Eric G. Rose – Where It's At

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Three Strikes and You’re OUT!

by on Oct.02, 2018, under Cameras, Darkroom, Developing, Film, Location, Scanning, Vision

The Tree

Three strikes and you’re out.  If I had followed this baseball rule I would have given up on a dream.

When I was growing up we lived near an abandoned apple orchard which happened to be at the end of a wonderful and mystery filled hike through a dark forest.  Well that’s the way my five-year-old mind remembers it.

Over the years I would venture down to this oasis away from city noise to just sit and think.  Close by is the Bow River so I could skip stones if I liked, or in later years shoot gophers with my trusty Daisy BB gun.  I also found that there was one particular tree that seemed to speak to me.  Not that I heard voices mind you, it just seemed to be a good listener and when I leaned up against its sturdy trunk or climbed into its strong boughs many of the answers I was looking for just “came” to me.  This tree became my spiritual conduit to whoever was at the other end.

Fast forward 60 years and I was down in the same park, visiting the same tree and to my amazement there were several people who came by and paused just long enough to put their hands on the huge trunk and close their eyes.  I was not the only one!

Like all things that live, someday this tree will die.  As will I.  I felt like I needed to capture this majestic tree in a way that shows off its glorious stature.  Those that have their own special tree will get it and I wanted to create an image that will live beyond both the tree and me.

As someone who has been an avid photographer for close to 55 years I have several photographic options with which to accomplish this mission.  Should I shoot digital, 35mm, medium format or large format?  What about colour or should it be in black and white?  The fall colours are out so the obvious choice would be colour.  However, would the bright colours take away from the strength I wanted to show?  After about a week mulling this over I decided that black and white was what I wanted.  Of course, this didn’t eliminate any of the equipment options.  Since I wanted something of a more permanent nature this in my mind eliminated digital.  Just think of Betamax.  Ok now we are down to only film options.  To get all the detail and tonality I wanted I decided large format was the way to go.

I have both a 4×5 wooden Shen-Hao field camera and a Cambo 4×5 monorail.  I anticipated I might have to use some fairly extreme rise to get the tree top in, so this kicked out the field camera as an option.  Now for lenses.  I decided to pack a Nikon 90mm WA, Rodenstock Sironar 150mm and a Dagor 300mm lenses.

Being that I am retired I had lots of time to scout things out and decided to take my Crown Graphic equipped with a 127mm Kodak Ektar and Kodak TMX 320 film down for a quick recon mission.  A friend had given me three holders already loaded with TMX320 so I decided to use them.  I shot all 6 sheets from various angles and lighting conditions as we had partial clouds that day.

It was one of those magical photographic days.  The sun was making the fall colours explode in all their multi coloured brilliance. Exciting shadow patterns between the trees teased and made me wish I had loaded up more film.

I got home and headed straight into the darkroom.  It had been a while since I had used my darkroom, so it was nice to be back at it.  I commenced mixing up my favourite developer PyroCat-HD from a liquid mixture obtained from The Photographers Formulary.  If there is one thing I loathe it’s dealing with powdered chemicals.  I had some fixer already mixed from a previous printing and film developing session I had done several months ago.

I use hangers rather than a rotary drum not because I think they’re better; it’s just that I am familiar with them and I have a distrust of anything that requires electricity when it comes to developing my film.  Quite frankly I have the same qualms about cameras.  Batteries are evil little beasts that fail at all the wrong times.

Less than twenty minutes later (11 minutes in PyroCat-HD, 30 seconds in water stop and then 5 minutes in fix) I turned the lights on.  To my horror the images were black! The film had been exposed to light before I had received it.  On top of that I had found one of the sheets of film had been loaded into the holder backwards.  Strike number one.  On top of all that I had no tequila in the house with which to drown my sorrows.  The horror of it all.

After I finished beating myself up for being such a fool I set to loading up three new holders with TMX320.

A few weeks later I ventured out again.  This time with the Cambo monorail and my bag of lenses.  I did two different setups on the tree exposing three sheets of film.  To get the rise I needed for the tree I attached my Cambo bag bellows.  Fortunately, the Nikkor 90mm wide angle was just right for the job.  You see I had a playground just behind me and I could not back up any further to get the shoots I wanted from that vantage point.  Next, I found a beautiful row of Spruce trees with wonderful shadows.  I switched to a Rodenstock 150mm Sironar APO for these shots and just left the bag bellows on.  Two sheets exposed there.  With my remaining sheet of film, I had planned on trying to create an image of the railroad tracks near the park so ambled over there and setup.  Naturally a train came along so I figured I would just incorporate it into my image.  I shot it at ¼ of second to give the train some blur thus showing it was in motion.

I was quite happy with what I shot and rushed back to my darkroom.  Again, I mixed up my PyroCat-HD and poured the fixer into its tub.

Twenty or so minutes later I was done and with some trepidation turned on the lights.  Again horror!  The images were very dark and muddy looking.  Plus, all the ones where I had used the bag bellows showed signs of fogging.  I double checked my meter and it was spot on.  I suspected the fixer was bad, so I cut off a piece of 35mm black and white film and chucked it into the fixer.  Waited 5 minutes and turned the lights on.  Indeed, the fixer was in its final stages of a slow and merciless death.  And still no tequila!

In all my years of photography I have never had such a series of misfortunes.  I firmly take credit and responsibility for all of it.  But really??  This was now becoming a mission!

The very next day I loaded up three more two banger 4×5 film holders and set out once again to capture this blasted tree.  I was beginning to think there was some higher power that was either trying to teach me a lesson or just did not want me to succeed in this quest for THE image.  I had struck out twice.  If I strike out again, that’s three.  Does this mean I just need to be sent back to the bench or heaven forbid the minors?

I drove the 45 minutes to the park, parked my Kia Soul (see I do have soul) and with a sense of foreboding unpacked my camera gear.  I decided to stick to angles that did not require my bag bellows.  Eliminate one problem, check.  No fancy angles that require lots of rise, check.

Hiked into the park, said hello to the grounds keeper who by now thinks I’ve been dealt a few balloons short of a party.

The light was fantastic, there are no little urchins running around getting into my shot.  I have it in the back of my mind God is messing with me.  I make four exposures of the tree.  One setup I actually bracket, something I never do.  The fear has set in.  So, three different angles of the tree are done, now out to the railway tracks.  I make one image there.  Without the train it’s not that special.

I’m actually a bit nervous about souping these shots.  Three strikes, that would be a killer!  So I procrastinate, something I do quite well actually, and put off going down to the darkroom until the next day.

Once I get my courage up and venture into the darkroom the first thing I do is mix up new fixer and developer.  I always treat PyroCat as a one-shot developer.  It’s so cheap trying to stretch it does not make any sense.

The lights are out and it’s time to load the hangers.  Again, I spend 20 minutes in the dark thinking crazy stuff like if this attempt fails I will just sell all my camera gear and take up billiards.

Once the lights get turned on I pull one of the hangers out of the fixer and with some trepidation hold it up to the light.  I could almost hear a celestial host singing a song of triumph!  An image, a good image, well exposed and developed and most importantly fixed.

In the end I was not struck out.  That game may have gone into extra innings but in the end, I got the winning run!

What did I learn?  The main lesson learned is not to take anything for granted and not to be over-casual about things even though you have done them a thousand times over the past five decades.  The other lesson is not to put yourself under undue pressure like a three strikes mentality.  Each attempt is a learning experience, not a failure.

You might not see anything special in the images I made but they are special to me.  I learned long ago that if there is not something special in your subject that gets you excited you might as well leave your camera in its bag.  You will only be making “I was there” photos or worse yet what I refer to as “museum” photos.  It was only my passion and love for the photographic medium and my desire to express something through photography that kept me going.  While I shoot both digital and film it is only film that gives me a really organic high when I am creating imagery.  Just remember to load your own film and insure you are using fresh chemicals.  Oh and remember to actually put the developer concentrate into the water, but that’s another story.

The Tree welcomes all
The Trinity
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How I Sharpen Images for Web use.

by on Sep.28, 2018, under Cameras, Developing, Digital

Several people have asked me to provide a quick tutorial on how I sharpen images for https://photrio.com. It all came about due to a great image that a user uploaded that looked unsharp. I knew having seen his work in person his image would have been tack sharp.

The problem was he didn’t know how to sharpen the image prior to uploading. I took the liberty of downloading his image and applying the technique I thought would yield the best results for that particular image. The improvement was very noticeable by those that viewed it.

The method I used is best suited to images that have distinct edges. It’s also great for portraits where you want the hair to look more natural and not all mushy.

As I mention in the video there are a number of ways to sharpen an image and each procedure has its uses but sharpening images should not be considered a one size (technique) fits all. That’s part of our craft, learning what works for a particular image and the presentation you want. One further advantage of the procedure I follow is that you can customize where the mask actually applies the sharpening.

I have to apologize to Sean the owner of Photrio.com, I kept referring to Photrio as PhotoRio. Bad Eric, bad!

So here it is I hope you can follow along, I’m not a professional voice over instructor lol.  The image in the video was taken using a Panasonic G85 with 14-42 G Vario lens.  The file was in RAW format.

 

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RIP Ricky

by on Aug.04, 2015, under Location

ericgrose_ricky_roadside_1000

Ricky, may he RIP

My sweetie and I did a two week trip down the Washington and Oregon coasts last month. For the most part the weather was not what I wanted for the images I wanted to make so in the vain of making lemonade etc. I did this image.

We had passed this memorial several times on the way to and from side trips to beaches and coastal towns. Finally I just had to stop and make an image of it.  These types of roadside memorials are not common in my part of Canada.

The symbolism doesn’t need any explanations, I’ve never been a very deep photographer, but it was fun shooting it. One of the images actually has the cross and the name square in the drivers seat, very creepy. Not knowing what caused Ricky’s demise I didn’t want to symbolically tarnish his memory so haven’t used that image. But gee it sure looks cool.

The shot was taken with a Panasonic GX-7,  a 14-42 Panasonic kit lens both majestically sitting atop my trusty Berlebach tripod.

I also inadvertently caused quite a bit of consternation with motorists who were screaming around the corner. I guess they thought I was a photo radar cop. So while the cross did nothing to slow anyone down, my presence with a camera did the job. Ricky’s mission may somehow now be complete.

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Pixel Peeping is a WASTE of time!

by on Mar.12, 2014, under Camera Review, Cameras, Digital, Location, Photographers, Travel

COSMOS-FOX

A scene from the Fox show Cosmos, copyright Fox

Your always humble struggling artist/photographer/blogger has had an epiphany!  Indeed the cosmos aligned even without the help of Seth MacFarlane and his new Cosmos series.  What pray tell has ripped the blinders away from my clouded eyes?

Pixel peeping is a waste of time.  There it is, I said it.

What do most of us do when we test out a new camera or lens?  We take a shot and then zoom into 100 percent magnification to see if it is sharp enough.  I’ve done my fair share of pixel peeping myself.

Nikon Nikkormat FTN - Eric G. Rose Photography - BlogLet’s back up a bit and look at history and how things have changed.  In the old days if you shot Kodachrome 25 with a Nikkormat FTN or an F5 using the same lens, the image will look identical.  The only thing different between the cameras was their feature set.  The same could be said in broader terms between a Nikon F2 and a Canon F1 using their respective 50mm f2 prime lenses.  Again feature sets and “religion” were the only differences, not image quality.  What little differences they did exhibit could be fixed today in PS.

For the most part all of the major manufacturers made very high quality lenses with very minor optical differences.  Most system choices were made due to features and system depth if that was important to you.  Any pro worth his salt could make a decent living using Nikon, Canon, and  Pentax.  The choices were more limited in medium format, but again each of the major players made very good cameras and lenses.  Features, reliability and system depth were the main deciding factors.

4 bit Convertor - Eric G. Rose Photography - BlogWhen did all this pixel peeping or bit crawling start.  I suggest it started with the advent of CD’s.  The first CD players used very crude codecs.  Those that considered themselves audiophiles cried and bemoaned the butchering of their favorite  LP’s.  All that “air” and spatial quality was missing not to mention how sharp and peaky the sound became when played through the leading CD players of the time.  A crop of “digital” speakers were flogged to the masses.  Sound familiar?  A new lexicon had to be added to the audiophiles repertoire; bit encoding.  How many samplings were made per second.  The higher the bit rate the more accurate the reproduction, or so it would seem.  The study of and the acquisition of the best analog to digital, back to analog, converters was now necessary.

We had been sensitized to the axiom that more bits are better.    That philosophy was embraced by the camera manufacturers to ensure consumers would be set on a pixel treadmill.  So now pixels counted the most with camera features becoming secondary.

Kodak DC290 - Eric Rose Photography - BlogMy first digital camera was a Kodak DC290.  This camera boasted 2.9 mega pixels.  This yielded an image 31 inches by 20 inches approximately (according to the Kodak data sheet).  I made plenty of 8×10’s from the DC290 and was pleased with the results.  The prints from the DC290 were not as good as an optical print from a good 35mm negative, but acceptable.  Numerous images were also used in corporate websites.   Next I blew through several Nikon and Canon P&S’s.  Digital cameras to me were still toys.  The real work had to be done with my film cameras.

Pixel count was ever increasing but the features were still limited.  My first semi-pro DSLR was the Nikon D70s (6 mega pixels).  I have made 11×14 inch prints from this cameras that are stunning and equal anything I could do with my 35mm negatives.  I have never tried to do 16×20’s from the D70s only due to a lack of demand.  The feature set was more to my liking than comparable pixel count P&S’s.  The ability to use my legacy Nikkor lenses sealed the deal.  I was now firmly in the digital camp.  The Kreonite went into the trash bin.  The size of the sensor now became important.  A 6 mega pixel APS-C sensor will out perform a 6 mega pixel finger nail sized sensor in a P&S.

Nikon D700 - Eric G. Rose Photography - BlogI would still be using the D70s if it were not for a row of dead pixels.  They don’t always disappear, but for my professional work it just was not acceptable.  Yes I could fix it in PS but the time overhead was too costly.  I replaced the D70s with a D700.  Wonderful camera, does everything I want it to and it replaced my Hasselblad.  I could now make prints up to 20×30 if I needed to.  Actually bigger if I really needed to but that’s not my market.

I recently bought a Panasonic GX1 from Frank Petronio.  It’s 16 mega pixels which is 4 more than my D700.  They tell me the technology has improved since the D700 was introduced and I should not see a huge difference between the two cameras under ideal conditions.  Micro 4/3rd’s is the new holy grail.

Well you can guess what was the first thing I did once I got the GX1.  I shot side by side images, GX1-vs-D700 and pixel peeped.  I tried all kinds of things, using the ultra sharp Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens compared to the Nikkor H-C 50mm f2, putting the Nikkor H-C 50mm lens on the Panasonic etc etc.  In all cases the D700 won.  Not a big surprise as far as I was concerned.  Size does matter when it comes to sensors.

Panasonic GX1 - Eric G. Rose Photography - BlogThen I had a thought.  One of those hit your forehead in the middle of the night kind of thoughts.  Really the only thing that matters is what a print looks like.  I scaled the images to be identical looking and then sized them for 11×14 prints.  Guess what?  Both prints looked outstanding.  Only the kind of people who pick things apart to an absurd level on photograph forums could tell the difference in the prints.  The GX1 doesn’t have the DR (dynamic range) the D700 has but this can be fixed in PS for 95% of what I will be shooting.  Check out George Barr’s excellent blog posting on dealing with high key situations.

Another thing the micro 4/3rd’s cameras don’t have is durability.  I fell off a cliff last weekend and my D700 hit a rock ledge pretty hard.  If suffered a few dents but beyond that the camera and lens functioned perfectly.  If the same thing happened to my GX1 I am sure I would have been picking up pieces.  Same goes for the new Sony A7R.  Again if I were doing something rough the minute difference in image quality between the D700 and the new full frame Sony A7R would not influence my decision.  The tougher D700 would get packed.  If I were going on a cruise, the Sony A7R would get packed.

I am going on a trip to Germany and Santorini in a few months.  I almost left the GX1 at home due to pixel peeping.  Glad I re-evaluated what really mattered, the final output, the print.

I feel we have come full circle.  Camera choices today should primarily be made based on features (important to you), system depth and durability.  For the most part you will not be able to tell the difference in prints made from micro 4/3rd’s, full frame and APS-C type sensors if printed by a skilled craftsman up to 20×30 inches.  The responsibility of proper exposure rests upon the photographer as it always has.  Digital sensors are just as fussy to over/under exposure as were transparency films of bygone days.

We can now spend more time putting the craft back into photography and less time pixel peeping.  Sensors have matured to a level where we should not waste a lot of time comparing one against the other.  At the end of the day whatever difference you “think” you perceive does not amount to a hill of beans once you print your image.  Check out the blog posting by Ctein on The Online Photographer.  Ctein is a master printer and has made prints from non-FX sensor cameras that would blow your mind.  It can be done.  There is no hiding sloppy craftsmanship behind sensor size anymore.  The one thing that cripples your FX camera is not using a tripod.  It does make a difference, even at higher shutter speeds.  That and cheap filters.  Don’t get me going!!

Will I take the GX1 on pro jobs?  You bet I will.  Will it do everything, no, but neither will the D700.  The trick is to use the right tool for the job.  Measure twice, cut once.  Put the craft back into photography!

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Balance

by on Jun.20, 2013, under Camera Review, Cameras, Digital, Family, Life is Good, Location

eric_g_rose_blog_NK

This is a shot of my grandson doing what I did and probably any youth has done at his age, “walk the line”.  Growing up I lived very close to railroad tracks.  The “gang” and I would spend endless hours walking what we thought was miles on railroad tracks.  Shades of “Stand by Me”, a great movie.  Unfortunately we never found a body.  Or rather fortunately we never found a body.

About the most exciting thing that ever happened was a flasher jumping out wiggling his wiggler.  The two gals I was with, Val and Donna noticed him before I did.  Their fits of laughter alerted me to this pathetic guy.  Naturally we had to whip this up into a near death experience by the time we got home.

The gang was a close knit bunch of guys who all grew up together on our block.  Neil, Ian, Tim, Keith, Andy, Gord and myself made up this highly trained cadre of cowboys, army grunts, super heroes, explorers and whatever else it was we were pretending to be at the time.  Once we hit Grade 7, Junior High in this neck of the woods, we discovered girls.  So much for the close knit buddies, it was ever man for himself.

The day I took this photograph (yes TOOK it, not MADE it) I had ready to go my Nikon D700, Leica M3 and M5 and  a Panasonic LX-5.  The Panasonic won out.  I am totally amazed at the image quality this camera outputs.  The Leica optics are razor sharp and contrasty.  Dynamic range is tremendous giving me the ability to convert some images to Black and White.  I’m not all that fussy about colour imagery beyond accurate colour reproduction.  I am use to Kodachrome and it’s limited applications however when it comes to Black and White it better be good or it hits the for sale sites.

P1010622_crop_blog

It’s hard to show you the detail and excellent tonal range in this image.  It seems whatever algorithm WordPress uses really messes things up.  In the original image you can see every single eyelash and the background which was at least 7 stops darker than the foreground has plenty of rich luminous detail.

If you are looking for a very pocketable P&S I highly recommend the Panasonic LX-5.  I hear the LX-7 is even better.  I got my LX-5 new for $250 just before the LX-7 came out.  Frankly I was quite prepared to hate this camera.  I had already burned through Nikon, Canon, and Olympus P&S’s.  Image quality was dismal and most exhibited large amounts of chromatic nastiness.  My wife’s Canon G11 is a decent camera but way to heavy to carry in your pocket.  Check out what dpreview had to say about the LX-5 when it first was announced by clicking here.

So when I next decide to “walk the line” I will have my trusty Panasonic LX-5 in my pocket and adventure in my heart.

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This little Piggy went to Market

by on May.17, 2013, under Location

This little Piggy went to Market - copyright Eric G. Rose 2013

This little Piggy went to Market

During my illustrious career I worked in retail for a short time. The first time was when I was newly married and found I needed to work three jobs to get where we wanted to financially. The second time was when I thought, as a semi-retirement gig, it would be fun to work at Home Depot.  One of those bucket list things.

The first gig was in the menswear department at a national department chain store. With the exception of perverts spying on other men trying on clothes in the next cubicle and the odd couple thinking it would be fun to have sex in a change room people were pretty well behaved.  You never found garbage stuffed into merchandising racks or left in the change rooms.  People would actually come and ask you where the garbage can was.

Then jump forward 40 years to my gig at Home Depot. I was shocked to find that customers felt the displays were just very fancy garbage receptacles. We would find half eaten hamburgers, scrunched up snotty Kleenex’s and to top it off dirty diapers stuffed into merchandise.  I even caught one father letting his kid urinate into a display toilet.  As the kids say, WTF!  Please note that there are garbage cans all over the store and a public washroom.

Will that be Pretzels with your double double? - copyright Eric G. Rose 2013

Will that be Pretzels with your double double?

The biggest offenders are Tim Horton’s customers. By far! Unfortunately we had a Tim’s very close by. From what I heard it is one of the busiest Timmie’s in all of Canada. Good for them. I wish they would send their staff through the store several times a day to clean up all the coffee cups left all over the place. Well actually it’s not their fault, it’s their slovenly customers.

You might think that this problem might be typical in a hardware store. What with all these thwarthy constructions types and all. Not so.

It seems litter bugs have infested our usual grocery shopping destination, the The Great Canadian Superstore, owned by Loblaws. Country Hills location to be specific.  I generally find at least six to ten Tim Horton’s cups every shopping trip.

Didn't even try and hide this Tim Horton's cup! copyright Eric G. Rose 2013

Didn’t even try and hide this Tim Horton’s cup!

Driving around Calgary you can see hundreds of Tim Horton’s cups littering the roads every day.  What is it with Tim Horton’s customers?  Why are they so disrespectful?  I feel Tim Hortons should do more to educate these louts that it’s evil to litter.  It’s an affront to all of us that have to endure their piggish behaviour.  Just who do they think they are?  Do they feel they are entitled to have some poor minimum wage person clean up after them?

At Home Depot our staff was trained to keep their areas clean.  Generally our customers were not subjected to Tim Horton’s trash.  Unfortunately The Great Canadian Superstore either does not have enough staff to keep the place clean or it’s not a priority for them.  But then again why should we the consumer have to pay higher prices so retail establishments can keep their shelves clean of trash dropped by ignorant people?

Gee thanks for turning my stomach! Tim Horton's piggies - copyright Eric G. Rose 2013

Gee thanks for turning my stomach!

Do you have the same problem in your area?  While my American readers probably don’t have Tim Hortons in their area I am sure they have other popular coffee establishments.  In Canada Tim Hortons is a religion.  I’ve heard they have a 70% market share for coffee here.  With success comes responsibility.

On the official Tim Horton’s website they express their desire to reduce litter.  Here is what they say:

At Tim Horton’s, we are aware of the environmental impacts of our packaging and waste materials. We are attempting to deal with the litter issue in a variety of ways:

  • We have anti-litter messages on all of our packaging items, including a “Do Not Litter” message on all of our take-out cups. Sadly, many people do not pay attention to these messages but we continue to work with other members of our industry to tackle the litter problem in a meaningful and effective way.
  • To ensure a clean community many Tim Hortons restaurants sponsor local clean up events and activities in their communities.
  • We have waste reduction strategies to try and combat litter from its source. Tim Hortons is one of the few quick service restaurants to offer china mugs, plates and bowls to guests eating in our restaurants. This helps to reduce paper waste being created in the first place.
  • All Tim Hortons restaurants sell reusable Tim Mugs. And while a Tim Mug may not be a practical solution for all guests it does provide a good alternative. The incentive for purchasing a Tim Mug is that the first coffee is free (coupon included inside the Tim Travel Mug) and each refill gets a 10 cent discount (hot beverage discount applies to any travel mug fill).

Clearly these initiatives are not working.  Looks good and sounds good, but the effectiveness is woefully lacking.

It’s time for Tim Hortons to step up and become part of the solution, not just enablers of the problem.  Until I see Tim Hortons doing something substantial to re-educate their customers I will not be supporting the Tim Horton’s machine any longer.  No more Timmie’s for me.

Tim Horton's stands on guard for thee. - copyright Eric G. Rose 2013

Tim Horton’s stands on guard for thee.

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Lens Quality, what does it mean?

by on May.06, 2013, under Cameras, Digital, Film, Photographers, Vision

 

 

fly_wheel1_TVGP_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Rodenstock Sironar 150mm – this lens is so sharp and contrasty you could smell the grease when looking at the print.

Mike Johnston has an excellent blog called The Online Photographer.  I usually start my day by checking to see what’s new on TOP as the regulars call it.  Recently he asked the question: “I’m asking how important the quality of your lenses is to you. That is, when you’re choosing which one(s) to buy.

My idea of  “quality” might be different than the usual consumer definition.  This is what I responded to Mike’s question:

The signature of a lens is of utmost importance to my photography. I utilize it as a painter uses different brush strokes to mold the look he/she wants. I have differing photographic styles (portraiture, landscape and still life) that require different lens signatures to fulfill my vision.

A lens I love for landscape probably will not be my first choice for portraiture. All my personal black and white photography is done with film as I find the type of film used and how it is developed just as integral to my vision as the lens signature. Please note I am not saying film is superior, it just works better for what I want to accomplish.

I strive to create photographs that are true to my vision, not technically perfect photographs. MTF charts, pixel counts, resolution etc. mean nothing to me. Like Frank DiPerna said, ‘show me the print on the wall.’ That’s all that matters to me when I choose the tools I need to create the image I have in my mind. Today it might be a lens with smooth bokeh, tomorrow a lens that is razor-sharp and contrasty.

While putting my kit together I spent a lot of time viewing as many photographs as possible. If a photograph had a ‘look’ that I resonated with, I would find out what was used to create it if at all possible. My intent was not to copy but to learn which lens and what capture media produced what results. For 35mm I ended up with two systems, Leica and Nikon. Each system had lenses that ‘worked’ for me. Please note they were not always the latest version of a lens but sometimes a golden oldie. I am not saying Leica and Nikon are better lenses than Canon or Olympus etc., just that they gave me a look I wanted. So for me what worked was first determining the lenses I wanted to use, then the capture media.

Not surprisingly I also have a preference for enlarging lenses but that is a whole different story 🙂

In addition to this I would like to add.  I recognize that many of the qualities of old lenses and film can be replicated using a digital workflow.  Bokeh is one such lens signature that is extremely hard to handle in a digital environment if your lens does not have good bokeh to begin with.  I used a high end digital camera for a number of years and got quite adept at getting what I wanted from Photoshop.  In the end digital is not my first choice for my personal black and white work.  For commissioned work digital is the only way to go because these days customers are more interested in getting the finished product quickly than they are in quality.  For me it’s not an “us or them” mentality when it comes to choosing film over digital for my own creative personal work, it just works better for me.

So some would say I put the cart a head of the horse.  Lens selection drives my choice of camera body.  I haven’t found a camera body yet that added to the creative artistic impact of an image.  Lenses however contribute the most.  Don’t just look for the sharpest, contrasty lens with beautiful MTF curves.  Lens choice is part of your artistic tool belt.  Not just focal length, but signature as well.

All this is an important part of taking your photography from great snapshots to images that have emotional impact.

DAVIDHAMILTON

(c) David Hamilton

Photo by David Hamilton – he used Minolta lenses exclusively due their lower contrast.  I started off with Minolta cameras and lenses but got tired of the lower contrast images.  I found I could use Nikkor lenses which had better contrast and simulate the Minolta signature with filters.  The Minolta lenses were not as sharp as the Nikkors either.  You can always reduce the sharpness in the print but if it’s not there to begin with you are out of luck if you are looking for a sharp contrasty image.

coba_boy_with_pet_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Boy holding pet – Coba Mexico.  I used a Rolleiflex TLR with Tessar 3.5 lens.  I love Tessar’s for their great bokeh.

bannack_merry_go_round_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Schneider 210mm lens wide open and front standard rotation.  This lens is not only tack sharp stopped down, it has nice out of focus qualities when shot wide open.

san_sebastian_cem_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Mexican cemetary – Leica 50mm Summicron shot at f2.  Another lens that has great bokeh and is tack sharp and contrasty when stopped down.  I have used other 50mm lenses that would render the background in an ugly blotchy manner.  Not what I was looking for in this image.  Although that might be a quality I want in an image that is meant to cause tension in the viewer.

 

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When Pigs Fly

by on Dec.29, 2012, under Location

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When Pigs Fly

It’s the end of the year and as is customary I must analyze 2012 to death and pontificate on what I think will transpire in 2013.  Well I’ll do that When Pigs Fly!

I suppose there is some merit in looking back over the past year, if for no other reason than to appreciate what a wonderful and sad year it has been.  There have been deaths in the family, elderly relocated from their homes, family members experiencing the ups and downs of personal relationships.  There has also been tremendous family bonding that can only happen during adversity.  Whether it’s coming together to grieve a sister’s death or just sitting with a grown child in the emergency room.  It could also be those precious times when I get to have one on one time with my grandkids.  Or maybe it’s those times when I have to sit down with my in-laws and “fix” their computer.  None of these things come at a convenient time.  That’s life.  To be totally isolated and alone would eliminate these interruptions to my orderly life, but it’s these interruptions that bring “life” to my life.  To quote a cliche, it adds “spice to my life”.  While onions can make us cry when we chop them up for dinner, in the end they bring flavour to an otherwise bland dish thus enriching it.

The coming year will be sprinkled with the usual milestones.  Some good and some not so welcome.  The only thing I can control is how I react to them.  In my younger days I use to be very self centered and resented any deviations from my plan.  Whether that plan was sleeping in, getting some project finished or another career milestone notched.  Slowly I matured and realized the world did not revolve around my needs and wants.  All the effort I expended trying to control everyone and everything around me exhausted me and made everyone around me unhappy, as well as myself.  Unfortunately I was too “head down ass up” to realize what was going on.  It took a major life changing event to finally open my eyes.  I wish I had been receptive to all the hints and advice I had received from well meaning friends and family.

I am looking forward to the birth of a new grandchild in the new year as well as opening my eyes to see my sweetie each morning.  Beyond that all I wish is to be able to live my life as God wants me to.

Photographically I want to re-acquaint myself with my film cameras.  For the past several years I have shot 95% digital.  While I feel I have created some outstanding photographic images, I long for the smell of the darkroom.  I also find the stress associated with the constant struggle backing up files to be a creative roadblock.  Short of a major fire I don’t have to worry about the negatives I made 40 plus years ago.  They are still there as are the negatives my grandfather made with an original Kodak film Brownie.

I will continue to use my Nikon D700 for commercial work, but my goal is to create at least 80% of my personal work using film in 2013.

Well I guess I did do some pontificating after all.  Indeed pigs do fly, as proven in the image above.

To each and every one of you, I wish you the very best for 2013.  I find happiness through bringing happiness to others.  Maybe it will work for you too.

 

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Mother and Child

by on Dec.27, 2012, under Camera Review, Cameras, Darkroom, Film, Location, Scanning, Travel, website

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Mother and Child

This Christmas I gave my wife a 40 x 24 print of the above photograph.  I made this image probably six years ago at Coos Bay, Oregon.  As soon as I saw these two geologic manifestations it looked to me like a mother and baby wrapped up papoose style.  It also symbolized to me the rock solid connection a mother has with her child.  Sometimes those children do not survive, or vice versa.  In any event this mother-child bond is “cemented” in all time.  Once both are returned to our maker reunions can be made.

geronar

Rodenstock Geronar 210mm

At the time my favorite large format colour negative film was Kodak’s Portra 160.  It was as close to the venerable Kodak VPS as I could find.  The tonal range of Portra 160 and even 400 is outstanding.  Colours are very neutral and images crystal sharp, but don’t take my word for it, check out the great review at Shutterfinger.  The above image was made using a Linhof Tecknika IV (see pic below) and a Rodenstock Geronar 210mm lens.  As is always the case a lenshade was used even though it was an overcast day.

The Geronar lens has unfortunately suffered a bad rap from the lens queens.  I love the image signature of the Geronars.  While not technically a Tessar design they exhibit a lot of the same 3D characteristics when used wide open.  Colour rendition is accurate and they don’t suffer from flare.  Another bonus is that they are small and light weight, great for backpacking and travelling.  I have used the 150, 210 and 300mm versions of the Geronar lineup. Quite frankly I cannot pick out prints made from these as opposed to my more expensive large format lenses, especially once the lens is stopped down to f11 or greater.  Currently I only have the 300mm version of the Geronar but am on the lookout for a good 210mm.

What many people don’t understand when it comes to print sharpness is that a sturdy, heavy tripod is essential to reduce vibration.  I cannot count the number of times I have seen people spend huge amounts of money on lenses for their large format cameras only to cheap out on the tripod.  When they produce slightly fuzzy photographs they lament they must have gotten a mis-aligned lens.

Not having the ability to produce 40 inch colour prints in my darkroom I was forced to scan my negative.  Having recently purchased an Epson 750 Pro from George Barr I scanned my negative at 3200 dpi, processed in PhotoShop, upsized and saved as a jpg – 300 dpi.  A very small amount of sharpening was applied in PhotoShop.  The file was ftp’d to a local professional printing service for output.  So far I have scanned both medium and large format negatives with the Epson.  Results have been stellar!   My Nikon 35mm scanner recently packed it in so I am hoping the Epson will do a good job on those negatives as well.  I will keep you posted.

I hope to get back to Coos Bay again having been there three times already.  It’s one of those magical places.  Please check out my website for more Coos Bay photographs.  I have images in both the colour and black/white galleries of Coos Bay and area.  Most of the colour images were taken with a digital camera.

600px-Linhof_img_1876 photo by Rama

The venerable Linhof Technika IV. Mine is not as pretty as this one.

 

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So many choices!

by on Dec.13, 2012, under Books, Commerce, Photographers, Vision

Slot Canyon - Eric G. Rose

Slot Canyon – Eric G. Rose

A new Blurb book is in the works.  Now what does this really mean?  It means I am thoughtfully pondering what the theme should be.  Or maybe it should not be theme based but geographically oriented?  How about all colour, or maybe black and white?  Well you can see there are a lot of things to consider.  With over 40 years worth of images to choose from it gets a bit daunting.

In preparation I took out several photography tomes from my local library.  I wanted to see how they laid out the images and incorporated text and graphics.  Surprisingly the National Geographic books I took out were well laid out, however suffered from incredibly bad photographic reproduction.  It was so bad I could not get through them.  If I had spent 6o plus dollars on them I would have felt supremely cheated.  After years of doing design and layout work for clients I find that it is very hard to decide on a format for my own work.  It’s easy for me to gauge the personality and spirit of a client’s work but turning that focus on myself is not an easy task.  Maybe that is why so many self published photography books are so poorly executed.

I also find that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to editing my images.  Some images that I think are just freaking wonderful are ignored by those I ask to critique  images I am considering for a show.  Rule number one: get someone not related to you to edit your images.  Actually press several people into editing service.

Even though I feel my imagery can stand on its own from a fine art perspective,  I enjoy telling people the back story for many of my images.  Sights, sounds, circumstances and personalities are all important facets of the story.  As an illustration, I was at a concert performed by one of my favorite singer/song writers, Neil Young.  Young’s songs have resonated with my life since the days of the Kent State massacre.  The first time I heard the song Ohio, it brought tears to my eyes and put a rage in my gut.  In those 13 seconds of shooting my attitude towards the Vietnam war was galvanized.  While I supported the troops and still do, I could no longer support the machine that was responsible for the four deaths at Kent State and the senseless killing of 58,282  American troops.  I was hoping Young would relate to the audience some of the back stories around his songs.  He said maybe 10 words during the 3 hour concert.  Sure the songs were there, both new and old, but nothing else.  I could listen to Young’s songs at home on my stereo and get better sound.  It was a bucket list thing to do; see Young in concert; but in the end I felt I only got half of what I needed to make it a fulfilling experience.  Others I have talked to thought the concert was amazing.  That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla.

Well all of this raises another question.  Do I include selected back stories or not?  I guess it depends on my overall goal.  Do I want to create a commercial product or a personal keepsake?  The decisions never end!

This brings up the following question.  Does the selection and sequencing of photographs vary depending on whether I include back stories or not?  Do I need to follow a theme for the back stories?  Around and around it goes.  Choices choices choices.

Do me a favor and take the poll on the right.

Interested in the back story for the image at the beginning?  Ask me and I’ll share it with you.  By the way I have a $50 off code for Blurb I would love to share with you.  Email me: eric at ericrose dot com and I will send it to you.

 

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