Kodak Bantam Special

4/29/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

The Bantam Special was manufactured by Kodak and designed by Walter Teague. They began making this camera in 1936 and fitted it with an Ektar 45mm F2.0 lens. The fast lens enabled the photographer to capture scenes in almost any light. Some of the pre-war versions used German-made Compur shutters and uncoated lenses. Around 1941 they switched to the American Supermatic shutter with a coated lens. Final production on these cameras stopped in 1948.

This camera has a classy Art-Deco style with its black enamel finish and a machined aluminum body. The aluminum strips and the size of the camera make the Bantam stand out among other folding cameras. It weighs in at only 17oz. and takes 828 roll film (28x40).

View other in-stock Kodak collectible cameras here. Kodak Retina collectibles here. And Kodak Retina Reflex collectibles here.

- Patrick Douglas

Film Format Guide

4/28/2011 3 Comments A+ a-

During our recent reader survey, one general topic that kept coming up in your suggestions was that you wanted to learn more about the older film cameras, and breaking into different formats of photography other than digital (like medium format). So today we're kicking off an entire set of posts about these topics. First, we have to start with a basic guide to film which is what we'll be covering today.

Throughout the next month we will also be covering the basics of medium and large format, where to start with them, where to find different types of film for purchase (and suggestions on where to get them developed), as well as highlighting a few vintage film cameras that we have in stock.

Now, on to film!

Your main formats for film are: 35mm, medium format, large format, and motion picture. But, there's plenty of other formats that were previously made and may no longer be available, and multiple types and sizes of films within each of those main categories. Then, within each of those categories are subcategories because there are many other elements which make films different.

Types: You have black and white, color negative, color reversal/transparency/slide film, instant film (B&W or color), and infrared film. Most of these types come in different formats or sizes. For example, you can get 35mm, medium format, or large format films in black and white negative film.

The easiest to find these days, say at your drug store, is 35mm color negative film. This is what is used in disposable cameras, and most commonly used in point and shoot film cameras. It can be processed at drug stores like Walgreens or CVS with a picture center, or at Walmart. These types of places usually only have the chemistry available for this type of film since it's typically all machine-fed these days.

Black and white and slide film use different chemistries to develop and for these you will need to find a professional film lab to have them developed at. And along with the types, formats other than 35mm will also typically need to go to a pro lab because the drug store machines don't fit the larger sizes. This is of course, if you don't develop your own either in an at-home darkroom or school/lab facility.

And just like with everything else, quality (and other variations) changes depending on brands and specific types within those brands, but we're not going to get into that. This type of thing is usually personal preference and best to experiment with.

Speeds: Film speeds can range from ISO/ASA 25-3200. The most common (consumer print films) are 100, 200, 400, and 800. Film speed is the film's sensitivity to light. The lower the number speed, the slower the film and the more exposure or light it needs. And vice versa, the higher the speed number, the faster it is and the less exposure it needs. If you are shooting in sunny conditions, a 100 or 200 speed film is ideal. In low-light (or indoor) situations, a 800 (or greater) is recommended.

Film Sizes:
Common (all of these are still in production)-
* 135, or "35 mm" (cartridge)
* 120/220 (medium format roll film)
* 127 (roll film)
* Sheet film (Comes in many different sizes. Nowadays primarily used in large format. Most common is 4X5.)
* Instant film sizes are listed at bottom

Left-right: APS (Advanced Photo System)/ Advantix film, 35mm negative film (or 135)

Color reversal/slide film (mounted and sleeved)

Less common sizes-
* APS/ Advantix (Advanced Photo System. Discontinued cartridge)
* Disc film (Obsolete format used in disc system cameras, discontinued.)
* 110 (early roll film, c. 1898-1929. Discontinued.)
* 110 (cartridge, 1972-2009. Discontinued.)
* 126 (early roll film, c. 1906-1949. Discontinued.)
* 126 (cartridge, 1963-2008. Discontinued.)
* Minox subminiature films (8x11mm cartridge. Still being produced.)
* Motion picture films: 8mm (standard and super), 16mm (silent and sound), 35mm, 70mm.

Disc film

Top-bottom Cartridges: Kodachrome 64 126 (color slide), 110, Minox (subminiature)

Left-Right: 220, 120, 116, 620, 127

70mm (motion picture) film

8mm movie film

16mm movie film

Clockwise from top left (instant films):
 Polaroid 100 (pull apart), Type 600 (SX-70 is the same size), Spectra, Type 52 4x5 land (pull apart)

Instant film types/sizes:
* Picture Rolls (Many sizes. Discontinued)
* Pack Film (aka "peel apart". Many types. Most common: 100 and 600 series)
* SX-7
* 600 series land film
* Image/ Spectra
* Pocket Film (sticker, iZone, etc. Discontinued)
* Instax, Instax Mini, Instax Wide 210 (FujiFilms newest instant lineup... Polaroids new equivalent is the 300 camera and film)
* There are many other discontinued Polaroid film types (there's a good list of these here.)

Stay tuned for part 2 where we'll offer some suggestions and links for places to buy and develop film!

Balancing Multiple Photo Careers Part 2

4/26/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

Today's post is part 2 in our mini series talking to photographers who balance multiple photo careers (that is, working for a company, and working for themselves). Here, we're talking to photographer Khaki Bedford Fritscher.

What do you do during the day?

I am a Digital Imaging Specialist at Magnum Photos in NYC - basically the fancy name I came up with for digital retoucher.  Magnum is a unique photo agency because it is one of the only well-known agencies that is owned and run by its members (the photographers). It was founded in Paris by one of my very early photography influences, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Primarily, I am retouching all of the negatives and digital files for the photographers working in the field... and also retouching very old negatives from as far back as the 1940's... which can be pretty cool, restoring bits and pieces of photographic history.

Outside of your day job, what are you doing in terms of photography?

Outside of Magnum, I am shooting pretty much whenever I can. I started at little wedding/commercial photography business for some extra income, as my personal work doesn't really make me any dough, but am pretty much up for whatever a client throws at me. I've shot a lot of fashion stuff, primarily for shoe designers, as well as editorial and music photography. I'm also doing album and book design which I enjoy. Really, its about taking any subject or project and making it my own. I feel that most people who hire me really want me to use my own personal style, so that is pretty flattering in itself and it allows me to always keep things fresh and come up with new ideas... never having to conform to something that's not me.

Of course, I also have my "personal" personal work which I guess you could say is more likely to be seen on a gallery wall... and that stuff is a totally different experience for me. That is my baby! It is always ongoing, evolving, and transforming - its more personal, and always forcing me to learn new things about myself. I shoot film with a Yashica T4, so the process is much different than my digital/ commercial work. I am not clicking away and taking hundreds of photos... with my Yashica, every frame counts. And if its not right, I don't click the shutter. I would say 1 roll of film actually lasts me 3-4 months and every frame is from a different scene from my life. I basically am quietly shooting when I see something that fits or just feels right- whether it be passengers on the subway on my way to work, catching people close to me in quiet moments, or seeing two empty chairs in a room and the light is hitting them just right. I find this work to be very quiet and discreet, and kind of lonely.... as opposed to my wedding work when I am trying to get the subjects attention and making kind of a scene. My personal work is much more "don't look at me" and "don't smile".

When do you find the time to work on personal work?

I always carry my Yashica with me so those photos can be taken on my way to work, on my lunch break, and during the weekends. Anytime really. As for weddings and commercial work, I am constantly scheduling shoots on the weekends. The great thing about working at Magnum is that I leave my work at work, so I am never bringing anything home with me on the weekends and rarely working past 6pm.

How do you balance/organize your time?

I think I do a pretty good job. I wouldn't say the commercial work is rolling in, but I really like it that way.  If I wanted more work, I would advertise and really push it. But then I probably wouldn't have time for my husband or my personal work... so I like to maintain a balance between Magnum work, commercial work, personal work, and my personal life. Too much of one thing would not make it enjoyable for me anymore.

What are the pros/cons of the double photo duty?

Pros: Getting to do what you love and making an income to support your photography endeavors outside of the 9-5 job. If I didn't work my 9-5, I would probably get burnt out because I would be relying too heavily on booking photo and wedding jobs every weekend.

Cons: Getting burnt out and spending too much time editing! Specifically with wedding work. You have to shoot so much to ensure you get everything covered... so you can come home with over 2,000 photos to go through after 1 shoot. I have to be brutal with my editing and just let a lot of "not so great" photos go.

Do you have any tips for others in a similar situation?

Just do good honest work and good things will come. If you are always honest about who you are and the results you can achieve and have that rapport with clients, they will be easier to work with, and they will be happier with the results. I tell people up front that I work during the week and am doing different things, so they know I am doing this on the side for now.

How do you keep from getting burned out?

I shoot when I want and take a break when I need it.  Sometimes when I am taking a break, I kind of freak out, like "I need to be doing something!". But then I remember that I did 5 big shoots last month, so I should just enjoy this time because when it rains it pours, and soon enough I will have a bunch of shoots lined up again.

I also try to pace myself and make time for hobbies outside of photography! I love to exercise and that is my main passion outside of work- it really keeps me sane and relieves stress. Also hanging out with friends who have nothing to do with photography can be nice sometimes- takes you outside of your own head.

How do you stay inspired?

I actually started a Photo Group with a few girls who went to school with me at SCAD. I randomly saw them in NYC after I moved here and we all decided we needed some inspiration and we wanted to critique each others work. That is the one thing you really miss about school- critiques! You have the support of your peers to really open your eyes to what you're actually doing. Its really inspiring to have a group of totally different people, shooting totally different things and in different ways. It constantly reminds me of why I love photography- because it is so broad and vast and everyone has a different point of view. It really opens your mind to be exposed to that. 

Our group has grown to about 6-10 people each meeting, and we all keep up with what everyone is doing- going to each other's exhibitions or helping with promo materials for our photo businesses. Having a meet every couple of months really motivates you to keep working and have something to show at the next meet.  We are all in the same boat - retouching jobs by day, photography by night/ weekend - so we can all relate really well to each other.

How do you stay motivated?

I stay motivated by not trying to be too motivated... not to put too much pressure on the process and just let things happen.  I have to have trust in myself that this is me and I'm heading in the direction I want to be in.  Also, by nature, I can't keep still too long, so I know if I just keep shooting, something will come out of it.

Anything else on the topic?

Have fun!

Photographer Bio: Fritscher was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee and studied photography at The Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. She graduated in 2005 with a BFA.

Fritscher is currently living and working in New York City at Magnum Photos as a Digital Imaging Specialist, as well as working as a freelance photographer, retoucher, and book designer. She has shown work in NYC, France, and Savannah, GA and her work has been published in several publications worldwide, including Art on Paper, Gearhead, and Time Out New York.

Personal Work: www.khakibedford.com
Wedding Work: www.khakibedfordweddings.com

all photos © Khaki Bedford Fritscher

Balancing Multiple Photo Careers Part 1

4/25/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

Today's post is part 1 in our mini series talking to photographers who balance multiple photo careers (that is, working for a company, and working for themselves). It's very common these days to have a day job, go to school, or be a stay-at-home parent, and then to freelance or run your own business in the evenings and weekends. Since this is so common, and can be a challenge to balance everything (and stay stress-free while doing so), I have asked a couple of photographers who are successfully doing this to weigh in on what they're doing, how they're doing it, and to offer some tips and advice for other photographers in similar situations. Starting off, we're talking to photographer Raymond McCrea Jones... 

What do you do during the day?

I work as a Photo Producer at The New York Times doing mostly web-related stuff. I edit pictures for the website, produce multimedia and shoot as well.

Outside of your day job, what are you doing in terms of photography?

Photography for me is a part of my life. It’s not just a job, a hobby, or something I dabble in, it’s literally as much a part of my everyday life as breathing or walking or seeing is. So, I’m constantly shooting and I’m constantly looking for my next project. Outside of my day job, I shoot weddings and work on long-term documentary projects. Sometimes these projects get picked up by The Times and run on the web and in print, and sometimes I have to find other homes for them.

This image is from a project I’ve been working on in my spare time for about a year and a half. I met the subject through my wife and when he told me his story I immediately knew it was something I wanted to be involved in. I am finishing up the editing and production of the video now. It will be appearing on the Lens blog in the near future. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com

When do you find the time to work on personal work?

Finding the time to work on photo projects outside of work is not easy, especially when you have a family. I have a two-year-old boy and another on the way, so my time is a very valuable commodity. You have to really prioritize and figure out how much “extra” time you have available and what you want to devote that time to.

How do you balance/organize your time?

I think the most important thing you can do is prioritize. I have personally decided that family is, and always will be the most important thing in my life. So when I’m thinking about undertaking a new project, I always do several things: I talk about it with my wife, weigh the time commitment, and try to figure out what the long-term goal of the piece is. I almost always have only one major, long-term project going on at any given time. I find that this allows me to stay focused and not feel overwhelmed.

A passerby stops to admire the artwork of two boys at 5Pointz in Long Island City, N.Y. 5Pointz is a public outdoor art space made up of a 200,000 square-foot factory building that has drawn attention from graffiti artists around the world.

What are the pros/cons of the double photo duty?

As a working photographer we often have to take the assignments that pay. These may not be assignments that move you passionately or strike a chord deep within you, but they pay and we all have to survive. But with self-assigned projects you are in total control. You find or choose the story and you can do whatever you want with it. You choose how to shoot it, in what format, how long to spend on it, and in what medium to publish it. It’s these personal projects that let us grow by leaps and bounds and are usually the most fulfilling.

The down side is time and money. You could say that every minute I spend working on a project outside of my paid job is a minute I’m not spending with my family. But, I would tell you that everything I do is for my family and every decision I make is done with them in mind. I think it’s different for each person. Some people want to be workaholics or just can’t help themselves; like an addiction. I think I’m relatively laid back with my work and have found a good balance.

Steve French, left, and Colby Smith during a fashion shoot in Prospect Park, Brooklyn in January.

Do you have any tips for others in a similar situation?

Again, you really just have to prioritize. It can be hard to find the time or energy after a long day at work to go out and spend another several hours shooting or editing on a personal project. But if you really love it and believe in it, I believe the motivation will come naturally. If you have a family, sit down with your partner and talk about new opportunities and figure out what is worth investing your time in.

How do you keep from getting burned out?

I keep from getting burned out by simply not working that hard. I also take breaks. Things for me tend to come in waves. I’ll go through a period of many weeks where I’ll be slammed with work and trying to finish one or more projects to meet deadline. But when I do get it out the door, I’ll take a break, then ease into my next project after I’ve taken the time to catch my breath. I think taking breaks and just not shooting is important. Also, doing other activities that are totally unrelated to photography can help. I ride my bike a lot and race in and around New York City. That allows me another outlet of expending energy that is removed from my job and keeps me fresh.

Robbins Reef Lighthouse sits in the middle of New York Harbor. It was "manned" by Kate Walker until 1919 after her husband died in 1886. It is said that Kate Walker rowed her two children to Staten Island for school each day.

How do you stay inspired?

I stay inspired by other photographers around me that are always producing new and refreshing work. When a friend shows me a new story, or I see something on someone’s blog that blows me away, it inspires me to push myself, work harder, and try new things.

How do you stay motivated?

Staying motivated isn’t an issue for me. If you’re struggling to find motivation to take pictures or try something new with your camera or start a new story, then you probably shouldn’t be a photographer in the first place. I’m doing what I naturally love to do. Of course there are times that I’m more motivated than others, but in general, motivation is not an issue because taking pictures is just part of my everyday life.

Birds playfully fly in circles above the intersection of Bowery and Rivington in Manhattan where I was hit by a truck while riding my bike on April 8, 2008. This was part of an essay I shot for COG Magazine recounting my experience.

Photographer Bio: Raymond McCrea Jones is a 29-year-old photographer and multimedia journalist based in New York City. Jones grew up in the south and studied visual communication at Randolph Community College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating, he moved to Atlanta, GA before relocating to New York to work at The New York Times. Jones lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two-year-old son.

Reportage: www.raymjones.com
Weddings: www.thebrightlives.com  
NY Times work: Jones on NYTimes.com

all photos © Raymond McCrea Jones

Developing with Coffee and Vitamin C

4/22/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

Editor's note: A while back I saw an episode of Myth Busters on the Discovery Channel (a re-run from their 2008 season) where they set out to bust or confirm a film developing myth from the late 80's -early 90's television show MacGyver. The MacGyver challenge was to develop film using ordinary household chemicals like ammonia and orange juice. The challenge was a "fail", but possible with a few variations (you can view this part of the episode here if you like). I thought this could be an interesting topic to cover and knew that Kris would be the perfect person for the job. His conclusions came from both research and experimentation, and shares with us a little science behind it, the recipes that work, the pros and cons, and some of his trials and errors in developing with these products. Plus, today is Earth Day, so developing with organic materials such as coffee and vitamin C is only fitting!

Many natural organic materials can be used as reducing agents in the film and paper development process in photography. Photographic materials in the early days were much different than what we're used to today. Of the hundreds of the natural ingredients that are known to have been used, only a few remain relatively practical for using with modern day photographic materials.

In recent years, there has been some buzz over some of these natural ingredients that are used to make homemade film developer. Coffee and orange juice are two of these ingredients. Through my own research, I found coffee to be an effective ingredient in these non-commercial film (and paper) developer's recipes. Orange juice however, as a reducing agent, doesn't have enough potency to effectively reduce silver halide to form images on film or paper, even when combined with an activator. A more concentrated form of a citrate compound such as Vitamin C (powder or tablet) is needed. I believe this recipe is often misidentified as the "Orange Juice Recipe."

A typical commercial film developer will have four components in its recipe- a reducing agent, a preservative, an activator and a restrainer. Each of the component ingredients is an organic chemical compound with functions to develop (reduce) exposed silver to form an image on a film base, as well as prolong the working life of the solution and prevent undeveloped silver from re-depositing on the film base during fixing (creating fogging of the film). The two homemade developers mentioned above will only develop exposed silver. Lacking a preservative and a restrainer, both developers lose their effectiveness due to oxidation after a short period of time and the undeveloped silver will likely re-deposit on the film base.

The recipes for both of these homemade film developers are so simple there are only two ingredients in each of them. The coffee recipe, known in its users' communities as Caffenol, has instant coffee crystal as an active ingredient and soda ash (also known as washing soda and sodium carbonate) as an activator. The Vitamin C developer has only Vitamin C and soda ash in its recipe. There is some variation with other ingredients added to these popular and widely accepted recipes, but we'll stick with the most basic ones.

Gathering the ingredients is literally like going to shop for your groceries. The initial cost will be twice as high as buying a package of commercial developer in powder form. There are several advantages of buying and mixing these homemade recipes over the commercial developers however, mainly because there is no temperature regulation to speak of during the entire mixing and developing processes. You also don’t have to worry about the solution’s shelf life, or its toxicity because you don’t mix it up in a large quantity like you do with the commercial developers. Like making a cup of instant coffee to drink or getting a dose of Vitamin C, you mix up these developers only when you want to use them. Another advantage is that these ingredients have a much safer impact on both you and the environment.

For making the Caffenol developer, you’ll need:
* A jar of instant coffee (pure coffee, not decaf)
* A box of washing soda (aka laundry booster, soda ash, etc.)
How to mix it up:
1.    Begin with 8 oz. of water, tap or distilled at room temperature.
2.    Add 4 teaspoons of instant coffee.
3.    Add 2 teaspoons of washing soda.

And for the Vitamin C recipe you’ll need:
* A bottle of Vitamin C powder or tablets
* A box of washing soda.
How to mix it up:
1.    Begin with 8 oz. of water.
2.    Add 8,000 mg. of Vitamin C.
3.    Add 5 teaspoons of washing soda.

Just mix them up until ingredients are completely dissolved and the solution becomes uniform. The developing time is going to be different for different types and brand of films. To start off though, develop your film by either developer for 25 minutes and agitate at 30 second intervals. Then based on the initial results, adjust developing time and agitation accordingly. If developing sheet film in a rotary tank, over development can occur from over agitation (so, be careful with your agitation).

*Also keep in mind that these recipes are for the developer step of the developing process only. All other steps, both in chemicals and time, are to be done normally with your stop, fix, wash, etc.

 Negative developed in Caffenol-C- 
25 minute developing time (the recipes recommended starting developing time)

 Negative developed in Caffenol- 1 hour developing time

A variation of the Caffenol recipe includes adding the Vitamin C to it. It is known as Caffenol-C. And all you do is add ½ teaspoon of Vitamin C powder or a 1000 mg tablet to the recipe of Caffenol given above. Vitamin C increases the effectiveness of the coffee developer. It helps reduce developing time and adds overall contrast to the negative.

Negative developed in Caffenol-C- 1 hr. dev. time  
(negative #3, see final at bottom)

The negatives developed by Caffenol will have an overall color tint of coffee stain and may be slightly fogged. Depending on the negative’s density, some may take the appearance of Kodak’s dye-based CN film. The negatives developed by Vitamin C will also have a color tint and fogging, though it is much less.

Negative developed in Vitamin C- 30 minute developing time

Negative developed in Vitamin C- 1 hour developing time

I personally prefer the Vitamin C recipe over the Caffenol variations. I used the kind of vitamin C tablets without the orange coloring as an ingredient. I think that is why there is less color tint on the developed negative. I like the overall density and contrast better also.

Anyhow, the negatives developed by either Caffenol variations or Vitamin C will never be as good as if they were developed by commercial developers. And the developing time in some cases triple that of what we have grown accustomed to. For this reason alone it seems impractical to use them on a regular basis. I can only imagine using these developers for a very specific project or along with a group of fellow darkroom socialites. If time is money, you would spend quite a lot developing your film with Caffenol and Vitamin C developers, which will certainly offset the cost of the ingredients you may feel you have saved over buying and using commercial developers.

My observation shows that coffee produces a low-contrast and soft negative, and vitamin C produces a significantly sharper and higher contrast negative. Based on this information, you could customized your own developer to suit your shooting and printing styles by combining coffee and vitamin C together in different ratios. I've tried experimenting with this concept as well, and decided to add a teaspoon of coffee to the Vitamin C Recipe. It appears I've made Caffenol-C developer, which has much less stain on the negative. Other combinations of these ingredients are possible, but think carefully about their effectiveness.

Modern day photographic materials require a much more complex developer solution to produce predictable, manageable, and repeatable results. With that, comes many toxic chemical compound ingredients combined in a single recipe to make them sufficient for the tasks. Handling these commercial developers carelessly could result in personal illness, injuries and even death. Coffee, vitamin C and washing soda on the other hand, are much easier and safer to handle in a similar situation and environment. Any organic substance can be harmful to the body if mishandled or abused, but the hazardous level of using Caffenol and Vitamin C developers and that of commercial brands is almost incomparable. So, if you are looking for film developers that are easy to make, safer to handle, and have the least impact on the environment, Caffenol and Vitamin C developers should certainly be considered for your choices. If you have the time to mess with them that is.

A print from negative #3 (shown as negative above) + a little enhancing can produce a 
pretty normal looking image even when developed in a coffee and vitamin C solution.

© Kris Phimsoutham

Photos of the Week

4/21/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

This weeks theme is People... I had to narrow it down to B&W because there was so many great shots to choose from (another "people" theme, color shots only, will be coming shortly) All photos were submitted to the KEH Flickr group pool.

The biggest, everThe biggest, ever, by: Paul Vecsei/Fish as art

Soldier of the Quarter, by: Will Harris

blow man blow swan dive kodak tourist
blow man blow swan dive kodak tourist, by: Chad Schaefer


Juliana, by: Jason/Shotgun1a

From another Brother, like no other ;) Ford Driven, Chevy powered.
From another Brother, like no other, by: Kim Koch

*Our next theme is Places. Join our Flickr group and submit your photos here.

Hearts Apart

4/19/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

We have covered multiple photography related charities before and have another one to add to the list...

Today's charity is HeartsApart.org. Their mission states, "HeartsApart.org was created to keep families connected while our military men and women are serving abroad. Through the efforts of our community's finest photographers, HeartsApart.org provides our soon to be deployed servicemen and women with pictures of their spouses and children. The photographs are printed on waterproof and durable bi-folded cards, which fit securely in their uniform pocket. HeartsApart.org believes that our military personnel deserve and need the memory of their families to carry them through the difficult times that lie ahead. The goal of HeartsApart.org is simple. As long as servicemen and women are in harm's way and separated from their families, we will be taking pictures. There is no end to the project - just a commitment to continue to serve our Armed Forces while they continue to serve us."

The organization has photographers all around the country and is looking for more to get involved. In addition to photographers, they are also seeking makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylsits, clothing merchants, and sponsors to help with their cause. 

For more information, check out their site at: http://www.heartsapart.org

Tilt-Shift Options

4/18/2011 3 Comments A+ a-

Tilt-shift photography originally referred to the movements on a view camera to focus and control perspective. An example of this is when you are photographing a building and the building looks like it may be leaning or falling in the image. Using tilt-shift controls is a way to correct the distortion or perspective of the lines in the frame and object. In view cameras, the movements are controlled both in the front of the camera near the lens, and in the back near the film.

Starting in the 1960s, camera manufacturers started producing lenses or adapters for 35mm cameras that embodied the same principles. These lenses are often used in architectural photography to control perspective (like mentioned above), and in landscape photography to get an entire frame sharp. In more modern times, photographers have begun using tilt-shift lenses for selective focusing purposes in portrait work, fine art, and miniature scene simulation photography.

The two different types of movement in tilt-shift photography are tilt, where the rotation of the lens plane is relative to the image plane, and shift, where the movement of the lens is parallel to the image plane. Tilt controls the focus or part of the image that appears sharp, while shift is used to adjust the position of the subject in the frame without moving the actual camera.

There are a few ways to achieve a similar look to tilt-shift, which is what we'll be showing through examples below. (The first of course, is actually shooting with a view camera).

Image (above) taken with normal 50mm lens, slightly shallow depth of focus

Option: The Tilt-shift lens
 Image taken with a tilt-shift lens for SLR cameras
A tilt-shift lens. This one can be used on a 35mm film EOS camera, or a digital SLR camera. 

The tilt and shift are moved by turning the two knobs on the sides of the lens, as well as by rotating the base of the lens. The focus is done by hand on the front focus ring. It's important to keep in mind that even though you may mount a tilt-shift lens to an auto-focus camera, the lens is still a manual focus lens and will not auto-focus. All controls are manual (except the aperture which is controlled in-camera).

Above: Another shot with a tilt-shift lens- compare to image below which was shot with a normal 50mm lens using the freelensing technique.

Below: Notice a similar area of focus and tilt as the image above using the tilt-shift lens, but the "sharp" areas are not quite as sharp or of the same quality.
Option: Freelensing
Freelensing is a technique where the lens is detached from the camera body, hand-held, and tilted. You must move the lens around to focus. While it's a plus to use a lens you already own, and while you can create some neat focus effects, there are still multiple down sides to shooing this way. For one, it can be difficult hand-holding both the camera and the lens while trying to focus. They can become heavy, take longer to focus, and even allows for a greater risk of dropping one or the other. The main down side to using this technique however, is the risk of introducing dust onto your cameras sensor. Since the lens is not attached to the camera body, and a digital sensor is charged when the camera is on and operating, it tends to suck dust towards it if there's nothing there to protect it from the elements (such as a lens or body cap).

A few other things to keep in mind if you decide to try this technique are light leaks, exposure, and aperture controls. You will want to use a lens that has an aperture ring that you can manually control, or a lens with a wide-open aperture when the lens is off of the camera. This means Nikon G lenses and Canon EF-S lenses are not good candidates. Since the lens is not communicating with the camera, it's best to predetermine and set your exposure (shutter speed and ISO in this case) on the manual setting. Also because the lens is not attached, the space between the lens and camera body can create light leaks. To prevent this, just be sure to bend the lens towards the light source so that the open space is away from it.

Another freelensing example but with a much more dramatic effect and area of focus

Option: Digital manipulation
Another option in achieving a similar effect is to digitally manipulate your images in Photoshop or another photo editing program. There is a variety of tools and techniques that can be used, such as the blur tool.

Image above is the same exact image as the first one posted at the top (normal with shallow DOF) but with blurred areas created in Photoshop

Option: Lensbaby

One of the multiple Lensbabies available

A Lensbaby SLR lens is an affordable alternative to a tilt-shift lens (which can be pricey). They come in different camera mounts and can fit both 35mm and digital bodies. The effect is somewhat different because the lens has a circular field of focus instead of a planar field of focus like that of a tilt-shift lens. These lenses are known for their "sweet spot of focus", and are also manual lenses, but even more so than the tilt-shift ones. The focus and movement are done by hand, and the apertures must also be changed by hand. There is no aperture ring on these lenses, so they come with aperture disks with pre-cut holes which must be swapped out in order to change the aperture.The quality of these lenses is nowhere near a tilt-shift lens, and is sometimes compared with toy or plastic camera lenses.

Image above taken with a Lensbaby lens

To read more about the topics covered above, or to see some interesting images using these techniques, refer to the links below: 
* The (new) Lensbaby Line- a review on the KEH Blog from last year
* 101 Photos Taken With the Lens Detached

* In-stock items at KEH.com: 
- Lensbabies
- Tilt-shift lenses
- View Cameras

Color Checker

4/15/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

Have you seen one of these before? Do you know what it is? This cardboard card with colorful boxes on it is a Macbeth ColorChecker, Color Rendition Chart. It is used as a color calibration target in photography.

The chart was introduced in a paper by McCamy, Marcus, and Davidson in the Journal of Applied Photographic Engineering in 1976. The design consists of 24 squares with a black border. The aspect ratio of the size is approximately the same as 35mm film. The bottom row of squares consists of a gray scale, while the row above that consists of primary colors typical of chemical photographic processes (blue, green, red, yellow, magenta, and cyan). The other colors of the squares were chosen to mimic natural objects such as skin colors, a blue sky, foliage, and flowers. The squares are supposed to have a consistent color appearance under a variety of lighting conditions as detected by color photographic film. These charts are also currently being used with digital cameras to ensure that a series of images are consistent in color balance.

One of the ColorChecker Classics by X-rite goes for around $80. They have also produced a mini version, a Digital SG version that has 140 squares, and a ColorChecker Passport which is pocket size and multi-positionable.

The ColorChecker has been spotted
Online retailer Fred Flare has been posting outtakes with the ColorChecker on their Facebook page and using the images as part of their marketing campaign (like for their ad in N.E.E.T. Magazine).

My Macbeth Color Checker Tattoo
Photographer Erika Neola has the ColorChecker tattooed on her arm. She states, "Yes, the tattoo is real. No, it is not a Rubik's Cube."

Riddle Answers

4/14/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

Lets see how you did from last Thursdays camera equipment brand riddle challenge...

1. Adam + Bilbo Baggins' nephew: Manfrotto

2. 18th letter in the Greek alphabet: Sigma

3. Not yours, but ____ + heavy work animal: Minox

4. What Samuel did in the choir: Samsung

5. Where the Greek Gods live: Olympus

6. Stitching your patella: Sony

7. Lambert and Cosgrove: Miranda

8. New York's favorite flash equipment: Metz

9. Writing utensil + one of life's certainties: Pentax

10. The greatest mountain in Japan: Fuji

11. Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell's favorite flash equipment: Quantum

12. Standing close to a prisoner: Nikon

13. The opposite of can't off: Canon

14. The ends of the earth + hemorrhoids: Polaroid

15. Dracula's enemy runs with wolves: Sunpak

16. Sticking these in your eyes will help you see: Contax

17. Enemy of Batman, DC comics circa 2000: Zeiss

18. Cooking utensil of everyones favorite hedgehog: Panasonic

19. Mama Miya - ma: Mamiya

20. Polli's first name: Rollei

21. The best swindler there is: Topcon

22. If the space shuffle set down on Ratso's friend, Joe Buck: Voightlander

23. If Brad + Angelina = Brangelina, then Brian + Monica = : Bronica

* If you had fun with this game, we posted a camera guessing game last November... did you miss it? Try your hand at that one HERE

New Canon Digital ELPH HS Cameras

4/12/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

NEW, in the Canon PowerShot ELPH series: The 100HS (above) and the 300HS. Both are packed with new powerful technologies, which includes the HS System. The HS System has 12.1 megapixel CMOS and DIGIC 4 Image Processor, full 1080p HD video, high speed shooting (in h.s. burst mode, 8.2fps), high speed video recording, Smart Auto, 4x optical zoom with wide angle lens, Optical Image Stabilizer, and a PureColor System LCD. 

Other new functions include new scene modes with Toy Camera Effect, Fish-eye Effect, and more. The Movie Digest Mode records a short video clip right before shooting a still image and then combines one day's worth of clips into one video. 

The HS System also improves shooting in low-light situations without a flash and lowers noise levels at higher ISOs. The dynamic range has been expanded to retain maximum detail in highlight and shadow areas.

(The differences in the 100HS and 300HS are slight, and have variances in: focal length, LCD monitor size, fastest shutter speed, shooting modes, and dimensions of body.)

100HS- Silver, brand new in box with cables, CD, battery and charger (takes S/D card): $209
300HS- Black, brand new in box with cables, CD, battery and charger (takes S/D card): $249.99

Introduction to Stock Photography

4/11/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

The industry is divided between two types of stock, Royalty Free and Rights Managed images. A royalty free image can be sold limitlessly through the agency, and rights managed images are exclusive. A rights managed image, which is the more expensive of the two, can be purchased specifically for the buyers one-time use. Some companies choose rights managed images to risk the possibility of brand confusion. For years the industry was dominated by rights managed stock houses until the more affordable royalty free agencies came along and revolutionized the business of stock.

Stock photography is an industry that has been around for quite some time and generates billions of dollars. There are many photographers that have dedicated their entire careers to exclusively shoot stock. A stock image is an image that communicates an idea or generates a feeling, to most likely sell a product or accompany a story needing photography. Stock images are all around us in every form of media you can throw a stick at. Open any magazine and you’re most likely to spot a stock image in use.

Above: Stock image © Michael Reese (article author)

Below: Image used on a book cover

Stock images are as varied as the photographers making them, but to shoot stock you must adhere to specific guidelines given by the agencies. The most important being plagiarism and copyright infringement. Stock images are designed to be a blank slate of an image to sell products. What this means is that if you like photographing runners, it would be beneficial to have runners in your shot not wearing any recognizable logos like the Nike swoosh. If Nike or any other company sees unauthorized use of its brand, it can sue and easily win said case through copyright protection laws. When shooting stock you must be mindful of this or remember to edit out logos in post production. One approach that many stock photographers take is to orchestrate/art direct the shoot in a controlled environment. An example would be to ask your models to wear neutral clothing absent of brands or any artwork, which will save you many hours in post production.

The other vital part of stock photography is having your models sign official and legitimate model releases. A model release is a legal form that states you have permission to use the models image for your stock portfolio, which protects you and the agency legally. There are also times when you will need a property release if you have photographed a recognizable private building (the rules differ at certain agencies).

If you’re interested in shooting stock, the field is currently wide open, especially with the introduction of Microstock agencies like the juggernaut iStock Photo. A microstock agency is one that is most likely online and sells royalty free images for $1.00 - $2.00 an image. This business model has revolutionized the entire field, and has become quite popular. Since photographers are now being paid "micropayments", the photographer must shoot and upload in bulk to make any significant gains at a microstock house.

The first step is to find the stock agency that suits you best. Read the guidelines, submit your work for consideration, and hopefully it’s the beginning of a wonderful partnership!

A great book to get if your entering into the stock photography world is: Microstock Money Shots: Turning Downloads Into Dollars by Ellen Boughn, Andres Rodriguez.

There's a ton of stock agencies and websites, but here's a few to get you started:
* iStock Photo
* Getty Images
* Corbis Images
* Shutter Stock
* Dreamstime
* Alamy

- Michael Reese

5 Ways Photographers Are Wasting Money On Marketing

4/08/2011 2 Comments A+ a-

Today our guest contributors are TJ and Larissa of Larissa Photography, offering up some advertising don'ts for your photography business...

copyright Vladimir Yudin/ iStockphoto

As business owners, we all hate dipping into the business account to pay for advertising. What's even worse than missing the money, is missing the clients that are not walking in the door after the advertising money was spent. Over the past 8 years, we've made some big mistakes that cost us thousands of dollars, so consider this your chance to save yourself from the same frustrations and go home with more money in your pocket.

Advertising in the Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages sales guy, used car sales guy - what's the difference? Not much really. At least in our experience, they both will tell you whatever it takes to make the sale. Our first yellow pages experience was filled with promises of customers coming in masses. The estimate was actually 2 to 3 phone calls PER DAY from our ad. After $1,000 in advertising in the book, we got 2 or 3 calls TOTAL - for the entire year. We tried a national phone book too. That one had an Internet directory as well. Really, the only difference we saw was that we only paid half as much. The phone book just doesn't work for photographers any more.

Short term advertising
One of our favorite bridal shows had an offer to do a 1 week radio ad for a fraction of the cost of a regular ad. What a steal. Not so much. Even though I had done my research on demographics, number of listeners, etc, advertising for only 1 week was a good way to throw a few hundred dollars out the window. Actually, we probably would have had a better response throwing money out our window. That would have at least created a buzz. Any advertising you are considering doing for only a week is setting yourself up to be a 1 hit wonder. Nobody is going to remember who you are the next week.

Assuming more money means better advertising
Increasing your advertising budget isn't always the best way to get more clients. You've got to be selective with where you're putting your advertising dollars. Consider a budget photographer who pays big money to be a vendor at a bridal show for upper-class brides. It doesn't matter that this should be one of the "best" bridal shows because the photographer isn't talking to the right brides. Know where YOUR customers are.

Failing to market locally
"Local" means different things to different photographers, but the principle is the same - if you try to promote your studio outside of your local area, you're mis-spending advertising money. One thing we've found is that people don't want to travel for photography. Our wedding clients may travel an hour to come to the studio, but we rarely get clients for other types of sessions willing to travel further than 30 minutes away. Also, consider that advertising in entirely new areas all the time will dilute your message. It's much better to have your studio name in front of a single customer multiple times than multiple customers a single time.

Taking a hands-off approach with any marketing
With our radio ad, we handed over the reins on the advertisement to a "marketing professional". She asked for some of our selling points, and went to work. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but the professional image that the ad painted wasn't OUR image. It would have been great for a photography studio 30 years more "established" than we are, but it didn't say young, fresh, and fun like the rest of our stuff. Even a more amateurish ad that actually lined up with our studio personality would have worked better for us.

Final Thoughts
If you've found a way to advertise that brings in clients, stick with it. You don't have to try everything. It's OK not to make big mistakes like we did. For us, bridal shows, SEO, Facebook, and vendor networking are where we see results, so that's where we are continuing to invest time and money. You have got to find what works for your studio, and stick with the stuff that consistently brings new business.

Contributor Bio:
TJ and Larissa are passionate about the business of photography, and they have recently made it their goal to be named one of the top 10 wedding photographer teams in the world. They are located in Southern Illinois.

Website: http://www.larissaphotography.com/
+ Their photography education blog: http://www.larissaphotography.com/blog/

Camera Brand Riddles

4/07/2011 16 Comments A+ a-

Today we have a little word game for you. Each riddle represents a camera equipment brand. If you like a challenge, and puzzles that really work your brain, you'll love this! Let's see how many you can get!

1. Adam + Bilbo Baggins' nephew

2. 18th letter in the Greek alphabet

3. Not yours, but ____ + heavy work animal

4. What Samuel did in the choir

5. Where the Greek Gods live

6. Stitching your patella

7. Lambert and Cosgrove

8. New York's favorite flash equipment

9. Writing utensil + one of life's certainties

10. The greatest mountain in Japan

11. Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell's favorite flash equipment

12. Standing close to a prisoner

13. The opposite of can't off

14. The ends of the earth + hemorrhoids

15. Dracula's enemy runs with wolves

16. Sticking these in your eyes will help you see

17. Enemy of Batman, DC comics circa 2000

18. Cooking utensil of everyones favorite hedgehog

19. Mama Miya - ma

20. Polli's first name

21. The best swindler there is

22. If the space shuffle set down on Ratso's friend, Joe Buck.

23. If Brad + Angelina = Brangelina, then Brian + Monica =

* Answers are posted here.

Thanks to Grant in our purchasing department for coming up with these!

Symmetrical Portraits

4/05/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

Symmetrical Portraits is a series of photographic portraits by artist Julian Wolkenstein. The subjects in these portraits were carefully cast, all positioned directly face-forward to the camera, and were asked not to show any emotion or character. The project focuses on facial features, proportions, and more specifically on facial symmetry.

The artist states, "There is a myth, some say a science, suggesting people who have more symmetrical faces are considered more " attractive".
If you are made symmetrical, do you consider yourself more beautiful, less so, or is it just weird? Or is it you at all? Do you have a best side? What is to be said of left and right brain dominance?"

Wolkenstein has also created an accompanying website to the project called Echoism, as the term Echoism relates to facial symmetry in its physiognomical sense. Users can upload their own photos (it's free) either using an iPhone application or a webcam app. Users images are split, made symmetrical, and placed on the website along with other user photos. Get your own symmetrical portrait made at http://www.echoism.org/.

all photos © Julian Wolkenstein, used with permission