While we cover our fair share of gear we always keep in mind what all that gear is for—producing images that speak to your vision and your desire to express your view of the world. In this issue we do just that by introducing you to a number of photographers who have taken those tools and techniques and created a group of images that focus on an important aspect of their view of the world. Tied in with those projects is a dedication to the craft and its practice, which is what often makes their images unique and noteworthy.
In this issue we dive deep into auxiliary lighting waters with reviews, roundups, and tips on everything from studio to location strobes to on-camera flash to flash modifiers, those items that shape and add subtlety to what might otherwise be nothing more than a large blast of light. As you’ll see, lighting solutions are quite varied, and our task is to provide an overview of some of the latest available products as well as tips on setups and using them, something our tests always emphasize.
Way back in 2006, Innova Art brought out their FibaPrint White Gloss 300 gsm, and while not what I’d call a big brand name here in the US, digital printmaking aficionados who had come from the fiber-paper darkroom tradition took note. Here was an inkjet paper that emulated, and some say matched, the look and feel of traditional bromide silver printing paper. Other surfaces have since been introduced in this line, including the new FibaPrint Warm Cotton Gloss 335gsm that’s the subject of this report. Of course, this is not the only paper that claims the “fine art” pedigree, but due to its weight, its ability to reproduce a wide range of tones with clarity, and its acid- and lignin-free constitution it has all the required specs.
Put editors from 28 photo magazines in one room to pick the Top Products of the Year and you’re bound to have some lively discussions. That’s exactly what happened at the TIPA (Technical Image Press Association) meetings in late April this year, the results of which are in this issue. The selection process begins with numerous candidates in 40 different categories, ranging from all sorts of cameras to lighting, bags, software, accessories, and more. Then editors from Europe, Africa, Australia, Canada, Asia, and the US go through the list and finally vote, with the winners chosen by a democratic (majority) process. We’re proud to say that Shutterbug is the sole US magazine in the group and we congratulate those companies, and the people behind the products chosen, on their achievements.
There’s a considerable difference between resizing, which means maintaining the same pixel dimensions and adapting to different document sizes at the same print resolution, and resampling, which means building additional pixels from the original file to enable printing larger documents at the same resolution. Say you have a 24MB file, obtained from an 8 megapixel digicam, that will normally fill an 8.5x11” print at 300 dpi when printing. But you just got a 13x19” printer and want to try your luck at that size, still at 300dpi. Well, for that you would need a 62MB file.
There’s something about a fixed focal length lens that brings the photographer out in me. It forces me to move in and back from compositions without resorting to a zoom. Yes, there are times when a zoom is most appreciated—especially the fast constant aperture zooms now available—but a prime puts me in a mindset that a zoom has yet to match.
In this issue we take a look at and through lenses and discover some of the work by photographers who use optics in unique and clever ways. It gives us a chance to appreciate how far lens tech has advanced, and some of the wondrous ways they allow us to see the world.
While what work is produced is more interesting than how a lens is produced, there’s no question that the latest developments in lens building have opened up many exciting photo opportunities that had not been available to us in the past. One of the most exciting advances has been in Image Stabilization (IS) technology, now more common than not in new lens offerings. While putting IS (which goes under various and sundry brand names) into a fairly slow lens, like kit lenses that might start at f/3.5 or f/4 maximum aperture, and then quickly drop to perhaps f/5.6 at the tele end of the zoom, is certainly helpful, it gets much more interesting when IS goes into a fast lens, like an f/2 or f/2.8 prime or zoom.
There’s no question that camera makers have been busy of late. They’ve brought out many new models, some basically upgrades from previous models, but also those that blaze new trails in digital photography and camera design. Updates these days are often built around new tech developments or, more likely, the inclusion of some sort of sharing or Wi-Fi functionality.
I don’t think there’s much doubt that, all things being equal, larger sensors are capable of delivering superior image quality. The very fact that more sensor sites are available means that there’s better performance in low light, less noise in shadow areas, and that cropping does not mean making compromises in the image’s integrity. Now that the megapixel race has settled down, somewhat, and compact system cameras allow for lens interchangeability without requiring large packs to accommodate gear, a new trend is emerging where the classic D-SLR form is seeing more and more full-frame models aimed at attracting the enthusiast photographer.
When images are composed of codes and “addresses” they are open to all sorts of interpretations. Unlike film, where the image characteristics were, if you will, boiled into the emulsion, digital images are ultimately malleable and occasional capricious things. Major capture indiscretions aside, you can do what you please with an image. Want red balloons rather than blue? A few deft touches can change the entire party mood. Want your grass greener? Just slide that slider and you’ll have a lawn to make any suburbanite proud. Want to have zebras on the moon gamboling with unicorns in an idyllic wood? Gather the elements and composite them accordingly.