Eric G. Rose – Where It's At

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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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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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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I love this stupid town, I really do!

by on Apr.29, 2012, under Family, Life is Good, Location

A couple of nights ago my sweetie and I met a Large Format Film photo buddy for a warm beverage.  The area of town we were in is generally referred to as Connaught.  Most people know it as the street the Galaxie Diner is on.  The Galaxie has been a city landmark for over a decade.  I have spent a lot of time photographing the Galaxie and its employees over the years.  Some day these images might even be worth something.

eric_g_rose_diner_04272012_blog

Galaxie Diner at Rest

As evening turned into night the street came alive with bright lights and reflections.  The passing automobiles with their H.I.D. headlights create retinal searing lightning-like flashes intensified by the puddles left behind by a recent storm.  The dancing shapes cast upon the walls and glass windows of darkened stores are meant for a Stephen King novel.  At the end of a generally dark street is the  Kalamata Grocery.  A true traditional Greek supermarket.  How traditional you ask?  Well all the gentlemen working inside are called George.  Yes that traditional.

eric_g_rose_11st_04272012_blog

Kalamata Grocery

 Our photo buddy had told us that the Kalamata Grocery had the best olives in town.  Having developed quite an appreciation for good, fresh olives while traveling in Turkey we just had to check this out.  Once inside the store we were instantly transported thousands of miles to some small town grocery in Greece.  The noise level was higher than normal for we staid conservative Canadians.  Shopping for us is a very serious endeavor indeed.  Any spontaneous outbursts of enthusiasm is generally met with disapproving stares and whispered insults shared with a fellow shopper.  The joyful mood in the Kalamata Grocery was very welcome.

The owners were negotiating a transaction with a middle eastern lady who wanted to sell them some sort of non-tobacco tobacco.  This is the same lady who found it almost impossible to park her over sized Range Rover in a spot 1.5 times bigger than she needed.  Maybe she came from a country that doesn’t allow women to drive.  The photo above shows her fifth try at getting into her spot.  Cheap entertainment for me at least.  In all fairness she was a very nice lady.

My sweetie was on the hunt for the perfect olive with one of the resident George’s.  His animated descriptions of how great their olives are would make a Mexican beach walker selling Elvis felt paintings proud.  I went in the opposite direction looking for interesting compositions.  What did I find but yet another George.  This time a customer.  He was more than willing for me to take his photograph.  In fact he struck a pose for me.  This George told me he is the King of Calgary, but has to work as an underpaid and barely appreciated lawyer to pay the bills.  Calgary could do much worse when looking for an ambassador.  George was a gas and I greatly enjoyed our five minutes or so of conversation.

eric_g_rose_george_04272012_blog

The King of Calgary - aka George

Yes I do love this stupid town.  Calgary is such a schizophrenic place.  For the most part it is inhabited by super over achievers who have to park a BMW SUV in the driveway to make sure everyone knows they are making the big bucks.  Type A doesn’t even come close to describing the typical oil patch worker in Calgary.  Eighty hour weeks are the norm.  Many just don’t care about our city because they are only here to make loads of money and then go back to wherever they came from.  The sooner the better is their attitude.

On the other hand you find pockets of humanity like the Kalamata Grocery all over the city, whether they are in older neighbourhoods or carved out of the new coffins of concrete we call malls.  I am currently writing this blog in one such oasis, The Good Earth Cafe – Creekside.  Even though it is located smack dab in the middle of a new area the “real” people have slowly found it.  During the day when I come here to work on my website development business I meet other “geeks” and we have fun sharing war stories.  New moms come in with their burping and pooping bundles of joy.  Just now a large and very noisy group of new Canadians finished up a weekly get together.  Even in the city hated by most of Canada (yes even more than Toronto!) we “Blue Eyed Arabs” as we have been branded by the east are real people just having fun.  Well at least the ones that come here and make it their “home”.

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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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Total redesign for ericrose.com

by on Mar.01, 2012, under Location

Open Wide - Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

Ok, lets see what's in there

My main photography website is down right now as I do a complete redesign.   The look and feel will be different and under the hood I have installed the latest and greatest CMS system.  Rather drastic to nuke the entire thing, but what the heck no pain no gain.

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Camera Review – Olympus 35RD

by on Feb.28, 2012, under Camera Review, Cameras, Film, Scanning

Yesterday I saw an announcement for Nokia’s latest cellphone.  What makes this important to me was the claim it sported a 41 megapixel camera.  Should be interesting to see just what the image quality will be.  Being the contrarian that I am, I have decided to do an in depth review of a 64 megapixel pocketable point and shoot camera, sans phone.  This little modern wonder is the Olympus 35RD, produced in the 1970’s.  To get 64 megapixels requires one further step, you must scan the 35mm film it uses.  I found this little beauty in an antique store here in Calgary.  It was just sitting there looking very lonely and forlorn so I just had to buy it and take it home. Cost me all of $10.  Yes my parents had problems with me bringing home puppies and kittens too.

Front view Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art PhotographyOnce home I fished out a roll of 35mm Fuji color negative film from the refrigerator and loaded this baby up.  The meter proved to be operational but the battery was leaking so I replaced it.  The shutter sounded good, no oil on the aperture blades and the foam seal around the back door looked soft and light tight.  Time to put it through it’s paces.

I am use to rangefinders as I have both a Leica M3 and M5 so focusing this camera was not a problem.  The patch could have been a little brighter but it sure beats the focusing patch in my Olympus XA.  The XA seems to have a cult following but it certainly does not have anything over this camera.

The features I immediately recognized as nifty were the flash settings.  On the main aperture rotating ring there is a green thunderbolt.  If you are using a fully manual flash set the camera to this setting.  Then look under the lens and you will see a little tab where you can set the Guide Number (GN) of your flash.  From then on just focus and the camera will set the proper aperture (f-stop).  Heck we had to wait until the mid 2000’s to get this kind of functionality on digital SLR’s!  Another feature I appreciate is the ability to meter through filters that are added to the taking lens.  Many small rangefinders have the light sensor on the body rather than in the lenses light path.  If this is the case in my opinion it renders the camera useless.  For those of us that love to take manual control of a camera this little baby allows us that freedom as well.   Just move the aperture ring off of A for automatic, set your shutter speed and the camera’s meter will suggest the f-stop you should use.  Makes it easy to bias your exposures plus or minus for tricky lighting conditions.

The lens on the Olympus 35RD is a razor sharp 42mm f1.7.  Something or a rarity these days.  Fast lenses are not being produced by point and shootTop view Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography manufacturers due to cost and the new digital sensors being able to shoot in low light with ever better performance.  However I like the ability to use fast lenses for their wide open shallow depth of field look.  Something that is impossible to get with the newer cameras unless you spend mega bucks.  Many have said that the only way you can tell the difference between images taken with this lens and a Leica 35mm f 1.4 ASPH Summilux-M is through a microscope.

The proof is in the pudding so to speak.  My usual method of testing any camera or lens is to take a bunch of real world photographs that will highlight any strengths or weaknesses of the test equipment.  I am not really all that interested in laboratory measurements and voodoo speak.  My main test criteria is for a camera and lens to be able to handle low contrast, high contrast, straight lines, edge to edge sharpness, focus accuracy and exposure accuracy.  Ergonomics, sound and just general vibe are also important.  One thing I must say is that this camera is so quiet sometimes I couldn’t tell if it actually took the picture.  If this is something that is important to you then definitely seek out one of these little gems.

On the downside I found it hard to focus with my glasses on.  It was possible, but worked better if I took my glasses off.  I didn’t have to worry about scratching my $1200 pair of specks as the viewfinder has a plastic guard around it.  Hey Leica, learn something.  Maybe the later Leica’s have plastic guards now but my M3 and M5 sure don’t.

The following photographs are scans of drug store 4×6 prints.  No Photoshop wizardry  has been added beyond making them look like the original prints.  You can see for yourself that this camera performs very well.  The detail in the shadows was exceptional while not blowing out the bright areas.  The glint on the bright silver tubing on the chairs was well controlled with nice little stars.  The camera’s meter handled complex meter situations well too.   You can also see in the shot of the fence that there is no perceivable distortion or fuzziness at the edges.  Most shots were taken between f8 and f16.

This camera really has a “vibe” factor of 4 out of  5.  The Olympus XA has a full house 5 but it harder to use and the image fall off in the corners is bothersome unless that is the look you are going for.  This little camera will find a place in my computer bag for daily film shooting.  Those poor Leica’s are going to whine and moan I know it.

Sharpness test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

close focus test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

bright highlights test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

extreme exposure range test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

low contrast test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

 

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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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