The most expensive roll of Tri-X ever

Last month The Online Photographer ran a great post about Phase One’s black & white digital back. That’s right: A medium format digital camera back that only records black & white images. If I know one thing about photographers, it’s that there is not a huge clamor for a $40,000 digital camera back that only records black & white images. So why do I want to point it out? Because it offers a great look at the way digital cameras record light, and how they utilize a filter array to turn a black and white image (which is what all but the Foveon sensor captures) into a faux color image. That’s also right: your digital camera’s color is faked from a black & white original. One of the neat things about this digital back is the increased sharpness (or at least the claims of increased sharpness) because the light doesn’t have to travel through a Bayer filter. That’s the thing that makes your digital camera capture in color. The whole idea is just a neat little footnote in the annals of photography because, for the most part, the buyers of this camera are scientific and military users. Though if you’re a solely black & white shooter, why should the digital revolution leave you behind? This camera’s perfect for you—assuming you’ve got 40-grand to dedicate to your next black & white camera.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/09/phaseones-bw-digital-back.html

Last month The Online Photographer ran a great post about Phase One’s black & white digital back. That’s right: A medium format digital camera back that only records black & white images. If I know one thing about photographers, it’s that there is not a huge clamor for a $40,000 digital camera back that only records black... Read more

How to photograph your pregnant wife

Perfect timing! Well, perfect for me, anyway. My wife and I are expecting our first child, and so far we’ve been documenting the progress with a monthly profile portrait of her growing tummy. So this DPS post couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I especially like the idea of making tummy portraits outside. I think those will show our future daughter how her mommy got out and about with baby in tow. It seems that outdoors shots might also help us make pretty pictures rather than, well, creepy belly shots. I’ve seen some of those before, and I don’t think I want any part of that. I know my wife doesn’t. So if you’re expecting, or if you might be called on to photograph an expectant mother, check out these tips for making better maternity portraits.
 
http://www.digital-photography-school.com/tummy-time-7-tips-for-taking-great-maternity-shots

Perfect timing! Well, perfect for me, anyway. My wife and I are expecting our first child, and so far we’ve been documenting the progress with a monthly profile portrait of her growing tummy. So this DPS post couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I especially like the idea of making tummy portraits outside. I think those will show our... Read more

All about photo contests

A judge recently awarded the $160,000 grand prize in a major Australian photo contest to a friend of his. The friend also won the prize last year too. This may not be fishy at all, but it sure raised some eyebrows. After all, the appearance of impropriety is as dangerous as actual impropriety. It’s an interesting read at The Online Photographer that also serves as a cautionary reminder: not all contests are worth entering. Keep in mind that some folks use photo contests as ploys for income derived solely from registration fees. Others simply use contests to gather a pool of images to be used for a commercial purpose, with pitiful prize money reflecting a fraction of the actual commercial value of the images. The point is: keep your eyes peeled to avoid being taken advantage of. The TOP piece also contains links to other great photo contest info, as well as resources for finding the good ones.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/10/judge-defends-choice-.html

A judge recently awarded the $160,000 grand prize in a major Australian photo contest to a friend of his. The friend also won the prize last year too. This may not be fishy at all, but it sure raised some eyebrows. After all, the appearance of impropriety is as dangerous as actual impropriety. It’s an interesting read at The Online Photographer... Read more
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Ansel Adams, Street Photographer

We all know Ansel Adams as the granddaddy of all iconic western landscape photographers, but did you know he was a bit of a street photographer too? In the World War II era, Adams made pictures for many commercial clients. Like so many artists, commercial assignments taken outside of their own area of expertise helped fund the iconic imagery the artists would ultimately become known for. This series of Los Angeles images was made for a 1939 Fortune magazine article about the aviation industry in L.A. It’s an interesting glimpse into a whole different set of photographic talents Mr. Adams possessed. And it helps remind those of us who are struggling to balance art and commerce that even legends need to pay the bills.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/10/26/130838664/adamsla

We all know Ansel Adams as the granddaddy of all iconic western landscape photographers, but did you know he was a bit of a street photographer too? In the World War II era, Adams made pictures for many commercial clients. Like so many artists, commercial assignments taken outside of their own area of expertise helped fund the iconic imagery the artists... Read more

How To Price Photography

There are a lot of photographers out there these days, and an increasing number of them are dipping their toes into the waters of professional assignments. Maybe it’s shooting a wedding for a friend, or creating baby photos of your cousin’s new kid, or perhaps going so far as to establish a web site and hang out a shingle for shooting commercial assignments and events. Whatever kind of photography you’re going to charge for, there’s one important factor that many photographers don’t pay enough attention to: how should you charge?

I like to boil it down like this: if you’re going to do the work of a professional, you should price your work as a professional would too. That doesn’t mean you need to charge as much as an established pro would. It just means that you need to understand the ins and outs of assigning appropriate fees. To that end, this story from New Media Photographer illustrates a great point: price the photographs, not the intangibles. There was once a fairly standard industry practice of charging by the hour. Then photographers who were really good and worked efficiently realized they were being penalized for their skill. So a more fair pricing standard—one that charges based on the type and number of photographs to be created—has emerged. It’s better for clients and better for photographers. The key is that new photographers understand how to price their work fairly so that they won’t be taken advantage of. And this story is only the start. There are countless resources online for photographers looking to understand pricing for professional services. For a good start, check out the ASMP’s Paperwork Share and other resources for professional pricing guidance.

http://www.newmediaphotographer.com/2010/09/still-not-learning-the-per-image-pricing-lesson/
http://asmp.org/links/32

There are a lot of photographers out there these days, and an increasing number of them are dipping their toes into the waters of professional assignments. Maybe it’s shooting a wedding for a friend, or creating baby photos of your cousin’s new kid, or perhaps going so far as to establish a web site and hang out a shingle for shooting commercial... Read more

Things We Can Stop Photographing

File this under funny but true. Here’s a link to an online comic that’s a bit dirty (PG-13, I’d say), funny enough, and especially inspiring. It’s about what we should stop photographing. We talk a lot about things we can and should photograph, and how we go about doing it. But what should we stop photographing? The comic makes a joke out of pop culture photographic references that pertain more to Facebookers than photographers, but the idea is a good one. There are some things that have just been done to death and maybe we should stop shooting them. My own knee-jerk reaction is to say we don’t need any more HDR images of abandoned buildings. Perhaps we don’t need so many portraits of shoe-gazing hipsters either. There are plenty of things that are overdone, but the real question to ask is how do we push ourselves not to do the same old things over and over. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that we need to work to get beyond the same things that everybody else sees, or that we’ve shot ourselves a thousand times before, and start making photographs that are a little more special, a little more unique, a little more creative. So what do you think you’ve done to death? What do you think you should stop photographing?

http://gotopublicschool.com/photography-things/7-things-we-can-stop-photographing

File this under funny but true. Here’s a link to an online comic that’s a bit dirty (PG-13, I’d say), funny enough, and especially inspiring. It’s about what we should stop photographing. We talk a lot about things we can and should photograph, and how we go about doing it. But what should we stop photographing? The comic makes a joke out... Read more

How To Deal With Demanding Clients

Here’s a question a young semi-pro shooter recently asked me. "I did a shoot yesterday," he said. "The client wants me to digitally add cars to an empty parking lot. Our agreement was for me to photograph the property, but he’s now expecting, and sort of demanding, a lot more work. What should I do?"

I told him that this is fairly common, and clients can sometimes get a little pushy with photographers who are just starting out. The key is to remember that just because something can be done "easily" in post-production doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time and have an associated expense.

"You weren’t hired to digitally alter the scene to be something different," I said. "You were hired to shoot it as it was. The client has moved the target after you started shooting. If the fix could have been made ahead of time—whether that’s filling the parking lot or painting a wall—it should have been. The client can’t pass that cost along to you—it’s simply unreasonable. So if you do the digital imaging, you would have to charge him for it."

From the client’s standpoint, digital imaging can seem like magic. For those who do it, though, it’s a skill that took many years to perfect, and many more hours to execute on the client’s project. That’s why we charge for it.

"If it were my client," I continued, "I’d tell them that they would be better off shooting when the cars are there if that’s what they want in the finished shot. Of course, that would entail another shoot—which perhaps I’d offer at a discount, depending on the client. Adding cars digitally would look worse and cost more in the long run, so you can actually help your client and save them money and provide a better result by doing another shoot."

The bottom line is that even when a client changes the requirements after an agreement is reached, you can still service their needs and help deliver what they need without being taken advantage of. And perhaps the biggest takeaway from all of this is to make sure, even for seemingly simple little shoots, that you’ve got an agreement in writing that spells out all the tasks to be performed and all of the associated costs. It’s better for the photographer, and it’s better for the client too.

Here’s a question a young semi-pro shooter recently asked me. "I did a shoot yesterday," he said. "The client wants me to digitally add cars to an empty parking lot. Our agreement was for me to photograph the property, but he’s now expecting, and sort of demanding, a lot more work. What should I do?" I told him that this... Read more

A Phone That Thinks It’s a Camera

This is weird, and I feel strange even mentioning it. It’s a phone that’s a camera. Or at least it thinks it is. The camera maker (phone company) has decided is worthy of its own school for learning how to use it. It’s the Nokia N8, and it’s got a bit of an identity crisis. Apparently it’s got at least some point-and-shoot camera chops, because Nokia is treating this phone really seriously as a camera. As in, they have an online camera school dedicated to using the N8. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, if you’re going to carry a phone (which you are) and if it’s going to have a camera (which it will) and you’re going to use it (which inevitably you will) then it might as well be fantastic and amazing. On the other hand, with all of this hubbub about increasingly great cameras in phones, are we just settling for really poor versions of what an inexpensive point and shoot could do much better? Either way, the technology keeps moving forward, and that’s definitely all positive. Somebody wake me when my cell phone has interchangeable lenses, okay?

http://conversations.nokia.com/2010/10/18/introducing-the-nokia-n8-camera-school/

This is weird, and I feel strange even mentioning it. It’s a phone that’s a camera. Or at least it thinks it is. The camera maker (phone company) has decided is worthy of its own school for learning how to use it. It’s the Nokia N8, and it’s got a bit of an identity crisis. Apparently it’s got at least some point-and-shoot camera chops,... Read more

Printable Strobe Modifier

Okay, sign me up in support of this one. I’ve long been a fan of the strobe bouncers made the old fashioned way—you know, a piece of white paper somehow stuck to the top of a strobe to diffuse and soften the light output. I cut mine out of the white cardboard inserts from 4×5 film boxes, and I could never figure out why people paid good money to do what a blank sheet of paper could do. Bridging the technology gap, we now have Pieroway. They print logo-branded flash bouncers. I’m guessing the logos are so you don’t feel like a hack using a plain old piece of paper. Still, the point is good: paper does this job as well as any expensive modifier, in my humble opinion. And this free download offers a great template for putting paper to perfect use.

http://www.diyphotography.net/pieroway-makes-printed-strobe-bouncers-for-5c

Okay, sign me up in support of this one. I’ve long been a fan of the strobe bouncers made the old fashioned way—you know, a piece of white paper somehow stuck to the top of a strobe to diffuse and soften the light output. I cut mine out of the white cardboard inserts from 4×5 film boxes, and I could never figure out why people paid good... Read more

Shoot Indoors Sans Flash

It used to be that shooting indoors required you to expend extra effort on lighting in order to get usable shots. The main issue, particularly when working with film, was the color balance. Mixed lighting from windows and fixtures, as well as the general awful look of any continuous light fixture when used with daylight-balanced film, meant that indoor shots without flash, without filtration, or without augmented lighting would look several different shades of awful. But like so many other things in this digital world, that’s just not the case any more. Now white balancing is so simple it’s practically an afterthought. Because RAW shooting makes custom white balancing (and precisely perfecting after capture) an absolute snap, it’s ridiculously easy to get great photos with great color indoors. That’s the gist of a recent post at DPS about photographing portraits at home without flash. The other great advice author Fred Verosky provides is how to find ideal lighting. That way not only will the color balance be great, but the lighting pattern will be too. It’s a great read for almost any kind of shooter—especially with winter right around the corner and the prospect of indoor shooting an increasingly possibility.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/create-beautiful-indoor-portraits-without-flash

It used to be that shooting indoors required you to expend extra effort on lighting in order to get usable shots. The main issue, particularly when working with film, was the color balance. Mixed lighting from windows and fixtures, as well as the general awful look of any continuous light fixture when used with daylight-balanced film, meant that indoor... Read more

Back Button Focusing

In a recent TOP story on Tiger Woods’ errant golf shot that created a photographer’s now iconic shot and a fun amount of internet fame for "cigar guy," one of the comments triggered a teachable moment for me. I learned about focusing with the thumb button on the back of my camera. It was a tongue-in-cheek question about focus tracking that prompted a particularly informative reply (at least it was informative for me) from experienced sports shooter Ken Bennett. "This is a common tactic among sports photogs," Mr. Bennett wrote. "Separating the focus from the shutter button means I can leave my camera in continuous AF all the time, and adjust focus as needed with my thumb." Holy cow. How had I never stumbled across this feature? Sure, I’ve used focus lock, but I’ve never considered the idea of separating focus from the shutter button. It makes such perfect sense! Thank you, Ken Bennett! Just goes to show you however much you know, there’s always plenty of room to learn. And to all of you who are mocking my naiveté for not knowing this, forgive me. But also trust me: if you think you know it all, you’re wrong. To learn more about thumb button focusing, check out this article at the Canon Digital Learning Center.

http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArticleAct&articleID=2286

In a recent TOP story on Tiger Woods’ errant golf shot that created a photographer’s now iconic shot and a fun amount of internet fame for "cigar guy," one of the comments triggered a teachable moment for me. I learned about focusing with the thumb button on the back of my camera. It was a tongue-in-cheek question about focus... Read more

The Unseen Sea

Sometimes I link to things simply because they’re gorgeous. Breathtakingly and heart-stoppingly gorgeous. That’s exactly the case with this new time lapse video from photographer Simon Christen. A stunning piece called The Unseen Sea looks at the fog around San Francisco in a manner quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s videos like this that inspire me to think beyond simply being a photographer and consider what more I can do with my camera. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

http://vimeo.com/15069551

Sometimes I link to things simply because they’re gorgeous. Breathtakingly and heart-stoppingly gorgeous. That’s exactly the case with this new time lapse video from photographer Simon Christen. A stunning piece called The Unseen Sea looks at the fog around San Francisco in a manner quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s videos... Read more
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