Over on Printerville, I posted an item about Epson’s new cartridge-free ‘supertank’ photo printers, the EcoTank Photo ET-8500 and ET-8550. Although they use six-color, dye-based inks — which some folks will dismiss — I still think they’re an important entry into the printer market, especially with regard to keeping the cost of printing affordable. The post can be read here.
Links to interesting things going on in the world of digital photography.
Items of photographic interest, January 2020 newsletter
Our January 2020 CDP newsletter, “Items of photographic interest” was sent via email this week to subscribers, and it is also now available as a free downloadable PDF.
Magnum/Aperture Square Print sale
This year’s Magnum Photos and Aperture Square Print Sale, entitled Hidden, is underway right now. For $100, you can get a 6×6-inch museum-quality print from one of 120 modern and contemporary photographers, including Elliott Erwitt, Elinor Carucci, Joel Meyerowitz, Todd Hido and many more. Most of the photos offered are signed by the photographer; others—from folks like Eve Arnold, Robert Capa and Mary Ellen Mark—are authorized by the photographers’ estate, and are stamped as such.
The Autumn 2019 Magnum Square Print Sale in Partnership with Aperture brings together a selection of over 120 images by international photographic artists, exploring the idea of what the photographer sees that is otherwise hidden.
This yearly event is always a fun one, and it’s a great way to get a high-quality print from well-known photographers for a reasonable amount of money. Even if you don’t buy a print, it’s worth looking through the website; you might find a new photographer whose work inspires you.
The sale ends Friday, November 1, at midnight EST.
Do You Really Need New Gear?
If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know that we stay away from the rough-and-tumble world of “Which camera should I buy?” While we’re happy to talk about the plusses and minuses of specific cameras with people, it’s not our focus on the website. We strongly believe that it’s not the camera that makes you a better photographer—it’s you.
In that vein, I recorded a short video with Hudson Henry last week, as part of his Approaching the Scene series on YouTube. We had a lively—and short—conversation on the topic, focusing on the things you can do to develop your photographic vision that don’t involve buying new gear. Along the way, we talk about understanding the gear that you have, knowing the principles of composition and exposure in the field, and looking at other photographers’ work as a way to inform your your own work.
Below are links to the CDP articles referred to in the video:
Taking Better Pictures Doesn’t Mean a New Camera
Overviews of Photographic History
If you’re interested in Hudson’s Moab workshop this fall, you can find more information on his Workshops page. I’ll be helping him in the field on that one.
And, if you have comments or questions on this topic (or anything else), we would love to hear from you. Drop us a line via our Contact Us page.
Flickr’s top photos of 2018
Every December and January, there are plenty of “image of the year” round-ups, many of them quite good. This year I was particularly drawn to (and inspired by) two blog posts over on the newly resurgent Flickr. The first, And the winners of Your Best Shot 2018 Are…, contains five spectacular shots chosen from more than 8,000 submissions. What is special about these five is that they have a heart that is transcendent in this day of the ever-present photo stream. And, in the case of the shot above, there is a truth and a poignancy that hits you as you scan the scene, even before you read the attending caption.
PhotoActive Podcast: Talking About Printing
Last week, I was a guest on the PhotoActive podcast, chatting about photo printing with the hosts Jeff Carlson and Kirk McElhearn. We talked about such things as “Why print at all?” (heresy!); why printing today—whether online or with your own printer—is better than it has ever been; and how learning about printing is no different than learning about your camera (practice, practice, practice!). It was a lot of fun, and if you are interested in the state of photo printing today, I humbly think it’s well worth taking time to listen in. It’s short—my segment is only about 30 minutes in length.
I’m not a huge podcast guy—especially ones about such a visual medium as photography—but I’ve really enjoyed PhotoActive since Jeff and Kirk started it up earlier this year. The episodes are brief, with minimal chit-chat, and they find interesting guests (who mostly don’t talk about gear, which I also love). If you want to get a taste, but don’t care about printing, I recommend the recent episode with photographer and author Michael Rubin, who spoke about how his family collected fine-art prints when he was growing up, and how it has informed his photographic life.
PhotoActive is subtitled, “A Podcast about Photography and the Apple Ecosystem,” but the Mac angle is fairly low-key. If you’re a Windows user, don’t avoid it; I’ve found most episodes are focused more on photography than the Mac, and I almost always learn something. It’s worth checking out.
You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Spotify, or download it directly from photoactive.co.
[When it rains, it prints: Epson has great rebates this month on their SureColor photo printer line.]
The Rise of Computational Photography
Computational photography is coming up more and more as a topic these days, driven largely by developments in the smartphone world. Apple and Google, specifically, have worked diligently over the past few years to overcome the inherent limitations in the cameras of their pocket-size phones—small sensors and tiny lenses—to produce better images than would be available solely from the phones’ optics alone. By using custom chips, advanced software, dual lenses (in the case of newer iPhones and some Android phones) and more, these phones can create photographs that once required high-end cameras or painstaking compositing to produce. (For more, see Jeff Carlson’s piece on DPReview.com about the computational aspects of the iPhone XS.)
The result is that our phones now use this technology to provide impressive images, ones combined in the phone from multiple “shots.” They include things like automatic high-dynamic range (HDR) photos, seamless panoramas, and portraits with shallow depth of field. Sure, you can find many online commenters who rail against the bad portrait shots and wonky panos as proof that this iPhone or that Pixel is not as good as a basic SLR or mirrorless camera, but that misses the point (something we talk about extensively in Taking Better Pictures Doesn’t Mean a New Camera).
Jeff Carlson on Lightroom CC 2.0
Jeff Carlson has a look at the new features in Lightroom CC 2.0 over on DPReview.com. Version 1.0 was announced last year at the annual Adobe MAX conference, and Jeff looks at what’s new in the second generation of the cloud-centric image management and editing app. He also talks about what’s missing, and where he thinks Adobe might be headed with Lightroom CC:
Adobe is wisely undertaking a more gradual transition, continuing to develop both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic simultaneously without an apparent rush to supplant the latter….
Will Lightroom CC ultimately become the one true Lightroom in the future? I believe so, but Adobe doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get there yet. In the meantime, I think Lightroom CC is becoming more compelling, but Lightroom Classic photographers, especially if they rely on Classic-only features, will continue to watch for it to get more interesting.
Jeff Carlson: iPhone XS a “leap forward in computational photography”
Over at DPReview this morning, our old friend Jeff Carlson has a very interesting review of the camera in Apple’s new iPhone XS and XS Max. It’s not a traditional, all-you-need-to-know review, however. Instead, Jeff focuses on the “computational power” found in the phone’s hardware, and how it drives the improved HDR and Portrait modes:
“Aside from folks who still shoot film, almost nobody uses the term ‘digital photography’ anymore – it’s simply ‘photography,’ just as we don’t keep our food in an ‘electric refrigerator.’ Given the changes in the camera system in Apple’s latest iPhone models, we’re headed down a path where the term ‘computational photography’ will also just be referred to as ‘photography,’ at least by the majority of photographers.”
This concept of computational photography will be one of the driving forces in the camera world over the next few years. As we move (slowly) away from big SLRs to mirrorless cameras and vastly improved smartphones, companies like Apple, Google and Samsung could very well be the leaders in this space, leaving traditional camera makers like Canon, Nikon and others to play catch-up.
Julianne Kost on Photoshop Blend Modes
Just a quick tip for today: Julianne Kost, over at Adobe.com, has a nice two-part set of blog posts covering blend modes in Photoshop. The first, Working with Blend Modes in Photoshop, is a nice overview of blending modes and how they work, with good examples. The second, Five Additional Tips for Accessing and Applying Blend Modes in Photoshop CC, has a number of great tips for using blend modes and multiple layers (and layer groups).
While both posts are specific to Photoshop, the first one (Working with Blend Modes) is useful for people using other layer- or effects-based apps with blend mode options, like ON1 Photo RAW, Skylum’s Luminar, and Alien Skin’s Exposure X3, among others.
(See our Bookmarks post from last fall for more about Julianne, and why we think she’s worth following.)