I just finished teaching the three-day Imagemaking for Photographers workshop on the Central Coast of California. Our students included a mix of professionals and serious amateurs. Skill levels ranged from many years of experience with digital to “I bought this thing (a digital SLR) three months ago, and….”
We performed our field work in a number of environments under a variety of conditions. We shot at night, at pre-dawn twilight, in full sunlight, at sunset, and in canyons in deep shade. We shot still life, landscapes, and wildlife. We supplemented the field work with midday classroom sessions on camera setup, image preparation and correction, and printing.
Several things greatly impressed me during the seminar. First, the knowledge level of photographers is not only improving steadily, but the tempo of this growth is noticeably faster. I believe this can be attributed largely to the rise of social networks on the Web and increasingly easy Internet communications. For example, automated feeds from blogs such as this one have streamlined my daily reading. This has given me time to do other things (like shoot!).
Something else that struck me was that the newer DSLR cameras are extremely well made and produce images of extraordinary quality. Plus, they are much easier to use. Shooting at high ISO, cameras from both Canon and Nikon handled noise issues very well, including low light and night photography. Many of the students own these cameras.
The improvements in the cameras, along with parallel improvements in software such as Adobe Camera RAW, make it pretty straightforward for any photographer to shoot RAW and like it. Not one photographer in the class was using JPEGs. All saw the RAW file format as an advantage—both in image quality and creative options in image development.
Last, but not least, I was impressed by how far printing technology has come. In the workshop, we used HP Photosmart Pro B9180 printers. Images printed on a variety of media showed excellent color rendering, shadow and highlight detail, and dimensionality.
What I find most exciting is that the combination of these improvements in digital imaging hardware and software has made it far easier for photography students to concentrate on creativity-exploring ideas, and producing images that speak from the heart. As I saw for myself, this remarkable progress beyond the early technological hurdles of digital photography isn’t just a theory—it’s real.
As a studio photographer, I get to shoot a wonderfully wide range of people. For me, it’s one of the biggest perks of what I do.
Recently I spent 3 days shooting 23 women for a layout in New York Moves magazine, a publication for which I’m a regular contributor. Each year, the magazine honors a select group of 'Power Women' that New York Moves believes have helped define New York through their contributions in various fields of work. I shot last year’s 'Power Women' editorial and was delighted to be asked to this year’s winners as well.
Mehret Ayalew Mandefro
Founding Director, TRUTHAids
The magazine’s staff and I decided we wanted to portray the women in a different way. Rather than formal portraits, we thought it would be more interesting to go for a more relaxed look: capturing moments of fun, introspection, pride, or reflection.
CEO, Comedy Cures Foundation
Typically, I shoot high-res digital with the latest auto-focus Hasselblad camera. But for this shoot, I borrowed an older-style, manual-focus Hasselblad V-series camera. And of course, instead of shooting film, I chose to use Hasselblad’s new 503 CWD digital back, which was designed specifically for this older-style camera.
This 500-series camera is made especially to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Victor Hasselblad. It has a 16 MP digital back and the image is square—just like the film it historically captured. It seemed appropriate.
Shooting with this setup allowed me to capture a more classic portrait. But it also meant I needed to take a bit of extra time and care (hey, it’s manual focus after all!). In addition to the extra dimension from shooting square, I digitally converted the pictures to black and white. The results were so wonderful. And that’s where my new HP Photosmart Pro B9180 came into play. The B9180 is such a revelation for me. It has quickly become a workhorse for my shooting output, and I’ll tell you why...
After each award winner was shot and we selected the best image, I printed out the chosen picture on the B9180 so I could give each of them a copy to take home with her. Each sitter seemed genuinely surprised and grateful by the gesture. The black-and-white prints from the B9180 had such depth of tonality, they glowed!
Eyewitness News anchor, ABC
Think about it: Each Power Woman was in my studio for no more than 20 minutes, yet she was able to walk out with a final print. How great is that?
To make things even more special (and taking a photo shoot one step beyond the norm), the magazine staff and I decided to use framed prints as the actual awards to be presented during the ceremony. Each woman’s picture was framed along with a card inscribed with a one-word definition of what each woman said power meant to her.
At the award ceremony last week in New York, it was such a thrill to see each woman receive her framed portrait--an award that I’d printed on the Photosmart Pro B9180. We all make many prints of our pictures. But we don’t often get to see our prints presented as awards.
I feel so proud that these awards will hang on their walls and will have a significant meaning for each woman. Isn't it wonderful that these prints actually mean something? It is to me.