To edition or not to edition….

…. that is the question (with a nod to Mr. Shakespeare for the phrasing).

I’ve been asked from time to time about my thoughts on editioning prints. There are staunch voices on both sides of the question.

My basic thought is ‘why would I’?

When does editioning make sense and who does it make sense for?

For the vast majority of working photographers, my feeling is editioning serves little purpose other than to puff up egos. Unless someone is a very well known photographer whose prints command prices in the thousands of dollars and who can basically guarantee that an edition will sell out and for whom a limited edition series will increase initial sale prices, I don’t see how it makes sense. For the great many of us who aren’t very well known and whose prints don’t command thousands of dollars, how does editioning benefit them (us)? It’s not likely to increase initial selling prices so there’s no benefit there. It may increase secondary market prices at some point in the future but that still doesn’t benefit the photographer who sold the print initially. Unless an edition can be virtually guaranteed to sell out, editioning may actually do more harm than good. If an edition of, say, 200 prints is announced, but only 100 sell; the market thinks there are 200 in circulation but there are only 100. Maybe, if the edition had been limited to 100, initial selling prices could have been higher. Continue reading

The Great HDR Debate

OK, maybe great is stretching it a little. It’s no Thrilla in Manilla nor Rumble in the Jungle; but the discussion going on in photographic circles around HDR, the use of HDR, whether HDR generated images are photographs and even the legitimacy of HDR as a technique for “traditional” photographers gets pretty heated at times and I admit, I’ve engaged in some of the debate myself. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the arguments that used to go on between ‘traditional’ skiers and snowboarders when snowboarding first started to make an appearance on the hills.

HDR is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of a technique photographers have been using for many years called Blended Exposures – that is, taking two or more shots of the same scene at different exposure settings then manually blending them after the fact. There are software applications that automate the process now, like LR Enfuse, a Lightroom plugin. John Paul Caponigro has written extensively in his DPP magazine columns about what he describes as XDR – (E)xtended Dynamic Range, including the use of HDR as a tool in XDR and shown how effective a tool it can be.

As far as whether it’s even a legitimate tool, at this point anyone thinking it’s not is really not in the here and the now and are clinging to old, outmoded thought processes. Part of the problem is there are hardcore HDR enthusiasts who are trying to ram HDR down people’s throats, who think if you’re not doing HDR you’re a buffoon and who won’t accept any kind of critical feedback on their efforts. The arrogance these people display is little different from the arrogance of the early snowboarders who had no use for traditional skiers who, they felt, didn’t ‘get it’ when it came to snowboarding. Most of these people are producing the really whacked out, comic book colour type effects by simply moving sliders or clicking radio buttons seemingly without really knowing what they’re doing till they get something that looks ‘cool’ rather than something that looks even remotely like a photograph and still looks cool – both are possible. Continue reading

Help for Cutting Mats

If, like me, you’ve made mistakes in calculating sizes for cutting mats to frame prints and ended up tossing them in the trash, you might like this little calculator. I developed it to make quicker work of figuring out cutout sizes, reveals and finished mat sizes. If you download it and have any questions, shoot me an email and I’ll answer them as quickly as I can.

Leki Sierra Antishock Walking Stick

I’ve been using this stick for about 18 months now. Leki are a very well-regarded manufacturer of ski poles, trekking poles and other outdoor accessories.

I’d been using another, similar pole from another manufacturer but found it inadequate. The section locks weren’t strong enough and it would compress if anything more than minimal weight were applied for support on either a downhill or uphill. No worries of that with the Leki. In the store, I expanded it to the right height, placed the ball under my hands, braced it into my midsection and put as much weight on it as I could (the guy in the store joked that they might have to institute a ‘you break it, you buy it’ policy). It held. It did bow very slightly but that was all. The sections were securely locked.

I chose this particular style for a couple reasons. One, I liked the fact that it could be made compact for travel. I also liked that the wooden ball at the top can be screwed off and the stick used as a monopod (more on that later).

Overall, it’s a very well made, very durable and sturdy walking stick. The ability to adjust the length for better support both up and down hill is a plus. As mentioned, the section locks work very well. A simple quarter to half turn and the sections can be slid out and in as needed. The slight shock absorption system in the pole is a nice touch as well, making it a little easier on the arm/hand in the field. Continue reading

Feisol Tripod Review

Last fall I began looking for a new tripod. I’d been using a Manfrotto legs and head for several years and it was time for something new – for a few reasons. While pretty sturdy, the Manfrotto isn’t light. Carrying it on the trail for several hours, the extra couple of pounds do make a difference. I was also getting a bit tired of the flip action leg locks that get caught on things. It wasn’t overly compact in the closed position so carrying it was more difficult and lashed onto the bottom of a bag it stuck out on the sides a fair bit and would get knocked around easily.

Wanting to lighten the load a little I decided that carbon fibre would be route I’d go with a new ‘pod. I started looking at the major contenders: Gitzo; Manfrotto; Induro; and others. For various reasons, none seemed to be what I was looking for. The name Feisol is one I’d seen mentioned a few times in the past and always with positive reports. Based in Asia, they now have a U.S. distributor. Their Traveler Tripod (model CT-3441S) with ball head (model CB-30C) looked like it might fit the bill. Compact when closed (the legs fold up around the head, making the closed length shorter than normal), lightweight (just over 3lbs for legs and head), good load rating (just under 15.5lbs – an EOS 1Ds MkIII + 600mm f4 L IS weighs in at just under 14.5lbs) and priced well ($399 includes legs, head, one QR plate and a carry bag). A hook that screws onto the bottom of the centre column for hanging ballast is also included. The legs come with neoprene wraps for carrying comfort. Given the positive reviews I’d seen from others, I decided to give it a go.

I had a couple questions before buying. The response from their U.S. rep was quick, cordial and directly addressed my questions. The online purchase was simple, confirmed quickly and the item was shipped quickly. A follow up email to request a tracking # was answered an a timely manner and the shipment arrived at my door on time. Continue reading

Carnival, Trinidad

Elaborate, brightly coloured costumes. Beautiful women – and men to be fair – at every turn of the head. The driving bass beat of Soca. The crisp, ringing notes of steel pan. The lilting lyricism of Calypso. Bright, hot sunlight – in February. The smoky, sweet aroma of barbecue. Dancing in the streets night and day. This is the sensory overload, the hedonistic celebration, that is Carnival in Trinidad

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Months of planning and weeks of fêtes culminate in a two-day bacchanal celebrating life before the beginning of Lent.

J’ouvert (pronounced joovay) marks the beginning of the two-day, almost non-stop apex of Carnival. Revelers take to the streets in the wee hours of the morning, caking themselves in mud or smearing themselves with paint and dance to music with a beat so strong it cuts to your very core. The dance is the ‘chip’. J’ouvert evokes a time in Trinidadian history when slaves rose up against their owners, using mud to disguise their appearances. Want to just step outside to get a glimpse of the goings on? Nope. J’ouvert is a participation sport. J’ouvert celebrants consider it their duty to ensure anyone they encounter who isn’t muddied becomes so immediately. Resistance is futile. Surrender yourself. Wear old clothes or better yet a swimsuit. Get dirty. Celebrate. It washes off. Continue reading