I think of my grandparents, I always picture them as older
people. My grandfather was a veteran of the second world war. He
smoked a pipe, sat at the head of the table in family dinners and took me
fishing. To me, my grandfather could never have been a child. He was always an
I have seen pictures of him when he was young and when he got married, but because they are black and white photos they are some
how veiled from reality.
1960's cheap color photography became available to the masses. Introducing the
missing element of color, photos were now much closer to the reality we
see in color, remember in color and now photos were in color. Accurate color
photos removed the mystery.
thoughts started to crystallize when I stumbled on a picture of myself taken in
1975 on my first day of elementary school. A 6 year old boy ready to go to
school, holding his lunch box while standing in front of our neighbor's
garden. It has accurate color, it hasn't faded. I like to think I was a pretty
cute little guy, but there is no mystery to the photo, it could of been taken
last fall. (Well, my wife says the pants give it away). But it was taken 34 years ago, about 1/2 a lifetime.
times past, the wealthy had portraits painted to record their likeness. But
these paintings were even more veiled in mystery than black and white
then in the last century, for the first time in human history, color
photography enabled middle class people to accurately and vividly
document our lives.
What does this expose? It exposes our
fleeting youthful years, the shortness of life, our mortality. But on a more positive note, take a look at what it has allowed this family to do: Smile!
belong to the order Lepidoptera. This name means “scale-wing” in
Latin and refers to the scale cell structures found on butterfly wings. I
had read about butterfly scales and thought about trying to photograph this
beautiful feature of their design.
opportunity came when I noticed the wing of a
fallen butterfly on the street side and brought it home. By window light I photographed
the piece of wing laying on a piece of black paper with my compact
I look I look at this picture, it feels as though I am gazing at the stars
of the midnight sky.
The abilities of common compact digital cameras constantly amaze me. This
shot was easily taken without any special equipment. I first took several
shots then removed the memory card to review the images on my home
computer. After a couple tries I found what I was looking for.
am not sure if this is technically called macro photography or close-up
photography, but either way, the macro feature on most of today's compact
digital cameras gives the casual photographer access to a miniature
world that was previously not accessible.
I started this blog stating that I
wanted to talk more about photography than gear. For some flawed reason I
didn’t want to be viewed as a gear head. But I confess, I like cameras equally
as much as I like photography.So that brings me back to this
You may have noticed that most of
my posts in some way look back into photographic history. This is likely
because that’s where the idea of the Flipbac was born - medium format cameras,
the likes of Hasselblad, Rollei, Contax, etc.All very romantic.
But here’s a change of tack. What
happened to these fine European cameras? Where are they today?
Not one dominant European digital
camera comes to mind? It appears these leading companies were blind to the
digital change. What really surprises me is that there was plenty of warning
and this change did not happen quickly. As far as I can see, it was poor poor
leadership. Why did this lack of vision affect almost all of the European photo
I’m not sure I know the answer as
there are likely many reasons but I found this interesting link on DP Review:
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As our skills and understanding increase, we often chase
a never ending goal. We long for our images to reproduce reality. Higher and
higher pixel counts, broader dynamic range, higher resolving, faster lenses,
talent, and state of the art equipment come together the results are truly
impressive. However, reality is subjective. Often our mind remembers a moment different than the lens. So, are there other ways to use your camera to capture a scene?
a recent visit to Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia, it was a hot,
sunny, windy day. The sand was too hot to walk on and the reflection off
the sand and water was blinding. Sun light pierced deep into the pristine water
creating beautiful shades of aquamarine. As beautiful as it was, it is a
difficult scene to capture in a way that expressed the moment. The dynamic
range from light to shadow was too broad for most cameras. What to do?
image is over exposed 2 or 3 stops. All detail in the sand is burnt out. The
walking figures appear mirage like. You can imagine the wind blown sand hitting your legs and voices faintly heard through the thunder of the surf.
exposure. It is simple and easy to do. Set your camera to manual and purposely
over expose some images. Walking through a forest, reflections off a car, a
back lit portrait etc. Try over exposure and it may prove the best means
to capture the essence of a moment.
Photo by Annie Leibovitz, courtesy Contact Press | NB Pictures
We are naturally drawn to light. Often when taking portraits we first shoot with the light side of the subject closest to the camera.
An approach that often yields good results is to shoot with the dark side of the subject closest to the camera. We see this technique in a recent portrait of the queen by Annie Leibovitz.
Experiment by letting the highlights overexpose. Expose for the shadows and the light will often “wrap around” the subject.
The question we now ask: Does Darth Vader shoot Nikon or Canon?
Posted byFlipbac | Send comments to: email@example.com
Friday, January 16, 2009
Only for professionals?
I have a friend who loves camera gear. He has a recent DSLR and several professional series fast zoom lenses. All quiet beautiful, big, impressive and expensive. I asked him if he had ever thought of using a 50mm prime lens.
“My skill isn’t high enough to handle a prime 50mm lens. They are only for professionals,” he replied. “That’s why I have three zoom lenses, much easier to handle.”
As a youth I was introduced to photography by my uncle who had (if my memory serves me right) a Nikon SLR and 3 prime lenses - 28mm, 50mm, and a 120mm. They served him well for many years. I ended up being a Canon guy, as it was a Canon AE1 that I inherited from my dad that he seldom used. It came with the standard issue 50mm 1.8. As a youth, with little money to buy more lenses (let alone film and processing), I shot only with the 50mm, only dreaming of owning a “big zoom” one day.
After a few years I bought my first zoom, a 4.5-5.6 70-200mm Canon zoom lens. I proudly hung my big new gun over my shoulder, often clipping on a large black lens shade to enhance its prowess. But to my dismay I was dogged by the slowness of the lens. With my 50mm I was hand holding down to 1/15 of a second and getting great shots. I missed the shallow depth of field and the small size. The zoom lens was big and heavy, pictures were often blurry and under exposed. People ran for cover when I pulled it out. On the outside, I loved the manliness and respect that came with the big black zoom. Not to say it wasn’t great for a bright day outside. But on the inside, I was frustrated with its trade-offs.
After college I started assisting local professional photographers part-time. Two in particular - one a commercial photographer, his forte was corporate and editorial portraits. The other, a talented wedding photographer who fell in love with every wedding she went to. They both had a lot of gear - medium and 35 mm format - but between the two of them, not one zoom lens.
So what’s my point? I guess my point is you don’t need $1500 zoom lenses to take good pictures. And second, a cheap zoom lens will help you take worse pictures.
A fixed prime lens, such as a 50mm 1.8 or a 28mm 2.8, will actually give you more freedom not less. Slow shutter speeds, shallow depths of fields, fast focusing, small in size, light in weight, bright viewfinder, and sharp, sharp images. If you want to zoom just step forward, step back.
Recent lens technology has made zoom lenses lighter, smaller, cheaper and in most cases better than zooms of the past. Image stabilization has greatly lowered acceptable hand holding shutter speeds. But image stabilization also helps prime lenses, taking us to recently unheard handholding shutter speeds – 1/15, 1/8, even ¼ of a second! If you love photography try and pick up a 50mm, 35mm, or 28mm prime lens. You will love the freedom, size, and image quality it will give you.
Something has gone awry when the consensus thinks only masters can handle a prime lens. Quite the opposite!
This photo, taken almost 90 years ago, remains one of the most famous portraits ever taken. The story goes that Karsh wanted Churchill to remove his cigar from his mouth but Churchill did not want to. Reaching forward to appear as if he was going to adjust Churchill's collar, Karsh suddenly pulled the cigar from Churchill's mouth and snapped the picture.
Cheeky fellow, that Karsh, considering WW2 was raging and Churchill was leader of the then world power, Great Britain. But the end result is truly a mesmerizing portrait.
Here's a question. From what angle did Karsh take the photo? Yes, from waist level. From where does an archer shoot his arrow? Eye level. From where does a deer hunter fire his rifle? Eye level. No wonder Clint Eastwood shot from the hip. Nobody saw it coming. They could not look away from those steely blue eyes! When the photographer holds a camera up to his face and points it at another person something happens, and in most cases it is not good. It often makes the subject uneasy. Maybe after some time he will relax, and overcome this intimidating lens pointing at him. Maybe not.
When you shoot from waist level, you can look face-to-face with your subject. There is no camera in the way. You can briefly look down to frame your subject then look up and carry on your conversation and fire away at just the right moment. Not to say there are not many amazing portraits taken from eye level, but shooting from the hip will in most cases be less intimidating for your subject.
Flipbac and relax. (Cheesy, I know, but it I could not resist).