notes
     
 

Notes From The Field

 

 
 

GOING DIGITAL - THE NEW POLAROID
September 24, 2007



Lately I’ve had to get a little creative trying to find the time to shoot. My preferred time of day is early morning but lately the day-job schedule (which can sometimes be a night job) interferes. Did I mention all of the fits and starts this year? So to get a little field-work in I’ve turned to shooting at night. It’s something I’ve always wanted to explore but it certainly is a different animal than morning shoots.

For morning shoots I can usually do last-minute scouting and find my first composition before morning twilight and ready to shoot before the sun hits the horizon. I’ve gotten used to pacing myself in that way. I don’t really chase the light as much as wait for it.

Night shooting has a completely different set of variables one must consider – mainly how bright is the moon and when will it rise/set? If shooting near sunset you really do chase the light and I find that when shooting around this time of day I really need to scout intensely and find the compositions hours ahead of time. For night shooting everything looks very very different than when shooting in broad daylight.

This is where I’ve found digital to be a useful addition to my workflow. I basically use my DSLR as a Polaroid, usually shooting at a much larger aperture and then I extrapolate down to my desired f-stop. It allows me to see close to what I could expect from my film camera as well as how balanced the exposure is. So the above shot is around 3 minutes at f2.8. I thought it was too bright so I deemed 2 minutes to be a good exposure at that aperture. For film I like to shoot at at least f8 or smaller so factor in reciprocity failure (not much with the film I’m using) and the same exposure for film would be around 18 minutes. If shooting at f22 where much of my coastal work is shot at the exposure would be over 2 hours and 40 minutes. So to say this is a different animal is putting it lightly!

When each exposure is long compared to my ‘normal’ mode of operation there’s scant room for mistakes. When one evening may yield only six or seven exposures it helps to get them right the first time, so this is where digital is saving me time. See? I’m moving to digital… Slowly. More reactions to night shooting in the days ahead.


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GOING DIGITAL - NOT FOR NOW
September 19, 2007


Parade Float

My wife insisted I take “professional” shots of our baby and why the hell not? Narrow depth of field, touching moments of baby looking sweetly into the lens, spontaneous moments - you know the kind of shots I’m talking about. So I set about getting a hand-held grip for my camera, some fast film, and I already had the fastest lenses around.

The first “session” was a lesson in patience. I would pre-focus, baby would move, then move again, I would see a shot - focus, and… lose the shot. For a first try at this I gained a newfound respect for baby and children photographers. It’s not like you can say, “hold that pose!” So we tried another session, outside, and it was no more successful. It came down to the equipment. No amount of visual instincts and aesthetic can make up for lack of auto-focus and continuous shooting.

So, fast forward a few months and I find myself with a new digital SLR, acquired solely for capturing those “professional” out-of-focus, dreamy, macro lookin’ shots of baby. After toying with it for a few weeks and running RAW files through Photoshop I pondered the digital possibilities for my fine art work. I realized I may be able to stitch and RAW my way to large black and white prints from this 10-megapixel camera.

I did some tests, and I did some tinkering. I was impressed with the long exposure capabilities but woefully depressed about the lack of smooth gradations between shades of gray. In short, digital is not ready for prime time, for me at least. And then I read this and in some way it sealed the deal for me, or, at least reassures me my path is true and that maybe sitting behind the computer cloning out dust in scans isn’t half bad. It’s better than fighting digital noise, at least. And then there’s the aesthetic of film grain, especially in black and white work – digital just feels flat and dead right now.

So I’m glad I can put that debate to rest - at least until they come out with an “affordable” 20-something megapixel 16-bit camera. Maybe next year.

(the above photo was, ironically, captured with a digital point-and-shoot camera, so...)


 

 

PREOCCUPATION AND OCCUPATION
August 17, 2007

I'm a bad, bad blogger, I know, but in hindsight I'm noticing a trend in that I become very busy in the summer months, though this year it's not photography consuming me - it's this beauty, pictured above! As much as I'd like to head out on that empty highway seaching for the next great photograph to make your mind tingle, most days I'm home heading up Daddy Daycare. It's fun and I get to take cool pictures of my daughter! (shiver to think: I am starting to like digital capture!)

Besides that, one cannot live on Fine Art alone, so most days I stare at something that looks like this:

OK, so on two monitors it's a bit more impressive. I've made it no secret that by day I edit or "cut" as we say in the biz, broadcast television programming. Not too much "art" when it comes to finessing shots of a kitchen window installation into a sequence, but it heats the house!

Excuses, excuses, yeah, I know. There will be new photo work soon, I promise, finding the time is the hard part. Prolific may not spring to mind when describing my curent fits and starts but amongst my "stacks and stacks" of negatives that await evaluation there are a few gems. Perhaps it's all for a reason. I know I'm not the only creative-type with this problem.

So in the upcomming months, pardon the dust, the baby pictures and irreverent references to the hedonistic business of broadcast television!

I don't normally do this, but here's a teaser of some new work I'll be releasing. Both as yet untitled and untoned.

 

 

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All photographs and text © 2007 Brett Kosmider