Sunday, September 28, 2014

All Quiet, But About A Book

So what happened to all the work being done with my new Pentax 645Z?

Well, it started with a 30 cm. snowfall early in September that broke hundreds of branches on our own property alone. In the cleanup and haul to the dump (thank heavens for a stock trailer) I managed to hurt my back, to the point I have loss of function of the right hand and pain that keeps me from standing for more than a minute or two. Bad enough to prevent typing on my desktop computer never mind shooting more Paper images. Hell, I'm not sure I could even hold the camera.

It has however given me some time to think about book production. I have been thinking for some time of using Kickstarter to collect funding for a proper run of my book of black and white images, currently only a private blurb book that is far too expensive to be practical to market.

Before I can even think of starting such a task, I'll need to get detailed costing and timing on printing, packaging and shipping the book, as well as rewards for investors. I'll need to figure out how to deal with a bad print run and how to get rewards shipped in a timely fashion, as well as how to get the word out as broadly as possible.

It occurs to me to use canvas prints as rewards - shipped directly from the printer within Canada or US, or even to use as a reward a digital file that could be used by the investor to print at home, or have printing done locally even including framing.

As part of my research I have been looking at failed attempts on Kickstarter - I will be producing an introductory video, and won't be flogging signed pictures of me, and will have rewards that can be delivered promptly if funding is completed.

The worst nightmare I can contemplate would be  disastrous print run - funny green printing that the printer refuses to take responsibility for. This risk can be mitigated by careful choice of printer and inspection of the work done as well as full understanding of the printers proofing system, as well as reputation. Doing three books so far has given me considerable experience. Books of colour images intermingled with black and white run the greatest risk of poor results where this would be all black and white.

One obvious option for investor rewards would be a pdf digital book.

I will be studying problems and strategies, successes and failures to learn as much as possible before committing myself to this idea. I have already arranged free shipping of canvas prints as rewards and the next step is to talk numbers and dollars with a printer.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Is f22 Useable On The Pentax 645Z?

There has been a heated discussion on the Luminous Landscape Forum about whether one can use f22. It would appear to be divided between those who theorize that this should never be done (and have not done so) and the few who actually have done it and found it to work, within the parameters of adequate depth of field combined with sufficient resolution to satisfy them.

I was curious to see just what sufficient to satisfy means, and in particular if it would satisfy me. I used the single central image of the stitch made today, shot with the 75 mm. lens,  at f22.

I arbitrarily decided that a sharp up close 30X40 inch print would be my definition of sharp enough. As usual, I applied my normal amount of sharpening in lightroom, 58, .7, 70, 0 the same setup I had used with my D800e.

Once the image had been edited extensively, I applied output sharpening of 247, .7, 0 in Smart Sharpen. The result looked a tad over-sharpened at 100% on screen, an amount I was reasonably sure would produce a tack sharp print with no sharpening artifact.

The result - exactly as predicted. Inspection under a bright light as close as my bifocals will take me (8 inches).

So, f22 works just fine with the 75 mm. lens. Might it not work with other lenses - possibly.

Why didn't I compare it to 5.6 - because the question wasn't whether 5.6 would be sharper, the question I wanted answered (the same one Michael Reichmann wanted) is whether f22 works and it does.

Why 30X40 print - well, this was already going beyond 300 DPI - actually 206.4 pixels per inch. Printing larger would not be expected to produce perfect prints to be viewed from 8 inches at any aperture. In fact, the Pentax 645Z with 75 mm. lens did remarkably well and I completely agree with Michael - f22 is more than useable - it's just fine thank you.

Don't forget to click on this to see the whole section - which is about 3 inches across at 30X40!!!

Lessons learned:

Theory and Practice don't always match up.

Only the real world counts (ie. what happens in practice).

Diffraction is different from out of focus and responds much better to additional sharpening.

Sensor size controls the highest useable f-stop. I tested (in prints of real subjects - the only thing that counts) with my full frame 35 equipment and even with the 22 mp 5D2 and 3 and D800e, I could not go beyond f16, but I have proved to my satisfaction that I can with the modestly larger 33X44 mm. sensor of the Pentax.

So, how is this relevent to you? It isn't - except that you need to do your own test - with a real subject and in viewing prints.  You might have better eyes (more than likely), or closer vision (almost certainly if younger) or higher standards (I'm pretty damn fussy) or you might not standardize on 30X40 prints with the Pentax, or use a different camera or sensor size.

If you do the test - with a real subject, and look at the print (on its own, not compared to anything) does it satisfy you - that's the only relevant question. If it does, great - if not, well you've answered an important question for you and your equipment specifically.

Feel free to write - but ONLY if you have done the test, as I have described.

Kananaskis River Shallows

This was a three image stitch, with the 75 mm. lens. Why stitch with a 51 MP camera? Well, I have a 75 and a 35 mm. lens. The 35 was too wide and included some tree reflections from downstream, while mounting the 75 vertically gave me just enough height wise, but I needed more width than a single image would give.

Interestingly, within about 10 seconds of finishing the third image, I heard a roar of water from upstream - they'd opened the sluice gates of the dam, and within 30 seconds this entire scene disappeared under two feet of turbulent water. The kayakers started arriving and it was time for me to pack up.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Looking At Images - Brooks Jensen

You  will perhaps remember that I wrote the book Why Photographs Work. I recently started reading Brooks new book and before I started, I felt a bit awkward - do I say his book is better, or mine, or what. After all, I chose my way of writing deliberately so it seemed a bit weird to be then commenting on Brooks writing.

Turns out it wasn't a problem at all. I'm not Brooks, and he's not me, and I learned quite a bit from this book, that I am currently half way through.

For a start, Brooks has selected an interesting collection of both black and white and some colour work to discuss, many of the works beautiful to my eye, and perhaps more importantly, when an image doesn't first impress me, I'm intrigued to find out what Brooks saw in the image that I missed. It doesn't make one of us right, but it does broaden ones horizon to look at images that aren't obviously great. I may not get the image on first reading, or perhaps the tenth, but sometimes things will percolate for some time and guess what, you can't ever look at image the same again. And that ain't bad.

Brooks is of course editor of Lenswork, perhaps the most respected magazine of black and white photographs around. Some have faulted Brooks for his middle class white American relatively conservative taste, but over the years Lenswork has definitely pushed and changed my boundaries, widening my tastes in photography. Traditional black and white landscapes are a minority in both the magazine and this book. There are abstracts and documentary photographs, manipulated images, and yes, enough 'traditional' photography to suit most.

If there is one thing in particular Brooks brings to looking at these images, it is not surprisingly his vast knowledge of other photography that he references in about half of the images discussed. Although it's true that he doesn't include all those images (downright impractical without doubling the size of the book) but with the internet, a very small effort will show you the work he compares and contrasts. There is a great deal to be learned, dare I say; by everyone who follows his thoughts about the place of these images in both the history and art of photography. In this way his writing is fundamentally different from mine and even when he doesn't reference other images, his discussion of individual images often comes with a point he wants to make, about something to be learned, and the work is discussed in the context of all the photography that has gone before it.

This makes the book an excellent tool for learning about images, about strengthening our own photography, and about seeing in different ways.

Turns out I can happily give this book a hearty recommendation. Yes, I know, it's so much easier to read about technical stuff, but I'm betting this will do a lot more for your own image making.

You can see some of the pages here and order the book thus.

And can I remind you - every photographer needs at least a few Lenswork Folios - sets of beautiful prints of great work at a bargain price. What photographer doesn't wish he could go back and purchase Pepper # 30 direct from Edward Weston for $5. Well, some 80 years later, we're talking original work for $12.50 a print - what a bargain.