Photo Notes

April 28, 2013

New Images from Indianapolis Central Library

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies, if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is introduce the books and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio, Getting Started in Commercial Photography

Pictures this week are from a shoot I did at the Indianapolis Central Library. The first portfolio class went really well. Please let me know if you want to be on the mailing list. Here’s some more information the next meeting is Tuesday May 21, 2013 at the Indianapolis Central Library. This is a great opportunity to make a greater commitment to your work and learn more about how others see your work. Still only $20. I look forward to seeing you if you’re near Indianapolis.

I’m still looking for a studio space here in Indianapolis. I’ve checked on a couple of spaces, but they have been too large, and therefore too expensive. I’d like to have the extra space and I could have a couple of offices for related businesses, but I don’t want to have to commit to a more expensive lease. I’m going to continue checking out spaces. My goals, right now, are to have about 1600 feet, with a large commercial or cargo door. The actual studio space must be at least 20X30 feet. I will need air conditioning and heat. You always here “location, location, location” applied to real estate. I think the key is to be sure you understand what you want in a location. I want to be in a good area of town, but I don’t need to be in a mall or on an expensive street. I can be a couple of blocks off the boulevard especially if the parking is good.


I’ve written about processing film and scanning it before, but as I did a lot of work with my 8X10 Toyo recently I thought I would discuss this again. I’ve made some changes in the way I’m processing film for printing Vandykes. I’ll be discussing how I’m scanning the film as well.


I started out working with a two-part developer based on Kodak D-23. The idea of a two-part developer: separating developer and activator, is that you can process almost any film at almost any temperature, which certainly makes things easier. The problem was that the Vandyke process, and most alternate printing processes, requires a very long density range with a very high maximum density. That is the film records the information in a way the makes the whites and blacks further apart, because the printing process tends to push the tones closer together. So I’ve switched to Ilford ID-11 developer. The biggest differences between the two developers is the addition of hydroquinone and the inclusion of the activator (borax) in the single solution developer. I’m using a dilute version of this developer with a very long development time because it makes a longer tonal range. Of course it’s kind of annoying that the processing time is now thirty minutes. If I were going to try and print these negatives on traditional silver gelatin photographic paper it would be difficult, and would require special paper or special handling.


One of the great advantages of scanning a negative is that you make a good scan of a negative that wouldn’t print well without special handling. I set the scan to keep the detail in the whites and black while maintaining a lot of detail and light in the mid-tones. My actual scan looks pretty flat. Of course the scan is in black and white, and I scan in 8-bit depth. I’m making very large scans: 3200 dpi. The first thing I do with these scans is basically spotting. I remove dust and so on. Since the scans are the first thing I do after processing there isn’t much of this. The next step is to make a copy of the scan and convert it to RGB. As many of you know I like a warm color palette. I use curves for this. I will raise the red curve about 7 units at the very bottom of the curve. Then I’ll move the center of the blue curve down into the yellow about 8 to 10 units. This makes my black and white image a slightly warm black and white image. Then I’ll adjust the whole curve, usually by deepening the shadows and lightening the highlights. This is how I make the final image less flat. Of course sometimes the curves will get rather complex. Then I’ll do a little sharpening, usually with smart sharpening in Photoshop.

I used my own shoes

 

There is one more thing I do with curves: you can see it in the shot below. This is a u shaped curve. I raise the bottom left of the curve to the top of the box and lower the center of the curve, usually to about the 1/4 line. If you do this without adding the red and yellow first you get an image that looks a little like a solarization that you might make in a darkroom. If you change the curve after you change the color you get the two-tone effect you can see in this image. I think this is a really interesting effect; of course it doesn’t work with most images.

This image was processed with a U shaped curve

Please check out my classes at BetterPhoto.com:
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting,
Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio,

Getting Started in Commercial Photography
Thanks, John

April 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Siskin @ 2:54 pm

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies, if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is introduce the books and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio, Getting Started in Commercial Photography

I’m stating a portfolio building class this Tuesday, here in Indianapolis. It will meet at the Central Library at 6:30 pm April 16. As this class goes on it will meet in the studio I’m going to open. I really hope you’ll be interested in this class. I think it is a very good thing to get feedback on your images and to build a group of images that work together. This is going to be a small class, about 10 people, so you’ll want to sign up now. You can contact me by e-mail: john@siskinphoto.com or you can sign-up with PayPal. I’ll be bringing a few shots that will be part of my show at Indiana Landmarks in June. I’ve attached a few of those shots to this blog post. I really think it’s important to hear what others have to say about your images and to learn to talk about photographs.


It looks like I’m going to open a studio here in Indianapolis. I hope to actually write a book about the experience, and you’ll be able to see what’s going on here in the blog. Right now I’m looking for the right location. I have a couple of appointments to go searching next week.


When you want to start a studio the first thing to decide is what you’re going to do in the space. If you’re going to shoot portraits and book weddings you’ll need a studio on the boulevard, whatever the local boulevard is, and you’ll need a window full of portraits on canvas. Of course I have more commercial goals than that, so I want a studio with a cargo door in an industrial park. I expect to need at least 600 sq. ft. of shooting space, and maybe an office and a lock-up area. I don’t expect to ever get a walk-in customer. I would like to be near printers and machinists, as well as graphic artists. I may work with a partner, so I might need another office. A partner drops your costs by 50% which means a great deal. I don’t think I’ll shoot cars, but I want to be able to shoot a motorcycle. I want to keep a low profile. I want to be able to load items into the studio easily. I want people to feel secure when they came to the studio for classes or for jobs.


When I started my studio in Los Angeles, I was in my early twenties, and didn’t have any money. So the choices I made were more about cost than anything else. This was the only choice, but it was a choice that created trouble for the quarter century I had that studio. The location had some problems, but it did have fabulous parking. I can’t really explain how important parking is for an LA studio. Many of the things I built into that studio could have been better. Things like the seamless holders and the rail system I built to hold lights near the ceiling, but the bottom line is that they worked. I wrote this article (www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/buildastudio.pdf) a few years ago about building a studio. I expect to do things a little differently now. I will do more articles, and maybe a book, about this new studio.


And don’t forget the books!

Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers
Photographing Architecture

B  Four


Thanks, John

 

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