I want to ride a bike across the country. I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
I want to photograph the heartland… from an old Indian motorcycle… with a view camera.
I want to do a photo story on Ecuador and Peru and the percussionists of South America.
I want to be able to do the ‘Quick Step’ on the dance floor.
Big ambitions. Especially the dancing… LOL.
Where do we start? What is the first step?
We can all have big dreams and big plans, but the hardest thing we have to do is to break it down into the smaller chunks and then granularize it even more to a set of actions.
We don’t set off one morning heading for a donut and a cup of coffee and figure, oh what the hell, let’s go ahead and walk all the way to the other side of the continent. Right?
Lately I have been thinking it is similar to building a body of work in photography. I am thinking that there needs to be as much planning in our work image wise as would be in an epic shoot of drummers in Peru.
And that planning should have the same structure as the planning of riding a bike across country. Where, when, contingency plans for snow and rain… life.
We have all ridden bikes before. I do it a lot these days. Grab the bike, head out the gate and think… where am I gonna go today. And it is usually within the neighborhood. My bike is not a road bike, it is a beach cruiser so it only has one speed… whatever I pedal.
So distance is measured by how much of a workout I am going to commit to, and what my time frame is.
Short little jaunts in the immediate neighborhood. Safe. No need for planning at even the granular scale. Ride away, turn around, ride home.
Photographically I have been doing the same thing. Safe, comfortable… out and back again imagery that works nicely and I enjoy.
Time to get uncomfortable again. To ride farther than I normally do.
Planning a photographic body of work, what I want to accomplish this year in images is a rather new endeavor for me. I have always been led by my instincts, the clients I had, and the fun of making images that I like.
Nothing wrong with that until it becomes less comfortable and less fun. And one looks back on a year of images and realizes there was no direction, no cohesiveness… no ‘body of work’ that can be discerned overall.
Glimmers of a direction, and some fine shots… but a disappointing year of work for me leads me to be more deliberate this year.
Deliberate… not sloppy, or crude, or slap-dashed, or semi-planned, or sorta-in-a-way… DELIBERATE.
This has been top of mind for me for the past six or seven weeks. I want to create images that are both deliberate in construction and as a collection – cohesive and tight and planned for reasons that can be articulated… even if just for me.
Where do I start? What comes next?
Identifying the problem was easy, and a bit painful… now it is time to set forth on the corrective path and the myriad roadblocks that usually hide in the mist are making themselves highly visible.
Old habits… die hard.
New habits are even harder to create when we are not certain how to proceed to begin with.
I have been planning a lot of new teaching materials, and teaching plans for this year. And not all are revolving around the technical aspects of photography. I am planning for some philosophical and artistic discussions, perhaps a workshop or meeting of the minds as well. That planning goes well for me… it is in my DNA to plan that sort of thing.
Now I find myself having to plan out my work as well. And I am struggling against forty years of discipline in a craft in order to break away and do something different… something without a different set of disciplines. Or at least a new set of challenges.
It is possibly one of the more challenging things I have done in a long time… well, I haven’t completely done it yet… still in the opening throes of it.
I know when I must start… today. Every day is today.
Every day is the opportunity for something new… now to find the courage to grab on to a corner of that fleeting opportunity and take it for a spin.
Just around the neighborhood… I can always turn around and go home. It’s safe.
And one day… I may just decide to keep on going.
I’ll keep you posted.
Some beautiful work from the Project 52 assignment on ‘wet’.
From the assignment:
Shiny, smooth, liquid… wet is – well, wet.
And we have to show “Wet” in a photograph. For a client who wants to keep things dry.
You can approach this one in three ways:
You can show something very, very wet. And make the photograph speak to the power of being wet, and how that may be a challenge down the road a bit.
You can show something very, very wet that is purely for the fun of being wet… as long as it shows the detail of the ‘wetness’.
You can show something repelling the wetness from it’s surface. Like a deck protectant, or a sealer for cloth.
The title of the shot would be “Wet” and obvious to anyone looking what that referred to.
How do we show “Wet” – in a photograph?
Wet things are shiny. Wet things have highlights and speculars that show them to be shiny. We will have to have some context around them – or within the subject itself – to make the call that it is indeed wet and not ‘just shiny’… and that means probably some added detail to the wet areas.
We want to see big, ‘liquid’ highlights on this shot – so softbox, scrim or overcast sky with lots of control. White cards are important, and your subject should be chosen with care. (Note… natural wet areas do not count… lakes, streams, rain etc… unless there is a reason or context present in the subject.
Get More Info on Project 52 Summer 2015 here.
Enrollment starts July 3, 2015
… and it is true.
Names have been changed a bit to keep client/photographer privacy.
I had lunch with a photographer today. We had met to go over plans for a big project and chose “The Vig” for delicious sandwiches and salads. What has that to do with the story? Nothing, I just wanted to tell you where I ate so it is kind of an instagram moment.
He recounted this story from earlier in the year:
A prospective client had been in touch with him 5 times in the past two years about shooting his proprerty, a twenty-six unit hotel in North Carolina.
Each time my friend sent him the same bid: $6000 for 16 finished images and a usage of two years.
Recently the hotel owner called and was totally dismayed. “Why so much?” I hired a guy last year and he only charged $800.”
“How did they turn out,” my friend asked? “Since you are calling me today, I am guessing they didn’t do the job.”
The hotel owner was nearly apoplectic. “They were horrible, terrible pictures and didn’t do anything for my business. But you are ten times more expensive.”
“Actually, my images won’t cost you a thing. They will even make you money.”
The hotelier was now very curious… “What do you mean they won’t cost me anything”?
Most of the hotelier’s business came from website bookings. Internal and external research shows that the most important thing a consumer looks at are the photographs of the hotel… even before price in many instances. Having better photographs means getting more bookings.
My bud explained that in detail and then asked: “What is your profit per room, per night”.
The answer was something like $55.
“Well, my photographs are going to cost you .50 a piece per day. $8 a day for 16 images that will help you book a room for $55. A net gain of $47. Even at one booking per week, your costs will be paid. If the images bring in one more booking per day, your costs will be paid in a few months, and then it is pure profit after that.”
$16 per day / $2920 per year / $5840 for 2 years.
“If the images bring in 2 additional bookings per week, that is $110 per week or $11,440 – nearly double what the images cost,” the photographer explained. “How many more bookings would you expect with really great photos”?
The hotelier explained that his chain estimated that great images could add an additional 5-10 bookings per week.
An hour later, my bud received the go-ahead. The shoot was booked three weeks out, shot in a day, and delivered in three days.
The hotelier was so pleased he has shown the photographs to his chain representative who was also fascinated by the breakdown of ROI that my friend had presented.
“It just came to me,” he said over lunch. “I was sitting there and looked at the calculator and thought… oh what the hell.”
Are there ways you can use out of the box thinking to explain cost/benefit to YOUR clients?
I bet there is… and there is a calculator built in to your phone.
Make the case for better by showing them how much more better can produce.
BTW, the hotelier reports much higher bookings as a direct result of the images my friend did.
MANY OF THE TUTORIALS DURING “SUMMER SCHOOL” ARE BY PROJECT 52 PRO MEMBERS EITHER CURRENTLY ENROLLED OR ALUMNI.
The Project 52 members were tasked with shooting something different: 24 frames of film – and making every image count. This is a very exciting time with digital instantaneousness… but something can be said about taking one’s time to make an image.
Limiting the work to only 24 frames, taken over a longer period of time than one shoot, gives a photographer time to think fully about what they are wanting each and every image to do.
Enjoy this work by a very talented group of photographers:
Jorge Rodríguez Santos
- Nikon FM2n
- Lens: 50mm F1.4 AIS, 105mm F1.8 AIS
- Film: Fuji Neopan 400 processed at home.
- Scanned on Canon 9000F
- Slight cropping and straightening.
Jorge Rodríguez Santos Photography
The only SLR camera in the house: Olympus OM2n with a Tamron 28-70 lens, manual focus. Film: Fuji “Superia” 200 ASA. Accessory; Mickey Mouse camera strap! As an added “challenge”, the ASA dial is screwed up (not correctly aligned), so I wasn’t certain if the camera was exposing correctly. The (10-year-old) roll of film that had been in the camera showed that all of the images were underexposed. I compared exposure settings with my DSLR and set the dial so it seemed to show the correct exposure on the internal meter and hoped for the best.
I really enjoyed the deliberateness of shooting film. Slowing down. Making certain that the angle is right. Should I move here? There? Shoot high? Low? Is the shot actually in focus? Is the exposure as I would like it to be? Is it straight? (most likely not, as it turns out I suck at keeping some shots level)
So…out of the 33 frames that I shot, I picked the 24 most interesting shots for the challenge. I dropped of the film at my local camera store, and to days later I got prints and a CD-rom with the images. The images are taken directly from the CD-rom. The only adjustments made is straightening a few of the images.
If I do shoot film again (which I most likely will), I think I will want to find a theme or project to keep me focused.
Tammy Bogestrand / Website
Images from morning walks in downtown Denver between May 01 and May 25, 2014.
- Camera: Canon Rebel2000
- Lens(es) 50mm f1.8, 28-105 f3.5-5.6
- Film: Ilford XP2
- Scanned with an Epson Perfection negative scanner
- Post Processing – Minor dust removal. Convert from .TIF to .JPG.
I enjoyed this project, even though I had a rough month and wasn’t able to give it my full attention. I enjoyed it so much, that when I dropped off this roll for processing, I picked up 2 more rolls of XP2. Thanks for re-introducing me to the joy of film.
Steve Pamp / Website
Camera: Minolta X-370, purchased at JC Penney in 1984.
Lenses: Mostly the 50mm f/1.7. I used an 80-200mm zoom for one shot (the dog at the pool)
Film: Kodak SuperMax 400 speed
Scan: Images scanned by thedarkroom.com and transferred electronically
I did some minor cropping and enhancement in Photoshop (with some light use of Topaz Adjust). One problem that seemed to come up regularly was a light stripe near the left side of the image. I’m guessing that I have a light leak somewhere, but it’s strange that the effect isn’t consistent across the images. When it seemed particularly bad, I tried to correct it a little in Photoshop.
Two of the studio images I made had a strange problem on the bottom of the frame – a whitish glow that I can’t figure out. I didn’t even bother to try and correct these, and they are included as they originally appear.
I started the project as something of a “shot a day” approach, trying to capture something that was happening in my small world each day. One shot – the Harrisburg Capitol Building – nearly got me arrested…but that’s another story.
Because of some other distractions, I started getting behind on the project, so I shifted to doing a still life study, and I chose a pineapple as my subject. I photographed it first at the supermarket (where I was admonished for taking photos), and then I tried several lighting styles and visual approaches with the pineapple (finally stabbing it with a bayonet…hahaha). I had a couple of shots left at the end, so I set up a quick self portrait and another “shot a day” type of image at the end.
Something interesting (to me, anyway) with the effort was the limitation of the mechanics of the camera. The fastest shutter speed is 1/1000, and using 400 speed film was a potential problem in some well-lighted scenes. To get around it, I purchased a 3-stop neutral density filter. When I was using my digital camera (5D classic) for setting up shots, I had to so the mental math to compensate for the ND filter, and adjust the settings accordingly. And for the most part, it worked! It was good to be able to do the conversions on the fly.
- Camera – Nikon N65
- Lens(es) – 50mm Nikkor
- Film Type – Arista 100-35 B+W
- How Scanned – sent to theFINDLAB for processing and scanning
- Any Post Processing added – no
Michelle Cushman / Website
This project starts with a photo of the shed at my house that I have captured with my iPhone at various times during this past year. I was curious as to how it would look on b/w film. I took a few scenic shots about halfway through our seven hour drive just outside of Williamsport, PA. The family shots before going to church turned out fairly well and I am happy with those. I included an accidental shot (crooked shot in a parking lot) because well, you can’t delete those that are taken like you can on a digital camera. The series ends with a photo of the house I grew up in, a few shots from breakfast the morning we left to go back home as well as my entire family (minus me) and a few more scenic shots from a rest stop in Pennsylvania.
The bridges and falls on the Androscoggin river project was photographed between Lewiston and Brunswick Maine, I think I will extend the project as time permits.
I shot this images on a 15 year old Fuji color film ISO 400, camera was Nikon F4 with 28-85mm f3.5 lens.
Alfred Kypta / Website
- Camera information: Mamyia 6
- Lenses: 50mm, 75mm and 150mm.
- Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100
- Processed in Kodak XTol 1+2 dilution at home in a Jobo CPE2
- Scanned: using a light table and Hasselblad H4D
- Postprocessing: dust removal and contrast correction in Photoshop CC
- Film: Fujicolour Superia 200
- Camera: Minolta X-700
- Lens: 24mm F2.8 MC w Rokkor-X
- Converted to B&W using one of the default presets in Lightroom 5.
- Adjusted exposure -0.8 stop
I liked the feel of this camera in my hands, and I love the lens. I only have cheap kit lenses for my Nikon D90, so shooting with the Minolta glass was a pleasure.
Almost all images were taken at F8. I used my sekonic meter, to set the camera. I found that the meter in the Minolta, was slightly different that the sekonic. I think I tried to average the two. In the end, I should have just followed the sekonic. I found that every exposure was over exposed by about a stop. I found the images to be a bit boring in colour, so I converted them to B&W. Also, I had to rotate every image -1 degree.
Anyway… this was fun. I am a bit disappointed in the scans however. The company I used to develop the film scanned them in at a relatively small size.(1544 X 1024)
- Voigtlander Vito II circa 1951
- scanned by processor
- boosted contrast a bit
- Camera: Yashica Electro GTN
- Lens: 45mm 1.7
- Film: Kodak Porta 400
- Scanned by Photographique (www.photographique.co.uk)
- Post-processing: some cropping, straightening and curves adjustment
Chris Dean / Website
Larger version of the photos: Flickr
- Camera: Bronica 645
- lens: 75mm
- Film Kodak b/w Tmax 100 and 400
- Scanned by lab (Crimson, Stockholm, Sweden)
- Processed in ACR and PS.
Tomas Jansson / website:
- Camera: Minolta Maxxum 5
- Lens: Minolta 28-90mmD
- Film: Ilford HP5 400 B&W
- Scanned by the lab
- A few crops in post processing
Nicole Fernley / website
- Camera: Nikon F4
- Lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4D
- Film: Portra 400
- Scanned: At the lab
- Post processing: Small global adjustments in contrast and color (CS6)
Kine Meijer / website
- Camera: Konica T4 circa 1980
- Lens: Hexanon 1.7 50mm
- Film: Kodak Tri X Pro 400 ISO, dated 2003
- Processing: Self developed myself with the help of Rob Davidson
- Scanned by Rob’s scanner, also a classic
- Post processing: contrast, curves, levels in PS, along with a lot of dust removal
Click here to learn more
- A Honda 70, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”
- 1976 Super Glide
- Dying flowers with an unexplained light streak
- Old sneakers
- Tree limbs and leaves, I think the light was interesting that didn’t come across in the image
- Open windows
- Rotting logs, the rising sun was casting an interesting light on them
- Wood/stick pile, again the rising sun was casting an interesting light on them, doesn’t look like it came across
- 1968 Corvette, could have used the help of some reflectors for the grill
- I have no idea, don’t remember taking this shot and not sure why
- More tree limbs and leaves, again, the light was interesting and I didn’t realize I had already gotten a shot of this
- Old cars with some lens flair
- 1975 Sportster gas tank
- Pier at sunset
- Sunset on Raritan Bay
- A different angle on the pier
- Shed in backyard, I liked the way the light was playing on the leaves
- Can’t see it, but there were ominous clouds over the house
- Another attempt to capture the ominous clouds over the house
- Another light playing in the leaves. Most likely I was sitting on the deck, a few beers in, reading the paper when I noticed the light
- Rusted iron gate, loved the texture
- Beer tap handles in a local pub
- My kegerator tap handles
- 2001 Roadking
- Shot with Yashica D TLR
- 120 film, Fuji 160 color neg
- Scanned by the lab.
- Only very small WB and exposure changes done in LR on 4 images, the rest are untouched.
This was a fun challenge. I have been taking pictures with film for most of my life, but only making photographs for the last three years or so. Learning to “write” with light is quite a bit more challenging than documenting a vacation or family gathering. My recent learning was all accomplished with digital. My first dslr was a Rebel T3 with the 18-55mm kit lens and before that a Sony pocket camera. I didn’t realize how far back I would have to go in order to shoot a simple roll of film.
Rewind about two years, no, make that 20, err 50, oh forget it, let’s go back to the beginning. 1937, the year my Leica was made and sold. My grandfather took possession of it from his wealthy employer in the early 1950′s and it dangled around his neck every time I saw him as a kid. I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than why would it take so long to take a single picture. How many light meter readings did he need? Well, my grandpa passed away about 20 years ago and the camera changed hands and bookshelves a few times before it arrived in the mail to me about two years ago.
I wanted to use it, but it seemed so daunting. It is a bottom loader and the film has to be cut a certain way so as not to damage the shutter. Problem. At some point a spring broke and the take-up spool would slip when advancing past the second frame. Off for repair. Thank you, Joe Wojcich @ Tempe Camera. This left me with time for only one practice roll. I ran a roll of Tri-X 400 without a hitch. Next up was Kodak Ektar 100 for this project.
Huge thanks to Don for putting this project together and letting me borrow the Mamiya on the trip. That’s what really got me going!
Dennis Mong / website
- Camera – Mamiya 645
- Lens(es) – Mamiya “C” 45mm, 80mm, 210mm
- Film Type – Kodak Ektar 100 (120). Kodak Tri-x 100 B+W (120), Ilford HP5 160 (4×5)
- How Scanned – Epson V500 self scanned
- Post Processing added – it varied from image to image
Keith Knasiak/ Website
One key reason I started working with film is that some element of photography was missing for me in this new digital age. Don’t take me wrong, I enjoy shooting digital but I guess a I missed the more tactile sense I feel when developing my own film.
Each of these images were processed by me prior to digitization. This is also the first time I have made any attempt at developing color negative film. I had a blast. I learned a lot. One of the most important things that I learned is that I need to hone those rusty old darkroom skills. This is the main reason for the post processing after digitizing that I did. A second important lesson is that I really have a lot, lot, lot to learn about the use of view cameras. And finally and probably the most important lesson was just how much fun photography can be in all of its wonderful manifestations.
Some of our photographers didn’t get their film processed in time. I will add their work as it comes in.
Film is not digital… the shooting of film is a different experience. One that is involves different approaches to the creative process. We cannot see the images when they are taken, so we have to be very deliberate in our approach. It is a slower, more measured approach to making images… one that involves time. The time from exposure to actually seeing the images is an important part of the process. Some enjoy that part of the process.
Very proud of the Project 24 folks who joined in this project and shared their contact sheets with us.
Going Beyond Full Frame Without Selling The Farm.
In this tutorial, I’ll share my reasoning for going beyond full-frame, a few reasons why you shouldn’t, and some simple steps I use to create images that match your vision.
While there are huge differences between a Digital Medium Format system and this panoramic technique, you shouldn’t let that stop you from creating. If you see an image in your head that you can’t create with a 35mm system, well then, you better get crafty.
It’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it.
I started shooting with this technique because I was craving the field of view, and spatial relations that I get shooting medium format, but without having to always shoot film or plunk down a house-worth of cash for a digital back.
The detail and resolution of medium format is incredible and beyond stunning when printed larger than 24×36. The depth in the image is scrumptious and gives portraits a very romantic feeling when combined with DMF’s incredible color.
You’re basically viewing a Flemish Renaissance painting as the oil paints are still drying.
[Uncropped Frame from IQ180 showing outline of crop in image below]
[100% View from above image]
While digital backs are delicious, they cost more than a home in the rural Midwest and few people probably have a need for that kind of gear! Getting a used digital back is a semi-affordable option, along with renting one.
Even so, we’re still talking thousands of dollars.
What other options do we have to create images that fit our vision?
We’d certainly not let a bit of gear or software hold us back from creating, would we?!
Seeing Your Final Image
The most important part of this technique is being able to ‘see photographically,’ knowing what the final image looks like and how you’ll create it. This takes moving beyond what you see in your viewfinder and instead envisioning the final image as you’d like to create it.
Keep Your Settings the Same
This one seems obvious but it’s easy to miss. For this technique to work smoothly it really helps to keep your camera settings consistent through your image making. Set your ISO, WB, aperture, and lock your focus on the subject.
Create Frames to Build Final Composition
You can build your composition by creating rows of portrait oriented images the same way you’d create a standard panorama, and then merging and blending accordingly. Another way is to make the images in a spiral starting from your subject and working outwards in a simple pattern.
Take a frame, move right. Take another frame, move down. Take another frame. Move left. Etc.
Each subject/composition/camera/person is unique, so experiment and create your frames while being aware of how your sensor is collecting the light.
Be mindful of your plane of focus while making these frames. Any movement you introduce into your camera/sensor will change the plane of focus. That is just physics. You’ll want to be aware of this as you create your image.
Using a solid tripod with a panoramic head that lets you adjust the nodal point will help minimize changes to your focal plane and parallax, but you’re still bound by the Laws of Physics.
Unless you tilt-shift, but that’s for another day.
Review Your Images
Ensuring that you have the images you’d like is essential before moving on, as this method is more complex than shooting a single 35mm or MF frame.
Check, check, double check before moving on from your scene.
There isn’t much worse than realizing you missed a frame in your “grand vision.”
Combining Your Frames
After making global adjustments, you can open these images using Photoshop’s spectacular Photomerge, or use an open source alternative like Hugin. The settings you choose in photomerge will depend on the lens/camera you choose and number of frames. I’ve noticed the best results using “cylindrical” as the mode and turning off ‘blend images’ and ‘fix geometric distortion.
Even with all that automation, you’ll have to watch out for misalignment issues, out of focus areas, and anything else that may detract from your final image.
If you’re system is having trouble creating a large composite, you can merge your frames in ‘batches’ which will help a bit, though you’ll still have some trouble making the final composite.
At least you have plenty of resolution to play with!
Check + Print
This is just a final review of the image to ensure it meets your standards before printing. Check for bad blending, color shifts, or mis. Out of focus areas on the periphery of your frame can be common with low apertures and isn’t always noticeable when you’re in the field.
- Know what you’re creating in terms of composition before you begin to setup.
- Use your Photo Yoga/Tai-Chi skills to play with the composition before you shoot.
- Keep your camera settings the same and lock your focus, otherwise you’ll have all sorts of trouble when putting these frames together in your final image.
- Have plenty of overlap in your frames, but reduce changes in your focal plane as best you can. Any movement will change your plane of focus, which is especially noticeable at lower apertures.
- Watch for parallax in your frames and be mindful of any complex geometry like tree branches, fences, etc. Using a solid panoramic tripod will help minimize this, but you’re still blending images which raises the potential for problems.
- Look for any distortion, misalignments, bad blending Photoshop introduces during your alignment. This is a personal preference, though you may differ and enjoy these aberrations in your image.
A Couple of Caveats
There are also client considerations to bear in mind when deciding whether or not to use this technique. Some clients and publishers will not allow for digitally manipulated images to be used. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
That means REAL graduated ND filters, and no modifications outside of what you could do on film or in the darkroom.
Other times the client will need a higher resolution, color accuracy, and image quality for the final output that could require a medium format image versus this stitched 35mm technique.
Either way, when using this technique the risk of failure is much higher than simple using medium format.
Even when PhaseOne is acting up!
(Takes the battery out. Puts the battery back in.)
Don’t let Resistance get the best of you.
Get out there and make something you love.
*In my research of this technique I discovered that fellow photographer Brenizer has used this extensively to create some intense panoramas! Prior to Brenizer, the technique was also referred to as “thinking outside the box” in the earlier days of 10mp DSLRs!
There are also ways to do this technique without depending on Photoshop. If you enjoy Open Source tools, I’m happy to give more information on processing. Just send me an email.
ALL THE TUTORIALS DURING “SUMMER SCHOOL” ARE BY PROJECT 52 PRO MEMBERS EITHER CURRENTLY ENROLLED OR ALUMNI.