Kevin Ames – Perfectly Imperfect


Kevin Ames found that perfect wasn’t and imperfect was, while he was a special guest during a special session of my Fine Digital Print workshops this week. After years of doing top notch commercial photography, to get the most expressive results from a developing body of work, he first had to follow the lead of a very happy accident. Replicating the look and feel of a color crossed, soft focus, grainy original from pristine originals challenged him to be clear about every move he made. Ultimately, he found that rather than going back to lesser tools to distress his images he had much more flexibility and freedom when simulating the look using high quality originals. The results became perfectly imperfect. In the end, given the subject matter and his treatment of it, a perfectly lit, perfectly processed original was just too perfect – and far less emotive. It wasn’t easy to go in the opposite direction years of good habits had taken him. He had to give himself permission to do so – and was encouraged unanimously by the other participants to pursue his unconventional results. Even then, it took repeating the results with several images to get the final confirmation he needed. The results were undeniably strong.
Here’s what Kevin shared about his experience. “Breaking rules is part of being artistic. This odalisk was made during the very early days of digital portraiture with a three chip camera the when given enough light was really quite good. I broke the flash sync socket at the beginning of the shoot forcing me to use the
modeling lights in the soft box as the sole and dim source of illumination. That camera shot at ISO 40 and the exposures were quite long adding a lot of noise to the image.  During portfolio reviews at
John Paul’s Digital Print II workshop last spring it was the pick of my work by the group. I added it to my print portfolio for last week’s workshop and again it was the unanimous favorite of my submissions.
Understand that at the beginning of the workshop it was not the direction that I thought I wanted to follow. The breakthrough came when it was printed out to a large scale–forty by forty inches. Up
close it looks impressionistic. From ten feet it becomes painterly. Using the odalisque as a touchstone I am adding grain, noise and color washes to current high resolution work that is very sharp and well
lit. Printed larger than life the figures take on a whole new aspect. I can control the size of the grain in the subsequent photographs as part of the visual vocabulary. When the body of work is finished this
touchstone image will be the one that doesn’t truly fit. Breaking the rule of “noise free is better” has led me to seeing my work in a whole new way–all due to collaborating with the participants of the
workshop and of course John Paul’s guidance.”
Tell him what you think! Comment here!
Check out Kevin’s website here.
Check out my Fine Digital Print workshops here.

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.

Printing – Finding the Coated Side of the Paper


Finding the side of a paper that’s optimized for printing can sometimes be challenging. Here are a few tips to help.
1 Look for the logo – the logo is always on the back.
2 Compare whites – the coated side is often whiter.
3 Feel the surface – the coated side is smoother.
4 Lick the paper – the coated side sticks more.
5 Feel the edge – paper is cut coated side up leaving a tiny lip/edge on the back side.
If you have other tips for finding the coated side of paper, comment here!
Learn this and other tips and techniques in my Fine Digital Print workshops series.

Picture Perfect South American – Cruising Through Life


Vincent Versace, Laurie Excell, and I will be coteaching in a South America cruise February 5-17.
There are some fabulous landings scheduled. Find out more here.
M, February 5   6 PM                 Valparaiso, Chile
T, February 6                             At Sea
W, February 7    7 AM – 6 PM     Puerto Montt, Chile
T, February 8                             At Sea
F, February        7 AM – 8 AM     Pio Xi Glacier, Chile
S, February 10    6 AM – 7 PM     Punta Arenas, Chile
S, February 11    12 PM – 8 PM   Ushuaia, Argentina
M, February 12    8 AM – 9AM    Cape Horn
T, February 13    8 AM – 6 PM    Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
W, February 14                          At Sea
R, February 15                           At Sea
F, February 16    8 AM – 5 PM    Montevideo, Uruguay
S, February 17    6 AM               Buenos Aires, Argentina
What do we do at sea? Seminars. Find out more here.
T February 6
9-11    Excell     Photography Basics
3-5    Excell        Beyond the Basics
R, February 4
9-11    Caponigro    Illuminating Creativity
3-5    Caponigro    6 Simple Steps to Good Color Management
F, February 6
9-11  Caponigro    Creating a Master File
1-2    Caponigro    Essential Camera Tests
4-6    Versace    Lighting on a Laptop Like a Sunbeam
S, February 8
9-11    Caponigro    Creative Sharpening
M, February 9
9-12    Caponigro    The Power of Color
1-3    Caponigro    Black & White Mastery
4-6    Caponigro    The Art of Masking
T, February 11
9-12    Versace    Lighting on a Laptop Like a Sunbeam
1-3    Versace    Seeing Is Believing
4-6    Versace    Image Harvesting
W, February 12
9-12    Versace    Retouching on a Laptop
1-3    Versace    Unleashing the Raw Power of Capture NX
4-6    Versace    Framing Versus Composition
What do you do with the little remaining time? Have a great meal at one of the many onboard restaurants. Get a message at one of the onboard spas. Go swimming in the pools and hot tubs. Or, enjoy retail therapy in the onboard shops. Find out more here.
Want to come? Sign up now here!
Insights Members get $1000 off. This offer is good for the next 5 members that register only.

Focus On Nature – Iceland Journey 2008


“Excuse me sir. Could you help me get lost in Iceland?”
And we loved every minute of it.
If you want to get lost in Iceland, go with the pros; go with Focus On Nature.
We covered some territory and put in some long hours. And yet we feel we’ve only just begun to experience Iceland. Columnar basalt seashores, geothermal hotsprings, volcanic craters, lava beds, glaciers, glacial lagoons, black beaches strewn with ice, waterfalls, wide river deltas, lush river valleys, high deserts … but wait there’s more! But we’re out of time. We’ll have to wait – until next year.
Focus On Nature has been a great experience. Fantastic landscape! Great people!
Find out more about Focus on Nature here.
Get Priority Status for all 2009 workshops now by emailing einar@focusonnature.is.