Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brooks Jensen

I discovered a wonderful image today, by Brooks Jensen, editor of Lenswork and  serious photographer.

This photograph is the first of 10 images of a new folio of prints Brooks has created. Do check out the whole folio and see The Medusa in a larger size, in isolation. It is this image in particular that has me enthralled. The sense of space, the sense of a third dimension is remarkable, the faint markings on the ice looking like distant nebulae. To appreciate its beauty, click on the link above to see it larger and in isolation.

Oops:  This from Brooks: One minor correction that I really hope doesn’t diminish your enjoyment of the image, but it’s not actually ice. It’s a tidal slough down on the Long Beach Peninsula near the mouth of the Columbia. I was mesmerized by the slow rising tide bringing in floating debris and surface guck. Fascinating patterns and surface reflections.

On the contrary, given its mundane source all the more amazing what it can turn into and all the more power for Brooks realizing the potential.

Clearly time to add another folio to my collection, or do I arrange to purchase a larger print to be framed - I don't do that often, partly because of the cost of framing, and considering lack of wall space, but this time...

It's been a while since I have been this excited about an image.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lenswork Monograph

I see that Lenswork has pre-announced a new programme - that of printing an entire paperback book, like the regular Lenswork magazine, but containing the work of a single photographer. The first is Brooks Jensen himself, editor of Lenswork, from his Made of Steel Series. I have seen some of these images and I think this will be a very nice monograph to have, and will report on it when I get it.

I really enjoyed the Paul Caponigro issue of View Camera magazine and given the printing quality of Lenswork - this promises to be even better. I`m hoping that once the series starts, there will be a way to sign up for all the monographs as they come out.

Brooks indicates he`s going to work with photographers who have already been in Lenswork. This gives him plenty of scope.

Ideally it would be great to see some of the top photographers who haven`t got a  series of books out there.Even some famous photographers haven`t got round to making a book in a long time. A monograph gives us a chance to see more than one project or even style of work by a single photographer. We could also possibly see how someone`s style changes over time or to see consistencies in approach to widely varying subjects - from viewpoint to printing style, from lighting to tonality.

I`m as geeky as the next fellow, but I make far more use of my Lenswork magazines than I ever do of Lenswork Extended - I like having a book in hand.

It would be wonderful if these could be a bit larger than the standard Lenswork magazine, but perhaps that`s impractical. I don`t see a size mentioned on the website.

I`m really looking forward to this Lenswork effort.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Much Is An E-book Worth?

Until now, only a handful of e-books have been made available, and no one has burdened me with their sales information. So, anyone actually know the answer? Is there a 'price point' that makes e-books tempting? How would an e-book differ (offer additional value) compared to a free website? Is there money to be made?

Here's some thoughts though. When one of my books sells, I get about $3 royalty. If I sold an e-book for $5 and it cost me $2 to host the book (that's what Blurb is charging), I could make the same amount of money, and at $5, it could easily be an impulse purchase. Currently there doesn't seem to be a way to find e-books on Blurb and of course the vast majority of the books won't be of 'publishable' quality, but let's say that Ansel were still alive, kicking and photographing, and that for the heck of it, he did an e-book.

Now, lest my publisher read this and have a fit, yes, I know my contract with the publisher gives them the electronic rights to publish, not me, but were I to do a new book..., one of my images (which they have said isn't practical in paper - and I agree)...

How many people would rush out, and how much would they pay, to get hold of an Ansel Adams book on their iPad? After all, Ansel did calendars and posters and Yosemite sold and continues to sell prints of his images, so pretty good chance he'd be up for it.

What if someone were becoming a serious fine art photographer, and for $5 each, they could pick up some 50 images, with some interesting text, by a well respected photographer, and further more, could do so from dozens of famous photographers. $100 would see you well on the way to making a wonderful library of images, all happily fitting on your iPad, and ready to learn from.

I see that William Neil now sells his e-books for $10. Landscapes Of The Spirit is a real book I own, and enjoy, and paid considerably more for. I note on his website that the price was $15, and I'm not sure that it wasn't more than that when he first made his publication available in electronic form. Keep in mind, this is a real book, of 120 pages and 79 images, not some hashed together portfolio with a few words that someone with delusions of grandeur decides to call a book.

Does that make the 'right price' $10, or does the price reflect the reputation of the photographer. Is Ansel's e-book worth more than that of one of his accolytes? Or does popularity and therefore number of sales determine success. After all, that's how it is in music. The price for a Feist song is the same as one by Fred Blogs, and only the number of sales determines the difference. Is that the way it should be?

Occasionally I splurge and pick up a Blurb book from someone I know or think might have interesting images - but by the time I pay frieght (it comes from downtown right here in Calgary), it adds $10 to the cost of a $37.00 book, which means I don't do it that often. Once Blurb starts promoting their e-books I might well pick up more, and if reasonably priced (ie. iTunes equivalent) for lots of famous photographers, well, I know I'd be buying left right and centre.

Since the publication of my first book, I have had a standing offer of any four prints, 8.5X11, $100 including shipping. I get a request every couple of months - hardly a money maker, and probably more trouble than it's worth. Perhaps and especially with the next generation high res iPad, purchasing small prints will be unnecessary and only large prints will be purchased, at prices that compensate the photographer for the shipping and handling, so that he or she can turn a reasonable profit margin. However, don't forget that all of this article is discussing electronic books, not portfolios - though the same arguments apply.

Will I give up the printed book, or the printed image for that matter? Very unlikely. But is the e-book in our future, as photographers as well as purchasers. Damn right!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Fish Creek

Finally, a chance to get out and photograph. Mostly I was working on the ice of the creek, while under an overpass. Late in the shoot the sun moved round far enough and low enough to strike this ice formation, warming the tones. This is mostly a colour image, though in a few places, the colour wasn't there for some reason. I sampled the colour from where it was present, then added a fill layer of that colour, then set layer blending to colour. Now the entire image was this colour, which hadn't been my intention, so Command I to invert the mask of this new fill layer, then painted in where I wanted this additional colour.

Focus blending was used, with the water as a single layer (Helicon Focus does odd things to running water that is focus blended). Shot with the 5d2, 70-200 mm. f4 L IS lens, a total of 10 images for the blend. It wasn't perfect and required a fair bit of manual editing to get right along the water edge and some of the openings in the ice.

I don't think I have the colour saturation quite right yet - but this is where it makes sense to stop for the evening and pick up another day, with a fresh eye.