Process and technique are tied
together. If you take the time to do something from beginning to end you
often realize what it takes to do it right. Practice makes perfect. Those
clichés apply as much to photography as any other art or craft,
and describe what more and more photographers are engaged in these days.
If you develop and print your own film you learn more about exposure than
you can from any book, if only in the fact that messing up when you press
the shutter means you have to do so much more work later to get a decent
print. If you scan too flat or with too much contrast, and at too low
a resolution, you will have a devil of a time making a print that resembles
anything you would be proud of placing in a frame on the wall. In short,
when you have to take all the aspects of your photography in hand you
become a better photographer and get better results--all the way
down the line.
Those who have studied the Zone System know about "previsualization."
It's a fairly important aspect of the system in that you "pre-see"
what the print will look like when you make exposure settings and develop
your film. It's placing the tones and values on a scale that enhances
your vision through the subject at hand. Those tackling digital imaging
have yet to see a Zone System approach (though we hear rumors that Zakia,
Brown, McCartney, and company are hard at work on such a tome) but digital
requires it owns previsualization of sorts--making sure exposure
settings, resolution, and image attributes are set before the exposure
is made to ensure that what hits the memory card will be, if not a joy,
at least not a struggle to get right later for a print or screen image.
All of this brings us to this issue of Shutterbug, where we tackle some
of the process issues that make photography such an engaging endeavor.
In her story on fine printing, for example, Frances Schultz gives us an
insider's look at many of the aspects that go into getting great
prints. As you'll see, it's not just about burning and dodging,
but goes all the way back to how you read light and develop your film.
And Cris Daniels and David Brooks weigh in on the digital side of the
equation, with Cris looking at a system for calibration--the devil
in the details side of digital--and David reporting on another route
to getting it right with the new Epson scanner.
Another aspect of process is what some call alternative, or personal imaging--using
less than high-tech approaches to making images. Our story on handcoloring
by Frances Schultz shows that you can marry an old form of the craft with
today's modern materials and techniques.
This seemingly odd mix of articles is just our way of saying that when
it comes to the photographic processes there are many, many ways to get
from previsualization to a final image. Today, with the addition of digital,
we have yet another option on our creative paths.
Speaking of digital, we recently attended the Olympus press meeting about
their new digital SLR camera. See our First Look in this issue. And we're
getting ready to hear more about the Pentax entry into this field. We're
eager to get our hands on this new gear if only to see how that aspect
of photography will change--once again--and how it will affect
how we can further our involvement with the photographic process. We'll
be working on complete reports on this new gear as soon as we can get
our hands around the new cameras.
On a final note, as we go to press for this issue we are putting the final
touches on our annual Shutterbug Buyer's Guide. This comprehensive
report is a complete issue that covers the range of products today, and
includes everything from lighting to medium format to digital SLRs. Look
for a copy on your newsstand soon.