Feb 022015

Nicephore NiepceA little tired from an early train ride south from Paris, we arrived at a small town to meet the river boat for a weeklong cruise through Burgandy and Provence. On a taxi ride to the dock, I caught a glimpse of a statue in the center of town with a familiar name – Niepce. Looking back I noticed that he was standing with a camera and nearby was a photography museum.  After a quick search in the guidebook, I realized that I was in Chalon-sur-Rhone, the birthplace of photography!

Of course, I should have known that but that’s what I get not doing any prior homework on the trips that Joanne so thoughtfully plans for us. We quickly dumped our bags, grabbed my camera and headed to the museum before it closed.  In 1826 or 1827 in this very town, Nicephore Niepce created what is credited to be the world’s first photograph.

Among the historical collection of photographs and equipment was that very camera credited to taking that first photograph which is now on display at the University of Texas in Austin.  Next to the camera, the museum had a facsimile of that first photograph displayed on an tablet, photography had surely come a long way.

From that one image, someone calculated in 2011 that we humans have taken close to 4 trillion photos (yes, trillions) and counting. There are over 2.5 billion camera phones. Instagram alone has over 5 billion photos and 55 million photos uploaded every day. As of 2013, 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily, and users have uploaded more than 250 billion photos. As of 2014, we share over 1.8 billion photos per day.

On the bookshelf in my studio there’s an old book from 1850 that I bought at a flea market a long time ago. It was an annual encyclopedia that caught my interest solely because of the last paragraph, referring to the new invention of photography. It read that it will have very limited appeal, perhaps in portraiture only. That was about to change, and change the world with it.

First Photograph

 February 2, 2015  Editorial, Photography, Travel Tagged with:  Comments Off on Where Photography Was Born
Sep 092014

Sunflower FieldWorking with the unpredictable light on a recent assignment to produce scenics and a cover for the Glastobury Book made for quick adaptations to changing conditions. Even when it clouded over as in the sunflower shot, which was selected for the cover,  the softness of the light was an advantage to a scene that could have been otherwise too contrasty.

The young girl harvesting tomatoes was photographed with that unflattering harsh sun, but a quick a solution was to have her turn so she would have soft shadowed light on her face, and the colorful toolshed made for a nice backdrop.

The image of the historic Glastonbury to Rocky Hill ferry making its last run for the day was shot into the sun which made for a fine balance to hold details in the shadows which were brought back with some additional post processing.

Tomato Harvest


Glastonbury-Rocky Hill Ferry

 September 9, 2014  Editorial, Landscapes, People, Travel Tagged with:  4 Responses »
Jun 242014

Neutral GrayPhotographers continually strive to be neutral, as in neutral gray. Despite the fact that we often purposely shift and enhance colors, this is often done in post processing, but it is always helpful to start with correct neutral tones.

In the studio, when photographing products on a white or black background or all the gray shades in between, it is critical that not only the product’s color is accurate, but in addition, it is equally important that the background is also perfectly neutral. We often shoot on laminates because of its durability and texture but often finding the the right neutral tone has always been problematic.

When looking into purchasing some new laminate backgrounds, I came across a study done by Dan Kushel, professor at SUNY Buffalo State in New York, where he did some extensive calibrations of different Formica laminates and paints for the photographic lab renovations at the school, from which he narrowed down the ones with the best neutrality. In the studio, it is also ideal to have neutral walls to avoid color casts.

For paint, the best gray selections with different reflective values were Benjamin-Moore “Steel Wool”2121-20, “Sterling Silver “1461, and “Pelican Gray”1612. And for Formica, “Mouse”928-58, “Fog”961-50, and “Folkstone”927-58. The two page PDF with the data and recommendations can be downloaded here. And if you are also looking for a gray card to balance out your images, next time you’re at Home Depot or Lowe’s, pick up free sample of Wilsonart’s laminate gray “D-90”, that will also work just fine and save you a few bucks.

 June 24, 2014  Photography, Product 4 Responses »