Red River Paper Blog

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Selling Physical Photographs Online & Printing Them – All On Your Own

Hello Red River Paper fans,

I am so happy to have been asked to contribute to the RRP blog.

Today I am going to talk about how photographers can go about selling their photographs and printing the orders on their own. After making the photographs and processing them, it is time to get them onto a website where you can sell them. You could easily create a SmugMug or Zenfolio site which is designed to sell your work. However, with those platforms you don’t print the photographs yourself. Rather, you pick a lab to handle the entire process for you. I much prefer WordPress for a photography website because it has a lot more flexibly than other options. The only downside is that there are currently no WordPress plugins (software that adds functionality to WordPress) that can integrate a lab. There is one exception, which is FotoMoto by BayPhoto Labs.

At the moment, we at Photocrati are working on adding eCommerce and lab integration options into NextGEN Pro, which is our premium version of NextGEN Gallery. For those who do not know what NextGEN Gallery is, you can Google it to find that it’s on the top 10 list of most popular WordPress plugins of all time, with nearly 9 million downloads as I write this. With numbers like that, you can imagine how important eCommerce and lab integration is to the plugin. If you do not know much about WordPress, then all of that might have confused you. It’s okay because that’s where the Photocrati Theme comes in.

We designed the theme to be extremely simple and customizable for any photographer, whether they know code or not. My favorite part of the Photocrati Theme, and the one feature I want to talk about here, is the built-in eCommerce system. It’s a basic system that allows you to create endless amounts of products with whatever prices you want. Because all orders are self-fulfilled, there are no commissions to pay whenever a customer orders. The only fee you would pay is the PayPal fee which is under 3% and taken from the final total of the order.

ecommerce-gallery

By creating a Photocrati eCommerce Gallery you can specify which products you want available for the photographs in that gallery. A good example is a panoramic photograph. If you are using Red River Paper’s Polar Pearl Metallic, you could offer that product, versus UltraPro Gloss or Satin, and charge different prices for each finish because your own cost is different from RRP.

ecommerce-sale

This is where the fun starts. Once an order is placed, you, the photographer, get an email from your website with a list of all the file names that were ordered. The same email will include the sizes and quantities also ordered. You then dig into your Lightroom catalog and find the photographs for print. Using the Red River Paper ICC profiles and Soft Proofing, you perform the necessary corrections. Depending on your original photo size and the output size, you might want to bring the file into onOne Software’s Perfect Resize for improved resolution with as little pixelation as possible. Hopefully, you have the Red River Paper in stock and the Printer Profile in place. Load up your paper into the tray or the roll into the spool. Pick the correct profile setting and print away. Once complete, you can frame, matte, or float mount your photograph as sold and then ship it out.

Oh yea, did I mention you can charge for shipping? Cool stuff, right? So there is a way that you can have a website, sell your photographs, and print them all on your own without a lab if you want.

I mentioned earlier that we are building eCommerce into our WordPress gallery plugin. The process is underway and will be even easier and more advanced than the one inside of the Photocrati Theme. Future plans are to replace the Photocrati eCommerce system with the NextGEN Pro eCommerce system. We are very excited to bring improved and easier solutions to photographers and can’t wait to hear how you use the system to sell your photographs on Red River Paper.

Thanks for reading and happy printing,

Scott

Scott Wyden Kivowitz is the Community & Blog Wrangler at Photocrati, a photographer in NJ, blogger and educator.

Life in a Bubble

Article by Arthur H. Bleich

“I’m forever blowing bubbles,

Pretty bubbles in the air.”

From the hit song Life In A Bubble, 1919.

 

Danish Windmills, (C)Tom Storm

Danish Windmills, (C)Tom Storm

 

Backpacking in Ireland in 2006, Tom Storm, 32, remembers being part of the crowd at the Galway Festival when bubbles from a nearby vendor floated by him.

 

“I’ve always been keen on capturing reflections,” he recalls, “and I saw some in those bubbles.” He snapped off a few shots and thought no more about it until he returned from his trip and started to post-process his images.

 

“There was a whole world in focus within the reflections, and from that point on, I started blowing bubbles intentionally to capture images of different places around the world and at home.”

 

Using a Nikon D70 at first and then graduating to a D300, Storm, now a pro, found that shooting with an 18-200mm lens gave him the most versatility to capture images at a variety of distances. “I generally shoot at about 50mm but it varies; it’s like trying to photograph a moving butterfly,” he explains.

 

Strong contrast is a must. “When I shot Times Square in New York I arrived around eight in the morning and caught the buildings as the sun was coming down the avenues. The important thing is a dark background and a bright subject.”

Cloud Gate, Chicago, (C)Tom Storm

Cloud Gate, Chicago, (C)Tom Storm

And then there are bubble blowing techniques and accident avoidance to be mastered. “Taking pictures and blowing the bubbles is next to impossible so I always have a partner with me,” says Storm. He’s had good and bad bubble blowers; evidently not everyone has the mojo. “Perhaps it’s breath control,” he muses, “or maybe it’s just an innate talent.”

 

The bubble blower also doubles as a safety officer. “It’s very hard not to walk into people and other obstacles when you’re chasing down a floating bubble with your eye glued to the viewfinder. He recalls that shooting in Times Square was a toughie and his helper kept him from getting mashed by passing cars and buses.

 

There are also elements of meteorology to consider. Whenever Storm arrives at a shooting site he blows a bunch of bubbles to see how they float. “Does the bubble rise or sink rapidly?  Does the wind take it quickly or is there time for it to linger?” He then adjusts his shooting technique accordingly. “Flexibility and adaptability is the key,” he says. “Sometimes I never get a picture due to high winds or other inclement weather.”

 

Storm’s own reflection in the bubble can be noticeable or not, depending on where it falls. “I consider it a nice chronicle to be in my own images,” he says. “As a photographer, it’s rare to be in a picture. If you look closely at the images where I don’t have a prominent role, I’m still in there, albeit squashed and hidden.”

 

People are fascinated by Storm’s images. “The most common response I get,” he says, “is that they’ve never seen anything like it before and that makes me feel good. Isn’t that what every photographer wants to be able to share– their fresh perspective on the world?”

 

In the end, he says, it all comes down to practice and patience. “Awareness and a steady hand are instrumental in making these images a success.”

 

St Louis Arch, (C)Tom Storm

St Louis Arch, (C)Tom Storm

All bubble images © Tom Storm. You can see more (and read backstories about some) at Tom Storm’s web site: www.tomstorm.net 

 

Tips From The Bubblemeister

1. Use clear, not colored, bubble solutions. Kits are available at variety stores.

2. Bubbles should be about 10-inches in diameter. Smaller ones make it hard to keep reflections in focus; larger ones don’t hold their spherical shape.

3. Shoot fast– you only have about 10 seconds before the bubble bursts.

4. Carry a lens cloth to wipe off occasional bubble splatter.

 

 

Updated Polar Pearl Metallic Profiles for the Epson 1400 / 1430

New profiles are available for the Epson 1400 and 1430 with Red River Paper’s Polar Pearl Metallic. You can download them here:

Epson 1400 printer profiles

Epson 1430 printer profiles

Red River Paper was the first to introduce photo metallic inkjet paper to the market in early 2010. Polar Pearl Metallic the same benefits as its photo lab equivalent – a high gloss finish and a pearlescent base stock that yields an elegant iridescence in your images. This paper is compatible with any inkjet printer and requires no special equipment, inks, or finishing techniques to achieve the metallic effect.

Beginner’s Corner – Crop Sensors

A post from guest blogger Charles MacPherson of The Amazing Image. Sign up for his newsletter that brings a wealth of technical and creative tips.  Most important you’ll see his upcoming photo tours to some amazing spots in the USA and Canada.

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So what in the world is a “crop sensor” anyway?

There are two kinds of sensors in DSLRs – full frame and crop.

Full-frame sensors are exactly the size of 35mm film (24mm X 36mm) Crop sensors are smaller and come in different sizes.

The reason that the sensor size is important is that it changes the way a lens behaves.  To explain that, we first have to define a couple of things about lenses, specifically their focal length.

The focal length of DSLR lenses are spoken of in millimeters.  You’ll hear about a 50mm lens, a 600mm lens, a 24mm lens and many others.  That “mm” specification tells us how much the lens magnifies the scene we’re looking at.

50-55mm is considered “normal”.  That means that looking at the scene through the camera gives you the same view as you see with your eye.

Anything above that gets into the telephoto category.  So a 200mm lens is like looking through a telescope.  a 600mm lens is like looking through a bigger telescope.

Anything less than 50mm is like looking through the wrong end of the binoculars – everything looks further away, and shows you a wider angle of view.  So looking through a 35mm lens makes things look farther away than it is.  A 24mm lens, even more so.

Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about how the size of the sensor figures into all of this.

Crop sensor cameras have a “crop factor”.  Most Nikons are 1.5.  Most Canons are 1.6, except for some of the 1D series, which are 1.3.

These sensors have the effect of multiplying the focal length by the crop factor, thereby increasing their effective focal length.

Here’s what the difference looks like:

Full Frame - Canon 5D MkII
Full Frame.  Canon 5D MkII.
600mm lens, 600mm effective focal length

1.3 Crop Factor -Canon 1D MkIV
1.3 Crop factor.  Canon 1D MkIV.
600mm lens, 780mm effective focal length.

1.6 Crop factor - Canon 7D
1.6 Crop factor.  Canon 7D
600mm lens, 960mm effective focal length

The crop factor works in your favor when you want a longer focal length.  For example, in wildlife and sports photography.

But it works against you when you want the widest possible focal length, as you might for landscapes, by making your nice wide-angle into less of one.  For example, my Canon 16-35mm L II zoom acts like a 25.6mm-56mm on my Canon 7D camera (1.6 crop factor).

In general, full-frame sensors exhibit lower digital noise and will help you to create a better shallow depth-of-field.  Cameras with crop sensors cost less.  Those – and the effect on focal length are the facts to keep in mind when you’re buying or using a DSLR.

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My Search for the World’s Oldest Photograph

 

by Harald Johnson

 

Rediscovered in 1952 by photo historians Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, the “First Photograph” was first depicted in this well-known reproduction that was retouched by Helmut Gernsheim prior to its international release. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce's “View from the Window at Le Gras.” 1826 or 1827. Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Center / The University of Texas at Austin.

Rediscovered in 1952 by photo historians Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, the “First Photograph” was first depicted in this well-known reproduction that was retouched by Helmut Gernsheim prior to its international release. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s “View from the Window at Le Gras.” 1826 or 1827. Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Center / The University of Texas at Austin.

 

A few years ago, I asked myself a simple question: What and where is the oldest photograph in the world? It took some research and bit of travelling, but in the end I found it. Along with its story.

 

First, some definitions are in order. Like: What’s a photograph? What’s photography? Because I’ve written books on the subject of digital photo printing, I see it like this… A photograph is an image or picture made by photography, and photography is the art or process of capturing an image onto a recording medium (whether film or sensor) by the action of light (or other radiant energy) with the aid of a camera.

 

Is a photograph a print? It certainly can be. Prior to the modern age of sharing digital images, most photographs were, in fact, prints. Sure, you could show your Kodachrome 35mm slides in a dark room, but for about 150 years, photographs were basically prints. Meaning they were made from a master or “matrix” (frequently a film negative) to generate multiple copies, typically on paper. Digital prints are still made that way except they use a digital file instead of film or other type of master.

 

But before all that, when photography was just being invented, the first photographs were unique, one-of-a-kind objects made by exposing sensitized metal to light through a camera lens. But even back then, matrix-to-paper printing played a key role, as you’ll see.

 

The French Connection

 

Many people credit Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre with being the “father of photography.” While he may have been the first to make it practical with his Daguerreotypes – those gorgeous little polished copper (silvered) plates that show such amazing detail – it was really his ill-fated partner, Nicéphore Niépce, who was truly the world’s first photographer.

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Source: public domain.

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Source: public domain.

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was a “gentleman scientist.” In the early 19th century this wasn’t uncommon — middle-age men (mostly) who were financially independent, had time on their hands, and who had a single-minded curiosity about the world around them. They were the amateur tinkerers and inventors who brought us many important discoveries: Michael Faraday (the generator), Gregor Mendel (genetics) and even Charles Darwin.

 

Niépce, along with his older brother Claude, were busy inventors and tinkerers, collaborating on projects together. After their military service they began work on the ingenious Pyréolophore, considered the world’s first internal-combustion engine and for which they received a patent in 1807. The brothers would spend the next 20 years — and most of their family fortune — on improving and trying to commercialize the Pyréolophore. But Nicéphore Niépce also kept up an interest in trying to use light to reproduce images, especially when combined with a camera obscura (box camera of the time), and he began his experiments in earnest around 1816 while his brother was preoccupied with the Pyréolophore.

 

My Trip to Burgundy

 

When I was preparing to travel to the Arles Photo Festival in southern France on a consulting trip one year, I thought: Why not find out more about the history of photography? I would be in France anyway, so why not go all the way and see where it all started? I planned some extra days at the end of the trip so I could find ground zero.

 

If you travel due north from Arles on the main roads, you eventually enter the region of Burgundy, best known for its wine. And in the southeast corner straddling the river Saône is the town of Chalon-sur-Saône (current population 48,000) where Nicéphore Niépce was born and lived most of his life. He is one of the “notable people” associated with the town (the other was a double agent in World War II) and the small village, Saint-Loup-de-Varenne, where he had his country house and workshop. You can’t really miss Niepce’s presence here with a museum, several parks, plaques and statues commemorating him.

 

After visiting the Niépce Museum in Chalon (Musée Nicéphore Niépce), I saw the house where Niépce was born, but I wanted to get closer to the ancient action, which was not in the town but at Le Gras, his family estate just six kilometers away in the small village of Saint-Loup-de-Varennes.

 

Where It All Happened

 

In 1999, the French photography school SPEOS became a tenant of the private residence of Niepce’s Le Gras estate when the school’s founder, photographer Pierre-Yves Mahé, rented the part of the house that was used by Niepce as his laboratory-workshop. With Jean-Louis Marignier, a scientist at the French National Center of Scientific Research, they restored and recreated Niépce’s working conditions and rediscovered the site of his photo experiments.

 

A modern view of Niépce’s Le Gras estate. Photo by and courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

A modern view of Niépce’s Le Gras estate. Photo by and courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

I arrived at Le Gras on a hot sunny day in summer. After meeting up with my private guide (Aurélie) at the nearby Le Bistro (café/museum shop), we went to visit the house.

 

The large house, part of which is now a museum, sits at the end of a quiet, gravelly road that soon crosses a railroad track. We ducked into the small front doorway, walked up the narrow stairs to the second floor (first floor in France), and into the first of two main rooms. This room had copies of Niépce’s small camera obscuras as well as image reproductions. But I was headed for the second room.

 

I stood at the entrance of “the room” and took it all in. It was a pleasant space with two large windows on each side of a fireplace. There were two tables displaying various chemicals and implements that Niépce had used in his many experiments, and at the far side stood a large camera obscura raised high on a pedestal and pointing out the far window. This camera is an exact copy of the actual one used by Niépce that sits in the Niépce Museum in Chalon.

 

Niépce took the famous “Point de vue du Gras” photo from roughly this position. Pierre-Yves Mahé is shown looking at the floor excavation to determine the window’s original position. Photo by Raphael Gaillarde/Gamma, courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

Niépce took the famous “Point de vue du Gras” photo from roughly this position. Pierre-Yves Mahé is shown looking at the floor excavation to determine the window’s original position. Photo by Raphael Gaillarde/Gamma, courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

 

The actual camera used by Niépce to take his famous photo. Photo courtesy Musée Niécephore Niépce/Chalon-sur-Saône.

The actual camera used by Niépce to take his famous photo. Photo courtesy Musée Niécephore Niépce/Chalon-sur-Saône.

I walked slowly to the camera, turned to the open window, and there I saw it with my own eyes: “Le Point de Vue de la Fenêtre du Gras” (in English: The View from the Window at Le Gras). I was looking at the actual courtyard view.

 

How the courtyard looks today (facing the house). You can see “the window” just to the left of the central tower and under the roof line. Photo by Raphael Gaillarde/Gamma, courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

How the courtyard looks today (facing the house). You can see “the window” just to the left of the central tower and under the roof line. Photo by Raphael Gaillarde/Gamma, courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

Sort of. A few things had changed. First of all, most of the buildings and objects showing in the photo have long since disappeared. That’s to be expected after 187 years and multiple homeowners. And the window itself, as it turns out, had been moved 70 centimeters (31 inches) to the left to make way for a fireplace and chimney. But these are minor points, right? I mean, here I was standing on the actual wide-plank floorboards (rediscovered by Mahé) that Niépce had walked on to create the earliest existing photograph in history. With a light breeze coming in through the open window, I closed my eyes, and I was there in 1826. Incroyable!

 

How It Happened

 

After a lithography craze swept France in 1813, Nicéphore Niépce began experimenting with lithographic printmaking but with a twist: he took paper or vellum engravings, varnished them to make them translucent, placed them on metal plates coated with various light-sensitive solutions of his own composition, and exposed them (via direct contact) to sunlight, a process he termed “Heliography” (sun writing). He then acid-etched the plates, cleaned them, and used them to make final prints on paper.

Here is one of earliest examples of a Niépce lithographic “photoetching” (ink impression or print) process:

Nicéphore Niépce’s photoetching of an engraving of Cardinal Georges D’Amboise. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

Nicéphore Niépce’s photoetching of an engraving of Cardinal Georges D’Amboise. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

During these printing trials, Niépce also experimented by putting light-sensitive plates at the back of a camera (camera obscura), but he was unable to prevent the images from fading, a problem that affected all early photographic experimenters. Around 1816, Niépce discovered that he produced his best results when using a solution of bitumen of Judea (asphalt), which dates back to ancient Egypt.

 

Finally, in 1826–1827 (the exact year is debated), a combination of the chemical process, the power of the camera, the successful quest for image permanence, and the curiosity of the inventor all came together: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce made the first permanent photograph from nature with a camera. Here’s how he did it: He coated a pewter plate (pewter being an alloy of tin, copper and lead) with the same solution from his previous experiments and placed the plate into a camera that was looking out from that upstairs window of his house at Le Gras. After an exposure of at least eight hours, the plate was washed with a mixture of oil of lavender and white petroleum, dissolving away the parts of the bitumen that had not been hardened by light. The result was a direct-positive picture where the lights were represented by bitumen and the darks by bare metal. This was the historic one-of-a-kind landscape photograph showing “The View from the Window…” The world’s oldest photograph.*

 

One of the attic rooms where Niépce also did some of his shooting and chemical work. Photo by Francis Demange/Gamma, courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

One of the attic rooms where Niépce also did some of his shooting and chemical work. Photo by Francis Demange/Gamma, courtesy of Pierre-Yves Mahé/Spéos.

 

Niépce’s Problems Continue

 

In September 1827, Niépce traveled to England to visit his ailing brother who was promoting their struggling Pyréolophore project. But his brother died, and the Pyréolophore was abandoned, leaving Niépce basically broke.

 

While in England, he was introduced to botanist Francis Bauer. Bauer recognized the importance of Niépce’s work and encouraged him to write a proposal for a presentation to the Royal Society in London about it. But his proposal was rejected because the secretive Niépce chose not to fully disclose his process. Niépce left for France dejected.

 

Upon his return to Le Gras, Niépce continued his experiments. In 1829, he agreed to a 10-year partnership with Louis Daguerre. Niépce kept experimenting with Heliography, dreaming of recognition and economic success, until his unexpected death from a stroke in 1833 (he was 68). His son (Isidore) took over his father’s half of the partnership with Daguerre, but things went downhill from there with Daguerre becoming photography’s superstar and Niécephore Niépce gradually fading into obscurity.

Until 1952.

 

It’s in Texas!

 

I hadn’t been back to the University of Texas campus in years (I got my undergraduate degree there), but my quest required a trip there to see a certain display case that I discovered held the actual Niépce photographic artifact I was seeking. It still existed!

 

I had called ahead and arranged to meet with Roy Flukinger, who is a senior research curator at the Harry Ransom Center, which has a mission to advance the study of the arts and humanities, and which sits right on UT campus and within spitting distance of the iconic UT Tower (scene of the horrific shooting spree by Charles Whitman, which dramatically preceded my enrollment at the university by one month).

 

So what happened to the famous Niépce plate after his death, and how did it travel from Burgundy, France, to Austin, Texas? Here’s the story…

 

After Niépce’s rejection by the Royal Society in England in 1827 he left a handwritten memoir and several of his heliograph specimens (including the “First Photograph”) with Francis Bauer, who labeled them and set them aside.

 

For the balance of the 1800s, the First Photograph passed from Bauer’s estate through a variety of hands, and after its last public exhibition in 1905, it dropped out of sight. Then, almost 50 years later (in 1952), photo historian and collector Helmut Gernsheim was contacted by the widow of a Gibbon Pritchard; she had found the Niépce plate in her husband’s estate after his death. Gernsheim verified the First Photograph’s authenticity and obtained it for his vast photo collection. Through Gernsheim’s scholarship and detective work, his rediscovery returned Niépce to his rightful place as the inventor of photography.

 

When Harry Ransom purchased the Gernsheim collection for The University of Texas at Austin in 1963, Helmut Gernsheim, who died in 1995, also donated the Niépce heliograph to the institution. This is what I wanted to see in the flesh.

The Harry Ransom Center on the Univ. of Texas at Austin campus. Photo by the author.

The Harry Ransom Center on the Univ. of Texas at Austin campus. Photo by the author.

Roy greeted me in his office where we discussed my trip to France. He had not been to the Niépce house yet so he was curious about what I had seen. Then he led me down to the ground floor to view the plate. With the help of scientists at the Los-Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute, they had designed and built a special room for it with an environmentally controlled, glass-walled case filled with inert gas and continuously monitored by both the Center and the Getty.

 

The small room (see image below) has two openings (for entry and exit), and Roy hung back so I could be in the room alone.

 

Housing for the First Photograph, which replicates the backside of the framed photograph. © Thomas McConnell Photography 2004.

Housing for the First Photograph, which replicates the backside of the framed photograph. © Thomas McConnell Photography 2004.

 

I was finally here, looking at the object of my search: the Niépce plate. Oh my god, I thought, taking a breath: this is THE first photo. The actual one. Not a reproduction but the original. Right in front of me.

 

The Niépce plate is safely housed in a custom-made display case. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

The Niépce plate is safely housed in a custom-made display case. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

Housed in its original Empire-style gold frame, the photograph itself is small (it’s only 16×20 cm or 6.3×7.9 inches), but what struck me hardest was the fact that I couldn’t see the image! I found myself just staring at a piece of polished metal. But remembering what Roy and others had said, I started maneuvering myself away from perpendicular and started seeing glimpses of the image as I moved. I ended up leaning and squatting every which way in trying to make the image out, which I finally did. I couldn’t get a much better view than you see in full-front image below, but I can verify that the image is there. I asked Roy if the difficulty in seeing the image was in any way a result of fading or environmental deterioration, and he just laughed. “No way,” he said. “The details are faint, it’s true, due not to fading but to Niépce’s underexposure of the plate.” Interesting to think of an 8-hour exposure as being underexposed!

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce's “View from the Window at Le Gras.” c. 1826. Photo by J. Paul Getty Museum.

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s “View from the Window at Le Gras.” c. 1826. Photo by J. Paul Getty Museum.

To help the curious reader make out what they’re seeing (or not seeing) in this  latest reproduction of the actual Niépce plate above, here’s a sketch (below) made by Helmut Gernsheim in 1952 with the key elements showing. From left to right: the pigeon-house (upper loft of the house), a pear tree, the slant-roofed barn, the bake house with chimney, and at far right, another wing of the house. As already stated, most of these elements are no longer there.

 

Helmut Gernsheim’s drawing of the famous image. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

Helmut Gernsheim’s drawing of the famous image. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

What’s really interesting (and a bit puzzling at first) when viewing a reproduction of this image (seen better at the top of this post) is that there appear to be shadows on both sides of the courtyard. Possible? You bet, if you’re making an 8-hour exposure and the sun is moving across the sky all that time. Try it and see!

 

My Search Complete

 

Photography has had profound effects on this world and its peoples. The ability to capture a view of the world (or as Niépce himself wrote in 1828: “…to copy nature with the greatest fidelity”), to hold it, to share it… is such an important part of our lives now; but remember that it was only a dream a mere 200 years ago. A dream of a few, like Joseph Niécephore Niépce, and now practiced by millions, if not billions. Progress in art and science always owes big debts to those who have come before, and I feel lucky to have experienced first-hand the photo that is the cornerstone of the process of photography that has so revolutionized our world.

 

TO VISIT:

Harry Ransom Center: University of Texas at Austin

http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/visit/

First Photograph on permanent display.

Admission free.

 

Musée Maison Nicéphore Niépce (Saint-Loup-de-Varennes)

http://www.niepce.com/pagus/pagus-house.html

Open to public daily July 1 – Aug 31. Private visits available other times.

Admission: 6,00€ entrance fee.

 

Musée Nicéphore Niépce (Chalon-sur-Saône)

http://en.museeniepce.com/

Open every day except Tuesdays and holidays.

Admission free.

 

*The Harry Ransom Center carefully describes the Niépce plate as “the first permanent photograph from nature” or simply the “First Photograph.” SPEOS calls it: “the earliest existing photograph in history.” The author calls it simply: “the world’s oldest photograph.”

 

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About the Author

Harald Johnson has been immersed in the worlds of photography, art, and publishing for more than 30 years. A former professional photographer, designer, publisher, and art/creative director, Harald is the author of the groundbreaking book series “Mastering Digital Printing,” an imaging/marketing consultant, and the founder of the photo competition site PhoozL.

 

 

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Beginner’s Corner – Exposure Modes Part 2

A post from guest blogger Charles MacPherson of The Amazing Image. Sign up for his newsletter that brings a wealth of technical and creative tips.  Most important you’ll see his upcoming photo tours to some amazing spots in the USA and Canada.

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Exposure Modes Part 2

Last month, we talked about the different exposure modes available on your camera, and after explaining the different modes, I said that I use only one mode over 90% of the time.  And I challenged you to guess which it was.

Sue Abrahamsen was the only one to get the right answer – ATTAGIRL, Sue!

Sue correctly answered that I use Aperture priority almost all the time.  She followed up by stating that I use that mode in order to control my depth of field.

She’s right, but there’s another piece to the puzzle.

I almost always shoot in A/Av mode and almost always at maximum aperture (smallest f#) because two good things happen at the same time – a real rarity in photography!

Not only to I get the shallowest possible depth-of-field as Sue mentioned, but with the lens wide open, I also get the maximum possible shutter speed.

That means that when shooting wildlife (my favorite subject), I have the best shot at defocusing the foreground and background and the best shot at eliminating motion blur.  Those are both things I want to achieve in most of my shots.

Brown Bear on the Hunt for Salmon!
Alaska Brown Bear.  Canon 1D MkIV.  Canon 600mm f/4 L IS.
ISO 3200, f/5.6, 1/1000th second.

Notice that you’re gaze is drawn right to his face.  You look there because I defocused the background by using a wide aperture (small f#).

I just didn’t give you anything else to look at.

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch.  Canon 7D.  Canon 600mm f/4 L IS.
ISO 320, f/4, 1/500th second

Again, for the same reason, your eye is drawn right to the goldfinch’s eye in this shot.

But there are times when I’ll change things up, depending on the circumstances.

For example, I was recently on a short Puffin Cruise out of New Harbor, Maine.  The seas were rolling at close to 4 feet, but I was determined to go after the Puffins with my 600mm.  I kept the tripod legs together, so it would act like a monopod.  That was mainly to prevent other passengers from tripping over the legs.

You can imaging what a struggle it was, trying to hold the almost 25 pounds of gear with the boat rolling so badly.  It was a real workout!

But with such a heavy load rocking so much, my main concern changed from managing depth-of-field to preventing unwanted motion blur.

I kept the ISO high to maximize shutter speed, but with the lens wide open, I risked over exposing the image – the shutter speeds were right at 1/8000th second – the camera’s maximum shutter speed.  The shutter speed flashed once in a while, indicating that even at 1/8000th second, the camera was still getting too much light.

I switched to shutter priority and set the shutter speed to 1/8000th second – plenty fast enough to freeze motion blur from the movement of the camera.  That meant that the camera would maintain that shutter speed and adjust the aperture if needed.

Atlantic Puffin
Atlantic Puffin.  Canon 1D X.  Canon 600mm f/4 L IS.
ISO 2000, f/5.6, 1/8000th second

There are other times to use shutter priority too.  Any time you want to create motion blur is a great time to switch to S / Tv mode.

Glass Blower at Simon Pearce
Glass Craftsman.  Canon 1D MkIV.  Canon 24-105mm L IS @ 67mm.
ISO 5000, f/22, 1/8th second.

In the shot above, the shutter speed of 1/8th second created the motion blur I wanted to show the movement of the craftsman moving the molten glass to the next stage of glass making.

If you still have questions about exposure modes, feel free to e-mail me and we’ll chat about it.

Next month, I’ll talk about selecting lenses.  What all the different numbers mean and how to be sure you’re picking a good quality lens that will stay with you for many years.

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Beginner’s Corner – Exposure Modes Part 1

A post from guest blogger Charles MacPherson of The Amazing Image. Sign up for his newsletter that brings a wealth of technical and creative tips.  Most important you’ll see his upcoming photo tours to some amazing spots in the USA and Canada.

Amazing-Image-banner3   Exposure Modes Part 1

Beginner’s Corner – Exposure Modes

I’ve been asked to explain something about the different exposure modes.  I’ll go more into depth on these next month.

Here are the modes that most cameras have:

Green Box or Full Auto.  The camera controls all exposure and autofocus (AF) settings.  You have zero control, but will usually get an acceptable image.

P or Program.  Generally the same as Full Auto, except that you can change your ISO and decide whether to use your pop-up flash.

A or Av – Aperture Priority.  In this mode, you select the aperture and the camera sets the corresponding shutter speed.

S or Shutter Priority.  Just the opposite of Aperture Priority – you select the shutter speed and the camera sets the corresponding aperture.

M or Manual Exposure.  You start by selecting either the aperture or shutter speed – whichever you prefer.  Then, using the other control, you adjust it until the pointer on the camera’s meter points to the “0″ position.

A-Dep.  A Canon-only feature that looks at all of the active focus points that have achieved focus lock.  It then sets the aperture needed to try to make them all in focus through the use of depth-of-field.

Scene modes.  Like Sports, Portrait, Macro, Landscape, etc.  By telling the camera what kind of scene you’re shooting, it uses presets that the manufacturer thinks make sense.

With those definitions out of the way, how do you decide which to use and when?  It all depends on the kind of shot you’re after.

Here are some *very* general guidelines – and you should feel free to season to taste!

As you look at a scene, ask yourself “what’s most likely to go wrong with this shot?”

If your answer is that you’re worried about motion blur wrecking the shot, try Shutter priority, setting the shutter speed to whatever you think you’ll need to freeze motion.

If your answer is that you want a de-focused background or foreground to avoid them distracting from the subject, try Aperture Priority and set the aperture to the smallest F-number.

If you’re just after a few quick snapshots, (or if you see Bigfoot walking out of a 7-11 and getting the shot is more important than fine-tuning it), try either Full Auto or Program.

Scene Modes?  Use them if you wish, but you won’t learn much this way.  I suggest starting in a scene mode and taking note of what the camera suggests for settings.  Try them, but then try changing things up a bit.  That will help you to understand more about what’s really happening with the camera’s controls – and how you can take charge of them yourself to make  them do what you want.

When should you use Manual mode?  Almost never, unless you’re an advanced amateur or professional.  It’s useful if you’re tracking a moving subject that’s transitioning between light and dark backgrounds that will fool the camera.  But in this case, you’ll need to know how to expose the subject (not the background) and lock that exposure in.  That’s where Sekonic Incident Light Meters come in handy!

Next month, I’ll talk about the settings I actually use.  And I use only ONE exposure mode over 90% of the time.

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Success at PhotoPLUS Expo 2013!

We had a great time at the expo this year! There were a variety of visual displays to please every photographer. If you missed it, here are some images from our NYC trip:

Nikon’s Candy Display

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Expo Floor

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Expo Floor

43108A40-1A67-4DDD-AB20-4F085956E962

Red River Paper Booth

822689FC-4CB6-4B98-B769-43E77CFF8FC9

BB7ECA94-301B-4FD5-9026-D7CEB15EFEE3

WP_000884

Empire State Building

F27B2AEF-13CC-4233-9B2F-5DC1E59499C6

Nikon’s Soda Shop Display

WP_000897

Musician at Union Square Subway Station (Not at EXPO but creative nonetheless)

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Beginner’s Corner – Managing Your Shutter Speeds

Welcome to guest blogger Charles MacPherson of The Amazing Image. Sign up for his newsletter that brings a wealth of technical and creative tips.  Most important you’ll see his upcoming photo tours to some amazing spots in the USA and Canada.

Amazing-Image-banner3

Managing Your Shutter Speeds

Managing your camera’s shutter speed is absolutely critical to making sharp images – or to create motion blur when you want to.  This Beginner’s Corner article will give you a solid handle on how to eliminate or make motion blur.

Think of the camera’s shutter as a window shade.  It either prevents light from reaching the digital sensor (or film), or allows it.  It’s right behind the mirror in an SLR.  You can look, but DON’T touch – they’re very delicate and fragile.

The shutter’s function is really simple.  The longer (or shorter) it stays open, the more (or less) light reaches the sensor.

Shutter speed is expressed in fractions of a second.  1/500th second is exactly what it sounds like.  Take 1 second and chop it up into 500 equal parts.  1/500th of a second is one of those parts.

The Amazing Tree Swallow in Flight

Shot at 1/3200th second!

Most modern SLRs have a shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/8000th second.

That’s all there is to it – except…

Except that the shutter speed has a direct impact on whether your image blurs.  And there are two kinds of blur.

The first is camera shake and there’s a helpful rule-of-thumb you can use to be sure your shutter speed is fast enough to freeze motion blur caused by camera shake.  Here it is…

For a hand-held, non-stabilized lens, shutter speed should be equal to or faster than the focal length.

Translated into English, that means that if you’re shooting with a 200mm lens without image stabilization (IS / VR / OS etc) or stabilization in the camera body (Sony), your shutter speed should be at least 1/200th second.  200mm, 1/200th second.  Get it?

Then you can factor in your stabilization.  For example, Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II claims (an incredible) 4 stops of stabilization.  That means that at 200mm, you can divide that 1/200th second in half, 4 times, or a minimum shutter speed of about 1/12th second.

Personally, I find that awfully hard to believe.  I’d stay with a more conservative 2 stop estimate, yielding a minimum shutter speed of 1/50th second.

Of course, if you are using a tripod, all bets are off.  If it’s stiff and stable enough, your shutter speed could be days, not fractions of a second!

The second kind of blur comes from subject movement.  There’s no fixed rule-of-thumb for this one, but I can give you some ideas.  But whichever (my suggestions or focal length) gives you the faster required minimum shutter speed, use that value.

For people at rest, 1/60th or faster.

For people in motion (sports), 1/250th or faster.

Birds in flight – depending on the bird.  Slow birds (Pelican, gull), 1/250th second or faster.  Fast birds (warblers, swallows) 1/800th second or faster.

Cars in motion (create blur in the wheels), propeller-driven airplanes (create blur in the prop), 1/160th second or faster.

Helicopter (create blur in the blades), 1/125th.

Shooting from a moving vehicle (car or boat without excessive vibration),  1/1000th second

Shooting from a vehicle with excessive vibration (some boats at idle), Maximum available.  Push ISO to reach at least 1/5000th second.

Simple, right?

Now for the wildcard.  Sometimes you want to CREATE blur.  This is really a lot more art than science, so experiment!

Intentional blur in wildlife is one of my personal projects.  The other is Swallows, and neither is especially easy!

Here’s one example…

Shorebird Frenzy!

A frenzy of sandpipers at takeoff – with an intentional, pleasing blur at 1/40th second

I created this image by closing my aperture to the point that I drove the shutter speed down to 1/40th second.  Then I panned as the flock of birds took off.  The trick to this is to hold the birds in the same position in the viewfinder – otherwise the entire bird will be too blurry.

One technique for making this easier is to shoot a burst.  The first shot will tend to be blurrier as your finger mashing the shutter release will shake the camera.  But keep that finger down and keep shooting, and subsequent shots will be more stable.

Here’s my favorite…so far!

Red Fox with a Stolen Fish - 1/60th second

A Red Fox with a stolen fish – and intentional motion blur.

I created this motion blur in a similar fashion as with the birds above.  I closed the aperture until I drove the shutter speed down to 1/60th second.

So keep these suggestions in mind, and don’t be afraid to experiment!

Printing Resolutions from Mirrorless Cameras

 

by Derrick Story – The Digital Story

One of the areas that mirrorless cameras need to perform well to gain the trust of enthusiast photographers is in their ability to make high quality prints. During my testing of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Samsung NX300, I’ve been pleased with the output from each. Here’s a look at 5 top mirrorless bodies from a printing point of view.

Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M1 (16.3 MP)

The new Olympus flagship Compact System Camera, OM-D E-M1 features a 16.3 MP Live MOS sensor and retails for $1,399.

Its file size measures 4608×3456. At 240 ppi, you can print 19.2″ x 14.4″ If you increase resolution to 300 ppi, you won’t be able to print on 13″x19″ paper because the document size is reduced to 15.4″ x 11.5″ (unless you float the image, which is quite artistic looking). I’ve had excellent results, however, printing at 240 ppi.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 (16 MP)

One of Panasonic’s most exciting Compact System Camera bodies is the DMC-GX7 featuring a 16 MP Digital Live MOS sensor and selling for $898.

Its file size measures 4592×3448. At 240 ppi, you can print 19.1″ x 14.4″ If you increase resolution to 300 ppi, the document size is reduced to 15.3″ x 11.5″.

Samsung NX 300

Samsung NX300 (20.3 MP)

The Samsung NX300 gets you a lot of resolution for the money: 20.3 MP. The kit that includes a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS lens is selling for $799, and you get more pixels than the Micro Four Thirds bodies by Olympus and Panasonic.

Its file size measures 5472×3648. At 240 ppi, you can print 22.8″ x 15.2″ If you increase resolution to 300 ppi, the document size is reduced to 18.2″ x 12.2″ – close enough to use 13″ x 19″ paper.

Sony Alpha NEX-5T (16.1 MP)

Sony makes two basic flavors of their Alpha line of Compact System Cameras. The first one that I think is worth examining is the Alpha NEX-5T that houses a 16.1MP APS-C Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and sells for $548.

Its file size measures 4912×3264. At 240 ppi, you can print 20.5″ x 13.6″ – a nice fit for 13″ by 19″ paper. If you increase resolution to 300 ppi, the document size is reduced to 16.4″ x 10.9″.

Sony Alpha NEX-7 (24.3 MP)

The resolution champ in this field of Compact System Cameras is the Sony Alpha NEX-7 that sells for $1,098. And for your money you get a whopping 24.3 MP sensor.

Its file size measures 6000×4000. At 240 ppi, you can print 25″ x 16.7″ – allowing you to move up a paper size to 22″ x 17″. If you increase resolution to 300 ppi, the document size is reduced to 20″ x 13.3″ – still enough to fill a 13″ x 19″ sheet of Red River Paper from edge to edge.

Bottom Line

If you use a 13″ printer for your output, any of these mirrorless cameras should produce the results you’re looking for. Not only do they provide at least 16 megapixels of resolution, their dynamic range and color rendition are quite good.

Those who often crop their compositions before printing may want to take a closer look at the Samsung NX300 and the Sony NEX-7 that provide a few more pixels to work with.