This month I am privileged to present four of the best fine art photographers working in the country. Bill Schwab’s introspective classical images made on collodion plates, the sweeping majesty of Michael Kahn’s handmade silver gelatin prints, and Lane Wilson’s lush images show why they are masters of monochrome photography. Even Cole Thompson’s Blog-of-the-Month resonates with expertise and vision that is at once traditional yet as new as a sunrise. Join me as we take a look at their websites and blog, and prepare to be inspired.
Studio lighting equipment is available in either continuous or electronic flash configurations. Continuous lighting is “on” continuously, much like a light bulb or the sun for that matter, enabling you to use your in camera light meter to measure and see how the light falls on your subject. Continuous lighting sources use photoflood, quartz, or HMI (Hydrargyrum Medium-Arc Iodide) bulbs, which can be hot, leading to the use of the term “hot lights.” An increasing number of continuous lighting tools use Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) or LEDs, producing what are, in effect, “cool” hot lights.
If you’re looking for European build quality at a reasonable price, Multiblitz’s series of Profilux monolights are a good place to start. Built in Germany, the two Profilux models—250 and 500 watt second versions—are the perfect tool for the serious amateur or established professional and feature fast recycling times, short flash durations, and consistent color temperatures. The Profilux 250 has a five-stop power range that’s adjustable in 1/10-stop increments with a modeling lamp that delivers an expected service life of 2000 hours. The Profilux 500 delivers all of the same features as the 250 but with twice the output power.
One trend much in evidence for lighting these days is the use of LED as a light source. Rotolight, distributed in the US by R.T.S. Inc. (www.rtsphoto.com), has several new products in this space, beginning with their RL48-B RingLight. As a continuous light source, the Rotolight is useful for video or still photography. The basic RL48-B includes a filter holder and a Lee Filters Calibration Filter Kit (CTO: 205, 223, and 285; ND/Diffusion: 298, 209, and 216).
For the past 10 years, my personal photography has enjoyed a burst of creativity that Mary alternately credits to a change in camera brands and a change in my home office environment. Certainly living and working on Daisy Hill has renewed my interest in personal assignments, but I think improvements in imaging technology are another catalyst. How can hardware and software increase or help a person’s pursuit of creativity?
I’m often asked how photographers can have their website appear in this column, so I decided to offer some advice that even if it doesn’t get you featured in Web Profiles will improve the quality of your site.
Don’t use Flash. It may be fun, but why spend time and money to limit the number of people who can view it? Using Flash means literally millions of iPhone and iPad users can’t see your site.
Avoid the temptation to fill the site with graphics that compete with your photographs. First impressions count and you want visitors to focus on your images.
This month marks the anniversary of a column that began in July 1999 as Website of the Month and has evolved into Web Profiles. Along the way, I’ve tried to include tips and trends to help readers improve their own web-based activities. Take Pinterest (http://pinterest.com), for example. It’s a virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share images, among other stuff, with people on the web. It’s like Twitter (www.twitter.com) for your photographs! I’m going to give it a try and so should you. In the meantime, I’ll continue to seek out new websites, to boldly go…sorry, I got carried away. I try to include at least one Shutterbug reader’s site in each episode but I can’t always tell that from your site, so click the Contact button on my website, www.joefarace.com, and tell me about it. You could find yourself featured in an upcoming column.
When I was studying photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art, one of my instructors commented that some of the best photographs were made in the break room. Not real photographs, mind you, but chitchat among my erstwhile colleagues about the great photographs they were going to make—someday. While some of those images may have eventually gotten made, I’ll bet only a few of my fellow students actually produced the photographs they talked about so excitedly. And that’s because it’s easy to get wrapped up in what you have been successfully doing for so long that you forget to explore what attracted you to photography in the first place. You can be so mesmerized by the pixels on your monitor that you forget to create new photographs, something that’s different from the last batch of images captured. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to not only take time to smell the roses but to photograph them as well.
A typical digital camera’s sensor sees a range of light in wavelengths from approximately 350 to 1000 nanometers. A nanometer (nm) is a metric unit of length equal to one billionth of a meter. Your eyes usually see a range of light from approximately 400 to 700 nanometers. Most digital cameras place a low pass filter directly in front of the imaging sensor to allow low frequency light visible to the human eye to pass through to the sensor. It blocks unwanted light from the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums (the high end and the low end wavelengths) from polluting a photograph’s color. As owners of early Leica M8 cameras quickly discovered, this piece of glass is very important for maintaining maximum color fidelity.
One of the guiding philosophies for my personal work is to “have fun with photography” and that involves using image manipulation software to create either an idealized version, as in a portrait of a subject, or an interpretation of a previously captured photograph. Retouching portraits goes back to the hand-tinting Mathew Brady added to daguerreotypes delivered to his customers but in more recent times photojournalists have been fired from newspapers for applying a bit too much Photoshop on their images. The whole question of what is “too much” is fraught with contradictions: since we see the world in color, is a black-and-white photograph manipulated? Is burning and dodging or changing an image’s contrast a manipulation? Trying to find answers that everyone will agree on is enough to make you crazy so I don’t let it bother me because all I want to do is have fun with my photography. If you agree, here are some useful tools to help you do just that.