Exposure Workshop – March 14th

Most photographers I know are just fudging on their exposures. We all talk about Expose to the Right (ETTR) and try and read the histogram, and look at the highlight warnings to make a decision, but mostly we’re relying on the wide exposure latitude of our cameras to make it work. And it mostly works…until it doesn’t.

When it doesn’t, we have blow out highlights, lost shadow detail, and increased noise in our images. On my most recent Exposure workshop, we had cameras that were metering up to two stops off.

There has to be a better way!

Fortunately there is! And it’s easy enough for a beginner, but accurate enough for a pro.

This workshop is going to give you more certainty in your exposures. With a simple process, we’re going to calibrate your light meter so that it becomes more accurate than judging histograms or highlight warnings (blinkies.) Once your camera is properly calibrated, you’ll have the tools to get the best exposure any time, any where.

Sign-up online at Eventbrite:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/correct-exposure-ever-time-tickets-97339275393

Museum Exhibit – Robert Glenn Ketchum & Eliot Porter: On Seeing Color

© Robert Glenn Ketchum, Upper Lake Cohasset, Harriman State Park, 1983, Cibachrome print, from The Hudson River and the Highlands

I want to invite you to the the opening for Robert Glenn Ketchum’s latest exhibition. The opening includes a unique opportunity to hear Robert Glenn Ketchum speak on his long career and the influence Elliot Porter had on his use of color and use of photography as a vehicle for preservation of wilderness. 

One of the “masters” of landscape photography, Ketchum’s book “The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Wilderness”  helped define the modern genre of conservation photography. He continues to be a defining influence in landscape photography as he pushes the bounds of the medium with new work that explore abstraction and new means of presentation. This exhibit is a rare chance to see how his vision has evolved over his career. 

The exhibit consists of three rooms, starting with works by Elliot Porter, then moving to a comprehensive retrospective of Ketchum’s career. Print processes from dye-transfer to Cibachrome and Fuji Crystal Archive prints will be on display. I’m very proud to say I had a part, with my team at West Coast Imaging, in producing the large Fuji prints. 

For the student of photography, this opening is quite the trifecta as it explores the vision of these two photographers, the process, and the effective use of art for preservation. Ketchum’s passion and understanding of art, photography, and conservation is infectious, and my many conversations with him over the years always leave me with new insight and inspiration. That’s why I highly recommend making the trip to hear the artist talk and gallery walk that are part of the opening reception. 

The Booth Museum is about 3.5 hours from Nashville, in Cartersville, Georgia. Atlanta is about an hour south of Cartersville. 

Find details at boothmuseum.org, and I hope to see you there!

Opening Reception – March 7
Gallery Walk – 1:30
Reception – 2:30
Artist Talk 3:30

See more of Ketchum’s work at robertglennketchum.com

March 21 Workshop – Photo Processing and Printing Lab

Saturday March 21, 10am—4pm
Technology Engagement Center
306 Minerva Drive
Murfreesboro, TN

Fee – $75 per student

This lab session is a companion to my Color and Black & White Processing classes. It offers you an extended time to apply the techniques I’ve shown you, and to have more printing time. 

Expect a very hands on class. You’ll be processing and printing the entire time, and I’ll be bouncing from student to student, working one-on-one with each of you to evaluate prints and make processing recommendations. 

Lab sessions are about working on your photographs, while tapping into my guidance and insight. Through the feedback loop of process, print, and evaluate, we can troubleshoot the issues you are having and improve your processing and printing. This is not a structured and systematic walk through of techniques like my other classes. Rather, it is like a practice session, where you have extended time to apply what you know and refine your understanding of processing in the best way I know how, through applying them to your photographs and making prints. 

A major objective of these sessions is learning to see how your photograph can be turned into a great print. By improving a photograph through a series of prints, you see the potential of the process, which improves your processing techniques as well as your prints. 

Working alongside other photographers is another enriching part of the experience. Seeing what others are working on and how they are working is a learning experience unto itself, and provides a prospective that goes beyond what we get working alone when we are at home. 

This class is open to any photographer at any level. There are no pre-requisite classes, but you should feel comfortable working in the editing/processing software of your choice. You don’t need to be an expert, just eager to improve and learn. 

Print materials will be provided to make 5-7 prints, as time allows. The library has computers with Lightroom and Photoshop available, or bring your own computer.

Contact me with any questions!

Color Processing and Printing Workshop – Part 1

Saturday February 29, 10am—4pm
Technology Engagement Center
306 Minerva Drive
Murfreesboro, TN

Fee – $150 per student

This workshop is designed to teach you the processing tools and techniques that have allowed me to make beautiful prints for myself and for my professional clients in over twenty years of fine art printmaking. To maximize the learning potential, this class is limited to four participants. 

This is part one of a series of workshops. We’ll start the day with an overview of the tools and techniques we’ll be working with, and then spend the rest of the day applying those techniques as you process and print your own images. Working hands-on allows us to solve your problems with your images, working towards achieving professional quality results. 

We’ll be working in Photoshop, taking advantage of some of its unique properties that are difficult to replicate in other software. You do not need to be a fluent Photoshop user, but you should be comfortable using editing software and have some experience in file processing. This class is meant to teach foundations, so you don’t need to be an expert! The tools are actually very easy. Learning to “see” how to use them is the hard part, and the aspect we will focus most on. 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/color-processing-and-printing-workshop-part-1-tickets-92033102487

Hard Drive Costs Late January 2020

Current hard drive costs at a glance with links to purchase from Amazon. I recommend Seagate hard drives because they continue to test as some of the longest lasting drives at backblaze.com.

Highlights for January include a minor price increase on 6Tb and 10TB external drives, as well as slight changes to internal drives as noted. The days of storage prices dropping quickly seem to be over as drive capacities become so large. Also of note is that 2Tb external drives are now all “portable” meaning they are 2.5″ laptop drives that are bus powered. For my main storage I prefer to have external 3.5″ drives that are plugged in to an external power source, so that means buying a 4TB drive or larger.

10TB external drives are still a big savings over 10TB Internal drives. Also, on a cost per TB basis, 10TB drives are getting close enough to the sweet spot of pricing to make them attractive if you need that kind of storage. But I generally don’t recommend buying more than a year’s capacity at a time to protect from price changes. Also remember that a properly backed up “storage set” requires three drives, so buying more than you reasonably need (over provisioning) can suck up a lot of money.

Sometimes external drives are less expensive than internal drives. Advanced users may want to explore “shucking” external drives to save money as the external drives are often, but not always, SATA drives that can be used as an internal drive.

EXTERNAL

2TB $59.99 ($30 per TB) 2.5″ USB powered portable drive
4TB $89.99 ($22.50 per TB)
6TB $109.99 ($18.33 per TB) +$10Change
8TB $139.99 ($17.50 per TB)
10TB $199.99 ($20 per TB)+$20 Change

INTERNAL

2TB $49.99 ($25 per TB)
4TB $79.99 ($19.99 per TB)-$10 Change
6TB $131.99 ($22 per TB)
8TB $149.99 ($18.75 per TB)
10TB $252.98 ($25.29 per TB)+$12 Change
12TB $327 ($27.25 per TB)+$15 Change
14TB $439.99 ($31.40 per TB)
16TB $484.99 ($30.31 per TB)+$6 Change

I’m an Amazon affiliate so I receive a small commission from each sale.

Canon PRO-100 Printer for $179.99

B&H has a great rebate on the Canon PRO-100 printer for the next few days if you are looking for a bargain printer to print photos at home. This is the same printer I’m currently using on my workshops because it’s portable and produces pretty good quality. Larger printers don’t like to be moved because they can spill ink and they are heavy, so this is a good choice for my workshops needs when I need to bring a printer.

This printer first shipped in 2012, so it’s not the latest technology, but it does offer three shades of gray ink which helps B&W photos look better. If you want something better, you’ll be spending in the $600+ range. The PRO-1000 will offer you much better print quality, but the PRO-100 (confusing names, right?) is a great choice for someone who wants to print at home with good results but wants to spend as little as possible.

Printers are “disposable” items. The cost of a full set of ink for this printer is $125, and a print head is in the $200 range, so you are basically getting a free printer. And if it dies, the cost effective solution is to just buy another one. Or buy the Canon extended warranty from B&H when you purchase.

A couple buying tips here.

Buy the Extended Warranty

Always buy the manufacturer extended warranty for your printers. There are all kinds of ways they can fail, and with more expensive printers, it can cost you a lot of money. Buy the extended warranty and roll it into the total cost of ownership. If your printer dies out of warranty, it’s often more cost effective to just buy a new printer.

Wait for Rebates/Sales

Canon and Epson are always running sales and rebates on their printers, so never pay retail! Wait for rebate. Rebates are often vendor specific, so it pays to look at multiple vendors when you are ready to buy.

Printers are “Disposable” Items

A full set of ink for this printer is $125, and a print head is in the $200 range, so you are basically getting a free printer. If it dies, the cost effective solution is to just buy another one. Or buy the Canon extended warranty from B&H when you purchase and let them deal with it.

It’s a great deal while it lasts if the more expensive printers don’t fit your budget.

FYI, I am not a B&H affiliate, so they aren’t paying me to write it. 🙂

Canon, how about a PDF manual?

Frustration this morning that the manual for the Canon Pro-100 printer is their proprietary document application that will stop working with future versions of the Mac OS. Imaging if there was a Portable Document Format (you could name it PDF for short) that would let you put the manual into a format that could be read on any platform like every other manufacturer does. Canon isn’t the only one that does this but it gets my ire today, and earns a spot on my gripe list. I get that no company is perfect, but this should be so obvious at this point.

Danger of Sneaker Waves

Surf and Rocks, Big Sur, California

A tragic story out of Cannon Beach, Oregon this weekend as a father and his two children swept out to sea, with one child dead and the other missing. died, should remind us all that there can be real danger in photographing near the ocean.

There are lots of ways to get yourself in danger from fast rising tides to sneaker waves. Sneaker waves are usually large waves that suddenly appear out of no where, and can put you into life of death situations. They are rare, but they do happen, and it’s scary to see a wave twice the height of the normal sets appear out of nowhere.

The ocean, particularly the rugged Pacific coast, is a very wild area that demand your respect and tests your knowledge. Even with long hours spent observing and learning the conditions, you can still put yourself in danger. I know of several close calls with photographer friends, and the tragedy this weekend is a sobering reminder of what can happen.

High surf days are incredible to behold, and very photogenic, but never turn your back on the ocean. Make sure you gain the knowledge you need to stay safe. No photo is worth your life.

Robert Glenn Ketchum & Eliot Porter: On Seeing Color

Booth Museum, Cartersville Georgia
March 7 – July 26, 2020

Robert Glenn Ketchum is one of America’s foremost conservation photographers, working to protect wilderness from development with landmark books “The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest”, numerous exhibits, and his leadership in the International League of Conservation Photographers. 

This upcoming exhibit explores the influence Elliot Porter’s work had on Ketchum, with an in depth display of Ketchum’s work through the years.

Of special note to my photographer friends is the planned panel discussion on March 7th. Ketchum has worked in most of the major color mediums of the 20th and 21st century, from Dye Transfer, Cibachrome, Fujicolor prints, Metal, and Inkjet, fighting through the technical challenges of each medium to convey his vision. Part of the panel discussion will be sharing those experiences. 

I’ll be posting more details about this show soon. I am planning on attending the opening, and look forward to seeing so much or Ketchum’s work in the magnificent setting of the Booth Museum. The show includes several large format Fuji Prints that I and my team at West Coast Imaging made for Ketchum that I have never seen in their final framed state. Hope to see you there!

Growing Through Goals

Dragon Ice, Merced River, Wawona, Yosemite National Park
4×5 film, 135mm Nikkor lens, Fuji Film

Growth seems easier when you are striving for a goal. I know that is the case in my own photography. 

Starting at about age seventeen, I got a taste of how beautiful a photograph could be when I made a very small print of my girlfriend (and future wife!) to put in the “film reminder” slot of my Nikon camera. Printing a 35mm frame at near contact print size brought out tones I had never seen in the 5×7 sized prints I usually made, and a breakthrough happened, where i saw a higher level of communication and beauty that could be achieved in a photograph. 

That passion for high quality prints was fed again a year later when I discovered Ansel Adams, and then his assistant John Sexton. I chance encounter with a large Cibachrome print by Joseph Homes at a Nature Company store showed me that the same quality was possible with color photography. 

These experiences led me to a Yosemite workshop with John Sexton and Philip Hyde, where my twenty year old mind was blown away after seeing what seemed like hundreds of prints from these two masters, as well as the fine prints at The Ansel Adams Gallery where the workshop was being hosted. 

To say that workshop experience was life changing might be an understatement. I was changed forever.  It kindled in me a burning drive to learn the craft of photography so that I could express my vision with that degree of beauty, clarity, and impact I saw in the work of these masters.

That passion helped defined the next two decades of my adult life with West Coast Imaging, the fine art lab I founded to let me buy the then expensive tools of digital photograph like drum scanners and Chromira digital enlargers. Learning how to get the most from these tools, as well as working personally with photographers like Galen Rowell, Chip Hooper, Jack Dykinga, Michael Forsberg, Robert Glen Ketchum, stretched me even further as I had to meet their standards as well as my own. 

Striving for a goal with great focus and intensity has grown me immensely as a photographer. My craft and “seeing” have both grown as a result of chasing this illusive goal of making the best prints possible. There is always more to learn, but by just following my passion, I’ve learned so much, and prepared myself to learn more. 

So what goals in photography are driving you? Are you striving for a goal or are you feeling stuck? What’s your passion in photography? What do you want to say and who do you want to say it to?

As we head into a new year, I encourage you to set a year long goal for your photography and work intently at it. See how far you can get. Don’t be indecisive…just pick something…anything! A years worth of effort in any direction of photography will bear fruit and take you down paths you never expected.

Need some ideas?

How about a cohesive 8×10 print portfolio of your very best work? A new body of work of a new subject or location? Learning a new technique? Telling a story that is immensely important to you? Improving your printing? Improving your seeing?

What it is doesn’t matter as much as just doing it. Follow a passion, or try to work through a barrier or a fear.  Pick something you want to give your all to for a season and then see what happens. If you do, I’m confident you’ll look back at 2020 as the year you sharpened your vision.