Getting Pretty Sad Out There

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I have to honestly say that it’s getting pretty sad out there in the world of photography. It seems anymore the moment a person gets a DSLR, discovers depth of field and picks up some software with wicked cool effects they’re suddenly a photographer, a PROFESSIONAL photographer. Even worse the next move they make is opening a photography business because you know, now that they have this artistic ability might as well cash in on in right?

Now the so-called business has to have a name. Nothing original or artistic, just simple and unimaginative. Always the same format it goes as such, *insert name* and then add the word “Photography” at the end. Make sure people know what you’re all about because photography is your business.

I could go on but it’s sad really. I see so many of these things popping up and it’s all about the money and I feel bad. I feel bad for the world of photography and I feel bad for the poor saps who are conned into paying many of these people good money for less than stellar work.

I’d like to see more people get to shooting just because. No real reason, it’s just something they enjoy doing. I’d like to see more simple shots where more thought was put into it than time sitting in front a computer working on post. I’d like to see just pure imagery created and not made because money was its driving force.

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Print Calibrations

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So at some time or another one will want to print their photographs and for many a simple print from most anywhere will do. Heck even my wife has had a few of my photographs made into a print from a family event and sent them out to others for their scrap books. Printed from Walmart they came out fine and if I had to be perfectly honest better than expected but if I want the best print I can get I go with another more professional printing service. I don’t care who you choose to make your prints there will be an issue of what you see on your screen and what you see from the physical item.

Now printing is important because you want others to see what you see and while technology helps us share more of our work more easily a print lets others see it the way it was meant to be seen. I say this because everything that displays a digital image will always show whats on its screen in a different light, literally. No two computer monitors, phones, tables, television sets and more are ever set the same. People will either use it however it came from the factory or make adjustments to how they feel it should be especially with TV sets having modes for movies, video games and more built into them. With a print on the other hand you can show off your image the way you feel it is at its best and as an artist that is part of what we strive to do. While things can be left to interpretations we want our viewers to see the colors, highlights and shadows the way we see them. It’s not always possible what with some people being colorblind of which I am not making a joke, I know a few colorblind people and others whose vision over all is not the best. Still, we want to show our work the way we see it as best as possible. We can’t control how others see it on their digital end, at least not within the realms of full control but we can regulate how they see it face to face and this is how I accomplish that task.

The first thing I do is set aside a small collection of photos. In my case I have ten of these and they range from colorful and vibrant to a bit bland. From simple black and whites with good toning to high contrast with pure whites and the blackest blacks. Of these ten images two are set aside for charts with one being a gradient chart in black and white and the other in color. All of these combine so that I can make adjustments to my display so that I know when I send out images to be printed they will look the same when physically in my hands as they do on my monitor. It’s really that simple for me. I use good lighting to make sure they are shown as they should be and spend the time to get everything looking the same. Every so often I check back with them making sure everything is still good and periodically I get them reprinted to make sure that my print company of choice hasn’t changed anything on their end that might skew the end results from a printing run.

So that’s it! Its low tech but for me it works and helps keep my monitor in check as well as my printing service. Sure, one doesn’t have to go this far as many places make fine prints without getting complicated but I think if you want to keep the integrity of what you are trying to express then it’s worth doing a little work to make sure that artistic vision is given the best opportunity to shine.

Also, if you want to know who I use for my prints, it’s Meridian Professional Imaging. No promo here as I’m not getting paid or any kickbacks, I just simply enjoy the service and product I get. Go with whoever you like, it doesn’t matter to me personally. Just make sure you get your monitor and prints to match so you can better show yourself off.

And as for printing at home, that’s nice and all but unless you have some serious money for some serious equipment it will never match what a professional printer can do for you.

My Camera Settings

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We all ask it at some point in time of others, what are your camera settings? We love to ask this question especially when we see another shooting on the same camera. With that said I thought I’d talk a bit about my setup.

Now most of my cameras are film cameras with not much in the area adjustment. Some just shoot and others I can change the shutter speed but that’s it. The only two cameras I can make any real adjustments to are my Sony SLT A33 and my Minolta Maxxum 600si. The only thing these two cameras have in common is that I shoot in aperture priority mode. The 600si is a film camera and that is the only thing I do to it is set the mode but nothing more. The Sony digital camera though has a little more to it.

With my digital camera I have a way in which I like it setup mostly because of how I like seeing things. Again, I shoot in aperture priority mode but will also switch over to “Continuous Advance Priority” at times when I need to take a burst of photos for something fast going on. I don’t do this often because I don’t shoot many fast things but sometimes with children or animals its best to be able to capture what you can. Also, I shoot manual too when I need even more control.

The rest of the settings are nothing special as I shoot RAW and with the creative style of black and white. Personally I don’t use RAW files in the way that most others do. I try and keep my work not touched too much by post processing but what I do enjoy about RAW is that I can get a color along with a black and white photo. See I prefer black and white so I enjoy shooting in that creative style as set by the camera so if I need to look over what I have shot I can get an idea of how it’s looking but with RAW I can import the images into my computer and see a color version of my shot and sometimes the end result is that I like the color more than the black and white. That is how I utilize my RAW files.

I don’t change the metering or anything else.

My autofocus point for when I do use it is at the center so all I do is let it focus on what I want and then with it locked I frame my shot. I’ve gotten pretty fast at this and with the right lens, such as the Minolta 50mm f1.7, the equipment moves right along with me in speed. When it comes to focusing, auto or manual I’m about 50/50 so I go back and forth often.

That’s about it really. I don’t get too fancy or technical.

Is It Still Photography?

I was recently asked by a person how they could take pictures like Holly Spring and I started off with saying how this sort of thing opens up a can of worms in my mind when it comes the art and world of photography, at least in the purest sense for me.

If you aren’t aware of Holly Spring and her work it’s really worth looking into. She has done some great stuff with a series involving daughter that is quite amazing. It’s imaginative and inspiring. Wondrous and full of dreams. The link to her Facebook page is below and I do recommend taking a look.

https://www.facebook.com/HSpringPhotography

Now while I do enjoy and admire her work I have to also say that in my mind I cannot see it as a pure photograph. I can see it as a graphic manipulation because of how much was done in post to create this world that without the manipulation never existed. It makes me sad when people think of it as just a photograph because it’s a photograph sure but with a world digitaly created and/or heavily manipulated to obtain a vision the artist has in mind.

So then I wonder where is the line between photograph and graphic design? Are there steps or levels to this process? I mean Ansel Adams created amazing photographs with nowhere near the technology of today and used chemicals and tricks to change a photo to bring out highlights or boost contrast. There are also well known images where they were changed to add or remove people, add clouds, change frowns to smiles and more. Sometimes for good, other times for evil, these were done and changed the image to reflect an idea. How much change needs to be made before it is no longer a photograph but a mixture of mediums to create a work of art?

I cannot personally answer this question as all I can say is that for me I feel more comfortable calling what I do photography if I make as few changes as I can to obtain my vision. The photograph below is a good example. With only my camera, a small LED light panel and an old piece of black cloth I took this photo of a peach purchased from a local farm. It was then brought into Photoshop where upon opening Brightness/Contrast I boosted the contrast by a factor of 50 and lowered the brightness down to 25. Does that take away from this being photography? Obviously there is manipulation but is it still photography without crossing the line to being more of a digital graphic art? In my mind no but as for Holly Springs work, while amazing I feel it to be more of a combination piece blending photography and graphic design for a look into an amazing world and not strictly photography.

I guess my only point here is to say that while I love what technology has brought us I dislike how it appears to have changed what is a photograph in this world, just a pure photograph and nothing more.

Peach