Travel and photography have been intertwined since the earliest days of the craft. At photography’s beginnings, photographers often carted gear on horseback and mule, bringing along tents for wet plate coating and processing in the field. Coated film changed all that, and amateurs and professionals alike soon discovered newfound freedom in where a camera could go, and a profusion of images showed us every corner of the globe.
While much has changed in the display and distribution of images you might like to sell, there’s no question that what has remained the same in making sales is first having work that’s marketable and then catching a few breaks to get the work sold. While the following may sound like I’m telling old tales, I thought relating how I got my first ever stock sales might give an indication of what it takes to get into the marketplace and start having your images pay some of the rent.
There are three general metering patterns available in most cameras—pattern (evaluative, matrix or other nomenclature, depending on the brand), center-weighted averaging and spot. Of all of them, spot gives you the greatest personal control over brightness and tonal values, which is how you become more engaged in your work. But being in the realm of personal creativity and decision-making means it demands more attention in return. In this article we’ll cover why you might want to give this least-used metering pattern a try.
There have been profound changes in lighting gear options of late, and each adds newfound ways to make images. You can work using hot or cold continuous lights, with AC or battery-powered units, and even choose between LED and strobe sources. Some “new” light sources are coming into their own. For example, we have been covering LEDs for a while, and now we see how they are growing in their use in both the studio and on location.
Fill flash can be used for a quick fix for contrast problems that can be solved without further image processing. It is a powerful aid that can even trump today’s in-camera or post-process heightening of shadow detail. It can handle the problem with one exposure, and not rely on HDR or other curve adjustment tricks. Keep in mind that the sensor in your camera has a certain dynamic range that cannot be expanded even with such processing magic, and with too much work on the shadows some noise may creep in.
The question is—does anybody really know what a given image would look like if they shot it on Kodachrome 25, or Fuji Acros, or some obscure color negative film that even in film’s heyday was little used or appreciated? Perhaps the more pertinent question is—how many people have made photographs using film? But film references are what a number of so-called film emulation software programs use for describing presets that can be applied to a digital image. Half academic and half nostalgic, the programs use film brand names to describe saturation, contrast, color nuance, and grain structure variations that are then applied to an image. Perhaps using film names is better than poetic fantasy terms, like “misty blue dawn,” but then again entirely subjective descriptors, rather than supposedly clinical ones used in these software programs, might be just as handy for today’s photography crowd. In any case, I recently tested one such program, DxO’s FilmPack 3.1, to see if it offered up creative variations that could be used as is or as foundation images when interpreting subjects and scenes.
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.
I have always been of divided mind when it comes to printing photographic images on canvas. I have certainly seen inkjet canvas material in use at galleries and fine art fairs, where watercolorists, pastel artists etc use the material to create lower-priced copies of originals, making the art affordable yet attractive for many buyers. In fact, it’s a fairly easy bet that the great majority of the canvas coming off inkjet printers is used for just that purpose. The main use of photographic imagery on this material, in my experience, is for portraiture and wedding photography, where the image can stand on its own or gets painted over by artists for a premium touch, and price.
The Ilford name certainly echoes for those with a photographic memory, and now the Galerie brand name sits on a host of inkjet media, some fiber-based and quite a few RC-based products, the subjects of this review.
It must be said at the outset that any mention of RC-based papers usually makes printmakers head for the door. The bum rap RC gets is based on first impressions from 40 odd years ago, when it was quite clear that RC (Resin-Coated, plastic) base materials were poor relations used for convenience rather than quality. RC papers in the silver realm came a long way since their first introduction, and now Ilford claims that RC inkjet papers will do as well. While they have a fair amount of proper disclaimers about ink type and storage conditions, they state that when using pigment inks their RC surface papers will not undergo significant fading or discoloration in a range of from 30 to 100 years.
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.