Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Month: May, 2015

Seven Steps to Self Editing Your Work

Looking up to Montmarte, Paris. Canon Power Shot A70

Looking up to Montmarte, Paris. Canon Power Shot A70

The most difficult aspect of Photography to master is Picture Image Editing. You can learn to shoot better, to expose properly, to capture composition, achieve perfect timing, master the light, focus on details and blur what you don’t want. You will have to ensure you are in the right place at the golden hour, always coaxing gesture from subjects and understanding the camera you hold in your hands, these are all hallmarks of a great photographer. You can learn these things by shooting a whole lot, or you can fast track an be taught in schools and workshops. However there is one skill that can’t be taught, its importance is paramount, yet is seldom discussed in the arsenal of photographic skills, that of picture editing.

Paris in April. Canon Power Shot A70

Paris in April. Canon Power Shot A70

I’m not referring to post editing, as in using Light Room, DxO, or even Photoshop to crop and adjust, I’m suggesting editing in the sense of “I have these 748 pictures and which ones are the best”? Self-editing is very difficult, I see poor editing while reviewing photographers work frequently and especially among the new photographers. When you have to choose 3 images from your archive, it’s an art all itself to make the right picks.

Notre Dame. This was shot with the Canon Power Shot A70 and heavily worked in photoshop to correct perspective and monochrome convert.

Notre Dame. This was shot with the Canon Power Shot A70 and heavily worked in photoshop to correct perspective and monochrome convert.

The following seven elements are what I have learned to use over the years. They have served me well and this post is populated with images I found in my archive, never before published pulled up just for use here. Some go back 12 years.

One: Take a page from Ansel Adams and pre-visualize the best shot that can be made from the scene before you. Ansel worked with large format cameras and they force you to get it right with an economy of shutter snaps. Contemplate the image in front of you and take time realizing the elements that will make a solid photograph. Resist a haphazard approach like overshooting in the hopes that one image will have a correct horizon and cloud will be in the just the right place. All this creates is a clutter of files and essentially- a bigger haystack to find the best shot.

Two: Archive or develop as soon as possible. Get the images off the card or the film processed before image anarchy occurs. Cluttered memory cards, unprocessed rolls of film in drawers, make bad for editing.

Three: Soak up a good look at what you have shot. This can start a healthy review of work via the playback button the camera. Don’t be afraid to pixel peep (zooming into the image) to check for proper focus. You have a succession of very similar shots, and one or two missed the mark for focus, but the other shots are tack sharp, feel free to delete the softies right out of the camera. I have found that I can edit very well right off the camera in most circumstances. I like to use a Hoodman Hood Loupe if I decide to pack it, it’s fairly cumbersome but it’s great at isolating your point of view when using the camera LCD.

Four: However you archive, be it Adobe Lightroom or manually like me, do it the same way, set up a consistent file structure and keep two hard drives or a raid as a back up. Name the shoot, and I also will date it too. Once the images are off the card, or processed and scanned, run through them again. Pick out a few favorites. Open them up and do a little post editing.

Five: Show them off and get some opinions. Throw them up on Face Book, tweet ‘em, Instagram them (even though I hate Instagram). My rule when I put up a shot on my Facebook if it gets over 100 likes then I know I nailed it.

Six: Move on. Forget about them. Work on your next shot. When you are ready to do something with them, and need them, make sure you have them properly cataloged on your drives so they are easy to locate for when you need them.

Seven: Dive back in fresh and do what really is your third edit. Based on your internal instinct and some reactions from your network look at your edit again, and also, the un-edited archive. You might very well have missed something. Become friends with this edit, improve on them with post processing. If you need to narrow them down further, set them up in folder for your screen saver and then your monitors become a “familiarization device” to better understand which are the strongest images. I learned this trick from Jock Sturges.

Union Square Pogo dance action. I recall shooting this, then dumping into a folder and forgetting about it. When I found it again I was thrilled to post edit and have a solid NYC street shot. A gem, hidden in a seldom used hardrive.

Union Square Pogo dance action. I recall shooting this, then dumping into a folder and forgetting about it. When I found it again I was thrilled to post edit and have a solid NYC street shot. A gem, hidden in a seldom used hardrive.

In summary, don’t shoot so much, go for quality not quantity and ask your network what they think of the images, then sit on them for awhile and keep shooting, return to them and look at your edit and the un-edited again. My last tip is that frequently, a crop is in order. Many a good image can be overlooked but stands out with a good crop. They say it’s all in the eyes.

I honestly don't know who's eye this is. I found a folder nested deeply among other folders with about 10 different eyes. I barely recall shooting this.

I honestly don’t know who’s eye this is. I found a folder nested deeply among other folders with about 10 different eyes. I barely recall shooting this.

~David

Advertisements

Death Becomes Her – A Paradox Portrait Shot with an 8×10 Camera

Portrait of Paradox, from 10 Hours Walking as a Goth in NYC viral video.

Portrait of Paradox, from 10 Hours Walking as a Goth in NYC viral video.

I have one fear, and that is to shoot my beloved portraits with an 8×10 camera. I fear being able to focus, I fear not be able to see as I do with a reflex view, I fear the time it takes to focus, pull the dark cloth, load the film, pull the dark slide, and finally make the exposure. What if the model moves in that time and the focus is so shallow that I miss the mark?

“First world 8×10 Film Shooter’s problems”

So I played it safe and stuck to landscapes. But when I set up my 10 Hours Walking as a Goth photoshoot I decided to face my fears and start the video shoot with a still shot. Camera of choice being a 8×10 Deardorff loaded with Ilford FP4. We started the shoot late, and the sun was setting early in mid November. I pushed the FP4 to 400 iso (two stops from its native 125) and opened up the Kodak Commercial 14 inch f6.8 all the way. Using a Pentax Digi Spot I arrived at 100th of a second wide open. My assistant held a 32″ Silver Reflector to try to direct the anemic light while giving a little fill to Paradox’s magnetic eyes.  I miss-placed the heavy duty cable release that is needed for that behemoth of a lens and had to hand trip the shutter. This photoshoot had all the hallmarks of a crappy outcome.

Detail of eyes. Yes, those are special double contacts.

Detail of eyes. Yes, those are special double contacts.

But an amazing thing happened, out of the two plates I made, one worked. I’d say I nailed the focus by a tight margin, but what really got me was the amazing bokeh. That huge herkin’ Kodak 14 inch lens wide open is smoother than a newborn babies but!

I scanned the Ilford FP4 negs on a Epson 3600 perfection using Silverfast AI software. Then using PS I retouched the image and applied Nik Silver EFX to fine tune the black and white. The detail when working with such a large negative is positively sick and allows for extreme cropping with little to no loss.

Detail of 10% of the 8x10 negative.

Detail of 10% of the 8×10 negative.

 

If you like Paradox, then check out the short viral video I produce with her shot in November of 2014.

I’m hooked on 8×10 Portraits and shall be shooting and posting more soon.

~David

%d bloggers like this: