Ever since early man scrawled his thoughts and experiences on the inside of a cave, “journalists” have helped inform the public and shape the course of society. And never has the role of the reporter been more important than it is in today’s complicated, fast-paced world. While the Internet has opened the floodgates of news and information, it has also transformed how reporters, photojournalists and news organizations go about their business.
On The Cover
Renowned photographer Steve McCurry shot our cover image of a Rabari girl on the last roll of Kodachrome film ever manufactured. We are privileged to share with you the final frames taken with this beloved film. To see more of Steve’s images, turn to page 122. Aside from Kodachrome’s last windup, we have news about the Polaroid Collection of images being saved thanks to the Impossible Project and WestLicht Museum of Photography. In addition, we have D-SLR tests on the Canon EOS 60D and the Pentax K-5, plus an extensive roundup on backdrops and a lighting test on Booth Photographic’s parabolic umbrellas.
Chromatic aberration is an inherent problem in the manufacture of lenses. It is the failure of the glass to bend the light in such a way that it focuses all the colors at the same point, and it occurs because lenses have a different refractive index for different wavelengths of light. It is characterized by color fringing, or unwanted colors at the edge of objects. The colors can be red, cyan, green, magenta, blue, or yellow. You usually can’t see this fringing until you magnify the image quite a bit, but at 100 percent and higher it’s quite obvious. I’ve enlarged (#1) to 300 percent, and in (#2) you can see what I’m talking about. Chromatic aberration is quite pronounced in wide angle lenses, and it’s most obvious in the corners. The picture of this famous pool in the Gellert Hotel, Budapest, Hungary was taken with a 14mm lens. The center of the lens is largely devoid of these unwanted colors. Telephotos also have chromatic aberration, but it is usually not as bad.
The concept of color temperature is an integral part of photography, and yet many photographers are not really sure what it means. Color and temperature don’t seem to have a direct relationship with each other, but light sources are often defined in terms of their color temperature, which is allied with setting the white balance in digital photography. In addition, the measurement of color temperature is in Kelvin degrees. What does all this really mean?
The concept of complementary colors refers to three pairs of colors that artists agree look good together and complement each other. They are based on the color wheel that arranges colors in such a way that the colors opposite each other represent the three pairs. They are red and cyan, green and magenta, and blue and yellow. This doesn’t mean that other colors don’t work together very well, but it suggests that if you use complementary color themes in your work, the images will be visually compelling.
If you have not been photographing at twilight or night up to now, you have an exciting adventure ahead. Because cameras have the ability to accumulate light over time, nighttime photographs can seem brighter than they do to our eyes. This means that details are revealed that are hidden from view because of the limitations of the light gathering ability of our eyes, and at the same time the dazzling colors of night add a dynamic quality to the scene. Artificial lights at night are a mixture of neon, mercury vapor, fluorescent, and tungsten, and each of these produce interesting colors. Some are cool, some are yellowish or golden, and some are super saturated, and the combination is really something.
As much as I love to capture subjects with saturated color because of the powerful visual impact they offer, I also seek out the opposite end of the spectrum. Subtle and desaturated colors create impact in a very different way. There seems to be a magical quality in nature, for example, when you shoot in fog or low clouds. This is one of the reasons I like photographing at dawn and sunrise because if there is humidity in the air, this is the best time to find these conditions. The colors are so soft and muted that they are breathtaking in a quiet and contemplative way.
Photoshop is a photographer’s best friend today. It has given us unprecedented creativity and the ability to do things to pictures that heretofore were impossible. Some people claim that the emphasis has shifted away from superior picture taking, and in its place people now think “I can fix it in Photoshop.” While it is true that many problems can be corrected after the fact, good photographic skills are still required to take great images. While a full exploration of digital darkroom techniques awaits another volume of this Guide I thought I’d give you a sense of what can be accomplished with this type of after-exposure work. And while I concentrate on Adobe Photoshop techniques here there are many more programs and plug-ins that can do the job as well.
It’s been quite some time since advancing technology finally took the teeth out of the old film-versus-digital debate, as most amateur and professional photographers have long-since switched to digital point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. That said, there still are a few diehard silver halide devotees, and we’ve even seen some new films introduced in recent years.
On The Cover
This month we are bringing you the latest image processing software updates. We are also updating you on new memory card technology as both speed and capacity are on the rise. In addition, we have a report on Ilford’s new black-and-white (silver) paper, plus lighting reports on Photoflex’s StarFire Kits and Interfit’s Super Cool-lite 455. Finally, reader Dj Boyd photographed our cover shot of a yoga session. We received her photo in response to our Picture This! assignment “From Above.” To view more readers’ submissions, see page 12.
The next time you find yourself frustrated by a difficult photo assignment, consider the challenges faced daily by Tara Miller—winner of the 2011 CNIB Eye Remember National Photographer Contest. Miller is a legally blind, professional photographer from Winnipeg, Manitoba who doesn’t let her disability stand in the way of her passion for creating beautiful imagery.
Taking pictures of a family and doing it well is challenging. There are many things you have to think about to please both you and the people you are shooting. First, you should have soft and diffused lighting. An overcast sky works great and so does shade. Second, you should avoid on-camera flash if possible. If it is hopelessly dark and you don’t have any other lighting equipment, then on-camera flash will have to do. However, this kind of lighting is the least attractive type of artificial light we use. It is flat and dimensionless. Only if you use on-camera flash as a subtle fill light to open up shadows will it look good.
I learned a long time ago that I couldn’t rely on serendipity to get great shots of people when traveling. Once in a while I’d get lucky, but most of the time the background wasn’t perfect, the lighting wasn’t quite right, or the person wasn’t wearing clothes that told a story about the culture. In addition, I hesitate to point my camera at people without their permission. I can understand that they may feel I’m intruding on their space and their privacy, and I don’t want to do that. Grabbing shots of people without getting their permission also means that the chance of getting a model release is very small.
There are many situations that you will encounter in your travels domestically as well as internationally where picture taking is prohibited. It’s a constant problem. One of the things I’ve learned over many years is that permission can often be granted to allow you to take the pictures you want. It just takes time, perseverance, sometimes money, and always luck.
As photographic technology and market trends continue to evolve at a rapid rate in our digital era, many of the latest advancements occur in the professional arena before filtering down to prosumer and amateur photographers. One such sector in a constant state of change is the photo printing and output market. InfoTrends, a leading worldwide market research and consulting firm for the digital industry, recently released an interesting study examining how these advancements influence customer preferences and create new revenue opportunities for photographers who recognize these shifts and adapt accordingly.