all the world like a chubby fountain pen, Belkin's
new USB Flash Drive is a pocket-sized storage device.
The number one question I
hear from students at the film-based workshops I teach and one that
usually permeates the entire event is a quest for perfect exposures,
"How to determine a consistent approach that will guarantee perfectly
exposed slides or negatives?" At Howard Community College in Maryland
I used to tell my Basic Photography students that the perfect exposure
was the one they liked. I then suggested that they shoot tests using
their favorite film, making notes on how each film stock behaved under
different lighting conditions such as cloudy days, backlighting, and
sidelighting--even electronic flash. In digital workshops, getting
perfect exposures seems to be the last thing students ask about. I guess
they expect to fix any mistakes with Adobe Photoshop or their favorite
Part of the confusion is that digital gurus of all stripes have compared
exposing digital images with shooting slide film (be careful not to
blow out the highlights, all the pixels will evaporate) or negative
film, advising that there really is a 2-3 stop latitude in over and
underexposure with digital sensors. What's the truth? Depending
on the lighting conditions and type of chip, digital cameras behave
like slide and negative film at the same time. To answer the question,
I took my own advice and made a few tests.
One of my favorite models was interested in updating her portfolio and
needed some new images with moody lighting, deep shadows, and warm tones.
Since she wanted me to create images that would have extreme contrast
I picked a tall, thin south-facing window in my living room as the main
light source with no reflectors or supplemental lighting being used
to fill in shadows. Using a Canon EOS D60 with the ISO set at 400, I
shot a bracketed series underexposed in 1/3 stop increments. (You can
set 1/3 stops using the D60's custom functions.) White balance
was set at "daylight." When I reviewed the images on the
camera's preview screen with the model, it was obvious the images
capturing the mood we were trying to achieve were produced at 2 stops
or 12/3 stops under what would be considered "normal." Try
that with slide film and you could have mud, but negative film can handle
it and so apparently can the D60's CMOS imager. We settled on
the 12/3 under images but as we worked I constantly reviewed images
on the preview screen and made a few exposures at 11/3 under as well.
Adorama's Pro Optic Fisheye lens attaches to the front
of your lens with a Series 7 adapter and can add wide angle
capability to your digital SLR that is the camera's
"multiplication" factor. For less than $40,
it even comes with a nice case, and adds much more fun per
dollar than any accessory I've tried recently.
mean that these photographs were "perfect." Far from it. As
you underexpose digital images, noise becomes a problem, but that is one
problem that can be minimized using noise reduction [Photoshop compatible]
plug-ins from The Imaging Factory (www.theimagingfactory.com)
or Visual Infinity (www.visinf.com)
or you can just let it add to the mood, much like film grain. In this
series of photographs, I also noticed an increase in overall warming of
the tones in the images caused by the same kind of "cross curve"
effect that affects film emulsions under similar conditions. That could
easily be fixed by using a custom white balance setting, but I think that,
in the case of these particular photographs, it adds to the overall mood.
Much as a Kodak Gray Card (www.silverpixelpress.com)
can be useful in determining film exposure, the flip side of the card
is white and makes an excellent tool for creating custom white balance
under difficult color temperature or exposure situations. Give it a try.
So what's the perfect exposure? It's the one you like. Go
make a few tests and find out for yourself. One of the advantages of using
digital is that it won't cost you any money to find out.
Pssssst. I want to tell you a secret if you promise not to tell my wife.
One of the reasons I've discouraged Mary from getting a digital
camera is that I didn't want to be her photo lab. Walgreens is perfectly
happy making prints for her from her Canon Sunshine APS camera and so
was I. Some of my pals have been telling me about budget-priced digital
prints made directly from memory cards from local discount stores, but
to be honest the prints just didn't look that great to me.
I attached Adorama's Pro Optic Fisheye lens to my
Canon 22-55mm EF zoom lens with a 58mm adapter and had more
fun than I've had in a while photographing automobiles
such as this vintage Thunderbird with my EOS D60.
© 2002, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
Then I tried Adorama's
Digital Photo Print services (www.adorama.com).
As a test I sent them an 8MB CompactFlash card containing 26 images from
Shutterbug's Miami Digital Photo Workshop Series (www.shutterbug.net/workshops).
The images were smaller than 300K JPEG files made using an Olympus Camedia
at diverse locations under different kinds of lighting conditions, including
electronic flash in a studio and the rainforest-like environment of Parrot
The 4x6 prints were perfect: Clean, dust-free prints with sharp, bright
colors that were as good as any print made from film from any good professional
lab I've ever used. In Adorama's lab, your image data is digitally
transferred onto photo paper that's developed in a traditional chemical
process, washed, and dried like a "real" photograph. The cost
is as low as 29 cents for a 4x6 print, and you can get a matte or glossy
finish and a choice of bordered or borderless prints. Need something bigger?
Their 5x7 prints are 69 cents and 8x10 prints are $2.95 each. I mailed
the CompactFlash card in a padded envelope insured ($2) for the value
of the card, but Adorama accepts images on CD-ROM as well. Local New York
customers can use the company's "digital media transfer workbox"
and transfer the files to their system and take their card with them.
An online system to upload images from the Internet is also available.
Check the Adorama web site for details.
This portfolio photograph of Megan Textor was made with
my Canon EOS D60 and 22-55mm EF lens and 12/3 less exposure
than the in camera meter determined to be "normal."
Photo Explorer For The Mac
Ulead Systems (www.ulead.com)
introduced Photo Explorer 2.0 for Mac, a software tool for capturing,
organizing, and sharing image, video, and other digital media files. Based
on Ulead's Photo Explorer 7.0 Pro for Windows, Photo Explorer 2.0
for Mac includes image enhancement features such as hue, saturation, brightness
and contrast, color balance, and blur tools. It also includes image sharpening
tools as well as the ability to add captions or text to photos. Photo
Explorer includes a set of management tools specifically designed for
digital camera owners and reads EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) metadata
so you can find information such as date, exposure, and other camera settings.
Its Auto Conversion features let you convert multiple images from one
format to another, while Auto Function will rename files after transferring
them from a digicam.
You can share photos through automated e-mailing features or the program's
web creation tools as well as create on-screen slide shows complete with
video and audio clips. Photo Explorer can output thumbnails and slide
shows as HTML web pages to upload to a user's web site. For those
without a web site, Ulead offers a free photo sharing web site (www.iMira.com)
where members can upload, share, and print digital images with a 20MB
limit. Photo Explorer 2.0 for Mac is carbonized for Mac OS X, supports
OS 8.6 or higher, and is available from Ulead's web site for $24.95.
Wide Angle Digital
I love my Canon EOS D60 but hate the so-called "multiplication"
factor that deprives me of the full angle of view of all of my wide angle
lenses. The D60's 1.6 factor means that my favorite lens for photographing
automobiles, the Canon 22-55mm EF zoom, is really the equivalent of a
35-88mm. Recently, I've been using Adorama's Pro Optic Fisheye
lens that attaches to the front of any lens with a Series 7 adapter. Using
a 58mm adapter I attached it to my 22-55mm EF lens and had more fun than
I've had in a while photographing automobiles. Using the zoom controls,
I can go from an almost circular image to a full frame fisheye look that
lets me focus within inches of a car bumper. At $39.95 these optics are
no match for any of my Canon lenses, but the final images can be noticeably
improved by using nik Sharpener Pro! (www.nikmultimedia.com).
This is the histogram for the RAW JPEG file that was made
at 12/3 less exposure than the in camera meter determined
to be "normal." Typically, I would move the
right-hand triangle and slide it to the left, but that would
change the mood of this image, so I left it where it was.
Scanners continue to be an important part of a digital darkroom and although
the overall number is smaller than in year's past, prices are more
affordable as the ability to provide higher quality scans continues to
improve. Epson America Inc. (www.epson.com)
introduced three new scanners that answer the needs of many entry-level
or advanced users. The Perfection 2400 PHOTO, 1660 PHOTO, and 1260/1260
PHOTO scanners deliver hardware resolutions of 2400x4800dpi, 1600x 3200dpi,
and 1200x2400dpi, and feature 48-bit color depth. In addition, they offer
faster scanning times than previous Epson scanners when scanning photographs,
text, and graphics. These new models are equipped with four-button automated
scanning for transferring images directly into preprogrammed applications.
The Perfection 2400 PHOTO offers Epson's ColorTrue II Imaging System,
which is designed to achieve accurate color and reduced noise. This USB
2.0 scanner is equipped with a built-in 35mm adapter for scanning slides
and negative strips and has an estimated street price of $229. The Perfection
1660 PHOTO scanner includes a built-in 35mm filmstrip adapter, is USB
2.0 compatible, and has an estimated street price of $179. The Perfection
1260 PHOTO comes standard with a 35mm slide adapter unit for scanning
negatives and slides, which is optional with the Perfection 1260 model.
The Perfection 1260 and 1260 PHOTO scanners have estimated street prices
of $99 and $129.
Belkin's new USB Flash Drive (www.belkin.com)
is a pocket-sized storage device that easily stores documents, MP3 tunes,
high-res photos, and whatever else you need to carry around. The line-up
features a number of storage capacities: from 16-128MB with prices ranging
from $49.99-$124.99. The Belkin USB Flash Drive takes advantage of USB's
plug-and-play capability, so all you need to do is plug the unit into
a USB port and your computer automatically detects it as a removable disk
drive. A built-in write/delete protection switch ensures that no data
can be lost accidentally. The USB Flash Drive doesn't require a
battery or special software and is compatible with Windows Me and 2000,
Linux kernel Version 2.4, and all Mac OS programs. Drivers for Windows
98 and 98 SE are included in the package.