Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fighting the Urge

I'm beginning to find myself fighting the urge to give irreverent titles to my blog and in describing winter this year! I think I have a grasp on how our recent ancestors felt when they first moved to the plains and the prairie. The hardships were not scarce. Either their crops disappeared under dark clouds of locusts, homes swept away by prairie fires or they froze or were driven mad in the never ending blizzards of winter!

Ha! Well, I don't have that much to gripe about I guess...after all we've got no place to be...let the winds whip through for days on end and bury our hard work in new snow each day - so what! Auuuuugggghhhhh!

Sorry, think that's out of my system now for the short term any way. :)

Tomorrow morning we get to test the snow blower repair made on Friday...wish us luck. But as I said, we're not going anywhere any how!

We are going to the Winter Thaw Nature Photography Workshop next Saturday though! Maybe that's what we all need - a reason to get out and enjoy ourselves?!

The workshop will be held at the Emmetsburg Iowa Lakes Community College campus on Saturday, February 20th. There will be a $20 registration fee to cover presenter expenses and lunch. Registration is required so plans can be made for food and materials.

To register or ask questions about the workshop contact the Iowa Lakes RC&D office at 712-262-2083.

My part in the workshop will be to emphasize the beginning aspects, equipment and field techniques. Photographing the Landscape, as well as Flora and Fauna. I also want to stress a part of digital photography that I am not seeing enough of these days - craftsmanship in the digital darkroom. There won't be enough time at the workshop to get deeply into this subject, but it is one I want to raise an awareness of.

I taught the darkroom for many years at the community college level, I worked in commercial darkrooms as far back as the early 1970's. Professional Photographers paid me to use my expertise in printing from their film, or entrusted their film to me for processing and printing. They needed me to help them keep bread on their tables and I took a tremendous amount of satisfaction from it.

Darkroom work - film processing and printing, is nearly a lost craft now, in oh such a short time since it was practiced on a daily basis in the industry and fine arts. I went to an exhibition a while back, an exhibit of Black and White photography. The scope of the work was amazing, even enviable - but the print quality was sorrowfully absent. It was as if Weston, Adams, Tice or Caponigro had never lived! WHAT A SHAME!

I do see this in digital darkroom work too, especially in Black and White work. Why do people throw a file into the digital soup and accept what the automated process gives them? If only people would reach back and study the masters - those that did it by hand, the hard way - the studied way. B&W isn't cool because it's "retro". It's only amazing when it's carried through as a fine craft.

I do strongly believe that most people do not realize this because they have never been exposed to the master photographers and print makers like Ansel Adams or George Tice and others. They don't have a base of comparison or experience.

OK, I'm getting cranked up again, must be the weather.

Anyway, I'm throwing the following illustration in for the workshop next week just to give people something to "chew" on for a bit. This relates to the digital darkroom.

Just as in traditional darkroom manipulation, digital darkroom programs can craft a fine image from a file that would not have been possible without processing in an appropriate
software or manner.

The following images illustrate an example of photo manipulation in the digital darkroom - illustrates how an image file looked prior to, and after processing in a photo software program. You see the true possibilities that rested in that file, the image that I saw when I took the photograph. It was a crappy day, snowing and windy. The subject matter (Bison) was poorly lit and could not be repositioned for the shot...the fence was there and there to stay...moving back or forward would not help and shooting through the wire was out because the subject was right next to it. The finished (processed) example also goes a step further to illustrate what you can do with image information that is obstructing or spoiling the experience of the image that you were wanting to create.

Original file from the camera

File after processing to bring out original intent and detail

Come on over to the workshop if you're able, stop and say "Hi"!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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