Recent photography projects and an unexpected influence

Green Fields - Maui, Hawaii

Green Fields – Maui, Hawaii

I’ve been busy with a few photography related projects and it’s cut into to my blogging time. I’m hoping to resume regular posts soon. I have a lot to talk about.

I gave a HDR lecture last Thursday that took a good deal of prep time. Not just creating the slides but the mental energy thinking of what to say and all the angst associated with public speaking. I’m happy to report that it went well and several people had complimentary things to say. We had a larger than normal turnout and a healthy 15 folks continued the discussion over a late dinner and drinks. It was a good time.

Surprisingly, a few thought I was a veteran public speaker but this isn’t so. It’s the first time I’ve talked in front of an audience for nearly 2 hours. I’ve been in front of a small group for a few minutes during business presentations at work, but that’s about it. My biggest observation? Between the 2 hour live talk and the 1 hour practice at home, my throat was sore. The larynx is made partially of muscle after all and I have never stressed it so. I suppose, like any muscle, with practice it will get stronger.

HDR is a good topic for me, I guess. After more than 4 years of practice, I should know it cold. I’m glad it’s over though — it frees up time for other things. I’m thinking of how I can deliver this HDR content through the blog. A few followers suggested that I tape the lecture but I wasn’t ready to take on that challenge. Time is always a constraint but I’m thinking of covering the content through a series of blog posts. Let me know if that interests you. Your feedback may determine how motivated I become.

Puffy Cloud Stuck on a Mountain - Maui, Hawaii

On to my other projects.

I’m working on getting my film negatives scanned to digital. The highest priority was the first 2 years of my older son’s life. I shot film with a point and shoot until 2002. Those scans are finished and I’m going backwards in time through my wedding and pre-wedding photos.

Quite unexpectedly, the scanning project has really altered my perspective on film. I was never a serious photographer until digital, so despite being 50 years old, I’ve never truly experienced film. I have no nostalgia for it, in fact, and I generally despised it. The smaller 3 1/2 by 5 inch prints never looked that great and it was always a crap shoot of how well a photograph came out. I merely took snap shots with a fully automatic point and shoot to document key life events.

As recently as four years ago, I first got my son’s newborn pictures scanned. They didn’t look great and it just reinforced my already negative view of film. But something changed.

My recent scans are different. The colors look better and the resolution, higher. Scanning technology has improved as well as my post processing skills. I started to unlock color and details that I never knew existed in my humble negatives. Keep in mind that I used inexpensive consumer grade film with a modest point and shoot. And these negatives are 15 years old or older. Who would’ve thought?

So because of the film scanning project, I’m taking a fresh look at film. I’ve started down that road and I’ll talk more about it in upcoming posts. Yes, film is grainy and it has many disadvantages compared to digital but I love the color — It’s a very different feel. Like many parents in Central Texas, I have photos of my baby sitting in a field of Bluebonnets, Texas’ official flower. My boy was wearing a bright red shirt, surrounded by blueish-purple flowers and green grass. The colors are awesome. I’ve never seen colors like this coming out of my digital cameras. I’m curious what fresh film in a better camera with my photography skills can do.

Film maybe old news to some of you, please excuse the diversion. I just have to see what it can do, to satisfy my curiosity. It’s a brave new retro world, at least for me. The two photos above are scans of Maui shot from helicopter 17 years ago, during my honeymoon. I post processed the negative scans to bring out more color.

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10 thoughts on “Recent photography projects and an unexpected influence

  1. I’d be an eager reader of your step-by-step instructional posts on HDR. For the most part I don’t care for the stylistic approach used by many: the transformation of ordinary scenes to spray paint. Your use of HDR as an extender of dynamic range has been very satisfying — all the way back to the nightside street shots in Honolulu done with (I think) a Canon camera. And the ROT Rally motorcycle images, those of bikes parked at night with neon in the background and color LEDs on some of the motorcycles, are extraordinary.

    As to scanning — I hope you’re doing your own, rather than sending them out. That inexpensive Epson V500 recommended by your buddy Kirk does a great job.

    1. Thanks for you feedback Michael.

      Regarding the scanning, I’m using an inexpensive service and I’m happy with the results. With well over a 1000 images, I don’t have the time or patience to scan them myself. Perhaps for select images, I might try the self scanning route.

  2. I look forward to your HDR information. As for film: due to a move, I have abandoned the ‘wet’ darkroom. I used to process color, but more recently B&W. I still shoot film (35mm & 6×6), usually B&W. Scanning and digital darkroom techniques are fun as well. The big thing lacking is watching a black and white image appear in the developing tray.

    I enjoy your posts- keep them coming!

  3. Andy, thanks for the great presentation on HDR. It was thorough and easy to follow. I’ve been wanting to dabble in HDR, so now I definitely feel more informed and ready. And I know what clown vomit looks like! By the way, discovered that our Sony RX100iii has manual focus AND built-in settings to choose from 3 or 5 images 2 stops apart. No reason not to try with the point and shoot!

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