pixelXpixel

Posted in Uncategorized by Eric on February 23, 2010

I need to expand my photographic skills to include portraiture. I think I could be excellent at it, except I am hesitant to approach random people, and don’t want to feel imposing by forcing friends to be subjects. Those fears are kind of irrational, so I feel a bit silly admitting it, but if I want to change them, it probably helps to admit it.

I love much of the stuff I have done without people in it, and they’re critical exercises with form, color, and texture. Secret snaps are fun too, but I think one can convey so much more by engaging with a living subject. I’m starting to feel as if I should define my photographic style, and while I tend towards this sort of Urban landscape/decay/found object style, sometimes I think it’s just easy. I think that means both that it comes naturally but that it isn’t much of a challenge. I have ideas which I haven’t experimented with yet.

BBQ

I have some portrait-taking opportunities coming up, and with all the rain this week, I should be playing with my speedlites inside at home. Goal: 3 portraits this week. 1 can be a self-portrait

Accidental Self Portrait

Photo-Archeology

Posted in Uncategorized by Eric on February 22, 2010

Tech Pan Archives - Matt

I have had ideas to post about the past couple weeks and then have totally spaced on actually doing it. I’ll have to pick that up throughout the week.

I originally got into photography in Middle school, and my interest grew through high school until around my 18th birthday. At that point, I got a point-and-shoot digital camera, and while I took thousands of photos with it, I really set photography on the back-burner until I got my Nikon D80 about three years ago. At some point, I bought a roll of Kodak Technical Pan film because I had heard how awesome it was… I want to say that I thought it could be rated at very high speeds, but that’s not its strength at all, instead, it’s very fine grained.

I never processed the roll, because I think at that point I rarely developed film myself and I didn’t want to pay for a professional lab, so it sat in my camera bag. And sat, and sat. Over 10 years, although I can’t quite date it. I woke up this morning and decided that I would develop it today, it would be the perfect rainy day project.

I didn’t expect much to come out.  I’m working with >10 year old film, no idea what ISO I shot it at, and Rodinal (a developer I have very little experience with.) To my surprise, I actually got some images out of it! They’re insanely overexposed, so I’m really pulling them in post-processing. Nonetheless, there are a few examples where the grain is amazingly fine given what the media had been through. The rest are a little rough, but have a neat look.

Tech Pan Archives - The Gang

I even found a photo of myself. I’m embarrassed by my fashion choices. I was apparently at a barbeque.

Tech Pan Archives - Me

HDR Photography and Memes

Posted in Uncategorized by Eric on February 4, 2010

Whenever I’ve tried to start a blog (and several times throughout my Livejournal iterations,) I spent the time to try and set a focus or ground rules. I am going to skip that this time, and jump right in. I am betting it’ll have no effect on my success at sticking with it.

On Monday, Trey Ratcliff came to speak at Google as part of a program that brings authors in to speak about their books. Video of the talk should be up on Youtube in a couple weeks. Trey started off immediately talking about the controversy around HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography and tried to justify it with an appeal to the “right brain;” that is, HDR to him is about art and conveying a feeling. He was pretty dismissive of critics as “old school.”

His talk was a little disorganized, as he jumped from topic to topic and I noticed that he is a pretty strong product of the geek internet culture these days. Internet memes even seep into his book, with a reference to the infamous “internet is a series of tubes” speech. This bothers me a bit because it’s easy. I fall into the same trap some times, but memes are getting really annoying to me. It has created what feels like a very thin and weak culture. A culture of repurposing, remixing, and repeating a small set of content. Most of the content is lacking any intellectual value, even when it’s a joke that only software engineers get. Working in the IT industry, especially in search, I’m bombarded with this culture every day, as it’s the only way some of my too-geeky-to-function-socially co-workers can relate to other humans.

Fuck, I started off my blog with a rant. I think often about the speed at which culture transmits these days and the positive and negative examples and effects, but I think I should get back to HDR…

It is fair to argue HDR works can be art and can be respected; even the most basic forms of photography have a way to manipulate reality by reducing the world to 2D, cropping it, compressing, and selectively representing color (out of necessity… film and digital sensors can’t capture the full range of visible color.) Infrared photography takes invisible-t0-us light and re-maps it in the visible space. But HDR’s internet-fueled rise to popularity has led to its abuse; many of the examples seriously lack technical refinement, artistic intention, or originality.

I remember an art teacher in elementary school trying to explain the concept of “artistic license” to us, all young and not really able to understand (and probably not in need of artistic license, still possessing some of our uncontrolled childhood creativity.) The word license implies freedom to do something, but only because you’ve proven you can act in a deliberate way.

Maybe I’m just bitter because my attempts at HDR so far have been crap. (The example above wasn’t a serious attempt; I mean, come on, I even cropped around the photomatix watermarks.)

A Start…

Posted in Uncategorized by Eric on February 2, 2010

It’s already past my bedtime (seriously!) and I was thinking about many different ways to start this blog today. Instead, I’m just going to leave some reminders for myself on what to write about:

  1. My Photo Goals
  2. What I’ve done recently
  3. Ideas for the future
  4. Trey Ratcliff talk summary