Wet plate photography

Just caught this short video on a wet plate collodion. Some of my photo buds want to head out and take a workshop in the process. Looks super fun. Sally Mann learned from Scully & Osterman. Another option is John Coffer. Both have workshops. Though, they fill up super fast. Got to wait until 2012 for new openings. But I’m definitely going to do one some day.

Amelie and Alchemy from Konstantin Brazhnik on Vimeo.


Wuz up

So, what’s up with me? I basically haven’t been blogging for the past year. The major thing that changed for me was photography. That’s where all my free time goes these days. I started taking black and white photography classes at the Photographic Center Northwest in Fall of 2008. Why then haven’t I been posting photos left and right online? Well, I’m taking film based classes. Yup, old school. It’s been great. Since I work behind a computer all day, plugging a camera into a computer to engage in my hobby became a burden. Working analog has been liberating. For example, I dodge and burn with my hands versus virtual tools in Photoshop. I’ll loop back to digital at some point. But I’m enjoying the old school world too much to care about digital at the moment. It’s also fun doing something that pretty much no one else is doing. I get stopped in the street by people who want to talk about my Leica. Reminds me of the old days as a Mac user. Not unique to be a Mac or iPhone user anymore. I’ll get around scanning some photos at some point. Stay tuned.

Ken Burns on still photos

Got this via Presentation Zen, Ken Burns talks about the power of still photographs. He also tells of his meeting with Steve Jobs where they discuss the using of his name for the Ken Burns Effect. Fun excerpt.

Going old school

I’ve be troubled lately around my photography. Frustrated really. Since I’ve moved over to digital, I’ve felt little creative energy to shoot outside of action photography, where digital really shines. All the auto settings and ISO flexibility offer few constraints. I find I just point and shoot with little to no thought involved. And I take too many photos that have to be culled through. Boring.

I caught this blurb on the Aperture blog recently:

I still love the instant gratification a digital camera gives me, but the images for some reason are just not that interesting to me at the moment. …So one night, I woke up and had the thought, “why don’t I just shoot some film and have some fun?” This was of course immediately followed by the thought, “How the hell would I do that?” …So, I sat there and wondered about it for a while. What camera would I use? What type of film? Do they even make the film I used to use anymore?

I can totally relate. After my photo workshop last year where we were shooting 4 x 5 negatives, my interest in film was rekindled. But having never shot medium/large format before, I was at a loss as to where to start. So, I sat on my butt. Recently, several friends have been fueling my inspiration to getting back out there and shooting film. I just dusted off the old 35mm Nikon. The view finder is glorious (bright and large) compared to my digital. I also ordered a cheap 50mm prime and will start shooting some black & white.

I’ve also started exploring range finder cameras like the Leica M series. Not only are they beutiful from an industrial design perspective, they’re simple as hell from a UI perspective. Tried as I might, I couldn’t find a digital camera as beautifully designed and simple as a Leica (aside from a Leica M8 which still needs some improving). Why is that? Do photographers really need the hundreds of features in a typical digital SLR? Interacting with all those menus drives me crazy. In any event, I’ve never shot with range finders and I’d like to start. So, I might see about picking up some sort of 35mm range finder at some point.

Then there’s medium format which I’ve never shot. A friend is going to introduce me to some of the Mamiya cameras. I’d like to experiment with them a bit. Finally, in the fall I’m going to start taking some classes at Photographic Center Northwest. Todd said it’s the best way to get out there shooting regularly. Anyone care to join me for Black & White 1?

The Big Picture

I’ve been an Alan Taylor fan as far back when I met him back at Amazon. He was one of the great web developers we had on the staff. About a month ago he launched The Big Picture, a photo blog covering various news events visually with photos versus news articles. It’s a great site.

Alan was just interviewed on Waxy.org. If you’re interested in learning more about his photo project, it’s an interesting read. A few excerpts:

The blog really launched on June 1st (I had a few earlier posts, but hadn’t opened it up yet). In its first 20 days of existence, it’s almost reached 1.5 million pageviews and over 1,500 comments for just 20 entries. It’s also brought out a lot of emotion — commenters can really go crazy on some of these entries. It adds to the mix, that’s for sure.

… I had a lot of friends who looked at me like i was crazy when I joined the Boston Globe a few years ago. But it’s precisely this sort of opportunity I was hoping for. The access to great storytelling resources, a great platform, and the ability to contribute to that, albeit in a more technical role.

Another Canon vs. Nikon review

I keep track of camera comparisons via Ken Rockwell. Though, he’s a “Nikon guy” so his Canon versus Nikon comparisons are naturally biased towards Nikon. Duncan Davidson pointed to a Canon guy’s review of the new Nikon D3 and D300. The most interesting quote…

A friend once said to me that Canons are the best cameras available designed by engineers, and that Nikons are the best cameras one can buy designed by photographers. There may well be some truth to this aphorism.

Lot’s more interesting points. Especially liked his comments on sensor size versus noise. A great article if you’re looking for detailed comparison between the two systems.

The assassination

Photos with narration via the NYT on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Strong images, sad tale.