Friday, October 31, 2014

Montana Artist

Early yesterday evening (Thursday) I attended a talk and reception at the Turman Larison contemporary gallery in Helena. Chris Autio (photographer) and Josh DeWeese (ceramics) were there to kick off their month-long exhibits. Both are carrying on the artistic traditions of their Montana artist families.

Along with many questions from the attendees about their art production, one woman asked how being part of such richly talented families affected them when they were growing up. They both looked rather flummoxed by the question: either they'd never thought about it, or they were constructing an appropriate answer. I'm quiet certain it was the former. They both responded that being in the artistic environment had just seemed "right." This was the same response when asked why they pursued their career in Montana and didn't move somewhere else.

Montana roots run deep. I wish mine had been here for a century or more. Whatever, my creativity has come alive since arriving in Montana.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

5 Day Black and White Challenge

I've started an album with my response to the challenge. I just posted my day 3 image.
So far I've used photos I have in my files.
Now to go shoot something for tomorrow.
5 Day Album
I'll add to it, of course.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Professional Photography and Computer Software 1

© 2011 Kae Cheatham (previously published on the Get It Together blog)

Photoshop. Perhaps I should have a little trademark symbol beside that word. But actually, I'm using it as a verb—one that has become very popular in the last decade. "It's been photoshopped," someone might say, when looking at a picture—especially something of a unique design or quirky presentation. "Photoshop it," is phrase I hear among picture takers when they think something isn't quite right with their image. When used in these contexts the verb isn't referring strictly to the Adobe product, but to a process using any software program designed to manipulate and/or enhance photo images. Many of them out there: from Adobe, Corel, and other imaging companies that have been in the business for a while; Microsoft has one built into their Office packages; most digital cameras come with software specific to that camera and company, and they also offer limited editions of software from other companies.

I often hear viewers at art shows say—"Oh, it's been photoshopped."—usually with a roll of the eyes.

image 1
Before all the digital cameras and the accessories that go with them, a professional photographer usually had darkroom skills, or had access to a tech with those skills. I had my own black and white enlarging setup and had access to darkrooms with color enlargers that I could rent by the hour. The darkroom was where the film was developed (a lengthy, chemical-laden process), and where the prints were made (another lengthy, chemical-laden process). Adjustments (or miscalculations) that would affect the images could be made in either or both processes.
Darkroom photo manipulation isn't out of the ordinary. While enlarging a print, the exposure time can be adjusted, filters added to affect the tone and color of an image, implements are used to dodge (keep sections from developing) or burn (enhancing the developing time). Enlargement exposure time could be increased of decreased to compensate for under- or overexposed frames. Different types of paper gave different results; finishes can be added while the print was drying. I had special photographic paints that I used to touch up scratches, get rid of red eye or add some artistic effort to an image. I mixed my colors, had special brushes; the corrections were nearly impossible to see. Back then (a mere fifteen years ago), many photographic enterprises existed, and were noted for their work with specific types of film, or producing unique products. Most of these have gone out of business or, like Kodak are struggling to find their niche in the rapidly changing photography scene.

But in the 145 years or more of what is now archaic print image production, clients, patrons and other viewers never grumbled, "Oh, it's been darkroomed."

Now many digital cameras come with built in darkrooms; after an image has been captured, the exposure, cropping, and even some special effects can be done in the camera before the image is ever uploaded to a computer (it's been cameraed!"). Most people who own a digital camera have the software that comes with it and can buy more of at any office or big box store. Software programs are also available online for download, several for free. Hence, photoshopping an image is not a big deal compared to the expense of the old-time darkroom.
As new cameras are developed, new software springs up, too. Special programs area available to use with imaging from for mobile phones and tablets.

image 2
At shows, when people study my work and ask, "Did you photoshop it?" I honestly respond, "No. I don't use Photoshop™." True, I'm playing a language game with them, but it gets their attention and allows me time to explain the software I use and how I choose my brushes and palette, decide on texture and digitally paint my own backgrounds. I tell them about the darkroom days. Several have looked again at my work and bought a print; many more leave with a different attitude about the new technology—I hope.
What's a professional to do? Just as it is with professional writers, professional photographers have to be certain their craft is finely honed. Finding a photographic specialty is the same as choosing a certain writing genre. Once decided, pursue it to the hilt, and don't let naysayers bring you down. It is often difficult to find acceptance and affirmation of any type of artistic work in the general public. It's even harder now, when all the I-wish-I-could [publish a book, do photography] folks suddenly can.
image 1 taken with film camera and "darkroomed." image 2 has been enhanced with digital painting and some "photoshopping."
© 2011 Kae Cheatham

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Professional Photography and Digital Cameras 1

A while back, I had a recent conversation with a photographer who works in the advertising industry. He is often on location in a variety of settings. He began his career using film cameras. A shoot would entail having enough of the right speed film for the setting, taking and developing his images, culling the lot, making proof sheets, sending them to his agency...Perhaps if he were in a place with adequate facilities, this could be done in one-three days.

In the 2000s things changed. Good film became scarce, and high-quality processing even harder to find. He switched to digital.

Benefits: he can now shoot on location and change film speed as needed, cull and crop images right in the camera if he wants to, or work them in a laptop; no development costs, often no proof sheets to print since he can upload his finals to the agency with maybe only two hours from when he made the shots.


But he mentioned some not-so-terrific things, such as on-site agency people looking over his shoulder to see his pictures while he examines them; a lot of kibitzing; and once a company man held up a point-and-shoot digital to show him his own shot he thought was better.

He likes to be employed, so he didn't say where that little camera could be put.

I imagine that some small business have already decided that hiring a professional photographer seems redundant: "Here's a decent camera. Give it to Cathy, she has a good eye." And if Cathy's pics are just so-so, they get the secretary's grandson to "fix it" in Photoshop.

Ah, Photoshop (and other programs of that ilk)....Well, that's for another post.