Thursday, July 20, 2006

Comparing cameras and lenses, and I'm off

Dear faithful readers, I am away photographing and won’t have easy access to the internet, nor the time to write my blog. I’ll be back mid August.

I’m sure that my travels will inspire new articles and I’ll of course share any interesting stories.
This mission will be a good test for my new EOS 5D. So far I’m very impressed with the quality and performance of the camera. It’s one of the best I’ve ever used; a real pleasure. I particularly like the way the 5D draws its images. The images look like medium format film. The camera is also a lot lighter to lug around than for example a Mamiya RZ and the quality when RAW files are processed correctly is certainly on a par.

There’s a funny thing about the whole process of comparing cameras. I know I’m not the first person to point the following out. Scientific tests give you dry academic figures often highlighting such miniscule differences that you’d need a powerful magnifying glass to see what they’re talking about, which is certainly not the way ‘normal’ people view prints.

As far as I’m concerned there’s only one way to evaluate a camera and a lens. Take pictures with the lenses and cameras you want to compare under a variety of lighting conditions. Then compare the prints as you would normally view them. You will see the way the camera draws the image. Each camera and lens produces an image with a distinctive feel. Your finely tuned photographer’s eye will instinctively identify the look you prefer. I don’t know of any scientific test that can pinpoint the huge combination of factors that produce the final image in print.
Even if there were such a test it would not take an individual’s visual preferences into account. So the only true test of image quality at the end of the day is the critical human eye.
Your views are welcome. Just post a comment below or send me an email.

See you in August. In the meantime please feel free to peruse more than a year’s worth of articles on this blog. You could try looking through the archive for some of the highlights.

Happy reading.

Paul

PS please visit my online exhibition at http://www.indigo2photography.co.uk/

Sunday, July 16, 2006

So what do I like

I see hundreds, maybe thousands of images each week. The work ranges from top professionals through to people just starting out on their photographic journey.

Individual photographers from both sides of the above spectrum can make images that are really special and stand out from the crowd. I can't describe the pure joy it gives me to discover an image that has that extra special something, that moves me.

Few photographers consistently produce work that I admire, time and again hitting that sweet spot. I'd like to introduce you to a photographer who consistently creates outstanding images, Jeanette Hägglund. She's not famous, not a big name in the world of photography, just someone out there who's work I particularly admire. Check out her site www.jeanettehagglund.se for yourself.

Cheers,

Paul

Friday, July 14, 2006

Is being a professional photographer glamorous?

Well I don't know about you but a lot of professional photographers are now spending far more time manipulating pixels than they are on anything else.

A few do outsource all their Photoshop work so they can spend more time photographing but in reality a professional photographer probably spends around 10 per cent of the day on average with a camera in hand.

There are plenty of amateurs who have more time to take pictures than professional photographers do. Add to that the fact that a lot of pro work is rather unglamorous and not spent actually photographing things the pro would really like to, and you've got to ask yourself what the whole dream of turning pro is all about. Is it a romantic illusion?

Well, yes and no. There are pro photographers who love their work and get to do and see the most amazing things. And then there are the rest, fighting to make a living, struggling with government bureaucracy and spending long hours hunched in front of a computer screen.

If you're thinking about turning pro then it's important to know what you're letting yourself in for, the good and bad, rid yourself of romantic notions and the aura that surrounds the industry which is in fact incredibly diverse. Decide what would make you really happy and it has to be a lot more specific than just being a professional photographer. Weigh everything up. Above all you need to realize that with the exception of a few landscape, still life specialists and scientific photographers your job is all about dealing with people and the key to getting a good image relies on your ability to communicate. Photography is a people business whether you're a fashion photographer, a photojournalist or a wedding photographer.

Personally I'm never happier than when I'm out photographing things and people that interest me. Today though, I spent my day photographing people in meetings, with little scope for creativity. It comes with the territory as they say.

All the best,

Paul

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Web site revamp and selling pictures

Well here's the news I promised in my last blog. We've completely revamped www.indigo2photography.co.uk

I'd love to know what you think of the site now. It's been steadily growing in success and my wife and fellow photographer, Magda and I thought it high time to revamp it again. This seems to be an ongoing process at least once every six months. But you can't afford to sit still these days. The internet is proving to be one of the most successful methods photographers have ever had to publish their work to a world-wide audience.

I am also now selling my prints through a superb online gallery service, which is fully e-commerced. So wherever you are in the world it has never been easier to own one of my prints. And I'm keeping prices low during this introductory period. It won't last forever so if you see something you like please don't hesitate, visit www.photoboxgallery.com/paulindigo.

'Printing methods and paper types

For those that are technically minded, here is some information about our print devices and paper types. For small format work (up to 10"x15") we print on a number of FujiFilm Frontier 370 and 390 printers. These work by exposing red, green and blue laser light onto FujiFilm Crystal Archive photographic paper at 300 DPI (dots per inch). The fade resistance of the prints is rated at 150 years.

For large format work we use a Polielectronica Laserlab. This is a world-class laser-based photographic device which prints onto FujiFilm Professional digital photographic paper at 254 DPI. The fade resistance of the prints is also rated at 150 years. ' - Quality information extracted from www.photobox.com which hosts my Professional Gallery and provides my prints.

If you have any questions please just drop me a line. I promise the next blog won't be so commercial. Back to my opinion pieces. I'm thinking of writing an article about how little time professional photographers are spending with their cameras these days.

Cheers,

Paul

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blog goes into translation

Thanks to my friend Alper Tecer in Turkey, articles from my blog will soon be appearing in Turkish. There's also been interest in translating articles into French and Dutch.

Needless to say, I'm delighted with the interest from readers around the world.

If you would like to translate articles into your mother tongue please get in touch. Also a gentle reminder that all content on this blog is strictly copyright protected. You may not use any information, article or part of an article without my written permission.

However please feel free to link to my blog from your site. I would appreciate knowing about it though.

I'll let you know more about the translations in due course.

Cheers,

Paul

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

No more fotolog

Today I posted my last upload on fotolog. The quality is just too poor and it pains me to see what the automatic resizing and compression software does to my images. You're still welcome to visit and see what's on the site but nothing new will be added.

However some exciting new developments are on the way. I'll keep you posted.

Please note this article refers to fotolog.com NOT my blog. This blog will continue to go for a very long time I hope...

Cheers,

Paul

Monday, July 03, 2006

Zoom lenses could be killing your creativity

Zoom lenses are by far the most popular choice for photographers using digital SLRs and I don't think any prosumer or consumer digital cameras are made that don't have a zoom lens these days.

How is this affecting creativity? When I studied photography, in the beginning, we had to use a camera fully manual with one standard fixed lens. We were taught to look while moving around the subject.

Having regularly observed other photographers at work I have noticed that when they see something they stop dead in their tracks, zoom to the appropriate focal length to frame the composition and take the shot – without exploring the possibilities that open up by moving closer or further away from the subject and choosing the optimal focal length.

But here's the really interesting thing that photographers seem to be missing, and it is something that could enhance their creative expression. Each focal length has its own unique characteristics which can be explored creatively.

This will sound painfully obvious to some but to others it may come as a bit of a revelation. Let's look at an example, a head shot. Take an extreme wide angle and fill the frame with your subjects face. You will see plenty of distortion. Then move away keeping the persons face full frame by using the zoom. The difference in depth of field, distortion, compression and effect on the person's features and background is phenomenal. This difference obviously also applies to shooting landscapes, still lives and everything else.

Although the effect on subjects like landscapes may appear more subtle in choice between for example a 24mm wide angle and a 17mm wide angle it's there none the less. And this means that it can be used for creative expression.

So next time you're out there zooming away, think about the focal lengths you're using and the creative impact that choice of focal length can have. The joy of a zoom is have a range of focal lengths to choose from but the choice of which one to use should be a conscious creative decision, just like deciding which aperture or shutter speed to use. Keep on moving yourself, not your zoom.

All the best,

Paul