Some visitors have expressed interest about the photography on the site, so I’ve put together this resource in hopes it will encourage others to explore the artform; there’s never been a more exciting time to be a photographer. We have tools at our disposal that a few years ago would have seemed too farfetched to be believed…
I’m drawn to a wide variety of images. Some photographers have a “voice”, a style that is hard to confuse with anyone else’s. I’m not there yet, and may never be… we’ll see. I’m interested in technically precise artists as well as some of the fluid, “messy” work of some of the toy camera photographers.
I love old-school “straight” photography, but have never worked in a traditional darkroom. I’ve read all three of Ansel Adam’s books in the big trilogy and have tried to understand how to apply some of these principals to the digital darkroom. I’ll analyze what makes an image I like “tick” and try to figure out how to make that happen in Photoshop, kind of like “reverse engineering” art. Some things of course happen very easily, even naturally, with film that are difficult to reproduce digitally. I’m trying to get to a place in my understanding of digital workflow so that it provides a pure path to expression.
Digital photography, in turn, provides the opportunity to achieve things that would have been difficult with film. The ability to produce images of extremely subtle color and tonality ranges is a facet of digital photography that is just beginning to be explored. Low contrast, low saturation images with delicate colors and gradations of tonal values are as easy to produce as vibrant saturated images. Both have their place.
A few photographers I’m currently enjoying are Bill Schwab, Frank Grisdale, Rolf Horn, Alain Briot and Henri Carter-Bresson. These divergent voices are a few of my current influences as I work on my own images.
It’s really not that important. At the moment, I’m using a Canon Rebel XT digital SLR, kind of the Honda Civic of DSLRs: well built, inexpensive (relatively…),and ubiquitous. If don’t own one yourself, chances are you know someone who does. I’m using the kit lens. It’s the only one I have, a situation I hope to remedy soon.
I’m in between tripods at the moment. (aren’t all photographers?) I had a smallish Slik with a ballhead that has taken up residence in Helena at our son Ian’s dorm room. My own father recently gave me a really nice Manfrotto/Bogen head that I just need to find the right tripod to go with. He’s made some modifications to it, as he seems to with all his tripods… he really should work for Manfrotto, because he seems to have a knack for improving their already fine products. (There seems to be a theme of father/son tripod transfers going on here, though I think I got the better end of this particular round of exchanges!)
I’m shooting in RAW format exclusively. There’s a lot of debate of the merits of shooting RAW vs. JPG. For me, once I experienced the power of working with RAW images, there was no way I could go back to shooting anything else. The ability to have total control over so many parameters is worth the additional steps added to my workflow. I’m using Rawshooter to do my conversions… the “essentials” version is free and has nearly every feature I’d like to see in a raw converter. Of course this info is PC specific, since I’m presently using a Gateway machine running WinXP. If I was using a Mac I’d be looking seriously at Apple’s Aperture, which looks incredible.
I’ll frequently process multiple versions of the same file with different exposures and combine them using layer masks in Photoshop, giving me more control over the final image, much like dodging and burning in the traditional darkroom setting.
Once the raw image is processed into a TIFF format file, it heads to Photoshop, where I do cropping, resizing, and anything else that might be needed that can’t be accomplished in Rawshooter.
My black and white conversions are done using a custom Photoshop action I developed using a combination of the best conversion methods I’ve seen in my research thus far. It involves several hue/saturation layers as well as a selective color layer and a solid color layer. I plan on writing a complete tutorial on this subject soon, so check back if you’re interested.
Like many people, I’ve spent way too much time and money trying to sort out the best way to print my work. I’m a huge fan of the beautiful tonalities available using modern inkjet printers, when everything is just right. So often though, it wasn’t, and I’d burn through ink and paper at alarming rates. It was getting difficult to justify the expense and headache. In response to this, I’ve recently started doing my printing at Costco. I just upload images to the website and pick them up next time we’re in Missoula. The service is great, the prices are great, and most importantly of all, the quality is very good. Prints are made on either glossy or lustre surface Fuji paper, and look exactly like what my image files look like.
West Fork of the Thompson River
Second Beach, Olympic National Park
Music & Light, Study#4
(this image was influenced by the work of Frank Grisdale. It is a 30 second exposure, hand-held. This is the straight image with no processing in photoshop…)
Taking Flight,Kalaloch Beach
Alasdair Lyon, Drumming
Sea Stacks, Olympic National Park
Roots in the Sky, Kalaloch Beach
Drumming in Time