About Hardware

D300 for sale

I’ve recently upgraded to the very nice D600 and will be selling my trusty D300. It’s seen some use but has had its shutter replaced about a year ago and been to Nikon for cleaning and new rubber grips just a few months ago.

Included is the 18-70 3.5-4.5 DX lens (very sharp for a kit lens), MB-D10 grip and BL-3 Battery Chamber Cover (for the larger EN-EL4a batteries, I can throw in an EN-EL4a battery (boosts the fps to 8), but you’d need to get a charger for it). All this goes for more than $800 over on KEH. I’m asking $725.

Making images with Dale Bernstein

Ginny Taylor Rosner came by the M10 studio this morning to talk about her show with us next month. (Don’t miss it!) While she was there, wet plate photographer Dale Bernstein joined us for a tour of the Complex, and afterwords we joined him on Mass Ave to watch him make some tintypes of the old Coca-Cola Bottling plant. I had my camera, so I did a little documenting of the very interesting and involved process.

Dale starts by cutting an 8×10″ section from a sheet of black-painted aluminum. He then works with the aluminum in his portable dark room, coating the black surface in a light-sensitive colloidal solution (or is it “collodion”? I’m not sure).

This is the cleverly constructed dark room:

And Dale, inside at work:

Talk about a stark contrast, me with my modern digital camera, snapping away at 3200 ISO (I couldn’t even see inside the dark room window with my own eyes but the camera was able to focus and record images), while Dale took a couple hours to make three exposures. We absolutely have no excuses these days. If we can’t make compelling images, the fault lies squarely with us.

Here Dale is composing for an exposure.

And he exposes the image, counting out the 10 seconds while holding the shutter open, this was at f/11.5, I think.

After the exposure Dale develops the plate in the dark room, then dips it in fixer:

Dale with a finished image:

On the third exposure Dale asked for a volunteer to sit in, I made the noble sacrifice. :)

This was a fascinating process, creating a beautiful artifact. Certainly something that we don’t get with digital cameras. It is involved though, and there is a lot that stands between the artist and his image.

When the right tools matter (and a bit about paper)

That photography is a tool-oriented art is not a new idea, but it’s sometimes surprising to me how much the tool can matter.  I used to fight with my old D70, but when I got the D300 it was like the scales fell away.  Finally a camera that got out of the way and let me get down to making pictures.  Even more so with the D700.

The same holds true for printing, I’ve recently found.  I’ve tried my own printing in the past, at first years ago with an early Epson inkjet, then more recently with a hand-me-down Epson R1800.  I enjoyed the process somewhat, but between me and making a print were too many hoops.  I never could get the color quite right in my home-made prints and the cost of ink was outrageous (a frustration compounded by frequent nozzle clogs that wasted far too much ink to get cleared).

With the launch of IndyHikes (something I need to write about here), I recently purchased a new photo printer, hoping to be able to sell prints to help support the project.  This isn’t a printer review, nor is it meant as an endorsement for Epson printers, but like other photo equipment, I’ve finally found a printer that gets out of the way.  (Or possibly, printing technology as progressed enough that many current printers are sufficiently slick enough to get out of the way, but I happen to have purchased an Epson 4900.)

It’s still not a perfect process, you  have to know about paper profiles and have the equipment and know-how to make the profiles if they aren’t provided by the paper manufacturer.  Finding the paper that works for each image and makes it really sing is just a blast, though.  And, better yet, seeing that the same image can say different things depending on what paper it is printed on adds a whole new dimension to image making.

So far, here’s a few of my favorite papers: Epson’s Cold Press Natural for warm-toned B&W, and Cold Press Bright for color images that work well on textured paper (like this: http://prints.pdaphotography.com/p251038326/h2342a7cd#h2342a7cd).  I also liked Museo’s Textured Rag quite a bit for color with texture and Moab’s Entrada Rag Bright for color without texture.  Moab’s Slickrock Metallic Pearl or Inkpress’ Metallic Glossy for a print that really pops but isn’t over the top (these papers are so similar I have trouble telling them apart).  Epson’s Exhibition Fiber is a very nice gloss paper, I need to experiment with this one a little more though.

I’ve been babbling about this sort of thing over on Facebook lately, so if you’d like to chat some find me over there.