Eric G. Rose – Where It's At

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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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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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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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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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LensWork Magazine – 100 issues of greatness

by on Oct.03, 2012, under Darkroom, Film, Location, Photographers, Vision

In the pantheon of photographic publications I believe LensWork initially found its place as a niche magazine mainly aimed at an older demographic.  It probably identified with and found influence from Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and others that were part of the west coast photographic movement of the 1930’s.  Over the years this has changed with LensWork showcasing very divergent photographic styles.

What sets LensWork magazine apart from the other more mainstream photographic magazines are its exquisite black and white reproductions.  Many of the photographers featured have commented that the images in LensWork are the equal of those they could produce in their own darkrooms.  Each publication is like being given a miniature gallery print from artists you could never afford an original from.  Brooks Jensen, owner and editor, features lesser known artists along with familiar names such as Kenna, Barnbaum, Witherill and Shelby Adams.  Getting your images published in LensWork is a real boost to a struggling artist not to mention the honour.

I have been a big fan of Brooks Jensen’s LensWork Magazine since it’s inception.  Even when times were tough I would always make sure I had enough scratch to buy the latest copy from my local book store.  Funny thing was this “local bookstore” was this sketchy shop that had a large number of what I guess is referred to as gentlemen’s magazines at the back.  I hated going in there lest someone I knew saw me or even worse saw me coming out with a magazine in a plain brown bag.  I can honestly say it was worth the angst and I have not been disappointed with any edition.  Do I enjoy all contributions?  No but there are always some images, words of wisdom from Brooks or interviews to keep me turning pages.  “End Notes” by Bill Jay was always a favorite of mine but sadly he passed away several years ago.

The past several years has seen LensWork recognize that the paper format may be coming to an end, either due to lack of demand or cost.  To Jensen’s credit he has embraced digital publishing using Adobe Acrobat.  With the reduced cost of production Jensen has published what he calls LensWork Extended.  This is a digital version of the paper magazine in pdf format plus extra folios in both black and white and colour.  Additional video and audio clips are added in the form of in-depth interviews.  I receive both versions.  The reason I get both is because I find even with a high quality calibrated monitor I still do not enjoy the richness and luminosity the printed magazine gives me.  I want to see photographic images on paper.  I guess I’m old fashioned.

A short time ago LensWork Magazine reached the 100 issue milestone.  I have to admit I have an entire shelf devoted to back issues.  Those I don’t have a printed copy of I have on a CD.  When I am in a photographic funk I grab six or seven issues and sit down on the couch immersing myself in the rich creativity contained within.  It’s not to learn new techniques because LensWork does not publish “how-to” articles.  That’s one of its strong points in my opinion.  My revelry is merely to lose myself in the wonderful diverse creativity LensWork showcases.  It’s like watching a great game of football to get psyched up before your own game.   Somehow gets my photographic endorphins going and beats artificial stimulants.

Some of my favorite artists and a representation of their images follow.  As you can see, even with jpg compression, Brooks sets the bar high when reproducing photographers’ images.  I feel it’s just not a desire to satisfy his readers but a respect for the artists he is showcasing.  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.

If you are serious about photography and have moved beyond the “gear” phase I strongly suggest you buy a subscription to LensWork in whatever format suits you.  You will not be disappointed.  The images will inspire you, the interviews entertain you and Brooks will challenge you with his always thought provoking articles.

Here is the link to LensWork:  http://www.lenswork.com/

Do not miss Brooks Jensen’s personal work:  http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/

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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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Website Re-design Completed, finally

by on Apr.29, 2012, under Commerce, Photographers, website

As with most things it takes longer than expected.  A sudden rush of customer websites naturally takes precedence over my own humble efforts.  However I can say it is up and running, finally!  The general consensus is that there is a major improvement in functionality.  Using the new features in Joomla sure adds some zip/zap to things I must say.

I just unleashed to the world a new website for George Barr.  George is a well respected photographic artist who has two highly acclaimed books under his belt in addition to his beautiful photography.  Check it out at www.georgebarr.com and let me know what you think.  The website is designed around George’s keen eye for graphic layout and contains the features he wanted.  Simple but elegant.  I also moved George to a new and much more professional looking Blogging package which is totally integrated with his main website.

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Dreaming of Spring

by on Feb.26, 2012, under Cameras, Family, Film, Friends, Location, Photographers, Travel

Eric Rose Fine Art Photography - Spring Crucus Photograph

My "Perfect" Crocus Photograph

As I write this, snow is swirling outside my office window.   Anyone who knows me well knows I hate winter.  Winter in Canada anyway.  October to May in the Caribbean, Thailand, Bali to name a few places would be infinitely more bearable.  Life is what it is and I am firmly planted here in Calgary Alberta, Canada for the foreseeable future.

Today my thoughts turned to a right of spring I participated in for at least 30 years.  It was the search for the perfect crocus photograph.  According to Wikipedia: “Crocus (plural: crocuses, croci) is a genus in the iris family comprising about 80 species of perennials growing from corms. Many are cultivated for their flowers appearing in autumn, winter, or spring. Crocuses are native to woodland, scrub and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra in central and southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, on the islands of the Aegean, and across Central Asia to western China.  The name of the genus is derived from the Greek krokos (κρόκος). This in turn is probably a loan word from a Semitic language, related to Hebrew כרכום karkōm, Aramaic ܟܟܘܪܟܟܡܡܐ kurkama, Persian and Arabic كركم kurkum, which mean saffron or saffron yellow.   The name ultimately comes from Sanskrit कुङ्कुमं kunkumam, unless the Sanskrit word is from the Semitic one.”

As the weather warms and the snow recedes I keep an eye out for a faint burst of purple peaking through the native grasslands around Calgary.  I  inherited this crocus fascination from my mother. I think deep down she was just as depressed about winter as I am.  As a child I would tag along with her as she hiked through local grasslands looking for that “perfect” crocus.  Many years later and several hundred photographs of crocuses printed my mother rewarded my efforts by purchasing a crocus photograph from one of my photographic students.  This picture was prominently displayed on our living room.  In all fairness it was a very nice photograph (grumble grumble).

My quest continued, now with a heightened sense of urgency, I had to replace that photograph in the living room with one of my own.  It was a pride thing.  The gauntlet had been thrown down.

It never happened.  My mother died from cancer but at least she had a crocus photograph that gave her pleasure and reminded her of the great times we had together.  However my quest continued unabated.

Jump forward a bunch of years to an afternoon spent in Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park with a group of photographers from my Large Format Users Group.  I started this group around 2006 to promote the use of large format film cameras in Calgary.  Naturally a side benefit was meeting and becoming friends with a great bunch of photographers.  On this day however I had my Nikon D70s equipped with a razor sharp Nikkor 60mm macro lens by my side.  No pretty large format landscapes for me today, it was crocus day!

After two hours of climbing hills, sliding down into steep gullies just to climb up the other side I finally found my crocus.  There were no trumpets.  Charlton Heston did not appear as Moses and point to this perfect flower with his God given staff.  Nor was the light right.  Urgh!  After several moments of disgust I thought I might as well take the shot and see if I could do something with it in Photoshop.  Heck if you can make ugly people look like runway models in Photoshop I should be able to fix the lighting.

My tripod would not allow me to get down to the level I wanted so my LowePro pack was pressed into service.  A few errant sprigs of  grass were removed (yes I am one of those, get over it) focus was adjusted and I was ready to make my photograph.  Then a miracle happened, a cloud covered the sun.  Thanks mom, I am sure you were watching me.  Hopefully you find this shot worthy of your mantel in heaven.

The photo may not be perfect in your eyes and maybe you have better ones yourself.  Personally I am happy with this one and have ended my quest.  I have not taken another crocus picture since.  Mission accomplished.

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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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The Office

by on Apr.07, 2011, under Friends, Location, Photographers, Travel

No not the TV show.  Although if Alec Baldwin wanted to hang out with me for an afternoon I am sure we could have a great time.  He could tell me all about Kim Basinger.  I still can’t get that kitchen scene from 9 1/2 weeks out of my mind.  Bad Eric!  Hey that’s why they call me BadDog!  That’s my web design company BadDog Marketing.

No the real reason I am writing this blob is to show you my “office”.  Not the one I have at home but the one I spend my afternoons at.

Good Earth Cafe - alternate office for BadDog Marketing

View from my "office" desk.

When people are looking for me and I have my phone off (yes I am ignoring you) while doing some heavy duty coding or Photoshop work they usually pop into my “office” looking for me.  Chance are they will find me.  This alternate office is at The Good Earth Cafe – Creekside, Calgary AB.  It is run by the nicest family you could ever meet.  It’s a true mom and pops establishment.  They even have a daughter and son-inlaw as partners.

Over the past several months I have made so many friends here.  People even trust me to look after their babies!  I guess it’s because I am a grandpa and probably look like one.  I have met other geeks and we trade industry news and gossip.  Even help each other out with a sticky bit of code if possible.

During Christmas I organized a Christmas carol evening here at the office.  My wife an accomplished pianist, my buddy Herb Huber an amazing guitarist played for several hours.  We handed out song books and packed the place out.  Check out Herb’s website for inspirational guitar stuff.  He teaches as well.

As I write this I am at my “office” enjoying the chatter of mothers trading diaper stories, couples laughing at things they only know, and workmen coming in out of the cold for a nice warm coffee.  The food here is terrific as well.  Yummy sweet stuff and steaming soups.

Good Earth Cafe Creekside Motorcyle School

Good Earth Cafe Creekside Motorcyle School vists.

A large group of motorcycle riding students just walked in.  Since it’s hovering around zero here (yes it is April, geez) and they have these safety vests on with big L’s on the back.  Not sure if that stands for learner or loser.  I shouldn’t be so mean.  Someday I will probably have to take a course from these guys if I want to start riding again.  From what I understand they drop in several times a week with their students which is great business for the cafe.  God knows they need it.  Business is down for everyone these days.  I was in the back room of a big box store the other day and noticed their sales numbers were down from 17 to 23 percent over last year depending on department.  People are wisely paying down their debt rather than pumping up their entertainment spending.

It’s funny how many of my friends are envious of my ability to work anywhere there is an internet connection.  It could be at home, here at the “office”, or on a beach in Hawaii.  Years ago an old buddy of mine and I fantasized about buying a diveshop on some beautiful beach in the South Pacific.  Now I can have all the benefits of hanging on the beach without the hassle of running a business catering to tourists.  Yuk!!

Soon I will be off to Turkey for three weeks.  My wife and I will be traveling with Dave and Lori-Lynn Brookwell.  Dave and Loo-Loo are both professional photographers who run Illusions Studio and Design here in Calgary.  I’m biased but I feel they do the best work in town.

Maybe I will open an “office” in Istanbul, somewhere with a view of the Bosporus, sipping Turkish tea, watching the gals stroll by……..

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