Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

The Future of Found Photography

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

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I have a birthday and Christmas coming up so I have been saving my pennies to purchase a new camera. Believe it or not, I actually have my eye on a digital camera, not an antique. My old Nikon just doesn’t do the trick anymore. I have enough giant SLR’s in my collection so I want a small point-and-shoot that also has gives me plenty of manual control. I have narrowed it down to the new Canon Powershot G10 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. If you have a recommendation or preference between those two please add your thoughts in the comments.

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You may have noticed a slow down in the postings here over the last year or so. I have been putting the time that used to go into camera experiments into creating a book of my photography as well as an assortment of other projects. If I am lucky, the book will be available in January, but I can’t promise anything. The tentative name of it is going to be “Isolation and Repetition,” but that may change.

The other reason for this post is to announce a redesign of this site. I am in the beginning stages of rebuilding this site from the ground up. As a result, the site will probably go down for some time while I am working on it. In the meantime, keep track of me on Flickr or my personal blog. Watch for the new Found Photography along with the book launch early next year.

The World’s Largest Camera?

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I really enjoyed this YouTube clip showing a really large camera. He has it on a trailer that he can pull from location to location. Yes, I am already trying to figure out if I could build one myself. Enjoy…

Ashton Kutcher’s Nikon Commercials

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

I thought it might be fun to make a somewhat off-topic post that dives into advertising and pop culture. You probably have seen the Nikon commercials where girls steal Ashton’s camera and take flirtatious pictures with it:

Frankly, I find the commercials annoying, but does that mean it is a bad advertisement? Nikon needs to sell cameras and the money isn’t coming from geeks like me who take apart broken antique cameras in their spare time. The money comes with selling tons of cameras to the vast majority of people who aren’t particularly interested in photography as an art form. The truth is that cameras serve a different purpose in modern society than it does for people like me. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, it just isn’t me.

Today the camera is a status symbol. The camera is a fashion accessory. The camera is a social toy. To the average person it is just a way to document your life and have some fun. So perhaps the Nikon spots are brilliant. With a market flooded with affordable digital cameras what do you do to stand apart from the pack? More megapixels? New technology? People expect a camera to take good photos and have the latest features. To sell more product camera makers have to find another way to differentiate themselves.

Nikon’s answer is to sell a lifestyle. The Nikon commercial appeals to the average person not because it is pushing “speed and a Nikon lens,” but because it is selling a lifestyle. Girls like the idea of using a camera to flirt with that cute guy. Guys like the idea of taking advantage of clueless babes. And this all happens in the context of some kind of party that you wish you were invited to. Sex, status, and a party lifestlye. The formula works for beer and deoderant, why not cameras? I guess all that is left to do is smile and say cheese.

Here are some of the auctions on Ebay for Nikon cameras that you might be interested in:

Digital Photography Tip: Renaming Hundreds of Files

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

If you have a digital camera you most likely have a bunch of folders containing files with names like “DSC01442.JPG” or some similar naming structure. The ideal practice would be to rename each file with a descriptive title. If you took 300 photos on your vacation that can be a huge job. renaming the whole bunch would take forever so must of us just rename the folder and let the files keep the cryptic name. Luckly there are some utilities that allow you to rename large batches of files quickly.

The utility that I like is called “A Better Finder Rename.” It is available for both Mac and PCs and it lets you do complex renaming quickly and easily. The program costs $24.95 so I looked at some free alternatives but I couldn’t really find anything as good as A Better Finder Rename. Name Mangler (Mac only) is worth a look, but it is limited in what it can do. One extra feature that I couldn’t find anywhere else was its ability to rename files with names from a separate list. I have needed that ability once or twice and it is really handy. Check out their website to learn more about it.

There is one other situations that I use “A Better Finder Rename” that is worth mentioning. With my timelapse photography setup I endup with thousands of images. It is nice to be able to change the names of a large batch of jpgs with a few clicks.

I know I am not the only person looking for ways to rename large batches of photos, so if you have a solution that works for you, please share it in the comments.

How A Lens Is Made

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Here is an interesting YouTube clip showing how a camera lens is made.


(via kottke)

Updated Design

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

This is just a quick post to ask you to check out the Found Photography homepage and see if you like my updated design. I added a little bit of animation and added links to some of my photo collections. If you have a photo blog and are curious about what is happening behind the scenes you should take a look at Slimbox. It is an Ajax slideshow/gallery that uses mootools. It took some work to get it to work with my Movable Type backend but I think the results were worth the effort.

The First Photo I Was Really Proud Of

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Clowns_c.jpg The photo on the right is one of maybe three photos that I am really proud of (click for a larger image). Part of it is that I think it is just a great moment, but I think it is probably because I am so emotionally connected to it. It was taken during a parade in Grand Island, on a wonderful autumn weekend spent visiting friends and family. It was one of the first rolls of film shot for my college photography class. I was nearly bursting with excitement for that class and couldn’t wait to take pictures with my new Pentax ZX5n. I remember breaking away from my friends and walking down the street looking for something to take a photo of. Then all of a sudden this moment happened in front of me. It was surreal. I remember being literally scared as I took the photo. This was it! I only took one shot but I knew it was a good one. I think I was shaking as I walked away from that scene. I have never had that feeling since.

Since I snapped the picture almost ten years ago I have probably spent more time working with this image than any other image in my collection but I have never had it framed. I just couldn’t get it exactly right. At school I remember spending many frustrating hours in the darkroom working on enlargements. I nearly went broke dodging and burning and cropping and enlarging before I finally had a print that was acceptable. Years later, before I had access to a good film scanner I scanned the prints and began Photoshopping. Looking back at those files it is embarrassing to see how heavy-handed I was.

So this weekend I went back to this image to see if I can “remaster” it. I decided to ditch my earlier digital scans taken from prints and rescan the original negative. I dug the negative out and was relieved that it was still in good shape. I got a good scan and brought it into Photoshop. I have struggled with cropping the image before and decided not to crop it this time. I tried to be very subtle in my dodging and burning. In the past I tried to push the contrast so that every detail was as defined as possible. This time I held back and left things alone so that it would look more natural. Interestingly, this “final” print probably took less time than any of my earlier attempts because I didn’t try to make it something that it wasn’t. It feels good to finally be satisfied with the print and be able to let it live in my archive instead of my to-do list.

B-Sides: The Best of the Worst

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

CarTree_c.jpgI don’t want to let the cat out of the bag completely, but I am working on a photography book. That means going through hundreds of my photos and preparing them for print. Often I am lazy in cleaning up my scans since screen resolution is more forgiving (and cheaper!) than a print. As a result of digging through my archives I am getting to see a bunch of photos that I didn’t think were good enough for posting the first time around. Most of the time I was right, but some of these rejects aren’t half bad. Look for me to get into a regular routine of posting these “b-side” photos on my home page and stay tuned for more info about my book.

My First Pinhole Photo

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

First_Pinhole_Fire_Hydrant.jpgI still remember the assignment in my high school photography class. It seemed magical. You could make a camera out of a coffee can? It sounded like a Macgyver invention and I think that was probably the moment I was hooked on photography.

We loaded our cameras with photo paper negatives in the darkroom and headed outside. I pointed my coffee can at a fire hydrant, uncovered the pinhole and waited 45 seconds on that frigid day. Back in the darkroom we unloaded our cameras and developed the photo paper. It worked!

Now it is over ten years later and I have to work harder to get that magical feeling from photography. It is easy to take for granted how amazing picture taking really is. Technology has convinced us that anyone can take a picture if they have the right machine. All you have to do is point your phone and push a button. I think many people feel really dissappointed when they spend so much money on a camera only to find that their photos don’t improve. The flood of photos fills the internet and our memory cards but great photos are hard to find. If you are looking to find the wonder we felt as children when we got our first roll of film developed maybe all you really need is a coffee can and a pinhole.

If you are interested in pinhole photography, Ebay might be a good place to find a starter pinhole camera. Here are the pinhole camera auctions going on right now:

Ansel Adams Exhibit Review

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

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I saw an exhibit of Ansel Adams’ work in Elkhart, Indiana the other day. I had only seen a few actual prints in person, so it was a great chance to see three portfolios of his work in one place. One of the things that stands out about the show was how small the prints were. The majority of them were in the 8×10 range. I am not saying I was disappointed, I was just surprised. When you think of Ansel Adams you think larger than life.

Not surprisingly, the prints were stunning. They had a video playing and it was interesting to hear some commentary while I browsed the gallery. Those videos at museums border on humorous because their tone is gushing praise – as if the artist had transcended mortal photography to become a god. When you filter out the hero worship you realize that Ansel was just a guy that loved to hike and understood photography so deeply that he could capture the stunning beauty of nature – from the monumental scenery to the miniature moments. He was also a musician and a commercial artist. Fame didn’t come until he was retirement age and he worked extremely hard before his camera started generating big money.

Against the orders of the gallery attendant I did take a few pictures while I was enjoying the show. I set my Lego pinhole camera here and there and took some long exposures of myself looking at the prints. The act of documenting myself looking at Ansels’ photography forced me to think about the differences between myself and Adams. Ansel Adams is a master of detail and using the full gray tonal spectrum. I push for high contrast and simplifying the picture by dumping detail – things that my pinhole cameras are made for. Ansel travels to the ends of the world to find beauty that few people will ever experience. I sort through the garbage of everyday life looking at things people have seen a thousand times hoping to find something new. (That’s why I chose the name Found Photographer.)

The name “Ansel Adams” gets thrown around quite a bit by photographers and non-photographers, and I doubt that many of us have really seen and studied his work. If you have never seen an exhibit of Ansel Adam’s work I encourage you to seed it out and learn more about this amazing man.

Here are some of the auctions on Ebay for Ansel Adams items that you might be interested in: