April 16, 2013

Tutorial - A Reply to a Student


A Reply to a Student

I frequently get emails from photography students around the country having been asked to research a photographer whose work they enjoy. Typically they ask me about my work habits, equipment and processes. In answering one of these this morning, it seemed that it might be relevant to a wider audience.

I use a variety of cameras depending on the situation, 35mm style dSLRs like my Canon cameras for highly portable work, my Hasselblad cameras with Phase One back for higher resolution, and my 4x5 Betterlight scanning back for my most serious work.

I don't really have any tips or tricks, just the most sincere application of craft I can put into the image. I don't use Photoshop to change the image, but just like with silver based photography, I use the raw file much like the exposed but undeveloped negative and carefully process it in Adobe CameraRaw and then in Photoshop to reveal, to the best of my ability and the best of the technology, what was before the camera.

Fast shutter speeds, careful use of aperture for desired depth of field, no smaller aperture than required to maximize lens sharpness, normal ISO when possible, making sure I get adequate exposure and take full advantage of the tonal resolution of the device. These and many other considerations go into any well-crafted exposure in the camera.

I don't believe in concepts like enhancement in Photoshop. The world is already self-embellished, As I see it, my job is to be a loving witness to the wonder of the planet, bring sensitivity to making a photograph, take the time and care to execute a well crafted exposure, then be faithful to that inspiration all through the processing of the image. The real world is so much more interesting than the chromed-up cartoon-like results I see so often from extensive use of Photoshop to alter and manipulate.

I hope that helps, with my perspective at least.



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