Tag Archives: question

Brainstorming On Our Next Project

I’d like to do projects here on the blog more often. I think they provide a good way to expand our creativity and knowledge. We’ve done a few over the years, and they’ve mostly been my own ideas. Here are all of the past projects (and mini-projects) we’ve done over the last 2.5 years.

This time, I want you guys to suggest projects. Anything goes at this point — let’s just do a little brainstorming to see what we come up with. If we get a few good ideas, we’ll refine them later.

Which Photo Shall We Use for the Project?

As mentioned a few weeks back, we’re ramping-up for another project here on Epic Edits. To recap, we’ll be doing another “Edit my Photo” project, but with one of YOUR photos rather than one of mine. The first stage of the project was to submit candidates for the photo to be used. We didn’t have a huge turnout, but we did have a few people submit images.

So now we’re in “stage 2″ of the project where we vote on the image to be used — just ONE. I’ll leave it up to you guys which photo you want to work with for the final stage of the project. Here are the 6 candidates, and there’s a poll below them where you can cast your vote. And of course, a big thanks to the contributing photographers (linked via their photo).

1.
Photo by John Huson

2.
Photo by Thias

3.
Photo by Pat R

4.
Photo by Robert

5.
Photo by TikiPundit

6.
Photo by Bob Simmons

The above images are all available at high resolution, and most of them are in raw format. So pick one that looks like it would be fun to work with and we’ll start the photo editing soon enough!

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Who’s Your Favorite “Undiscovered” Photographer

Over the past couple of years, I’ve mentioned some of my personal favorite “undiscovered” photographers (part 1 and part 2). I say “undiscovered” because these folks are not your mainstream hotshots known by every other photographer on the face of the Earth — but, you never know what the future holds (plus they’re still freakin’ awesome)!

So this time around, I’d like to give all of you the opportunity to highlight an “undiscovered” photographer. Simply leave a link in the comments to the website or portfolio of your favorite non-mainstream artist (please don’t link to just an image file). Limit your choice to ONE photographer — somebody who does outstanding work. Oh, and try to refrain from promoting yourself… this article is about promoting other people (but don’t worry, you’ll get credit for pointing them out!).

When the comments die down (maybe a week or two), I’d like to get in touch with some of these photographers and exhibit their work here on the blog. I can’t say that I’ll show the work from every photographer mentioned, the exact numbers will depend on the number of entries and the quality of their work. So dig deep and find that “diamond in the rough”!

What’s Your Favorite F-Number?

In previous polls we’ve discussed topics such as your favorite focal length, camera modes, autofocus modes, exposure modes, and types of cameras. So this time around, we’ll dive into the f-number.

What's Your Favorite F-Number?

The f-number directly affects the depth of field in your shot. It’s also one of the three exposure controls, in conjunction with shutter speed and ISO. Based on our previous polls, I see that most of us are using a dSLR in aperture priority mode, so I’d expect that most of us have a “favorite” number or range of numbers. Personally, I favor F/2.0 on a ~50mm lens on a full frame camera. The DOF isn’t as crazy-shallow as F/1.4, but it still gives a nice amount of separation between background and subject at the distances I’m used to shooting at.

Now, I realize that your choice of f-number will vary depending on focal length, sensor/film format, subject distance, and subject matter. But try to answer the poll with the number that you usually gravitate toward. And feel free to elaborate in the comments!

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And be sure to check out the last poll on the topic of “Why Are We So Compelled?” Lots of good thoughtful discussion there with 27 comments (and a few of them are quite lengthy)! As always, I appreciate the participation in these polls and discussions.

What Would You Do?

In the “PhotoBlog” section, I usually post an article about how I created a particular photo. But this time, I’d like to see how you might approach a particular scene. I want you to step into my shoes at the moment I shot the photo shown below, and tell me how you might have done things differently (or the same).

Name Forgotten

For this post, read through the stuff below and tell me how you might have taken the shot.

Let’s start with the location… Salton Sea, California. This is a strange place to new visitors, filled with an interesting mix of beauty and decay. I was at a location known as “Salvation Mountain” on the east side of the lake, a small distance from the water. It’s sort-of a “holy” destination, created by a few (mainly one) religious enthusiasts. I don’t know how I can explain any better than to point you to my set of Salvation Mountain photos.

For this particular scene and subject… random guy, playing the guitar, on the back of a broken-down and over-decorated truck. He was sort of on the sidelines of the main attractions at Salvation Mountain, not really trying to draw attention to himself — just keeping to his own business. But he, and his surroundings, interested me so I asked him for a portrait. He agreed and asked what he should do. I said “just keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll get the shot”. So there you go — you’ve got a willing participant posing for a portrait in an informal state.

Bible Bus

And the technical stuff… like equipment, lighting, etc. I was using a 1956 Minolta Autocord MXS — this is a fully manual TLR (square format Twin Lens Reflex) with no light meter, loaded with Ilford PanF+ film (ASA50). The fixed focal length is 75mm (but remember, this is medium format film), a maximum shutter speed of 1/400 seconds, and a maximum f-number of f/3.5. Oh, and the ambient light was mostly sunny, fading into somewhat overcast, but hard shadows existed. The sun was to the left of you (as you faced the subject) and it wasn’t too high in the sky (approaching sunset by about an hour or two).

Oh, and one last thing… you’re on shot 12 for this roll (the last shot), and the rest of your film is out of reach. You get one chance to make this work and you want to get a good portrait of this fella playing the guitar as he sits on the back of an old truck. Also envision yourself wanting to get the shot off quickly so you don’t lose the opportunity or frustrate the subject. The smaller photo shown here is a different perspective of the scene and subject.

SO WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

… right down to the technical details of the camera settings, the crop, the perspective, and the timing. In particular, would you frame it the same way I did? I ask this because I know I committed a “guitarist portrait sin” by cutting off the head of the guitar. My friend Tasha brought this point up because she’s a very talented concert and musician photographer — and I’m glad she did, because I was waiting for somebody to call me out on it. But given the circumstances, I’m curious how others may have done it differently under the same conditions.

AND HERE’S WHAT I DID…

The technical stuff first — I shot the photo at 1/400 seconds and f/4 because it was slightly less than full sunshine. I wanted a shallow depth of field because he was sitting so close to the busy designs of the truck right behind him, so a the fastest shutter speed was a requirement in my mind. I also wanted to get as close to him as possible so that I could utilize that depth of field and blur the background a bit. This is where my dilemma began — get close to achieve the desired dof and background blur, or step back and get the desired framing. I knew that I couldn’t get both effectively. I did frame-up the shot to include the whole guitar, but I was far enough back that there would be no real separation between him and the background. I decided against this choice. Any closer and I’d cut out the guitar entirely — not really what I wanted either. What to do? I chose a middle ground and I cut off the head of the guitar. I was probably standing 6 or 8 feet from him when I took the shot. Maybe it wasn’t the best choice, but it was most reasonable decision I could make in a 10 second window.

So again, what would you do given the situation I outlined above? Would you take the same shot? Would you step back and include the whole guitar at the cost of blending the busy background with the main subject? Or would you step closer and throw the guitar out of the frame entirely while maximizing the background blur? And remember — you only have one shot with no crutches!

Why Are We So Compelled?

Today’s typical photographer is a curious being. Cameras are cheap, computers are easy to use, and the Internet makes sharing photos so incredibly easy. So many people are into photography, but I’m willing to bet that over half of us don’t know why we do it or what we’re after.

Seriously, take a step back and look at yourself. How much time do you spend doing photography-related activities? Shooting, processing, posting, reading, participating, drooling, etc.

And why do you do it? Are you making a living from photography? Are you making anything from it? Do you truly enjoy the whole process? Do you actually print your pictures and hang them on your walls? Or do they sit on your hard drive while you tell yourself that you’ll need them someday? Why do you do it???

I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer with all of this. I’m just contemplating what it is that compels us to pursue the art of photography so enthusiastically. As I sit here in front of a computer screen most nights scanning film, processing photos, reading blogs, and writing articles… I’m curious to hear what all of you have to say about this topic.

What compels you?

What’s On Your Photography Wish-List?

013/2009 Year 2 Want! Seven Deadly Sins: Greed
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tyla’75

Most of us probably have at least a short wish-list of photography-related items. My list usually fills up with things that I don’t have the money for, and over time I stop caring about those particular items. But there are a few things that I’ve been wanting for a while — and I don’t see myself losing interest in them.

  • MINOLTA HI-MATIC 7SII
    I’ve been wanting this camera for quite a while — this thing is freakin’ awesome for an old rangefinder. Some would even argue that this is the best rangefinder ever produced by Minolta. Why do I want it? Street photography. Why am I holding back? Price: they usually go for over $150 (2-3x that for the black version).
  • CANOSCAN 8800F
    This wish-list item is more of a necessity than a craving. I’ve got the Canoscan 8400F (which is more than a few years old), and I’m getting very finicky about my film scans. I’d like to have a bit of extra resolution and possibly better color control during the scan process. Besides… my current scanner could commit suicide any day now.
  • DSLR SPLIT IMAGE FOCUSING SCREEN
    This is an item that’s been in the back of my mind ever since I started shooting film. I like the split image focusing screen with the microprism ring that my film SLR has, and I often find myself wanting the same feature on my dSLR. Why? Low light situations, macro, street, etc. Sometimes autofocus just doesn’t cut it, and manually focusing without a good screen is useless.
  • BESELER DICHRO 67S HEAD
    This one is on my backburner for now, but I’d like to get into color developing and printing by the end of the year. I’ve had a good experience with the b/w printing, but I also have a growing collection of color negs that I’d love to print in full analog glory. Scanning is okay, but nothing beats a true print. This head I have my eye on will bolt right up to my existing enlarger stand, so it’s really just a component swap-out rather than a whole new setup.
  • SONY 35MM F/1.4 LENS
    Yeah… this lens is way out there for me right now, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having it. I often find that my 50mm lens on the dSLR is too tight for many street photography situations. I like the field of view I get with the 50mm lens on a full-frame film camera (I even prefer my slightly wider 38mm sometimes), and the 35mm on a crop sensor would basically be equivalent to the 50mm full-frame. This thing is spendy though!

Those are probably my top 5 items outside of the low-budget realm. I’ll probably be lucky to pick up one or two of these within the next year, but it’s fun to dream!

WHAT’S ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY WISH-LIST?

Leave a comment and let us know what you crave. I’m always curious about the things that other photographers want when it comes to equipment. And be sure to check out the results of the last poll: What’s Your Experience With Film Photography? Believe it or not, there are actually a good chunk of photographers shooting film today (around 40%). But another 40% gave it up and never looked back.

What’s Your Experience With Film Photography?

As many of you know, I’ve been addicted to film photography for about the last year. And maybe its just the crowd that I associate with, but it seems like more and more people are shooting film lately. Some are picking up their old film cameras for the first time in years. While others are brand new to film photography.

So where do you sit with film? I put a small set of answers in the poll below, so try to fit your own experience to one of the items listed. If your own situation is a bit unique, leave a comment and let us know!

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Also, check out the results from the last poll titled “How Much of Your Work Do You Share?” The question was based around what percent of your photos actually end up online where other people can see them. I’m a bit surprised at how heavily the answers came out to one side of the spectrum.

How Much of Your Work Do You Share?

With the abundant presence of an online photography community, many of us choose to share our photos through one avenue or another (or many). It may be Flickr, SmugMug, DeviantArt, personal photoblogs, and many more sites and services that we can utilize. But no matter where we post our photos, we all have to decide how many of them to post.

Having been on Flickr for nearly two years, I’ve observed that there are three types of photographers sharing their photos:

  1. Share only the best of the best
  2. Share everything and anything
  3. Somewhere between the two

You know what I’m talking about. Some photographers post one photo per day (or maybe even per week), and that photo is a masterpiece in their own mind. Then there are those who post what appears to be everything straight off the memory card.

I find myself somewhere between the two, posting between 3 and 5 photos each day. The photos aren’t my absolute best, but I like each of them enough to justify my minimum 5-10 minutes/photo of keywording, captioning, titling, and processing. I probably post 25-50% of my film shots and 10-20% of my digital shots, averaging out to maybe 35% of my photos being posted. In fact, I just checked the photos from my last mixed-medium photowalk and that number is almost spot on at 36% (or 55/151 photos).

So where do you stand with your photo sharing? Take a guess at what percent of your total shots make it to the online community.

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We also ran a poll some months ago about photo-sharing frequency that had more to do with how many photos you post. Check it out, it supplements this topic quite well, but it’s a different question entirely.

What’s Your Newest Inspiration?

I feel that inspiration is an important driving mechanism for photographers. Its the thing that pushes us to take photos and improve ourselves. And the interesting thing about inspiration is that everybody’s is different, yet it drives us to do similar things (like photography).

The other day, my friend Vivien from InspirationBit asked me what my new sources of inspiration are this year. I’ve written about my sources of inspiration in the past, but it was a good question to ponder at the start of the new year. Here was my response:

I’m going to have to say that my new darkroom is quickly becoming my inspiration for photography. There’s something magical in loading a piece of film into the enlarger and creating a photo from light, paper, and a few chemicals. The tactile and visual qualities of paper far outweighs the additional cost of printing. Seeing one of your own photos on a silver-gelatin print is pretty amazing. So with that, I’ll be shooting a fair amount of black and white film this year. I’ve also discovered the awesomeness of printing from medium format film, so I’ve vowed to get more use out of my old Twin Lens Reflex (which is crazy-sharp even though it’s over 50 years old)!

[UPDATE] Vivien has posted her blog post displaying answers from select bloggers she contacted.

So I’m turning Vivien’s question to all of you now. I’d like to hear about your newest source of inspiration and how it’s impacted your work.

What’s the latest thing (or person) that gets you fired up about photography?

What direction is your newfound inspiration pushing you?