Tag Archives: controversy

Presentiaon by Olivier Du Tre about Black & White, and my case

I am helping organizing speakers for a small camera club in Calgary. I invited multiple award wining photographer, Olivier Du Tre as a speaker for the club meeting in May. Oli is landscape/fine art photographer, residing in Cochrane, Alberta. He shoots only black and white, and furthermore, he totally switched to film recently. He mentions “zone” while others are referring Nike Silver Efex. He will cover many aspects of B&W photography in the presentation. Please check his website. Also the info about his presentation is here.

So about my story how I started B&W and why I like B&W. When I became interested in photography about 20 years ago, I was suggested to try color slide film because it was considered to be more advanced compared to negative print film. One day, I took BEAUTIFUL sun rise shot on my trip. I thought it was glorious shot and showed to everybody at work. But one person said the photo was not remarkable. His reasoning was “Color dominates the image too much. Besides color, nothing to see”. And he recommended B&W film. I was pissed off, but anyway, I tried B&W. My first roll…I quite like images. But 2nd and 3rd rolls…I didn’t get good images. Usually, I got quite interesting or so disappointing images. Not so much between. Then eventually, I realized good composition made difference in photography. Color comes next to composition.

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Then I started printing by myself. I read many books about printing in darkroom. I could obtain prints by following text book. But I could not tell if they were good prints or not. I found a kind of the mentor and I showed my prints. I kept visiting him. I gradually learned “tone” or tonality was really important in prints and each master photographer had signature tone in his/her prints. Photography is picture by light. I realized light comes always first, even before composition.

This is an image from Vermilion Lake in Banff in snowy day. I knew I could not expect gorgeous scenery including well-photographed Mt. Randal since the sky was still so grey. But I tried and I found this composition. All elements were line up vertically. When I grabbed my camera, the sun was a little off from the center so I waited about 20 min for the sun moving to the center.

Actually, now I found I could apply more burning and dodging to this image to enhance the story I saw at the scene. No wonder many B&W photographer stay in a darkroom for months.

Anyway, please check out, Oli’s amazing B&W photography in his website. You will see what I was talking about.

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Artistic Portrait – Is a copy bad?

Edmonton photographer, Daryl Benson has been one of the photographers I truly admire…I am always fascinated by his artistic images.  His images are super original. It is like Thelonious Monk who is considered to be one of the pioneers of Be-bop (one of Jazz styles post swing era). His unique approach of piano play and his music was also called “Monk music”. However, I have never tried Daryl’s methods even though I felt to creating images like his works. To be honest, I am afraid of bing a copycat. So I had just concluded and told myself “Just be an artist like him”. But how can I learn his technique and such matchless creativity without coping?

About 3 weeks ago, I attended Professional Photographers of Canada meeting and the guest speaker was Darton Drake, amazing portrait photographer from U.S. I was so moved by his philosophy and attitude toward photography and arts. Great artists always have many astonishing episodes, and we can learn from their stories. His portraits were so outstanding and only one of its kind. I am sure that words can describe only a little about his art, so please visit his web-site, http://www.dartondrake.com/.

Then I signed up the workshop by Darton and Shelly Vandervelde. He showed us his way of the photo processing, every steps from the file came from camera to the complete work of his artistic portraits. He mentioned that copy was not bad and it was necessary (but not submit images to competitions or put on sales….make sense to me).  I felt relieved. Well…think about other art-forms, everybody has to copy one point. Artists have to break the shell of the comfortable zone. I knew “copy” is the only way to expand horizon, especially when we find such inimitable artistic styles.

So I tried! This image was taken as an ice-break shot for students at the workshop Janice Meyers Foreman and I had in June. I had only 5 minutes window before students started shooting, and it was studio portraits. I had to give up the shooting before my creativity kicked in. But I think I could turn the image to something I can share, I obviously applied the processing techniques I learned at Darton and Shelly’s workshop . My confession would be…this attempt is against my policy. I should visualize the final result, even partially, before clicking a shutter button instead of using Darton’s methods as a rescue technique.
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Model: Choco Sparks

I know I have to try this methods again and again, and hopefully, I can develop my own methods and styles. I think  I will have more sleepless nights.

Evening with Large Format Cameras (1) – Work without compensation

I went out shooting with oopoomoo (Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett) and Janice Meyers Foreman in May. We chose Cohcrane Ranche Historic site as a location. The rule of the photography outing was using only film cameras, especially large format or medium format cameras. Sam, Janice and I brought 4 by 5 large format cameras and Darwin shot with his Lenny, Linhof Technorama, which is medium format panorama camera. I think 6 frames can be shot with this camera. Actually Janice was large-format-camera virgin before this outing. Digital is convenient; we can take as many frames we want, and we can check results instantly. But I still use my 4 by 5 camera occasionally for some reasons, especially I like the “rituals” I have to follow by the time I release a shutter. Let me show you how Janice handled the rituals for her first time.

Shooting with 4×5 camera starts from assembling a camera. A steady tripod is essential. Janice’s tripod is like machine-gun stand.

Composing and focusing are usually done under dark-cloth. Photographers have to compose with the image projected on ground glass (upside down) and focus with a loupe.  You can easily imagine how difficult to compose an upside down image. One reason I still use a large format camera is I can utilize various bellows (or tilt and shift) techniques. I am sure some readers know about Canon TS lenses or Nikon PC lenses. Large format cameras are perfect tool to get the same effect since the primitive large format cameras allow more free movements of not only lens side but also film side. Please take a look my previuos post Panorama by 4×5 camera. Having said that, I guess tilt –shift lens for DSLR would be more practical in the digital age. I would recommend Darwin’s eBook “Tilt-Shift Lens” if you would like to know about the bellows techniques.

Now she is setting aperture and shutter speed after measuring exposure by a “lightmeter”. obviously, Ansel Adams did not know TTL or aperture priority. Then close the shutter.

Sheet film is kept in a film holder which is tightly shielded to prevent the film from exposing to light. She is inserting the film holder to film board of the camera. One advantage of the large format camera is you can choose any types of film at each shot. Janice tried Polaroid as a test shot.

Now remove a lid from the film holder. Now ready to expose the film.

Now she is releasing shutter. I use the lid of the film holder to make shade on the lens while exposing film. It works as lens hood.

Reinserting the lid to the film holder. The test shot is done.

While she was waiting for the Polaroid to be developed, she was snapping with her 5D Mk II. Hey, it was supposed to be film evening!

She was happy with result of the test shot. Now she is trying slide film. I did not capturing perfect moment but she was covering the lens with the lid and blocking direct sun light to the lens.

After 1 hour of struggle, her first 4×5 shot was done. 1 hour seems long but even I spend usually 15-20 min for one shot. So it is not so bad for the first time. It requires a lot of practices for sure. However, I actually like the primitive manner of the large format cameras. I don’t have to read a half-inch thick manual and memorize all functions. I do not have to worry about a compensation for auto functions.

Well, the sun quickly disappeared and I could take a couple of shots for that evening. I will post Janice’s and my results in the next blog post. Lastly, here is group shot at the end of the evening.

Film is not dead (3) – Borrowing someone’s eyes

It’s been long time since the last blog. This is the last episode from “Film is not dead” and this time is not quite about film, more toward to a topic about style making . When we had the film development session, Samantha Chrysanthou did not have film to develop so she tried one of my film. I have just picked up the film randomly so I did not know when and where the film was taken.

One morning, while I was JUST photographing the sunrise at lake Louise, Alberta, I saw one guy carrying large tripod and Hasselblad was looking for an open spot. Yes, it was FILM Hassel, one of the most prestigious cameras.  The location was quite busy with photographers. The best time of the morning passed and I started packing my gear. He approached to my spot and IMPATIENTLY waiting for me leaving. Then as soon as I moved my tripod, he set his tripod on the completely same spot and raised it to the same height. I shacked my head. The hundreds of similar images of the location can be found in Google images and more importantly the best moment was long gone. I spoke to myself his Hassey would cry.

So after the film was developed by Sam, I found that the images on the roll were ones I took in Jasper, Alberta last autumn. The trip was hard since I was out of luck of the weather. I visited Pyramid lake in the morning, aiming to shoot the gorgeous sunrise and orange color on the Pyramid mountain but weather quickly turned to gray. I know Photographer’s saying “No bad light”, but also it is true overcastted sky with no cloud pattern is not encouraging. Anyway, I had to change my strategy. Then I was thinking of Sam’s images. Her subtle, soft, calm images with a kind of melancholic feel, rather than gougeous and powerful typical landscapes. That motivated me to try something in the difficult situation. The result is, I think, pretty good. The funny part of this anecdote is Sam herself developed the film accidently.

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Please click for the larger size.

Do you see the huge difference in the creative approach between the photographer at the lake Louise and myself. I believe the process of developing creative eyes and learning music is not so different. At first, being interested in someone’s works, then we try the same things but usually did not work. Start pursuing the artist’s works more seriously,…sometimes thoroughly analyze their works. Try at the field again and see the some sort of the achievement . After this long process, the artist’s style blends into own style, becomes own flesh. In my case of Jasper, I used Sam’s influence more consciously. It is not stealing. I call this approach “Borrowing someone’s eyes”. Accepting influences is also important, I think. Mick Jaggar stated that ‘You can’t always get what you want” was inspired by “Hey Jude”. I guess that is cool.

Please visit oopoomoo.com to find Sam’s appealing photos.

Jeff Cruz – instant art Exhibition

The biggest news this week among  photographers must be announcement of D800 by Nikon. Although I usually do not pay attention to new products, this time I read an article from truly beginning to the end. Now I really want this 36 megapixel camera. But wait a minute… think about what I CANNOT do with my rangefinder camera. Do I need auto focus? IF I start wedding or event  photography, I may need autofocus …or I can do a job with a rangefinder camera. I don’t know at this point. I know dynamic range of my camera is not as wide as current Nikon or Canon DSLRs. But can I overcome the limitation by some photographic techniques?…yes, I can. I use HDR, flash and grad filters even though they are really difficult to use with rangefinder cameras. Unless I become an aerial photographer or a sports photographer, the narrow dynamic range is not a problem. I found that catalog specifications tend to go out by themselves and photographers (especially male) are easily tricked by those numbers. But I believe knowing limitations of the camera comes first. When photographic expressions expand, I need  to think about new system. I guess this right way to go. (Well, still I want D800E. Used Nikon PC 85mm has been in a showcase at the Camera store…Devil’s whisper)

Actually, I am not supposed to write about such a thing. I should talk about my fellow photographer, Jeff Cruz. He will h ave one-man exhibition at Resolution Local Art Gallery in Calgary, AB from February 14th to March 4th. The special about this show is all images are taken by iPhone. “The best camera is the one in your hand”; achieving creative works with whatever camera you have now. It does not need to be D700 or 5D mark II. Jeff is going to prove it.

When I met Jeff first time was at Stampede Western Photo galeery 2011. Although he is a professional commercial and editorial photographer, he exhibited beautiful landscapes at the Stampede show. Actually, He started taking pictures with plastic toy camera from a Bazooka Joe gum wrapper, so iPhone may have been already part of his DNA. Anyway, the opening reception of Jeff Cruz’s Instant art show will be Feb 17th Thursday from 5pm. I am going to see this nice guy as well as great photographer.

Film vs. Digital

Just recently Kodak announced that their film segment will be divided into other 2 other segments. When I watch movies, geek myself like to stay to the end of the end-rolls, and I check the movie used Kodak or Fuji film. But I have found movies which do not show either Kodak or Fuji’s company logo in the end-rolls. I guess “Avator” speeds up the invention of the  digital processing and distribution in movie entertainment business.  Although James Cameron may say digital is more environment friendly, film is like Na’vi now to me, under attack by  digital.

In the spring of the last year, I found unused Fuji Provia 100F in my fridge. I bought this film in the end of 2008 when I started digital, in order to check how the newly purchased Zeiss lenses behaved with film. So I tried comparison the film and digital from same lenses. I used a tripod for all images and the same exposures between film and digital. Only the difference is camera body. The film was scanned by Nikon Coolscan 5000 and  the digital images (row files) are adjusted by only “Auto Tone” function of Adobe Lightroom 3.6. Fuji Provia is designed to achieve neutral color balance compared to Velvia.

Left is film, and right is the digital. Obviously white balance is different between the 2 images. To me film has more tonality, on the other hand, digital has more contrast and a punch in the image. I would not be surprised if someone picks the digital image over film in this case.

Looking at sky, exposure of the 2 images are pretty close. But film has more contrast this time. Hmmm? Anyway film shows desireble mood, dont; you think?

It is obviously impossible that film will expel digital, like Na’vi ousted humans from Pandora, but I am hoping film won’t be eradicated entirely. Next time I can show you the same attempt I tried for pin-hole photography.