Every year editors from photo magazines around the world gather to pick what they consider the top photo and imaging products of the year. This is no easy task, for the most part, as there are literally hundreds of products that could vie for the award in each category, and in fact each year there are some new categories that did not exist a few years ago.
For years we have been working with the “traditional” Bayer sensor and its concomitant pluses and minuses, but we might soon see a change in the capture devices we have in our cameras. In this issue, Christopher Dack covers the recent work by Fujifilm, with a new filter pattern, Sigma’s Foveon sensor, and the elimination of the low-pass filter in Nikon’s coming D800E camera. As you’ll see, these moves challenge conventional thinking about the sensor we have become accustomed to in our cameras.
While many cameras today have extensive on-board image processing, and offer numerous special effects and “retouch” functions, you are in fact relying on someone else’s opinion of how your images should look when you avail yourself of them. At Shutterbug we emphasize quality imaging, and part of attaining quality is taking control of your own images by getting involved in how they look and “feel” by taking them in hand and doing your own processing work.
One of our feature stories this month, Jason Schneider’s “The Shape of (Digital) Things to Come,” got me thinking about just what might be ahead in the ever-changing world of photography. In the past few years we’ve seen pretty much variations on the theme, with every feature manufacturers can think of being added to digital cameras. We’ve seen GPS, more in-camera processing options, in-camera HDR and tone curve control, and of course the update of virtually every camera line to incorporate HD video. All of this is to the good, but only if it gets you where you need to go.
For a number of years we have been presenting the work of photographers that we generally include under a “personal project” heading, meaning essays and long-term dedication to a subject, a “cause,” or a particular field of study that uses images to help tell the tale. These projects generally focus on a point of view, a social commentary, or a distinct subject that the photographer finds of interest. They draw upon a legacy of photo essays that are a mainstay of how the camera has always been and continues to be used to communicate, to amuse, to give you a sense of wonder, or to convince you about changes that need to be addressed to better the world. They are presented as “evidence” of a point of view and often ask you to consider more deeply the topic presented, or inspire you to undertake a body of work that both codifies your perception of the world around you and makes a statement about where you stand.
While parts of the nation are blessed with warm or let’s say tolerable weather during these winter months there are many more areas in which we inhabitants spend the short days thinking about the springtime to come. For photographers who earn all or part of their keep with their camera some of the planning has to be preparing for what is hoped will be a busy season—the myriad social events that photographers are paid to document, including weddings, graduations and concomitant senior portraits, Easter and First Communions, and whatever social and familial events that come along. Granted, a good many jobs are already booked by now, but there are always late calls, cancellations, and rebookings.
I grew up in a black-and-white photographic world. Sure there was color and plenty of it, but what attracted my eye were the black-and-white pictorials in Life magazine, black-and-white movies like The Third Man and the film noir B-flicks, and the amazing work that came out of the FSA and that of Weston, Evans, and Siskind. When I began photography “seriously” I couldn’t imagine shooting in color, except for the rent-paying jobs, or not being the one who processed and printed my own work.
First off, the staff of Shutterbug wishes the very best for you and yours during the coming year. We thank you for your continued support, ideas and images, and look forward to another great year in 2012.
There comes a point in your photographic life when you might consider making money with your camera. It might be a life’s goal from the start, and you put the time into assisting, attending workshops, and even taking formal lessons or enrolling in a school dedicated to the craft. But more often than not it’s something that occurs to you along the way, something that sticks in the back of your mind as you lay awake at night. You consider it because of your love and dedication to making photographs, and your feeling that making a living with something you love to do would be a good way to go through life. But the question remains—just how do you get started, how do you make the transition or the first step?
It’s hard to beat the beautiful quality of “natural” light. As I write this I am looking out my studio window at dusk, right when the rays of the setting sun backlight the magnolia leaves swaying in the wind, and there are thousands of facets of illumination that move together as one. Yet, photographers face the fact that light is not always so kind and gentle, and that subjects do not sway in the wind to add grace to the moment, and that there are some times when you have to make the shot when the light is just plain lousy, or the weather, setup, and subject make it an indoors occasion in small rooms lacking any kind of pleasing, or even ambient light worth shooting in.
In this issue we feature images from the last roll of Kodachrome film ever processed. Steve McCurry’s work has always been admirable, but here the photographs have a special poignancy because they will be irrevocably tied to the end of an era in photography. These iconic images now reside in the Eastman House in Rochester, a fitting setting for them among the daguerreotypes, albumen prints, kallitypes, and other images created by processes that have become part of history. True, you can emulate the “look” of these processes with software, and even recreate some of the old paper print processes using custom-mix chemicals and old formulae, but I doubt very much that anyone is going to attempt to set up the massive machinery and chemical soups required to allow Kodachrome to be processed ever again.
The revised website at www.shutterbug.com is now online. This new iteration maintains all the archived stories of the past site—with postings from all our articles from over the past 12 years—plus new features that make searching easier, sharing more accessible, and now the ability for registered users to comment on all our postings. The new site is the result of hard work by numerous people from our team and we trust it will become one of your main sites for photographic news and views and research.
In this issue we feature the TIPA Awards for products in 40 different categories and I thought you might like to know how the finalists were chosen. TIPA, the Technical Image Press Association, is composed of representatives from photographic magazines around the world, editors, who go through the process of first nominating products by a Technical Committee and then voting on what they consider the best or most innovative products in their respective categories. Editors are from pro, advanced amateur, and amateur photo magazines, including those from Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, from which Shutterbug is the sole member.
I remember a story Fred Picker once told about showing his portfolio to a curator at a museum in New England. Fred photographed in the British Isles, near his home in Vermont and places far and wide, and trained his eye and lens on natural forms and man-made totems in nature. His favorite photographer was Paul Strand, though his photo collection ranged as far as his travels. In any case, in goes Fred to this curator, who quickly breezes through the images and dismisses the lot, saying, “We don’t need any more rocks and trees.”
Photography and travel have always been intertwined. Ever since photography was invented photographers have been exploring the world, both locally and globally, with images. The camera becomes motivator and instigator, witness and commentator, of the social, natural, and wondrous sites that surround us. And while many of the articles and images in this issue deal with particular projects undertaken by a wide range of photographers, there’s no reason to think you have to travel far and wide to discover what that magical combination of camera and travel can do for you.