Archive for the ‘Technique’ Category

Brandon Thibodeaux

Published by ying on November 6th, 2009 in Technique | 3 Comments »

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Barnegate Light, USA. 31.10.09

Mr. Craig

Published by mustafah on November 6th, 2009 in Technique, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

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My hard drives are littered with random pictures of Matt.

In them, he is always a part of the scene, his persona communicated by how he interacts with the environment. I don’t think I’ve ever made a picture of Matt as I know him: as a man whose intelligent reserve tempers my own impulsiveness, a photographer and editor who never tells me what I want to hear, only what I need to, and a dear friend who has been a source of great inspiration and support for me, both as a photographer and a person.

For me, this picture comes pretty close to how I know him. The tousled hair, the high collar, the plaid shirts and the almost-wire glasses. If you asked me what my buddy looks like, well, you’d get told a few of those. But if you asked me what my buddy Matt is like, as a person, then you’d need a far better photograph than I could ever make.

-m

Mad Frames of Ying

Published by MJR on November 5th, 2009 in Technique, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Last weekend MJR gathered to discuss, drink, dance, and be spooky. We put all of our names into a cap and  photographed each other at random. It was a simple, fun exercise and the results will be posted just as the images were taken…spontaneously.

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Ying Ang by Julius Metoyer

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Although we were staying in the same house, I remember kind of having to schedule my time with Ying to photograph her. She was on the deck having Skype conversations with her friends in the UK or the South Pacific or someplace while my light was leaving for the day. Even when Ying is relaxing she is busy around the world!

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We went to the rooftop our rental in Barnegat Light. It was a summer home at the end of a long road in eastern New Jersey. I had Velvia 50 loaded in the camera, a small amount of light left and absolutely no plans to push the film. There was no real pre-thought to the shoot,  we just had a conversation atop a windswept rooftop before it went dark.

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I had only personally known Ying for about a day and a half at this point. Before these images were shot the two of us had shared a few emails, a 2 hour car ride during which we saw the aftermath of bad accident,  a pretty intense conversation about photography and our personal positions in its world, two or three meals and a hug goodnight.

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This is a record of my first impression of Ying.

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New Years Day

Published by mustafah on January 7th, 2009 in Essay, Photos, Technique, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Elsie Hart, 89-year-old librarian, b. 1920 Topeka, Kansas, 1/1/09

Darren Hart, son of Elsie Hart, 1/1/09

Jon & Sarah McBride, future parents, 1/1/09

I’ve never used medium format before, at least not for anything serious. I realize that by placing ourselves behind a black chunk of technology, a new dichotomy begins. It requires us to become removed from the subject in some capacity, whether that is the comfort and ease of the subject or that of the photographer, who has almost a level of social protection that is provided to them by the 35mm format. The better the photographer, the less this reality affects the nature of our photographs.

If the eyes are truly the windows to the soul, then by hiding ours during photographing, it is possible that the relationship between the subject and photographer changes in ways we may not commonly suspect.

In simply changing the orientation of one’s camera, it reveals an opportunity to connect constantly with your subjects. There is one thing I am sure of: the best photographers can move beyond that small handicap inherent in 35mm photography to observe, connect, and remain relevant when photographing portraits. Technique, style, composition all become secondary to content and in portraiture, that content is revealed in different moments and forms. All we must do is press a button at the right moment.

For a few hours on New Years Day, I was not a photographer. I was a student learning something about someone else’s life, with a camera on my hip.

Shooting your homies

Published by MJR on June 21st, 2008 in Essay, Photos, Technique | 3 Comments »

Shooting your best friends is a hell of a lot different from shooting strangers. Is it easier or more difficult to shoot people you know?

For me…its easier and much more fun to shoot my friends, but for others it isn’t so. Here are some things that i keep in mind when i have a frame full of homies aka idiots.

It is important to remember to not let your friend control the session, keep them at bay and remember that while standing in front of your lens they are subjects, not friends. If they are true friends they will respect what you are doing and respond accordingly. If not, just keep breaking out your camera until they get used to it.

Schutz- This is his quintessential face. Someone told him that it was a costume party and he showed up in that damned hat. Nobody else in attendance wore a costume and schutz never took off the hat.

When shooting, I suspend the fact of friendship and what I do is treat them like models, not the guys you just spent 9 hours drinking with. The camera in my hands gives me a license to be the boss and them the employee. So I direct them as such, tell them what to do and react to their responses. If it isnt working then we try something else and continue to move forward.

Dave- He bought those sunglasses in Venice the day before. I think everyone at the party tried on those glasses and they quickly became the prop of choice during the photo shoot. He wanted to fix the glasses and I stopped him from putting them on correctly. This is the “i know what you are trying to make me look like” face.

Smith- has never been to Brooklyn

The environment and circumstances played a large role when i chose to photograph these guys. All of the images in this post were taken from 6am-7am after a party at a friends house where we all spend too much time. I saw that the sun was coming up and I had 5 of my best friends together all on the same level (which was lower than most at 6am). I grabbed my camera bag with the 6×7 and 35mm bodies and put my friends up against an ivy wall in the yard. We were still drunk and still drinking. It was an overcast morning so light was everywhere and the mood was somewhere between excited and haggard. The setting was neutral place for everyone, nobody was intimidated by their surroundings and my equipment was minimal which made everyone that much more comfortable.

These are the first five images that I shot. It was a little after 6 am and the sun was just coming out behind the overcast sky. There wasn’t a lot of light and I had Velvia 50 in my camera not the best for this situation but i worked with it. The images are a bit dark and grainy but the moments are still there. I think these were taken at about a 15th or 30th at f2. This combination worked because I didn’t necessarily want to freeze the action. The movement in the images adds life to the pictures.

With friends, you are already familiar with their distinct facial expressions and unique behaviors and you know what you can do to get your friends to react in ways that clearly demonstrate who they are. Use that to your advantage, get them smiling or get them looking at you the way they always do. Take the time to freeze them the way they really are.

Dylan- was actually flipping off Morgan

Morgan- was deeply saddened about graduating college. That night he challenged three University of Arizona frat kids to a drinking contest and won. The other three guys passed out hours earlier. One even needed to be slapped awake and put in the shower.

Smith- ?  i have no idea whats going on here but that’s a stale bagel in his hands.

This was fun. it was one of those times where everything just lined up and i was in the right place at the right time. Sometimes thats just what happens.

That is pretty much my process or at least was the way this particular shoot went down. We had way too much to drink and couldn’t laugh enough about it. It was a fun time and well worth the seven rolls of film. Thanks for reading and l please let me know if you have any questions. I promise to get back to you as i’ve been working on my correspondence technique.

-J

Shooting Strangers

Published by MJR on June 5th, 2008 in Technique | 4 Comments »

One small tip for people who seem to get shot down by people they approach and want to photograph: Don’t ask to take their picture, Tell them you’d like to shoot their portrait. I want to walk you through the experience of approaching a total stranger and firing off 20 frames because its just what you do.

The following images were shot during a 4 minute conversation with a guy named Rage. Of course I was rushing to the train station last Friday. NYC was waiting on the other end of 200 miles of train tracks and I had 12 minutes to make it from the curb to my beloved business class seat with an AC plug for the Apple Macbook Pro. Surely it was worth the extra money. As I’m rushing up the steps to the station I look to my right and see an overweight kid who looked like he was crossing the bridge between a misguided youth and an unsure adulthood. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I know a photo is going untaken, and there is only one remedy that I know of.

This is how it went..

I walk up to Rage with camera in hand. I tell him I’d like to shoot his portrait. I start standing back a bit and play off the symmetry of the surroundings. Bricks, tall buildings with uniform patterns, lines created by walkways. I’m a very visual person and my eye frames subjects first around angles and lines. Although its no longer my forte, I owe it all to learning how to shoot by roaming the streets of LA shortly after getting my license shooting architecture with Julius

When I photograph subjects candidly or in an impromptu setting I like to narrow in on gestures and motions. Images shot at point blank with only a subtle stare tend to lack substance for your mind to latch onto and digest. Drags off a cigarette, hand movements and sudden changes in body language are elements that I try to capture.

What first drew me to the subject was his feet and the seemingly random tattoos that littered his body. After noticeably shooting just his legs I asked, “Do you have any more tattoo’s?”

After photographing around 15 frames of Rage I ran to my train to get on board.. But what struck me was a date that was enscribed on the underside of his right arm. As I was waiting to board, ticket in hand, an urge came over me to know what the date meant. I broke out of line and ran back to find him arising from the pavement about to move on. I asked him what the date meant on his arm and he told me it was the day that his girl died. He pulled up his shirt to reveal “TIERAH” in gothic script arching over a bloated belly.

Never fight the hunger to know and to capture. A photographer must follow instincts, and it is these moments of blind intrigue that will elevate a random image of someone you encountered into a memory that will never be forgetten. What if I never asked? Well, this post probably wouldn’t have been written nor would I remember Rage, the story of how he left New York City to find his mother in Massachusetts, the loss of his lover Tierah, and the narrow passageway he is now following into an uncertain future.

I attached numbers to the frames in hopes that viewers would select their favorites or comment on which would be their “selects” .. the large frames are my selects.

Now there is a much different side of the street portrait coin. Just the other day Rob forwarded me a link to a recent Gothamist article featuring Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden. The man forgoes a process and shoots images purely from the instinct. “Going for the frame” is a tenant of street photography and Gilden takes no prisoners on the streets of Manhattan. I love his insights on the city and his style really does reflect the electric-current that runs through the cement in New York City, making its pedestrians wild robots. This article was more about pulling people out of their daily lives and putting a camera in their face.. and would be more aptly considered “street portraiture” rather than nitty gritty street photos. We can call it whatever we want, at the end of the day nothing beats the feeling of nailing a frame from the hip, pre-focused and metered in the brain.

Workflow #5

Published by MJR on May 30th, 2008 in Technique | 6 Comments »

“Workflow” and me do not mix. My relationship with computers and technology is poor and every year or so people scoff at me when they say “YOU ARE USING WHAT!?” The process from the initial shot to the final edit ends at the computer, which is kind of a problem for me. I have an interesting relationship with computers, i just dont really like them but i need them so we are at a standstill. 99% of my work is shot on film which is funny because my workflow isn’t much of a “flow” at all, its more backwards than that. All the other cats at MJR are way more savvy about what they use and why they use it. Alot of the things I use only because one of them told me to! My workflow revolves around one word…easy.

My shooting style reflects my workflow. I do not shoot quickly and am never really in a rush when it comes to making exposures. i will wait and wait and wait. Having the quickest and fastest camera and processing equipment doesn’t really get me excited. For me, the more buttons the more headache and the more shit to break. I’m more about comfortability and being deliberate and precise from shooting to editing.

I shoot slide film that is thrown into a computerized machine at A&I Photographic where the images are then scanned at 25megs a piece, then cut and mounted. I get home… place the transparencies on the shelf where i know they will be safe from water damage and earthquakes and insert the disc of scans into my computer. All work is then dropped into Lightroom Beta 1. I back up the stuff on a 500g G-Drive whenever I get paranoid which ends up being about every 2-3 months or so. But since my work is all film, backing up has become a little less mandatory for me. Hell, a crash may even jump start me to be more organized about everything.

I shoot a leica m6 with motordrive with a 28mm summicron and a Mamiya 7II (6x7cm) with the 80mm lens. thats basically it. I rarely use a camera bag because by the time you get the camera out the damn bag the moment is gone. I also have a canon 20D with a 17-40 but that hasn’t been used in eons. I have access to tons of digital equipment but i never use it. i like shooting slides, i like the rangefinder system.

Well since im shooting film and since the Mamiya only carries 10 shots per roll, my workflow is a lot less intense compared to Sean, Matt and Mustafa and probably a little less intense than Rob’s.

Since i have never been good with computers i have never delved into the depths of photoshop or aperture or lightroom. For the guys who are coming home from a shoot with 5,000 RAW images, these softwares are a way of life. For me they are just things to use sparingly.

My editing is minimal, with slides there is no latitude in the film and when you shot it, you either got it or you didn’t. With the tools i have you see what you get and nothing more. if i choose to shoot at 50 ISO i may have that roll of film in my camera for 5 days until it is used. My brian doesn’t think about what I can do in post and i dont shoot anything to fix it later. 90% of everything seen in my images is done in camera with exposure and shutter speed combinations and a decent knowledge of the way my film stock will react. Here is everything in a short list from beginning to end

1. see/feel the opportunity for an image

2. frame up and expose

3. wind the advance and forget about the frame i just shot

4. Repeat steps 1 through 3….36 times on 35mm and 10 times on 6X7

5. drop 4-5 rolls off at the lab

6. wait 24-48 hours

7. pick up film and insert disc of scans into computer

8. minimal edit in lightroom blacks, and saturation tabs.

9. Wrestle with wordpress in sizing and uploading.

Thank you, ill be around for questions or comments

- j

Workflow #4

Published by MJR on May 29th, 2008 in Technique | 10 Comments »

Equipment

5DX2

24/1.4

35/1.4

50/1.2

135/2

45/2.8 TSE

580EXIIX2

Apple Computers 

Pocket Wizards and miscellaneous odds and ends. I use Kingston 4 and 8GB cards, Ideally I would be shooting all 4GB cards to make for an easy fit onto DVD. For all my shoots I bring along a black Crumpler 7 Million Dollar home camera bag. I chose that bag because it doesn’t look much like a camera bag and I don’t want to go advertising the fact that I’m walking around with $10,000 wrapped around my neck. 

Out of all the glass mentioned above, the 35/1.4 is my go to lens, used for about 80% of my images, it’s a total utility lens that can be used for many different situations. Next up would be the 50/1.2, there is something so right about the middle distance range that those lenses provide. I only own the 135/2 for when I can’t be physically close enough to shoot with the 35 or 50. Let me show you what I’m talking about…. Below is the 35/1.4 at full aperture on the 5D right up in the brides face. The aesthetic and characteristics of the lens are unparalleled. I’m not a pixel peeper by any means, but this glass is hot.

So, for as hot as the 35/1.4 is, the 50/1.2 is damn close. Let me show you what I mean…. Below is the 50/1.2 on the 5D wide open.

Again, this glass provides something special that even an f/2.8 lens can’t get close to. 

Workflow

For me this is a tricky subject. I shoot JPG primarily, but only since about two years ago when I swapped my Nikons for the canon 5D. I know the scoffers are saying WTF, but let me tell you, the JPG files that the 5D make are better than any RAW conversion I have done. Maybe you’ve noticed that once you import your files into whatever you import to, they change tone and color slightly. well, once I found out why this was happening I basically stopped shooting RAW. I still do, on occasion shoot in RAW mode but always ask myself why afterward. Just the amount of time I save on imports and not having to convert the files is well worth it to me. I ingest my files into a program called Photo Mechanic. The $150.00 I spent on this program may be the best money I’ve spent on any piece of gear or equipment. It’s just a browsing program I use specifically for editing down fast. It’s easy to organize and get through the files blazingly. I run through the images, tag my keepers and toss the frames that didn’t make the cut. From here I go back through the collection in PM and hit the letter E to send that file to photoshop, I work the file and save it in a subfolder of the folder I’m working in, I name that folder edit. I edit my files using Exposure 2 from Alien Skin and a mixture of home made actions. Because I use Photoshop almost exclusively for editing I have automated almost everything I do in PS with key commands. Above I mentioned I use photoshop almost exclusively, thats because I use LR to organize and import once I’ve finished my edit, I also love the web galleries you can make in LR. Check this one out. LR web gallery.

Backup

When the import from the card reader is over, if it’s a really important job I burn DVD’s of every card I shoot and put the discs away labelled in the clients file. From here I back the images up on redundant drives, I make sure the files are in three different places apart from my working drive. I have had great success with Western Digital and Seagate.

As much as I’d like to keep on going, I came down with the flu last night and now the room is starting to spin. I’ll be checking the comments section, so please feel free to ask anything I didn’t cover.

Cheers

Sean Flanigan | sean@wearemjr.com

Workflow #3

Published by MJR on May 28th, 2008 in Technique | 3 Comments »

Gear

When I head out to shoot i grab one of two kits. If on assignment I make sure to wear a black tshirt (as to not stick out while working a crowd) and have a black jacket in case I need to “dissapear” completely for a minute. I am now using a Canon 1Ds Mark III, but was shooting a Canon 5D for the past three years. My lenses include the 16-35/2.8 L, 24-70/2.8 L, 50/1.2 L and 85/1.2 L. I prefer to shoot with my 24-70 2.8 and a 50/1.2 unless I know I’ll be working with no space, in which case I’ll flip to the 16-35/2.8 L for wide coverage and the 85 for my medium/long distance shots. I prefer Sandisk Ultra II and Ultra IV 4GB and 8GB cards, and also use Sandisk Ultra II 8gb SD cards in the backup card slot on the 1Ds3. To carry my cards I have Gepe waterproof and shockproof cases. I use the Domke F-803 to carry my gear. When I’m not shooting for work I use a 1986 Leica M6 with a 35/2 Summicron ASPH and always have my Zeiss Planar 50/2 on hand but rarely use it. I also rock the Leica M Motor which has made me a more confident street shooter by making it possible to shoot rapidly, as moments develop in my viewfinder. Its a bit louder than using the M without, but the benefits outweigh the costs for me. Im not saying it has made me a better shooter, but I was always irked by having to remove my eye from the viewfinder to crank the winder. My boss says HCB is rolling in his grave.

Desk

Right now I’m using a MacPro with a 750GB RAID, a 250GB drive with my operating system and applications (kept at 70% free, always). There is a fourth 500GB drive for music and assignments I’m editing. Everything goes to the RAID eventually, and beyond the internal stuff I have a Western Digital 1TB External Firewire drive with everything copied. One of these days I will get around to duplicating everything and sending it to my parents’ house in Los Angeles for permanent backup. All of my assignments are also backed up on the office server, but my personal work is all kept on the system mentioned above. The MacBook Pro is at the center of my workflow, and is usually where I initially upload my shoots and edit while planted on the couch, speakers blasting a mix of Roy Ayers, Death Cab for Cutie, Mobb Deep or Daft Punk. My two computers are shared, and after I edit files on the MacBook they are transfered to a Drop Box on my MacPro for further duplication and archiving. I currently do-not backup to DVD-R.. maybe when BlueRay backups become bigger, i’ll do it.. but I am far too lazy to burn 400+ DVDs.

Workflow

All my film is processed by a lab in Cambridge, MA with a killer Harvard discount that I will really miss. They scan everything on a Noritsu, and my stock films are Neopan 400 in Xtol for black/white and Provia 400 and Kodachrome 64 for slides. I get them mounted and scanned. I rarely shoot color film. I much prefer the control I have over tonality with RAW files, so my Leica has only been shooting Neopan 400 lately.. with a dash of Kodachrome for the luxury of it. I have a Minolta DiMage 5400 Elite II that takes too long and has crap, obsolete software. (Thanks for killing Minolta/Konica, Sony)

If you arent shooting RAW, you arent getting what you paid for. All my images are ingested using Photomechanic where I tag my images with an “import default” profile that applies my copyright, contact info and a brief set of keywords. I always designate “published” “unpublished” or “personal” in the keywords, as well as “film” “digital” “bw” or “color.” My archive/folder structure starts on the work drive in a folder named “CR2,” and consists of the date and name such as “052308_Harvard.” For film i will designate “052308_Harvard_LEICA.” Inside that folder is “052308_Harvard_RAW” and “052308_Harvard_JPG.” The JPG folder is for my initial crop of selects after a quick tone edit in Adobe Lightroom. I only use Photomechanic for ingest and setting IPTC. Everything else is done in Lightroom. Files are named “052308_Harvard_001.CR2″

Files are imported into Adobe Lightroom Beta 2 and from there I use the star rating system to pick my selects. I admit this is the most careless part of my editing process, and photos get either a 1 or 0. I like it or I don’t. I pick photos that I think will keep people looking at them past the initial impact. If I’m not challenged to look at a photo for more than 2 seconds it doesn’t get a star.

Post

I have been shooting “under” .. purposefully shooting for shadows .. since this past summer. Something about the way Joachim Ladefoged entertains the eye with shapes and shadows really stuck. I also really love Antonin Kratochvil for his shadow-play.. and I love Chris Morris for his ability to illuminate subjects with 1.2 lenses in complete darkness… and make it look creamy as a melted ice-cream sunday. Morris’ tones, and Antonin and Joachim’s shadows are what I’m going for. I wont b/s anyone here.. I am heavily influenced by other photographers.. my eye is learning what it likes.. (never stop reminding yourself that you JUST began making images in what will be a life-long pursuit) and I am not ashamed to say that I edit to obtain a look that has captivated me since the moment I saw the work of the VII Photographers.

That said, I mainly use the “Blacks” slider in Lightroom’s Develop panel and find myself manually underexposing even more. I have found “brightness” gives a really nice luminance while playing with curves leads to burned pixels. Same with the contrast slider.. why use the contrast slider when you can combine “blacks” and “brightness” and get much smoother contrasts. The first time I used the Clarity slider was a revolutionary moment. Not too much, but always a little. I enjoy crisp images.. I generally shoot pretty shallow.. I rarely find myself shooting above f8.. (probably a habit formed from shooting the D70 with horrible ISO problems.. and the fact that I shoot a boatload of lectures, readings, meetings, and conferences where I wage war against tungsten lighting in remote lecture halls deep within the labyrinth that is Harvard) so its important that when I nail my focus wide open at 1/80 @ 1.2 iso320 on my 85 that the image is sharp. Photo Editors don’t like eyeballs that aren’t sharp, and they can ALWAYS tell when you are off focus.

If deviantArt taught me one thing, it was that too much post makes you a photoshop stud, not a great photographer. If it aint there, no ammount of contrast brightness curve tweaking is going to make your photo last more than 2 seconds in front of my screen. If your pixels are toasted, it wont even last that long

And thats the end of my story.

ps, back-up your fucking files

MC

Workflow #2

Published by MJR on May 27th, 2008 in Technique | Comments Off

Keep it simple.

Pre-game

This really only applies to my film workflow, as digital is basically set from the moment you turn it on. I always have two film bodies on hand and a stack of film at the ready. This way, when I click off that 36th or 16th frame a fresh camera with a new roll can be handed off immediately, with the spent roll being replaced by a new one and ready to go. This principle also works with digital, although a second body is really unnecessary given the speed with which one can swap CF cards. I shoot tethered, so this isn’t an issue.

Film

Once everything is souped and ready to roll, my process begins at the light table. There’s something about the feel of being huddled over a spread of chromes with a loupe and grease pencil that, for me, is really hard to let go of. Once I’ve made my selects, I scan both my 35s and 120s using an Epson flatbed photo scanner which, while not quite as nice as a slot-scanner, does a beautiful job for my needs. The largest my work prints is usually 11×14″, so the difference is negligible if not entirely unnoticeable. After everything is turned into zeros and ones, I archive the film in binders for easy access as well as the digital files on both my working drive and my RAID array.

Digital

I always shoot tethered as the ability to see the captures on a large calibrated display the moment they’re made is an absolute boon to the entire team. I shoot directly into Capture One PRO, where quick adjustments can be made to the RAW processing on the fly and retained for the remainder of the session. For example, if I were shooting a set destined for black and white reproduction, I could capture my full color RAW files but have C1 display them as tweaked black and white images as they’re transferring. I don’t use Capture One for my actual processing, however, as its algorithms have been far surpassed and version 4 is still three years late. After the shoot has been wrapped up, all files are archived on the working drive as well as the RAID. Next, the session is loaded into Lightroom where I can quickly run through, make my selects, and export them for retouching.

Retouching

After the captures have been archived, all of my retouching is done in Photoshop with the aid of a WACOM tablet. The only third-party plug-in I use is Alien Skin’s Exposure, and only very sparingly. Nothing more than a quick conversion to T-MAX 100 (my favorite black and white film stock, which it does a startlingly good job of emulating) or an overlay of Kodachrome 25 crunch for a bit of contrast before the image goes out to print. Beyond that, it’s all just a lot of gentle coaxing and an even greater amount of experience. I will be going into more detail on this subject in future posts, and will be sharing a lot of my personal knowledge and techniques. Once everything is press-ready, all files are archived to the RAID array.

Printing

Depending on the image’s final destination, I’ll either print from Photoshop to a large-format Epson inkjet or send the files out to be run on a Noritsu. While the Epson does a really incredible job, especially on my beloved premium gloss paper stock, you just can’t beat the astounding quality of a top-end lab machine. Once everything is on paper, a set of prints is archived (seeing a theme here?) in light-tight boxes and the rest are dropped off or FedEx’d out to wherever they need to be.

Parting Thoughts

I wouldn’t trade my film process for anything. While most people simply abhor souping and scanning, I see it as a labor of love. The tangible aspect of it all is what really makes it special. You can’t hold a RAW file in your hands.

The digital side of operations could use some help. The software just isn’t there; it’s made by engineers who make a living selling software, not technicians who make a living selling a beloved film stock. We choose a film for its characteristics and quirks. As Pascal said in his recent interview with the New Yorker,

“Photography as we knew it, meaning film and Kodak and all that, was a very subjective process. With film images you had emotions. You used to go out and buy film like Fuji, because it was more saturated, or you liked Agfa because it gave you a rounded color palette.” With a ten-dollar roll of film, he explained, you were essentially buying ten dollars’ worth of someone’s ideas.

Software is much more objective and flat, focusing more on the features than the funk. This is likely due to the fact that features are what sells software, and those of us who really demand the quality fit into a fairly small market. They have to make money, and the general public is where that’s found.

This brings me to the battle between Aperture, Lightroom, and Capture One. Truth be told, I’d much prefer to be using Aperture for both my capture and processing. The interface fits my way of thinking and working (do anything at anytime from anywhere) very well and the processing as of version 2 is superb. Until they pick up support for Phase One files, though, I’m afraid I’ll be delegated to the sectioned-off, machine-like world of Lightroom. This is not to say that Lightroom is an inferior product, I just don’t like having to switch panels and do things in the prescribed order. Keyboard shortcuts make life easier, but after using Aperture it’s always in the back of my mind. Capture One is thus a necessity for tethering Phase One backs, as is Lightroom for effectively sorting and processing them. Word is that Capture One PRO 4 will have some great and long overdue features, but we’ve been hearing that for years now. We’ll see, and here’s hoping for some very pleasant surprises.

Finally, I can’t stress the importance of archiving your work as much and as often as possible. We’ve all lost work to faulty technology; if you haven’t, you will. Make sure it’s secure, and if you’re running out of space, buy more.

No excuses.