Color in photography has had a checkered history. Although photographs in color had been desired since the medium’s invention in the nineteenth century, commercially viable color photographic processes were not available until the early twentieth century. By that time, monochromatic photography had become a common part of everyday life, so much so that black-and-white images seemed “real” despite their chromatic deficiencies. As color photographic technologies developed, discussions about the realism of black and white versus color emerged.
Growing up in Florida, I began playing golf at an early age. However, for many years the most important club in my golf bag was the ball retriever. Florida golf courses are notorious for their water hazards and I believe I found many of them.
While it’s true that photography is “writing with light,” shadows often play an equal and important role. They define form and space, create dimensionality, and concentrate the viewer’s eye on the main subject of the scene. Our Picture This! assignment this month was “negative space,” and we asked readers to send us images that use this important tool of the craft to good effect. We received portraits, landscapes, still life and abstract images, all of which display a thoughtful use of the “dark side” of aspects of the image. Exposure plays a key role in creating this effect, as does a strong scene contrast that allows the photographer to “read the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.” All this stems from the old days when photographers were often forced by their use of slide film to create deep areas in their images in order to keep the highlights from burning up. Now that we have HDR and other contrast-fighting exposure tools it is a conscious exposure decision made to add so much to an image’s effect.
The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has announced the publication of Eliot Porter: In the Realm of Nature (Getty Publications/November 2012), presenting work from the acclaimed American photographer’s illustrious six-decade career spanning the 1930s to the 1980s. Known for his exquisite images of birds and landscapes, Eliot Porter (1901–1990) was a pioneer in the use of color photography during a time when most serious photographers were working with black-and-white film.
On The Cover
This month’s issue features the latest on new cameras seen at the CES show, including the latest in “connected” cameras and a novel take on 3D shooting. We also have reports on some new film and film cameras, as well as a new test on a production model Canon EOS-1D X (our lab test on www.shutterbug.com was on a preproduction sample). Inside you’ll also find news on some accessories that may just catch your eye, plus a revealing look at the fine art photography market.
Our Picture This! assignment this month was “Water Reflections,” and readers sent in a wide variety of images ranging from abstract to actual, with every shot showing the magical quality that happens when water and light interact. Often, images of reflections display the border between the real and the fanciful, and as the wind blows those borders become even less defined. In all, the images are a celebration of light and the fluid nature of perception. (Note: You have the option to view this page upside down as well, as many of the shots take on a whole other meaning when viewed that way.)
On The Cover
In this month’s issue we are featuring an insider’s look at the portrait photography business from a number of pros who have made their mark in the field. We’re adding in a number of lighting tests on strobes and monoblocs, as well as light modifiers, plus we’ve got lab tests on a Sony SLT and two compact cameras. Plus our photokina reports continue with a look at some really fascinating cameras.
When we received a review copy of Pring’s Photographer’s Miscellany (Ilex, $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-907579-43-1) we felt there was so much fun information about photography included that it would be great to share this book with readers. The excerpts here are just a few of the many illuminating, humorous, and at times arcane information Pring’s delivers. The book also contains numerous quotes to ponder from photographers and philosophers alike.—Editor
The Minox subminiature camera was invented in 1936 by Walter Zapp, a German living in Estonia (this modern Estonian stamp celebrates Zapp’s original patent). Unable to get it manufactured locally, he eventually established production in neighboring Latvia, but during World War II the factory was overrun, once by German forces and twice by the Russians. Production resumed in former West Germany in 1948, by which time the Minox had become the preferred equipment of real or imagined espionage agents worldwide. Grasping the attached measuring chain, the spy in a hurry could extend it to touch the secret item, shoot without using the viewfinder, and be assured of a sharp copy of, for example, an A4 or 8 1/2 x 11 inch document. The Minox uses specially cut, unsprocketed film which is advanced each time the case is closed, an action which also protects the viewfinder and lens.
This pair of cream-colored mountain goats presented themselves on one of my early morning trips to the Mt. Evans Wilderness in Arapaho National Forest, southwest of Idaho Springs, Colorado. They could have been mates, sisters, brothers, or rivals. The hair raised along their backbones, particularly the goat on the right, suggests they were spooked by the presence of people. At 13,000 feet above sea level, this scene, as well as the thin air, literally took my breath away. Only three photographers were privileged to shoot this scene, which changed a second later, for eternity. Nature and photography are funny that way.
Our Picture This! assignment this month was “In the Forest,” and judging by the number of images we received it’s clear that readers love to spend time and photograph in the forest as much as we do. As you’ll see, the photos ranged from mystical to magnificent, with patterns, color, and light and shadow play all playing a part.