Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick

I took this photo last year on my trip to New Brunswick. It was shot at dawn. It was so cold when I took it that my 5D froze up and stopped working. Fortunately I had my film camera with me, so I was able to continue shooting.


A Good Camera

Sometimes, my friends who aren't photo enthusiasts will show me their new digital camera and ask, "Is this a good camera?" I usually reply by asking two questions:

"Does it do what you want?"

"Do you feel comfortable using it?"

If the answers to both questions are "yes", I tell them it's a good camera.

I understand where they're coming from. They're just making sure they didn't get ripped off, or that they didn't end up with substandard equipment. I tell them that megapixels and features aren't as important as being comfortable with your gear, and that the best camera is one the that gets used. I also tell them that more expensive doesn't equate to better pictures.

For example, when I first got into photography I was shooting with a Sony point-and-shoot, a DSC-F828. I had to come up with some clever ways to overcome both my lack of equipment and the limitations of the camera. As a result, some of my best and most creative photos were taken with the Sony. I now shoot with a Canon 5D. In every way it is a far superior camera. However, I miss the forced creativity I had with the Sony.

So, more expensive doesn't mean better photos. However, that doesn't mean that they need to start with an entry level camera, or that they should stick with a point-and-shoot. On the contrary, buying more camera than they need is a good way to "raise the bar", so to speak. But at a certain point it becomes overkill. At my current skill level the 5D is the perfect camera for me. Although I would love to get a Canon 1 series, it's not the camera for me. The 1 series is too big physically and is too much Camera for my needs. It is also way out of my budget.

Which brings me back to the original question. Is the 5D a good camera? Yes, because it does what I want and I feel comfortable using it. The 1D is a great camera, but for me, it's not as good as my 5D.


BWD Stuff

I updated BWD for the first time in over a year and a half. To be honest, I haven't felt very motivated to maintain that site ever since I started shooting film. However, I saw something today that really made me mad. Someone had lifted my Gorman page and pasted it into his site verbatim, including all the screen shots. I can't find the link anymore but I was so pissed. Anyway, I've decided to keep a better eye on my site.

I also recently upgrade to Photoshop CS5, so this would be a good time to get back into digital. Here's a video of an interesting new feature in CS5 called context aware fill. I tried it out and I'm not sure that it's as good as the video makes it out to be. It just seems like a less tedious version of the cloning tool.


Fall Foliage

"Fall Foliage"
Acadia National Park, Maine. 2009
Ilford Pan F+ 50, Bronica GS-1 6x7

I took this photo last October on my trip to the Maritimes. It was taken at Acadia National Park in Maine. It was the first time I was back in Maine since 1982. I spent a week in Acadia with my online photo group. This was my first major trip since I started film photography, so I brought my entire collection of film cameras with me. Although my gear weighed a ton it was worth it. I figured out which cameras work best in which conditions.

For this photo I think I used the 200mm lens with a yellow filter. I'm not a big fan of the Pan F+ 50 however. It was a little too contrasty for me.


Color Transparencies

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, 2009
Provia 100F, Fujica 690 II 6x9 rangefinder

I took this photo last October in Nova Scotia. I was using a Fujica 690 II 6x9 rangefinder camera loaded with Provia 100F color slide film. I must say, I really like the results. I haven't been able to duplicate the Provia 100F look in Photoshop. Also, the 6x9 transparencies are absolutely outstanding.


False Color Infrared

Ok, this photo isn't a real infrared photograph. It was shot in color with a Canon 5D and a 24mm TS-E lens. It's a two shot pano stitched and processed in Photoshop. The 24 tilt/shift is perfect for shooting perfectly flat panoramas. Rotate the lens to shift horizontally. Shift the lens all the way to the right and take a photo. Then shift the lens all the way to the left and take the second photo.

The false infrared was done using the infrared preset in Photoshop's black and white filter. If you're using an older version of Photoshop, just use the Channel Mixer filter in black and white and go heavy on the green channel.

To give the photo the blue and red tints follow these instructions.


Film Photography is Kicking My A...

Film photography is really kicking my butt. Some of the lessons I've learned from shooting film:

1. Get the basic before experimenting.
In digital photography experimentation is actually quite helpful. It flattens the learning curve and you figure out quickly what works and what doesn't. In film photography experimenting too early will lead to frustration and wasted time and money. Work on the basics before experimenting with different film and chemicals.

2. Get a book or a tutor.
Stumbling around is not a good way to learn darkroom. Either get a good book or a tutor to help you figure out what you're doing. After fumbling around for a year I finally went out and got a copy of "The Darkroom Handbook" by Michael Langford. I wish I'd bought this book a year ago. It would have saved me a lot of frustration.

3. Read the directions.
Read the directions that come with your film and chemicals. I only found out recently that paper developer is only good for 24 hours after dilution. D'oh! I've been reusing my paper dev and couldn't figure out why my prints looked like crap.

I guess it's all part of the learning process.