A Wealth Of Photo Resources, All On Video
Thursday, June 23, 2011
John Paul Caponigro recently filled his normally very interesting blog with a whole bunch of videos about another photographer. That photographer is Ansel Adams, and the YouTube clips are definitely worth watching. But what really blew me away about this post was what it led me to: a couple of great video discoveries, caches of photography videos collected online. First is the super-secret (or so it would appear) stash of videos hidden away on John Paul Caponigro's site. A simple text page that looks like it might be a mistake turns out to contain links to videos from forty-some world-class photographers. The second great group of videos actually comes from the YouTube page where Mr. Caponigro found all those great Ansel Adams videos. It's Tom Johnston's ZoneIII YouTube channel, and it's packed with dozens of photo-related videos—interviews with photographers, videos of their workflows and how-to videos made by Mr. Johnston himself illustrating photographic and darkroom techniques. Between these two caches of videos you can pretty much learn whatever you want about photography from whomever you'd like, and you won't run out of videos to watch any time soon.
A Really Large Format Camera That Uses X-Ray Film
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Some people build homemade cameras. I can see the appeal in this, although I wouldn't know where to begin trying to do it myself. One of the most intriguing aspects of building your own camera would be the ability to build it as big as you'd like—even if that's, say, 14x36 inches. Darren Samuelson is building a camera that big—which is so large that it uses x-ray film in lieu of traditional orthochromatic black and white photographic film. Check out this cool video of Darren in action with his big ol' camera at DIYPhotography.net. I guess in a world where film choices are fairly limited, x-ray film actually broadens the spectrum of options available to you.
Can Film Hang On Much Longer?
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I remember the year 2000 as if it was yesterday. The dawning of the new era in digital photography, when people talked about how film would one day disappear. Photographers were engaged in all sorts of arguments about whether or not film and darkroom papers would eventually go the way of the dodo bird, or if there would always be a need for film. Flash forward just a decade and all of a sudden that hypothetical future has arrived. None of the commercial photographers I know uses film for anything more than a small fraction of their work—and only then for some specific, special reason. What was once the dominant tool in the industry—in fact, the one necessity that every photographer needed—is now quite literally an afterthought. This recent AP story by Ben Dobbin puts into perspective just how dramatic our shift from film to digital has been. Ten years ago Kodak sold almost a billion rolls of film annually. This year, however, they'll sell only 20 million. That's a 98% hit to a once vital company with a near corner on the market. It's sad to see film decline this far, even sadder to think about an eventual disappearance altogether. It's hard for me to imagine we won't be able to ever buy film, though. I sure hope Kodak and other manufacturers keep filling the demand in one way or another—no matter how small that demand might be.
Monday, June 20, 2011
I am of the belief that you should not keep a filter on your lens at all times simply to protect that lens from the bumps and bruises and scratches that can occur out there in the world. But I also understand that's just my personal preference, and I do get the logic behind using a $150 filter to protect a $1500 lens. The key is as long as that $150 filter is really high quality. What I will never understand is the idea of protecting a new $1500 lens with a $50 filter, or a filter that is of poor quality. Why? Because if you're going to ruin all of your photos with that cheap piece of glass on the front, why buy a great $1500 lens in the first place? Just buy a cheap lens and don't worry about it. All of that said, DPReview recently directed me to an awesome blog post at the Lensrentals.com web site. It's a bit tongue in cheek, and definitely over the top, but it's actually very instructive too. Roger Cicala stacked 50 filters on the front of his camera to illustrate how horrible a photo looks with 50 filters stacked in front of the lens, but also to showcase the differences between good filters and bad. Even the good filters when stacked don't look great. And a filter-doubter such as myself says that if five filters hurt image quality a lot, one filter is bound to hurt image quality a little. But again, that's just personal preference—and I know that as soon as I ruin my next $1500 lens because I didn't have a filter on the front of it, well, I just may reconsider my position.
Keep All Your Pictures Just In Case
Friday, June 17, 2011
I once read that street photographer Garry Winogrand made a practice of keeping all of his photographs unedited, or in some cases unprocessed, until long after a shoot. Why? Because he wanted to separate his personal, emotional connection to the photo shoot from the visual factors used to determine which images stand out in editing. He didn't want to get caught up in how much fun a shot was, or how difficult it was to pull off. He just wanted to respond to the images alone, and to do that he waited until the session was a distant memory. Photographer Steve Berardi, who writes the Photo Naturalist blog, recommends a similar practice. He doesn't necessarily advocate that you wait to review your pictures until long after a shoot, but he definitely suggests you keep every last one of those digital images just in case at a later date your fresh eyes see something special standing out in the take. Read all about his approach at Photo Naturalist, and start making plans now to build an archive and backup system that will allow you to keep all your photos indefinitely.
Photo by Steve Berardi, Photo Naturalist
New Polaroid Printer Brings The "Instant" Back To Photography
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I'm all for instant prints. In fact, I just bought a Fuji Instax camera to celebrate the birth of my daughter—and to ensure that she'll have photographic prints in albums she can look back on to remember her childhood like most of us old-timers do. Well now there's another option, and this one comes from the folks who used to have the market cornered on instant photography. It's the Polaroid GL10 mobile instant printer. It's a tiny little thing, which makes it easy to carry around and take to parties and events—places where you might actually want to print out, and hand out, prints from the photos you take. It could help you free your photos from your camera and your computer, and maybe it will help you remember why you like taking pictures in the first place. Read all about it at Chase Jarvis' blog, and see how he put the fancy new device to use himself.
How To Shoot Food In The Dark
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Strobist David Hobby just pointed out an awesome video about photographer Robert Caplin, a New York-based foodie who is charged with shooting in some tricky circumstances—namely, cramped kitchens and dimly lit restaurants (which are also usually crowded full of diners). To do this, Caplin suggests using a tiny little LED light panel that he can hand hold and position just so to create interesting, directional light—and to ensure he can shoot in a dark restaurant without having to crank the ISO to hell and back. It's a simple idea that's sure to have a lot of photographers—Hobby included—carrying around light panels for a variety of sticky situations. One commenter on the post mentions a few apps that turn Androids and iPhones into little light sources for just such an occasion, which is another great idea—especially in a pinch.
Get A Grip On Flash Sync
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Flash sync speed isn't an overly understood concept, due in large part to manufacturers sending out D-SLRs that have different sync speeds than advertised. These sync speeds also vary not only from model to model but actually from unit to unit. Practically speaking, a D-SLR can sync with a flash successfully at 1/125th or slower shutter speeds without fail, but sometimes they'll sync at 1/160th and 1/200th, and even on occasion at the advertised 1/250th. But how do you know what yours does? You test it. And with a look at this flash sync primer from Digital Photography School's Marlene Hielema, you'll have a little better idea how to do that. Flash sync isn't an overly complicated concept, but in practice it can be a little tricky, and since it can make or break a photo shoot it's something you definitely want to have a handle on.
Photo by Marlene Hielema