.  Since I was in Japan at the time, it was easy to find subjects that would capture my interest at that age. I have zero ability to paint, draw, etc, but both of my kids are really artistic. In fact, my daughter works part-time at a graphic arts business. My daughter has a good eye for design, and my son has created some really neat “monster” images.I have never taken any photography courses so pretty much had to teach myself.  I have been blessed, however, to be surrounded by friends who are great photographers, and I have learned much from them.

FKC

What artists have inspired you?

Bob

There are too many to list.  I can safely say that when I first got into texturing images I was inspired by some of my fellow members on BetterPhoto.com, who were creating masterpieces. Once I started searching for textures that I could use with my photos, I was greatly inspired by you and other artists who were creating textures for photographers. I now use your textures in a wide variety of my images.

FKC

How and when did you first start photographing Civil War Reenactments? What are those events like?

Bob

I photographed my first Civil War reenactment in November of 2010. It all started when my photo buddy, Bill Dow, and I were in a restaurant that was hosting a car show we were photographing. The owner asked us if we were going to photograph the upcoming Civil War event. We told him we had no idea there was one. We both went and loved it. I discovered that there are several of them each year in southern California.

The events normally run for two days and typically open up to the public around 10am each day. I normally arrive around 7am though, as the lighting is better, and it is a great time to photograph them making breakfast. Most of them try to be as authentic as possible, so they build fires, and use old cast iron equipment. Throughout the day, they drill, practice shooting, hold living history lessons, etc. There are at least two battles each day, although one near me holds a third battle in the evening, so you can actually see the gun and cannon fire.

Firing The Cannon

Firing The Cannon—Civil War Reenactment.

 Uses the Memories Frame Set.

Battle Ready

Battle Ready—Civil War Reenactment.

Texture: TinType from the Glorious Grunge collection.

Piper

Flute Player—Civil War Reenactment.

Texture: Ancestor from the Glorious Grunge collection.

Wounded soldier

Wounded Soldier—Civil War Reenactment.

Texture: Fortitude from the Glorious Grunge collection.

Gun Slinger

Gun Slinger—Civil War Reenactment.

Uses the free texture download linked below

FKC

What about the Powwow photographs?

Bob

Just as I had discovered that there are several Civil War reenactments “locally”, I also discovered that there are a number of Powwows in the area.  It pays to search the internet, as I have discovered a lot of great events to go to that I had never heard of before.  My first experience with photographing Native Americans was at an event called “Marching thru History”, which had reeanactors from Roman gladiators through the present time.  I photographed some Chiricahua Apaches at that event.  They liked how I textured their images, and now they recommend me to their friends.  This makes it easy for me now to get them to pose at the Powwows.

Honovi “Bear” Duenas—Native American Powwow

Texture: Old West from the Glorious Grunge collection.

Powwow dancer

Kumeyaay Grass Dancer—Native American Powwow

Bob had this young Native American dance on a large white backdrop and then replaced the white with the texture.

Texture: Rising Sun from Les Textures II collection.

Gwich'in Warrior

Gwich’in Warrior—Native American Powwow

Texture: Fortitude from the Glorious Grunge collection.

FKC

Your portraits are always wonderfully posed both for the event/time period but also for the person. Do you have any tips for making people comfortable and getting the pose you want?

Bob

Whether it be the Civil War reenactments or the Powwows, always be friendly and polite. Too many photographers at these events are rude and pushy, and that really turns off the reenactors and Native Americans. I was at one event where a few photographers were removed! It is important to first introduce yourself and ask permission to take their photos, and not just shove a camera in their face.

A Chiricahua Apache told me they always want you to introduce yourself first. At my first Powwow he also told me what the other “rules” were. He mentioned to never refer to their clothing as either an outfit or costume. They refer to their clothing as “regalia”.  He also said that once they are in their regalia to never touch it. Some photographers have a habit of putting their hands on someone and trying to move them into a certain position. The Native Americans find that very rude.

Chiricahua Apache

Chiricahua Apache—Native American Powwow

Texture: Fortitude from the Glorious Grunge collection.

Native American

Chiricahua Apache—Native American Powwow

Uses the free texture download linked below

Native American

Native American Powwow

Texture: Frontier from the Glorious Grunge collection.

FKC

What are people’s responses when they see their final portraits with the textures and processing? (I’m imagining they are blown away!)

Bob

Many photographers at these events either produce standard snapshots, or apply the same process, like sepia tone, to every image. There is nothing wrong with that, but the reenactors are used to seeing those types of images. I prefer to treat each image and individual as being unique and apply a different texture(s) to each portrait. While that definitely takes a lot of editing time, the reeanctors love the final result. Folks I have photographed are now telling others that they should have me do their portraits, and officers on both the Union and Confederate sides have invited me to stay in their camps.

Parasol

Portrait in Pastel

 Texture: Avril from l’Artiste collection

Processing Tip: A few things Bob does with the Civil War and Powwow portraits:

Some photographers take the original image and change it to B&W before applying the texture.  I like to leave the original in color and change the texture to B&W.  I then apply the texture in the first layer at 100% Multiply and then at 100% color in the second layer. After removing texture off the subject in the first layer, I create two versions of the image. One that I leave in B&W, and one where I change the opacity of the second layer, revealing some color.  I have found that my subjects like to see both … an image with all shades of gray, and one with muted color.  I also brush on Nik Color Efex Pro “tonal contrast” to make parts of the image pop.

color example 1

Two layers: 100% Multiply and 100% Color

color example 2

Two layers: 100% Multiply and 50% Color

Texture: Persistence from the Glorious Grunge collection.

Color example 3

Two layers: 100% Multiply and 100% Color

color example 4

Two layers: 100% Multiply and 50% Color

Texture: Timeless from the Glorious Grunge collection.

FKC

You also photograph vintage and unique cars. Tell us about that.

Bob

I have been a nature photographer for many years.  About 4 years ago I had nothing to photograph here locally during the winter, so I thought I would go to a local “cruise” night on a Friday. That was it … I was hooked by the beauty and design of the cars, and I haven’t stopped photographing them since. I quickly realized that photographing classic cars and hot rods was no different than nature photography … to get good images required good composition and lighting. Now I try to limit myself mainly to the Concourses where they show the best of the best.

car

1956 Mercury Montclair

Texture: Modified Wild Rose from the Garden Delight collection. (will re-release soon).

FKC

Where do you take your animal photographs?

Bob

Many of my animal images are taken at local zoos. Zoos are a great place to photograph and also a challenge at the same time. My goal at zoos, of course, is to create images that don’t look like they were taken in a zoo. Sometimes that requires shooting only animals that are in natural enclosures, and sometimes that means having to pull out the long lens to eliminate distracting elements.

Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

I have also done a lot of macro photography of insects. I photograph the local dragonflies as well as a lot of insects from Arizona. Southern Arizona is the place insect collectors go to in the summer, as there is a huge variety of them in various shapes, sizes and colors.

Note: be sure to check out Bob’s 500 px gallery for really wonderful Macros

FKC

You also photograph flowers. Do many of them come from your own garden?

Bob

Very few of them come from our garden. Most of the flowers I photograph come from local growers. Southern California has a great climate for producing huge varieties of flowers. We also have a large flower market in downtown Los Angeles that carries unusual plants/flowers from Central America.  There are also huge greenhouses along the coast where orchids are grown. The orchid growers let me bring in my studio lighting and shoot all the flowers I want to. In exchange, I give them access to the high res digital files to use for their advertising.

Orchid

Orchid

Texture: Rebel from the Glorious Grunge collection.

Dried Thistle

Dried Thistle

Texture: Timeless from the Glorious Grunge collection.

FKC

Do you tend to shoot with natural light, flash or a combination? Is there a certain kind of light you like most? Do you shoot with post-processing in mind? In other words, do you shoot any differently if you know you will use textures, etc.?

Bob

I use whatever lighting is appropriate for the subject and conditions. I prefer natural light, either early in the day or very late. When I photograph at car shows I am always hoping for overcast conditions. At Civil War events and Powwows I will use my Canon flash with a Ray Ring Flash attached for fill light. I do often shoot flowers and insects with my studio lighting. That way I can control the light on the subject as well as the background.

I often shoot with post-processing in mind. After Topaz Labs* came out with Topaz Adjust*, I started looking at images and saying, “Wow, that would look great Topazed!” Now when I go to Civil War events and Powwows, I am specifically going knowing that most of the portraits are going to be textured.


Bob’s Camera Bag

  • Canon 5D MK2
  • Canon 5D MK3
  • Lenses: 17-40, 24-105, 100 macro, 100-400, 500
  • Flash: Canon 580 EX II, Ray Ring Flash
  • Calumet Carbon Fiber tripod with Arca-Swiss ballhead

Photo Editing software

  • Adobe Photoshop CS5
  • Corel Painter
  • Photomatix
  • Helicon Focus for focus stacking

3rd Party filters & plug-ins


FKC

What tips would you give someone beginning to use textures?

Bob

Study the various online tutorials that are available from French Kiss and other sources, like YouTube. Then it is practice, practice, practice.  To quote a friend of mine who likes to think outside the box: “Practice doesn’t make perfect, and perfect practice doesn’t make perfect.  Practice makes you better and better is where it’s at.” I can sure relate to that when it comes to texturing my images. After the hundreds of images I have textured in the past year, I still have difficulty with some. A month ago I spent a lot of time applying a texture, just to toss the whole thing once I was done. I had to start all over and rethink it. You will find that sometimes you pick the right texture for the subject and sometimes you don’t. After having done so many though, it does get easier and it does get better.


See More Of Bob’s Work

Website

500px

Awesome collection!


Free Texture

Patriot

Free Texture Download

I traditionally give away a free texture with each photographer interview. This texture was one of the first I made for the Glorious Grunge collection. Bob helped me enormously when I was testing that collection. His images inspired me to create an entire collection when I at first only envisioned a few textures! I held back this texture called Patriot  from the collection specifically to be able to offer it with his interview.

This texture is available Free in the Member Downloads.

Get The Free Downloads

* Topaz Labs Filters is an affiliate link. I get a small commission from any sales resulting from a click from this site (at no extra cost to you.) I really do love these filters. Thanks for supporting the site.

Enjoy this interview and freebie? Sign up to the newsletter to hear of new features and freebies.

Browse the Texture Collections used in these images.

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33 Responses to Interview With Photographer Bob Jensen

  1. Betty June 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Amazing art! I’m wondering if Bob uses a backdrop for his re-enactment and pow wow portraits?

    Leslie, thanks for the texture and the inspirational interview!

    • Bob Jensen June 19, 2012 at 12:54 am #

      Betty … at these reenactments I sometimes pull out a collapsible white reflector (5×6′) that I will place behind the person. This is perfect for head/shoulder and 3/4 length portraits. I can then easily lay a texture over the white background. I sometimes bring a much large off-white canvas drop cloth that I hang up and have reeanctors stand on it. Other times I just simply have to erase the backgrounds and drop in a texture.

      • Betty June 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

        Thanks Bob. I looked at your images on the the links. Amazing work!

        • Bob Jensen June 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

          Thanks. I forgot to mention this … at the Civil War reenactments, I often ask the reenactors to stand on the side of one of their tents. Since they are all off-white in color, they make great backgrounds to put the textures over.

          • Betty June 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

            Thanks for sharing your process. I see that Leslie had included the info about the backdrop…missed it earlier!

  2. Debora Suterko June 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Great interview, and fantastic inspiration for the use of your beautiful textures!

    • Bob Jensen June 19, 2012 at 12:55 am #

      Thanks Debora – I have seen your textured images and they are great. It took me longer to produce some nice textured images than it has taken you!

  3. Sweetpea June 18, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I rarely take the time anymore to read interviews with photographers, but this one stopped me dead in my tracks. Could there be any better creative person to show off Nicole’s textures to their ultimate?! Wow. I purchased the Glorious Grunge Collection awhile back (fell in love at first sight) and now I feel the jolt of fresh inspiration to practice, practice, practice. So, not only do I have a *new* favorite photographer (Bob, you absolutely totally ROCK), but I also have some fresh goals.

    And then, at the end, I was rewarded for all of my reading by the free texture…does it get much better?

    A thousand “Thank You”s for this fabulous post!

  4. Becky Gookin June 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Wow, what an artist. Thanks for the interview and the texture!!!

  5. Maureen @ Cottage 960 June 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Great interview, his work is fabulous, thanks for sharing. And thanks for the free texture!

  6. Lois Bryan June 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Wonderful interview … I enjoyed it very much … magnificent images … I LOVE your style, Bob!!!!! Thank you!!!! And thanks, Leslie, for this lovely new texture!!!!!
    Lois Bryan recently posted..Something Fishy This Way Comes by Lois Bryan

  7. Linda Willets June 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Hi Leslie,

    Enjoyed reading about Bob’s work. Thanks for the new texture.

    Linda
    Linda Willets recently posted..Menu1920

  8. Rebecca June 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Stunning work Bob. An inspiration for sure. I took love Leslie’s textures! You have used them so well.
    Rebecca recently posted..Eclectic

    • Bob Jensen June 19, 2012 at 1:01 am #

      Thanks Rebecca. I checked out your Eclectic page and you have some great images there. You have some beautiful textured images. Being an entomologist, I especially like what you did with the rice paper butterfly.

  9. Jinterwas June 18, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Amazing texture work & inspiring interview. TY for sharing this beautiful texture for free 🙂 !

  10. sharon June 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Fabulous work , both the photography and the use of textures. Very enjoyable and inspiring.

  11. Rosie Grey June 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Wow, this is really stunning! Thanks so much for the interesting interwiew and wonderful photos (or rather works of art). And thanks for your freebie, too!

  12. julie williams June 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    WOW what fabulous subjects for texture work , Im also a big fan of Topaz Adjust & also their B/W
    I have been doing textures for a couple of years now , at times it can come so easily & others so painful , Keep up with the beautiful work Bob:-)

    • Bob Jensen June 19, 2012 at 12:58 am #

      Thanks Julie. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes painful as you said. It took me 3 hours to do the Munster Koach! I’ve never spent that much time on an image before.

  13. dontstealmypen June 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Thank you both for the gift of inspiration! Wonderful work, Bob. The pow wow pix are fascinating and provide such a beautiful canvas for the Glorious Grunge collection. It actually led to my looking up some of the history of Native American tribes in Nevada and Idaho where my family is from. Leslie, the Patriot texture is a gem! Can’t wait to try it. ;o)
    dontstealmypen recently posted..Friday—The Art Gallery

    • Bob Jensen June 19, 2012 at 1:11 am #

      Thanks for the comment. I really love the sunflower pic you posted on your page.

    • Leslie Nicole June 20, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      Thank you. Look forward to seeing more of your great work on Flickr.

  14. Linda Segerson June 19, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Great interview and I love how he used your textures. His work is stunning and I will most definitely check out his site.

    • Leslie Nicole June 20, 2012 at 7:55 am #

      Thanks Linda. I love how he uses the textures, too!

  15. Lloyd Cain June 19, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    Great interview. Great photos. Wow!

  16. Mary Beth Aiello June 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Bob — You are truly a master in the digital darkroom, and it is obvious that you’ve long studied textures and subjects, marrying them to perfection. You’re an inspiration. Simply spectacular work, as always.

    • Bob Jensen June 20, 2012 at 12:40 am #

      Thanks so much Mary Beth. You are actually one of the folks on BetterPhoto I was referring to in the interview who has inspired me! Your work is absolutely brilliant.

      • Mary Beth Aiello June 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

        Bob —

        I guess we’re a mutual admiration society. Your work always gets me thinking in new ways. Truly brilliant.

  17. Linda June 20, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    Amazing art works…love the selection of textures for these images. It gives a great vintage feel. I enjoyed the interview!

    Thanks Leslie for the texture too 🙂
    Linda recently posted..Edit Fun

  18. Leslie Nicole June 20, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Thanks for everyone’s comments. I’m glad you enjoy Bob’s work as much as I do. Look forward to seeing your creations with the texture, too.

  19. yekcal August 7, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Thank you! Pictures are fabulous 🙂

  20. soglasi May 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Awesome post.

  21. Edit Peterffy October 3, 2016 at 4:17 am #

    Fantastic works.

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