Categories
Digital Lifestyles Featured Photography

Robbie Lacomb at The Alpha & Omega Fine Art Photography Gallery

The work of artist-photographer Robbie Lacomb is currently on display at Alpha & Omega Fine Art Photography Gallery in Austin TX.  The exhibition will remain on show through the end of January 2010.

Photographer, digital artist and printmaker Robbie Lacomb resides and works in East Texas and teaches art and art history at Angelina College in Lufkin. She exhibits her prints and photographs in the U.S. and abroad, including Morocco, Ireland, Russia and Paris, France. In the year 2000 she served as Artist in Residence to the Tangier American Legation Museum in Morocco. In 2006 she lectured at Oxford University, England, in a Science and Art round-table. At Angelina College, she received the 2007-08 nomination for Piper Foundation Award for teaching and academic achievement. Lacomb’s artwork is most influenced by nature and mankind’s place in the natural world. Her work reflects this relationship, which is sometimes adversarial, sometimes symbiotic. Revealing the miracles of nature, which are often perceived by humans to be ugly or dirty, is a goal of the artist in her work.

Robbie Lacomb's work is on display  at the Alpha & Omega Fine Art Photography Gallery in Austin, Tx. through the end of January 2010.
For more information, visit the gallery's meet-up page.
 

Categories
Hardware Photography

Monitor Calibration : Xrite i1Display 2

The road from getting the color you see on the computer monitor to that you see on an inkjet print is a long and torturous path. What-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) is not what is going to happen with a printer right out of the box, your monitor, and bargin inkjet paper from the office supply store.

Without taking time in this article to give you a background in additive color(projective color—ie: your monitor—color built with Red, Green, and Blue) and subtractive color(printed color—ie: your printer—color built with Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and black) suffice to say that because they come from different color spaces and one is made with light and the other with pigment that they will never exactly match, but they can come close. That's where color calibration of your monitor comes in because we can adjust our monitor's color with only minimal difficulty where adjusting the printing ink color is a major undertaking.

Making adjustments for the type of paper we are printing on is another adjustment we'll save for later. Right now we are trying to get what you see on the monitor to match a known standard so that we can make adjustments from a standard. The problem is that with a multitude of different manufacturers of monitors, the color that you see on those monitors matches whatever the manufacturer decides for the default. They may be adjusted to a standard of that manufactuer or may be allowed to simply occur—that is, they come off the production line without adjustment.

So, the first thing you need to do is get your monitor to match some standard that is acceptable to the paper and ink manufactuers for comparison in making decisions. To do that we need two things: (1) a sensor that can be placed on the screen of the monitor to read specific colors as they are generated by (2) the software provided by the manufacturer of the device. Once the system has been run, the colors on the monitor are as close to a standard as that particular monitor can be adjusted. Laptop monitors do not have as much potential adjustment as does a stand-alone monitor. Some photographers will tell you that they can get very close as they produce a profile for their laptops, but a separate monitor should produce even better results.

I use equipment and software from XRite with the specific device being called Eye1Display2. Why am I really doing this and why an Eye1Display2?

WHAT I WANT TO HAPPEN

My studio has four MacBook Pro laptops and one MacPro. I want them to match as closely as possible so that an image seen on one machine looks the same there as on any other machine in the studio. When my wife prepares her art for printing on our older Epson wide format 7600 printer I want the images on my 30" Apple monitor to match what she was working on when she designed them. Done that way it keeps a lot of piece in the family and saves a lot of ink, paper, and time. What I print will be what she wants. The only additional change I will have to make will be that which occurs when I soft proof an image.

I want before and after results in order to see what the profile adjustments do to an image. I want as nearly as possible neutral grays when I print black and white prints. I want it to be consistent, relatively quick, and easy. All of those goals are satisfied for me with the Eye1Display2.

WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN

When the software for a particular color calibrating system is activated, it will ask that you place the color sensor (sometimes called the "puck") on the center of your monitor screen. A cord connects the sensor to a USB port on the computer, and a small counterweight is attached somewhere on the cord in order to offset the weight of the puck and to keep it hanging and resting on the computer screen without accidentally or easily moving.

First, the software will ask you what kind of device you want to calibrate. In this case you will select MONITOR.

The software will ask you what kind of monitor you are working with, that is whether it is a laptop screen or a LCD or CRT screen.

As you can see above we are choosing LAPTOP from the choices of monitor type.

Then the software will ask you to make decisions about the WHITE POINT, GAMMA, and LUMINANCE you want in your screen profile.

Once you have made those decisions the software will ask you to position the puck on the display of your monitor.

Once the procedure has begun, a series of white rectangles will appear on an otherwise black screen. These rectangles will appear at what appear to be randon positons until they have pinpointed the exact location of the puck—the sensor. In this illustration the gray is really black; it is lightened here so that the puck does not disappear against the black screen.

Once the puck location has been determined a series of color and value rectangles will appear and the sensor will read the colors to determine what is seen vs. what is intended to be seen. The colors will appear to repeat themselves as the sensor narrows down the differences and adjusts the monitor to match the standard.

The progress of the procedure is visible in the progress bar visible on the top right of the monitor.

Once the procedure is finished you should notice a difference in the screen colors from what you had when you began the program. The software will save the profile that it has developed for your screen and will use it as a basis to show all your art or photographs from now on.

However, and there's always a "however", computer monitors age and change color almost on a day to day basis. Therefore, the software asks you to set up reminders on when to run the profile again whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly. This is not something that is done once and then forgotten. What has happened up to this point is that the monitor and the printer standard have established rules by which they can talk to one another. What should have happened at this point is that what you see on the computer monitor and what you get as a print should be closer together though they may not be perfect—the effects of specific papers are not yet in the equation.

Why is it not perfect? Because each manufacturer's paper by the nature of its production has the potential for a color bias in it. The paper itself may have a blue, cyan or other cast to it that cannot be seen by the naked eye but will be visible when it reacts with ink. That bias is also called a profile—though in this case it is a paper profile and not a monitor profile. The paper profile is taken into account when "soft proofing" from inside of Photoshop or whatever printing software you are using.

But our concern at this point is producing the monitor profile that is our beginning point. That's the XRite i1Display2. It's available from XRite for $259.00 and from a number of color service providers and retail stores for a slightly discounted price. I estimate I paid for it in ink and paper I saved in the first show I prepared for. It has made waiting on a final print a lot less breath holding. After applying the soft proof, now what I print is what I have on the monitor screen.

Categories
Books Photography Reviews

Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style by Alain Briot

For those of you who follow The Luminous Landscape web site, Alain Briot's name will be a familiar one from his informative and insightful writings for the photographer. If you are new to his writings you will be in for a treat in his second book published by Rocky Nook (his first was Mastering Landscape Photography).

Rocky Nook produces beautiful volumes printed on acid-free paper that reproduce the dynamic tonalities of the fine-art prints that they showcase, and the long-term viability of their volumes mean that they will be as visually dynamic a number of years from now as they are today. This is particularly valuable when examining Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style because the beauty of this book almost makes it a coffee-table volume as well as a thought-provoking intellectual examination of the mind of the creative photographer. This is a blending of art and technique in that the artistic concepts more often used in the discussion of paintings are combined with the technology and craft of the camera, lens, and printing processes.

Briot says it best:

"…you can control the colors in your photographs as if you were a painter in contol of your color palette rather than a photographer at the mercy of the camera."

It is the point where the photographer has added his style, viewpoint, and emotion to a photograph that the photograph moves from merely factual to artistic. An artistic photograph is actually more about the photographer and their viewpoint than it is about the actual subject of the photograph.

An examination of the way Briot has arranged the book will give you insight into his thought process and his philosophy of art.

He begins with the differences between what we see and what the camera sees. In order to understand how he produces art with his camera you first have to learn that the camera has limitations as a tool and it is the control of those limitations that separates forensic or scientific photography from Art photography. What the camera sees is a version of reality, not necessarily the exact reality. That reality is certainly not the emotional state that comes from the photographer who shapes reality into Art though the use of the camera as only one of their tools. The other tools are composition in both color and in shape; in other words the selective and designing eye that first "sees" and selects and then manipulates color and value to load the composition with emotion, and not simply to accept what the camera saw as a machine subject to the limitations of the sensor and lens.

Briot discusses the differences between composing with light, composing with color, and composing in black and white. He considers the elements of a strong composition and the creative process, and he gives us insight into finding inspiration. By examining a series of images he leads us through exercises in creativity and developing a unique vision for each individual photographer. That vision becomes a personal style.

A well-developed personal style is a saleable commodity if the photographer analyzes their audience and matches their style and the audience. How to deal with the practical aspects of print numbering, presenting images, and the art show circuit are considered.

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Finally, Briot gives us a technical and creative checklist that will help develop a skill level that defines the difference between a good photographer and an Artist. This comes about when technical competence has reached a level that allows the photographer to devote most of their energy to design and creativy and the technical is merely a palette that the Artist draws upon to produce an emotional translation of what they saw when they first approached the subject of their photograph. The technical takes place in the field and should result in shooting to the photographer's hearts' content. Then, in the studio at the computer, comes the analytical time where images are selected, comtemplated and modified. Early on, Briot suggested that the photographer keep a written notebook with both technical, compositional, and emotional descriptions of the scenes being photographed. In the studio the photographer can then attempt to modify the image that the camera made within the limitations of lens and sensor to bring to life what the photographer "saw" at the moment the photograph was made.

I, personally, sometimes wonder when looking at files what it was that I saw when I shot an image? Written notes would alleviate that sense of negative wonderment that comes in the studio days or weeks after a particular exposure was made. Briot has explained some pithy things about color, camera sensors, the printing device, the human eye, and the creative process that have given me some serious thoughts on the creative process as it applies to myself. While the goal of every photographer is to get out and shoot images, simply shooting without thinking seriously about the technology limitations and the goal of the images is a waste of time. I consider the time spent reading Alain Briot's Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativy, and Personal Style as being time very well spent to improve a photographer's understanding of both themselves and their technology. It is this understanding that allows the development of the full potential of any image, and that full potential is the difference between mere representation and Art.

 

Alain Briot
Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style
Rocky Nook
ISBN: 978-1-933952-22-2
352 pages, paperback
US $44.95, CAN $ 53.95.
This volume was provided for review by Rocky Nook, Inc.
Read (PDF) Excerpts:
TOC
Sample Chapter
Preface

 

Categories
Media Photography

Rollip.com: Polaroid Nostalgia

Nostalgic for the Polaroid look? Wishing for the ability to make snapshots look like Polaroids? There's a fast, easy-to use solution. All it involves is an upload, a brief wait, and a download.

Check out http://www.rollip.com/ which takes you to a site by Rollip. Click the website to start; this takes you to a page of original images and Polaroid "look" variations that take you back to the days of slight color mismatch, over and under development; atmospheric effects and the day-to-day variations of the Polaroid process. Do you remember the excitement of the image developing before your very eyes?

Choose one of the illustrated effects and double click on it. The next window you will see gives you a "click here to upload photo" button. Go ahead, click it! This opens a window to your computer that allows you to browse until you find an image that you want to process. Click and select an image and wait a brief time for your image to upload. The size of the image and your upload speed determines the upload time. But generally, it's brief. Out of curiosity I sent a four megabye .jpg and the upload time was about three minutes in which the upload bar worked its way from red, to orange, to yellow to green. Another thirty to sixty seconds had the image processed and the processed version came up in the display window ready for me to download or send it somewhere.

That's it! Talk about instant nostalgia!

Links are available to send your newly created image directly from Rollip to e-mail, Facebook, Myspace, and other choices you may select.

If you enjoy the use of the site, the folks at Rollip have a Donate link where you can send them what you think the process is worth to you and it's obvious that they have put in some pretty intense work because as a long time user of Polaroid cameras I have to say that they got the "look" down pat, so if you use them and enjoy the effect, then consider a donation.

Along with the twelve basic effects available one of the interesting ones is to choose SMALL POLAROID and several border effects become available with the ability to add a slight amount of text below the image. The text styles range from typewriter to printed handwriting; and all these frames have the slight dark vingette associated with a lens hood on the camera lens or an image square selected slightly larger than the circular image that the camera lens produces.

For the disclaimer, the folks at Rollip don't have any connection to the original Polaroid cameras or film people company which owns the trademark to the Polaroid name. Rollip has simply given you the opportinuty to make a modern photograph look like a process that has sadly, slipped from the current technology scene. Have fun!

 

 

 

What do you say? It's all in the look http://www.rollip.com/

Categories
Featured Gadgets Hardware Photography Tutorials

Lighting On A Budget – Pt. 2

My 6-light CFL fixture worked well in the studio, but I wanted more light and the option to add a light modifier.  I decided to move up to 3” PVC and install eight lamp sockets around the outside of the pipe.

We’re going to call this fixture a SPIDER, you’ll see why in just a moment.

Here is my original collection of parts.

A 3” clean-out plug serves as a hub for the sockets.  My original idea was to attach the clean out plug to a 3” bushing that would be attached to the front of the 2” tee fitting.  The power cord would run out the back of the tee and the light stand would attach to the base of the tee.

I measured and marked the clean-out plug and drilled it with a 5/16” bit.  I made a simple jig from scrap wood to hold the fitting in place.

Using a 2” lamp nipple and a pair of channel locks, I carefully cut the threads for the shorter nipples.  This is where the working characteristics of PVC came into play.  You can cut threads into PVC with a bolt and a little patience, instead of using a tap and die.  I chased the threads all the way through the side of the fitting.

Here is the clean-out plug with all of the lamp nipples fitted.  I chose a clean-out plug as opposed to a regular cap so that I could access the wires more easily.

Each socket was wired and the wires passed through the hole of the mounting bracket.  The design of the bracket and the lamp nipples allowed me to keep all of the wires hidden.

Above is the front of the SPIDER WITH the wiring in place.

Above is the back of the SPIDER with the wiring in place. The sockets were wired in pairs, then the pairs were wired together.  I used wire connectors instead of soldering so that a socket could easily be replaced if it failed.

LOOK; it works! 

At this point I realized that my original design was way too front-heavy.  I needed to move the center of gravity farther back.  So, I’m off to Home Depot yet again.

I found a 3”-3”-2” tee fitting that solved my problem of balance nicely.  I added a 3” to 2” reducer to the back of the tee fitting and a 2” to1.25” threaded reducer to that.  A 4” circle of plywood and a 1.25” male fitting is attached to the reducer and this holds the speedring to my Paul C Buff OCTOBOX™ firmly in place.  A 2” to .75” threaded reducer is mounted at the bottom of the tee for the light stand fitting.

Here’s the light inside the OCTOBOX™.  It throws a very even lighting pattern, even without the diffusion panel.  It’s well balanced and easy to handle in the studio.  I’m working on an improved version for my still photography.  Stay tuned…

Kirk Draut
Director of Design
Aarthun Performance Group, Ltd.
281.580.5705

 

Categories
Gadgets Hardware Photography

Lighting On A Budget (Pt. 1)

A few months ago, my boss told me that we are expanding my department (me) into the world of video production. I was given complete freedom in choosing the camera, computer, and lighting. Like any good photographer, I spent the entire budget on the camera and computer.

Whoops!
 
I initially thought that I could use 500W work lights with diffusers, but two problems arose.
 
 
One- the color temperature of the work light bulbs is very warm and it changes with bulb life. Two- They throw out a lot of waste heat. Sitting between the equivalent of two space heaters gets old fast. The PVC clip "T" holding the light also began to warp from the heat. I needed something different.
I decided to go with CFLs instead, but I couldn’t find any multiple bulb fixtures that fit my non-existent budget. I wandered around Home Depot for a while grumbling until I saw the security light aisle and the modular fixtures. I sat on the floor of the aisle and started test fitting parts, with a couple quick trips to the plumbing aisle for fittings. A stop at the grocery store and I had everything I needed to make my new light.

Let’s get started:

16" mixing bowl
6 light sockets
2 ½" PVC tees
1 ½" PVC threaded tee
1 ½" PVC cross
5 ½" PVC 90-degree corners
½" PVC pipe
The total cost for materials was less than $35. CFL bulbs were another $18.

The PVC is assembled as shown. Short pieces of PVC pipe are used to join the fittings. The threads on the PVC match the threads on the light fixtures. The wires for the fixtures will run through the PVC.

The PVC assembly is test-fitted on the back of the bowl before any cuts are made.

The bowl is primed and marked for cutting. 

IMPORTANT: EYE AND EAR PROTECTION IS A MUST WHEN CUTTING METAL WITH HIGH-SPEED TOOLS. You only get one set of eyes and ears. The drill and the Dremel™ both throw tiny pieces of sharp metal that can instantly end your days as a photographer.
 

My trusty Dremel™ tool made short work of the bowl. I used a 1/4" drill bit to create pilot holes, then opened up the holes with the Dremel™.

Each light fixture is threaded through the hole in the reflector, into the PVC assembly. The fixtures have a lock washer at the base that allows them to be tightened in place.

The wires from the fixtures pass through the angled pipe. My original plan was to run all of them into the central tee fitting, but the pipe was too small. I drilled a 3/8" hole in the backs of the tee and cross fittings and ran them out the back of the assembly.

I used twist-on connectors to join the wires to a computer power cord that I had in my big Pile-o-Cables. Zip ties are used to secure the power cord and keep the wires from being pulled apart.

Each fixture gets a 23-watt CFL bulb. This gives me the equivalent of 600 watts of incandescent lighting for a quarter of the power and a lot less heat. I can also vary the color temperature by changing out bulbs. The light attaches to my light stand with a piece of SCH 80 pipe fitted with a thumbscrew. 

 
 
It’s alive! Even without a diffuser, the new CFL light gives a nice even light with less heat, bulk and power. 

Stay tuned for part 2 when the CFL light gets a big brother…

 
Kirk Draut
Director of Design
Aarthun Performance Group, Ltd.
kdraut at aarthun.com
 
 
 
 

 

 

Categories
Photography Photoshop Software

Photoshop Plugin: Akvis Sketch v9.0

Ever wanted to turn a photograph into a drawing without spending an hour in Adobe Photoshop using layers and high pass filtering to finally separate out a line drawing of that photograph? It’s possible with a plug-in from Akvis Software. The last time I looked they had some thirteen sofware applications for Macintosh and PC computers. Running either as stand-alone software applications or as plug-ins for image editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Each of their software are available in 10 day free trial versions. The versions range from home editions without commercial usage to professional versions for commercial designers. Check out http://akvis.com/en/store-software.php to see what is available.

But for the moment, I had some need for Akvis SKETCH and here’s a bit of a look at the software and the techniques for using it.

Running Akvis Sketch 9.0 as a plug-in inside of Photoshop will place it as the first item (alphabetical listing, remember) in the FILTER menu items. What you will really get is an item named AKVIS and SKETCH will be an option within it because Akvis has a large number of applications as I’ve already mentioned that can be purchased to run as either stand-alone applications or as plug-ins within Photoshop and Elements in both Macintosh and PC versions.

The first window that appears when your are in the plug-in version from inside of Adobe Photoshop will contain whatever image you already have open within Photoshop itself. You will have a toolbar at the top and an image window with a preview square within it on the left lower side of the frame, and a series of menus and sliders will be available on the right side of the frame. We’ll take a look at each component separately for a quick orientation of the icons and menus.

Below is a shortened version of the toolbar as it appears in Photoshop. Not present in the plug-in version is a way to print directly from the image as can be found in the stand-alone version. Instead, the plug-in version will require you to return to Photoshop to save or to print. Not every tool is explained here; only the ones to get you started with the least amount of work are covered. See the "?" to access the complete application tutorial.

Here’s the pertinent icons and what they allow us to do.

  1. Exports presets. You can save any number of presets. They will end in .sketch in a folder by the same name.
  2. Imports a list of presets from the .sketch file.
  3. Tells SKETCH to process the rest of the image into the same look as was shown in the preview window (the square which can be adjusted to cover different sizes or parts of the image you are working on).
  4. Tells SKETCH to process the image, close the plug-in, and return you to the image in Photoshop. There will be a brief delay depending on the speed of your processor before the image appears in Photoshop. In fact, several times I had to click off the image and back on it for it to refresh on my MacBook Pro, 17", C2D, 2.5 Ghz. I don’t know whether that was an idiosyncrasy of my MacBook or not.
  5. Allows you to exit the SKETCH plug-in without completing any of the menu choices. Without it you are trapped in the plug-in. This access is in the AKVIS SKETCH PLUG-IN item at your main screen left. This button will also bring up the screen where you may UPGRADE, ACTIVATE, or CONTINUE with the plug-in. It will have a BUY option if you have not yet purchased the software and are running it in the 10 day trial mode.
  6. Will access the HELP file which was part of the software installation from the downloaded application file. I suggest you actually begin here because all of the tools, menus, and windows are explained in depth here.
  7. Will access the preferences file where you can change the image preview window size as well as other options.
  8. +brush allows you to draw in blue while working on the BACKGROUND tab. This will select an area where you DO NOT want an effect to occur.
  9. –brush allows you to draw in green the area where you DO WANT an effect to occur.
  10. Is an eraser that allows you to modify or change lines done with either of the two brushes while working on the BACKGROUND layer.

Accessing the SKETCH window allows adjustments in WATERCOLOR, CHARCOAL, and COLORATION. Moving any slider bar to the right increases the effect. The WATERCOLOR effects become noticable at around 17. CHARCOAL becomes too heavy after a setting of 3 unless you are attempting a very overdone, sketchy look. COLORATION is readily visible by a setting of 13 and will almost match the original image by 95.

We’ll look at BACKGROUND next and return to the rest of the adjustments under SKETCH and STROKES in a moment.

With BACKGROUND chosen you have three options, SKETCH, SKETCH & PHOTO, and SKETCH & BLUR. When using SKETCH & PHOTO the effect is similar to using layers in Photoshop where the sketch effect is placed on top of the photo image and the two are blended at roughly 50%. If this is the control you are seeking, the effect is better done in Photoshop itself by combing a sketch image with a duplicate of the original and adjusting the opacity blend with more subtle control.

However, chosing SKETCH & BLUR you are able to define the background that you desire to blur and choose between motion, gaussian, and radial blur.

Still another option is the addition of TEXT. Chosing the TEXT window gives access to all of the fonts available through Photoshop. The font size can be chosen, the line of type (typed into the area that says AKVIS Sketch) can be stretched and postioned via the eight green arrows shown in LOCATION below. The TEXT can be given a color, an outline and a glow.

CANVAS is also an option chosen by USE CANVAS. The texture properties, repetion pattern, reflection, alignment and scale are variable choices. The brightness, embossment, texture, distortion and the direction from which the light is directed onto the canvas can be set in this window.

Returning to the front window, that is, the SKETCH window, the size and angle of the strokes in the sketch are available. The default 45 degree sketch angle approximates the stroke of a right handed artist. The width of the stroke is determined by the size choice and the minimum and maximum lengths of the stroke are chosen to approximate the contour-following strokes of the artist. Choices made with this menu is somewhat unique to each subject chosen and should be the result of experimentation.

If COLOR PENCIL is chosen you must be using some degree of COLORATION in order to really see the effect of the colored pencil. Increasing MIDTONE DENSITY will show more detail and result in a filling of the midtones in your image. Increasing the MIDTONES HATCHING will visibly darken shadow areas and has a tendency to look contrived when the number is too high. Experiment with this setting as well.

The rhythmic flowing of the contour lines in an image are a function of EDGE TRACING. SENSITIVITY increases the number of lines in the image as you move the slider to the right. Generally, a number below 35 combined with a WATERCOLOR number of 25 produces a pleasing watercolor/pencil look. But again, experiment to find what settings produce the look you are searching for.

Here’s a sample image from musicians in an Irish pub. This is a screen grab and the artifacts are normally visible in some preview windows in SKETCH. The triangle surrounded by the red box tells SKETCH to render all of the preview window. The check mark surrounded by the yellow box tells SKETCH to complete the rendering and transfer you back to Photoshop and close the plug-in window.

bar with settings 2@600.jpg

The original picture is the upper of the following two images; below it is black and white with settings on Watercolor 30, Charcoal 3, and Coloration on 0. Stroke angle is 45 degrees and size is 8, Minimum length is 2 and Maximum length is 9, Midtones Intensity is 5 with Midtones Hatching at 95. Colorization is not on in this black and white example.

Bar@600.jpg

The original picture is shown in the upper positon in the two following images, and the second image has the same settings as the upper except Colorization is set at 95.

Below is a detail of the above image with the already defined settings; here it is shown larger for you to examine.

Subjects with low contrast will fail to make separation as shown in the example below where the white of the drawing paper and woman’s blouse fail to separate from the wall behind them.

An example of a subject that works well is the trees in the left image. Both a color version and this black and white verson were tried with little discernable difference. Here the contrast makes for good separation of the branches and sky and produces a good sketch look of the trees.

Here is a self-portrait done with the computer camera on my MacBook Pro laptop.

Here is the same image done with the same settings as used on the bar scene except that COLORATION was about 13. The laptop screen is reflected in my glasses.

The following image is of stones and dead leaves from the countryside in Ireland.

The following image is the Stones and dead leaves using the already mentioned settings with the addition of Coloration at a setting of 13.

A photographer in the Irish countryside as the original image.

The photographer with the already mentioned settings and Coloration set at 0.

What you are getting with SKETCH is an outline drawing such as may be produced by using several layers of the HIGH PASS filter, or variations of THRESHOLD in Adobe Photoshop. You are not producing a contour drawing as an artist might attempt with a pressure sensitive drawing tool (Wacom tablet, pen and ink, graphite, brush, or similar drawing instrument); however, for the artistically-challenged, SKETCH produces an acceptable alternative for many instances of illustrative work.

It’s a useful tool in my filter menu of Adobe Photoshop and can be found at http://akvis.com/en/store-software.php. Look it over along with its companion programs; you will find numerous useful applications there.

Categories
Featured Photography Photoshop Software

Photoshop Plugin: Topaz Simplify

During the last month I took a trip back to Topaz Lab’s webpage and downloaded another of their interesting programs. (Topazlabs.com) If you remember, they make imaging enhancement software for both still and video photography. This time I thought I’d try their Simplify 2; it’s a $39.95 program that can be downloaded in minutes—there’s a fully functional 30 day trial version also. All you have to do is request the 30 day key and you can play with any of their software for 30 days. Replacing the trial key with the purchased key clears your trial for permanent usage.

What does Simplify 2 do? It is an application that allows you to turn a photography into a painting or a drawing on any one of a number of variations; Topaz’ advertising says it this way "Simple and elegant photo interpretations." Download the program and douple-click your unstuffed file—you’ll get a dmg file for Mac and an Exe file for PC, and the application will install itself into your Photoshop Filter folder under a "Topaz Labs" heading. See the ilustration below for a quick visual example.

Image 1 Topaz flow chart-600.jpg

When Simplify 2.0 opens you will see the following window. Along the left side are twelve presets. Clicking on any one of them will directly move you to a still adjustable image because each preset will open with SIMPLIFY, ADJUST, and EDGES as slider-bar adjustments.

Image 1a Simplify-600.jpg

Here are the twelve general presets that you have to choose from. They are (1) BuzSim, (2) Cartoon, (3) Image CrispEdge, (4) Painting colorful, (5) Painting Harshcolor, (6) Painting oil, (7) Painting watercolor, (8) Sketch Color, (9) Sketch hardpencil, (10) Sketch softpencil, (11) Underpainting, and (12) Wood Carving. Remember, each of these presets has slider bars under the categories of SIMPLIFY, ADJUST, and EDGES.

Image 2 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

Image 3 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

Looking under SIMPLIFY we can choose our Colorspace from RGB and YCbCr; now experiment by moving the sliders back and fourth to examine the subtle variations of the presets. Work your way through each of the menus under SIMPLIFY, ADJUST, and EDGES. At any time you feel like you would like to undo an adjustment, a RESET TAB, will allow the resetting of one adjustment, or RESET ALL will reset all of the adjustments in that particular third of the image adjustments.

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Here’s an image of one of the windows in a New Mexico church.

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Applying Sketch color to the image produces this result. All that is necessary to select the preset is to click on the appropriate selection to the left of the preview window. Click and observe as you move down the options available.

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Here’s a larger view of the results of choosing Sketch color.

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Here’s the results of choosing Wood carving.

A little more complex is making two identical original layers one above the other, and applying Sketch color to one layer and Wood carving to the second. Then these two layers are blended together by using the opacity slider in the upper layer and causing the Wood carving to blend into the Sketch color layer.

Here we have the original image on the left, and BuzSim on the right.

Here we have the original image on the top and the Watercolor effect on the bottom. I find BuzSim, Watercolor, Sketch color, and Wood Carving to be the most interesting effects to me personally. Your mileage will probably vary; play with all of the effects with a varied selection of of images. It will become obvious that certain effects/presets work best on certain general types of images. In general, I have had the best luck with scenics.

A simple sand dune in the original is simplified with the Wood Carving preset again.

A ray of sunlight outlines a set of leaves in an otherwise darkened arbor area followed by the same scene run through the Painting colorful preset

One last example is a photograph of the gondolas in Venice, Italy, followed by the Painting oil preset followed by adding (via a merged layer) the Wood Carving preset.

This is the third of the Topazlabs Applications that I have added to my toolkit and I’m actually looking at a couple more. I have found the approach that Topazlabs uses to be very innovative and a very good value for the money. Having put in a lot of time developing certain looks and effects in Photoshop I find that many of my multi-step processes can be duplicated by choosing a Topazlab application and making a few personalized adjustments. In the long run that saves time—a lot of time—and in this business time equals money. I’m very pleased with the value received for the reasonable cost of each application. Bundles of some of the most used applications can produce significant savings. Check out Topazlabs.com and take a look at the selection; I think you will be pleased.

Categories
Featured Gadgets Photography

Offset mounting bracket for Nikon P90

So I love my new Nikon P90, but I don’t love the fact that the battery and memory card are behind an ill designed battery/card door on the bottom of the camera.  Which has a hinge so close to the mounting point that you cannot open the door to get to your memory card and battery while the P90 is on the tripod.   This fact never bubbled to the surface in researching the new camera before purchase, but I thought, well, I’ll just live with it and download the pics over the usb cable.  However, tearing down the camera to get to the battery mid shoot was really getting on my nerves.

So last night I decided to go on a scavenger hunt through my boxes of harvested components, parts, chunks of material, and found a suitable piece of aluminum. I post this here for you photobugs that have a Nikon P90 or any other camera that has the same problem. It’s easy to do if you have a bit of patience.

Problem: My nifty new Nikon P90 (which I love) has the battery and memory card behind a door I can’t open when the camera is on the tripod (which I don’t love.)

Solution: Machine a bracket to mount the camera about an inch over. I had a chunk of square aluminum with a round cut in the top that I could chuck up in the lathe, drill the center hole on the lathe, and tap it for 1/4×20 threads. I then clamped it into the drill press to cut the two holes for the screw, one for the threaded part, one larger to accept the screw head.

Works great, fits great, but skids a bit when it’s installed.  A quick search for something thin and grippy left me with a small square of rubber shelf paper. This keeps the camera from tilting on the screw axis, as it needed JUST a little more area to find purchase. Shelf paper solves the skidding problem.

I had to find a 1/4 x 20 screw and turn it down on the lathe short enough to fit the bracket and the camera.

About two hours in the garage, and I have something that works. It’s very stable, and allows me to get to my battery and memory card without removing the camera from the tripod, which seems to always happen when I get a shot set up.

Problem solved!

 

 

Categories
Featured Photography Profiles

Analog to Digital Part 2: Interview with Craig Strong, Inventor of the Lensbaby

In the beginning, there was light, and we captured it with film. Next came digital cameras, and then came the Lensbaby. Created by professional photographer Craig Strong, the Lensbaby has had an impact on photographers, and their ideas and images. Craig is a photographer turned inventor… his love for photography started at an early age, and after college he went pro, working as a photojournalist. He also had a steady business shooting weddings and portraits. I recently had a chance to interview Craig for our Digitalapplejuice readers. This is the second part of the interview, read Part 1 of this Interview here….

Britt: Speaking of going down the road and what you’re doing now, what kind of a personal project are you working on currently?

Craig: Well, I’m working on a project that I started in 1995. There’s a couple of wonderful, salt of the earth people that I know, Bert and Colleen Elliot who live down in Trujillo, Peru. They have been there for sixty years serving the people of Peru. I spent about eight or nine days with them in ’95. Right out of college Bert and Coleen got married, got on a boat and went down to Peru, and they’ve been there ever since, doing humanitarian aid, doing Christian work. They’ve started a couple schools, they’ve helped about a hundred or more communities to develop thriving, healthy places for people to live, and communities for people to plug into. Peru has been a war-torn nation for many many years and they’ve been through a lot of that, giving a lot of strength to those people. They are in their late eighties now and I look forward to continuing that project. I hope to going back down and spending some time with them. I’ve got a lot of chromes that I’ve shot of them that I look forward to going back through when I feel like I’ve got what I need and combining it with the digital stuff that I’m shooting now to document their lives. They’re really beautiful people.

Britt: That’s great. On your website there is a phrase that I really like, you talk about “feeding your soul” – is that how you feed your soul?

Craig: Yeah, it is, and it doesn’t happen enough. Being the president of Lensbaby I spend a good portion of my time working on solving problems, and that’s great and to some extent can feed my soul. But certainly it’s close to my heart to be out and documenting the lives of people who I really believe in who they are and what they’re doing. I look forward to more of that.

Britt: I’m just curious, when you’re wandering around the world, what triggers your mind and gives you an idea for a photo? Is there a special place in your brain where you go to get ideas for creative photos or do you have a creative process, or is it all gut instinct?

Craig: I would say that the creative process I have is really clearing my mind. I find that I am most effective, whether it’s at a wedding or doing street photography or on an assignment, when I’m able to be fully introverted, fully in a zen-like state where I am able to observe the world around me and really take it through the filter of who I am and what matters to me. It’s really important to know, critical to answer the question what do I care about, what matters to me? What changes is the the answer to the question how do I see the things that matter to me. If its a connection between a father and son I tend to gravitate to those moments.

There’s so many moments in life to choose from, especially at events and weddings. You walk into a reception and there’s a hundred potential moments that you could be drawn to in that scene and that situation, and so choosing and deciding ‘OK, what part of this am I going to own, what part of this am I going to document, what am I qualified to document?” If I go on a list and try to meet somebody else’s expectations of me I’m going to go in and some of the things are going to resonate with me, but the vast majority aren’t. My process is fairly quiet, where I want to be introverted, I want to be quiet, I want to be still and see what it is that hits me so that then I can really move into that space and document what matters to me.

Photographically, one of the most poignant times for me was in college. I was driving across the country having just left my father at my grandparents house in Colorado. It was an extremely cold winter and I was driving along a canyon and I thought ‘I think there is a reservoir up here, I’ll bet there’s going to be ice fishing, it’s going to be right around sunset and I want to capture the emotion between a father and son that I remember from being with my dad fishing.’ we didn’t go ice fishing but I wanted to recapture the feeling of being in the outdoors and that special time I had with my father as a child. About two hours later I’m driving along the reservoir and, sure enough, there’s people spread out all over the ice with fishing poles. I stopped my 1968 Volkswagen camper, pulled out a tripod, a Canon T-90 and a Tamron 180mm f/2.5 lens – I had to make a quick decision as the light was disappearing so I just grabbed that combo.

The T-90 was loaded with Kodachrome 25, and standing out on the ice toward the edge of those braving the sub-zero temperatures waiting for fish to bite, I zeroed in on a father and son. The mountains and the sunset were behind them, and I was able to document this very tender moment of the boy leaning back against his father as they stood beside their fishing pole in the beautiful evening light. What that really showed me, probably for the first time, was that I am filtering reality. I’m seeing the world around me through my own lens, and taking that realization and using it to my advantage has ensured that, as I go through life, I’m ready when those moments that are most important to me show themselves. Surprisingly with Kodachrome 25 and a 180mm lens at sunset I was able to get the beautifully detailed image with a one-second-long exposure of this tender moment between father and son. The process is a very quiet one for me.

Britt: I love that answer. Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our DigitalAppleJuice readers. Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Craig: I would just like to reiterate that I look for new ideas in my frustration. When I’m faced with problems, that’s where I find the best ideas come to me. As unpleasant as it is to experience, for me I’ve found that frustration is essential. As the father of three young children I see them lose their wallets and they’ll just get really upset, or they’ll drop their camera and it’s not working anymore… I just want to take them and say ‘Yeah, but this means you won’t lose your wallet when it’s really got a lot of money in it, in ten, fifteen, twenty or thirty years. And this means you’re learning from this experience.’ I think there’s so many times in life when we just focus on that frustration. I know I have. Really learning for me is to say ‘Oh, I’m frustrated here, what can I learn from this?’ And how can I solve a problem being on the inventing side has really come out of that frustration. Cherishing, acknowledging and nurturing frustration has been key to discovering who I am and what it is that I want to do, to be and how I can best contribute to the world I live in.

Britt: Sounds like you have some very lucky kids. So at the end of the day, do you work on a Mac or a PC?

Craig: I work on a Mac. I don’t care to be that frustrated.

Categories
Art Commentary Featured Photography Profiles

Profile: Bill Baker, Photographer

I am Here- An Austin Photographic Retrospective

This summer Austin features one of its own in a solo photographic exhibit of the current body of work of Bill Baker.  The Smokin from Shootin Studio emerged onto the SoCo scene within the past year and represents an iconic series of progressive Austin images in digital.

From classic urban architecture and figurative study to natural scenery, Bill Baker’s work represents a world where futuristic hope springs out of the wreckage of industrialized technology.  Described as “a way out” and “a train to everywhere” these images stand as portraits of the future eternal in a time when doubt reigns as the zeitgeist of the day. 

It would be difficult for me to report objectively about this newly minted progressive archetype of an artist without coming clean:  he’s my brother.  But in my defense I feel that I stand not only as his biggest fan but probably his biggest critic.  We are hard on each other for a reason.  Caring always requires that.

Bill Baker is a force. Not just your ordinary man about town with a mission but a forward thinking rattler.  He touches base with the people, artists of every type, and he understands at a very basic level what drives current expression in one of the most progressive cities on the planet.    His images portray every inch of that.

Since the very time of our upbringing in a home filled with artifacts of human creativity, art absolutely everywhere, he embodied a way of seeing things for what they were and not getting caught up in social protocol of how they should be.  He calls it straight.  If it was a lemon, he’ll label it a lemon.  If it was a priceless paramount in time and space, you’ll hear it.  His body language will shoot straight out and there will be this wince that comes out of his left eye.  You get the feeling when you see an image he has created that it is part of a piece of truth.

As an artist, Bill Baker is sincere – painfully so.  Progressive culture needed of shot of Bill in the arm.  We need someone with pointed vision to steer us clear of the fungus and the glam.

Here comes my own honesty…

One day, I received a call from Bill and it went something like this, “You know, Beck.  I’m ready to shoot.  What do I need?”  Threw me back against a couch! Wait, wait, wait a minute Bill.  I OWN that.  It’s MY sport. You don’t just change family labeling at the slightest little whim.  There’s a pecking order here!  I’m the artist.

I’m the one- for years slid off her clothes at the slightest adrenaline thought in front of my Nikon F and a timed shutter.  I printed those silver halide images by hand under my stairwell using the kitchen sink with fixer.  I’m the one who dragged that Hasselblad 500C handheld through Southern Mexico for three months and threw up an exhibition in a law office by hanging wire from the ceiling rafters.  I’m the one who searched mountaineering supplies like a rabid cat for a watertight bag so that I could throw my Nikon D200 in a kayak and capture abstract water and light reflections at dusk!  I was a little bit put off!

It’s funny how time skews all things into familiarity.  Bill grew persistent and manic about his practice of photography, technical even. 

Within one year he carried around at any given time the Canon G10, Holga toy camera, Canon RXT converted to infrared, Canon RXS, my old Hasselblad 500c (with a digital back in negotiation) and one of the Fuji instant cameras, all digital.  There was no stopping him.

In his own words, which are golden, he states:

“The G10 is what I carry every day now.  It’s the best. I have the Hasselblad but have achieved nothing out of that soul…yet.  It will become part of my workflow soon and likely, once I have the digital back it will be everything and all of what I carry on a daily basis.

I poked a hole in a body cap and put it on my best camera and walked around for a week taking digital pinhole images.  I dream of having a Holga lens fitted to my Hasselblad with a digital back.  How cool would that be…  I love the experimental relationship that I have with my cameras.  I am constantly trying to incorporate the soul of film into my digital work.  There’s a film hole there that I am trying to fill without actually loading film.  But truthfully I need the immediacy of the digital format. If I could put a digital back on a Brownie, I would.  Having the opportunity to put a digital back on my Hasselblad would be priceless. 

I use Adobe Lightroom for post-processing but have not yet used Photoshop.  I haven’t found a need for Photoshop in my workflow because it would tempt me to make more changes to my images than I think I should.  I want to stay as pure as I can.  I missed the whole film thing but have so much respect for it that I want my images to be as real as possible.  But real is relative when you’re talking about photography.  You have to manipulate the image just enough to convey the moment or the feeling without running astray of reality.  But sometimes I run amok and it feels good.

I know what my sister is trying to tell me.  I dare you.

When I think back now the days of photographic passion and intrigue that revolved around the silver halide of my youth, it brings me a sly grin.  I remember thinking that it would be impossible for me to share this with anyone that would truly understand, not really. 

I realize now that he was there all along.  We share it and it exists between us.

Bill’s work can be seen at http://www.smokinfromshootin.com

 

Categories
Featured Photography Profiles

Analog to Digital: Exclusive Interview with Photographer Craig Strong, Inventor of the Lensbaby

In the beginning, there was light, and we captured it with film. Next came digital cameras, and then came the Lensbaby. Created by professional photographer Craig Strong, the Lensbaby has had an impact on photographers, and their ideas and images. Craig is a photographer turned inventor… his love for photography started at an early age, and after college he went pro, working as a photojournalist. He also had a steady business shooting weddings and portraits. I recently had a chance to interview Craig for our digitalapplejuice readers. Here is the first installment of two…

Britt: Photography is always evolving… today, we’re dealing with a lot of digital natives. Our kids in high school now probably never shot film. It’s interesting to me to see what kind of changes there are in an analog photographers move to digital, such as you and I have done. How do you think that is going to affect the photographers that never shot film? Do you think that will have any impact on them in the future?

Craig: Instant feedback brings with it excitement for photography. Shooting digitally is similar to us getting our images developed at the one hour lab (although I don’t think there were one hour labs when I was in ninth grade). I was taking my 35mm print film to the lab and they were doing their magic. They would take this piece of exposed film and turn it into prints and negatives. It wasn’t until college, and I started learning from people who were serious into photography, and especially newspaper photographers, it was a lot cheaper to roll your own film and develop it and print it than it was to send it out, and a lot quicker for a newspaper. It was a natural progression for me to get intimately involved in the process of photography through working in the darkroom.

The process of photography is changing to where a print comes off an inkjet printer if you’re doing it in-house or you upload the file and it comes off of a printer that prints it optically with a laser. That’s obviously very different from what you and I experienced, but the end result is potentially the exact same. I don’t think there’s a huge difference. What may happen, and I can see it to some extent with the Lensbaby, is that people are getting much more interested in the process. In the same way that my journey led me to the darkroom and staying up until 3:00 in the morning making prints, as they become more serious many photographers are spending time learning and influencing the process that had previously been out of their control. It’s bringing people to say, ‘Well, that’s great if I can do this or that in Photoshop, but how else can I do this?’

Photographers are exploring how it used to be done, what really made prints look so organic, and in answer to these questions, many of them are going back to film. They start with their 18-70 zoom and their digital SLR that they are making great photographs with. As they become more excited about it image makers are more interested in the process, whether that’s the hands-on of using a Lensbaby to control things like selective focus in ways we never could before, getting a Holga and shooting on film or actually going into a darkroom and printing. It’s a different progression. It is similar to the process we went through to learn photography but today photographers can learn the art of making great images much more quickly. They can become excellent photographers by discovering much of their photographic vision long before they need to learn the process.

Britt: I find this an interesting idea, that as a visual artist you don’t necessarily have to breathe fixer fumes to achieve a good print these days. It is an interesting concept to me thinking about the process of photography and thinking about how I do things now versus how I did things twenty years ago. In your previous statement you mentioned the Lensbaby; what made you become an inventor and create something cool like the Lensbaby?

Craig: That’s a great question. I never really saw myself doing what I’m doing now. There wasn’t a big plan for me to go off into a business other than photography. I was doing well and very happy with what I was doing as a professional photographer. Eventually, though, frustration was what made me an inventor. My most useful homemade gadget when I was shooting film was the flash diffuser I couldn’t buy that I made out of a Tupperware lid. Once that worked so well I went to Goodwill and bought every Tupperware lid I could find so I could make a better one and have a bunch of them laying around (because I would lose them all the time). The first Lensbaby came about because I liked the look of selective focus lenses but I wanted something to experiment with that didn’t cost me $1,200 for a Canon tilt/shift lens. I just wanted to make some crazy images and I have a lot more fun with things that don’t cost me so much I have to worry about them. The very first Lensbaby prototype started as an 50-year-old Speed Graphic camera that my sister bought and gave me for my birthday in the early nineties. I removed the lens from the Speed Graphic, mounted it to a short piece of shop vac (vacuum) hose, cut a hole in a body cap that the tubing snapped into and started shooting all sorts of stuff with it. I took it to weddings and photographed the wildest images I had ever created, my clients loved the photographs. It was just something to play with at the time, not anything that I considered a business, especially not to the extent that Lensbaby has become.

Britt: So now that you’re several years into making Lensbaby’s and on the second major revision (of the commercial version) and expanded the line quite a bit… what do you think about what Lensbaby’s are doing to the look of photography that you’re seeing?

Craig: The fact that people want to buy this lens seems feasible, but the enthusiasm that users have for their Lensbaby’s is far beyond my expectations. And the application that they are making of this lens to just about any subject matter really blows my mind. Honestly I’m much more impressed with the photographers who’ve found such impressive and unique ways to use this funky tool than I am with the Lensbaby itself. I’m really excited about people trying new things. The willingness to try new things, coupled with frustration, has changed my career, changed the way I look at life. I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen. I think it is inherent in the fact that so many photographers, like you said, a lot of them, even many of the professionals, have never shot film. Everything they’ve done in photography has been brand new for them in the last several years. Lensbaby lenses are just one more aspect of that. Photographs that people have created with Lensbaby lenses just blow me away time and again. Much of my amazement with these images has been because they are far beyond anything I would have imagined using the Lensbaby for.

We came out with the Pinhole/Zone Plate optic for the Optic Swap System and it replaces your glass (the Composer comes with the double glass) and you just swap it out for the Pinhole/Zone Plate cup. The Zone Plate was a last minute addition to our system. Shawn Linehan whom we work with and does fantastic graphic design suggested the zone plate as one of the options for the optic swap system and I looked into it. I had no idea what it was. The zone plate is by far my favorite Lensbaby optic now. I’m seeing completely differently than I ever did because this is a new tool that interprets light and subject matter and detail and, well, everything in a way I never could have imagined. I’m putting this on my camera and I’m seeing things, I’m looking at the world saying, ‘here’s an image that I never would have seen before’ because of this tool that I’ve got on my camera.

Someone picking up a Lensbaby for the first time often experiences a ‘Wow!’ moment when they realize that they can create images of completely different subject matters than they’ve photographed before. It’s important to find a way to apply new tools to the subject matter you’ve always photographed. In addition, photographers can broaden their horizons with the kind of pictures and the kind of subject matter they choose with these new tools, be it fisheye lenses, Lensbaby lenses, tilt/shift lenses or Holgas. Each one of these non-traditional tools has a resonance, a spot where they really fit into someone’s style and the way they see the world. I’m excited to see people trying something new and finding that place where it resonates with their personal vision.

Britt: When digital started coming into the photography scene, I thought it would be a long time before digital eclipsed film and analog style photography. Every few months it seems we see a new digital SLR with more features and more megapixels. Where do you see digital photography and photography in general going over the next ten years?

Craig: It’s funny you say that, because about two weeks before I ordered my first digital SLR someone came up to me at a wedding and asked ‘So, do you have a digital camera? I said ‘Nah, that doesn’t really apply to what I do, (I knew there were professional cameras out there but they cost $15,000 or $20,000 dollars for the SLR’s), maybe I’ll get one in 10 or 15 years.’ at that point film was really required for the kind of photography I made my money with. Two weeks later I had just found DPReview out of the blue, I think I actually did a search because I heard someone saying ‘Canon’s coming out with this digital SLR’ for $3,000 or $2,000 I don’t even remember what it was, but it was the D30 that can print film-quality 11×14’s. And I went ‘What? That’s not possible.’ And so I went looking and I think I was the second person on the list at Pro Photo Supply (www.prophotosupply.com) here in Portland. I picked up that Canon D30 the day the first shipment arrived; it changed my career, it changed my photography.

And obviously the Lensbaby came out of that because I wouldn’t have done all of the necessary experimentation to come up with the Lensbaby had I been shooting exclusively with a film SLR. I had not experimented much with photographic techniques since I was in college. I had a developed very comfortable vision, something that I was comfortable with, of what photography was, how I used it, what my role as a documentary photographer was, and I didn’t really see a need to try a whole lot of new things. I had my three prime lenses and a couple of zooms and that’s what I needed, just as long as my camera bodies worked. Once I got the D30 I immediately started trying new things, and my vision started to change, and as far as my personal artistic vision (and I’m getting older so my vision changes anyhow), but the excitement for photography came back and I felt like I was in college again where I was trying something new and trying to get my mind around paradigms that I’d never understood before.

I’m rambling here, but I’d have to say based on having told someone that digital photography wasn’t for me and then two weeks later ordering my first dSLR I am looking forward to being surprised by the future of photography in this digital era. Things are changing so much… you look at that D30 and in two weeks my paradigm shifted from being ten to fifteen years before I get a digital camera to two weeks later putting one on order. There are a lot more of those kind of innovations and changes to come in this industry, thats the world we live in right now. Things are changing. Paradigms are shifting, there’s a lot of technology that hasn’t been fully utilized that’s maybe just in the mind of the inventory right now that I think is really going to dramatically affect photography. It’s going to affect how we see the world, and it’s going to affect the images we create. I can’t really guess; I’ve got some things in my engineering notebook but I wouldn’t say those are going to categorically change anything.

I am excited about the stuff that is out there that will be changing how I see the world, the tools that I have in my hands. On the other hand, I know that I have a digital SLR in the (Nikon) D300 that’s able to keep me happy as a clam with more than enough features for me to play with and to figure out, for the rest of my life. With what I’ve done thus far I’ve decided that I have a camera which is all I need. I’m sure that when the D800 or whatever comes out with the full-frame (sensor) and the HD video, and hopefully it’ll have some other features, because I don’t think the HD video is something I have the time to work with right now, but there will still be something that entices me to do an upgrade. But at the same time, I am still photographer, I have the tool I need that potentially I could create and continue to grow with for the rest of my life. There’s a real dichotomy there too, ‘cause while I have everything I need, I know there’s going to be something else that’s going to bring me along, and get me excited down the road, and I have no idea what that is.

Read Pt 2: Analog to Digital: Interview with Craig Strong, Inventor of the Lensbaby here…