Saturday, August 3, 2013

Large Format it for you?

For reference and your edification, here is some background which may be in accord with your own situation.

I started printing, like many, in the darkroom. I remember other photographers telling me how much I would love it, speaking in romantic terms about watching the image appear. Well, exit fantasy, enter reality. Working in a dark, smelly room...alone is not my idea of romance. I hated it!

Enter digital...

My first printer was the Kodak 8500. A beast of a portable dye-sub printer; capable of wonderful color on an assortment of paper...provided glossy is your definition of assortment. I purchased it with my Kodak SLRn; also capable of wonderful color.  Truth be told, I have yet to see better color from a digital camera. It is no wonder Leica went to Kodak for their sensor.

Results were a mixed bag. The big issue faced, was the ancillary equipment used to process the images. At that time, image processing was done on a Dell Inspiraon, 15" laptop with LCD monitor...which was not calibrated.  Needless to say, images shot in the studio produced the best results, as little color correction was required. Outside portraits, done in shade were the worst.  Add to the mix the variety of image issues associated with the first full-frame sensored camera to pass the 13mp count and no AA filter... One thing is for certain, the Kodak-team provided an in-deapth need to understand RAW processing. At one time I was using 6 different RAW converters.

As with the darkroom, printing yielded little satisfaction. It was a necessary evil for that quick print.

As the business grew, and the processing equipment improved, I replaced the laptop with a [relatively high-end] Dell with a wide-gamut monitor. Cameras and RAW converters produced better images. I'd settled on RAW Shooter, later purchased by Adobe, prior to their release of LightRoom, to process files.

Lady-luck strikes...

While walking through Staples, I saw a Canon 9500 on sale for $99. It was their last one. They were getting rid of it. To the office it went. Combined with my new cameras and computers, I was astounded by the results. For the first time, prints being done [in my office] were better than those coming from my lab! With the new found confidence in my printing ability, the search for a larger printer began.

I played with various business models in an attempt to cost justify a large printer. I'd wondered if I printed enough to, a) justify the cost; b) run it enough to prevent clogging; c) had enough ability to produce quality prints, consistently, in a variety of shooting conditions.

As stated in the beginning of this post, perhaps you find yourself in this same, or similar, situation? If so, the next post may be of help.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Professional Experience and Digital Photography

I have been a photographer for more than 20 years.  Though many, with like longevity, speak fondly of the days of film-- I am not among these.  I always felt film too restrictive for what I wanted to accomplish; the learning curve, too long [due to processing time]; color printing, completely at the hands of others; product development, limited to what others may offer.

Enter the digital camera. Each of the facets, of photography, I found limiting are now gone.  With a good monitor, good motivation and a simple camera, the [almost] instant visual feedback speeds the learning curve of techniques 1000 times.  Add a good printer [many are extremely affordable], and you have all the control of the print you could every want.  A decent working relationship, with many of the Adobe products, and your development-muse can take you anywhere you might want to travel.

Nope, I wouldn't be a professional photographer if I still had to work in film.

With that said, digital has it's downside.  It has become an numbers game.  How ironic; digital/numbers? Who'd have guessed.  White paper stats like pixel count, pixel density, sensor size, blah, blah, blah.  The number of bodies I've been through since moving to digital; the cost of bodies; the cost of LENSES!  I could not have imagined the day I would spend over $2000 for a 35mm-format, standard zoom lens.  Now, it seems, $1500-$2500 is the price point for a professional lens, by a "name" manufacturer.

How about those thousands, upon thousands of images shot at a single event.  I know wedding photographers who routinely shoot 3000 or more images for the day.  I have to admit, many do it simply because the like the process of taking pictures. They like the sound of the camera. It makes them feel like they are doing something.  Rarely, though, is it ever as a means to an end.  Some brides actually make their purchase decision based on number, "how much and how many?"

We've become a fraternity of analytics; trading in our artistic pallets for the latest chart-de-jour.  Lest you think I'm pointing fingers...No. Quite the contrary.  This was a discussion I had, with myself, about my own situation. But, I am not alone.

The primary reason for the blog, is to document my own practical and intellectual travels.  I will touch on camera technique, lighting, processing and printing. My audience? Myself...and anyone who might find interest.


Friday, June 7, 2013


Welcome to the Lehigh Valley Photo Blog

Where is this going?

Tried YouTube. Tried Facebook. Tried Twitter. None offered the desired platform sought.  I like the written word. Don't deny the power of the video, nor the power of the photograph [obviously]. Some platforms too limiting. Some, simply too convoluted.

The "blog" seems to offers a more intelligent platform from which one can express ideas, images and video.

Looking forward to it.