Monthly Archives: October 2008

Less Gear Equals More Enjoyment

I was recently speaking with Sam Abell, a very experienced photographer, and we landed on the subject of photographer mentality while out shooting. Sam mentioned that he takes a minimalistic approach to his gear, and that he’d take photos without a camera if he could. Since that’s not feasible, he usually heads out with just two camera bodies equipped with two different prime lenses.

Sam went on to say that, for him, less gear allows him to be more “in the moment”. And this is coming from a photographer with years of experience shooting for National Geographic.

Stop and think about that for a second. How often do you go out shooting fully geared and you end up fussing around with all your lenses and accessories. Not to mention hauling around a bag full of stuff that gets in your way or weighs you down. At the end of your session, did you really need everything you brought? Or did you take it just because you might have needed it?

Sam’s thoughts on the subject made me realize that I had already discovered the same for myself, I just hadn’t been cognizant of it. Some months ago, I started ditching my camera bag and running out with just one or two (or sometimes three) cameras around my neck. OK, three gets to be cumbersome, but I can’t help myself sometimes. In doing so, I’ve found that photographing is more enjoyable and I’m not missing shots while messing with a camera bag or swapping lenses. I’m more “in the moment” when I have less gear on me.

So here’s a tip: Every once in a while, just head out with one camera and nothing else (alright, a pocket camera bag is allowed). If you really want to go minimalist, slap on a prime lens and leave the zooms at home. Oh, and while you’re out shooting, don’t ruin the moment by being regretful for leaving your equipment behind… just be in the moment and enjoy it.

Oh, and you’ll find out more about the conversation with Sam Abell on October 21st.

Cross Processing Tips and Suggestions

XPRO

It’s no secret… I love film photography. But if there’s one thing I love more than film, it’s cross processed film. There’s something so intriguing about it — adding a touch of unpredictable to the imperfect nature of film. Many photographers tend to either hate it or love it. Some love it so much that they attempt to recreate the look with Photoshop.

I’ve had this article on the half-finished backburner for a while. I figure we’ll take a slight detour from the photo backup series and get this one out there. One reader recently commented on another cross processing article, asking some questions about it. So I’m guessing that at least one person will find some of this useful.

Here are some tips for choosing films to cross process, exposing the film, getting it developed, and color correcting it. So grab a cheap film camera start cross processing!

WHAT THE HECK IS CROSS PROCESSING?

It’s a beautiful thing… simply put, you shoot a roll of film (most commonly slide film, or E-6) and develop it as if it were something different (most commonly color negative film, or C-41). Intentionally processing a film in the wrong chemicals. Doing this with slide film works out well for several reasons: the results are very cool and C-41 processing is much more available than E-6.

DIFFERENT FILMS = DIFFERENT RESULTS

Darkness Creeps InWe Have LiftoffThe Wind CatcheruntitledjesusLanterns

The largest differences in the outcome of your cross processed photos have to do with the film you’re using. Each film has it’s own unique look, and they can vary drastically. The most obvious difference is the color cast produced during development. Here are some results from those that I’m most familiar with:

Kodak EktaChrome (or EliteChrome) = very green
Fujifilm Velvia 50 = green + some blue
Fujifilm Velvia 100 = very red + some magenta or yellow

And here are some others that I have yet to try:

Fujifilm Sensia 400 = blue + green
Fujifilm Sensia 100 = red
Fujifilm Provia 400 = green + yellow
Konica Centuria 100 = little color cast

It’s also worth noting that different developer solutions will have slightly different effects on the outcome of the film. For any given slide film that can be cross processed, I’ve seen a vast array of colors show up from different photographers.

UNDER-EXPOSE BY ONE STOP

Color slide film has a lower dynamic range than color negative film. On top of that, cross processing tends to boost the contrast between highlights and shadows, thus requiring that you properly expose your shots. But cross processing (in my experience so far), tends to over-expose the film by about one stop. The first few rolls I got back were overexposed — some being unusable. So I figured out that if I underexpose the shots by one stop, I got better results with the exposure of the developed film.

To underexpose by one stop, you just have to set your ASA/ISO value to double what it should be (assuming that you have a light meter on your camera). So if you’re shooting with ASA100 film, set the camera to ASA200. This makes the camera “think” that you have a faster film loaded, so it lets in less light.

FIND A GOOD PHOTO LAB

Cross processing requires the C-41 process, and most of us aren’t equipped to do this ourselves. However, just about any lab that develops film will have this capability (since it’s the most common process for consumer film). The tricky part is finding somebody who will cross process your E-6 film as C-41 film.

When film is developed, a lot of chemical reactions are taking place. The end result is a stable piece of film with an image on it and a bunch of extra “stuff” that gets left in the developer solution. Developer solutions have to be changed out on a regular basis to continue to work properly.

From what I understand, developing slide film in C-41 chemicals can leave behind stuff that normally isn’t left behind. I don’t think this does a great harm to the solution or to the other film being processed in the developer, but shops with less-experienced technicians will shy away from cross processing because of this. You’re better off finding somebody who knows their stuff.

It’s also recommended that you find a shop with a higher volume. Developers that are used more often have their solutions changed out more often. For example, I’ve got a place downtown that changes the solution every day, and they have no problem cross processing as much as I want. But my local place has a lower volume and they only change out the solution once per week. They’ll cross process for me, but they ask that I don’t bring in more than a couple rolls at a time.

CORRECT THE COLORS WITH WHITE BALANCE

As I mentioned above, cross processing can produce some very strong color shifts in addition to other things. Sometimes these color shifts work really well with the subject and you’ll want to keep them. But other times, it’ll be too much an you’ll want to back it off a bit. This section is aimed at those of you scanning your film and processing the digital files (but this can also be done in the darkroom).

The best tool that I’ve found for this is the white balance adjustment found in software such as Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. A color curves adjustment in Photoshop might be slightly better, but the white balance is so quick and easy in comparison.

For photos with a strong green color shift, increase your “tint” into the magenta region (or away from green). Depending on the film and the specific color shift, you may also need to adjust the “temperature” toward yellow or blue to take care of secondary color shifts left behind.

For photos with a strong red shift, move your “tint” into the green region (away from the magenta). Again, you may have to adjust the “temperature” to clean up the rest of the colors.

The same rules apply with yellow and blue color shifts — just move adjust the white balance in the opposite direction. So basically, you’re just evaluating the color shift of the photo, finding that color or combination of colors in your white balance adjustment, and compensating for it by negating the colors.

Another thing that works well with Adobe’s raw processor is the White Balance Tool even with cross processed film scans. Just find something in the photo that “should” be a neutral gray and sample it with the tool. This will adjust the white balance for you, then you can fine-tune it from there. I usually like to leave a bit of color shift in my photos (and sometimes all of it) — if you go too far with the white balance adjustments, you’ll start to see weird colors showing up in those neutral gray or white areas.

JOIN AN XPRO FLICKR GROUP

If you’re on Flickr, one of the best ways to get excited about a topic is to join a group dedicated to that topic. Seeing the photos and reading the discussions is a great way to get inspired and educated. Here are a few cross processing groups:

XPRO CROSS PROCESSING
Cross Processing – XP – XPRO
Kodak Xpro
Cross Process Masterpieces
Cross Processing Anonymous

Other than that, all I can do is suggest that you get out there and try things out for yourself. Try different films, different cameras, different developers, etc. Cross processing can be quite interesting, as it adds to the “unknown” factor already inherent in film photography.

For you seasoned cross processing film photographers out there, what other advice would you give to photographers just getting into this stuff?

PhotoDump 10-12-2008

More great stuff this week from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! We’ve officially passed the 10,000 photo mark in the pool! That’s a whole lot of photos.

On A Little Island by From 10 to 300mmSiera and Annay as Freya and Kuja by neilcreekbeauty. by life0graphy™Chinese Plate with Chopsticks (b) by TheBusyBrainentranced by rickabboDay 119 of 365 - fall reflections by IPS Photos by the_wolf_brigade by MerkinzWe Have Liftoff by Brian AuerAmish countryside by AIA GUY..Rwood2652 by LightChaser: Luis CruzOne Tree Foggy Hill by DemiArtsChew this! by dneezYou did well by bryanvillarinStairway to Heaven by Brian AuerEarly Risers by PatriciaPixblack and white by Merkinzuntitled by MerkinzPre-Sunset by Brian AuerVenezia, Italy, April 2008 by .sasharappaportDCBliss by Ryan Holloway PhotographyContre plongée by pawoli20080929-K10D-6777_2000px by coneslayerInsomnia II (2008-10-07_EOS 40D_100-0440) by akhaterMount Moran, Grand Teton National Park by chuquinika by life0graphy™Who will save me? by bryanvillarinWale by {Tasha}Will the arms of hope surround me? by sharaffThat Retro Backbench by Chris FarrugiaHigh Power by bestgrampsAlternate Texture Assignment by RussHeathPOF (2008-10-06_EOS 40D_100-0414) by akhaterCarrot by Richard Parmiter by magfFunsko by Chris FarrugiaI Heart Books by {Tasha}Glow by JanneM20080926_174130_Cologne_Day2_CRF0445-Bearbeitet by topfloorGhosts Like The Cooler Weather by Dave MacIntyrePed Xing Exit by Justin KornRecolecta by sebastian.yepes.inKung-fu by ergatesexhausted by rickabbolong way down by Mike WiacekIn the dreams of Costanza by bryanvillarinFalcon III by A. Marquesday347: vintage by what_milk

Link Roundup 10-11-2008

  • A Primer In Selling Your Art At Festivals
    digital Photography School
    Selling photos in art festivals can be one of the most effective ways to sell prints. Here are some before, during, and after tips for dealing with these events.
  • John Chiara with a Huge Camera
    YouTube
    I love film photography, but this is just nuts! Though you have to admit that crawling inside your camera to load the film is kinda cool.
  • Shame On Yahoo!
    Photo Business News & Forum
    It seems as though Flickr was on the verge of a big mistake by choosing to strip metadata from their uploads in an effort to make downloads quicker. Have no fear though, it looks like they chose the right path.
  • 5 Ways to Shoot Autumn Leaves
    Beyond Megapixels
    For those of us in the Norther Hemisphere, fall is approaching rapidly. Here are some tips for capturing the changing seasons and the changing leaves.
  • The Adjustment Brush – My Favorite New Tool
    PhotoWalkPro
    For Lightroom 2 and ACR 5 users, here’s a good video tutorial on the Adjustment Brush tool, which allows you to make localized non-destructive edits on your photos for various things such as exposure, brightness, contrast, satruation, sharpness, etc.
  • We Are Lilliputians in a Bathtub
    Chase Jarvis Blog
    Chase found a cool time lapse video that used a tilt-shift lens. Between the effect of the lens and the effect of the time-lapse, this is a really interesting video to watch.

    Bathtub III from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.
  • Four Cool Photo Sharing Sites For Photographers
    Andrew S Gibson
    Nearly everybody has heard of Flickr, but what other photo sharing sites are there specifically aimed at photographers? Here are four cool photo sharing sites outside the realm of Flickr.
  • 10 Essential Tips To Get Great Blue Angels Photos
    JMG-Galleries
    If the Blue Angels are ever in your neck of the woods, check out these tips for getting the most out of photographing them.
  • 5 Tips for Building Your Photography Portfolio
    digital Photography School
    Here are some tips and advice for building up your photography portfolio. This includes things like shooting for free, charging minimal fees, staying organized, and more.

Chase Jarvis Offers His First Photo Book

I won’t lie… I love Chase Jarvis. His work, both professional and artistic, is absolutely amazing. This man has a gift for photography and his vision is inspiring. I’m so excited that he’s offering up his very first photo book.

CHASE JARVIS BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT
BUY THE STEVENS PASS BOOK (SIGNED COPY)

The book, Stevens Pass, is a limited edition coffee table photo book (only 2500 copies) filled with 112 pages of imagery from Stevens Pass, Washington. And if the video below is any indication of what’s to be found inside the book, I’m willing to bet that it won’t disappoint. And get this… if you buy the book direct from his site, he’ll sign it for ya! I was sold within 30 seconds of reading his announcement — $35 is so dang cheap for a photo book like this!

Having grown up in North Idaho on the slopes of mountains such as Schweitzer Mountain, this book really hits a note with me. Which reminds me… I gotta book those plane tickets to North Idaho for the holidays — I’m definitely going to do some skiing this winter.

And Chase — you rock dude! You’ve got to hit Schweitzer one of these winters — the best spot in the Northwest and an awesome view of the lake!

CHASE JARVIS BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT
BUY THE STEVENS PASS BOOK (SIGNED COPY)

Photo Backup: Working Drives

Working Drive Comparison Chart

A good photo backup strategy starts with your working hard drive(s) — that place you use to access and work on your photos. If you don’t have a clean system for keeping your original copies, your photo backups are going to be a nightmare — especially if you’ve got stuff strewn between several computers and various external hard drives (you know who you are).

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
TOC — PHOTO BACKUP GUIDE
BACK — HOW BIG IS YOUR PHOTO COLLECTION?
NEXT — INTERNAL HARD DRIVE

There are several basic options for working drives, and they all have their pros and cons. You may not be ready to completely change your game plan right now, but this could be something to think about the next time you upgrade your computer (or run out of disk space).

MAIN INTERNAL DRIVE

Computers require a hard drive to operate and that hard drive usually has some extra space on it for your personal documents. When you journey into photography, this main drive is usually where the photos get stored.

PROS — performance, simplicity, cost. Today’s computers have plenty of hard drive space, usually sporting between 200 and 500 GB of capacity. Unless you’re shooting with a pro-level camera (and doing lots of it), this hard drive space will probably last a while. Internal drives are great for speed too — with the latest SATA 3.0 drives clocking in at 3 Gbit/s (or 375 MB/s) communication rates.

CONS — scalability, security, portability. If you keep shooting, you will run out of space at some point. Plus it’s a pain to transfer photos when you decide to get a new computer. You also have to consider that you’re sharing space with your operating system — that disk is constantly working overtime just to keep your computer running. More use of a drive can mean a quicker unexpected death.

SEPARATE INTERNAL DRIVE

IDE Drives - P9153453
Creative Commons License photo credit: isdky

Most computers have the space and connections to accommodate multiple hard drives. One drive can be used for your OS and your standard documents, and the other drive(s) can be used just for photos.

PROS — performance, scalability. Internal drives are way cheap and they come in many sizes to suit your needs. Since they’re connected straight to your motherboard, you’ll be enjoying quick performance while organizing and processing photos. If your photo drive fills up, you can get another one. And when you switch computers, you’ll probably be able to just transfer the drives over without issues.

CONS — cost, difficulty, portability. I said they’re cheap, but they still cost more than nothing. There’s also a constant shift in technology that tends to obsolete hardware like hard drives. Then again, it’s a good idea to get fresh drives every few years. You just have to make sure that you’re getting the right type of hard drive to go with your motherboard — and you have to pull the computer apart to install it.

PRODUCTS — 500GB, 1TB, and 1.5TB Drives.

EXTERNAL DRIVE

An external drive is just an internal drive with a plastic box around it. They are typically connected to the computer via USB or Firewire, and juiced up with an external power supply.

PROS — simplicity, portability, scalability. Most external drives are pretty easy to set up and use — just plug it in and use it. They’re also nice in the fact that they can be moved from one computer to another in very little time (handy for those who use a desktop and laptop). It’s pretty simple to expand your photo collection with external drives too — just get another one and plug it in.

CONS — performance, cost, fragility. External drives cost more than internal drives because they have a convenience factor and they’re covered in extra hardware. They’re also free-standing units, which means that they can get bumped and knocked off the desk or shelf. External drives also tend to be slower than internal drives when reading and writing data.

PRODUCTS — 500GB and 1TB Drives.

RAID TOWER

RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks) is a type of technology that uses two or more hard drives to achieve better performance and/or reliability. Similar to an external hard drive, RAID towers are just a box with multiple drives inside (but they have a brain too).

PROS — security, scalability, accessibility. The great thing about a RAID tower is that it protects itself against most hard drive failures. If one drive fails, pull it out, put a fresh one in, and let it rebuild your data. You can also upgrade your drives for additional space as the need arises. Most towers are also geared to attach to a network, so you can access them from several computers through a router.

CONS — cost, performance. These boxes are not at all cheap — because they’re much more complex than a simple external drive enclosure. Some are like little computers on their own. Recent towers have gotten faster with data transfer rates, but an internal SATA 3.0 (375 MB/s) drive is still going to outperform anything external — even if it has multiple USB 2.0 (60 MB/s) ports, Firewire 800 (100 MB/s), or eSATA (120 MB/s) connections.

PRODUCTS — Drobo tower and Buffalo’s 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB towers.

NETWORK DRIVE

flight deck (2)
Creative Commons License photo credit: david ॐ

There probably aren’t too many people who would need this option, but it can be handy in a professional environment. A network drive is basically just a hard drive (or set of hard drives) that live in a dedicated file-server.

PROS — accessibility, security, scalability. When networked, these drives can be accessed from multiple other computers, and even across the web if you have the technical know-how. Good for a studio environment where many computers are used and workstations are upgraded regularly.

CONS — cost, difficulty, portability. In addition to the drives, you’ll be paying for the extra computer hardware and the network equipment. Then you have to be knowledgeable on the fine art of networking computers. Plus you’ll have another computer that needs upkeep on the software and hardware.

IN CONCLUSION

A good photo backup strategy starts with your working hard drive space. There are many options available to give you the performance and flexibility you need. The main things you need to consider are cost, performance, simplicity, scalability, security, portability, and accessibility. The most important thing is to find a solution that works for you, and be prepared to change your mind about your current setup as you get pulled into the hobby/career of photography.

What are you using for your main working drive? Are there any options that I’ve left out?

How Big is Your Photo Collection?

Keeping on track with the Photo Backup theme, I wanted to pose another question relating to the topic. When we first get into photography, we don’t have a clue how large a photo collection can become (and how quickly too). These photos can burn up every bit of disk space we have, causing us to upgrade our storage space situation.

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
TOC — PHOTO BACKUP GUIDE
BACK — WHEN DISASTER STRIKES
NEXT — WORKING DRIVES

So for this poll, take a peek at your photo archive and see how large it is (just the originals, not all the backups). I’d also be curious to hear in the comments how long you’ve been in photography along with how much disk space you’ve filled in that time.

{democracy:56}

And make sure you check out the results of the last poll “How Many Photo Backups Do You Have?” Most people chimed in at 2 or 3 copies (including the originals), but we had a whopping 10% state that they have no backups! On the other end of the spectrum, one reader mentioned in the comments that they have 8 backups!

PhotoDump 10-05-2008

More great stuff this week from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! I see that we’re approaching the 10K photo mark in the pool — which is awesome considering the fact that members can only submit one photo to the pool each day! Great work gang, keep it up!

Gorgeous foggy morning by IPS PhotosAntigua, Guatemala by Magical PlacesFigure by Zozmanthe loner by MerkinzI'll have the fish by vandyll.netI Poop Rainbows, Then Fly Away. by Chris FarrugiaPabellon Agua 02 - Expo Zaragoza 2008 by hitkaiser by TyCCradle of Light: Redux. by the_wolf_brigade© Lisman_071106 by Rex Lisman PhotographyMonarch by Kate FerraraMonkey and Panda 2 by mustanirPuffin in the grass by tcmmanLJKI by mcveja by Ryan Holloway PhotographyDino Shadows by laanba_MG_2633-Edit by tomaschekOpen House 2008 052 by icemanukRunning by ZozmanHappiness by Salvatore FalconeTwisted Metal by magfits a heavy net by robinn.Chair by XA2/2 (was ANDY S but not now)She & The Road by TimTim74 by the_wolf_brigadeAllograpta obliqua by Argos (Old Dog Photography)Fisherman's hard life {explored} by robinn.IMG_2778-Edit by (joe)Santa Monica PierCreepy by bestgrampsday 4. by twin wire hang overs.Lupine Microcosm I by jimgoldsteinRelease by syn4pse↑            ↑            ↑             ↑             ↑ by Chris FarrugiaOpen House 2008 011 by icemanukDoes a body good! by spudcheyneKananaskis by ssphillipsOne More Day by Justin KornInterpretation by Jonathan EnnsBallet Shoes bw by bassqeeNinja TrainingArnold by rexauertequila sunrise by PJZuntitled5 by javiycomfrey by small fryBalloons! by {Tasha} by ★ Mathias Pastwa ★Free Range Bunny Rabbit by UberJEgyptian cityscape (2008-09-27_EOS 40D_100-0137) by akhaterThumbelina - Summer time #3 by FLOODkOFFfly! by poopooramaBartlett Balloon Festival 2008 by TTLStuicideI'm going to have that by bryanvillarin

Link Roundup 10-04-2008

As always, lots of great things happening around the web.

Camera Dissection, Alamy Submissions, and XDR-TB

Ok, three things I wanted to share today — all totally unrelated aside from the common ground of photography.

JAMES NACHTWEY UNVEILS HIS PROJECT

First and foremost, this is something worth mentioning, watching, reading, and sharing. I mentioned a few days ago that James Nachtwey would be revealing a project he’s been working on with the help of TED. Today is the day that we all find out what it is, and it’s certainly something amazing.

He’s set out to tell the story of Extremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB). This is a new and deadly mutation of TB, and it has the potential to kill millions more people. Apparently, 1/3 of the world’s population are infected with dormant TB and can become active due to a reduced immunity caused by other things. XDR-TB results from the mistreatment of TB .

TB kills 4,660 people each day — that’s one every 20 seconds. And it costs $20 to treat TB if done properly the first time.

Please spread the word. Visit XDRTB.org for more information.

I AM A MIRACLE WORKER

I’m not exactly saving the world with this one, but I did save a camera.

Repairs Underway

I was just doing a little camera repair on my rangefinder (Minolta AL). When I bought this camera, the rangefinder mechanism wasn’t working (which the seller didn’t tell me because he didn’t know). So I finally worked up the guts to tear it apart and see if I could fix it (after seeing what my buddy Joe is up to with his camera).

You can read more about this little adventure on the Flickr page by clicking the photo above.

I COULD USE SOME ADVICE

I’m planning on submitting some photos to Alamy over the next couple of days, and I could use some pointers from the stock savvy photographers out there. Take a look through the slideshow below (probably not visible on a feed reader) or visit my Flickr set containing the photos I’m considering submitting to Alamy.

I’m not huge on stock photography, but the prospect of selling through Alamy doesn’t totally turn me off (as long as they accept my work). So for that first submission of 10 images I want to make sure I’m not throwing in any duds.

The reason I’m looking to get into this is two-fold: possibly make some extra cash to support my photography habit, and make some use out of the photos in my archive that don’t make it through as “art”. At lot of time, stock photos have very different qualities than fine-art photos, and I’m curious to explore that.

Some questions I have for you stock photographers… Is b/w a bad thing? As I search through the stock sites, I rarely (if ever) see a b/w photo. Is it best to just submit the color version of the same photo? Or both versions? And what’s the deal with film? Is it really dead to stock photography sites like Alamy? I’m gaining quite a collection of 120 film scans that turn out to be ~50MP without upsizing. Will I just be laughed at if I submit film scans? Or is there actually a slice of the market for this?

After I go through the submission process (and hopefully get in the club), I’ll write up my experience with Alamy for those who might be interested in doing the same.