Darrell Gulin at the April Seattle SMUG Meet-up


Canon Explorer of Light photographer Darrell Gulin of Seattle made a special visit to the Seattle Smug Mug User’s Group monthly meet-up at Discovery House in Seattle, Wash., on Monday April 4th.

Canon Explorer of Light Darrell Gulin talks with members of the Seattle SMUG meetup group prior to his presentation.


He is a man passionate about his art and the process of photography. From the concept through the final image, he keeps it going.

His images ranged from flowers in his backyard, to Greece, to Antarctica, to the Hide Out Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. You can view his gallery and website here: http://www.gulinphoto.com

Prior to his presentation, about a dozen audience members had a number written on their name tag by organizer Earnie Glazener. As Gulin showed his images, the visitors with the numbers were given a print corresponding to the section of his images he was presenting.

His images ranged from close-ups of feathers, butterfly and moths , to grand landscapes and wildlife of Africa.

But the theme of his images was the same: simple, clean, and sellable. He stressed the salability of his images over the purity of taking unmanipulated images.

A very technical and competent photographer, he is also unabashed at stating his way of shooting. He is “not a purist” as he wants to get images that sell.

For one, a photo of church crosses in a Grecian town with a cruise ship in the background , he explained why the ship was left in. So it was sellable to the tourism industry. He also explained that he had images of some without the cruise ship.

In other examples, he showed several images that were manipulated prior to photographing them, and after.

In one, a photo of a stream, he explained that he and his workshop participants clear a stream of old logs and other debris. In another, he explained how he took a silhouette of a tree, then added a silhouette of a giraffe (see below).

Gulin explains how he added the silhouette of a giraffe to the silhouette of a tree. He says one would have to wait for an impossibly long time for a composition as this.

He describes how he is more of an art director than a photographer. While at the Hide Out Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains of northern Wyoming, he explained how he made sure the cowboys were dressed appropriately.

He also described how he roused his subjects to get them into position while the snow was falling, or the sun was setting.

Gulin was very informative about his camera settings. He uses an “f/8 and be there” mentality in order to get his subjects in focus. He uses aperture priority mode on his gear.

For fill flash, basic on camera set on automatic at a -1 stop setting. Simple fill flash for closeup subjects such as these tulips in Holland: http://www.gulinphoto.com/gallery/g_holland.shtml

One of the things he is adamantly against is using UV filters. He says he doesn’t use them due to how they degrade the image.

Gulin's computer and projection.

“People put them on to protect the lens, but why put cheap glass in front of expensive glass,” he explains, “all it does is degrade the image. Unless it’s a B & W UV filter.”

With the exception of a polarizing and graduated neutral density filters, he says he doesn’t really use filters. If he needs to keep one on the lens, he leaves the polarizing filter on.


For his workflow, Gulin says he’s uses Adobe Bridge to import and keyword, then uses Photoshop CS5 for image processing.

He states he shoots only in camera raw as j-peg compression loses information. After converting from the raw format via Adobe Camera Raw, he works the images uses layers so it is easy to work the image again without losing any of the original information.

He does a rough edit and then deletes the other images.

“Why load up your hard drive with pictures you’re never going to look at again?” he explains.

He then saves the layered files as PSDs rather than TIFFs as PSDs “open up much faster than TIFFs.”  He added he only uses j-pegs to for transmission and presentation purposes. Layered PSD allow for further post-processing later.

For his archiving purposes, he keeps separate drives for each of his separate categories. For example, one for landscapes, another for wildlife, and so one. From there, each is then broken down further.

If he’s looking for a photo of an eagle, it would be archived as such: Animals > Birds > Raptors > Eagles  and from there, he will search for the photo of the eagle to meet his clients needs. Each of these drives is also backed up.

While working for a client at their locale, he saves multiple copies of the raw shoot. One on his laptop and 3 more copes on 3 separate drives. He stresses he keeps one of the drives on his person at all times as he doesn’t want to chance losing the shoot due to an unforeseen circumstance.

It was an informative presentation. Several of the things I learned were:

  • use multiple backup drives when shooting so you don’t lose anything
  • don’t save in j-peg as it is not a lossless data compression
  • PSDs open faster than TIFFs (I kinda knew this but never tested it)
  • keep your hard drives organized like filing cabinets (Mine are organized by newspaper). Works for me though.

Thanks for stopping by

Paul Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography


  1. Paul, thanks for taking way better notes than I did. Everytime I get around you or someone else from this Smug group, I learn 🙂 I didn’t remember him endorsing any UV filter (such as B&W) but I might have missed that – kinda wished he had endorsed his top couple pics for polarizer filters though.


    1. Thanks for stopping by Darren.

      Yep. He was adamant against using filters in front of lenses unless they were polarizing or graduated ND. He said if you need to use one, use on of high quality such as B&W. Problem is, they’re expensive.

      Have a good one.


Please Feel free to Leave a Comment. Links to Your Work are Encouraged

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s