Thursday, March 8, 2012
Here's an interesting little sidebar by photo guru Chase Jarvis. He poses the question on his blog, "What the hell is sepia?" He makes a good point, because to many photographers sepia is just an effect achieved by clicking the appropriate preset or filter in a given photo editing application. But as Chase points out, sepia actually has a long and rich tradition in the photo world. When I was just a young pup, I made actual sepia prints in an actual darkroom. Sepia, you see, is a photographic toning technique from the silver darkroom. Sepia became popular in the 19th century, and remains so still today. Read a little more about the origins and history of sepia at Chase's site, then think about how to apply its effects to make your black and white photos look even better.
The Science And Magic Of Light
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
I teach a studio product lighting class and I'm pretty proud of what my students seem to get out of each lesson. I'm pretty strong on lighting technique because in my own undergraduate work I found that I didn't get enough technical lighting foundation to feel like a well-equipped photographer. Lest my students feel equally unprepared, I focus on technique and they seem to appreciate it. But I'm embarrassed to say I am unfamiliar with this book I just learned about from the Cool Tools blog. It's called "Light: Science and Magic," which appears to be the perfect manual for a lighting class like mine. Based on the chapter previews available at Amazon, the book covers much the same technical ground that I focus on in my class. Maybe I'll have to invest in this book, not only for my students' sake, but for my own too. If you want to build your own technical lighting foundation, consider starting with this book.
The End Of Transparency Film
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Just when it seemed like maybe Kodak had bottomed out and things would maybe start looking better for the industry giant, Kodak last week announced that it will no longer make any slide films at all. Bye bye, Ektachrome. Apparently transparency films have accounted for less than ten percent of the company's film sales for many years, but still the difference between "some" and "none" seems quite dramatic. If you're a transparency shooter, it appears that you've got about another six to nine months, according to The Online Photographer, before your camera store's shelves are officially empty. This brave new photographic world sure is exciting, but on days like these it can be downright depressing.
Photoshop Iris Blur Preview
Monday, March 5, 2012
I love the Photoshop Sneak Peeks that Adobe releases prior to every new version of the software. From Adobe's perspective it's a great way to drum up interest and excitement in a new product. But from a user's perspective... well, it's sorta the same thing: a great way to get excited for new features in the next version of Photoshop. John Paul Caponigro linked to this new sneak peek into Photoshop CS6, featuring a simple, powerful, and downright awesome-looking tool called Iris Blur. The idea is to make a tool that's essentially a one-click way to recreate a shallow depth of field in any image. If you didn't shoot at a wide aperture—a big iris—you can create the look easily by positioning a point in the center of an area you want to be sharp, and then dragging a circle to enlarge the area of focus or shrink it. It's a pretty great looking tool that I can't wait to get my hands on.
Improve Your Video With A Rubber Band
Friday, March 2, 2012
The lines are blurring between photography and videography. I used to resist this, but no longer. For years, I felt like photography and videography had almost nothing in common. But then my clients started demanding video, and I started enjoying it, and the next thing you know I'm shooting the stuff on a fairly regular basis. The biggest problem, as far as I can tell, is that I'm making due with photography gear for some of my video projects. Case in point, I don't have a wonderfully smooth-panning professional video tripod head. That means I don't do a lot of moves with my camera, and certainly not while strapped down to my tripod. But this wonderful little tip from my favorite DIY Photography blog really does seem like an excellent, free, frankly ideal solution to this age-old videography problem. By using a simple rubber band to act as a shock absorber between your hand and the tripod head, you can start and stop panning motions without any herky-jerky impact on your shots. Even if you do have a high-end video head, this tip could really help you improve the subtlety of your movements. I love it! Read all about it at http://www.diyphotography.net/use-a-rubber-band-for-smooth-panning-shots.
Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Here's a useful book. Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook offers a glimpse behind the camera and details on 101 different lighting setups. Kevin is an acclaimed wedding photographer, so he's used to using a variety of equipment in a variety of ways to create a variety of dramatic—and dramatically different—looks with his lighting. Though the book isn't especially technical in terms of lighting, it is filled with diagrams and pictures to help you create the exact same same lighting techniques that Kevin used in creating the example photographs in his book. It answers, fairly precisely, the questions about the types of cameras, lenses and lighting equipment used to make his favorite photographs. And that can be a very useful learning tool. Be prepared, though, as this Light Stalking review points out, Kevin relies on a wide variety of equipment—and that means you're going to want to buy a whole lot of new gear. That's either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Even if you don't care to invest in new gear, this guide is bound to give you a bunch of good, new ideas when it comes to lighting your shots.
Use A Light Meter
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Talk about good timing. Thomas Werner of the ASMP's Strictly Business blog just wrote a blog post about using a light meter to improve your photographs. His premise is simple: it's not enough just to create a useable image and verify it with the LCD on the back of the camera. A great photographer makes deliberate, informed choices about lighting that can be made much more precisely by using a handheld light meter. And the reason all of this is perfect timing is that I, after years of using my trusty Sekonic light meter, found that I had essentially given it up for the last year or more. And I'd done it for exactly the reason many photographers have: because I can see my results on the camera's LCD. The good timing bit is that just recently, last week in fact, I came to the realization that my work was suffering because I wasn't using a light meter. My exposures were subtly off (though fixable in Photoshop) because my eyes sometimes deceive me. And more importantly, what I was thinking of as a nice, pleasant, dramatic lighting ratio was starting to become really excessively dark and dramatic—and not at all what I was going for. And I would have known that had I continued using my light meter all along. My lighting ratios wouldn't have gotten out of whack, and some of the photographs that I've been making just good enough... well, maybe they would have been great. So do what Thomas suggests, and get out your light meter to help you make great photographs.
Good Reasons To Love Photography
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Though I don't often link to it here, I absolutely love Wired magazine's "Raw File" photo blog. This recent essay and post by PhotoShelter CEO Allen Murayabashi is a prime example of why. It's called "I love photography," and it's a little bit rant, a little bit manifesto about why Allen simply loves the state of photography today. He provides examples of all the things that are going right in the photo world, which serves as a nice counterbalance to a lot of the negativity that we all encounter when we talk to some photographers these days. Best of all, though, Allen cites tremendous examples of amazing photographs from the last couple of years. It's worth a read for the photographs alone, but the thoughtful commentary makes it a must-read too.