Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Value Shipping Option!

We are pleased to announce a new value priced shipping option via U.S. First Class Mail for the accessories and smaller items that we carry in our inventory.


Our new $3.95 shipping option is great for filters, caps, straps, cables, manuals and countless other light weight items.  This is a great opportunity for you to stock up on all the accessories you need in a more cost effective manner.

The new USPS First Class Mail shipping option is available for orders weighing 10 oz. or less, and with a retail value of $100.00 or less.  Available for orders delivered within the United States. 

Qualifying orders will automatically provide the $3.95 shipping option upon checkout (if your order exceeds the weight or retail value requirements, the $3.95 option will not be listed as an available shipping method). 

Ordering from KEH is more affordable than ever!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why I Love Being a Second Shooter

It seems that most wedding photographers want to have their own business, calling the shots (literally), and taking on every wedding as the front man. In my past three and a half years of wedding photography, I’ve come to find myself in being a second shooter and found myself loving it more than shooting my own weddings.


In being a wedding photographer’s assistant or second shooter, it is my job to make sure the main photographer has the easiest day possible. I carry any equipment, make countless trips from the shoot sight to our gear, keep a firm hand on the family picture lists, and get the shots that the primary photographer doesn’t see all at the same time. There have been times where I’ve had two bags of equipment and two cameras on my shoulders while traipsing through a field of tall grass in 95-degree weather. No big deal, I love it.

The main photographer can set up a shot while talking with the bride and groom, directing them for about 5 different poses, while at the same time I can shoot them from any angle, through trees or tall grass, or as a silhouette from another view point. I am much more creative when I can focus on the shot verses cater to the bride and groom.


There is an art to being a second shooter. I now know the photographer that I assist so well that I am always one step ahead. I know her style of shooting and of how to act in a wedding scene so that I am not a distraction but a necessity. At the end of a wedding, I give her the memory cards that I used, and she takes on everything from there. She culls and edits all of the pictures.

When you’re the head photographer, you have pre-wedding meetings, scheduling, the day of session which includes a lot of pressure, after wedding scheduling, hours of editing, and dealing first hand with brides and sometimes their families. I feel the benefits of being the second shooter is getting more opportunities and angles for creative shots, less pressure, and less time dealing with brides or mother of the brides. The second shooter shows up the day of, shoots all day, and then at the end of the day is done.



Contributor Bio: Deborah Hodgin is a product photographer at KEH and also a second shooter for Ashah Photography.

Website: www.ashahphotography.com



Monday, January 28, 2013

A Brief Lesson on the Origins of Photography

Many photographers may have never taken the time to study the birth and roots of the beautiful, surprising, challenging, and artistic medium that is photography. When we take a glance back in time, we find several innovative trailblazers who have the same general goal: to document or record the world around them.

Imagine sitting among the group of modern thinkers that is the French Academie des Sciences in Paris, France. The year is 1839, January 7th to be precise, and something astonishing, even magical, is about to be displayed for the first time in this group of innovators. A crowd of bystanders gathers, surprised and enchanted by the invention they see. Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, a respected artist in several mediums, stands and demonstrates his latest work process. "Daguerreotypes," as he calls them, are unique and detailed lifelike visual representations printed on copper. They are unlike anything seen prior to right now. They are the predecessors of the modern photograph. How did he do it? Are there others who have invested time and thought in this genius method of work?

The truth is, Daguerre had been working on his daguerreotypes for the last almost-twenty years. The idea crossed his mind while working with his Camera Obscura. A Camera Obscura was a tool widely used by artists or architects to project an image in order to trace it and create accurate drawings or sketches of the environment in which they stood. Many of them were wooden boxes with a small opening or lens on one side and a mirror inside to reflect a right-side-up view of the world on the back wall of the box where the master sketcher would tack paper and begin tracing.
Diagram of a man using a Camera Obscura to make a drawing

Daguerre wanted to create a way to make that projected image permanent. And he wasn't the only one. Joseph Nicephore Niepce, a French thinker, shared Daguerre’s curiosities and became his aid in finding appropriate chemistry for making these permanent images. Niepce had some prior small successes around 1826 dabbling with scientific materials. Daguerre worked with him from 1829 until Niepce passed away in 1833. At the same time, an Englishman by the name of William Henry Fox Talbot who knew nothing of Daguerre's fascination or method was struggling with very similar frustrations. As a man who enjoyed drawing in his sketchbook, Talbot says this of his work with the Camera Obscura, "the inimitable beauty of the pictures of nature's painting which the glass lens of the Camera throws upon the paper in its focus- fairy pictures, creations of a moment, and destined as rapidly to fade away.... how charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably, and remain fixed upon the paper. And why should it not be possible?"*
Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, Still Life, 1837. Daguerreotype. 
So, as Talbot began experimenting with his own chemistry, in 1834 he found that a salt-coated paper painted with silver nitrate turned a dark color when left in the sun. He then began pressing botanical samples of foliage and leaves against these coated sheets of paper and leaving them out in the sun. This created beautiful likenesses of the specimens. Talbot called the process "the art of photogenic drawing."

William Henry Fox Talbot, Asparagus Foliage, early 1840s, Photogenic Drawing Negative

As Henry Fox Talbot's methods advanced, he came full circle to the idea of using the Camera Obscura to create these works and in 1835 he made silhouette-like images of the houses and nature in his surroundings. All the while, Daguerre was in France perfecting his process and making strides in the chemical processes that him and Niepce had slaved over together. Daguerre polished plates of copper and sensitized them with a layer of silver and iodine fumes. He, similar to Talbot, used large camera boxes to expose the copper plates to light. The box captured and projected an image onto the copper plate. He would then expose the copper plate with mercury. He even discovered that salt water would fix the image to establish permanence. Daguerre announced and demonstrated his process openly for the French Academy of Science on that day of January 7th in 1839 and patented the tools one would need to create daguerreotypes of their own.


So, when Talbot in England, learned of Daguerre's announcement of invention in France, he tried to stake a claim in the invention of his own unique process. Talbot presented his methods before the Royal Society of England later in February of the same year. His announcement of these "photogenic drawings" was a break-through in recording and studying items via direct contact. [The photogenic drawing later evolved into the calotype or Talbotype.]

Daguerre on left, Talbot on right
Both men spent the rest of their lives devoted to developing these processes and coining new and useful ones. They are both widely considered founding fathers of the modern photographic process. From its origins, photography has been used as a method of useful and scientific recording of data, as well as its own art form.




* Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) and the Invention of Photography.”



- Kelly Latos

Friday, January 25, 2013

Don't Forget Photos of Your Own Loved Ones

A few years ago I experienced an epic hard drive failure. It was just before external hard drives held huge capacities and were easily connected. So, I sat there staring at a smoking drive while it whizzed and clicked, knowing nothing was backed up. The sticker shock of a full on recovery was quickly forgotten as soon as I had all my data back in my hands. It had taken about 8 months of regular payments for us to get it back, so as soon as I did, I immediately plugged it right into my CPU and listened to it come to life with a healthy “whir” that could only mean I’d soon be previewing gigabyte after gigabyte of my family photos.

I scanned through each folder: Lola’s birth, Mother's Day 2008, Zoe's fifth birthday. It was an amazing feeling, but the more folders I went through, the more I wondered where all my images were, until I realized the truth- all the normal, everyday images of my family life I had assumed were there, just didn't exist because they had never been taken.



When you're a photographer you're always working. You see the world in frames, and for me at least, that meant I started putting the camera down when I was with my family. It would only come out on those big occasions that marked time like a metronome. And as I sat in there weeding through a glow of images, all I wanted to see was something normal: Breakfast, a messy syrup-covered face, bath time on a Tuesday night, maybe even a tantrum.



It was this experience, along with a section in Jonathan Canlas' book Film is Not Dead, that helped me realize that I have a responsibility to myself and to my family, to capture them just like I would any client, if not more so. This means being intentional. It means budgeting time, and with your less-camera-friendly family members, it means being accommodating. It also means that your responsibility goes beyond the photo taking. If you are going to capture your family in the right way, then you need to be making prints and books. Digital files are not photos, they’re files. Make prints, send them to people, watch their faces light up when they look at a picture of their grandkids or themselves even. Making time for all of this is not easy, but it is worth it.



Here are a few things that I’ve learned along the way:

• Set a goal. I work better on time, so my current goal is once a season to let my daughters wear whatever they want and give them a personalized mini-session. My ultimate goal is to do this once a month.

• Forget the location. A session doesn't need to be hours long, and if you make it shorter, then you might have people wanting to get their picture taken more often. Some of my favorite portraits of my father were at a holiday party where I pulled him aside and shot a roll of him up against a blank interior wall.

• Educate your loved ones. We let our girls use all of our gear to take pictures of us. It gets them excited about photography, and shows them and the rest of our family that we're not afraid to get our pictures taken too.

• Hide the bad photos. I never delete bad images or destroy negatives, but I will hide most crooked smiles and double chins. No one is going to want to let you take their picture again if they hate the way they look in everyone of them.  Capturing real life is beautiful, even when its not flattering, but I wouldn’t push this point at the expense of a family member’s feeling.

For me, the process of capturing my family and cataloging life is always evolving, it has to be. My dedication level is not where I want it to be, but I can tell that with some small steps, I’m getting closer. I know in the years ahead I’ll thank myself when I can look back and see time stopped, if even for a little while.


Contributor Bio: Matthew Novak is a Photographer & Designer based just outside of Manhattan. He is half of the husband and wife photography team Tin Sparrow Studio and a freelance tablet designer at Bon Appétit. 

Website (personal and film work)http://mtthwnvk.com/ 


Matthew previously contributed to the KEH Blog with One Photographers Take on Running a Photo Business with Your Spouse. Be sure to check it out also!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

KEH's Most Wanted

Featured below are a selection of KEH Camera's "most wanted" bodies, lenses and accessories.  We are actively looking to purchase these items, so if you have them, we want to buy them!





The lens pictured is a 45-90 f4.5 Vario-Sonnar T*, but we are actively seeking all Contax 645 auto focus zoom & fixed focal length lenses.


The finder pictured is an MF-2 waist level finder, but we are actively seeking all Contax 645 auto focus finders.



In addition to the Fuji GA645I Pro 60 f4 camera pictured, we are also actively seeking several other Fuji medium format cameras.  Please see below for a complete list.


In addition to the Rolleiflex 2.8 GX camera pictured, we are also actively seeking several other Rollei cameras.  Please see below for a complete list.


In addition to the Widelux F8 camera, we are also actively seeking the Widelux F7 panoramic camera. 



In addition to the Yashica Mat 124, we are also actively seeking the Yashica Mat 124G camera.

As well as the photographic equipment featured above, we are also looking to purchase the following gear:

* 4x5 Wooden Field Cameras (Late Models)

* Fuji GA645S Pro 45 f4 Medium Format Fixed Lens Camera

Fuji GA645W or WI Pro 45 f4 Medium Format Fixed Lens Camera

Fuji GF670 80 f3.5 Medium Format Fixed Lens Camera

Fuji GL690 100 f3.5 Medium Format Fixed Lens Camera

Fuji GSW690III Pro 65 f5.6 Medium Format Fixed Lens Camera

Fuji GW680III 90 f3.5 Medium Format Fixed Lens Camera

* NPC 195 Rangefinder Camera

* Polaroid 180 Land Camera

* Polaroid 195 Land Camera

* Polaroid 600 SE Camera

* Rolleiflex 2.8 E3 TLR Manual Focus Fixed Lens Camera w/ Waist Level

* Rolleiflex 2.8 E2 TLR Manual Focus Fixed Lens Camera w/ Waist Level

* Rolleiflex 2.8 F TLR Manual Focus Fixed Lens Camera w/ Waist Level

* Rolleiflex 2.8 FX TLR Manual Focus Fixed Lens Camera w/ Waist Level

* Rolleiflex 3.5 F TLR Manual Focus Fixed Lens Camera w/ Waist Level

* Rolleiwide TLR Manual Focus Fixed Lens Camera w/ Waist Level

* Telerollei TLR Manual Focus Fixed Lens Camera w/ Waist Level

To sell any of the above featured items (or if you have other gear you'd like to sell), please call us at (770) 333-4220 or (800) 342-5534.  We are currently offering top market value for your clean, used gear.  As a bonus, if you send us your equipment, we'll pay for shipping!  Turnaround time is typically 24-48 hours once your equipment arrives in-house.  Once you approve our offer, we'll send you a check.  It's that easy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Using Colored Gels for Correction and Effect

Have you tried using colored gels on your external flash units before? There are two main reasons to use them- one is to color correct, the other is for effect. 

Left: A selection of gels. Right: A gel in use.

If you were shooting colored film, you might use a filter that goes onto your lens to correct the color balance depending on your lighting situation. When shooting digital, we use white balance settings. But when you get into mixed lighting situations, for example using a flash while shooting indoors under incandescent light, it gets a bit trickier to color balance the whole image correctly. Since you are then using two different types of light sources, which have two different color temperatures, you cannot use one white balance setting. By putting a color correcting gel on your flash in this situation, a gel that is similar in color temperature to the temperature of the area you are shooting in, then you will only have to white balance for one color temperature, instead of two. The correction gel colors are: blue for outdoor shade, green for fluorescent, and orange for incandescent lighting. So, if you're shooting under incandescent lights and need to use your flash as well, then you would add an orange gel to your flash (which would end up giving off a similar color of light as the incandescent lights), and color balance for incandescent light.

1: Shooting with no flash in incandescent light, auto white balance.
2: No flash, incandescent WB.
3: With a flash, auto WB.
4: With a flash and orange correcting gel, auto WB.
5: With a flash, orange correcting gel, incandescent WB.

In the example shots above (all SOOC), it shows us that if we're not using a flash in this setting then we loose a lot of detail on the deer. When we add the flash, you can see two very different light temperatures competing with one another. As we add a color correcting gel and change our settings, we get closer to a correctly white balanced image. Adding a gel might not be an immediate fix-all, but it will help in the process.

But flash gels can be used for much more than correction, they can also be used for a variety of lighting effects. An example of when you may want to use them, is if you were shooting a sci-fi scene and needed to create a colored spotlight for an extraterrestrial character.

Below are a few other ways that colored gels can be used for effect...

* To color the entire image (below: 1 light with a gel on it)


* To add multiple colors to an image, and/or change the background color (below: 2 lights used- both with different colored gels)


* To add a colored rim or back light (below: 2 lights used- one without a gel, one with)


* To create a colored shadow (below: 2 lights used- one without a gel, one with)


* To add a pop of color to a silhouette (below: 2 lights used- one without a gel, one with)


Gels come in many different colors, and you can buy them in ready to use sets or make your own. One of my personal favorite gel sets is the Rogue Universal Gels. You get 20 gels in a carrying wallet that has little dividers in it. The gels fit easily on your flash unit with a Gel-Band (many other sets you have to add Velcro to your flash unit and the gels).

There are endless ways to be creative using colored gels, but keep in mind that since you are adding something on top of your flash, often a much darker colored gel, that you will have some f-stop loss. The loss typically ranges anywhere from 1/2 to 3 1/2 f-stops of loss. Like most things, just take some time to practice and experiment, and have fun with it!



- JF, photos © BlondeShot Creative

Friday, January 18, 2013

Shooting Still Photos For The Movies

Today we’re welcoming back photographer Curtis Baker. He previously wrote an article for us about his experience photographing country music legend Dolly Parton. Today, he’s here to share about another part of his photography career; Shooting still photos for the movies as a “unit stills” or “on set” photographer.

Behind the scenes from Human Supply


About seven years ago is when I first fell in love with the TV/movie industry. I was asked to come help on a Georgia Lottery commercial in Atlanta doing “video assist”. That job is basically to record everything the film cameras see, to be able to provide instant playback of the recorded scene, and to also provide a live image for the director and other crew members to watch at the same time. It was a lot about gear and wires, and sitting at a computer the whole time. I did this for a few years and then during my first full-length movie “The Joneses” (2008) I met the Still Photographer on set and realized that I would rather be doing what he was doing- working with his own gear, taking pictures of the cast and crew during takes and behind the scenes. I wasn’t actually a photographer at the time, so I didn’t even realize what went into that job, it just seemed like something that I would enjoy. I think from that point on, I have had that small goal in my mind to one day be able to be good enough to be on set, shooting the pictures that we see in entertainment magazines and on movie posters.

Unit still from Human Supply
So, I’ve spent the past four years learning everything I possibly could about photography, and what it would take to be a good, well-rounded shooter so that I would be able to handle whatever the movie business threw my way. I started with shooting kids and dogs, and then went on to fashion, weddings, concerts, and just about any other area you can think of. I also shot some commercial work, which is where I learned a ton about lighting.  I wanted to (and still want to) absorb as much as I can about this business, technically, financially, and mentally.

Becoming a Unit Stills Photographer requires that you be a member of the Local 600 Camera Union (in many states), so I knew that would be a hurdle to jump once the time came. It is also a financial commitment to join, so I needed to make sure I really wanted to do this for a while. Along with being in the Union, there is specific camera gear that is needed, including gear to silence my noisy camera while shooting on set, back up cameras in case my main camera body stops working, a laptop for downloading images, and proper software. In a nutshell, this was a big commitment to make. I’ve wanted it long enough so I decided to just make it happen.

Behind the scenes on Human Supply

There are a few different jobs that an on-set photographer does. The main job would be “unit stills”, which are pictures taken during the actual filming of a scene. I sit next to, or as close as I can, to the movie camera and do my best to match the shooting angle and the lens focal length. I want to get a photograph of what the camera sees. Having an image from a stills camera is much easier and faster then trying to grab a still frame from the motion picture camera. That process is hard to do with digital, and much harder to do with a film movie camera. I can shoot a scene and once I get what I think is the best picture for that moment, I can get out of the way and take my pictures to the laptop to see what I have. Every job is a little different but that is basically what happens when taking unit stills.

Unit still from The Following
As for the gear I use on set, I use a Nikon D3S, which performs great at high ISO for darker movie scenes. Usually the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 are the best lenses for the job unless I know I’ll be safe with a prime lens. In which case, I’ll use a 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm. And most importantly, my AquaTech Sound Blimp. It's a large plastic and metal box lined with sound dampening foam that surrounds my Nikon. The sound blimp absorbs about 98% of the shutter clicking sounds from my camera, which allows me to shoot during takes without disrupting the actors or the sound person. This box, along with my camera and lens gets pretty heavy so in some situations I like to use a lightweight monopod to support the weight.


Behind the scenes of The Drop
Behind the scenes of The Drop
Another job is called “principal photography”. This can be any type of pictures used during the movie or it may be pictures in the background. For example, if the main actors were playing a married couple in the movie, we would want pictures of them together to have framed around their movie house. On one of my last jobs I had to spend the day taking photos of an actor to fill up a fake Facebook profile page. The pictures included grilling with friends, hiking, tossing a football, and a candid profile picture. I used my Nikon and my Fujifilm X100 and even some IPhone photos to keep the look amateur and not too professional.

One other common use for a photographer in the movie business is to do a “gallery shoot”. I bring all my studio gear onto set, which includes a white background, four large lights, and soft boxes. I set up a portable studio wherever there is space and a power outlet. I need to take a well-lit picture of the actors for the movie studio to have and use as they like, such as on the movie poster.

Having all these different tasks and knowing that everyday will be different is what draws me to this job. My personality can’t sit in the same place for very long and I enjoy being challenged creatively and technically. And being part of a movie crew is like being part of a close family, which makes going to work even more enjoyable. You form friendships that last a lifetime. And when a movie is complete and all the hard work has been done, it’s nice to know you had a hand in the overall project.

Behind the scenes of The Drop


Bio: When Curtis Baker is not on a movie set, he shoots commercial and portrait work, and spends a lot of time taking care of his daughter when she's not in school. "I always have a camera in my hand and my eyes are always looking for the next shot. I post a lot of daily stuff to Instagram, which is a great creativity tool and good for meeting other photographers. I enjoy teaching photography to whoever wants to learn from me. I don’t know everything, but I love sharing what I do know."

Instagram: curtyphotog


photos © Curtis Baker

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Photos of the Month

All images submitted to and chosen from the KEH Camera Flickr Group pool (join our group!). To view a photographers profile, click on the image to be directed to their Flickr page. 

Untitled
Untitled, by Ben Davis
Eiger - Mönch
Eiger- Monch, by Manfred Schroder
IMG_6030
Untitled, By RV Henretty-Jornales
Untitled
Untitled, by Rachel Carrier
Fahordók
Fahordok, by Istvan Pinter
out the window
Out the Window, by Jordan Parks
Absolve, 2012
Absolve, by Alexi Hobbs
Jackie
Jackie, by Paul McEvoy
Untitled
Untitled, by ygalyk
The Glow
The Glow, by Paul Vecsei
RIP
RIP, by Its Tom
Reading Time
Reading Time, by Heather Stockett

Monday, January 14, 2013

3 Day Free Shipping Event!

For a limited time, enjoy FREE shipping on used equipment purchases of $150.00 or more!


To qualify for free shipping, simply place an order of $150.00 or more of USED photo gear between Monday, January 14 and Wednesday, January 16 (promotion ends midnight Eastern time), and receive FREE shipping via FedEx Ground anywhere in the contiguous United States.

Shop now by visiting us on the web at www.keh.com, or by contacting our sales department.  Click HERE for hours & contact information.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Making a Monster Print

I recently had a tough challenge:  I needed to produce a panoramic image that was 7 meters wide by 2.5 meters tall.  In the American measurement system, the image would be 260 inches, or 21 feet and 8 inches long.  The height of the image would be 106 inches, or 8 feet and 10 inches tall.  I failed to make that goal with my initial attempt, which resulted in a 24x7 foot image.  However, I did produce an 11x5.5 foot image with 225 ppi (pixels per inch), and in the process learned a fair amount about producing large format prints, or monster prints.

I don’t know exactly what the lower limit of a large format, or monster print, would be.  I once produced a terrific 20x30 image from a 6 megapixel camera.  That would certainly be considered a monster print for that camera.

So let’s just say that anything over a 30x40 in size taken with a 12 megapixel sensor qualifies as a monster print.  That’s arbitrary, but you have to start somewhere.
The important things to remember is that you only have so many pixels, or film grains if you prefer, in your image file, and they must somehow be stretched to fill the monster space. One way to accomplish that is to produce a straightforward enlargement, in which the pixels get spaced further and further apart.  Imagine putting some stick-on stars on a balloon and blowing it up.  At it gets bigger, the stars get bigger, but so do the spaces between them.
 
As an extreme example, you can print a tail wrap for a jet aircraft at 25 ppi.  At a hundred yards or more in distance, no one will notice that the image is a little soft.  In fact, at that distance, it looks tack sharp.  Just for an example, an 8x10 at 300 ppi equals 120x96 at 25 ppi.

The pictures below won’t look right because of the limitations of the web.  However, you can see that the overall view at 300 ppi is sharper than the close-up view at 25 ppi. It wouldn’t be the case if the 25 ppi were 15 feet away!  You can test this by getting out of your chair and moving back a few feet.  Both images look very crisp at a bit over 7 feet.

Flowers at 300 ppi, by Eric Hatch

Flowers at 25 ppi, by Eric Hatch
Step one in making a monster print is figuring out how far away the image will be seen.  For magazines and most prints, 300 ppi is a good, tight resolution.  If you’re going to be looking at the image from one to three feet away, you definitely need a 300 ppi resolution or higher.  However, if you’re looking at the image from 20 feet away, 220 ppi is acceptable.  In some instances, even 180 ppi would be sufficient.

If you simply enlarge an image, treating all parts equally, the edges of the pixels themselves get fuzzy and the space between them gets larger. So, dealing with the distance between pixels is a major part of making monster prints. Almost all image handling programs have routines that allow the computer to generate new pixels that it thinks would look good between two current ones.  This is called “uprezzing” or “rezzing up” - increasing the effective resolution to fill in the vacant spaces between the stars.

Taking your best image and “rezzing” it up is another approach to producing monster prints.  If you start with a monster file, you can make a monster print. However, eventually this technique fails.  It fails because the more the computer has to guess and interpolate data to fill in the spaces, the fuzzier and less accurate the whole image becomes. 

Simple enlarging won’t yield monster prints at reasonably high resolution from normal file sizes.  Rezzing up reaches a limit, and may end up creating an undesirable image.  So what else can you do?

One thing you can do is take a number of overlapping shots, and stitch them together with appropriate software. Then, you can enlarge the result to the specified size.  In my opinion, stitching is the better way to go.

However, to get the best results you have to take some precautions.  First, though this is obvious, use a moderate telephoto lens to limit your field of view, thus increasing the number of exposures you can take.  I say moderate because you don’t want to induce distortion, especially where the edges will be stitched.  Also, any vibration or motion blur will be fatal to your image.  The more you magnify the image, the more any form of motion is exaggerated.   This is why super zooms are not recommended. I use a 100mm prime for this job.   A 60mm lens would work just as well.

Lens quality is another essential for making monster prints.  Any flaws or aberrations will be obvious at monster sizes where they might not even be noticeable on an 8x10 image. My advice is to use good glass.

Panoramic Image of Bridge, by Eric Hatch
As an example, the above image is what I started with.  It was originally a 24x7 inch panoramic imaged stitched from 6 shots.

Bridge Close Up, by Eric Hatch

At 160 inches wide and 225 ppi, here’s what an excerpt looks like at printing size.  Doesn’t look great, but if you back away from your computer about 5 or 6 feet it looks okay.

Here's a curve ball:  Photoshop and many other image manipulation programs have a 30,000 pixel size limit for JPEG images.  They just won't operate reliably past that size.  You'll need to work in Large Image Format or TIFF files to produce monster prints.  The downside is it will drain your computer power.

You can get around the size limit by enlarging your stitched image using something like Perfect Resize from OnOne software. In dealing with my tough challenge of producing a large panoramic image, I "cheated" the program by enlarging my image to the limit, then removing 1/2 of the resulting image and pasting it into a new blank image.  Next, I enlarged that image to the maximum.  I did the same with the other half, and then pasted both up-sized images into a new blank image. In this case it was sized to twice the limit.

The end result was a 4 gig file, so be prepared to kill some time while it's processing.  The process was complicated, but it worked.  However, even the best program run into problems at monstrous sizes.  You can't keep repeating the steps because the image gets too blurry.

With a Nikon D800 DSLR or a Mamiya Leaf medium format camera, you shouldn't encounter any problems because the native file sizes are so large.  I would shoot the image in 12 bit color, which saves you some file size, again at some cost in depth and beauty.

The D800 produces an image approximately 16x24 in size at 300ppi.  You'll need 12 images across and 8 down (allowing for overlap) to produce a 6x3 meter print without uprezzing.   Even at 300ppi, the final image will be sharp, sharp, sharp.  You can get by with proportionately fewer images if, as suggested above, you drop the ppi density to 225 or so.  Again, talk to your client and to their art production house as to how they want to use the final image.

The sample image below started life as four, 12 megapixel raw files.  They were stitched vertically to produce a 19x24 inch image.  This in turn was rezzed up in PerfectResize to yield a 50x75 inch picture.  This was well into monster print territory and nowhere near its limit.  This image isn’t perfect; there are a few soft focus areas, but overall it conveys the sense of vertical depth I was after.

Thunderbird Falls, by Eric Hatch
It’s mildly frustrating because there’s no way to display monster prints on an internet site!


Contributor Bio:
Eric K. Hatch focuses on travel and fine art photography, and is an expert in digital photo restoration. Panoramas are currently one of his favorite photographic forms. He has won numerous regional awards and a number of competitions. His work has appeared in several AAA magazines, Oxygen Magazine, Bicycling, Alaska Milepost (annual) and Wooden Boat, to name a few. He has served on the board of the Southwest Ohio Professional Photographers Association, an affiliate of the Professional Photographers of America.

Eric has also written over 70 articles, essays, speeches, features, and professional articles in the last 30 years. His work has won two national awards: a Gold Quill from the International Association of Business Communicators, and Communicator of the Year from the Aviation/Space Writers Association.

In his youth, Eric studied under Guido Organschi, and later under Skip Schiel. He is the author of Explorations in Photography, Adventures and Advice for Advanced Amateur Photographers, which was recently released.


Explorations in Photography is an entertaining and informative how-to for advanced amateur photographers. The book covers artistic issues, explains some fundamental technical issues, and provides many hints from buying equipment to editing your photos. It also covers taking people pictures outdoors, handling nasty lighting situations, and includes a bonus chapter discussing photo restoration. Find it on Amazon.

Websites:
General Portfolio: http://ekhphoto.smugmug.com
Blog: http://hatchphotoartistry.blogspot.com
Photo Restoration: http://www.hatchphotofix.com

* Readers can also get a fresh photo tip of the day several times a week at my website Explorations in Photography