Yesterday I came across a copy of Robert Doisneau’s Portraits of the Artists. It’s a beautiful book, displaying photos from a personal project spanning many decades. The oldest are over 70 years old. Not only do they capture the likeness of the various artists (some well known, like Picasso and Hockney, and others who have been forgotten by all except a few), they show the environments they lived and worked in. Several artists were pictured in various states of squalor in tiny Paris apartments, and it shows just how much living standards have improved in the intervening decades. But this aside, there are a few other things I thought about as I looked through the photos…….
As a working photographer as well as the FIA Media Delegate for the World Endurance Championship I do get regularly asked how did I become a professional motorsport photographer and how do they become one to. I suppose it all comes down to your definition of professional and what it means to your clients. Some people think it is just getting paid to take photographs. While that is partially true, for me being ‚professional‘ is conducting yourself and your business in an acceptable manner that other businesses will respect. It also means that you are able to produce the images required by your client to exacting standards again and again and usually to strict deadlines. There are plenty of part time photographers working the circuits who have day jobs as well but they also conduct themselves in a professional manner, so it’s not just about being full time……
For those of us practiced in traditional silver halide photography, it’s obvious that b&w images (are there really any other kind?) made with film are different than digital b&w. Run your RAW files through any b&w film emulation program you desire and, at bottom, they come out looking different than a native black and white negative. It’s true: silver halide film is capable of certain aesthetic qualities that digital capture simply cannot match. It may be subtle at times, but it’s there, and unlike what some think, It’s not just film grain or lack thereof that constitutes the difference. It has to do with the differing ways film and digital sensors react to the same given amount of light. Digital sensors are linear. The actual output voltage from each cell of a digital sensor is directly proportional to the amount of light that strikes it during the exposure. As such, you can use three light sources and what you get will be the exact sum of the three. You can then subtract one of them and be left with the exact sum of the remaining two. Etc Etc………
Photographers have a dilemma. If you want your photographs to have the largest possible depth of field – from the foreground to infinity – a small aperture is absolutely necessary. At the same time, though, a small aperture causes your photograph to lose sharpness from diffraction. So, where’s the sweet spot? In this article, I will cover how to choose the sharpest possible aperture for such a photograph, including mathematically accurate charts (free for printing) that are easy to use in the field. Before that, though, please note that this article only applies if you want everything from the foreground to the horizon (infinity) to be sharp in your photographs. If you are simply interested in the sharpest aperture on your particular lens, this is the wrong article; check out our lens reviews instead, each of which includes sharpness tests. In an ideal world, you would always be able to use the sharpest aperture on your lens. In practice, though, you will find yourself stopping down to smaller, diffraction-prone aperture values if you need more depth of field…….
That quiet voice inside your head that says: “That might be interesting— why don’t you take a photo?” Then your rational mind goes: “No, that will be a boring cliche— don’t take a photograph.” The more I’ve been studying and learning about creativity, artistic process, Zen Buddhism, and the habits of productive creatives— I’ve become more and more convinced that following your intuition is much more important than being “rational” in life. In the West, we revere “rational thought”— ever since Plato invented the concept of “naming everything.” However in the East, they have always revered following intuition— very similar to Lao Tzu’s concept of “wu-wei” (action without action) in Taoism. You can see a lot of Eastern arts which promote meditation, using the force of others (Judo), and going with the flow of the river (instead of against it)……..
In the past, Roger has shown us time and time again, that internal dust and other artifacts rarely have an effect on the image quality produced by your lenses. With how complicated the optics in a lens are designed, lenses are rarely affected by these small flaws such as lens dust. That said, every piece of equipment that is on the shelves at LensRentals.com is thoroughly cleaned and inspected multiple times before being shipped out. Cleaning and regular inspection of your gear and help prolong the life and help give you the highest quality of images possible. Today, I’d like to take you through how we often clean and inspect the glass that gets shipped back and forth from our office, and some of the problems that we face……..
Among some photographers there is a certain pride in delivering pictures right out of the box – referred to as SOOC, meaning straight out of camera. But for many reasons I think the SOOC concept is quite silly and in my mind, is an illusion. The most important thing to get right and straight out of your camera is exposure and framing.. (and shutter speed, ISO and aperture). If you get that right, you have the best possible material to work with because you don’t have to crop your image or push your files too much in the exposure department. If you have the basics nailed, then there is less work to do afterwards. If you on top of that, have a camera that produces very nice JPG images, that are processed with the cameras internal computer, then you have even lesser work to do……
Why full frame and crop frame will never be the same thing?
There have been quite a few attempts to explain depth of field and its relation to sensor size. I will try to explain why shooting with different “crop factors” and how it relates to depth of field, framing and background compression, is a different experience on different sensor size cameras. Many have the belief that larger sensors also have a shallower depth of field. But that isn’t true. Actually the opposite is true. If you put a 50mm lens with an aperture of F/2 on a MFT, APSC, Full Frame and Medium Format camera, take a picture from the exact same distance. The D.O.F. (depth of field) will be almost exactly the same. But because of the smaller pixels on the small sensor, the circle of confusion will be smaller, and therefore the D.O.F. will be slightly narrower. But this is not what makes the big difference between shooting crop and full frame……
I’ve been reading David Bate’s little book Photography: The Key Concepts. It’s an introduction to photographic theory and history. The cover blurb states: “Photography: The Key Concepts” provides an ideal guide to the place of photography in our society and to the extraordinary range of photographic genres. Outlining the history of photography and explaining the body of theory which has built up around its use, the book guides the reader through the genres of documentary, portraiture, landscape, still life, art and global photography. Illustrated with a range of historical and contemporary images and case material, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in photography.” It’s a succinct and readable account. The opening two chapters provide an overview of the challenges of constructing a history of photography (Ch.1) and a primer on some of the established methods of theorising photography (Ch.2). Subsequent chapters examine the history and aesthetic conventions of different genres using the tools and concepts from the opening chapters……
It seems that we as photographers have this overly-obsessive fascination and obsession with “image quality” — through how sharp our images are, how well “bokeh” renders, the depth-of-field or “3d-ness” of images, how much the colors “pop”, or things such as “micro-contrast” (not even sure what this is, but I hear it mentioned a lot). But my main question is this: why is image quality important— and is it important at all? Believe me— I’m a sucker for “image quality” — or how the image looks to me. To me aesthetics of an image are important. For example, I despise looking at black-and-white photos that have too low of a contrast. I don’t know why, but many black-and-white photos are greatly improved by increasing the contrast in the image……..