Articles

At one point I had a lot of written stuff on this website. In the late 2009 remodel of this website, I've abandoned nearly all of it. Most of it was either obsolete in the sense that technology has moved on, or in the sense that it no longer reflected my current thinking. What remains here is stuff that I felt was significant enough to keep or which someone specifically requested be dug up out of the archive. So far, the following folks have donated to bring articles back: Tom Dills, Sanjay Madan. A total of 8 articles have been restored, and a considerable sum has been donated to Hopelink. Thanks for your generosity!

If you're searching for something you think got abandoned in the purge, please see the archive page.

Folks who find these articles interesting might want to check out the content on my Photomusings blog (now closed) at http://photomusings.wordpress.com.

Scanning B&W negatives in color

I took a few minutes off from the process tuning work, and checked out the results of scanning B&W negatives in color and converting to grayscale in Photoshop. The results surprised me, and they'll probably surprise you, too!

Anatomy of a Photograph

Some time ago, a really great photographer (Doug Plummer) came over, and we did some digital printing of one of his photographs so he could get a feel for what digital output is like.

Afterwards, Doug commented that he'd wished he'd seen me edit a photograph (using Photoshop) from scratch, so that he could see how I went about it. That idea stayed in my mind, and just recently it occurred to me that I could write a very interesting article which showed each step taken.

And that's what I've done with Anatomy of a Photograph - and you can switch back and forth between 'before' and 'after' versions for each step, by rolling the mouse cursor onto and off of the image.

(going off) The Silver Standard

For something like 80 years, black and white photography has been dominated by what I call the Silver Standard - the air dried, glossy, fiber-based gelatin silver print.

Inkjet printing has changed all the rules. It's time for us to let go of the Silver Standard and move on. It'll be ok. Really. Everything is going to be fine.

Putting Away the Silver Prints (a few more thoughts provoked by digital printing)

I took all the silver prints I had around the workroom, and I put them in boxes and put them away because I no longer refer to them when I'm making a digital print. The digital prints are now the standard of comparison.

That provoked some thinking about gelatin silver prints, digital prints, the properties of both, and why I seem to be drifting permanently away from conventional projection printing on gelatin silver paper.

Toning Black and White Digital Prints

Black and white images printed on my epson 9600 printer are perfectly neutral - which makes them look a bit lifeless. I spent some time exploring ways to 'tone' the images, including duotoning, color balance, and curves. In the end, I chose the curves technique as the best of the choices. You can download the curves I use in this article.

This article is still a rough draft - watch for refinements and examples to be added.

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him

For years, I produced hand made, labor intensive gelatin silver prints. Then I tried digital printing, and got great prints. And now, everything I knew about prints, the value of prints, and print pricing has been made obsolete.

Some Early Thoughts on Digital Printing

I've just started doing some digital printing. Here are some early thoughts and observations on the whole thing.

Art is a Verb, not a Noun

Some thoughts on the trend toward art that tries to be outrageous, why people make such art, and what we can do about it.

Ability, Accomplishment, and Art

Some musings on the difference between ability and accomplishment, and what that difference means to us as artists.

The Flash of Recognition, (or Why I Photograph)

A few of my thoughts on what makes for a great photograph, segueing into why I make photographs.

Hunter-Gatherer or Farmer?

There are two types of photographers in the world, and I divide them neatly in this article on two different approaches to landscape photography.

The Monday Night Group (or, how to improve your photography in one hour a week)

I founded and was a member of the Monday Night New Work Review Group from 1998 until 2006, and I think it's done wonders to improve the quality of my photography. The principle is simple - meet every other week with a bunch of photographers, everyone brings new work, and you spend the evening reviewing the new work. It's simple. It's fun. It's inexpensive. And, it works.

The Monday Night Manifesto

At one point in the life of the Monday Night Group, we needed to clarify what the group was, and what it wasn't. I wrote this document to help sort things out.

Variable Contrast Printing

My article on calibrating a dichroic enlarging head for use as a VCCE light source when printing on variable contrast black and white printing papers. This is an updated version of what appeared in Photo Techniques in February 1998. For a host of tedious reasons this article is presented as a PDF.

Loading Large Format Film Holders

An illustrated guide to loading sheet film into holders.

Are the Zone VI meter modifications worth the cost?

For years people have argued about whether there was any real difference between the Zone VI modified Pentax Digital Spotmeter and the unmodified meter. I happened to own one of each, and took the opportunity to compare them head to head.

Zone VI meter modifications (reprised)

I examine an article by Alan Ross on the modifications (the one on the calumet web site), some scanned pages from the old Zone VI catalog, some criticism leveled at my data by Kirk Gittings, and decide that a) the modifications do not improve the accuracy of the meter, and b) so much time has elapsed since I first published my data that I no longer feel my conclusions are tentative at all.

(last updated: 8/28/2010)