Thursday, December 31, 2009
This is my final post of this subject and for 2009! I've been using this picture to develop a landscape look that simulates pictures made with the Leica I circa 1925 and learn the maze of controls in Nik Silver Efex Pro. The Leica I was the first camera to use 35mm motion picture film and set all the standards and idioms for the format that continue in the DSLR world. I found that the earliest Leica users were hand spooling from 100 ft. rolls of Kodak Panchromatic Cine film, which by 1933 was sold as Kodak Panatomic in 35mm cassettes. The stock was inherently high contrast, softened somewhat by the lack of an anti-halation layer and lenses without modern anti-reflection coating. When you see prints from Leica and Contax negatives made between 1925 and 1937, they have a glowing, chiseled butter quality that vanished as film and optics "improved".
Technical: Nikon D100, 50mm f1.8D, ISO 200, Cokin P series circular polarizer, f/10 @ 1/100s, tripod. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.6 for minor corrections, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro to simulate Kodak Panatomic film and sepia toner.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Just a few feet away from the first Concrete Face in Forest Park is this lady. This time I am experimenting with a more film like representation. I'm not sure, but I think both faces were once painted. With the contrast and monochrome filtering cranked up, you can see where the pupils had pigment.
Technical: Nikon D100, 50mm f1.8, ISO 200, f/2.5 @ 1/640s, tripod. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.6, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro to add Ilford HP5 film effect, green filter and partial Kodak Blue Toner effect.
Friday, December 25, 2009
This is a detail from a canoe prow, collected in Africa in the late 19th century, on display at the St. Louis Art Museum. I'm still working on the look of pictures made with Leica I in 1925. There is something very romantic about photographs from that era.
Technical: Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 800, 66mm @ f/4.0 @ 1/8s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.6, the converted to monochrome in Nik Silver Efex Pro using the blue filter with the Kodak Tri-X film setting.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
More from the basement of the St. Louis Art Museum - a human skulled with the tissue boiled off, then the facial features added back with clay, burnt lime and oil from tree bark. The eyes are cowrie shells and the hair is human. I am intrigued by the subject, but the technically accurate colors and uninspired lighting don't suit my impression.
Technical: Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 800, 85mm @ f/4.0 @ 1/20s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.6. Color corrected using the Xrite Color Checker Passport to 2650K and +9 Tint.
The color of the red clay presented some emotional distance for me, so opened the picture in Nik Silver Efex Pro to see in a monochrome conversion would add drama. None of the stock custom styles gave me the look I was after, which was to imitate the look of a picture made in 1925 using a Leica I and the venerable push Kodak NC 35mm motion picture film. Silver Efex Pro lets you set the grain and spectral characteristics, so I was able to simulate the ortho-chromatic sensitivity and match grain to pictures in Leica history books.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
This beautiful carved wood boat prow from New Guinea is in the basement of the St. Louis Art Museum, the detail presented here as a faux Holga image. Which got me to thinking...
My first experience with shooting with a toy camera was in the Fall of 1970 through a Photography I at Florissant Valley Community College. My serious interest in photography began earlier that year. By the time I showed up for the college course, I had already built and outfitted a darkroom, bought a Nikkormat and two Nikkor lenses, absorbed many technical manuals and monographs by photographers like Ansel Adams and Edward Steichen. That Summer I burned through at least 100 rolls of Tri-X and made a trip to New York City to see Irving Penn's incredible platinum prints. I also quit my job at an IGA grocery store when I landed an assistant photographer job at Todd Studios, where I learned how to operate an 11x14 Deardorf and run a custom black and white lab. Nonetheless, I remember that I was concerned that I was not sufficiently prepared for a college level course devoted to my new found passion.
I was immediately disappointed with the Photography I class. The teacher gave us the syllabus and it was clear that photo history, chemistry and optics would not be discussed. The supplies list for the class required us to buy a Diana a toy camera, similar to the very popular Holga, and 50 rolls of Tri-X 120 film. We were told that we would process the film in Kodak Dektol, a paper developer, instead of film developer to boost the contrast of the fuzzy plastic lens. I asked the teacher if it would be acceptable for those of us who already had cameras to execute the assignments our existing gear. The teacher's response:
"No, absolutely not! You will experience a thrill in the darkroom when you see a picture you made emerge the first time in the developer. I want you all to shoot hundreds of pictures with an inferior camera so that you get over that thrill and learn that pictures are not good just because you made them. That is what this course is about. To make you critical of your own work."
Why was everyone to use the same camera? Our teacher also said she didn't want to try to deal with helping students use twenty different makes and models of camera - it would take up to much class time and be too chaotic. As a reminder, in 1970 there was no auto-focus, let alone a complex digital menu systems. The adjustments available were focus, f-stop and shutter speed. In-camera meters were simple analog match needles. To figure out the controls on any camera from that period or earlier should take no more than 30 seconds, a basic skill I'd expect a Photography I class to impart.
So I bought the camera and completed the first two week's assignments and learned several valuable lessons:
- Not all teachers are qualified to teach. I'd had bad teachers before, but this one set a new low. She had no idea what she was doing. I caught her in so many basic technical flubs in the first two classes, it was clear to me that she was not a practicing photographer.
- A college photography course is a total waste of time and money. I confess I thought Photography I was a fluke, so I talked my way into Photography II. Different school, different teacher, same technical and artistic inferiority. Use the tuition to buy books and gear.
- The best way to learn photography is to shoot, find and mimic photographers you admire, learn from your mistakes and get a job as an assistant for a good photographer. The apprentice system makes the most sense for learning the arts, especially photography.
- Best of all, you can get a full refund when you drop a class, as I did with both photo classes.
While I might be the first to admire the Impressionist and antique feel of images from cameras like the Holga, I'm not personally comfortable limiting image quality at the time of capture. Perhaps this view is driven by my early experience at Todd Studios, making contact prints from old 11x14 glass plates, the same type used in 1890 by Stiegliz and Steichen. For them, the subject matter and printing process produced the Impressionist qualities, not the camera gear. Today, at least for me, this means trying for the best possible capture, then transforming into the picture I had in mind when I shot it. This allows me to experiment with degrees of pictorialism, rather than have the equipment to lock me in to a particular picture with random streaks and scratches.
Technical: Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-84mm f2.8-f4, ISO 800, 45mm @ f/4.0 @ 1/6s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.6, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro to applied the "Holga" custom style and "pulled" copper toner effect. The "Holga" style adds quite a bit of grain and a heavy vignette.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Among the treasures in the basement of the St. Louis Art Museum is this 18th century wooden figure from Hawaii, sitting in a case about five times larger than it needs to be. Very odd arrangement, but I like the design silhouette.
Technical: Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 800, 85mm @ f/4.0 @ 1/13s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.6, edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro to give the picture an antique travel card look.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The St. Louis Art Museum keeps moving this statue, providing me with opportunity to shoot from different angles under different lighting conditions. At the time of this capture, Artemis was parked in a very dark corner and I was shooting on a Friday night.
Technology: Nikon D700, AF Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 3200, 56mm @ f/8.0 @ 1/50s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to adjust light balance and exposure, then edited in Nik Silver Eftex Pro for monochrome conversion.
A bust of Buddha at the St. Louis Art Museum gets the Man Ray treatment, courtesy my just licensed copy of Nik Silver Efex Pro that arrived today from Adorama.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8D, ISO 1600, f/2.0 @ 1/50s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro where I applied my own style preset I call "Antique Solarization II".
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A fallen tree is mostly reclaimed by the landscape. Only a section of trunk remains. The warm print tone is very close to Afga Portriga Rapid.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 200, 56mm @ f/8.0 @ 1/160s. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro using the "Warm Tone" style and Ilford Pan F 50 film setting.
Monday, December 7, 2009
This is a "straight" version of an earlier post, Infrared Wet Rocks, Forest Park captured before switching to Infrared mode. I'm not sure which version I prefer, but the experimentation is jolly good fun.
Technical: Nikon D100, Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 200, 60mm @ f/8.0 @ 1/1250s, tripod. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro using the "Architecure" style, adding Ilford Pan F 50 and coffee tones.
With a DSLR we get amazing advantages and control over single frames. This is an example of a lighting situation I might have tackled with a view camera because each sheet of film can be processed individually, but would have given it a miss with roll film. I'm trying to nail the warm tone of the legendary Agfa Portriga Rapid gelatin silver paper. This is getting very close! I'm also very impressed by how the Nikkor 24-85mm zoom handled the the inclusion of the sun without flare or reduced contrast. This is a very under rated lens.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 200, 24mm @ f/8.0 @ 1/250s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to crop, adjust color, add fill light and boost blacks. Monochrome conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro using the Warm Tone custom style. An 8x10 print on Epson Exhibition Rag looks very like 4x5 Tri-X developed in D-23 printed on Agfa Portriga developed in Neutol WA.
Sitting in a quiet corner of a museum, a clearly once proud goddess's timeless marble beauty has seen some rough centuries as her divinity faded and was eventually forgotten. I played some impressionist camera tricks here, like tilting the camera to suggest a bowed head and adjusting contrast to emphasize texture and make the watchful eye go dark.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4, ISO 800, f/2.0 @ 1/40s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to adjust color, contrast, crop and apply a preset that I think makes old marble glow when printed on Epson Exhibition Rag paper.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
After trying several variations of producing the Sabattier Effect by digital means, I think I've settled on one approach that I like and produces consistent results. The subject here is a male torso from Rome. It feels like an updated Man Ray or Lazlo Moholy-Nage.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G, ISO 800, f/2.8 @ 1/90s. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to correct exposure, color and camera preset, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro to apply a custom style I created that I call "Antique Solarization III". Now that I've taken the trouble to create a custom style that I want to use in the future, I guess I'll have to buy the product.
A serious case of pond scum in a lagoon in Forest Park near the Muny presents a photo op. The picture in color is rather dead, but the monochrome conversion abstracts the scene to a study in texture.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4 G, ISO 200, f/8.0 @ 1/40s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to correct color, apply Nikon Landscape preset and do some light dodging, edited in Photoshop CS4 to remove some trash and a tree root in the upper right corner, then processed in Nik Silver Efex Pro with the "Architecture" preset and add a medium sepia tint.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
An 10th Dynasty Egyptian figure subjected to the "Antique Solarization" custom style in Nik Silver Efex Pro. The effect is very much like a print from solarized film, a technique used by Man Ray.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G, ISO 800, f/2.0 @ 1/50s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro to apply the custom style, blue filter and coffee stain effects.
Friday, December 4, 2009
This detail view of a lagoon at the bottom of Art Hill, this treatment reminds me of a bromoil print. I intended to shoot at f/16, but clicked this one off by accident while setting up. I actually prefer this softer version. The picture needs more work, but might make it into my Impressionist Landscape collection.
Technial: Nikon D100, AF Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 200, Cokin P007 infrared filter, 60mm @ f/4.5 @ 1/100s, tripod. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to adjust exposure +1.5 and crop to 4x5, then edited in Nik Silver Efex Pro to apply the "Holga" preset and Kodak Panatomic X 32 film effect.
An infrared view of the old 1904 World's Fair Entrance Bride in Forest Park, shot late summer 2008, the image was a good opportunity to put Nik Silver Efex Pro through some extra testing.
Technical: Nikon D100, AF Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, ISO 200, Cokin P007 infrared filter, 24mm @ f/8.0 @ 1/5s. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5, then converted to gray scale in Nik Silver Efex Pro using standard/neurtal, split toner #2, AgfaPan 100 film setting and structure contrast boost 32%.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Roman marble torso from ~ 50 BC, at the Art Museum.
Technical: Nikon D700, AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1.4G, ISO 400, f/2.0 @ 1/60s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to adjust color and contrast.
This is a detail of a marble bust from about 100 AD on display at the St. Louis Art Museum. I'm still experimenting with Nik Silver Efex Pro. I've become a big fan of the "Dark Sepia" setting combined with the Ilford HP5 Plus film setting.
Technical: Nikon D100, AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8D, ISO 800, f/2.0 @ 1/90s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5, grayscale conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro.
From about 50 AD this amazingly life-like bust looks like a character actor from the 1950s, but I can't place the name.
Technical: Nikon D700, Nikkor 50mm f1.8G, ISO 800, f/2.8 @ 1/45s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to crop and apply a develop preset I've created to give stone a uniform tone and emphasize texture.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Here is a new version of a picture I posted here a couple of years ago, processed in Nik Silver Efex Pro using the "Wet Rocks" preset and Ilford HP 5 Plus film grain effect. I think it looks more rugged and dramatic that the original post.
Technical: Nikon D100, AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8D, ISO 400, f/2.8 @ 1/40s, handheld. RAW file cropped and color corrected in Lightroom 2.5, with further processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro as above.
A detail of one of my favorite statues at the St. Louis Art Museum, "Artimis Running." I've been revisiting some of my earlier work, processing selected pictures with Nik Silver Efex Pro during the evaluation period. I'm very happy with the results so far, and I like the way the film grain gives some extra flavor to certain surfaces. Who would have thought Mr. ISO 25 would go looking for film grain?
Technical: Nikon D100, AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8D, ISO 800, f1.8 @ 1/80s, handheld. RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.5 to correct color and crop. Nik Silver Efex Pro provided the albumin print tone and simulate spectral response and grain of Ilford Pan F 50, which was my official replacement film for several years after Kodak stopped making Panatomic X 32.