December 26th, 2007
It’s Christmas Day (the roast’s in the oven, Finn’s asleep and I’ve got a couple of minutes before our friends arrive). As I sit here next to my shiny new Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens – Santa was very good to me this year – I’m thinking of all the digital SLR cameras that people found under the Christmas tree today.
This time last year I didn’t have a digital SLR, and I’d just started using my film SLR again. Now I’ve had an article and photos published in national and local publications, sold prints as wedding presents and spent a huge amount of time shooting and learning.
So if you’re wondering where to start with your new camera, here are a few pointers from someone who’s on the same journey as you, just a little further along.
December 24th, 2007
It’s cheap, plastic and it wheezes. But it’s by far my favorite lens. My precious is the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens.
Eschewing such luxury developments as USM focusing or full-time manual (and don’t even think about image stabilization), this $70 lens – known variously as the ‘nifty fifty’. ‘thrifty fifty’ or ‘plastic fantastic’ – produces amazing results.
It’s in no way a pro-grade ‘L’ lens, but Canon have been working on this classic for decades – 50mm is seen as the standard focal length for 35mm film cameras – and it does one thing very well.
December 23rd, 2007
So I’m struck down with a pre-Christmas cold that won’t move through the accepted stages like it’s supposed to. Scratchy throat and dull ache should have turned into streaming nose and sneezefest by now, but no joy.
But we had some snow, and I ventured outside in my pyjamas and jumper to get this shot of our wall. I like finding simple semi-abstract views that have some minimalist calm to them.
With luck I’ll be well enough tomorrow for the Christmas Eve walk up Canyon Road here in Santa Fe, where people light farolitos and fires and the whole scene is gorgeous (if very dark – think I’ll bring my 28mm f/1.8 prime and hope for the best – too crowded for a tripod).
December 22nd, 2007
I must confess to have been only vaguely aware of the wide differences in the way colours are displayed online – until recently. Or rather, I was aware of the differences from testing sites in different OS and browser combinations, but I was only vaguely concerned – Macs’ 1.8 gamma meant a difference from PC’s 2.2, and every now and again in my work as a web designer, I’d get a photo to edit that had a colour profile attached, but that was it.
And I was partly right about this – unlike the print design world, where color profiles for monitors, printers and the like are carefully controlled, and there’s a real struggle to get color matching as right as it can be, in the online world, we have to be a little more flexible.
Almost all of our audience wouldn’t know a calibrated monitor if it ate their lunch, and most browsers (the programs, not the people) are a sorry bunch that don’t support color management anyway. It’s a sRGB world, for better or worse. Or so I thought.
December 21st, 2007
Constraints can be hugely liberating, and in this digital age many of us have forgotten what it’s like to have to weigh every shot as carefully as we might.
Enter the 36 Exposures Contest – a join venture between FILE, Coudal Partners and Flak Photo.The basic idea is to shoot a roll of film with 36 exposures, and display all the shots – no deleting or complex Photoshopping. You have to submit your ideas by January 6th, and if your concept is chosen, they’ll send you a roll of film to shoot and return to them.
All the images will be displayed in the order they were shot, and winners get some great prizes. Full details here.
Even if you’re not interested in the competition, it might be interesting to subject yourself to a bit of discipline in your photography, to see what happens when you take your time a little more.
And when I say ‘you’, I mean me, of course. I submitted my idea to the competition, so we’ll see if I get some film in the mail next month.
December 20th, 2007
It’s been out a while, but I thought I’d bring this Online Photographer article to your attention, if you’ve not seen it.
Written by New York Times photographer Howard French, it outlines how he uses Flickr as a professional, and counters some of the criticism he gets from fellow pros, who argue it’s a site full of rubbish.