Eric G. Rose – Where It's At

Digital

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 8x10'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 11x14 inch prints from this cameras that are stunning and equal anything I could do with my 35mm negatives.  I have never tried to do 16x20'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 20x30 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 11x14 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 20x30 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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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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Print on Demand – Dammit Janet, let’s get published!

by on Oct.31, 2012, under Commerce, Darkroom, Developing, Digital, Film, Location, Photographers, Scanning

As the affable Brad said in Rocky Horror Picture Show - "The future is ours so let's plan it, Janet "

I don't know about you but I've always wanted to get a book of my images published by a respected publisher.  For my generation it was the holy grail.  You had arrived once you could thump a 20 pound photographic tome of your images on the dining room table. There were only five or six publishers doing credible photographic table books 15 or 20 years ago.  Not having Weston's talent nor being anointed as today's (or yesterday's) flavour of the month photographically speaking has relegated my dreams to the dustbin.  Alas my delusions of grandeur were trimmed back to the odd appearance in photography magazines.  Fine art print sales were always as strong as I could handle.  Some years I would neither have the time nor inclination to produce museum quality fine art black and white prints.  I'm a temperamental artist, what can I say.

My creative juices are feeling rather frisky these days and part of this new found energy is due to my ability to produce quality print on demand (POD) books at a reasonable cost.  Years back I flirted with Lulu but the results were quite dismal.  From what I've seen they have improved somewhat but are still not up to the minimum standards I would be happy with.  Blurb  on the other hand has made tremendous strides.  Recently I have seen books published by photographers I respect and must admit I was feeling a little jealous.

As fortune would have it our local camera emporium The Camera Store organized an information session on self publishing.  Dan Milnor was the featured speaker.  Check out his website for his bio.  You will see he has extensive experience in both photography and publishing his own material.  Rather than a dry how-to session Milnor offered up a spirited discourse on photojournalism, the photography market and publishing trends.  Dan has published so many Blurb books and pushed Blurb's processes to the extreme and got away with it, they decided to hire him as a type of "artist in residence".  Good move on Blurb's part.  A more enthusiastic pitchman Blurb couldn't find.  Along with Dan's audio/visual presentation, Blurb brought at least 30 different books showcasing their papers, bindings, colour and black and white printing.  I was impressed with the quality and paper options to say the least.  Colour images were reproduced very faithfully but more importantly to me the black and white reproduction was VERY good.  Not LensWork good, but darn good.  I was hooked.

The only Blurb book I had been impressed with in the past was produced by Frank Petronio.  In all fairness I had only seen early examples of POD books.  To say POD production standards have come a long way in just a few short years would be an understatement.

In my years of conversing with Frank either directly or via various photography forums I developed a deep respect for his vision and artistic integrity.  Petronio is uncompromising when it comes to the quality of his imagery.  I have several of his fine art prints in addition to his Blurb book.  All are very well done.  Over the years Frank has reinvented himself photographically.  Whatever the genre, Frank pushes his vision to the boundaries.  His extensive experience in publishing and as a professional photographer  prompted me to ask him to share his thoughts and experiences on POD with you.

Blurb has made it very easy and cost effective for short run editions to produce your own photographic publication.  Maybe too easy.  Rather than unleashing a Flickr type avalanche of images in book form, it would be best to seek an education in the fundamentals of book design from the likes of Frank Petronio.

I asked Frank to share some of his experiences with you on POD publishing.  Naturally his sense of humour also shows through.  If you want to learn more about POD, layout and graphic design I encourage you to contact Frank directly.  Some of Frank's more recent images are included.

 

POD Experiences by Frank Petronio

Eric asked me to write a little about my print-on-demand (POD) book publishing experiences. I'll remind everyone that I grew up doing farm and construction work and somehow managed to avoid getting a PHD so I'm worthy of a quick skim (ed. - a subtle reference to my last blog) .

First off, for about 15 years I worked as a graphic designer, art director, and pre-press monkey, progressing through the industry at the same time that Macintoshes, Photoshop, and QuarkXpress started to take over and revolutionize the industry. While I was never a full-time book designer, I did do several fairly successful coffee-table books and a few smaller corporate and vanity publications. If you're reading Eric's blog, chances are you're a large-format photographer "of a certain age" and that means you probably see publishing a nice quality book as a sign of success, an important part of being recognized as a serious photographic artist. And for good reason, since even 20-30 years ago, publishing a quality art book easily cost several tens of thousands of dollars. Getting a publisher to invest serious money into your work is impressive in its own right. However the sad fact is that most artistic photo art books have been self-published using grants or the photographer's own capital - and unfortunately, many of these books end up on the remainder shelves or in attics... unless your work is truly popular, it's almost impossible to break even, much less profit, with a photo book. I once did a nice book for a university photo professor - he needed to publish or perish (as in getting tenure) so we slaved away for a about a month one summer. He printed 2000 books at a unit price of about $12 each, $24000. I doubt he sold more than 50 but he got tenure. That's how it went. Ironic that so many photographers call themselves environmentalists.... Around the Turn of the Century, once people got over the Y2K jitters, some of the digital printing technologies matured enough that printing-on-demand became a reality. At first these were little different than simple black and white xerographic copies with customized covers and a slightly better binding than what Kinkos offered. The photos were a bit coarse and quality control was lacking. The early vendors using proprietary layout applications and their online interfaces were not robust - the whole process was clumsy. It was about 2005-06 before there was a really solid, reliable online platform for print-on-demand available for consumers and that was http://www.lulu.com. They are still around, using Xerox toner based printers and do a credible job with text book quality projects. Their pricing is fairly reasonable but they are not geared towards printing fine photography so the old adage that you get what you pay for comes into play. But... finally you could publish your own book for less than $50. To hold something in your hands, condensing your life's work into a real book... well if you do it right you could fool your Mom and the tenure committee into thinking you're a famous photographer! Once the potential was pioneered by lulu, up popped competitors. Several companies started to produce photo books of varying quality using proprietary software - Apple makes creating a nice "consumer" quality color book pretty easy using iPhoto for example, see http://www.apple.com/ilife/print-products.html. And some fine art studios also came in on the high end - my friends at http://www.booksmartstudio.com - using professional fine art quality inkjets to produce short run artists books costing hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But let's talk about the most popular POD printing service with serious photographers - Blurb http://www.blurb.com. Blurb hits a sweet spot in the tradeoff of price versus quality. For $35 you can get a decent softcover book that actually feels like a store bought book, albeit you might only pay $20 for it retail. They also will make a lovely "imagewrap" hardcover book for between $50 to $150, about two or three times what you might pay for a mass market retail book. The quality, to my eye is remarkable, in large part because they use the ink-on-paper digital presses like the HP Indigo as opposed to the less expensive toner-based printers that most POD vendors use to keep the costs down. They can also run a slightly heavier, more opaque paper through the HPs, although the paper will still be on the thin side compared to a top-quality book printed with traditional offset lithography. Color images look punchy and vibrant, I can not fault them. Black and whites (or greyscales) are more problematic, although they have made significant progress in getting them to appear more neutral. In 2007 my greyscale images would print strongly green or magenta ~ but for the last couple of years they've been looking neutral... except they they are plagued by metarism. Slightly green under incandescent, purple out in the sun. But better than before and showing signs of improvement... I am not sure if the problem can be licked or not? In any event, you need to be cautious and follow Blurb's directions for image prep to the T and accept that these will never quite be perfect in the real world. You get what you pay for. If you shoot color, Blurb can reproduce your photos quite nicely, with a little extra contrast and deep blacks. You may want to open up the quarter (shadows) and mid-tones 5 to 10% in addition to the recommended image prep. As a designer comfortable with Adobe InDesign, I like that Blurb lets you submit press-ready PDFs. I haven't used their proprietary online book design Booksmart app in years but I image it has improved over time and is more responsive with a fast internet connection. With all of this, read and follow the instructions, which in Blurb's case are extremely well-done compared to their competition and a big reason why photographers have developed a loyalty towards them. Chances are you aren't a book designer.... here is some advice: Start looking at photo books from a design point of view. Do you like photos on facing pages? How much margin is comfortable? If you do a full-bleed (running the photo off the page) you get a larger image but your thumbprints are also going to be on the image. Spreads give up half-an-inch or more into the gutter's nether regions. It isn't ridiculous to use a ruler and take notes. Look at sizes, page counts, flow and feel. Notice the type and where they put it. Captions? How far are the captions from the image? Measure it! Even deciding where and how to do page numbers can be a huge topic. Once you start designing, start with a master page and, at the least, a "grid" so that you are laying images and text boxes out in a consistent manner. Run a few prints off your desktop printer and trim them out, then set them into an existing book. Do they make sense, can you read the captions, is the photo in the best place on the page? Editing and sequencing is challenging, few people are good at it. Some people can do it on-screen but most of us like to print out small prints, trim them out, and shuffle them around on a large table (or better yet, a wall). Think in terms of side-by-side pages and how images may "point" visually inside or outside the book - experiment to see if an image is better on the right or left page, especially in relationship to another image. Also, while some are inclined to square and center everything, once you start measuring well-designed books you'll be surprised to find that they often cheat images a fraction up and out away from the book's spine. What looks fine on a flat 2-D computer screen is not the same as a physical object with bound pages, and that bindings will soak up page area. If you simply center an image on the page, depending on the binding it will not look balanced and centered. And so on... there are a jillion considerations and in the end please realize that book design is - or was - a profession, just like photography used to be. You're going to screw up. Accept this as a cheap education and reiterate. That's the beauty of POD, you can tweak it and do it over. Also, I would avoid attempting to do a 200-page hardcover magnum opus as your first project. Not only will it be more expensive, but it will be tedious and crushing. Also stick to the standard sizes and pay attention to price versus page counts - sometimes dropping two pages can save you a bundle. And you probably have too many mediocre photos anyway so shorter and simpler is almost always better. Make the first few books cheap, without all the extra options like fancy endpapers or premium anything. Maybe by the third or fourth book you'll have something worthwhile... and what do you expect? Were your first few photos and prints all that great? A book is much more complex! I have to say that getting the Blurb package a week or two later is great excitement every time. Sometimes they mess up, in which case you contact their customer service and they rectify things very quickly.  Sometimes they want a cell phone picture of the problem or ask you to send the book back on their dime, but they always make good on their mistakes. Don't abuse this, try to think it through rationally as to whether you failed to follow the instructions properly or otherwise messed up - ask questions on the Blurb community forums and you'll learn a lot. I'll also mention that as a man of the earth, if you want to pick my brain or have me help you, that time is money and it is perfectly fine to pay me to advise you and the quality of my paid advice is much superior to the free stuff. OK it's late, I am sure Eric will edit this perfectly and clean up all my misteaks (sic) 😉  Good luck self-publishers! I hope you got some valuable information from Frank's piece. Blurb has come through with a special offer for readers of this blog!  Here are the details: 20% off (no minimum purchase required) Code: ERICTHANKS   (I receive no compensation from this, it's a special thank you from both Blurb and myself) Expiration:  12/10/12 Link to:  blurb.ca Fine Print: *Offer valid until 10 December 2012 (11:59 p.m local time). A 20% discount is applied to your product total. Maximum value of $150 CA / US.  Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.
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The solution is at the end of a shovel

by on Oct.04, 2012, under Cameras, Commerce, Darkroom, Developing, Digital, Film, Friends, Location, website

The solution is at the end of a shovel.  Or so I have been told. Many people are educated but not schooled.  What do I mean by that?  In my years of hiring and firing employees or sitting on committees there are always those that are very well educated but do not have a clue how things really work.  In many instances these honoured individuals arrive with an attitude.  It's easy to pick them out, they are the ones doing all the talking but not actually accomplishing anything.  I hate to say it but my many years of dealing with and working with academics has soured me to "higher" education and what is does to some people.  These individuals are book smart and people stupid.  Too many academics have a bully mentality which is probably derived from many years of being bullied themselves for being the nerds in school.  Of course there are some excellent post secondary educators out there.  Heck if you're reading this you're probably one of them.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of higher learning, just not the attitude some carry with them once they get their masters or phd's. I'm a big fan of compulsory military service.  Not that I support the war machine, I don't, but I do support the discipline that is taught and the comraderie  that is taught.  You soon learn that to achieve your goals you have to work together.  Failing military service, high school graduates should be handed a shovel and put to work alongside twenty other know-it-alls building or renewing much needed infrastructure.  Pay them a decent wage.  At the end of the day they will realize they actually earned their pay.  The blisters and aching muscles will remind them of what it takes to make a buck.  After a couple of days when the muscles gain strength and the hands harden they will look back on that ditch they dug TOGETHER and feel a sense of accomplishment.  A shared accomplishment.  After their year of "service" they will have a totally different outlook on and appreciation for post secondary education.  They also will not put up with the paper tiger ( 紙老虎) prof's at the front of the classroom. If you look back to a blog I did last October 2011 you will see that I help out on a farm during harvest.  It's my two week sanity break each year. This year a historical society asked Eric Goerzen my brother-in-law to leave around 5 acres of wheat standing.  We ended up leaving 7.5.  The historical society wanted to bring out the machinery used back in the 20's and 30's to harvest this patch of wheat. During my 3 years helping out at this farm and my years helping out at my first wife's family farm in Saskatchewan I have met some very interesting individuals.  The old timers that I met never made it through the end of high school and many did not finish junior high.  But a better "schooled" bunch you will never find.  The complexity of farming even back in the 20's and 30's just blows my mind.  To see the equipment these folks brought out to the historical harvest day was truly amazing.  Essentially nothing has changed in the basic mechanics which are the same as are being used today.  One of the old timers I just love to chat with is George Spooner.  He's 80+ years old and still has a sharp mind and keen eyes.  Eric and I (yes my brother-in-law has the same first name as I do) generally start our harvest days by going to George's for coffee.  George has been living on the same patch of dirt most if not all of his life.  His home is modest but is lit up by his twinkling eyes and quick wit.  George loves telling me stories about harvests past.  Generally there was a crew of men numbering 8 to 16 depending on how many threshing machines they had in the field.  Teams of horses were used to pull anything needing pulling.  These men worked from sunup  till sundown.  Sometimes paid only .75c an acre.  That doesn't seem like much by today's standards but it was enough to support a family.  Now Eric and I do the work with just the two of us.  That's 14 men that had to find another line of work.  Over the years most did, becoming mechanics or moving to the city.  The tragedy today is that the jobs are being transferred offshore.   Both skilled and unskilled.  Who's transferring these jobs? The educated but unschooled.  They are only thinking of themselves and the big bonuses they get.  My wife used to work for an oil company where the CEO got over $20 million in pay and bonuses.  His bonuses were tied to the bottom line.  If they were having a slow quarter, through no fault of the staff, hundreds would get laid off to ensure the quarterly results looked good for the shareholders.  Bingo - bonus time. During our historical harvest day we had at least 40 men and women working.  Working together to get the job done.  At least 20 kids were running around playing in the haystack or riding the hay wagons.  We worked together and worked hard.  At the end of the day it was a combined accomplishment.  In this case the shovel was replaced by the pitch fork. Of course the "shovel" I refer to is a symbolic thing.  However it's a concept that can be applied across all fields of work whether blue, white or pink collar.  We need people who will pick up the shovel to dig ditches as much as we need people to design computers or perform surgery.  We also need people to feel a sense of community and understand that one is not any better than the other.  We are our brother's keeper, or at least we should be.  As taught by Paul in Romans - "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  I am sure the same sentiment is expressed in all major faiths. The photography stuff - finally..... Recently I have gone over the tipping point with respect to digital photography.  Choking computers, large files, hard drive crashes, endless hours staring at a computer screen and file management have taken their toll on me.  For the next six months I am only going to shoot film for my personal stuff.  Clients insist on digital.  Well what they actually insist on is immediate access to finished, PhotoShopped files.  Their lack of planning is transferred to me as a looming deadline. The magic is gone.  That anticipation you had waiting for your C41 to be developed and proofed by the lab, gone.  That thrill of checking your black and white negs just as they came out of the wash, still dripping, gone.  Watching the print come alive in the developer, gone.  That special look of Tri-X, gone. I just had a power spike destroy 3 years worth of digital files.  Even my backup drives were toasted.  However negatives I shot in the 60's are still there just as good as they were back then.  The management of digital media is just too complex and time consuming.  It's a full time job.  One of the many "full time" jobs digital has created for me.  There is only one "me" but at least five full time jobs created by digital workflow.  I want my life back! The historical harvest day was a prime candidate for a film shoot.  I blew the dust off my trusty Nikon F5, bulk loaded up four rolls of Ilford XP2, took my Nikon D700 from the backpack and threw in the film stuff. I picked Ilford XP2 for two reasons.  The first being my darkroom is having some electrical challenges right now and secondly and more importantly I like the look of XP2 for people stuff.  I knew the sky was going to be blank and featureless which was another reason for choosing XP2.  With XP2 you get grain in the shadows not in the highlights like traditional silver based black and white films.  It's also wickedly sharp with a great tonal range.  Being C41 I can take it into my local drug store and get the negs developed and proofed within 1 hour. Generally when shooting in the environment I was in; bright sun, no clouds; I just take a meter reading off the northern sky and go with that.  God must like photographers because the northern sky is 18% grey.  For shadow shots I just open up 1.5 to 2 stops depending on how deep the shadow is.  No need for fancy matrix metering.  Another thing that I enjoyed was the limit on the number of photographs I could make that day.  Four times 36 equals 144.  That was it.  No changing cards, no chimping and deleting to make more room. What this did was bring me back into the mode I used to be in while doing PJ work.  Anticipate the action, be in the right place at the right time, get that one shot that summarizes the action.  I loved it!  No spray and pray!  The F5 would chew up the entire 36 exposure roll in a matter of seconds if I used that digi mentality.  This put me back in the "moment" again.  Getting the "shot" was more about skill and timing than just dumb luck and a big CF card. I used my old AI converted Nikkor 85mm f1.8 and Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lenses for 90 percent of the shoot.  The Tokina 16mm came out for some "drama" shots.  All lenses have shades on them and no filters were used.  I probably could have used a polarizer for some of them but what the heck I can burn down the sky in the darkroom.  I find so many people do not recognize the importance of using a properly designed sunshade for their lenses.  Why spend big bucks on a great lens and then kill it's colour and contrast by not using a sunshade?  It's like putting skinny retreads on a Ferrari. I always set my cameras to aperture priority if they have that feature unless the effects of subject speed become the priority.  Using depth of field (DOF) plus out of focus areas in the foreground or background is one of the creative tools missed by so many beginning photographers.  For this reason I do not use hyper focal distance techniques very much unless doing street photography. The following images are scans of the proofs obtained from the drug store.  When the snow is flying I plan on getting into my darkroom again.  Once that happens I will share some of my favorites from this shoot on my main website.  To see full size images click on the thumbnail.  This takes you to another page were again click on the image.  Kind of dumb but that's how this gallery system work.  Looking at installing a different one in the future.
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The passing of a giant – Horst Faas

by on May.29, 2012, under Cameras, Commerce, Digital, Film, Location, Photographers

In the 70's I was a freelance PJ.  Although only local and for the most part unsung I had dreams of covering the "big events".  People like Horst Faas, Larry Burrows, W. Eugene Smith, and of course Alfred Eisenstaedt were my heroes.   Latter on David Burnett caught my attention with his images from Tehran during the uprising to overthrow the Shah. In our busy world, spinning in all directions, we have lost sight of that old tradition - PHOTO JOURNALISM.  "I was there" photos and staged scenarios for news media consumption have replaced real journalism done through photography. David Burnett worked with Horst in Viet Nam.  I encourage you to read his blog posting about the passing of Horst.  It's inspirational and has the depth that only someone who was there could convey. I could go on and on about the dumbing down of news reporting both printed and visual.  I could say that with the passing of Horst there is yet one less REAL photo journalist out there, but it's not true.  There are hundreds of great PJ's risking life and limb to bring the news to us.  The unfortunate part is that the news media for the most part ignores them.  Rather than pay professionals who know how to interpret an event or compile a story, they would rather use free unverified cellphone pics and videos. We live in a Walmart society.  Sadly people seem to want the cheapest, fastest delivery of anything and everything they consume, be damned with quality.  Corporate greed has devised a business model that has convinced us that we should have everything we want, NOW.  The only way in which the average consumer can attain this ideal lifestyle is through the consumption of ever cheaper products.  Nothing has value anymore.  In the past we would save up for a new TV or 3 speed bike for Johnny.  Today we have been conditioned that it's our God given right to have everything we want when we want it.  Easy credit and cheaper prices make this Utopian world achievable.  To insure the consumer mill keeps churning, quality is reduced so products wear out quicker and need to be replaced with the latest and greatest.
Inglewood Food Mart - Eric G. Rose Photography

Old and New

A lot of those old 3 speed bikes are still very functional.  Why?  Because they had "value".  Work went into saving for them.  Sometimes sacrifices were made in some areas to achieve financial goals.  Once Johnny got his bike it was a big deal and he knew it.  Johnny took care of his new or new to him bike because he knew what his parents had to go through to get it for him.  It had value.
Bridge 531 - Seebe Eric G. Rose Photography

Bridge 531 - Seebe

Why a photograph of a bridge you might ask.   I first photographed this bridge in the late 60's.  It's still standing and in use every day.  This photograph and the next one were taken May 26th, 2012.  I wonder if our make it cheaper and faster mentality will produce bridges today that will still be around and fully functional in 52+ years.  The lens I used for the above shot is my beloved Nikkor AI modified 85mm f1.8.  An oldie but goodie.  To show I don't scorn all things modern, the camera body is the Nikon D700.  I am sure it will not last as long as my still working Nikkormat FTn or my Nikon F5, but for now I am holding pack with the digital Devil.  The following image is made with the same body and a Tokina AT-X pro 17mm lens.  Very minimal post was inflicted on the RAW files.  Unfortunately the compression algorithm WordPress uses diminishes the colour somewhat.  In the first shot the green leaves are vibrant having only revealed themselves to the sun mere days ago.
Bridge 531 long view - Seebe Eric G. Rose Photography

Bridge 531 Vanishing Point

Read David's blog.  Do a photo search on the photographers mentioned.  Experience what we have lost or at least allowed to be taken away from us.  Demand better quality and after purchase support.   Save for things.  Take your life back from the banks and CEO's who's only concern is the bulge in their wallets.
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I hate my job!

by on Jan.30, 2012, under Cameras, Digital, Location, Travel

turkey_seedseller - photo by Eric Rose

Istanbul Seed Merchant

I don't know about you but I can honestly say I have had some jobs that just stunk.  Sometimes they start off great but go downhill really fast after the novelty wears off.  Being a bit of an old fart I was brought up in the age of commitment.  If you said you were going to do something you darn well did it.  None of this job jumping you see these days.  Actually I don't blame the younger folk these days.  Employers have no compunction about sucking you dry and then spitting you out on the street so they can boost the numbers for the quarter.  Gotta keep those Wall Street fat cats happy!  So why should an employee feel some sort of commitment or allegiance to their employer when none if given. What does this rant have to do with the lady above?  Well nothing really and everything.  Women like her have probably been selling bird seed in this very spot for at least 100 years.  Why do they still do it?  Because they feel a dedication to their Mosque, or maybe her family.  This is the same dedication I used to see here at home.  We use to call it the "Protestant work ethic".  Since religiosity generally in North America is on the decline it seems the work ethic that went along with it is also on the decline.  That's not to say there weren't lots of non religious people who were very hard workers. Now take the woman in the photo.  There are numerous narratives a reasonably creative mind could come up with.  Is she unhappy with her job?  Maybe the kids running around the square are getting on her nerves.  Maybe she has not made enough money to buy the food necessary for tonight's dinner.  Could be she is tired of photographers! Now a bit on the back story.  This photograph was made in a square near a very large Mosque in Istanbul.  There must have been several hundred pigeons squawking for their dinner and an almost equal number of children pestering their parents to buy one of the small plates of seeds.  At the moment I made this image a very large flock of pigeons had been scared into flight.  Being under a tarp was a definite plus.  My wife got a beautiful photograph of a child peeking through just such a pigeon lift off.  Please check out her website. What intrigues me about the above image is the subject's body language.  Even though she is Turkish it is not hard to read where her mind is.  She is doing her duty, raising money for the Mosque, and not enjoying one minute of it.  She is well organized and has settled in for the long afternoon ahead.  The countdown is on.  She is poised for a quick exit. The tension she exhibits is very subtle in the photograph.  The legs running away in the background can be seen as a counterpoint to her captivity.  The bright red adds to the feeling of tension. I loved Istanbul and found the people to be so warm and friendly.  Well except when they are selling seeds. The equipment I used for this image is Nikon D700 with Nikkor 28-70mm 3.5-4.5.
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Life is Good

by on Jan.16, 2012, under Cameras, Digital, Life is Good, Location, Photographers, Uncategorized, Vision

When I look at the news these days it reaffirms my belief that for me at least life is good.  Is this why so many people have become news junkies, they need to see someone suffering so they can feel better about themselves? I think we all know the person who spends all their available time glued to CNN or some equally intelligence numbing news porn pusher. I firmly believe our local CTV news department here in Calgary has a quota of blood and mayhem they have to meet for every evening newscast.  If nothing is gory enough locally they dredge up something from some backwater hillbilly county in the US.  While it may be tragic for the people closely associated with the shooting, stabbing, car wreck or beating it has absolutely nothing to do with my life. There is nothing I can do beyond feel bad for them while at the same time thinking, geez my life is so much better than theirs.  Thank goodness I watched the news, I never would have known how good I have it. What does this have to do with photography you ask?  Good question.  My life is good, and I don't need anyone external to tell me so. Yes I could be making more money, I could be 40 pounds skinnier, maybe I should be able to run 10 miles.  Right now, today, I feel great with who I am and where I am.  Well maybe Brooks Jensen from Lenswork magazine could call me up and say he loves my photography and wants to publish some of my stuff in his excellent magazine.  That would make me a tab bit happier. For 2012 my goal with this blog is to publish one image a week that makes me happy.  It could make me happy because it records a joyful occasion, creates some visual magic like Bruce Barnbaum's slot canyons and cathedrals or represents something spiritual. Along with the image I will outline the all important W5's.  Maybe even some photo geeky stuff too. Below is the first image.  Anyone from my generation (baby boomer) can relate to this scene.  Instantly you have memories of going with your parents to the local hamburger drive-in;  the smell of the car's interior, the AM radio playing anything but what you wanted to hear, pretty car-hops in short skirts, and REAL hamburgers with the condiments oozing out into the foil wrapper.  Maybe you went with your friends in a souped up Chevy or Ford.  A hot car of this era just had to have Thrush mufflers and a jacked up rear end. Every payday my dad would take my mom and me to the local A&W.  I can remember the day when I was finally old enough to order a Teen Burger and my very own order of French fries!  During those days the family car was a very powerful Plymouth Fury with a new one in the driveway ever year until they got rid of the fins in the early 60's.  Then it was on to a string of Oldsmobiles.  Why Olds?  Because they had a 455cu, 375hp engine and a nice factory AC installation; horsepower for the old man and AC for my mom.  From Olds the old man went on to Buick Wildcat's.  That is until they detuned them in 72.  He stuck with his 455cu, 375hp Wildcat until the day he died.  They might have to pry a gun from Charlton Heston's dead hands, but for my dad it was the keys to his monster Buick with it's 10mpg. This picture was taken at a street festival here in Calgary.  I was feeling lazy that day and decided to leave the D700 at home instead pocketing my beater Canon A640.  I figured it would be a generally lousy day for photography but was instead presented with a very target rich environment.  Live and learn.  I did the best I could given the lighting, proximity of Mosquitoes (people in my way) and the limited space between the vehicles.  While the car was an integral part of the photograph, for me it represented mainly a time stamp. The food, now that was what caught my attention.  Did I mention I am just a tad overweight? Since my digital days are rather recent compared with over 40 years of shooting film I only took one photograph of this subject.  Mind you it took me some time with lots of ducking and weaving to get just the right angle before I pulled the trigger.  I hope you enjoy this image and it brings a knowing smile to your face.  If you were too young to have enjoyed the drive-in experience rent a copy of "American Graffiti" to get a flavor of what I am talking about.  Say hi to the Wolfman for me.
55 Merc Memories - Eric Rose Fine Art Photography Blog

55 Merc Memories

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Crossfield Alberta

by on May.01, 2011, under Cameras, Darkroom, Developing, Digital, Friends, Location, Travel

Photograph of Crossfield Store by Eric Rose

Crossfield Store

Not very far from Calgary, a city of over 1 million, is the quiet town of Crossfield.  Crossfield has a population of 2861 according to their official website.  Two weeks ago the population jumped by 3 as my wife and I plus one of my photo buddies Mark Bingham ventured out to enjoy this sleepy little town. One of the things that strikes me about these small prairie towns is the quality of light.  For some reason it seems brighter and clearer than in Calgary.  This is probably true since they don't have the pollution we suffer on a daily basis in Calgary.  I think I read somewhere Calgary is the asthma capital of North America. Part of this clarity renders white buildings, very white and very bright.  This combined with a deep dark blue sky offers the photographer some wonderful contrasts to play with.  A person might be tempted to add a polarizer to enhance this even further.  This would be a mistake in my opinion, at least for the subject pictured above. It's hard to find a building in one of these towns without a half ton truck parked out front.  Since these rural residents enjoy their open spaces and it seems they don't like to park next to each other as well.  Hence the vehicles are very well spaced down the street.  You can't be in a rush either.  Chances are a car or truck will pull up right in front of you blocking what you are trying to photograph.  The curious passengers will either just look at you in amazement trying to figure out what you find so interesting or will actually ask you.  What a refreshing change from the city where I have had things thrown at me while photographing along busy streets. One more thing I enjoy about these small towns are the young bucks cruising up and down the main drag, in first gear, punched out mufflers announcing their impending entrance to every young gal in town.  Reminds me of my youth in Calgary.  We use to disconnect our mufflers, or for the better off buy Thrush Mufflers, and cruise the "circuit" downtown.  Pink slip racing was the order of the day.  If you pulled up beside a Hemi Barracuda or Duster 6 Pack you knew you would be eating dust.  I use to have a 1967 Belair station wagon.  Real chick magnet!  Not.  Until I lit up the backend and took out one of those Mopar muscle cars.  Yup my wagon was a sleeper.  The 327 was totally blueprinted, all kinds of extra goodies added to the motor and cranked out over 430 hp.  I would go through two automatic transmissions a year.  It just tore them apart.  Back in those days we didn't worry about gas mileage.  I suspect this baby got in the single digits. Those were the days.  Road Runners, Chargers, Barracudas, GTO's, Da Judge, Firebirds and the Camero.  Corvettes were for sissies or old guys with bad hair pieces and heavy jewelery. I took my Linhof Technica IV out to Crossfield in addition to my Nikon D700.  Had a lot of fun setting up my shots with the Tekinator. Metering, adjusting swings and rise all those activities that allow you to drop into the "Zone".  Apologies to Ansel for using his great system as a pun. I made two film images that day.  Both ruined by a bad film holder.  The image above was shot as a backup with my D700.  Lucky I did.  Will this discourage me from using my LF gear in the future.  Not in your life.  It's only a little bit about creating images and a lot about soothing my soul.  I find film photography to be very relaxing.  I love the pace, the contemplation, the excitement over getting it all right.  I still get excited about seeing my negatives for the first time after a bath in the fixer.  Watching the image emerge in the developer when printing brings me right back to working along side my dad in the darkroom.  It also reminds me of my newspaper days, teaching darkroom technique to people who themselves are seeing their images come up for the first time.  All this is missing from the run and gun digital photography most people practice. I will be increasing the population of Crossfield by one once again in the near future.  I still want those images on film.  Digital is nice but for me at least it has no soul.
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Random images from Last Summer

by on Apr.30, 2011, under Cameras, Digital, Location

Since we seem to be caught in the grips of a never ending winter I thought I would post some images from last summer.  Two from the Calgary Stampede billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and two from a local British car clubs show and shine.  If you are interested in the technical details of how I did the shots and the post processing leave a comment and I will answer it to the best of my ability.

Stampede Excitement

 

The White Hat

 

Got the Keys?

 

Sparkles

 
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