Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Few Books I Love

My motto is to live life simply and enjoy life's simplest pleasures. One such pleasure is cherishing my many books I have collected over the years. I cannot imagine reading a book on a Kindle, it is just not my thing. Nothing is more enjoyable to me than holding a book in my hand with a cup of coffee or my favorite glass of Pino Noir at the end day sitting on the porch, that to me is heavenly bliss. Forgive me, those of you who have fallen in love with the new Kindle Fire. It sounds like it would be a convenient piece of new gadget, but for me it just absolutely takes the fun out of reading my favorite book.

Among the hundreds of precious books I own are many photography books - the "How-To" books and books on works of photographer Greats, past and present, from which I draw my inspiration often.

Andres Kertesz: The Polaroids - I absolutely love this book, it is a small 7x6 hardcover filled with beautiful Polaroid images taken by Kertesz, a Hungarian born photographer. After the death of his wife, Kertesz consoled himself by taking up a new camera, the Polaroid SX70, he mastered the camera and produced an amazing body of work, most of which were produced from ordinary objects dear to him, shot in his New York apartment. If you are like me, sorely missing the Polaroids, or the retro images of Diana Camera and the Lomographic Holga, this book is a Must Own. Andre Kertesz: The Polaroid

The second book I enjoy reading is also a small hardcover - A book on Dorothea Lange Dorothea Lange. Of the many photography legends, I admire her works most. You might have seen her work "Migrant Mother", "White Angel Bread Line" of the Depression. She epitomizes what it means to be a people's photography, connecting with her subjects often in unspoken words, and bringing dignity to the poor and destitute. In today's tech gadget crazed world, her work resets the frame for me every time and reminds me of what it means to be a good photographer.

Finally, for anyone interested in taking their darkroom printing further, here is a MUST HAVE book by Tim Rudman guru of Lith printing

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stock Photography

A small sampling of my most recent stock photos on 123RF, one of 4 sites my stock photos are available for download for a fee.....Of the many genres in photography, I enjoy doing macro and landscape photography for stock, black and white street/documentary photography/medium format film for me.

Microstock photography business is rather different in that photos that sell well may not be the most awe inspiring ones, and you don't really need 20 megapixel DSLR to start. Rather, buyers look for images that can used on their blogs, ad brochure, print media, book cover to illustrate a point, convey a message. They often will do additional post processing work, cropping out something they don't want, merging with another photo to make a collage. It is more important to have a crisp sharp shot, where point of focus is well thought out. I highly recommend if you are doing macro photography to always use a sturdy tripod. Although good stock photos are often isolated in white, they don't always have to be so as you can see from my screenshot below. I always keep a small journal and collect photo ideas from magazines before I throw them away, I find that very useful when I am searching for ideas.

To go to my 123RF stock photo page, click here

register at 123RF as buyer/contributor

Need a cool gift? check out my CafePress stores:

Stock Photo Tear Sheet

Now this first one (left) I am pretty excited about, the cover of a magazine !!! something to do with Spanish debt and the looming Euro sovereign debt crisis. This was a shot I took early morning in Playa del rey. Varsity canoe teams were having their Saturday morning practice and I caught them in action going down Balboa Creek canal.

The second photo below (top right) came from a trip to Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills a few years back. Trendy shoppers and fancy boutiques make for good photos. I managed to shoot quite a few stock worthy photos, and many made it to web pages and travel sites.

It is much easier to find one's photos these days. Google recently added a pretty cool Image Search feature, one only has to drag a photo and drop into the search box and viola, a list of links where that image is used appears. Superb tool! It allows a photographer to find where an image is being used quickly (hopefully the image had been downloaded and paid for and used within licensing guidelines). It also makes it easier to check if the image might be used without permission. Using this new Google Image search feature, I have been able to find where my images are used and save the links and screen shots for my own reference.

This last one below was from a more recent shoot, a simple make shift studio set up, with daylight bulbs and shades I bought from Home Depot. It was one of those days, I was looking for things to shoot, and have been staring at the measuring tape on my writing desk (mustard yellow in color, can't remember where I got it from though)... Hunting for a second object from my kitchen to make a theme, I settled on a large measuring round spoon...and an image was born.

Have had over 2000 downloads from three stock photo sites since I started doing stock photography, not too shabby I suppose. Seeing where an image is used (or could be used) and the context in which it is used gives me good feedback, and makes me a better stock photographer. Has the income paid for my camera equipment you ask? Not just yet, getting close though and I have stopped buying more equipment so I can get caught up (if my equipment does not break down before then). I have a modest set up, Canon 10D, a good macro, medium telephoto lens and wide angle lens, tripod, home made studio light set up and some accessories, I prefer natural/subtle light.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lith Prints -The Trial Run

Started Lith printing a couple of weeks back and it took a few runs to work out my darkroom work flow. Still far from perfect, it has been a rather enlightening journey, one that certainly was made more enjoyable with a glass of Vola Sangiovese from the local Trader Joes at times. It has been said Lith printing appeals to the artist in you, I can certainly attest to that as no two prints are alike. One notable point is the constant "agitation", a gentle tilting of the developer tray back and forth that is needed to get a good print. This is perhaps the most boring but necessary part of the Lith process in order to coax the image to come alive in your Lith bath. One may decide to steal a few winks while setting one's fingers to "automate" the motion, hopefully to be "awaken" at the right moment to snatch the print from the Lith developer.

Below are two Lith prints from my trial runs. The quick digital scans do not do them justice but you get the idea :)

"Printed from Kodak 125PX B&W neg of a red guitar still life, Oriental Seagull FB Warmtone paper, Moersch Lith Developer"

"Lith print, Two friends, Cinco de Mayo 2009, Oriental Seagull FB Warmtone paper, Moersch Lith Developer, Kodak 125PX film, this one could use a little dodging and burning I think"

A couple of advice I can pass on at this early stage:

  • Prepare your Lith developer as per manufacturer's instructions with respect to dilutions, fresh batch for each run if possible. Otherwise pepper fogging will plaque one's prints and you will be sorry. If you find yourself wavering, remind yourself that darkroom photographic paper is more expensive than developer!

  • Set up your darkroom work flow optimally so everything is in the right place, from exposing the film to tray development. This way objects are not in the way as time is the essence with Lith. The image takes anywhere from 5-30 minutes to develop then things progress rather quickly at that point. Developer dilution and recipe/temperature of bath are all variables that can affect developing time and the Lith effect. A chair in the darkroom is a must so you are comfortable.

  • Get a Maglite with red filter or better still, I bought two sheets of Rubylith film on eBay and tape them over an LED torch light. That did the trick for me and I did not have fogging for the 15-30 minutes when the prints are in the developer and I had to check it from time to time.

  • Good darkroom tongs so you can snatch the prints out of the developer at the right moment as it becomes critical at that stage. One second too many can alter the look of the print.

  • Fresh Fixer solution is a must. Exhausted fixer will bleach the precious highlights out of the print to your horror.

  • Fiber paper definitely prints better in Lith, Ilford RC works but the color lacks punch. Same can be said about bleaching an old B&W print and dipping it in Lith bath, the resulting Lith image is simply flat. Definitely no shortcut here.

  • If your black and white negative has nice contrast, printing without contrast filter renders better Lith results. This is probably a matter of personal taste/opinion, depending the look and mood you are trying to achieve.

  • This is a total darkroom development process much like traditional black and white wet room printing, unless one opts to take the short cut, bleach an old print and re-develop in Lith, that can be done in the daylight of course. I find the latter not very satisfying as the results are rather flat to say the least even if the paper has sufficient latitude for one to re-work.

  • Can you Lith print from color slide and color negative? Definitely, be prepared for interesting wildly different end results. I am not sure if there is any hard and fast rule as I have not gone that far with experimentation but blue and green will print closer to black better than red which will print as shades of gray essentially.

  • Most important of all, experiment, explore, have fun.

If you are interested in Lith printing, get this book by Tim Rudman, Lith guru The Master Photographer's Lith Printing Course: A Definitive Guide to Creative Lith Printing

Buy Moersch Lith Developer and other darkroom supplies here at Freestyle Photographic Supplies , definitely my favorite store!!