Thursday, August 31, 2006

Big 'Ol Cameras... for handholding!

No rosewood here. No gold plate, no hand rubbed finish. No attitude. Its bloodline is more Jeep than Rolls Royce. We wanted a large format 8x10 camera that could ride in the trunk with the spare tire and jack and feel comfortable. We wanted an 8x10 that could be hand held. We wanted a lot. This is it.
Take this rugged lightweight instant-ready camera with you wherever you go and you are loaded for bear -- literally!
And here's an interesting article on shooting very large cameras.
Frustrated with the d.o.f. problems of larger formats (in terms of working speed/spontaneity, not results), I've been fascinated with fixed-focus larger-format "cigar box" cameras. I purchased the 8x10 Hobo ( and it worked well (I probably wouldn't have bought it if I didn't already own the 120SW lens for 4x5). I modified the Hobo a teeny bit, adding a metal handle (w/built-in thumb-operated cable release) on the right side (after finding that gripping the camera with my right hand often flexed the film holder, causing light leaks). I also replaced the four lens board bolts with wingnuts and cut a set of lensboard-shaped gaskets (out of mat board, each maybe 1/16" thick) so that by undoing the wingnuts I can (relatively) quickly add or remove gaskets to change the optimal zone of focus from, say, 100 feet to 12 feet (yes, everything is supposed to be in focus from 4' to infinity with the 120mm/f8 lens, but of course that isn't really true; I figured it'd be nice to be able to alter the focus distance at least for infinity landscapes/cityscapes vs. closer street/people shooting). This camera made possible some shots that would have been much more difficult with conventional 8x10 cameras (e.g., handheld shooting from atop a huge ferris wheel and from a helicopter flying over downtown Chicago).

Location Scouting?

Here's a good site with some images from the great southwest parks and monuments. It could be a resource for finding your next shooting trip.

Dan Heller has a nice essay on Monument Valley.
Monument Valley is considered one of the natural wonders of the world because of the beauty of the enormous "monuments" of stone that have evolved from nature: wind and rain chip away at the land over millions of years, eroding the plateau, leaving a vast landscape of tourist opportunities. While the land belongs to the Navajo Indians, the park has been open to tourists since even before the beginning of the frozen yogurt machine. And might I add that one cannot buy higher quality frozen yogurt anywhere else in the Navajo Nation than in the majestic land that is: Monument Valley.
And here from PhotoTravel's site:
Monument Valley has magnificent scenery with huge mesas, stunning buttes, and delicate pinnacles in dramatic formations on a flat desert plain. These stark formations are the "monuments"--their red colors standing out in sharp contrast against a deep blue sky, while ever changing light and cloud shadows create new images. First-time visitors are surprised to learn Monument Valley is not a national park. It is a tribal park administered by the Cultural Resource Department of the Navajo Nation. Indians still live in Monument Valley, herding sheep and goats, weaving rugs, and using hogans-- mud and log structures.
Here's where I stay when I go to Monument Valley.
Deep in the heart of the American Southwest, Goulding's Lodge offers lodging with unprecedented amenities, along with providing unique expeditions enabling the guest to search out the mystery and wonder that is the Navajoland.

Duratrans in a new light

Boy, would I love to spend a week in this house. This house has been spread around the web and email to be Tiger Woods house. It isn't. It is just a luxury rental in Maui. What caught my eye was their use of three large framed Duratrans displays for artwork at the top of the stairs. It shows the dynamic versatility of the material.

If you want to get some great ideas on what the Duratrans can be used for or you just want to dream of a luxurious island get-a-way check out this site: Maui Vacation Palace

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

(Just Like) Starting Over

David Spindel's images of John Lennon's last recording session will be on display in a Seattle production of a play based on John Lennon's life opening on September 7th. Congrats, David! To own one of these amazing images yourself check out David's gallery.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mighty Imaging and the PHOTOtool

Aaaah... a marriage made in, well, you know. Mighty Imaging has a great plan for helping photographers sell more images... let photographers show their images on the MI site, and offer excellant printing and lightning fast delivery for designers, art buyers and consumers world wide.
But finding a web solution was more than a bit daunting. After searching a bunch of solutions, MI finally settled on the PHOTOtool for the favorites/shopping cart functionality. Initially the PHOTOtool was unable to achieve the functionality that was necessary for this multiple photographer site. Daniel altered a couple of areas in the code and it is working fine now. You can see it in action on the site now. Check out the gallery feature and find an image to print for your wall.
(Full disclosure: While I blog here at Mightyimages, I am also an owner of the PHOTOtool. We had originally thought that the PHOTOtool would not be a good match for MI, but in the end, with a bit of customization, it seems to work well.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Photo Puzzle Art

This could be a fun photo project. Why stop at an 11x14 size, why not 20x30? Or as long as your arms will reach.

Decorating : Photography : Photo Puzzle Art : Home
Photographer Betsy Wynkoop shows host Renai Ellison a creative technique for displaying photography in a very personal way (see photo at right).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

File Sharing Roundup

Photographers have large files. Clients need to get those files. There is always a search on for the most efficient ways to get image files to clients, especially large files. File sharing may answer that problem. Trusted networks and user-defined security make yesterday's "napster-like" file sharing into a very powerful tool for photographers and their clients.
Techcrunch » Blog Archive » Let’s Share Some Files - Four Services Compared: "File sharing has long been a popular use of the Internet. I remember sitting at my laptop and asking a friend to name a song, and then seeing if I could download it off of Napster and play it before he could find the cd on the shelf, put it into the player and play the song himself. I often won those competitions.

The old Napster is long gone, but was of course replaced with many other P2P networks. Today, a significant portion of Internet traffic is comprised of files being moved over bittorent, a popular and completely decentralized way of sharing files."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Photoshop Tutorial Movie

Over at my workshop site, I have posted a fun little movie on making a portrait look like it was shot on a view camera with a lot of tilt action. Enjoy.
"I Just call this freeform."
"This is just a fun little movie. I have no preconceived ideas going into it and it works out well with a very interesting portrait reminiscent of a view camera, tinted photo. Follow along for fun."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jim Cowlin's Road Trip

Arizona photographer (and Mighty Imaging artist) Jim Cowlin has been photographing Route 89 for many years. He is using the web to help him finish the project. Check it out and become a member of his project. Jims images can be seen at the Mighty Imaging site and his website.
US Route 89 Appreciation Society: "US Route 89 from Desert to Glacier: A Photographic Exploration of the Geography, History & Culture Along the West’s Most Western Highway

Photographer James Cowlin has begun work on a traveling exhibition and large-format book of photographs of the landscapes along US Route 89. A traveler’s field guide is also planned that will connect the geography and history of the West to places along the road. The project is scheduled for completion by the fall of 2009."
Don will be interviewing Jim about this new project soon and we will carry some of that interview here. Coming soon.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Skin Tones

Skin tones can be a challenge. Here's a couple of articles to simplify the task of making people look less alien-like.
Photoshop Color Skin Tones Tutorial
For those interested in coloring graphically upon the computer, painting, pastels, colored pencils, markers, and any other coloring tool, skin tones are necessary part of human color. The worl is full of variety in color, including the human skin. I look around, and I see many people getting the skincolors wrong. It can be too yelow, too pink, or just not the right color. Getting a realistic skintone can be a really tricky business, but, there is an easy solution to this delimma. I created this tutorial for Photoshop on Photoshop 7. I'm not sure what else will be compatable before Photoshop 7, or other products, but I would think that the steps would be similar.
Here's another short tutorial.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A sunday 'Sharpening' roundup

Big images call for close attention to sharpening. Here are some different views on a subject that ae
Sharpening with Unsharp Mask: "Sharpening filters emphasize the edges in the image, or the differences between adjacent light and dark sample points in an image. The generic Sharpen or Sharpen More filters are often for graphics, and are less suitable for color photographic images. However, filters do vary, the name 'Sharpen' is vague and is not always very descriptive, it is hard to say what they do. But the UnSharp Mask is where the action is for photographs, the standard tool. It offers the necessary greater control."
Here's a nice technical discussion...
Basically, the script works on smaller photos 70mb tiffs but throws up errors when trying to open them when used with larger photos (400mb-470mb). I have tried limiting the script to 8 bits per channel to ease the processing as well as limiting the memory to 5gb (3gb ram 2.5gb swap space). I am using a 2.6.14-2-k7-smp kernel and using debian & imagemagick 6.2.4 which is Q16 (memory has been memtested)
Here is yet another view... at Imaging Resource
In many of the articles on this site, we covered a number of ways to improve your photos digitally, including adjusting tonal balance, and "cloning out" distracting image elements. This time, we're going to drop down to a less obvious level, and deal with the much-maligned and misunderstood technique of image sharpening.
I say "maligned and misunderstood" because many people only use the "sharpening" tools in image editing programs to try to correct for blurry or mis-focused original images. Worse, some manufacturers of low-end editing programs (e.g., Microsoft, with PictureIt) felt that "sharpening" was too technical a term, and so changed it to the more (mis)understandable term "focus." Aarrgghh! (Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.)
And byThom offers this post:
Sharpening is easy to understand at the simplest level—given two digital photos, one sharpened and one not, you’ll always point to sharpened one as having more detail and being “better focused.” Yet, if you were confronted with two sharpened photos, one well done, and the other less so, you might not be able to differentiate between the two.

Unfortunately, most digital photographers have learned sharpening by fixed rules that specify exact values to use in Photoshop's filters, and therefore neither understand why they use the tools they do, or how they might be using them rightly or wrongly. This article attempts to clarify the problems created by digital imaging, and how to apply the correct amount and type of sharpening to fix them.
Now... this looks pretty cool.
Refocus-it was written by Lukas Kunc and the “it” also stands for iteration, because that’s the approach the algorithm (a Hopfield neural network) takes in order to restore image information. Whether or not it’s working is what I’m trying to demonstrate with two test cases: One with an extremely and another with a slightly blurry image. In both cases I tried to enhance the image with an unsharp mask and the refocus-it plugin just as comparison in regard to the plugin’s effectiveness.
I will have to check that out.

Next up - a step-by-step tutorial. Simple, but well stated.
Basic Sharpening
Sharpening is normally the last thing you do before saving a file. There are many ways to sharpen an image in Photoshop. This tutorial describes the main sharpening method using the Photoshop Unsharp mask filter and includes some sample settings and describes when you might use them.
Have a great weekend, and stay sharp!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Panoramic Cameras

Are you considering a wide view for the Fall?
Panoramic camera advice: "A true panoramic camera records an image over more than one film frame, giving an image with elongated proportions. There are many specialist cameras to choose from with this unusual, but very useful, format and below are ones you can consider."
Here is an interesting report on an inexpensive model.

The Russian Horizon 202 is a fully mechanical 35 mm camera with a 28 mm (f2.8-f16) swing lens design covering 120° horizontally and 45° vertically.

Horizon 202, front viewIt is manufactured by KMZ – Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod (Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant) – in Krasnogorsk. KMZ is also known for the Zenit and Zorki cameras and is the largest producer of photographic equipment in Russia and the former Soviet countries.

And for you DIY'ers out there...
Some years back, we published an article showing some panoramic pictures taken with a handmade panoramic camera. We also said that in time we would publish an article on the construction of this camera, but we were putting it off for several reasons, the main one being that building this camera is a demanding task and we wanted to publish some simpler articles first. Nevertheless, many readers continued to write to us asking when this article would be published, pressing us for its publication, reproaching us, even if amiably, because we hadn't done it yet. Well we could delay no longer so here it is. If the fabrication of this camera is too demanding, please forgive us and make note that we have also supplied some simpler methods for making panoramic pictures.
And one more... A decent roundup of articles.
Digital images can be readily stitched to make panoramas. Probably the best software available for this is the free Panorama Tools, and there are several Windows and Mac front ends to make this more user-friendly, including the free Hugin project.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wegman's Weimaraners

Do you love dogs? Do you love photography? I know I do. If you are going to be in the nation's capitol before the end of September check out this exhibit of Wegman's infamous weimaraners:
William Wegman-Funney/Strange
07/01/2006 - 09/24/2006
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Family, Young Adult, Adult
William Wegman (b. 1943) is beloved by the public and held in critical esteem by the international art world for his smart, gently subversive humor that parodies all things familiar. "William Wegman—Funney/Strange" is the first in-depth look at the artist in 15 years and examines his work in all media from the 1960s to the present. The exhibition will feature photographs, works on paper, paintings, conceptual work, videos, writings and rare archival materials. Several surprising new bodies of work will be seen in relation to classics, such as the photographs of his weimaraners.

The Reynolds Center - Calendar

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Digital Art - By Nelson Teixeira

Wow... imagine these images at 40x60 in your conference room. Nice work. Would look really cool large.
BubbleShare: Digital Art - By Nelson Teixeira

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's Hot. Let's go to the mountains...

Weekend travelers going to the high country. Ahhh... But if you can't go, or are stuck at home this weekend, let us travel to the peaks virtually. Here are some fun mountain shots. As always, we think they would look cooler printed really big.

Our first post is a great set of images of the Rocky Mountains. The website isn't very good, but the images are excellent. Enjoy looking around here.
Pictures of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains
Can't even speak about mountain photography without looking at the astounding work of Galen Rowell. Some poeple leave too soon. We miss Galen's incredible eye.
Born in 1940 in Oakland and raised in Berkeley, California, to a college professor and a concert cellist, Galen was introduced to wilderness before he could walk. He began climbing mountains at the age of ten on Sierra Club outings, and at sixteen made his first roped climbs in Yosemite Valley. Over the next fifteen years he logged more than a hundred first ascents of new routes there and in the High Sierra backcountry.
Alex Milne's Mountains are ethereal.
Mountain is founded and maintained by me - Alex Milne. I welcome the participation of any photographers who share my passion for the high mountains.
Ok... once you figure out how to work the damn web site, the images are really fine. (I should do a rant sometime on why photographers think they should have some techie looking site... sheesh). Anthony Nielson's work is way better than his site. Take a look....

Aaahhh... a guy, a mountain, a point-and-shoot and, voila, instant cool mountain shots. A good eye helps as well.

Betty Shelton loves the Smoky Mountains. You can see it in her lovely work.

And some food for thought from Travel Quest.
Mountains are by nature photogenic, but it is not always easy to capture their scenic grandeur in a photograph. The first requirement is to use decent equipment – simple point-and-shoot cameras, either using film or digital, can yield good results, but for most purposes,a good quality 35 mm camera with a selection of lenses is necessary.
Some good advice here as well.

Words and pictures Colin Prior

'An image doesn't start with a camera - it ends there.' is a useful maxim borrowed from one of the National Geographic Photographer's Field Guides.

Its simple, concise message serves to remind photographers that it is what lies 'beyond the lens' that should command their attention. Nevertheless. For each assignment it is essential to have the right photographic equipment at hand, together with an understanding of its limitations.

We close for now with some outstanding images from Willie Holdman.

“I had visited this meadow several times and each time offered a different reward. This autumn day had a blanket of gray across the sky. As I reached the crest of the meadow the sun had managed to pierce through the clouds and illuminate a ridge of aspens. Just as I had prepared my camera, another ray of light danced across the top of Mt. Timpanogos. A photograph was taken.”

Friday, August 11, 2006

When do you need permission to photograph someone?

Asked and answered at Digital Photography School.
Asking Permission to Photograph People: "1. I always ask for permission if the person will be the main subject of my photo - I figure that I’m a guest in another country and that I want to behave like I’d expect someone to behave if they were in my home - with respect and friendliness.

2. If a person is a minor subject in a larger photo I don’t seek permission - it’s just not logistically possible to ask everyone on a street if you can photograph them!"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Feral Flowers

Hey. you like landscape photography? You like wildflowers? You like desert floors covered with color? Good. We do too. We think they make great statements when printed as wide as possible. Need some inspiration, or just want to see some amazing desert floral images? Here ya go.
Feral Flowers - Desert Wildflowers - Visions of Ephemeral Eden - Landscape Photography: "This rare wildflower landscape portfolio represents a 20-year historical documentation of a phenomenon in the Californian deserts known as 'carpet blooms', the surreal display of flowers on a scale and magnitude unseen anywhere else on Earth. A Force of Nature born from an extreme land of mountains, deserts, faultlines and sporadic seasonal rains, a unique biodiverstiy hotspot listed by Conservation International as endangered.

Most of these landscape vistas so revered by Native Americans and romanticized by early Californian explorers have only appeared once in 20 years of photographing them. Many seasons these inconstant flowers appear in different locations, even after winters of copious rain there may be none at all. The same density or type of wildflowers may never bloom for 25 to 100 years.

Photographing Fall Colors

A simple page on tips for shooting autumn colors in the desert.
Desert Gold - Photographing Fall Colors in Utah's Desert from Wild Things Photography: "When one thinks of fall colors, that image conjured up is usually of a location somewhere in the NorthEast US. Nobody really think of the desert. But don't forget that deserts have oases, and those oases can produce some stunning color that rival those of the east."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The best of both worlds

This is an older article that just came to my attention. If you love your windows software, but are 'jonesin' for a Mac... check this out. I think this could be very substantial for photographers wanting to take advantage of cool Windows apps like Picasa, while keeping with their legacy Mac software. The key here is you don not have to reboot, like Mac's "Bootcamp" tool.
Run Windows and Mac OS Both at Once - New York Times: "Boot Camp's problem, though, is right there in its name: You have to reboot (restart) the computer every time you switch systems. As a result, you can't copy and paste between Mac and Windows programs. And when you want to run a Windows program, you have to close everything you were working on, shut down the Mac, and restart it in Windows — and then reverse the process when you're done. You lose two or three minutes each way.

NO wonder, then, that last week, the corridors of cyberspace echoed with the sounds of high-fiving when a superior solution came to light. A little company called Parallels has found a way to eliminate all of those drawbacks — and to run Windows XP and Mac OS X simultaneously.

The software is called Parallels Workstation for Mac OS X, although a better name might be No Reboot Camp. It, too, is a free public beta, available for download from You can pre-order the final version for $40, or pay $50 after its release (in a few weeks, says the company)."

This is great for printing web pages

Many times we want to print the information from a page and then sit helplessly watching all the color ink get used up in the banner images, backgrounds and such. This Firefox extension really helps when you need to print something just for the, you know, content. BTW... with two daughters in school, this should help reduce some color ink refills.
Aardvark Firefox Extension: "Clean up unwanted banners and surrounding 'fluff,' especially prior to printing a page"

Horses by Michael Eastman

Gorgeous images here. No text, just 9 images of horses that are astounding. Michael Eastman is a reknown photographer, get to know his work by clicking around here.
R. Duane Reed Gallery - Images for Michael Eastman - Horse Series
Update: More images here.

How to Mount a Print

Simple DIY instructions for matting and presenting images. You may already know most of this, but a little refresher is always a good idea.
Mount a Print: "Photographic prints should be mounted so they can be removed from the mount easily, and cannot contact the glass if they are framed. This is done using a window overmat."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cloning For Political Advantage

After the news this weekend that a certain Reuters news photographer has been faking images, (besides the example below, there are more of this guys work coming out with captions that are predating the event and more) I can't help but wonder how much we are told is real, well, isn't. Photoshop used as a political weapon can be very powerful, especially when probably 95% of the people that saw the shot never knew that it was eventually exposed and removed... they just remember the phony image. Thanks, Kevin, for this unique thread... - Odd photo from Lebanon...: "->> I know that building plans are often reused in other parts of the world, but if you look at the building that's the apparent source of the plume on the left (as well as the next two buildings to its right) it appears that it's been rubber stamped at least two other times up and to the right. "

Update: Looks like Reuters finally gets it. BTW... this is not a political post, this is a photographer post. This kind of deception simply undermines our profession. I am glad that there is a public outcry and that it is being dealt with.
LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.

One More Week to Enter...

Hey, Hot Shot!: "On Wednesday September 6, 2006 jen bekman will present the Summer 2006 edition of Hey, Hot Shot! Winners' Showcase, an ongoing series of exhibitions by emerging photographers.

Enter your photography in to the Hey, Hot Shot Summer competition. If you're selected by our panel of experts, you will be:
*featured as one of 10 photographers in the Hey, Hot Shot 2006 Summer Showcase
*represented by jen bekman : in the gallery's inventory and on its website.
*eligible to be one of 4 finalists who show in the Hey, Hot Shot Annual, and be represented by jen bekman through 2007 ."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Charles Brooks receives a mighty honor

We love our mighty artists. It is always good to see them get the recognition they deserve.

Charlie Brooks' Havasu Heaven was recognized this month by the Professional Photographers of America as one of their membership's outstanding photographs. The PPA accepted Charlie's print into their 2006 Loan Collection. PPA will exhibit this print along with other Loan Collection recipients' in their world tour exhibit. Additionally, PPA will publish their annual Loan Collection book in December including images from all the recognized photographers. Typically, only 13% of PPA's national membership of photographers achieve Loan Collection acceptance. For Charlie, this is his third. Congratulations!

You can see more of Charles' work and buy his artwork here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Photoshop - the power to create...

...whole new realities. Brian Dilg Photography.
Mouse over the image to see the unretouched original. This image for Bravo's Project Runway involved a lot of changes to the set, replacing the head on the woman at the back, lots of cosmetic skin work that won't be apparent in this little JPEG, and of course plenty of digital flattery. All par for the retouching world these days.
I do plenty of photoshopping as well. This work is very well done.

"I was framed, man..."

We were working with a client on some fabulous nature images and we started looking for a unique way to frame them. We found some cool resources along the way. Thought we would pass them on.

This site features premade small frames and the ability to quote custom for the really large frames we love.... Talk about making a statement!
Custom Barnwood Picture Frames: "Custom barnwood picture frames are no problem because we make all custom frames lovingly and carefully by hand--the same way we make all our picture frames. Included on this page are two custom calculators to assist you in determing our pricing on custom picture frames. Please note that we do not offer glass larger than 12 X 16. This is because it will most likely break in transit. So, if you need a custom picture frame that is larger--like a 10 X 20 frame, or a 18 X 22 frame or even a 5 X 36 size frame--or if you do not require glass, use the 'Custom Picture Frames without Glass' calculator. Otherwise, use the 'Custom Picture Frames with Glass' calculator to determine the price of your custom picture frames including glass. "
This site is an online only store. is your online picture frame outlet. We custom cut your picture frames to any frame size you need. Please compare the many different picture frame styles and colors at e Frame to any other online picture frame store.

There are also wonderful framers in your town. Visit them, pick one that has a good understanding about framing images and then work with them to create your unique frame styles.