Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Back to Basics

I hate to admit it but I like so many people got caught up in the (new fad) of digital photography. don't get me wrong I think its great, problem is it can shut down your creative process if you let it. what does this mean>
With even the high quality digital cameras there is very little thinking involved, we get all caught up in the pixel process and we for get to advance our skill as creators. Its easy to simply point and shoot - seems that quantity prevails and quality is a hit and miss reality.
I remember long the thrill of creating a picture that "worked", I had a pretty good idea of why it worked when I made it. I was concerned with such things as shutter speed, depth of field and of course composition. I don't have the same thrill, not because I've lost the passion but I think because I've gotten into the point and shoot mentality.
The Solution
I've gone back to the basics, I've acquired enough skill over the years (wisdom too I believe) to create wonderful images if only I slow down and take the time to think about each exposure (don't hear that very often any more).
I've always considered the Hasselblad 500CM, an amazing camera with superior quality elements. I believe if you can't make a good picture with a Hasselblad - its you; not the camera!
So my journey continues, over the past few months I've been busy hunting down all I feel I need as far as equipment goes to create the images I know I'm capable of. I've looked at images I've made with a Hasselblad decades ago and although Nikon digital is a fine camera with great optics, I feel it just can't compete with the Zeiss optics.
The Film
An apparent sign of the times - I went into a Wolf camera yesterday to check out their supply of 120 medium format film, I didn't think they would have a large selection but I figured it would be more convenient than ordering online. The guy looked at me like I was from another planet - he had no idea what medium format film was, I would have expected this response form the photo department at Walmart but not from a large photo retailer like Wolf Camera. I guess its back to online!
Anyway as I immerse myself back into this medium I have decided to go right back to the beginning with the best film I've had the pleasure to use. TMAX 100, This film provides super fine grain and wonderful shades of gray from deep black to bright white and the larger size 6cm X 6cm is very exciting.
Mixing The Old And New
I'm not a fan of the dark room nor do I enjoy the smell of chemicals, but yet I want to be involved in the final process of image manipulation - the solution; I've found a lab that will process the negatives and scan them to disc. I don't know what to expect as far a quality goes but I'm confident that aspect of technology will serve me well. I'll be able to manipulate the scanned image and when I'm satisfied upload it to the lab for printing. I'm curious to see how it all works out. I'll post the new images on my website .

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Buy it on Ebay!

Camera equipment is expensive - some of it is very expensive! I've been an Ebay shopper for a few years now. I've come to understand a few things that I'd like to share with you. This information is from my experience only and should not be taken as gospel.

Key points regarding the purchase of equipment used in photography to include the likes of scanners, cameras, tripods ect.

1. Generally those that have had and used high end equipment will have maintained and taken good care of it. I believe this to be true in that camera equipment is a tool for photographers although they endure some abuse they must be cared for. They are delicate pieces of equipment, manufactures understand that that their pro "tools" will be abused somewhat and I believe they work to provide quality products for that market.

2. Camera equipment is changing rapidly. There will always be those that have more money than brains - those are the folks that feel they need to have the latest and the greatest. This form of snobbery will work in your favor. Let then absorb the loss on buying new equipment. many times they will liquidate the "old stuff" and roll that cash into the new. Problem for them is they may lose up to half the cost they paid in the first place. In other words you may get a $2000.00 Nikon for $800.00. How cool is that!

3. Know the value! Don't get all caught u[p in the bidding process. Watch what other pieces of identical equipment has sold for. now you have an idea of a fair price for what your after. Decide to pay only so much and DON'T waver from that, if your patient there is a good chance you'll get what you want at your price (be realistic).

4. Study the sellers rating! If this person has sold other items their customers will rate the experience. Take the time to check that rating. What do others say about this person, are they slow to ship, are they honest in their description of the item. You can make an informed decision by reading the comments of others. Remember a bad rating can be the death of an Ebay seller, they must satisfy their customers or they are gone - its that simple!

5. Ask questions. If you are concerned about an aspect of the item you can ask the seller questions, they'll respond hoping to make a sale, you take it from there!

6. Buy insurance! I'm thoroughly disgusted with UPS, seems everything I receive shipped using their service is either lost or damaged in some way. I avoid them like the plague! My first choice is DHL then Fed-Ex then the Priority Post with the Postal service. Insurance will cost you a few bucks but its worth it! Also make sure your package can be tracked, its nice to know when you can expect delivery!

7. Watch shipping charges! Some sellers will offer a great deal then hit you with ridicules shipping charges, again look to see what others a re charging to ship comparable pieces. remember not all equipment purchased is thousand dollar cameras. You may need a flash drive or a specific filter or memory card. Heck you can even buy lots of fresh slide film for your old SLR.

8. Read between the lines. What does this mean?? Well, look at the add and try to form an opinion about the piece being offered. Let me explain a situation I experienced.
I was looking for a Manfrotto 3001 tripod. Retail for a new one with a head was about $147.00. I decided to pay no more than than $80.00 for one that I would need to decide was in excellent condition. I had bid unsuccessfully on probably 6 or 7 until I found on that was listed that caught my eye. Here's why. The listing included the original bow (who keeps the box)? The pictures of the item were poor but the listing said it was in good condition. there was little action on the bidding so I jumped in at $55.00. I ended up winning to bid, I suspect because others couldn't see the item very well due to the picture (there was only one).
The item I received in timely fashion and in good condition (USPS - insured). It is like new! I was ecstatic. I had taken the time to make an informed decision and it paid off!

I hope this information helps, if you have more questions let me know I do my best to answer them.