Trends in Photography

Hi Folks:

I originally posted the following as a comment to an article written by Neal Rantoul, titled, “A Disturbing Trend“. It’s probably best to read the article first… I’ll wait.

Welcome back!

Here’s my comment:

An interesting read for photographers (and others). For the most part I agree with him. I am a poet, a writer, and a photographer and as such most of my images tell stories. However, I don’t pretend to insist that any photograph tells only one story. Each viewer connects the image to his/her own perceptions and memories and together they create their own stories, their own relationships. If I have to explain it, then I’ve failed.

Having said that, there’s still an overarching idea that photography must be representational. Computers allow us to create images that were impossible in an analog world. I remember Robert Bateman saying (of one of his abstract works), “It’s a painting. It’s not a painting of anything. It’s a painting.” Digital images allow us to create works that are abstract or non-representational as well.

I think we need to loosen our hold on definitions like photograph, image, digital art… For example, if I make 40 images at +1/0/-1 EV and combine those 120 images into an HDR panorama then push it around a bit in post-processing (like the image below) – is it still a photograph?DSCF24996-PAP_HDR_2-blend

Two photographers whose work I admire are John Paul Caponigro and Stephen Johnson. Elizabeth Carmel is another. They all do landscape photography, and yet their styles are all very different. Each is using similar tools, yet they’re wielding them in their own ways. Photography begins with vision.

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!


The Role of Libraries in the 21st Century

Hi Folks:

When we were young, getting one’s own library card was both a big adventure and a big responsibility. We (okay, mostly Mike) have what some would call an unhealthy attachment to books to this day. But in this day of smart phones, tablets and streaming video, some question the continuing relevance of libraries. We beg to differ, and this post is, in essence, a letter of appreciation to libraries.

We each have two library cards right now. One is a Community card for the libraries at the University of Victoria. It’s free to everyone, and although we haven’t used them a lot, they do give us access to books and things at the university libraries. As both of us have spent countless hours researching/writing in such libraries, these do bring back memories!

The other cards we have are with the Greater Victoria Public Library system. These we use a lot, and we’re continually surprised that more people don’t avail themselves of the many services offered by the Victoria libraries. A partial list includes:

  • Books. That one’s a given. It is a library, after all. This includes inter-library loans from other branches, and includes both books of fiction across any number of genres and reference books/ periodicals. Need to see a Chilton wiring manual for your 1979 Datsun 280ZX? They have one. 🙂
  • Newspapers and magazines. A variety of daily, weekly, monthly… publications.
  • CDs/DVDs/Audiobooks. Movies, documentaries, music and much more.

Not so in love with tangible stuff anymore? (this is the 21st century) Okay, how about:

  • Zinio. Free access to over 440 digital magazines.
  • indieflix. Free access to thousands of shorts, indie films, features and documentaries from over 50 countries.
  • Hoopla. Movie/TV/E-book downloads and more – 12 downloads/month.
  • Mango Languages. Close to 50 courses in 23 different languages.
  • E-Books. Thousands of titles accessible via either OverDrive or 3M Cloud Library.

That doesn’t include ongoing events like seminars, lecture series, storytime, baby time, computer training courses… the list goes on and on. If you’d like to celebrate local authors there’s also the library’s 2015 Emerging Local Authors Collection: 172 titles independently published by more than 150 Victoria residents between 2010 and 2014 (including Marcia’s book – see the top right of this page). Submissions for the next year’s event close January 15, 2016. See Emerging Local Authors for more information on the 2015 submissions and guidelines for submitting to the 2016 event.

Doesn’t that sound like a magical place to be?


The Digital Divide

Hi Folks:

It’s been a while since I wrote a long, rambling blog post, so it’s probably time for another one. If you don’t have time to read it all you may wish to skip directly to the P.S. at the bottom… 🙂

This post was inspired by two posts that I came across on the same day, and as thoughts are wont to do (at least for me), once planted they began to send out roots in various directions and attracted others, and so on, and so on… The first post I read is titled, “Restaurant Watches Old Footage Of Customers And Uncovers A Shocking Truth“. Essentially the restaurant was looking for ways to circumvent or overcome customer complaints of ‘slow service’. What they discovered (as hinted by the title) was a surprise to everyone. The second post (at least in the order I encountered them) is titled, “The Digital Divide“. I took the liberty of borrowing their title for this post; it fits well. This second post is about Waldorf schools, and a question that plagues not just them but educators all over – should we keep our children from technology? That question is the essence of this post. Continue Reading →

Essentials of Digital Photography

Hi Folks:

A little while back I was asked to give a talk to our local Photography Meetup Group on Lightroom, and so before the talk I asked people to submit questions.  My thought was that I could just stand up there for an hour or so and answer questions from people.  However, the only question I was asked (by several people) was, “What is Lightroom and why would I want to use it, anyway?”  So much for that idea…  Since it seemed I was going to have to create an actual presentation, my next thought was that before I could talk about Lightroom I needed to cover some of the basics of digital photography just so everyone was in the same place.  I created the presentation using PowerPoint, and today I created what amounts to a video version of that presentation.  Clicking on the image below will take you to the video.  It’s about 1/2 hour long, but if you’re a photographer I trust you’ll gain something from it.  This post is complementary to but different from our ‘Photography and Colour Management‘ post.


Essentials of Digital Photography

Essentials of Digital Photography


P.S. There’s some debate about the truth of ‘ETTR’ or Expose to the Right in digital photography. On one side we have people like George Jardine, Michael Reichmann (Optimize Exposure) and Bob DiNatale (The Optimum Digital Exposure) and on the other side is Michael L. Baird (Histogram Myth explicated). These people know much more than I do, so I’ll leave you to decide. For me, I expose as much to the right as possible, without clipping the highlights and work out the rest in Lightroom. Michael Reichmann’s first ETTR post was written in 2003, and camera technology has changed a lot since then. Whereas with film we could get maybe 5 or stops of dynamic range, with some digital cameras we now get 12-15 stops. This also begs questions surrounding the need for HDR, but that’s another issue.

P.S. II, the sequel You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.

Film: A Leap of Faith

Hi Folks:

Just a quick thought, appropos of nothing really, but I invested a good portion of the day sorting through thousands of old 35mm slides… I started photography seriously when I was about 15, and started shooting digital back in 2005 (a few years later).  I still shoot both film and digital and won’t come out in favour of one over the other, but in looking at those images from decades ago it occurred to me that shooting film always involved a leap of faith.  There was no live view, no instant review on the camera’s LCD, no histograms.  As a photographer one took one’s accumulated knowledge and experience, working knowledge of the camera and film in use and made an exposure or series of exposures based on a ‘best estimate’ – but it was often days or weeks before the results could be viewed. By then the moment had indeed passed and could never be brought back again. In shooting slide film the image ‘in hand’ was the finished product, which put great onus on ‘getting it right in camera’.

I fully appreciate the latitude and the options digital processing offers, but to me there was always a certain mystery involved in shooting film.  I don’t think I’ll ever lose that feeling.

Now go out and make some photographs!



Swift Current Creek, SK, 1982 (Kodachrome 25)

S.O.O.C. (straight out of camera)

Hi Folks:

This is a short (for me) and somewhat tongue-in-cheek rant because I always find it amusing when I see people post images they’ve made on the various social networking sites, along with comments that say, “No Lightroom!  No Aperture!  No Photoshop!  No iPhoto! No _____!” as if it’s a badge of honour they THEY do not stoop to post-processing their images.  I find it funny because it’s also completely false.

“The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth” ~ Richard Avedon

Continue Reading →

Lightroom’s Crop Tool: Aspect Ratio and Image Size

Hi Folks:

I recently answered a question for someone on Twitter about using the Crop Tool in Lightroom so I thought I’d embellish that a little bit and post it here as well…

There are two related issues here, so let’s forget about computers for a moment and deal with paper. If you have a sheet of paper that 1″x1″, that’s a specific size. A sheet of paper that’s 4″x4″ is also a specific size, but they both have the same aspect ratio (1:1). Similarly, a sheet that’s 4″x5″ and a sheet that’s 8″x10″ have the same aspect ratio but obviously one is four times the size of the other. Now, if you have a print that’s 8″x12″ and you cut two inches off the long edge to create an 8×10 you’ve both created a specific size and cropped it to a specific aspect ratio. Continue Reading →

How to Buy a New Camera

Hi Folks:

The first 35mm film camera I ever used was my dad’s Argus A5; it had four shutter speeds, five f/stops and ‘guess the distance’ focusing.  No lightmeter, of course.  It taught me a lot about photography.  Back then I couldn’t always afford film, but I’d take that camera out in the woods and make compositions through the viewfinder, measure the light with the little handheld lightmeter and calculate exposures.  My first SLR camera was an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F; a definite step up in photographic terms, and a great little camera, even though I eventually jumped ship and went with Minolta instead.  Continue Reading →

My Lightroom Workflow

Hi Folks:

There are a number of different tutorials and videos available regarding Lightroom workflow; I’ve learned from several of them and have incorporated them into my own way of doing things.  You can find some of these tutorials through our ‘Lightroom Links‘ post.  Many people seem to ‘focus’ (pun intended) on Lightroom’s ability to render RAW files into usable digital images, but of course it does much more than that.  At its heart, Lightroom is a database, a way of cataloguing and organizing one’s digital library.  Used well, Lightroom makes it easy to discover, sort and group one’s images in a meaningful way.  You can read more on that in our ‘Should I Get Lightroom or Photoshop or…?‘ post.

Before I begin discussing my workflow, I wanted to mention a few personal preferences: Continue Reading →

Cell Phone Cameras

Hi Folks:

One of the gifts Mrs. Claus gave me for Christmas was a Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant GT-i9000M Android-enabled cell phone.  The name is actually longer than the phone itself; I’m not sure who comes up with this stuff!  The GPS feature combined with Google Maps makes navigating the sleigh a lot simpler, but that’s another story.  The phone also has a 5MP digital camera, and that’s the topic for today’s blog post.  BTW, I checked the Apple Canada site and the iPhone 4 also has a 5MP camera, so I’m assuming they’re in the same ball park as far as comparisons go.

The reasons for this post are two-fold.  For one, up until now I’ve never really had the chance to experience making photographs with a cell phone camera.  For the second, there have been a couple of posts on Mike Johnston’s ‘The Online Photographer‘ blog recently that say that the sales of ‘point and shoot’ cameras have been steadily falling.  His suggestion is that point and shoot cameras are single-use devices while cell phones with cameras are multifunctional… so more people are simply using their cell phone cameras rather than purchasing a separate camera as well. Continue Reading →