Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sometimes you're in a different place

Life's all about change, right? Some things have changed for me, in my approach to my photography. Maybe it's just temporary, but when I pick up my camera, I have something different in mind. Let's see if I can explain what and why.

I'm planning to take a booth at the Haliburton Home and Cottage Show, to sell pictures. The show is at the end of May, I'll send my commitment in this week. A lot of planning goes into this effort, from the design and construction of the booth, to the choice of images for sale, framing, how to display non-framed pieces, what sizes and media, what price points, finding a device to accept credit and debit cards, lights, and so on. I'm working on all of those things.

The choice of pictures to sell is a major component, also size and quality. I've pretty well decided that most of them will be in the 12x18 size range, and most of those will be printed on lustre paper and priced quite reasonably under 50¢/square inch (so a 12x18 would be nominally $100, unframed). This is, after all, a cottage show. However I plan to have a couple of more expensive pieces there, such as this one:


This is a triptych which I plan to print on canvas and do gallery wraps. The vertical size will be around 18" and the price will be set around $450. The image, by the way, was shot in the fall of 2008 with the D300. It's an HDR and I used the oil paint filter in CS6 to complete it.  

Another image that I plan to display for sale is this one:


I want to print this one on watercolour paper, mat and frame it normally. $350 framed, $250 unframed, 12"x18". I shot this image yesterday (Sunday) with the D600, it's also an HDR. It's the Trent-Severn waterway, with Balsam Lake in the background. 

So here's my dilemma. I'm searching for images in my archives that are suitable for printing. I've come up with about 100 candidates, but some of them don't make it for various reasons: usually because I've cropped them too tightly and there aren't enough pixels left to do a large scale print. Here's an example of that:


I love the oil paint filter in CS6. Some people don't: what do they know?? LOL. It's only about 1600 px wide, so I MIGHT be able to get an 18" print out of it, but only because it's painted and small detail is irrelevant. 

I really like this image. I can picture it as a large scale print, say 24" x 36" flush mounted, or at the very least 18x24 in a mat. But it's never going to happen, unless there's some magic way to go from 1600 pixels to at least 5400 pixels without losing essential detail or introducing artifacts. So as I said, perhaps I can get it to a 12x18 but even then I wonder.

I haven't thought about printing before, really. Among other things I did in the past couple of weeks was to visit a professional print shop, where they specialize in archival and exhibition quality prints. I spent an hour picking the production manager's brain and sitting with some of my own images on their large screen. The conclusion was, if an image isn't originally 4000 pixels on the long side, don't bother. Yes, there are exceptions: the filtered oil painted image above might work because all the detail has been smeared out (his words) but certainly not as a large scale picture.

Incidentally, there's a fantastic print mounting method out there called "acrylic face mount". It's by far the best presentation I've ever seen for saturated, detailed images, they literally "glow". It ain't cheap: I was quoted almost $1 per square inch, just for printing and mounting. But it's beautiful. Google it...

So I've started thinking about composing my image in the camera so I don't need to crop. I'm paying much more attention to detail, to lighting, to textures and nuances of shading (love the snow in the above image, by the way). I've started making images with printing in mind. And that's a whole other mindset. This is stuff that other people have been saying to me for years, but I just haven't listened.

The good news is, I now have a 24 megapixel full sized sensored camera. I can still crop, but only "some". If I want images to look at onscreen, it's still OK to crop up to 100% size: but don't be tempted to print them.

I was out pretty well the whole day on Sunday and while I clicked the shutter about 150 times, many of them were 3-shot bracketed bursts, some were variations of the same image, trying to get it right (about 50 exposures of the Trent-Severn, above for example). And I was in 4 different venues.

By the way, if you want to buy prints, drop me a note and let's talk! If there's a picture you've seen here on the blog that you'd like to see hanging in your house, let me know and I'll figure out if it's do-able, size wise, then let you know how much it will cost. For now, until the business is established, prices will be not much more than the cost of printing and shipping. So a 12 x 18 could end up in your hands for under $40, for example.Send me an email

That said...

I haven't taken a lot of images in the last month, and certainly not snapshots. Well there are some exceptions, after all that's what a point-and-shoot camera is for! Here's one:


Four generations of women, and my brother-in-law. My mother, my sister, my daughter and my granddaughter. North-facing window light.  What's technically wrong with this shot? Well to start with, my daughter is in my sister's shadow. I should have had everyone swing around a bit to their left so the light would be more even. There are lots of other things that make this a less-than-professional portrait but (1) it's a snapshot! and (2) as I've said often in my workshops, "you can't take a bad picture of your family". Because there are memories, not just pixels, embedded in the image.

So what else is going on?

2013 Workshop Schedule

The Spring 2013 workshop schedule is up at www.photography.to. Check it out. I reworked the landing page to clean it up as well. The workshops are designed for beginner and intermediate DSLR users, they're 2 days long and run up here in the Highlands, although I'll come to Toronto to run sessions on demand.

If you're an advanced photographer, I have two things to offer you: one would be to give someone you know (perhaps your SO or child) a step up, when they're ready to inherit that DSLR of yours (an excuse to get that new Nikon or Canon body you've been wanting?)  The other would be an opportunity to get out of the city and spend some time shooting up here in the Highlands. Talk to me.

Some new and exciting news!

But I can't tell you about it yet. Watch this space...

There be eagles there...

A couple of weeks ago, someone told me there were bald eagles on Horseshoe Lake Road, coincidentally, right at one of my very favourite dawn shooting spots. So I wandered over there one afternoon and got lucky:




These were shot with the 400mm lens on the D600, then cropped drastically because they're about 400m away! I spent 2 hours there on Sunday, didn't see hide nor hair of them. I'll be baaaack... 

Lastly, I was testing the light pucks I told you about a while ago, in the light tent. Not a wonderful solution but it works. Here's a test shot of a wedge of Mandarin Orange on my frosted background.


I got all extreme on this shot, playing in the NIK plugin set. Just for fun! 

See? Not everything is print- and exhibition-ready.

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