I wanted you to find out first-hand: we're going back to Tibet in 2013 and we will again take a group of photographers! The adventures in 2009, 2010 and 2011 have changed my life. This is your chance to experience this too.
This will be the fourth Himalayan Workshop, and believe me, you'll learn lots - lots about photography and a lot about the Nepali and Tibetan culture.
It's a wonderful experience that you will remember for the rest of your life! It is also a photo workshop.
» find out more at www.himalayanworkshops.com
It's here, it's here! The PocketChris Incident Light Meter iPhone App has been approved and is available at the App Store.
It'll let you use your camera and a grey card to do what you usually need an expensive incident light meter for: metering in difficult light situations. Like a pro. Check it out!
Good metering is essential for good photography. So are good composition, good storytelling and good colours. But metering is above everything else for me. Photography is painting with light and if you don't know how to capture light, your photography will always be down to a hit-and-miss approach, always at the mercy of what the computer in your camera thinks is right (trust me, it's more often wrong than you think).
I've been pretty fed up with the trial-and-error approach of digital photography for quite some time. Take a shot, look at the display. Is ittoo dark? Change the exposure, take another shot. Check the histogram. Is it too bright? Change the exposure, take another shot. Rinse, repeat.
What has happened to understanding light and getting exposure right from the start?
You know me. I'm all about giving control back to the photographer. I'm all about busting photographic myths. And most important, I'm all about empowering photographers through knowledge.
Let's look at a few facts:
Fact 1: using an incident light meter will make it easy to get near perfect exposures. It does that by integrating the light that hits your subject from different directions.
Fact 2: an incident light meter will easily set you back $300 or more.
Fact 3 (and this is a lesser known fact): You can use an 18% grey card (cost: about $10) and some nifty math to achieve virtually the same results. All you have to do: take a couple of measurements with your camera and do some math.
It's interesting though how I ended up at this realisation.
It all started several years ago, when I got my first grey card. An 18% grey card. It turned out that in addition to helping me get great white balance, the card will also help me with getting exposure right.
For the last two years I've been handing out grey cards at workshops, helping photographers understand how this simple tool can take their photography to the next level.
Last month I spent a weekend at After Dark in Kansas City, a photography event that you have to experience to believe. It turned out to be a highly creative exercise while also allowing me to work in studio and available light environments with other photographers for three days straight. Wonderfully Immersive! And in the process, I ended up finally buying a light (and flash) meter. A Sekonic L-358. It set me back $300.
But I knew that in order to get to the next step, I had to make an investment.
Later that night, I sat in my hotel room, with the light meter, a grey card, and my DSLR and I did the first experiments, comparing the measurements from my DSLR with those from the light meter. I ended up spending the next 3 hours far into the small hours of the morning, shooting tests, comparing results, spot metering with my DSLR, doing math, with sheets of paper and a spreadsheet on my computer. Imagine a mad scientist and you're not far off :)
Once back in Germany I continued the tests, and after a few days with some more experimentation, I ended up with some solid math that worked well.
Now all I needed to do is make it simple for the photographers, and this is where my experiments with iOS development in 2011 and the experience with PocketChris came in handy. So I sat down and put it all together in an iPhone app: PocketChris Incident Light Meter.
The app is now in review at the app store and should hit the shelves within the next week.
You can find out more at www.incidentmeter.com.
Links: After Dark
It's another Photo Day and Chris has made his way up to the TWiT Brick House in Petaluma to talk photography with Leo Laporte and his guests!
The theme for this Photo Day is Photography outside the mainstream.
Among many other topics, Chris will hang out in studio to talk with Leo and his guests to talk about the origins of Tilt/Shift, taking pictures from kites, digging up 1850s photo technology to create true works of arts and - of course - he'll answer your questions!
Guests include Leo Laporte (Chief TWiT), Cris Benton (Kite Aerial Photography), Paul Sergeant (Tintype Studio) and Susan and Neil Silverman (travel photographers extraordinaire).
Tune in Saturday August 18, 2pm Pacific / 5pm Eastern / 23:00 Central European time!
Follow the show live at http://live.twit.tv/
Ask audience questions via Twitter (hashtag #photoday2012) or at http://tfttf.com/photodayquestion
You know, one of the most satisfying things for me these days is to spend a day at an interesting location and take six or twelve pictures with a 4x5 large format camera.
It's hard work. It means to carry a heavy-ish bag over your shoulder and a tripod with a big camera attached to its end. It means to thoroughly set up the camera, check the angles, open the shutter, stick your head under a black cloth on a sunny day withtemperatures in the 90s. To focus on the focusing screen, you use a loupe that's hanging around your neck. It means to use a hand-held light meter, fish a film cassette out of your bag, load the camera, set the aperture, set the shutter speed, hope that you didn't get any of the steps out of sequence, pull out the dark slide and finally take the shot.
It's error-prone too. It means that there are at least 10 different steps in the process of making one exposure where you can mess up. Accidental double exposure? Been there, have even done a triple exposure once. Forget to set the right aperture after metering? Yep, I have my share of overexposed large format negatives.
If it's that hard work and that error-prone, then why am I doing it? The answer is simple: in the end it's one of the most fun and rewarding experiences that I've had in a long time. Nothing beats creating something with your own hands and finally holding the result of that work in your hands. Or post it online for the world to see. Much more rewarding than any digital shot has ever been.
Over time you get better. Most errors you only do once, as it hurts to lose one out of just a few pictures you'll take that day.
Last weekend I brought my trusty Grafmatic film holder system, a revolver-type 6-shooter that allows you to keep 6 shots in one magazine. Very convenient, but also heavier than normal double cassettes. Which turned into yet another source of error. I accidentally brushed the Grafmatic at the wrong angle with my arm, while the dark slide was still pulled. This resulted in a nice big splash of light pouring onto the exposed negative for a brief time. Long enough to ruin the shot. So I thought.
I ended up actually being quite happy with it. Is it because it's one of my babies? Or is there something about a perfect 4x5 picture seemingly ruined by light leaking onto it?
Let me know what you think.
Es gibt Workshops und es gibt Workshops. Im Fall der aktuellen Absolut-Analog-Veranstaltung in unseren neuen Räumen in Tübingen, war es ganz klar einer der spezielleren. Und das im positiven Sinne. Mit Begeisterung und Spaß haben sich die Teilnehmer den unwirtlichen Lichtbedingungen gestellt, vor die wir sie geschubst haben und was dabei raus kam, seht ihr hier.
Am Anfang zum Aufwärmen und dran gewöhnen haben wir erst mal mit einem Push über 2 Blendenstufen angefangen. Standardprozedur, nix wildes. Nur wer meinte, der Push wäre nur zum "heller machen" da oder zum verkürzen der Belichtungszeiten in dunklen Situationen, der durfte sich dann über die ungewohnte Kontrastausbeute freuen. Bei prallem Sonnenlicht. Steffens Klappfalter war da dann sogar etwas überfordert, weil er keine tausendstel Sekunde konnte. Ergebnis: herrlichste Kontraste im prallsten Licht.
An dieser Stelle kurz die Anekdote mit der Hummel. Aerodynamiker haben dereinst behauptet, die Hummel könne aus physikalischer Sicht nichtfliegen. Verhältnis Körpergröße und Gewicht zu Flügelfläche oder so. Die Hummel hat nun mal leider von Aerodynamik so ziemlich überhaupt keine Ahnung und darum schlägt sie einfach mit den Flügeln und … fliegt.
Phase zwei - wir nennen sie jetzt einfach mal die Hummel-Phase - ist die mit dem Pull über drei Stufen. Also die Behandlung eines ISO-400-Films als hätte er ISO 50. Ausgeschrieben ist das die 8-fache Menge an Licht, die er eigentlich bekommen soll. In manch einem Online-Forum liest man, dass das nicht geht. Auch die Ausbeute an Entwicklungsrezepten, die man für diesen doch eher ungewöhnlichen Fall online so findet, ist so gering, dass man fast meinen möchte, es ginge tatsächlich nicht.
Aber wir waren einfach mal ganz Hummel, haben uns nicht verunsichern lassen, und die Ergebnisse sprechen tatsächlich deutlich für sich. In diesem Fall war das ein T-Max 400 in D-76, 1:1, 7min20sek bei 20°C.
Es geht halt doch, und zur Belohnung für den Ungehorsam bekamen die Fotografen dann herrlichste Grauverläufe mit extrem viel Detail und einem Kontrastumfang, der seinesgleichen sucht. Gut gemacht!
Und auch wir selbst lernen jedes mal noch etwas dazu. In diesem Fall hatte ich (Chris) mir eine sehr kontrastreiche Situation (Innenraum mit Fenster und sonnenbeleuchteter Umgebung außen) geschnappt und eine Belichtungsreihe mit sieben Belichtungen mit je einer Blendenstufe Unterschied gemacht. Was am Ende hinten raus kam, hat selbst mich verblüfft.
Bild 1: 1/1000s, Bild 2: 1/15s
Die Ausarbeitung der Bilder wurde am Ende zwar noch minimal angepasst, aber alleine die Tatsache, dass der Film bei diesem 3-Stufen-Pull locker - und ohne irgendwo Zeichnung zu verlieren - diese sieben Blendenstufen breite Belichtungsspanne einfach so ohne zu murren wegsteckt, hat sogar mich weggehauen. Zieht man noch den gesamten Kontrastumfang der Szene in Betracht, dann wird hier eine Breite an Tonwerten erfasst, die fast unmöglich erscheint. Ich werde ab jetzt garantiert noch öfter Pullen. HDR? Wer braucht das? :)
Am Abend haben wir dann Phase 3 unseres gerissenen Plans gestartet und unter den Teilnehmern den Pushwettbewerb losgetreten. Zur blauen Stunde und zur tiefen Nacht. Wieviele Blendenstufen verträgt so ein TriX oder T-Max 400 wohl?
TriX 400 @ 1600 (Moni)
TriX 400 @ 1600 (Moni)
Gut, 1600 laufen also. Wie sieht es mit 3200 aus?
TriX 400 @ 3200 (Steffen)
TriX 400 @ 3200 (Steffen)
ISO 3200 wird also schon etwas knackiger, aber hat dadurch natürlich auch eine entsprechende Wirkung, der man sich schlecht entziehen kann.
Wollen wir noch eins drauf legen? ISO 6400 - Herrrrrrrrschaften! Der Push über 4 Stufen - ohne Netz und doppelten Boden! Jetzt nur für Sie in dieser Manege! Trommelwirbel… *drrrrrrrr*
T-Max 400 @ 6400 (Alex)
Och, wer sagt's denn. War doch gar nicht so schlimm. Sogar Graustufen haben wir noch einige. Die Hummel fliegt, und das ganz schön hoch.
An diesem Punkt könnten wir uns nun eigentlich bequem zurück lehnen und den Workshop zum vollen Erfolg deklarieren. Push und Pull in vielen Extremfällen erfolgreich abgeschlossen, kein einziges Bild des gesamten Workshops kam auch nur annähernd schlecht aus der Suppe und es gab für alle Teilnehmer reichlich Erfolgserlebnisse.
Eiiiiigentlich wäre es also hiermit vorbei… wäre da nicht Jürgen gewesen, der - ganz Hummel - meinte, die 4 Stufen Push seien ja wohl Pillepalle und sich auf die ISO 12800 stürzte. Zwölftausendachthundert. Wohl gemerkt mit einem Film, der eigentlich für ISO 400 gemacht ist.
T-Max 400 @ 12800 (Jürgen)
Und zu solch einem Ergebnis muss man nun wirklich nicht mehr viele Worte verlieren. Vielleicht auch, weil man etwas sprachlos ist. 5 Blendenstufen, ISO 12800. Ausgeschrieben: ein zweiunddreißigstel des Lichts, das dieser Film eigentlich braucht.
Die Teilnehmer haben ihre kreativen Werkzeugkästchen wieder mit neuen Tools versorgt und wissen nun - nein, sie haben mit eigenen Händen und Augen BEGRIFFEN - dass es außerhalb der gängigen Lehrmeinung noch so einiges gibt, was den Rahmen herrlich (und fast schon subversiv) sprengt und dabei noch richtig glücklich macht.
Leute, wir sind mächtig stolz auf euch!
Chris Marquardt und Monika Andrae veranstalten in der Reihe Absolut Analog Fotoworkshops in Deutschland und in Kanada, die sich der analogen Fotografie mit Film widmen und richten sich an alle, vom Anfänger bis zum fortgeschrittenen Analogfotografen.
Weitere Termine 2012:
14.-15.7.2012: Herrlich Hybrid, Analoges in der digitalen Welt
24.-26.8.2012: Large Format analog, Toronto, Kanada (Sprache: Englisch)
3.-4.11.2012: Einsteigerworkshop, Panschen in Tübingen
It's not the camera, it's the photographer. We all know that. Do we live it? Not always. Which is why I did a deliberate "lesser photographer" thing.
Where I would usually have the iPhone in my pocket as an emergency or backup camera, this time I made a deliberate decision to go out and shoot with nothing but the iPhone. No big medium format camera. No DSLR. Just the iPhone 4s.
Our creativity strives under constraints. Some of the greatest photography has been made with cameras that some of today's photographers wouldn't even touch with a ten-foot-pole. So I went an extra step and instead of using the iPhone's built-in camera app, I used one that most people would call crippled. Its name is NoFinder and it is pretty much what the title of the app says: a camera without a viewfinder.
Now adding that kind of a restriction might initially sound silly, but it has turned out to be surprisingly good for the creative side of things. Not being able to look through a viewfinder helped me concentrate on the actual scene a lot more than if I had looked through a viewfinder. Pointing the camera without a display also left a certain margin of error, but in the end for many shots that lead to interesting and unusual framing choices that I wouldn't have made with a viewfinder.
Most of those accidental choices of frame weren't that exciting, but then there were a few that I found really interesting. And again: I wouldn't have arrived at them any other way.
The last two constraints that I placed myself under turned out to be pretty much the most beneficial ones: my decision to set the app to only take square pictures and to work in black-and-white only.
The lack of a viewfinder initially made it harder for me to judge the angle of view, but after a few shots it became pretty clear how much would be in the picture. As an added benefit I now have a pretty good idea of the field of view that I can get from the iPhone. I didn't really have that angle visualized before.
And in the end that's how Frog Umbrella came into existence. Being able to see the entire scene with my two eyes, I could watch the umbrella kid walking away from the building and while it was doing so, I fired three shots while trying to anticipate the framing.
And the third shot was the charm. That's my kind of picture - everything fits nicely, the frog's eyes are doubled in the building, every element in the photo feels like it belongs exactly where I put it. I'll be happy when I bring home one single picture like this every time I go out shooting. I'm still working on that.
» Frog Umbrella on Flickr (leave a comment)
I just ran across another blog article that asked the question if mobile phones would take over in the long run and overthrow all other cameras because the sensor technology and the fact that you tend to have one with you all the time.
I'm not so sure for a two main reasons.
1. Control. Cameras tend to get better and better, but even the best automated decisions will not necessarily reflect your intentions.
An example: think about a backlit portrait. Without built-in intelligence, the camera's light meter willtell the camera that there's a lot of light and the image that comes out is likely to be a silhouette of a person. Most cameras nowadays will detect this and compensate for it, resulting in a well-exposed person (and most likely a slightly overexposed background). I guess in most cases that's what the person behind the camera wanted anyway, so it's okay.
But how about the times when a photographer intended to produce the silhouette picture but didn't have a way to tell the camera that that's what they wanted?
The way the current mobile phone cameras look, it's very hard for me to believe that they will get to this level of control any time soon.
2. Sensor size. Different sensor sizes result in different depths of field (DOF) and control over DOF is a very important tool for most photographers.
In-focus and out-of-focus areas in a picture are one out of a whole array of essential tools for photographers when it comes to telling a story in a picture. Focus will show or hide things, focus will help you guide the viewer's eyes through a picture.
Smaller sensors make it very hard to control DOF. Everything tends to be in focus. Bigger sensors make it easier to control DOF. A photographer can place focus where it's important. And as things look right now, mobile phone cameras are pretty unlikely to get larger camera sensors.
Even if mobile phone cameras got larger sensors, that would mean that the lenses needed to be bigger and further away from the sensors, adding bulk and size. Very unlikely.
Will newer technologies and computational photography replace the need for bigger sensors in the future?
Who knows, but at this point in time, even the Raytrix and Lytro cameras cannot do their job without a certain level of bulk, and the results are by far not where they'd need to be.
What do you think? Are we going to see DSLRs disappear any time soon?
With Creative Suite 5.5 Adobe is introducing a new subscription pricing model. For many professionals this is a welcome way to spread out the cost for the software over a year instead of having to do the big upfront payment for the software.
Customers can still buy individual products or product suites, but you will now also be able opt for a monthly plan. I will mainly look at what this means for photographers and Photoshop. But just as an example, instead of buying the Design Premium Suite for a retail price of $1899, if you commit for a yearly plan, you'll apparently get it for a "rental fee" of $95 per month or $1140 per year. Mind you, this is nota payment plan, so you won't own the software at the end of the year. Adobe is offering upgrade pricing for those who paid for a year though.
As mentioned, you can still buy the products, but as I understand it, as opposed to being able to upgrade from older versions (I believe you could skip up to two versions), with the new pricing model you can't skip versions anymore to get upgrade pricing.
And this seems to be the biggest rub for a lot of people. Enough of a rub that Adobe went ahead and closed (and apparently even removed) the comments on the blog entry where they announced the change.
International pricing of Adobe products has always been one of my pet peeves. In Germany and other European countries, prices for Adobe products are dramatically higher than the US prices, in some cases we Europeans get to pay more than a 100% premium for the same software.
Back in 2007 when I interviewed Adobe product manager John Nack I brought it up, but mainly got an evasive answer.
This might also explain why a lot of people on this side of the pond appear to use pirated versions of Adobe's products.
Over the years a lot of photographers have become Photoshop users. Photoshop isn't the most intuitive product - I usually compare it to a huge toolbox full of tools but without a good instruction manual - but it is very powerful and many photographers have taken the effort to learn its intricacies, to adjust their workflow and to master it to a certain degree.
As I said, I'll mainly look at photographers in this article, but this might also be true for small agencies.
While Lightroom has pretty much taken over when it comes to 98% of my pictures, many photographers have spent years and year refining their Photoshop workflows, they have learned tricks and spent time learning from tutorials. The investment not only on the financial side is huge.
But for monetary reasons many individuals and agencies have also had to adopt a model where they would skip a version or two before they upgrade to a higher version. This possibility is now pretty much gone, so my guess is that the sentiment of many Photoshop users is that they are now expected to pay double or triple the amount they used to pay in the past.
Aside from that ecosystem, let's have a quick look at what makes Photoshop so great.
The thing that intimidates new users most is also one of Photoshop's greatest strengths. It is a collection of hundreds of powerful image manipulation and design tools and if you know how to use them, there is almost no limit to what you can do with it.
Layers, masks and layer modes let you do everything from complicated composites to things as simple as slapping a layer of text to an image. The mix of vectors and pixel graphics and the resulting flexibility is unsurpassed and I love being able to use smart objects to treat pixel graphics almost like vectors.
Profiles allow for a color-managed workflow in pretty much any color space you like and over the years many specialized tools have found their ways into Photoshop, from handling animations to stitching big panoramas to 3D and perspective work.
The plugin model is another part of that ecosystem, with a ton of add-ons available to do virtually anything you can imagine.
But its strengths can also be seen as weaknesses. Photoshop tries to be everything for everyone and its user base is so diverse that it is hard to find a common thread. Illustrators use it, it has its applications in the pre-press processes, it has even medical uses and of course there are the photographers.
Because Photoshop wants to be for everyone, it feels like a big piece of patchwork rather than an integrated application.
There are still a few areas where I tend to resort to Photoshop. These include simple illustrations that use layers and masks, adding text to images, more complex cloning operations, adding transparency and stitching images.
That's pretty much it. I do everything else in Lightroom.
I can only answer that question for myself, and it's pretty much a resounding no at this time. The few uses that Photoshop still has for me are easily covered in the CS4 version that I still own and there are a lot of great alternatives out there that cover a lot of Photoshop's bases.
One of the strongest alternatives on the Mac platform at this point is Pixelmator. In its new 2.0 version it supports layers, layer masks, over 100 file formats, plenty of filters, and even some of Photoshop's "killer features" such as content-aware fill. For €23.99 it's a bargain. Is it a full Photoshop replacement? No, but it covers 95% of what I need as a professional. The one item it doesn't have and that's high on my wish list is 16 bit support, but for most of the things I use it, I can live with that. If that's a must for you, I suggest you have a look at PhotoLine. It's not as pretty, runs on Mac and Windows, and it supports 16 bits and more, for a mere €59.
As a Mac user I can cover most of the remaining 5% with the tools that Mac OS X already has on board and I'd be surprised if Windows didn't have similar things on offer. I use the ColorSync Utility to do color space conversions, which includes converting pictures to CMYK, so they are ready for a printing house. Preview, one of the Mac's most underestimated apps, lets me use any ICC profile to soft proof images. And Image Capture (the second most underestimated OS X app) serves as a great front-end to any scanner.
When I got my MacBook Air with its 128 GB SSD, I went through a long software list to decide what I needed on the road and what I could go without. Lightroom made it onto that list, Final Cut Pro X did, Scrivener too, and even Apple's 4 GB heavyweight XCode development environment.
The one thing that I left off the system was Photoshop.
That was half a year ago. So far I haven't really missed it.
Haven't been up on my soapbox in a while…
I have taught photography to over a thousand of students, among them many really good photographers who often weren't aware why they were great, but I have also been surprised at times as some of the more professional appearing ones weren't even able to do basic things like setting up custom white balance for a specific light situation.
There is a part of me that loves to see all the nifty photo gadgets that brilliant people come up with, but I've also been watching the developmentof the camera landscape with a concerned eye.
There are a lot of automated sub-systems in our cameras. Focus, exposure and white balance are the important ones among quite a few.
But the smarter these systems seem to get, the more decisions they take away from the photographer, the more the photographers lose the ability to make the right decisions.
I've seen this over and over again this year during the workshops.
It's not the photographers' fault of course. The philosophy of the camera manufacturers is quite understandable: take as many of the complicated photography stuff as possible and make the decision (and set the setting) for the photographer. This way many of the less technically inclined people out there can pick up a camera and quickly get results, which will make them happy, and as a result they will buy more cameras.
The big issue with this approach is that even though the automatic systems get it right most of the time, the camera will never be able to know the photographer's intention. How can the camera know that I'm not at all interested in exposing for the face, but instead I want to show a silhouette? How should the camera know that I actually want this shot to be bluish cool and unfriendly instead of giving it a caribbean sunset white balance? And how should the camera be able to anticipate that I deliberately want to blow out the sky in this picture?
The philosophy of me as the photography trainer is substantially different from that of the manufacturer: if you want to tell a story (and let's face it, a good story is usually what makes a good photograph), you need to make the tools that help you tell that story do the right things. The tool in this case is your camera. And making it do the right thing means to know how to make it expose, focus and white balance in exactly the way you want.
And that's a skill set that more and more photographers have either lost, or they never had the incentive to learn.
Relying on the automatisms of the camera and getting it right 80% of the time might be good enough for many photographers.
I want those remaining 20% to be under my control too.
Black and white film has undergone a lot of changes over the years. One of the bigger changes was making it less blind to certain colors.
Yes, less blind. If you look around you, different colored objects will appear to you at different brightnesses, and you might be able to imagine how the scene looks in black and white, simply by translating the brightnesses into grey levels.
And that's how many black and white films work these days. They try to create a black and white picture that reflects the perceived brightness levels that you see with your eyes.
But originally, black and white film would translate colors very differently.
Look at the visual spectrum. It starts right beyond infrared, goes through red, orange, yellow, green, blue to violet and then disappears into ultraviolet. Infrared and ultraviolet are black to our eyes, simply because we don't have the right receptors to see these colors.
Now imagine a black and white film that can see an even narrower range, film that can only see part of the colors. And that's exactly what black and white film did in the old days. It was blind on the red side of the spectrum, so whenever it saw red light, it would register that as black. We call that an orthochromatic film. Only some time after the 1950s did black and white film become more sensitive to other colors. A film that sees the entire visible spectrum is called a panchromatic film.
Here's a snap I took of the same scene, but this time with a digital camera:
Compare the two and you will notice that the black and white film is very sensitive on the blue side, but it almost doesn't have any sensitivity on the red side of the spectrum. Blue renders almost identical to yellow, and green is somewhere in the middle grey area. In the early days of black and white photography photographers had to learn how to see in black and white to get to the picture they envisioned, and still today a lot of films have their characteristic look that's at least partially based on how the different wavelengths are rendered on a scale from black to white.
Back in the day, art went so far that during early black and white film productions, the actors had to wear bright and colorful make-up so that a normal looking black and white image could be achieved. Imagine an actor with green lipstick to avoid the lips from going all black on the film. These early film sets must have looked very colorful.
I recently posted a bunch of pictures that I took back in the United States in August.
Here are their stories.
Clicking on pictures opens them in a new window.
Let me start with the one picture that is my favorite of the whole bunch. It's Liliana, the daughter of my friend, photographer and parfumeur Douglas Hopkins and I made several pictures while we spent some time during my stay in Washington D.C.
I try my best to treat children with the same respect and at same eye level as I treat anyone else, and I try to carry that into my photography whenever possible. Lili sat ona structure in front of the Washington Air and Space museum, and when I noticed what the sun and the wind were doing with her hair, I took a few shots. What came out was one of those in-between pictures, where the posing stops and the real emotion happens.
Lili again, at the museum's gift shop, trying on props. This time I deliberately didn't shoot her at eye level, so I could emphasize the huge gap between the little girl and the pilot's gear, making for quite some contrast and fun. The goofy look on her face helped a lot to make this a humorous picture.
This is one of those street shots where I'm really happy that everything has it's place. The guy in the foreground sits very comfortably in the corner, facing outward, which gives him a bit of a lost feeling, and the fact that he's sitting on the curb holding his face, helps a lot in conveying that feeling. I shot several frames while different people walked past, the guy in the background also touching his face was the final winner.
Meet Peter, his friends and his dog. This one I'm very proud of. At first I walked past them, and the stream of thoughts in my mind went a bit like this: "Awesome, three guys in wheelchairs, with a tiny dog, I totally should take a picture of them. But how would you feel sitting in a wheel chair and some stranger asking to take your picture? But it's such a great scene! But I really don't want to hurt anyone's feelings…" and so on. At that point I had long walked past them, but then luckily the urge to get that picture won, I turned around, approached them, asked if they'd mind me taking a picture of them and they said "Oh sure, absolutely!" and I took about 10 shots of them from various angles.
I tried from their eye level, which I felt was the appropriate thing to do, but the busy background (it was at a street festival) didn't work, so I had to revert back to a standing perspective. A bit of tilt on the lens helped guide the attention to the three - and to the dog, wearing an SF Giants jersey.
I come to the United States every year to hold photo workshops. One of them was the Fire & Night workshop in San Francisco. I always wanted to include night photography in the workshops, and adding fire to the mix turned this into a really exciting one! There were a lot of pictures with lots of detail in the flames and great color contrasts between warm and cold, but in the end this is one of my favorites, even though the flame itself is blown out. I love how it shows the raw power of the flame, its strength to light the entire scene, its heat, and the motion of the fire breather juxtaposed with the other guy waiting.
Last but not least, the Fire & Night workshop also took us out to Treasure Island to take pictures of the San Francisco skyline at night - or rather at the blue hour. That term is misleading though, as it actually describes a window of maybe 10 to 15 minutes. It's the time shortly after sunset, where the sky turns a deep blue. We were really lucky to get the fog behind San Francisco lit by the city lights and glow in a bright orange. The color contrast with the sky turned out very dramatic. Initially I was unhappy about the clouds in the sky, but they turned out to add some great drama to the pictures.
Group shot, Berlin LIMITED workshop 2011. Photo: Sean Galbraith
Large format photography has the potential to seriously mess with ones mind. The photographer's mind and that of the audience.
For a photographer it is still the most affordable way to get spectacular resolution. The camera movements allow for compositional freedom beyond anything that ispossible in smaller formats. Due to their simpler and much more symmetrical design, the image quality of the lenses is generally superb. And last but not least, the different workflow and the more thorough approach to each individual photograph generally make for more thought-out pictures.
The audience reaction to large format pictures is often a different one than to 35mm photography. Due to the higher resolution, the pictures will typically have more detail, which oddly enough tends to be true even when downsized to web resolutions. The large size of the medium (4x5" and higher) results in a very different look and depth of field. And the typical lack of falling lines tends to give even very busy pictures an amount of structure and a tidy appearance that is hard to achieve with smaller formats.
My typical reaction to the higher resolutions used to be: "meh". My impression was that at the sizes typically used on the web, it wouldn't make any difference if the picture was shot with a DSLR or if it was taken with a large format camera.
After having immersed myself in large format photography for a while now, I had to change my previous "meh" into a "HOWLY COW" though. The amount of perceived detail even at smaller resolutions tends to be spectacular.
I should have known about the detail thing from the video side of things though. A very similar effect happens when you downsize HD video footage (1920 x 1080) to SD resolution (544 × 480). The amount of perceived detail is just a lot higher than with native SD footage.
Here's my audio engineer's look at it: sound recordings are often made at a much higher bit-depth (24 bits) and higher resolution (96 kHz) than the resulting CD will ever have (16 bits / 44.1 kHz). Why? Higher perceived resolution, even at the final down-sampled stage.
My next step is to print one of these pictures at 25x50" to see the ACTUAL detail. Zooming in to tiny portions of an image to see them at a 100% pixel resolution on your screen just isn't the same.
By the way, here's a little detail from the above shot:
Group Shot (detail), Berlin LIMITED workshop 2011. Photo: Sean Galbraith
What's the largest print you've ever made?
Man muss analoge Bilder auf die Schatten belichten, die Lichter finden sich dann schon von alleine. Solches hört man immer wieder, und es ist schon ein Stück weit berechtig, speziell wenn man sich im Bereich der "guten" und "normalen" Belichtung befindet.
Die wirklich spannenden Bilder finden sich allerdings oft in den Extremen.
Was, wenn man sich an die Enden heran pirscht, an die Bereiche ganz im dunkeln oder im hellen? Bereiche, die sich an anderen Stellen auch gerne mal "Zone 2" oder "Zone 9" schimpfen. Bereiche, die man als guter Fotograf gefälligst mit einem Reflektor oder einem Blitz aufzuhellen hat?
Dort begibt sich so mancher Fotograf dann in derart unbekanntere Gefilde, dass er sich nicht mehr so ganz auf die Dinge verlassen mag, die er viele Jahre lang gelernt und praktiziert hat.
Ist Schattenzeichnung wirklich so wichtig? Darf man nicht doch diese Ungewissheit ins Bild legen, die dem Betrachter Spielraum zur Erforschung gibt?
Von 15.-17. Juli 2011 halten wir in Braunschweig einen Doppelworkshop gemeinsam mit Spürsinn zu den Themen Fotografie am Ende des Lichts und Entwicklung am Ende des Lichts, in dem wir uns ganz analog und mit viel Spielfreude in die Extreme begeben.
Die dunkle Ecke im Keller, in der sich die Monster verstecken, mag beängstigen...
...spannend ist sie allemal.
Being confined to the studio with the Plaubel Peco for several months was a good thing as it allowed me to experiment and try out large format photography within a safe environment. But taking the Chamonix out for a first spin felt really really good too!
I took my friends Sean and Michelle for a spin in the Black Forest during their Germany vacation, and Sean brought his foldable Shen-Hao large format camera, which is virtually the same as the Chamonix.
Two guys with large format cameras in the black forest. Imagine the amount of geeking .. and eye-rolling from non-geeks ;)
Photographing large format is a very different way of working, and there are several things that blew my mind when I used the camera in the field and when I returned home and had a look at the pictures. One of the mind benders is the amount of freedom you have with the camera movements, also known as tilt, swing and shift. Perspectively correct pictures automatically become the norm, not the exception. You set the camera up straight, then shift to your heart's content. If the lens has a large enough image circle, that shift can be quite extensive.
And then there's the massive amount of data in these pictures. I scan my negatives on a regular Epson V600 flat bed scanner. Still, my digital files end up at about 100 megapixels and that's far from what would be possible if I cranked up the settings. My little MacBook Air 11" sure takes a bit of time to render the full size Lightroom previews.
If you're not used to this resolution, zooming in has the potential to cause a bit of mental damage to the viewer. And drooling.
By the way, this detail is a crop from a down-sampled 50 megapixel version of the image.
But having all that said, large format is only partially about resolution. I love pictures to tell stories and that doesn't depend on resolution at all. Large format photography gives you the tools to take your time, enjoy the process, set up the pictures while thinking about their details, composing well and then taking a well-metered shot. Usually.
I have just dipped my toe into the large format waters though. There is so much more to learn, and I'm looking forward to diving more into its creative potential.
I've been playing with large format photography for a while. Last year I bought a used German-built Plaubel monorail large format studio camera, I'm in the process of building the Marquardt International Pinhole large format camera, which is by the way moving forward and if you are on the list, you should soon get an update.
I had been missing one important piece in the puzzle: a 4x5 camera with all the required movements that I could use in the field without needing yak and two sherpas to carry it for me.
A few weeks ago I discovered the Chinese manufacturer by the not so Chinese name Chamonix. They are a small company with 8 employees and they build various foldable large format cameras, 4x5" being their smallest one.
It's the model 045N-2, it comes in at about 3 pounds without a lens and this morning one of them arrived here at my studio.
I'm going to spend some time with it to get used to the camera and to experiment. The initial impression is that it's really well built and that it is very functional for a camera of that size.
Der zweite Teil des Lightroom-Workshops auf Undsoversity steht kurz vor der Release!
So I return from that film dev workshop that we held in Braunschweig, home of Rollei and Voigtländer, and I had completely forgotten about that one incident.
Until just now.
Rewind. Imagine a group of photographers experimenting with different developers, fighting about water of the right temperature, stepping on each others' toes (in a nice way of course) and then imagine me standing in the middle of this, thinking"why don't I develop that roll of Efke 50 in T-Max developer?", then elbowing my way to the basin and mixing the developer.
According to the Massive Dev Chart development should have been 6 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius. Turns out amidst all the chaos I ended up with 26 degrees (don't ask), and I didn't notice until it was already in the development tank. Oh well, no harm done, higher temperature can be somewhat evened out by shorter dev time. Didn't have a formula though, and I'm a sucker for strong contrasts, so I went with what my gut told me: "shorten it, but not too much. Maybe down to 5 minutes", which is what I ended up doing.
After the full cycle of developing and fixing the film, I got a bit of a shock when I opened the tank. The film looked like it wasn't fixed. Brownish in nature and the bits that should be transparent didn't look very transparent. Luckily film is pretty much light proof after only a short time of fixing it, so you can always fix some more if you need to. 10 minutes of fixing later the film still didn't look right. It looked pretty much half fixed. Bummer. I asked my favorite film photography expert Michael of Spürsinn on what to do and he finally resorted to bathing the film in undiluted fixer for a minute, just to see if that would do something.
But it didn't.
We rinsed the film, pulled it out of the spiral and lo and behold, it was transparent, just with a pretty strong tint that looked opaque from certain angles. Super weird.
I forgot about the experiment until a few minutes ago, when I began scanning some of the pictures.
Turns out the Efke 50 / T-Max developer combination produces great contrast that still leaves enough room to work on in the (digital or analog) darkroom.
Here's a negative scan straight from the scanner, uncorrected:
And here it is with just a slight black point adjustment and a tiny raise in exposure level:
I love it when the photos are 80% where I want them straight from the camera and they still give me enough headroom to play with. I'll file this film/dev combination under B as in BINGO!
What's your favorite combination?
To get to finish a project, it's sometimes important to get started with it in the first place, even if you don't have an exact idea about how all the details are going to work out. Or if you're going to be able to finish it at all.
Some call that "jumping off a cliff and building your wings on your way down" (I like that a lot!) and I call it "lighting the fuse". Once it's burning, there's no easy way back, which in turnputs enough pressure on you to keep working on it.
One of those projects has been going on for years. Not always at full speed, but with constant progress.
I'm not at liberty to talk too much about it yet ($%^# NDA), but the lifting of the curtain is not too far in the future now.
In the meanwhile, let me give you this:
Sometimes things move forward faster than expected. As it's just now happening with the Marquardt International Pinhole.
We had a meeting today and one of the outcomes was that we are going to build a run of ten cameras to see how people accept it. This will be a very special camera, not only because it creates beautiful pictures, but because each and every one of them will be a hand-made unique one-of-a-kind item.
I will not go into more detail right now because I simply can't - I know the general direction and I like it, but as you, I will have to wait for the final cameras to know what they will exactly look like.
As soon as they are finished, I will post pictures.
If you are interested in one of the first ten cameras, please send a mail to email@example.com
Offical website: www.internationalpinhole.com
Du meldest Dich für einen Workshop an. Und dann?!
Wäre es nicht klasse, wenn Du mit anderen Workshopteilnehmern Kontakt aufnehmen könntest?
Aus Gründen der Privatsphäre verschicke ich normalerweise keine Adresslisten, aber es gibt ja noch andere Wege.
Wenn Du in den Social Media wie z.B. Twitter oder Facebook unterwegs bist, oder wenn Du bloggst, dann sind Hashtags und Kurzlinks eine gute Möglichkeit, mit anderen zu diskutieren.
Hier ist die offizielle Liste der Hashtags und Kurzlinks für die Workshops 2011:
5.-6. Feb, Hannover Spielzeugladen
19.-20. Feb, Absolut Analog I
2.-3. Apr, Absolut Analog II
8.-10. Jul, Berlin
2.-3. Jul, Hannover Spielzeugladen II
27.-30. Jul, Klostergeister
2.-4. Sep, Northeim
10.-11. Sep, Absolut Analog III
You sign up for a workshop. And then what...?!
Wouldn't it be nice if you could connect with fellow workshop participants to discuss sharing a ride, what to bring, or just to know who else is coming? I usually don't send address lists for privacy reasons, but there's another way.
If you use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or if you blog, hashtags and short links are a great way to let others find your information.
Here is the offical hashtag and short link list for the 2011 workshops:
May/27-29, Berlin LIMITED
Aug/13-14, Washington DC
Aug/19-21, San Francisco, CA
Sep/23-25, Toronto, Canada
Introducing the Marquardt Mini Pinhole (MMP) f/10 9mm. Who needs large format f/200 pinhole cameras that take sharp-ish pictures at crazy long 2-minute exposure times?! (hint: I do). Making pinhole cameras from matchboxes is not new (I took my inspiration from this video on YouTube) but I wanted to build one of those at least once. Perfect project for a Sunday early afternoon. Building this takesabout half an hour.
Due to lack of black tape, I used a light-proof metal-based tape that is normally used to tape pictures into picture frames. Not ideal, as it's reflective, but it should still do the trick. Might end up with some light spills inside the cam though.
I used a matchbox and two rolls of film, an APX to shoot on and a cheap Lucky SHD to dump in order to get the empty film roll. Note to self: next time don't dump all the empty film rolls, so you won't have to sacrifice a film for this.
There's something strangely satisfying in pulling out a perfectly good roll of film during daytime. 1.99 € down the drain. The things you do on a Sunday afternoon...
I cut a hole into the matchbox drawer. This will hold the film in place and provide for an unexposed frame around the picture.
Empty roll of lucky to the right (the exposed film will go into this) and full roll of Agfa APX to the left.
This is how the film will go behind the drawer inside the matchbox.
And this is how it'll look after it is put together.
But first, the matchbox needs a hole for the "lens".
Here's the pinhole. I used the same metal-based tape for this as it sticks nicely. The hole turned out a bit too large, so I can expect nice and short shutter speeds, but probably quite a bit of lack of sharpness. Focal length of the camera is the distance between hole and film plane, in this case 9mm.
Attached the film to the empty spool...
...and put the spool back into the cartridge. That's one of the reasons I used a Lucky SHD film: the film cartridges are easy to pull apart and put back together without tools. The film will be transported by turning the spool on the receiving side and winging it by gut feel. Some of the pics might overlap, some might have bigger space in between them. Oh well.
Using more of the light-tight tape to seal the camera from the rays of the evil day glow ball in the sky.
Sealed all around (hopefully). Erm.. let's call the design functional. But then, did I mention it's a disposable cam? It will be destroyed at the end of the process anyway.
The camera needs a shutter now. I cut this out of the adhesive light-proof tape so only the sides stick.
A black strip of paper acts as the shutter. Just pull it up to expose and push it back down to finish exposure. It'll be difficult to time though, my little pinhole calculator tells me that the exposure time at this focal length and aperture is less than a second, so forget about precision. I have decided that I'll be happy if only two or three pictures on the film will come out alright ;)
This is what it looks like with the shutter open. Say CHEESE!
» Insert frantic picture taking activity here «
Removing the film in a changing bag and putting it into a development tank basically means destroying the camera. Bye bye little MMP.
And now (cue drum roll) presenting the first and only pictures that have ever been taken and will ever be taken with the Marquardt Mini Pinhole:
Update: I just posted the first picture out of the MIP
Update 2: The official Marquardt International Pinhole website is now online
Here's the first official test of the homebrew International Pinhole, complete with proper exposure times (I hope), taking reciprocity into account, even includingme freezing off my fingers, as a tough photographer should do (the other choice would be to throw myself on the ground, but that was even colder).
Some background info: aperture of the pinhole is f/200, focal length of the camera is 60mm, it accepts international (graflok) backs, which includes 4x5" film cassettes, Polaroid backs, roll film backs and more. To be installed: mechanism to hold the backs in place, soon to come.
Next up: develop and scan the pics. And post if they're any good..
Building pinhole cameras is easy and fun. All you need is a box, some tape, aluminum foil, a pin, and joy in experimentation.
Unless you're me and your landlord is a cabinet maker. Then creating a pinhole camera might as well turn into trying to make a really awesome one.
Since I've been dabbling in large format photography I had the idea of creating a beautiful pinhole camera that would accept large format film. Not just film though, but also the according large format film cassettes, Polaroid backs and other backs, including 6x9 backs for example. All sorts of formats.
When I ran across a wonderfully made DIY pinhole holder and tripod mount, I knew that this would get me one step further, so I talked to my friend and landlord, and the other day we made a first prototype.It starts with just some material, cut to the right dimensions. Here is the front wall, the sides and the top and bottom. Once finished, the camera will feature an open back that has the right dimensions to hold large format view camera backs (also known as Graflok backs). It will be able to easily fit a 4x5" film back or even a Polaroid back.
Wait a minute, excited about a digital camera? After all the analog journey you've seen me take?
That journey is still in full swing, and I still have quite a few things to learn in the analog realm. But I'm also a digital photographer, I use the 5D Mark II, I've got the older 5D Mark I as a backup, the Panasonic LX3 is my main point-and-shoot camera and of course there's the iPhone that I use most often simply because I always have it with me.
I have a soft spot for rangefinder cameras. They are smaller than DSLRs, they are quite inconspicuous, they have an optical viewfinder that shows more than the actual picture, so you get lots of context when composing an image, you frame the image by using a bright frame inside the viewfinder, the viewfinder is all the way to the left of the camera, so you can compose without squeezing your nose against the back of the camera and with your left eye unblocked, so you can get even more context of the scene when composing.
All that together makes an ideal street photography setup, as demonstrated by innumerable street photographers over the years.
Epson of all companies tried with a digital rangefinder and stopped the experiment after a while. Leica came out with the M8 and now the M9, but those are not really on the affordable side. Then Leica released the X1 in the rangefinder form factor, using an APS-C size sensor with a fixed focus f/2.8 36mm equivalent lens.
The concept of the X1 appealed to me. The form factor is great, the rangefinder concept in general is pretty much up my alley, but after a short while it started to become apparent that the camera apparently wasn't without its issues. Slow AF, no video feature, no built-in optical viewfinder (you can get an optional one) and the list doesn't seem to stop there.
Then I heard about the upcoming Fujifilm X100. It's supposed to be out in March. It's supposed to cost around 1000€/$1200. And it has gotten me very excited even though I still have to see a single test shot or review.
A few of the things that got me interested:
1. Control: direct access to shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation through wheels. Aperture ring is on the lens where I want it. Manual focus ring is on the lens where I want it. OVF/EVF switch is a real hardware switch. Automatic modes: shutter priority, aperture priority, program, manual. Scene modes: none (Yey, no "baby's first steps" or "fireplace in the log cabin" or "group of three people in front of sunset" scene modes. Thank you thank you thank you!). Dioptre correction for the viewfinder.
2. Viewfinder: Optical. Wait, electronic. Wait, both! The hybrid viewfinder gives you an optical picture that shows more than the actual picture will show, so you get the context. It will give you a bright frame inside the viewfinder so you know where the image ends. Nothing too spectacular so far, cameras had that fifty years ago. But this bright frame and the surrounding information such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and quite a bit more comes from a 1.4 megapixel LCD panel and is an overlay to the optical view you have. It's like a fighter jet heads-up display providing you with accurate information but it won't obscure your fast and precise optical view. It could be a dream come true. Nice tidbit #1: the switch on the front of the camera will switch between the hybrid and an electronic viewfinder, so you can also use an electronic picture inside the viewfinder if you prefer. Nice tidbit #2: the bright frame will give you an automatically parallax corrected placement depending on your focus. Someone's been doing some serious thinking here, and I like it.
3. Lens & Sensor: Apparently the first thing Fuji started to work on was the lens in conjunction with the sensor. The sensor is an old friend, I've read that it is the same 12 megapixel APS-C sensor used in the Nikon D90. The lens is a completely new construction. Actually Fuji says they had to start from scratch a few times to incorporate all the wish list items without compromising on image quality. The sensor has received a new micro lens array and the back element of the lens is about the size of the sensor, helping to keep the incidence of incoming light in check. They also say that image quality was always their highest concern. They are clearly competing with Leica here.
4. Build & Design: The camera hits a nerve with me. Its retro design gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, and if the build quality is as solid as I've been told, I am going to feel right at home with it. I've seen enough plastic cameras lately.
Here are some interesting bonus features in no particular order:
The X100 features a RAW button. My understanding is that it lets you shoot JPG and if you decide to shoot the next picture in RAW mode, that's when you press it. Supposedly it will also be used to do in-camera RAW to JPG processing of individual pictures.
The camera also features a 3-stop ND filter that you can engage. I've had enough sunny days where I wished to have an ND filter, just to be able to open the aperture a bit further or to get a shutter speed a bit longer. Now it's built right into the camera the same way you find it in many professional video cameras. If you don't use it, it's completely removed from the optical path and out of the way.
The shutter button features a nice retro touch that made me smile: it allows you to use a screw-in remote release.
The X100 is also said to feature a 720p24 video mode with stereo sound. Did I mention video is important to me?
The autofocus is supposed to be super fast, the official FAQ states that the shutter lag is extremely short, I actually find it hard to believe that they expect it to be only 0.01 seconds. Of course I so want that to be true!
The shutter is built into the lens, which will allow the X100 to offer high speed flash sync, something photographers love outdoors on sunny days.
If you shoot JPG, the X100 offers you PROVIA, Velvia and ASTIA film simulation modes. I know I know, I'd rather shoot those actual films, have them developed and scan them, but hey, it's Fuji. Adding simulations for the dynamic and color characteristics of some of their signature films into this camera is actually a nice touch.
It will use the pretty standard NP-95 battery which is readily available and not as overpriced as many other camera manufacturer's batteries are.
The X100 features a 49mm filter thread, a fairly standard size that should make it easy to get high quality filters at decent prices.
I could go on and on with this list, there is plenty of official information out there, but I have still to find the one thing that would make me go meh. I find it hard to believe what a prefect match this feature list is for what I wish in a camera this size.
But of course no matter how much a feature list makes me smile, the real test will be in using the camera, spending time with it, and looking at the pictures that it will produce. Until then I will say a little prayer to the photography gods each night before I go to sleep and really hope I will never have to write a disappointed follow-up post to this one. Ever.
Is it March yet?
The other week I got hold of several rolls of Kodak Ektachrome E200.
Expired Kodak Ektachrome. Very very expired.
But I thought I'd have some fun with it. So I shot a roll in the Pentacon Six and went on to develop it.
Wait, Chris. You don't do color development. And Ektachrome is not even a color negative film, it's a color slide film that requires an even different process. What are you up to?
No, I haven't gone crazy, this is my curious side trying to learn more about film. (my motto has actually quite nicely been portrayed by They Might Be Giants in this little song)
And what better could I do than get everything wrong that I possily could...
Let me get a few assumptions out, based on what I have learned about film so far:
So far the assumptions.
Wait, one more thing: most black-and-white films have one silver layer. Color films have three layers with filter layers in between. I'm not sure my developer will be able to penetrate all of them, so the outcome is likely to be on the weird side.
On to the development. If you've followed my film developing, you'll know that I'm a fan of stand development. It's pretty safe in most cases, you don't really have to time anything and it has never really let me down, even in experimental situations like when I pushed Efke R100 by three stops.
So it was Rodinal 1:100, 20 degrees Celsius, 60 minutes stand development, 20 seconds of slight agitation at the beginning, 5 seconds of slight agitation at the 30-minute-mark.
When I finally pulled the negatives out of the fixer, they were almost black. So black that I thought the fixer was exhausted and made a new batch. I still watered the film, and when I finally pulled it out, I was surprised to actually see something on the negatives. Not much, but hopefully enough to be scanned.
A first preview round on the scanner revealed my greatest fears: almost no information available. Look at the histogram, it's very very thin.
I'd hate for such a histogram to happen to any of my regular pictures, but in this case I was pretty happy that it was this wide and not thinner. I know my scanner can make something out of that. Nothing great, but something workable. It's going to be far from ideal, but hey, this is what extreme experiments are for: to test the waters of what is possible.
So I'm happy to say that yes, it is possible to get something on eight year old slide film. It is possible to develop said slide film into a black-and-white negative using a black-and-white developer like Rodinal. It is possible to scan the developed film. And it is possible to play with the thin dynamic range in order to get something that works.
Actually the scanner did such a good job, that the resulting histogram didn't look too painful anymore:
What surprised me most is the grain though. I know Ektachrome 200 uses the modern T-crystals, that can also be found in the T-Max black-and-white films, so I was very curious about how the grain would look like, especially on an 8 year old film developed in the wrong chemistry.
Here it is at 100%
Not too shabby if you ask me.
And what have I learned from this? Color film is a not that different from black-and-white film, from now on I won't be paranoid about expired film anymore, and this is proof to methat film is a lot more forgiving than most people think.
I also had a ton of fun while doing this experiment and feeding my curiosity!
Every picture has a story.
This is one of them.
I used to make the distinction between going out to shoot in a conceptual way vs. shooting in a more opportunistic fashion.
The conceptual way would include going out with a vision, already having a very good idea about the result you would return with. The vision would be the guiding goal, the principle that determined the path that needed to be taken to reach that goal.
The opportunistic way would be very situational. The photographer would have the camera with them and just go with the flow, shooting things that presented themselves right at that moment, making the best of what he came across.
I used to make that distinction.
I would find myself more in the second camp, but was slowly moving more and more into the first and more conceptual one. I often replaced vision with location, going to special places and see what I could make out of them, ending up with pictures that had an overarching look and theme. Nothing wrong with that. It's still my preferred way of working. I guess I'm more of a hunter.
And I'd sometimes look up to some of the conceptual photographers, the ones who have that big idea, then scout for the right location, get the right models, props, light, and in the end return with the perfect picture after three days of work. Also nothing wrong with that.
Then I realized that the two are not that different. I noticed that even while I am on my photo hunts, there is always a conceptual phase involved, it is just a lot more compressed.
First I keep my eyes open. I take a lot in. Then I see a subject, and I start thinking about what it is that I want to say with the picture. Not in words, but maybe in terms of a visual story. Sometimes it's just that I want to make something look nice and give it the space, focus, contrast and visual importance in the frame that it deserves.
But then sometimes it's that story that unfolds right in front of your eyes, it ambushes you and you have to react as fast as you can to not miss it. This often happens in street photography.
It also can happen while you're at a car museum, sitting down for a quick rest.
But it still starts with a vision. In case of Downside Up I saw the person walking into the frame from the right. I didn't really have to think, the vision just was there, maybe it's experience, maybe it's one of those lucky coincidences. In front of my inner eye I saw the legs exactly where they are on the picture now. From the speed of the walking person I knew I had about eight seconds to get ready and then take one single shot.
Then I realized that the analog medium format Pentacon Six in my hands was still set to an exposure and focus that suited the Cadillac fins I had shot just minutes before.
And this is the moment I go on autopilot. Seven seconds left. No time to get the meter out and take a reading. Trusting the experience kicking in. Outside is overcast, inside is dimly lit. The rest of the film is exposed to ISO 800. Should work with some adjustment in exposure. Five seconds left. Aperture is set to f/4 and shutter speed is at 1/50s. Definitely too bright to expose the outside, especially with the uniform light gray sky and the snow. Four seconds. Aperture will be okay for this shot, I don't care if the window beams in the front go out of focus, might actually help guide some attention to what's going on between them. Three. Quick guess: two to three stops slower should do. The rest will be caught by the latitude of the film. It's pretty elastic when it comes to exposure. Throwing a lot of trust at the medium. ,kjh Two. Set shutter speed to 1/250s. Raise camera to eyes. Manual focus.
This all happened within a few seconds, without much fuss, and Monika sitting next to me probably didn't even notice what I did. It was all an inner monologue on my side and from her perspective, the only thing that I did was lift the camera to my eye, focus and take a shot out the window.
Being able to turn experience and that quick version of a vision into something that more resembles a reflex is a very lucky thing to happen. What's even more lucky is to be in the right place at the right time. Had I not been sitting down, I wouldn't have seen the reflection. Had I not had the camera in my hands, time wouldn't have permitted to take it out. Had I not had the right focal length for the shot, it wouldn't have worked this way.
Things like this are not something you can force, and and they don't happen often, but when they do, I feel infinitely grateful to have received such a gift.
But at this point the story wasn't over. Upon returning home I developed the film, having almost forgotten about that picture. When I saw it on the negative, the snow part was overexposed. More than I liked. Should've used 1/500s or shorter. But then I also noticed how the legs and the path came out just fine. The scan finally confirmed that there was enough detail in both the highlights and the ground for the picture to work. In fact the exposure was spot on, exposed for the shadows, exactly the way black-and-white film likes to be treated. I had intuitively done the right thing, and that simple fact turned into my personal highlight of the entire trip. Because it means that some of what I learned made its way into that special part of my brain that I can tap into without having to think much. And finding that out makes me very very happy.
The last decision that I had to make about this picture was how to crop it. The Pentacon Six does a 6x6 square crop, which perfectly fit the bill, but the question was if I should leave some of the black around the frame in the shot or if I should crop it tight to only see the picture.
I took a bit of time to play with it, and then it dawned on me that by including an ample amount of black frame, that would turn the picture into something even more graphical, repeating the inner frames of the window.
I got incredibly lucky with this picture.
I got even more lucky if I take into account that this was shot on an ISO100 film, and pushed in development by three entire stops (details here), which should according to some experts have killed a lot of the shadow detail.
I guess it's time to make a few more deposits into that Karma bank.
Update: There is an audio version of this blog entry available now.
It's not the camera, it's the photographer, dummy!
Or is it?
This is not a blog post about analog vs. digital! I still love to stir when discussions around this boil up, especially as I see myself rooted in both camps. Whoever is trying to pry a wedge in between analog and digital is trying topry it right through my middle.
And I really don't like to be wedged into two pieces.
Jest aside, I think I have always been something of a wanderer between the worlds. Having spent almost two decades firmly rooted in the analog 35mm world, the step into digital was like a breath of fresh air. Finally the speed I wanted. Fast results. During the early years technically sub par, but catching up to the analog side pretty quickly.
I'm probably going to be beat up for this by a many of the data sheet lovers, but in my book, today's digital photography is fast, clean, reproducible, reliable, sharp, unerring, accurate and precise, whereas analog photography is unprecise, moody, messy, slow, unreliable and error prone.
Despite all this, I have rediscovered the analog world and embraced it wholeheartedly for reasons that I have elaborated many times over the last months, on Tips from the Top Floor, here on this blog, on Twitter and on many of the workshops.
But this post is not about analog vs. digital. Did I mention I don't like building camps? It is about learning new things about photography, about understanding them and in the process about why I'm adapting one of my most important pieces of advice.
In the past you could often hear me say "It's not the camera, it's the photographer!" and in general this still holds true. If you are a real photographer, the camera you use will usually be an afterthought. You will likely be able to adapt your working style with a given tool to get close to your envisioned result.
Shakespeare could certainly write with all sorts of different utensils. But I'm pretty sure even he had a favorite quill or two. Maybe he even used different tools to write different kinds of things? (I know I'm on thin ice here, Shakespeare connoisseurs. Help a brother out in the comments please!)
As a photographer it is your vision that counts and based on what you wish to create, and what circumstances you work under, you will either make your existing tool work as good as possible, or you will choose your weapon based on what you need.
And this is where I admit, my It's the photographer, not the camera! starts to crumble a bit. I adopted it while still being rooted in the 35mm world. I simply hadn't seen enough other things yet.
Now that I have explored both dry and wet photography (e.g. digital and analog), and almost every format from the small 18x18mm to the large 4x5", with over fifteen different cameras with different technologies, dating from 1926 until today, I must admit that the differences between these cameras really do influence my photography.
It starts with something as simple as the aspect ratio . The 3:2 ratio of the DSLR feels very different from the 1:1 ratio that a 6x6 medium format camera delivers. 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, ... they all speak different visual languages and they all reflect back into how you compose images.
Some of them will only let you focus by the distance scale on the lens. Auto focus? Pah. Rangefinder? Not really. Just a scale in feet. You do the best guesswork you can, or you measure it out. The result: not really always that well in focus. It slows you down, it makes you take more time to get the picture right. It trains your inner eye, because you have to work that grey matter to visualize what the resulting image might be.
Different film sizes will influence your choice of focal lengths, which in turn will influence the depth of field you get. Another reason to choose the right tool for the right job. Traditional portraiture with a 1/4" sensor might be on the difficult side. Or if your vision requires everything to be in focus, it might be the perfect tool for the job.
Then the sound. Some cameras are in your face, with massive mirror slap and a sound that reminds more of a gun than of a camera, some of them are very shy and contained so that you won't even know if that click was the shutter going off. When shooting portraits, this can make a huge difference for the subject. For some people the loud ka-lunk of a Mamiya 645 is exactly what they need, whereas other subjects will appreciate the subtle sound (and size) of a Leica rangefinder (not that I'd have one).
Some cameras are heavy beasts to carry around, look at the Pentax 6x7 for example. Give it a decent lens and a pair of hand grips and the Nikon D700 will look small in comparison. Size will influence how you work with a camera. Sometimes size will dictate how you handle the film you have with you. Monika for example took her Pentax 6x7 to some indoor locations the other day. Due to the lack of high-speed material, and due to her unwillingness to carry a tripod, she decided to shoot Kodak Tri-X at ISO 1600 and attempt a push development, something a lot of people claim cannot be done with good results. I think her results are stunning! (here's an article she wrote in German with some pictures)
Even though my entire analog camera collection together has cost me less than a single full DSLR outfit with a hand full of lenses, I admit that having some fifteen different cameras to work with is probably not the reality most of the readers of this blog find themselves in. So I won't suggest that you go out to build that collection. What I suggest though is that you start building some awareness of what types of photography the camera you have leads itself to and how that in turn influences how you approach photography in general.
It's a journey.
If you have photography friends, why not swap equipment for a weekend to experience what kind of changes working with a different tool might introduce to your way of working. By the way, photo workshops (shameless plug, I know I know) are a great opportunity for that too.
What is your way of keeping things fresh and not get too comfortable in those old worn-out shoes?
A day spent with photography is a great day!
We spent the first day of this year in the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, the huge Volkswagen museum right next to the VW factory.
They are very photography friendly there, especially if you're there almost by yourself. January first is not traditionally a day where the Germans go to car museums. So instead of the thousands of visitors that have usually entered the premises by noon, in some of the exhibit houses we were amongthe first ten. And the employees even helped us get the best pictures by adjusting the lights and getting out of the way.
We made two major decisions upfront: analog only and medium format. The third decision was dictated by availability of film and the fact that most of the photography would take place indoors:
We had no choice but underexpose and push the films. By quite a bit in some cases.
At this point, instead of saying anything to those who keep going on about how much you're going to lose out of an ISO 100 film when pushed by three f-stops using Rodinal, I'd just like to show you some pictures (click goes big):
The other film I had with me was the good old Ilford HP5+, which I used to shoot a lot with back in the 80s but kind of lost track of. I'm glad I gave it a shot the other day, and I'm glad I did a one stop push, the tonal distribution that came out is just wonderfully creamy, and the push development managed to give it a nicely steep-ish gradation curve.
Some of my learnings of the last two days:
a) I'm turning into more and more of a fan of push stand developments using Rodinal. With the right film the results can be wonderful.
b) In order to push Efke 100 by three stops, you'll have to make sure to get the exposure spot on, as you won't have much to play with later on.
c) Spending a weekend with photography, playing and trying out new things and learning lots in the process is FUN FUN FUN!
For those of you who want to give this a go themselves, here is some information on the films and the development:
The first three pictures were shot on Efke 100, underexposed by 3 stops, stand-developed in Rodinal 1:50 (for Sean: that was 12 milliliters for a 120 film) at 20 degrees Celsius for 70 minutes, 30 seconds mild agitation at the beginning, 10 seconds mild agitation 35 minutes into the development. Stand development means that after the first agitation you do not even think of touching the development tank. Hands completely off until it's time to agitate again.
The last three pictures were shot on Ilford HP5+, underexposed by one stop and developed in Rodinal 1:25 (24 milliliters) at 20 degrees Celsius for 8 minutes, 30 seconds initial agitation, then a few light swirls each minute.
All pictures were taken with the Pentacon six and an almost uncoated Biometar 2.8/80mm lens. Exposure metering was done using an iPhone 4 with the free Pocket Light Meter app.
Monika wrote a German blog entry here with more pictures from the same day, that she shot with her Pentax 6x7, which we call "the beast".
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
Well, when I wrote super wide in the title of this post, I didn't mean it in a regular DSLR 8mm lens sort of way.
This baby covers a field of view of some 400 degrees.
"What? I thought there were only 360?"
Yes, there are, but if you aren't careful (or if you are so inclined), this thing gets you on the same picture twice.
I'm talking about the Lomo Spinner 360. Monika gave me one for Christmas, and I haven't had that much photography fun in ages.
We took it for a spin (erm. sorry, couldn't resist) on Boxing day in the Herrenhäuser Gärten, a park in Hannover.
Here is how it works: you hold it at its handle, you pull the string and as you let go, the entire camera turns 360 degrees, and sometimes more. It doesn't have a shutter, and it constantly exposes a slit of light onto the film. At its normal rotational speed, this ends up with an exposure time of somewhere between 1/125s and 1/250s.
Unless it's -8 degrees Celsius, then it turns slower. Which in turn (sorry again) results in a longer exposure time. And as the light was already fading and I only had an ISO 100 film in the camera (they recommend 400 for daylight), it turned out to be just perfect :)
This is a camera to have fun with. It's a camera that doesn't take photography too seriously. It's a camera that explores what's possible in a really playful way.
The Spinner shows the world in a way that we usually don't experience, and it does it in full sprocket hole glory. Yes, you might have noticed that it uses the full width of a 35mm film, including the sprocket holes that are normally only there for the film to be transported.
What this means is that you won't be able to simply drop off your film and get prints made. For now I have used the Spinner only with black and white film that I developed myself. You should be able to tell your local drug store to only develop the film and return it uncut though.
And then it's time to scan. Most flatbed scanners will not allow you to scan everything including the sprocket holes because the film masks they use hide them. You could try simply placing the film directly on the glass, or you could get the DigitaLIZA, which is a contraption that allows you to scan almost the entire negative minus a tiny bit at the outer edges where it holds the film.
Which ever way you get the pictures into the computer, from there you can print them, post them online, blog them, and simply enjoy a new way to look at the world around you.
Update: Just found an article that covers a bit of the history of spinning 360 degree cameras.
Update: Looks like the Lomo Spinner 360 is actually the rebirth of an older camera called the Spinshot 35S that was developed by Rick Corrales in 1991 and had a build run of only 1000 pieces. As opposed to the Lomo Spinner 360, the Spinshot 35S has a viewfinder and a bubble level on the bottom of its handle. It also featured an longer-than-lifetime warranty with the words "Full Spinshot warranty buyer protection for life ... plus reincarnations"
» more information here
Update: I just found some more excellent information about the history of the Spinner 360 and about its inventor Rick Corrales, as posted in a flickr comment by Gimel Vav
Update: Die drei Gewinner sind ermittelt, jeweils einen 15%-Gutschein für den Undsoversity-Lightroom-Workshop haben gewonnen: @_nikolaus, @iMichi16 und @migowa. Allerherzlichsten Glückwunsch! Und allen anderen natürlich herzlichen Dank fürs mit machen.
Mir ist da gerade etwas ins Haus geflattert. Einfach mal so, und weil gerade Weihnachten rum ist, gibt es hier **drei 15-Prozent-Gutscheincodes für den Lightroom-Workshop der Undsoversity** zu gewinnen.
Der Gutschein wird unter den Blog-Kommentaren verlost, die den Satz "Ich fotografiere, weil..." vervollständigen.
Die Verlosung endet heute (28.12.2010) um 21 Uhr mitteleuropäischer Zeit.
PS: Bitte zum Kommentieren mit Twitter o.ä. einloggen, damit ich die Gewinner dann auch benachrichtigen kann
PPS: Bitte auch gerne weitergeben und retweeten, der Kurzlink zu diesem Post ist http://tfttf.com/15prozent
In September Monika and I made our way to Toronto, Canada, to hold an urban photography workshop. We held it at Sean and Michelle's place, and they were wonderful hosts to us and the entire workshop group.
Before we left, Michelle gave Monika an unbelievably awesome Christmas tree ornament: a Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash, made of glass. Then we had a vision...
In November I managed to track down what seemed to be the last few of these ornaments in stock at a US retailer. When I checked a few weeks later, they were out of stock.
It took them about a week to reach Germany, it took them another three weeks (and a few phone calls) to get through customs. "WHAT is in that package?" - "Ornaments" - "But they look like cameras" - "No, they are ornaments" - "But the boxes say KODAK on them" - "Yes, but they are camera-shaped christmas ornaments" - "Huh?" - "Open one of the boxes, but be careful not to break them, they are made of glass" - "Why would anyone want a camera made of glass?" ...
They finally arrived, ten in total, so together with the one from Michelle, we now have eleven beautiful little brownies hanging off our little Christmas tree.
(By the way, the glass is transparent at the viewfinder, the lens, and the little red window at the back, so you can actually look through them, isn't that awesome?)
And what's your photography-related Christmas decoration?
Update: There is a now a short 10-minute video documentary over at Chicago Tonight
Today I received a Tweet from @funkerpucki. It was in German and said something along the lines of check this out together with a link. I get quite a few of those. I'm usually hesitant clicking them, especially if they are shortened and I don't know where they go.
I'm more than glad I clicked the link this time.
This is about Vivian Maier, a street photographer who was discovered in 2007, two years before she died. I can't believe I haven't heard about her until now.
From the few pictures I have seen, this is a sensational discovery. Her sense of space, geometry, timing, situation and her storytelling areso captivating, it's hard not to fall in love with her photography.
I love her photography and I want to see more of it. I also want to know more about how her work was discovered. This is a wonderful story.
If you follow me, you know that I'm careful about what causes I publicly support, but this is clearly one that should get the funding to continue working.
I just did.
» Blog about Vivian Maier (with lots of pictures)
» Chicago Magazine about Vivian Maier
» The flickr discussion post that started the whole story
» More Vivian Maier pictures
Switch. Lucky SHD 100, Rodinal 1+100, 3 degrees Celsius, 12.5 hours
Mercury II. Lucky SHD 100, Rodinal 1+100, 3 degrees Celsius, 12.5 hours
Down. Lucky SHD 100, Rodinal 1+100, 3 degrees Celsius, 12.5 hours
I've been taking pictures since I was a little kid. I've been working professionally for five years. And only now is my camera disappearing.
What I mean is that while working, I can see in my mind's eye quite accurately what frames are possible with the given conditions. I can envision composition, perspective, contrast, depth of field, and metering pretty well. I'm pretty sure it's by virtue of hours and hours and hours of practice with 35mm.
Now I don't think about the camera. I just dial in and shoot. Look at the scene, see the images in my head, and grab them. I might snag a glance at histogram every now and then to confirm myself, but no more of the LCD chimping that slowed me down for so long. (except when I shoot film)
Am I crazy?
Ooookay, back from the second big trip this year (the first one was the Everest Trek in April/May) - and what can I say? It was fun, and it was extremely productive. Here are some of the highlights:
First I spent a day at Joe McNally's lighting workshop (watch the video here), and then the Brooklyn Cookin' Workshop with its truly different concept was not only a great learning experience for everyone, I also ended up gaining about two pounds of weight. Oh well. If you want to know what the workshop is like, it inspired participant and professional designer Alan Barnett to write three blog posts about it (read them here, here and here). » Brooklyn Cookin' workshop
San Francisco Street Safari 2010 - 17 photographers and one wonderful city. This is one of my favorite workshops, as we get to go out and spend time among the great people of San Francisco and take pictures of strangers. Watch the video to find out how much fun everyone had. » watch the video in HD
Photo Day 2010 at the TWiT Cottage... - Between the travel and the workshops I had the great chance to drive up to Petaluma once again and take the stage in front of Leo Laporte's cameras to talk with photographers. Photo Day 2010 was great, the guests were awesome and video of the event will be published soon. While you wait, why not watch the Photo Day 2009 videos?
... and the San Francisco Apple Store - I also had the chance to speak at the Apple Store on Market Street in downtown San Francisco. I used the opportunity to talk about some of my work, and as the entire week had the overarching theme of people photography, I chose to present my work from the last two Everest Treks.
And last but not least, on my more elcectic side, I've shot another one-minute-in-the-life-of video. About a big bridge. Watch it here. (Like it? Here are a few more: kite surfers, night ride, shallow dof, tea, more tea and toothbrushes)
Okay, I guess I'll crash for a few days now.
What was the highlight of your last two weeks?
Wow, what a journey, what a trip. And we all returned safe and with lots of pictures, not only on our memory cards but most important in our mind. It's often impossible to portray the true scale of things, so taking a scene in instead of shooting a quick snap of it is sometimes the better choice.
I have now started posting some of my photography from the trek here:
Okay, now "past" is a very relative term and given that the last Abbey Adventure workshop has taken place just about half a year ago, you might think that's no time at all - but given the fact that the new workshop season is in full swing already and that I have been spending most of that last half year to get everything ready and up to speed for 2010 (yes, that's twenty-ten), half a year feels like a very long time.
Which makes this video even more fun. It was entirely shot and edited by Ingo, one of the participants, and it just brought back a ton of great memories about a fun workshop group.
Oh, and sorry, there won't be an English language Abbey Adventure this year, and the German one is already sold out, but if you're interested in any of the other workshops, just follow this link.
Do photography and typograhy have more in common than the "ography"?
I remember back in high school I used to doodle my own fonts on checkered paper instead of paying attention to the math lessons. And not just individual letters, I drew entire alphabets. Numbers and special characters and all. Many of them were quite similar, rather geometric, and I distinctively remember trying to make them look well balanced and getting the distance between the individual letters right.
This all came back when I ran across an article on typographica.org titled Making Geometric Type Work.
I knew almost nothing about typography back in high school, and it was years later that I started to read up on the subject. However, what I did know was what I liked. And I tried to figure out why I liked things.
Typography is everywhere. Look around you, the world would be quite a different place if you removed all the written words from it.
Typography is about design as much as it is about helping to convey messages. If you talk to type designers, you'll hear them use words like balance, width, joins, alignment, spacing - the exact same terms that we photographers use in the context of image composition.
And yes, it isn't that much of a difference - actually learning about typography and other visual media will inevitably influence the way you compose your pictures. Mind you, not always in a conscious way. I often catch myself almost accidentally having applied some of these principles when I revisit my images later.
Having made these principles conscious while learning about typography has helped slip them into my subconscious without me even knowing it.
And when I notice the results, it makes me smile.
Do you have anything visual that influences your photography? Let me know in the comments.
I just got an unhappy (or even upset) email from a fan. I won't user her real name here, so let's call her "Liz". She was complaining about the amount of promotion vs. content on my show. I assume she meant Tips from the Top Floor.
"It takes 30 to 40 minutes to download and listen to your podcast and read your website. Unfortunately for me, I have found that about 75% of your content is advertising for donations and workshops and less than 25% provides information about photography... therefore, I waste a lot of time to get little content. Also, I hear the same promotions over and over about your workshops when I am sure that I am not going to them. I try to skip through them on my ipod, but usually, I just lose interest and shut it off. Even though I have learned from you, I am coming close to cancelling your podcast."
Getting feedback like this always slightly gets to me. On the one hand it's great to hear from the audience, and this kind of feedback is worth more than any "great job" type of mail (please keep those coming too though, as my ego likes them ;)) because it almost always comes from a person who is passionate about what I do and who has the guts to speak up and voice their opinion.
I hear you, Liz, and believe me, I don't like promoting stuff on my shows. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and one reason I do is that I get more than enough advertising on the old media. If I listen to podcasts I want them to be clutter-free too, unless the clutter is a part of the show that I like.
There is one exception where I truly love talking about things: An example would be the Everest Trek. Things that I am personally involved in, things that are a part of me, things that I'm very very (very!!) proud of.
Then there are sponsors. Apart from the current Squarespace campaign I haven't had a sponsor worth mentioning in almost a year. I'm not sure how you get to 75%, I can only assume that's what it felt like to you as opposed to that's the actual amount of time you've measured. I am über super cautious in who I allow on the show as a sponsor. The only way I believe I can make this work for both sides is to only advertise things that are of interest to my audience. Only then will it be perceived as being more of a value than a burden. Believe me, I have been offered quite a few campaigns in the past year, and I have turned down almost all of them because of this very reason: they just weren't relevant to my audience.
And let's be honest, being self-employed and spending well over 20 hours a week (probably much closer to 30 actually) producing free content in various forms doesn't really pay the bills, so I don't always have choice in that matter.
But let's get back to Liz and her email:
"Regarding your last blog about "geeks," what does that have to do with photography? My career was in Information Technology and I get a lot of content about IT from many sources. Why would I want your opinion about who is a geek? I want to learn about photography from you!!!"
In the header of this blog it used to read "This is the place where I post my thoughts on photography" but I'm not only about photography. I'm a geek, I'm a musician (I'm actually in the middle of producing a CD for a local band), I'm a podcaster, and I've chosen this place to be my personal blog where I talk about anything that interests me, anything that comes to mind and that I think it worth sharing with you: my soapbox. Tips from the Top Floor is the photography place and the photography posts here usually get linked from there.
To better reflect this, I have now changed the copy in the header of this blog to "This is the place where I post my thoughts. Usually on photography."
And this is where I open this discussion up to you, the readership. Do you think this blog should be exclusively about photography? And has my show content really gone down the drain in favor of promoting stuff?
Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!