4.15.2012

The Sunday Walk, Part 1.


I was walking along Congress Ave. with my friend, Frank.  We'd just crossed Third St. and we were heading north.  This man was at the intersection and he caught my eye and I caught his.  We smiled at each other while Frank and I walked by.  Five steps later I turned around and approached him.  "How's it going?" I asked.  "Pretty good." was  the reply.  I asked him if I could make his portrait and he smiled and gave me his permission.  I directed him a little bit.  I asked him to look right into the lens of my camera.  He did.  I clicked off a few frames, thanked him and shook his hand.

Then he hesitantly asked me if I could trade him one or two dollar bills for the change he had in his pocket.  I didn't need the change but I had spare ones. We wished each other well and Frank and I continued north on our walk through downtown.  It was a nice encounter.  His face is wonderful and his handshake was expressive.  It made me happy to be a photographer.

I spent today with my camera in the "black and white" mode.  That's a setting on the picture styles dial.  I shot the largest size, extra fine Jpegs.  I was using a Sony a77 camera and this portrait was done with a 50mm 1,4 Sony lens that I picked up used recently for a couple hundred dollars.  I was shooting at ISO 400, 1/1250th of a second, f2.8.  I added a little contrast and warmth to the file in post processing.

I'm very happy with the series photographs this man gave me and consider it a small sign from the universe that I'm on the right track.

Swimming with a Jet Pack on....


Over at the Online Photographer last week there was yet another discussion about the film vs. digital wars.  The film people (in a nutshell) are saying that the switch over:  1. Caused the mystery (and magic) of photographing to be killed.  Like telling everyone the surprise ending of a suspenseful movie while they are standing in line for tickets.  2. That people no longer have any real skin in the game because the process changed to become "too" easy.  And that, 3.  Since digital makes it all so easy people just shoot with mindless abandon and create a virtual landfill of fatuous crap.

One the other side of the coin the total converts (wholesale converts always being the most zealous and rabid extremists) to digital pronounce the nostalgia  or supposed superiority of film to be bullshit.  Many  (a good proportion self professed techno geeks) argue that the previous cost and rigor of film (Drop it off at a lab?  That's too tough?) were so daunting that they would never have considered taking up the hobby if "free to use" digital had not come along.  They also point to the fact that you get to have instant feedback, via your rear of camera LCD screen (now an OLED screen on my Sony's) and it helps them learn quicker.  They further add that with the crumbling of film infrastructure the battle for film is already lost....

I'm often caught between the two sides in my daily role as a professional photographer.  I can see clearly that the boundaries offered/demanded by film did require people to be much, much better visual technicians than they are now.  But I am also pushed relentlessly by clients who want to reduce cost and reduce turnaround time.  And it's all swirled around in the cosmic blender with the primary ingredient that drives most business transactions: The balance between dirt cheap and good enough.


Anyone can (and will) argue with me but I come down firmly on the side that says knowing and practicing within the formal boundaries of film use makes better photographers, even when they incorporate digital cameras.  Knowing the vital workings of a craft translates a fluidity to every corner of the craft.  To know how to do something well and know why you need to know how opens the doors of consciousness and intentional creativity.  Depending on a button that says "P" and then hours of post processing silliness (disguised as serious "art") breeds a "spray and pray" shooting philosophy that rewards random quantity over diligent pursuit.

Yes, yes, I know that you personally are a super human who can bring the same rigor to either side of the track.  You are the master of your tools.  And you like to call them "tools" because to label them as such allows you to feel a sense of mastery over them and your new process.  You are probably the same kind of person who can wade through the on-line septic tanks of image sharing sites without even getting your trousers wet because you have this wonderful ability to ignore the things that don't interest you and focus only on the "gold" you find scattered throughout the dreck.

But the rest of us are not so super human.  We use our brains in the way evolution molded them.  We look through the total stack to find patterns.  We analyze and reject or accept.  And we try to fit all the pieces together like working an immense jigsaw puzzle.  That's how nature and evolution worked to make our current brains.  And that's why each of us is conflicted about the sea change from film to digital.  The delivery methods and quantity overwhelm our processing facilities.

Am I saying that digital is bad and film is good?  Hardly.  I think they both do pretty much the same job in the end.  I'm saying that we should be careful what we wish for when we make the tools so easy.  Everything that's easy to do and free to undertake gets boring and devalued over time.  If you could eat all the good caviar you wanted, or have all the sex you wanted, all the time, both would cease to captivate you.  That's the nature of our attention spans.

As work becomes easier and easier to do with a camera (or phone) the intrinsic value in the by product seems to unceasingly drop.  The perception of selective value can be shored up by inferring that the creator has some special magic (ala the power of celebrity)  to add but, for the most part, it's all show and marketing.

I pondered all of this as I read the article on TOP and the many quick responses.  And a mental image came to me.  It was a swim race.  All the swimmers were lined up on the starting blocks.  One or two swimmers had jet packs strapped to their backs.  The starting pistol fired and everyone dove into the water to race.  The race was between a number of high level swimmers.  People who'd been perfecting their athletic skills and mental skills for years and years.  Hundreds of thousands of yards of practice.  The winner of the race was one of the new jet pack swimmers.  He wasn't even winded.  In fact, he was entered in every race of the day.  And from that day on, once the jet packs were allowed in, all the records were followed by an asterisk.  And one day one of the highly acclaimed, new and better,  jet pack swimmers tried swimming out to the middle of a local lake.  But he wanted to try it "old school", without depending on the machine for once. Halfway out he ran out of energy, endurance and mental toughness (the things that come from diligent practice) and he drowned.  He couldn't do the art of swimming without his jet pack.  Or at least a pair of water wings.

So, I know that mechanically I can take just as good a photograph with a digital camera as I can with a film camera.  No argument.  You can measure it all for yourself.  (and most people who don't believe in magic or chance or the fine arts believe in measurement as the top qualification).  And you'll see that the files from the two types of cameras can compete side by side.

But some little glitch in my artist mind tells me that they are different.  I've talked about some cameras having a soul and some which don't.  People didn't like that.  But I recently read  a piece in the New York Times (thanks, Jim) that discussed how people change when they are given different talismans or trappings of a profession.  In short, when a person dons on the white coat of a doctor their scores for a number of psychological performance metrics soar.  When they put on the coat of a housepainter there is no improvement.  This points to empowerment via the Placebo Effect.  I would suggest that the same kind of transformation takes place when people pick up different kinds of cameras.  And I would further suggest that it's not just a "film versus digital" distinction but that there are further demarcations based on feel and size and structure; even amongst digital cameras.  I submit that we have a subconscious reaction to various types of artistic tools.  And we respond accordingly when we make art with them.  Even the super-men among us who will claim that no machine can sway their indomitable will...

Art history is a vicious bitch.  I hear a lot of people talk about how much better their work is with digital cameras and workflows but I personally don't see this trend reflected in art.  The images that art culture still talks about are mostly done on film.  Prove me wrong.  Show me work being collected into major shows and museums that is digitally based now.  Point me to the treasure trove of new stuff that is universally and critically acclaimed.  I'd love to see it. Other readers would like to see it. It might be happening somewhere but all the news on the digital front is about how cool the technology is.  Or about how quickly you can degrade and share a captured image.  We all love Gregory Crewdson, right?  All the stuff we know of his is from 8x10 film.

What about Steve McCurry?  Oh, right.  He used 35mm film for all of his iconic work.  Dan Winters? Oh no, that would be 4x5 inch film.

When we see a great (but ephemeral) fashion shot in a magazine it might not be on film but will almost certainly have been shot on a medium format camera.  So there are levels and stages.

We're in the early days of digital and we haven't found our footing yet.  This whole past decade will be our asterisk decade.  Eventually it will all get sorted out and people will make great art with the new cameras.  It's probably happening right now.  But I'd like to see it first before I pronounce its success.  Right now we're more enchanted with the jet pack than the art.  I see this reality everywhere I look...

Note:  This is being presented as an opinion, my opinion, catalyzed by an article I read on another site. It's not a declaration of science and fact.  You may have different experiences and see different results. No need to pop a vein in your head if you disagree....



A follow up on the Sony a77's.


Since I'm not a professional reviewer and don't get paid to grab a camera out of a box and put it through a series of carefully engineered tests my understanding of a camera tends to grow organically.  I learn something new about a camera because I need to use a feature on a job.  I stumble across an interesting menu item with randomly scrolling through the menu while waiting for a tardy friend to meet me for lunch.  And occasionally there's the "Aha!" moment when the interconnection between the flash and the camera suddenly becomes apparent to me.

Some things about the Sony a 77 are a mystery to me right now because I haven't tried them.  Like the workings of the off camera flash control.  If I had two or more flashes and a need for a portable studio-like set up I'd take the time to read the manual and experiment with the units before I walked out the door.

Keeping all that in mind let me tell you a few of the things I discovered last week and the week before.  First, this camera has been labeled a "work in progress" because Sony keeps releasing firmware updates that improve operational speed and seem to improve image quality.  People were dissatisfied with a time lag between turning a control on the camera and seeing the change reflected on one of the display panels.  That was fixed in 1.05.  But along with the speed fix also came (to my eyes) an improvement in Jpeg file quality.  When the camera came out onto the market the first adopters were quick to label it a "raw only" camera.  That generally means that the sensor is capable of really good image quality but the camera is let down by so-so Jpeg renderings.  The conventional wisdom is to always use raw and make your own Jpegs as necessary from the raw files.

Yeah. I get it.  But I also get that the raw files are only available at full resolution and they're big.  Really big.  After I upgraded the firmware in both of my a77's to 1.05 I tested them around the studio and in the back yard and I found the jpegs to be at least as good as the Jpegs I'd gotten from any one of my Canon cameras and better than several of them.  So, on the very next job, done in full sunlight, I shot Jpeg and I set the camera for 12 megapixel file sizes at super-fine jpeg.  That tripled the number of files I was able to shoot on one card.  And when I looked at the images I was satisfied.

On the same job I needed to be able to use the cameras with the flagship flash, the HVL-58, to provide fill light for all the people standing around and chatting in the bright morning sun.  The flash works automatically in terms of switching to HSS mode, where necessary.  I'd been warned that the camera and flash combination could be a little "hot." (Prone to over exposure). But though it did look a little bit hot in the EVF, back at home on the big monitor it was as to perfect as I could ask for.

Two things I learning on that shoot about the flash:  If you tilt the head up, or use it in another other bounce mode, the unit and camera refuse to do high speed sync.  The flash has to be in the default position to take advantage of the "sunlight tamer" setting.  And secondly, unlike the Nikon and Canon flashes, there is no way to dial in flash exposure compensation on the body of the flash.  You have to hit the function menu and set your flash exposure compensation there.  

Some wags protested that they would never get used to using a camera with an EVF but it's already transparent to me.  I'm happy having a lot more finder "real estate" than any of the other cropped frame, conventional cameras....  I'm already acclimated to the point that I feel more confindent "pre-chimping and then shooting rather than shooting something and stopping, taking the camera from my eye and reviewing it on the back LCD.  While most of the settings are integrated into the pre-shot EVF finder image you can push the little preview button on the camera and it will give you preview frame with depth of field and a few other parameters incorporated.

While I consider a ten frame per second burst to be pretty high performance the camera's performance is offset by a smaller buffer than I'm used to.  Holding the shutter button down for about 1.5 seconds when the camera is set for 10 fps fills the buffer with 15 shots.  If the files are raw, or raw+jpegs, you've got some write time ahead of you.

In full sun I also used several of the camera gimmicks.  I set the camera to a mild level of in-camera HDR for shooting a white banner against a so-so sky and was able to put a little more drama in the sky without making the white banner too muddy.  In bright sun I used the DRO (dynamic range optimizer) to supply a bit more dynamic range.  The result was an opening up of the deep shadows.

The cameras are not at the level that the new Canon 5Dmk3's or Nikon D800's are as far as build quality and ultimate AF performance but they are less than half the price which means a pro just starting out their business can have two.  One for a back-up.  Or one to shoot a wide-to-normal zoom lens and the other to shoot a normal-to-telephoto zoom lens with.

While the a77 is not the ultimate high ISO camera it's latest firmware upgrade seems to give me better performance at ISO 1600 and, when using the camera in the sweet ranges of 50 to 800 ISO the files are very detailed and easy to post process.

Do I have any really big gripes about the Sony's?  Yes.  I hate the non-standard flash shoe.  All my radio triggers, manual flashes and light panels have standard shoes.  I ordered five Sony to normal adapters and they all seem to work well.  They even give me an additional PC sync socket for the times when I really want to rock my flash "old school"  and use the long, fallible cables but I wish I didn't need to remember to always carry them along---just in case.

I wish the Sony would offer compressed raw files, ala Nikon or Small, Medium and Large raw files, ala Canon (I prefer the Canon approach...) There are many times when I'd like a raw file to work with but the final use for the image is on the web and the humongous files seem like a ponderous impediment.

I would like a really nice wide angle zoom from Sony.  Their 11-18 is just like the Tamron lens.  I owned it for the Canon 7D and it was no great shakes.  Right now I'm resisting buying anything shorter than my 16-50mm lens since it seems like Sony is on the cusp of introducing a full frame SLT camera (EVF enabled) and if they do I'll buy one of those and a 20mm and use it for my wide angle shots.

My final observation in this "rolling review" segment concerns my favorite lenses.  Based on quality and specs-on-paper you would think I'd give the nod to the 16-50mm and the 70-200 2.8 but that's not what has me excited right now.  Those lenses share the same fault as similar lenses from Nikon and Canon = they are too damn heavy.  Instead, the lenses I'm liking are some of the odd ball single focal length lenses and one "sleeper" zoom lens.  The groovy SFL lenses are the 30mm f2.8 macro, the 50mm 1.4 and the 85mm 2.8. All are small and lightweight.  The 50 and the 85 will both work on full format cameras.  All are impressively sharp and focus noisily but quickly and surely.  The "sleeper" zoom is the 55-200 DT (cropped frame) lens.  It's really, really sharp.  Even wide open.  And it weighs next to nothing compared to the big, white counterpart.

I know that very few of the readers shoot with Sonys and that's okay.  But I did want to make a more general observation about the genre of cameras that Sony calls SLT's.  Once you've worked with an electronic viewfinder, both for video and stills, it's hard to go back to the basic OVF.  I recommend playing with these if for no other reason than to preview what might be ahead for the rest of the industry.  






The bizarre and non-standard Sony hot shoe.....


http://www.kirktuck.com/site/home.html

4.14.2012

One short product review with no random thoughts.


When I wrote my book on LED lighting the two color panels were scarce. Recently, cost effective panels with a mix of tungsten balanced and daylight balanced bulbs have become more readily available.  I bought one of the Fotodiox 312AS panels recently from Amazon.com for $158.  It came in a soft case along with a diffuser panel that attaches magnetically to the front of the light, two lithium batteries that are generic copies of popular Sony camcorder batteries, and a two bay battery charger.

The panel has two rotary knobs on the back.  The one on the left controls the balance between the daylight bulbs and the tungsten bulbs.  Rotate all the way counterclockwise and you have 3200K light.  Rotate all the way in the other direction and you have 5600K lighting.  Somewhere in the middle you have full brightness from both sets of LEDs and a color temperature somewhere in the mid-4000K region.  Be aware that while the color temperatures very accurate the hue is still somewhat green.  Nearly every LED light, even the costly ones, require a little bit of help to cancel out the green color cast.  A simple plus 1/4 magenta filter works wonders.

I used this panel and two smaller single color panels (daylight) to do an assignment this past week.  We needed to shoot a portrait of a key executive for one of the world's largest manufacturers of semiconductor fabrication equipment.  The assignment was a two part project.  We would be setting up two different areas and taking the person's portrait in each of the areas.  The brief called for a standard formal portrait and an environmental portrait in their very large server farm.  Think thousands of square feet of server racks, each filled with blade servers....

We would have the executive for a very limited amount of time so we scouted the location several weeks earlier and came equipped to handle two very different lighting situations.  I arrived two hours before our start time in order to set up and test both locations.  Then, when we started making portraits we would be able to move quickly from our first set to our second set and maximize the time we would have with our subject.

We set up the formal portrait in a very large, windowless training room.  It was perfect.  High ceilings and lots of uncluttered, linear space.  I lit this set up with three Elinchrom monolights and various lighting modifiers.  I shot with a Sony a77 camera and a 70 to 200mm f2.8 G lens.  While it's a fairly new camera system for me the lighting is old hat and fell into place quickly.  I was happy to have 60 feet of front-to-back space available; it let me light the background totally separate from the foreground and that gave me more control.  

The second set up was in the server room.  When I scouted the location I saw that the entire room was lit by ceiling mounted florescent light tubes.  At the time I took a test shot with my small Olympus EP3 set at daylight and when I got back to the studio I took a good, hard look at the lighting spectrum.  An approximate light temperature of 4200 with about 16 points of green.  The green spike wasn't much different than the green spike in the new Fotodiox light and I knew that if I used it without any filtration my only task to get a good match for the actual color temperature of all the light bouncing around that room from the florescents fixtures.

I used the Fotodiox as my main light and diffused it through a Westcott Fast Flag 24 by 36 inch collapsible flag/panel.  The final step was to rotate the color temperature knob and find the sweet spot with a person standing in at the same spot as our executive would stand in.  With the main lights locked down I added two kicker lights by using 160 LED fixtures with  no  correction.  I didn't mind if the small amount of accent was bluer as long as it didn't introduce a different color spectrum.

The main benefits of using the new LED panel as a main light were the ability to use it without a power cord and an extension cord in the server room,  with the quick twist of a knob it was a nearly perfect color match for the acres of existing lighting, and I could increase or decrease the intensity of the light with the second knob.  I used another Sony a77 camera, this time with a 50mm 1.4 lens on the front, to shoot all the portraits in this location.  I settled on ISO 400 as a good compromise  between being able to go handheld if I wanted to and still provide a noise free file.  The "teardown" in the server room took only a few minutes after the shoot.  Then I headed back to the training room to disassemble and pack the flash gear.  

Now we have an executive photo gallery with two totally different looks.  The global color correction (all that was required)  is right on the money and the clients are happy.  These multiple set up jobs happen more often than you might think making it a good idea to have enough light stands, lighting units and support hardware in inventory to pre-set two or three locations for near simultaneous use.

The light from the Fotodiox 312 AS is brighter than the previous generation of small LED panels and the artistic potential of total color temperature control is intriguing.  After the shoot, and after looking carefully at the files in post (24 megapixels at 100 %) I went online and ordered myself another unit.  In a revival of my previous Minimalist Lighting enthusiasm I can now see going out on portrait assignments with two of the 312 AS lights to use as mainlights and a handful of 160 LED units for backgrounds and accents.  Those and little bag of batteries would work well in nearly every situation short of having to shoot with sun drenched windows and exterior daylight in the frame.  In all, a win for me and my clients.








4.13.2012

A Rolleiflex portrait of a kid on a bike.

Rolleiflex 6008i,  150mm lens. Black and white film.

I remember the day when I came to grips with the idea that a child could be too well documented.  It was the afternoon on which I took this image.  I was working in my little studio, which is just ten steps from the front of our house, when Ben came home from school on his bike.  I grabbed my tripod mounted Rollei and headed out front.  He saw me coming out the door so he waited for me near the top of the drive.  He saw the camera and figured this might take a while so he dropped his backpack on the ground and gave me his gravely-determined-to-be-patient face.

I metered the exposure and snapped a few frames.  Then I heard, "Are we done yet?"

And even though my child is very patient and undemanding of me I could hear the photo-fatigue in his voice.  Now I only document truly big milestones in his life.  Things like:

Waking up, eating oatmeal, walking the dog, playing chess, shooting video, riding away from the house, riding back to the house, swimming, running, walking, chewing, laughing, yawning, playing video games, eating snacks, etc. I think we're working toward a really healthy balance......

The gaze.


What you might be looking for in every meaningful portrait is the appearance of a connection with your subject.  Are they comfortable enough with you to stare into your camera? Can they be strong and calm?

Amy.  Hasselblad Camera. 150mm lens.  Kodak T-Max 400 CN film. Big light.






Brenda's Portrait. First Round.


Two variations on one image of Brenda.


As part of my ten days of vacation I took portraits of friends and acquaintances here in Austin.  What else would a photographer do on vacation? Brenda is an extremely good and extremely successful public relations specialist.  I see her frequently at Zach Scott Theatre where she consults and has been a board member.  I was nervous about asking her to come to the studio and sit because I believed that she would be too busy.  Or that she had so many photographer friends that she couldn't find time for one more portrait sitting.  But in the end I asked and she graciously accepted.

We worked with a digital camera (the Sony a77) and with a Hasselblad medium format film camera, and the session lasted about an hour.  This image is from a first pass edit.  It's from the Sony camera. But I just picked up the contact sheets last friday and I've already found ten frames I have to scan.  The larger format camera just looks different.

But I've very happy with the color and feel of these digital images as well.  At ISO 100 the a77 files are everything you could want in a digital camera file for portrait work.  They are color neutral, not too saturated, they have low-to-noise and they have bountiful dynamic range.  If you shoot mainly in the studio you couldn't ask for a better tool.

I used a variation of the lighting I'd set up for Carrie's photos, which I've shown this week.  The main difference is that I put a 48 by 48 inch Chimera Panel with a 3/4 stop, white diffusion cloth between the front of the Octabank and Brenda.  It's about half way in between, maybe 18 inches from Brenda.  It softened the light which also softened the skin tone and made the transitions between light and shadow gentler and more gradual.

I haven't had time to scan the black and white film images yet but they should follow this post in short order.

While you wouldn't be able to tell from a file that's displayed at 1800 pixels at its widest on the web, the lens I used here is very, very sharp.  It's a $200 Sony 55-200 mm and it's quickly becoming my favorite portrait lens because it's optically so well behaved and I like to think that it's driving its big brother, the $2000 70-200mm 2.8 lens, that's just languishing in the equipment drawer, into a rage over the indignity of having to play second fiddle to a budget product.  But I have to give credit where it's due.

The secret of getting a good portrait has nothing to do whatsoever with equipment.  Using an 85mm 1.4 or a full frame camera won't trump the superior value of just spending time with your subject.  If you let yourself get hurried or work to an artificially short schedule you'll only end up with technically perfect images of people who aren't invested in the process or outcome.  You have to build a collaboration.  You do that by asking questions and listening.  You explain what you are working toward in a portrait and recruit the sitter as a close ally.  You work together to make something you'll both love.  The time is obvious in the outcome.

I watched a video where a photographer was instructing a student in the mechanics of shooting a beautiful model.  The student spent a lot of time setting up his lighting.  Way too much time working on focusing and composition.  And no time at all talking to the model.  He snapped one frame and turned around to show it, on the back of the camera, to his teacher.  He ignored the model completely.  She returned the favor and no one ended up with anything good.  Then the teacher stepped in and explained to the model what he wanted.  He shot tons for frames.  During the process he provided a steady stream of verbal feedback. He kept her in the process.  When he stopped and showed his work it was as though he and the student were working with two totally different women who just happened to be sharing the same outfit.

And as good as the photographer was the images he showed were of a surface beauty, a nod to a well done sample of the styles of the day.  But what was lacking was the bond between the subject and the artist that bridges the gulf between them and allows them both, for a slender slip of time, to share a kind of intimacy with the camera that translates into a brief insight.  An insight into what makes the subject special.  And unique.  It's time well spent.

4.12.2012

Just another portrait.


Big light. Big camera. Black and White film.  Looking for alternate ideas of gut wrenching beauty.

Why do I bother to write when others think so well? Style? Read this !!!

http://www.fotocommunity.com/info/Helsinki_Bus_Station_Theory

It was written by a great photographer who is now, also, a great teacher.  It's about developing as a photographer.  Big thanks to VSL reader, Stan, who brought this to my attention.

On another note,  I love Robin's post today because the photos are great and the idea's he espouses match mine.  It's a good read: http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2012/04/dont-you-ever-get-bored.html


http://www.kirktuck.com/site/home.html

Comparing film and digital for the millionth time.

studio portrait of Carrie C.


I wrote earlier about photographing Carrie in the studio.  In that post I started with a portrait that had been done digitally, with a Sony a77 camera, and then post processed into the black and white image I wanted.  This image is from a roll of medium format, Fuji Acros, black and white film (ISO 100) that we shot at the very end of the session.  I used a 120mm Makro lens and shot a f5.6.  As I was photographing with flash the shutter speed is largely irrelevant.

While the focus on the background falls off much more quickly than the digital versions I think there are few major technical differences between the two images that would make either one a "pass" or a "failure" but it seems that a very strange thing happened, psychologically, on the way to pressing the mechanical shutter button.

Carrie and I had been working on making a portrait for the better part of an hour and a half.  All my work up to this point was done with a typical digital SLR camera.  When we switched to the bigger format camera, and I started loading film, Carrie immediately honed into the changed paradigm.  In fact, I think we both sensed that the larger camera signalled  a change in the balance of studio magic.  The bigger camera slowed me way down.  I couldn't depend on face detection auto focus to do my heavy lifting for me as far as keeping the image sharp went.  I had to do that work myself.  I was much more focused on looking at her face through the lens because of it.

And that meant that Carrie had to sense the longer lag for focusing and slow her global movements down to compensate. She couldn't shift position as quickly and without regard for its effect.  I think we also sensed that there was, for me at least, more skin in the game.  More opportunities to screw up. More real cost to the process.  And she seemed, instinctively, to step up her game, as a subject, in order to help me be more successful.  The larger, slower camera seemed more real and less like fiction; the industrial design and the more measured pace imparted an idiomatic majesty to the process that had been missing.  A fine dining perspective rather than a drop in to the neighborhood Chili's. 


I don't know if you can tell, when you look at this photograph and compare it to the earlier one of Carrie, but there is a more relaxed facial attitude, on her part,  coupled with a more forward and invested posture.  We're more of a temporary team.

It could be just the placebo effect of using something out of the ordinary in an ordinary time.  But most doctors will tell you that the placebo effect is a powerful force.  I won't disregard it in the future.

I ended up shooting three rolls of film with Carrie. I like everything I see on the contact sheets. Furthermore, it was a fun process for me because the performance art of shooting in short, slow bursts of 12 frames came back to me as fast as a freestyle stroke after one day out of the water.  It felt so right.

As I mentioned in my "welcome back" post I will be concentrating more on portrait work as we go forward.  Don't despair if you are only here for the "gear" though,  I have a gear post coming up tomorrow to break the monotony.