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Member Since 15 Sep 2007
Offline Last Active Dec 03 2007 03:53 PM

Topics I've Started

Darkroom Techniques

30 September 2007 - 09:57 AM

So who here still uses the darkroom?

I graduated from college so I don't have access to it as frequently as I want to.

I do remember achieving Solarization, after spending 15 hours trying to figure out how to do it. I would just get gray prints, but now I know!!!

Anyone still does techniques in the darkroom? Sepia toning? Cyanotype printing? Anyone?

Advice For Beginners

15 September 2007 - 09:08 PM

Hey everyone.

I finally joined this forum after running into it over a dozen times when Googling answers about photography.

This is my first topic, and I hope it turns out to be beneficial for everyone.

Please bear in mind this is just my OPINION.

With the advent of digital photography, anyone can pick up a camera and start taking pictures and call them self a photographer.

My only fear is that this gives birth to an entire generation of paparazzi who serve nothing but to black list photographers and journalists alike.

The biggest debate I find is the classic film vs. digital debate.

My answer to this is simple. For business: digital. For pleasure: film.

A lot wince at the thought of digital since it brings in expenses that can be done without. Owning a darkroom is a huge investment, especially if you want to create your own prints.

That being said, I find myself developing my film, but scanning in the negatives I want to share with others publicly, i.e. portfolio/website/MSN/whatever, and using an enlarger for prints I want to use for decoration or to give to others.

Recently in the college I graduated from, they started using digital cameras for second year students in design school. The course is a photography basics course, where students learn, well, photography basics.

This came as a shock as well as a disappointment to me, since when I took the said course, it was entirely film-based.

This made me start thinking, if I was an instructor, what would I do?

Let's face it, people are moving to the digital more, just like the move from film plates to 35mm. So how do you incorporate the same learning curve that is gained from using film and trial-and-error into digital?

Here are my thoughts:

1. Buy a digital camera. It is not wrong, since it is just a tool.

2. Buy a MANUAL lens. My manual lens I am referring to lenses that are not made for digital bodies (i.e. those that are sold of purely mechanical cameras. A mechanical camera is a camera that does not use any electronics for operation. These include cameras that only use an electronic light metre. An example would be the Yashica FX-3, Canon AE1, or Nikon FM2.)

The reason for this, is that when mounted on a digital body, the camera light metre no longer works, and this helps the student learn how to expose without depending on a light metre. I find this to be a very useful skill, and I wish I picked it up when I started. Four years and I'm still learning how to use it. This skill also helps reduce the dependability on the camera itself.

3. Buy a small memory card,such as a 256 MB one, and shoot in RAW format.

This does two things:

a. it limits the number of shots you have since you have a small memory card.
b. it helps improve your post-processing skills, since in RAW format the pictures have a very dynamic range of "edits" that can be done.

Just like film, a small memory card forces you to choose what shots to take. I find it a better statistic if I get 10 shots out of a 1000, that 20 out of a thousand.

4. Learn technicalities and works of your camera.

I cannot stress how important this is. A lot of pro photographers would disagree, and I know that my photography instructor would probably skewer me if he read this, but I find it a very useful skill to use.

However, there is a limit to the technicalities that I am referring to, and you need to adapt those technicalities to a useful outcome.

An example is learning about the sunny f/16 rule. While its not written in stone and is completely accurate, it is still useful. Using that as a starting stone and then working out the differences using the reciprocity rules of f/ stops and shutter speeds to correctly guess the exposures outdoors. Once nailed, this skill can be used to full effect indoors.

Here is a quick guide to the sunny f/16 rule.


Work out the rest of these technicalities into your work. Eventually they will become second nature, and you won't even realize you are using them.

5. Start out by shooting outdoors.

Shooting outdoors is a great starting point, since the sun is available most of the time (unless you live on the poles or in a country that has really short days in winter), and it shines on a wide range of subjects. You can shoot people, plants, buildings, construction yards, ANYTHING outdoors in broad day light.

Remember to ask permission if something is prohibited or if you think people might not enjoy their picture is being taken. No good getting sued over something that is supposed to teach you how to shoot.

6. Always ask for feedback.

Ask whoever you can. Be it your friend who doesn't even know what SLR stands for, or the New York Times photo editor. Everyone has a different opinion, and sometimes the opinion of an outsider can have more benefits than the opinion of an "expert".

7. Look at photos.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS look at photographs.

A piece of advice that I was given from the New York Times (no they're not paying me to advertise for them) Baghdad bureau was to always look at photographs. Always ask yourself what it is that makes the photograph work. Is it the compression of a telephoto? Or the expanses of landscape of a wide-angle? Try to replicate some of the works you see. This will get you comfortable with your own equipment, and you will be more effective in your use

8. Have fun!

Always have fun! The more fun you have, the more you will learn!

Please feel free to ask me anything that needs clarification.

Hope this is hopeful.

Anyone care to add anymore advice?