Justin Hartford – Distinctive Printing Style


Justin Hartford perfected his black and white palette during a special session of my Fine Digital Print workshops this week. He’s printing his high contrast landscapes right to the ragged edge. Deep blacks with very faint traces of detail and very bright highlights with only traces of detail. He’s using those in localized planes not in the same object. This makes extreme dynamic range a visual code for space (recession/progression). This distinctive palette combined with a larger than classic scale gives his work a very contemporary look to a classic subject (the American southwest).
Tell him what you think! Comment here!
Check out my Fine Digital Print workshops here.

Charlotte Rush Bailey – Appropriate Scale


Charlotte Rush Bailey printed her African portraits at a variety of scales in a special session of my Fine Digital Print workshops this week. It took physically experiencing them with her own body to find out how they were working. She held them up to her face. When the portraits are larger than life they take on a more graphic quality evoking mass media presentations. When they’re life size the representational quality of them is heightened. When they’re small the intimate quality of them is emphasized. Scale had a big impact on her subject. Only certain subjects function this way. Making life-size or larger than life-sized representations of vistas (landscape, cityscape, seascape) is often impractical if not impossible.
To a limited degree you can preview scale by projecting an image before printing. But nothing is a substitute for actually experiencing the final print. In addition to evaluating technical aspects of a print, it’s important to identify associative qualities as well. They can make a big difference.
Tell her what you think! Comment here!
Check out my Fine Digital Print workshops here.

Don Ross – Little Things Can Make a Big Difference


Don Ross knows that little things can make a big difference.  He brought many beautiful prints to a special session of my Fine Digital Print workshops this week. He was looking for “that extra something”. We identified one of the strongest images/prints that would give us a lot of information relevant to the rest of his body of work. Further resolving this one image would unlock the keys to how most of the other images need to be handled. How much saturation? How much contrast? How much sharpening? What kind of sharpening? Applied selectively? What paper? How big? He spent the better part of two days fine-tuning the image. At the end of it, he turned a good print into a great print. It was time well spent. “It’s a strange thing. When it comes to making really good work. It’s almost as if, little things make all the difference.”
Now that he knows how to resolve this one image, he knows how to resolve similar images. I’ll bet the next great print comes in a matter of hours. It was time really well spent.
Tell him what you think! Comment here!
Check out my Fine Digital Print workshops here.

Make Time to Review Your Work


Images (left to right, top to bottom) – Jim Graham, Andree Laliberte, Ginette Vachon, Barbara Myriam.
This week’s workshop participants are all longtime alumni of my workshops. It’s a small intimate group – Ginette Vachon (Swiss based veteran world travel photographer), Andree Laliberte (Canadian installation artist), Barbara DeAngelu (Columbian mystic and Photoshop beta tester), and Jim Graham (Maryland based Pulitzer nominated photojournalist). They know each other before they arrived, either directly or from online exchanges.
After two days of being overstimulated by dramatic environments (continental rifts, volcanic coastlines, geothermal lagoons, steam vents, and paint pots, moss covered valleys) and working in challenging weather (wind and rain) this group had the wisdom to slow down. Recharge, Regroup. And focus. We reviewed (shared images and feedback) each other’s work. We reviewed the work we’ve done so far in Iceland. We identified what’s working and what’s not. We made an action plan for the coming days with a list of things to watch, things to try, and specific work to concentrate on to ensure that the images we come away with are not only technically good but also advance our individual visions and bodies of work. Now that’s focus. That’s time well spent. In a stimulating environment, few have the discipline to take this time. But taking this time helps you make quantum leaps.
At the end of the day, we went back to one of the first locations more informed and more focussed.
Find out more about Focus on Nature here.
Get Priority Status for all 2009 workshops now by emailing einar@focusonnature.is.

Ollie Treadway – Simplifying Workflow


For Ollie it all came together on the final day of our workshop The Fine Art of Digital Printing (this time at the Hallmark Institute for Photography). He was able to untangle his workflow and his file structure and produce better results in less time.
Here are a few core concepts he absorbed. Keep it simple; amid multiple methods that offer equal quality, the simplest way is best. Work globally first, then regionally. Don’t fix problems created during the editing process, fix the adjustments that created the problems. Organize and label your layers.
Now that the technical issues have been answered and simplified, Ollie’s freer to direct his energies in more important areas of his creative growth – finding and developing his own authentic voice.
These are the kinds of dialogs Mac Holbert and I have every day with participants in our the Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop during our extensive One on One and Review sessions.
Look for future workflow sessions from Mac and I at PhotoPlus East and the Epson Print Academy.
Check out my workflow PDFs here.
Check out Ollie’s website here.
Find out about the Hallmark Institute of Photography here.
Find out more about The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop here.
Find out about my The Fine Digital Print workshop series here.

Marc Siegner – Testing Sharpness


Marc creates multimedia prints and installations. He uses a wide variety of media for their material characteristics. So naturally he’s particularly sensitive to the look and feel of his images. We tested sharpness (low, medium, and high) with one of his images. Then the whole class had the opportunity to see the results side-by-side. Consensus wasn’t instant. Some like it sharp. Some like it soft.
One thing became clear, sharpness influences spatial relationships – especially when applied selectively. Typically, sharper image areas appear closer to the viewer, while softer areas appear further away.
So sharpness not only involves aesthetic choices, it can also be used to control spatial relationships within an image. Texture and contour are essential elements in visual vocabulary that you can use to further your personal expression.
Test it for yourself! On your images! Do it! While you can imagine the results, there’s nothing like experiencing it.
How important is sharpness in your images? Do you like your images sharp or soft? Comment here.
Find out about the Hallmark Institute of Photography here.
Find out more about The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop here.
Find out about my The Fine Digital Print workshop series here.

Christine Carr – Testing Substrates


Christine’s been working on images of projected light and screens. So she decided to explore presenting her images as screens with projected light. She found some alternate substrates – transparency, transparent material with a translucent backing, tissue paper, glossy film. We did a little brainstorming about presentation. We played with light and shadow. The light and shadow itself took on a presence in the presentation. Essential elements of photography, light and shadow, what photography represents and uses to represent, are beginning to be incorporated into the presentation – sometimes abstractly and dynamically. A whole new set of doors opened up. It’s important to explore the potential of new materials. After all, this is what has propelled photography all along, including fueling the digital revolution.
How many ways can you think of extending printmaking for your work?
These are the kinds of dialogs Mac Holbert and I have every day with participants in our the Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop during our extensive One on One and Review sessions.
Find out about the Hallmark Institute of Photography here.
Find out more about The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop here.
Find out about my The Fine Digital Printing workshop series here.

Jay Strojnowksi – Testing Substrates


Jay took a risk. He brought in large scale photographs printed on canvas for review. They were different. This triggered a long dialog on mixed media and installations. Now he’s no longer thinking in conventional terms about making prints. In 30 minutes we listed dozens of ideas for expanding the possibilities of printmaking and presentation; multiple media – silk, mylar, metal, transfers; multiple picture languages – photographs, blueprints, text, code; and multiple installations – hung on walls, becoming the walls, drapes, projections. This is one of the things that’s so stimulating about teaching. It’s inspiring to see diverse perspectives. And it’s a privilege to be able to help others realize their visions. I highly recommend you take time to explore your options. Think of the possibilities! You might surprise yourself … and us!
How many ways can you think of enhancing your images with media? Make a list. Then rank the list and try the most promising options.
These are the kinds of dialogs Mac Holbert and I have every day with participants in our the Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop during our extensive One on One and Review sessions. This week we’re at the Hallmark Institute of Photography.
Check out Jay’s website here.
Find out about the Hallmark Institute of Photography here.
Find out more about The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop here.
Find out about my The Fine Digital Printing workshop series here.

Cemal Ekin – Crafting a Signature Style


Cemal was fairly confident that he wanted an alternative process look so he printed a key image for a series of black and white images on Epson matte papers – UltraSmooth, Velvet, and Watercolor paper.  He like the rich black of the Velvet surface. Then Cemal made two unexpected moves that gave what at first seemed like an antique treatment a very contemporary edge. He “crunched” his shadows running the contrast high, heavily darkened regional areas, and he used heavy sharpening (both Unsharp Mask and High Pass), making them look like photographs drifting towards etchings. He confirmed that this was indeed the most compelling treatment for his images by printing renditions with more shadow detail and less sharpening. Some experiments succeed, some fail. You need to risk failure. In fact, failures aren’t failures if you learn from them – they bring confirmation and direction. This kind of experimentation is necessary to create more distinctive and expressive prints. The key is to do focused experiments that are most likely to give useful or relevant information.
What kinds of focused experiments would help you most? List a few now!
Cemal brought with him a beautiful portfolio of small prints (printed on Moab Entrada and collected in a companion folio). Comparing them to prints of larger scale revealed yet one more facet of his work.
These are the kinds of dialogs Mac Holbert and I have every day with participants in our the Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop during our extensive One on One and Review sessions. This week we’re at the Hallmark Institute of Photography.
Find out about Cemal Ekins here.
Find out about the Hallmark Institute of Photography here.
Find out more about The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop here.
Find out about my The Fine Digital Printing workshop series here.

Harry Sandler – The Fine Digital Print Expert Workshop Finding Your Voice


(The above images are after and before.)
This is just one of the many reasons to teach. You make a real difference for some really great people. Harry Sandler had a breakthrough last week. He connected emotionally and intellectually to the work he was doing with a level of clarity he hadn’t achieved before. It’s given him a better sense of himself, the reasons he does the work he does, and how to approach both his old and new work. Mastering any tool (especially Photoshop) means more than knowing how to use it; it means knowing how to apply it to achieve specific results. To achieve those, you first have to know what you want to achieve – and why.
Here’s the letter Harry sent me after he left the workshop.
“John Paul,
First of all many thanks for a wonderful experience at your Fine Digital Print Expert workshop – it far outweighed my expectations. I am most appreciative of how technical information was balanced with the idea of discovering one’s artistic voice.
Having dabbled in imagery for most of my life without ever fully realizing what moved and in turn motivated me I enjoyed being pushed a bit toward finding a technical solution to being able to express myself physically, a breakthrough, albeit just a start, that happened on the third day of the workshop.
When asked to stretch the limits of one image (an image that we felt to be a cornerstone for a body of work) by taking it in various directions I had an epiphany of expression within myself. In particular it would appear that I connected this photo (and the way it was printed) with some inner turmoil from my childhood that opened during this exercise, and, that sense of discovery continued after working on another file from the same body of work. The instant feedback from the print resonated deeply and appears to be the catalyst for moving farther down the road to more self-discovery.
A quote came to mind that evening while viewing the image: “Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence” – Minor White
PS: On my drive back on Saturday I also noticed myself drifting off into the cloudy sky noticing small shifts of saturation and color so maybe there is hope for this old time black and white brain of mine.
Regards,
Harry Sandler”

Download my PDF Portfolio Review here.

Download my PDF Aesthetics of Printing here.
Find out about my Fine Digital Print workshop series here.
Find out about The Fine Digital Print Expert workshop here.