Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Spouse Factor

Many photographers I know have had issues with their spouses. In this crazy and demanding life of a photographer a spouse can be a tremendous support or a stumbling block. Do they understand really what we do? For a transformative experience have him/her assist you for a day on a difficult shoot. Prior to that experience (she had no clue what I do of course-but she is a "creative"-she is a professional chef) I think my wife thought I just wandered around a site snapping photos and drinking coffee. What we do is very physically and mentally challenging. Show her by example. What is all the time in front of the computer about? Show her the before and after results of your Photoshop efforts to explain the endless hours in front of the computer. My wife is my biggest fan and I can't imagine surviving this brutal business (especially in this economy) without her.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nick Merrick again at the 2011 Santa Fe Workshops.

Nick is one of the greats. I have had the unique opportunity to be hired twice to photograph the same buildings he did. This gives one the ability to experience how another photographer actually sees and solves problems in the field. It was instructive, even humbling. His technical approach is masterful and his vision is extraordinary. The workshop should be illuminating. If you are thinking of going professional or a professional who wants to upgrade their skills, I wouldn't miss it. He will be teaching an Architectural Photography Workshop at the Santa Fe Workshops on July 3-9th. See

© Nick Merrick

"Master photographer Nick Merrick is well known for moving beyond mere documentation of buildings and interior spaces to create photographs that interpret the design intent of the architect.

In this workshop, designed for photographers with experience in architectural photography, we cover technical issues of lighting with strobes and hot lights, color balance, contrast, and their relationship to the aesthetic issues of image design. Nick shares his working philosophy and photographic techniques through digital demonstrations that utilize Capture One software, and guides participants in lens selection, composition, and styling decisions."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


In the commercial world meeting deadlines are for me a matter of professional practice. You simply can't maintain a professional reputation by blowing deadlines. Sometimes this leads to long days processing files etc., but you have to do what you have to do. Don't take on a job with a tight deadline if you aren't willing to jump through the hoops to get it done. It is common practice to charge more for jobs on tight deadlines to compensate you for the long hours. But...........what if quality gets compromised? If at all possible you don't want this to happen, but if that is a danger be upfront with your clients. I have on occasion (with the client in sync) delivered half  processed files to meet a clients deadline-for say a job proposal-and then continued the processing and delivered the finished images a few days later.

In the arts for me it is a different story. I still try like hell to meet deadlines-but there can be no compromise in the quality. The work is done when it is done. Period. I think I have the perfection disease. I've got a show coming up this fall. It is a high profile group show at a museum and will be up for a year. My contribution is 5 16x20 Piezography prints from drum scanned 4x5 negatives. 5 measly this point I have almost 2.5 months in those 5 prints.....they need to be of them is stiiiill---not quite right......I am now a fewf weeks past the hard deadline delivering them......but that one print still bugs me a little........

I finally delivered the prints yesterday-6 weeks beyond the hard deadline! I just couldn't let them go till I was satisfied. Last night I received this note from the curaor who I greatly respect:
Thanks so much for bringing the photographs this afternoon. We looked at them when you left & they are stunningly printed – just beautiful. Thank you for taking the time & making the effort to do this work – it’s really OK that they were late – it was well worth the wait!

IMO, In the arts it pays to be your own worst critic. More on this fall show as the opening approaches.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Problems Sharpening Files?

Read through this PDF for PhotoKit Sharpener 2.0. There is allot of good info about sharpening in general. And.....if you are unsure about sharpening, try out PhotoKit Sharpener. The PKS presets can give you a good starting point for a good sharpening workflow.

Convergence and Convention

I always got the idea that Paul Strand could give a s__t for convention, but followed his visual instincts instead. And what genius those instincts those were! Because of that, IMHO he was the most interesting of the early modern architectural photographers. "Time in New England" is one of the great photo books of all time. It is out of print but available used.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Proper Exposure/File Capture and ETTR

As an old Zone System practitioner for developing and processing film, I am very aware of the what is necessary and possible in capturing light on film and translating that to a fine print. In digital we have an approach that serves the same effective purpose but is attuned to the physical realities of light sensitive chips. It is called ETTR or Expose to the Right. This is especially important in AP as we are constantly dealing with dynamic ranges of light that are a challenge for sensors to capture. In recent years with the increased dynamic range and lower noise of newer cameras, some have argued that ETTR is obsolete. In this demo Photoshop and Lightroom guru, Jeff Schewe, demonstrates the continued relevance of ETTR.

Also see this earlier article in LuLa.
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