January 2007 Archives

A Year Ago...

Back at work and too busy to talk

| OO | OO | OO

morning light...

... can it make everything beautiful.

this not toast

Skitch

Skitch

I'm beta testing this application Skitch, very nice indeed, simple intuitive, easy to work out, certainly not a high end graphics application, but more than suitable for most folks. Thanks to Atariboy for the invitation to test.

Useful for quick screen grabs or sketches that you need to e-mail, or use online somewhere. I guess given that I'm back at work as of tomorrow, this will come in handy in classes for sure and for working with peers.

It has the expected suite of tools for painting and drawing, a text tool and eraser tool, a small colour palette and the ability to capture a screen or a series of screens. They can then be either posted online, e-mailed or dragged and dropped in a variety of file formats. Archiving is a neat feature as well, I'm going to explore that further over the coming weeks, to see how I can better use this. Simple and useful tool for sure, especially when tied in with iView Media Pro and VoodooPad Pro.

On the exhibition front,things are all on track, just saving up for the huge hole about to be made in the credit cards when I get the images printed.

The second batch of A3 proofs looks pretty good. The profile I used was ok, out of the box, I haven't tested it exclusively yet, I'll maybe do some more testing over the coming weeks. I also think I need to consider different paper stocks, I used 5 year old paper made by Epson, and I know that the, variety and choices of paper stocks out there is mind boggling. Someone once told me that digital would see the re-introduction of choices only heard of in photography before WWII, when trade secrets started locking away all sorts of formulas and ideas. One can only hope, because I have to admit, the idea of making these prints though a service bureau is not filling me with joy, if I was to print them myself, either as analogue or digital prints I would feel far more comfortable about where they are heading, in terms of cost and final appearance.

Finally blogger is playing up this morning, so I have yet to upload my mobile phone shot for the day, one more go later, if no good this will make the 2nd day I've missed.

A New Search Engine Is in Town

Search Engine

Snap.com is a new browser on the market with a unique approach to searching, very visual and reasonably fast, so-so results on my chosen search terms so far, might report back in a week or two with some user tested results.

I get the impression that their 'bot' is still indexing and if this is the case maybe they'll need to hurry on up and get a move on.

On a side note you can add a neat little bit of javascript to any site that allows snap.com to search images from that page. I took a screen-grab from my website as my mobile phone blog is yet to produce any results.


Snap.com in Action II

Serendipity

--- _ _-_ ___ -

Or is it?

This set came from nowhere as I stared at my flickr page this morning.

As Promised

first prints

First Print

So yesterday I finally got to print a print on our Epson 2100 printer at PIC. Close very close, some work required, and the profile from, Roy Harrington, is very good straight out of the box.

Pictures to come, seeing as a certain someone has misplaced a certain cable!

The Antithesis Of Phone Cameras

Thanks to Joerg over at Conscientious here's a little movie on the very influential photographer Stephen Shore, and one of my favourite photographers.

His large format colour work of the 70's helped make colour an accepted art form. The type of camera he uses, and 8 x 10 inch, using colour neg/C41, and the approach is at the other end of the scale to the way a phone camera user would work.

More Thoughts On Phone Cameras?

It seems I'm not the only one musing on the implications of phone cameras.

Impromptu Spontaneous Photographers?

I guess if I really thought about it, photographers like Garry Winogrand [his wikipedia entry] and Robert Frank, have helped the cause of the snapshot Aesthetic, I wonder though what Mr Winogrand would have thought of mobile phone cameras, as for Robert Frank, I'd like to ask him personally about his thoughts on the matter?

Phone Cameras?

first publication

So yesterday I posed a question about Phone Cameras and thanks to all who responded. I've got to confess it's was a slightly loaded question, as I said I am thinking about putting together a short course/workshop in Phone Camera use and this is all heading somewhere.

Personally when I am trying to share some knowledge about anything I often try and list a series of pros and cons about what it is I'm try trying to share. And sure enough there has been some additions to the list by my readers.

While Phone Camera's up until recently had such poor levels of resolution, and small storage capacities, the whole idea of doing anything other than sending the photo to another phone user or posting on the web or e-mailing these images, were incomprehensible to phone users. Now with increased resolutions and phone storage capacities their uses are able to be extended, with some provisos.[Avant-garde image makers think differently I believe.]

Remember these are the modern equivalent of the 126 and 110 cameras of the 70's the latest incarnation in the idea that George Eastman brought to the Western world way back in the 1900's. Many many family histories have been recorded using these small cameras, not so many serious bodies of work though?. I am at a loss at the moment to remember anyone who has used a 126 or equivalent to produce a serious body of work however, and I don't consider Lartigue a candidate here as cameras were still in the realm of the wealthy middle and upper classes of the time.

Has anything changed since then that would allow people to make and record their lives differently? Well computers and the internet have impacted dramatically, the way folks capture and share images, these cameras are more than perfect for recording family histories, and small and easy enough to share almost immediately. With most people's expectations of these images are along the lines of, can I see what is important, faces scenery etc, these cameras then serve this function well under the right conditions, outdoors in bright sun for example. They are then able to say to themselves, "I'll send it or have it printed for my Mum/Aunty/Friend".

Such is the proliferation of these small cameras, that no longer do you even need a computer for this, most photo labs, in Melbourne anyway, have the ability to accept all sizes and shapes of memory cards to enable printing from any cameras including phone cameras or accept bluetooth transfers. So already we have the ability to not only electronically share our phone camera images but now print them out using traditional min-lab i.e. small prints.

I believe that electronic sharing of these images is more than enough to justify their use, the proliferation of photo sharing sites out there along with websites interested in the idea of alternative image making means a body of work can be produced and shared easily and quickly with as many like-minded people as you can find. Provided you accept the limitations of these cameras, and plenty of limitations they have.

So what other things can we do with these cameras? Well unless you are prepared to accept great seas of digital artefacts and horrendous lens aberrations, it's highly unlikely that you will be making 1 meter wide prints and exhibiting them, if on the other hand you are happy with a small print there are some other options outside of online publishing. With access to any desktop publishing software and a decent quality printer, you can print your own cards and books thus adding some meaning to the work you are making using these discrete little cameras. Possibly even creating a level of revenue that could justify the time and effort spent on printing them. There are even several online services that allow you to upload and publish, books cards and calendars, to an online store. This is based on the premise of a small book as file sizes are still on the low side to make anything bigger than 6 inches by 4 inches. I guess though, a 4 or 5 mega-pixel phone camera is only months away?

Hmm waffled on a bit today sorry?

Anyway here's my table of pros and cons.

 
Mobile Phone Camera Pros and Cons.
Pro Con
Small, goes everywhere. Small file size/s may inhibit output options, too many choices for the inexperienced.
Discrete, able to be used anywhere the user feels morally comfortable. Certain social situations may not be the right place to make an image.

Able to be sent anywhere anytime.

Costs could become prohibitive, if not used wisely, not supported by all telephony providers.
Instant feedback. Critical self-evaluation of images not encouraged.*
Almost infinite Depth of Field. Poor Lens quality.
Wide Angle lens, wider angle of view than the human eye. Wide Angle lens, wider angle of view than the human eye, requires skillful use and operation in terms of composition.
Zoom is digital. Limited Zoom is digital resulting in high levels of noise.
Unpredictable results, giving weird colours strange movement and noise and blur. Unpredictable results, may not be desirable depending on users aesthetic.
Unpredictable results. No technical controls, f stops shutter speeds etc.
Limited choices means image maker must think hard about how to make a good image, without relying on zooming etc. Limited accessory range.
Can be used anywhere where there is light. Requires ample light, unless user can accept high levels of digital noise.
*This actually applies to all digital camera users and is some ways the most difficult of skills to acquire.

Rain

rain

I've been busy in the darkroom of late, but I am starting to think about a new workshop looking at Phone cameras and online publishing, as the new school year looms.

Without my camera phone I could have not made this image, would I have even contemplated making it without my little Sony Ericsson k610i?

Does anyone have any thoughts about their phone cameras [or phone cameras in general], has either of my readers changed their approach to their image making because of them, or are they just a chintzy little tool to be used selectively for a lo-fi grab when a bigger camera is not available?

Well Done to Kent, all his hard work paid off and now according to the Financial review, the show will move to Canberra in 2008

Here's the news lifted directly from the petition site, which by the way you can still sign to show your support for the show.

Katrina Strickland reports that the Australian Photographic Portrait Prize will be reinstated in Canberra at the National Portrait Gallery in 2008. This is great news for all our supporters who have helped bring this competition back. We will be leaving the petition open for anyone who wants to show there support for the new show and Portrait Photography.

Radio Interview

Kent's radio interview on saving the Australian Photographic Portrait prize, should be able to be downloaded from the ABC 702's pod-casting page. The morning show, where Kent was interviewed, may also eventually upload the interview.

If somebody finds a down-loadable pod-cast first please let me know, so I can link to it.

Lousie Swan

Kent, a friend, [and damn good photographer to boot] from Sydney was interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald recently. He is also being interviewed by Radio 702 at 8:45 am tomorrow, 18.01.2007.

Go Kent, let's hope that the Citibank Australian Photographic Portrait Prize either gets re-instated or picked up by another gallery.

Live Picture Workflow*

LP Workflow 1

Insert the image.

LP Workflow 2

Duplicate the image layer.

LP Workflow 3

Adjust top image layer, using appropriate tools.

LP Workflow 5

Curves have been applied.

LP Workflow  6

The result.

LP Workflow  7

Add another layer to start making some local adjustments.

LP Workflow 8

Start tweaking numbers

LP Workflow 9

In this instance I've increased the value by about 10 units, almost a zone.

LP Workflow 10

Brush all layers in and out in varying opacities as needed, be careful about when to stop. The conversion to jpeg seems to have buggered up the subtlety of the brushing in, trust it is smooth and subtle.

The power of this Application is that you are concentrating on the image, surrounded by minimal palettes, no other clutter on the desktop, and the application is only working and using the pixels you need to see and work on.

*or, how to procrastinate more than needed!

Speechless

park

Not too much to say really, hardly surprising after 2 days of talking about photoshop.

This scene at the end of our street is one I've had my eye on for a while, very happy with this shot, the sense of pace and light combined with the weird combination of the play equipment and industry speak volumes to me about modern suburban living, in Australia anyway.

I'm also really enjoying ShoZu at the moment an application that allows direct uploads to flickr straight from my mobile phone, best of all it's free.

Side By Side Comparison

In response to a reader request*, I am posting two images in a side by side comparison, both are work prints.

I am going to leave any discussion about them till after the weekend, as I am running a weekend workshop in Photoshop this weekend, to pay for the mounting costs of the show of course. I will say this much, the change in orientation on this first one is an aesthetic choice and may yet change back depending on final planned hanging.

Original scan from proof.

curve/s

First Work Print

st.albans

This one has a long way to go? Original Scan

Deer Park Two [For Ian]

First Work Print

sunshine
*This is a digital way of doing what I would normally do in the darkroom, extra special thanks to Addie for nudging me in this direction, the barcode reader will be in the mail soon.

Applying Analogue Approaches in a Digital Era

st.albans

Well the initial worries about finishing my images in time for the show in have subsided; for the moment.

I am trying currently to spend quality time with the images I have and just make minor tweaks here and there. Not unlike a conventional darkroom where you make a test strip then a work print then several versions of that work-print until you are happy with the result.

This process in a darkroom environment, for me anyway, has always been one where decisions are easy to make, and sometimes the neg just prints beautifully, other times it has you scratching your head for hours, or even days, at worst months.

The speed of digital is of course somewhat of antithesis to this approach and somewhere in my Masters project back in 2000 I noted this. [One day I'll upload part of the written component, the actual body of photographic prints produced lives online in 2 places, flickr, of course and stunik.com*] So to tweak put away then come back a day or two later seems to be working for me at the moment.

sunshine

The converse of this is true also. When do you stop? When is an image finished?

I guess time is a deciding factor here. The best way to avoid this maybe to prepare images at the same time as writing gallery proposals and when a show gets accepted, cull down from a body of work already made?

Hopefully both my readers can see the differences between these "work prints" and the original scans that I uploaded as part of my 'Across the River Styx' 2007 proposed set on flickr. These are work-prints in their 2nd draft.

*this is a page buried deep in my old site in a dusty and cobweb ridden-corner that is unlikely to get a facelift, unlike my photoshop workshop page.

Inkjet Prints

Well Inkjet printing now becomes more of an option, I had heard about a profile or rip that allowed very good control over b&w prints from Epson Printers, a quick e-mail and I found the profile/rip in question. Now I can run my own small tests at least before I make any final decisions one way or the other.

How Fortuitous

Yesterday I talked about where to start with creative manipulations on a print. Last night I found this article on the online photographer's blog, dealing with interpreting print making in a digital era.

Exhibition Preps Week 2

LP screengrab

So begins the creative process of print manipulation. This in some ways is the hardest aspect of all. Where to start? When to stop, are all compounded by digital technologies. At least in an analogue environment you had to make a small test to determine a start time around which all other moves were based. With digital, well there it is on the screen, what more needs or can be done is the question you must ask, and hopefully if you have access to a good printer profile you can "preview" your image and make some decisions in the right direction.

Printing, on the other hand isn't going to be so straightforward? First question, how big? Well I know the answer to that up to 1 metre square. Next question. Inkjet print or Type C print?

Each have their relative merits, Type C prints, are tested for their durability, and being a chemical process are known to last for a certain amount of time, Inkjets are claimed to last as long, but of course this is based on accelerated testing methods, not real life, I have some inkjet prints made in 2000, they are ok but not perfect, unlike all my silver gelatin prints which ARE perfect still some dating back 20 years. The advantage of the inkjet printing is the vast amount of surfaces and materials one can have work printed upon. There are also some very nicely created printing profiles out there, that when used with a particular paper give almost silver gelatin photographic results.

Of course if I was simply, printing largish silver gelatin prints between 8 inches square and up to about 24 inches square, I would use silver gelatin paper. Which brings me back to where I started, and instead of spending my holidays on a computer, I would have been locked away in a darkroom making prints.

Indeed, "Everything in Photography is a trade off".

Excuses?

Quiet here this weekend, Saturday, busy, Sunday, almost as busy

Also picked up a book on one of my favourite photographers, Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Interesting read it mainly concentrates on the series,"The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater". I particularly like Meatyard's idea of the billboard nature of photographs. And of course the idea of masks being used to discuss identity is not new in Photography, nor is the idea of repetition but nonetheless a body of work that is as charming and engaging now as it was in the 70's when first published, this version I'm reading claims to be the first one to honour the original idea by Meatyard.

Light

tension

A bit over 12 months ago I afforded myself the luxury of wandering around my local suburb, camera in hand open to anything that caught my eye, those were the days.

Light like this is rare, this time of year.

Colour!

While I take a break from the tedium of spotting prints, check this photographer's work.

Day 3

Before I waffle on about day 3 of the process of getting organised for my 2007 solo-show, please take a moment to check out this body of work on flickr, beautifully abstract and formal very painterly, yet at the same time completely photographic, my kind of stuff.

rough proof

Day 3 of working with my scanned negs for my solo show and nothing much has changed. One thing I've noticed is the amount of limitations that apply to Photoshop 5 in terms of 16 bit editing though.

In an effort to maintain maximum print quality when I finally print out these shots, I scanned the negs at a bit depth of 16 bits. I used a Nikon 9000 scanner to scan the negs, [thanks again to Ricky for getting me access to it] this scanner is very sharp. On the day I scanned, I forgot my one most essential accessories, an anti-static camel hair brush I use to dust off negs before I print/scan. Gah, now I'm sentenced to days and days of spotting. This normally wouldn't be an issue except a lot of the shots have things like power-lines in the background. If the dust sits on the edge of something like a power-line [anything with a distinct edge] it can be tricky to clone out, especially if the line is curved for example. So my favourite way around this is to make a small soft edged selection close-by and copy and paste over it. Photoshop 5.02 doesn't allow copy and paste in 16 bits. This then harks back to my comments yesterday about time and productivity. I could switch to a different version of Photoshop on either Machine to do the work, but again more time taken up with fiddling around with files rather than actually creating.

gallery 2

In an effort to choose the final 10 I printed out a "rough" proof of all my scans [see above], that as I said yesterday, was a feat unto itself. Eventually I will work out how to get small versions of my images onto these scale models of the gallery space,above and below. [Currently the black squares represent my images, based on them being 1 meter square]

gallery 1

Exhibition Preparations I

While I am sitting here writing this on my g4 iBook laptop, my G3 desktop machine running OS 8.6 and Photoshop 5 has the ubiquitous clock icon spinning away madly. I have a 70 meg file open and am simply copying and pasting to clean up an the image I am working on. I have been 'cleaning up' this image for over 3 hours. Not unusual in this day and age of high rez scanners capable of capturing everything as well as the grain of the film.

photoshop 5.02

Earlier this morning I wanted a rough proof of the final 15 or so images I had scanned ready to edit down to the final 10 that will fit in the space.[yesterday I spent a few hours mocking up a 3d version of the space to visualise how the prints will look in there]. Given I had no way of connecting my older computer to my modern printer, or even connecting it to my new laptop, just getting a printed proof of the images proved a task in itself.

All up I'd say over 2 days of work have been spent on this show so far, and for which I have little to show. I remember thinking along these lines whilst doing my masters project in the late 90's. I seemed to spend equal amounts of time wrestling with my computer as I did actually making things. At one point I lost an entire week over an extension for my graphics tablet. This sort of stuff never happens in a darkroom, well rarely. You go in, set up your chemistry, get it to temperature and start printing. After an hour or two a decent but wet print should be in your hands and after a week of leisurely 6 hour days 12 - 24 prints should be ready to mount.

OS 8.6

With computers forming such a large part of my creative output these days, it feels like things move at a far less productive pace. Even working between an Os 3 generations apart has it's moments.

Why am I using what is effectively a 10 year old OS and software? Both my astute readers may well be asking. There are several parts to this answer, some of which I have elaborated on in the past, others I may elaborate on in the future.

Camera Icons

Holiday Fun

Many people like to personalise their computers in many ways, using different icon sets to the ones that come with the computer is one of them. I am no exception, of course though I like to try and find photography related ones. Rarely is there much out there. As a consequence,I make my own using my small collection of cameras, I photograph them and make icons using the neat little free-ware app called cocothumbX.If you have a mac and would like some let me know I'd be happy to share them.

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