Farewell Kodak – Tribute to George Eastman inventor of the roll film

George Eastman

It’s sad to hear that Kodak is preparing to file for bankruptcy. It really does mark the end of an era for me. I used to use Kodak film.

It was inevitable really as digital photography and now mobile photography has been sweeping the world relegating film photography to the realms of the silver print enthusiast or toy camera retro fan.

Synonymous with the phrase the “Kodak moment”, the company revolutionised photography, bringing the art to the masses.

 

Where did the name Kodak come from?

George Eastman said: “I devised the name myself. The letter ‘K’ had been a favourite with me – it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.

It became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with ‘K.’ The word ‘Kodak’ is the result.”

George Eastman: A Forward Thinker

It was George Eastman who founded the Eastman Kodak Company and invented roll film. It is he whom we need to thank for helping to make photography mainstream. His roll film also lead to the development of motion picture film in 1888 used by the world’s first filmmakers Edward Muybridge and Louis Le Prince.

Eastman was a bank clerk when he became interested in photography in his early 20s. Although he invested in some photographic equipment for his holidays he ended up not taking it (reminds me of when I leave the Canon 1D behind!). He was much less enthusiastic about the cumbersome and limiting nature of wet-plate technology than he was about the idea of photography itself.

He decided to develop an alternative photographic technology, based on an existing gelatin emulsion technique.

He continued working at the bank while inventing and experimenting during his evenings.

By 1880 he had perfected his dry-plate formula and started his photographic business full time.

Still developing his methods Eastman began looking for ways to render glass plates obsolete. The result was the first light-sensitive, gelatin-coated paper that could be rolled onto a holder.

George Eastman was forward thinking and progressive, he would probably be turning in his grave if he was aware of the companies. Persistent failure to recognise and adapt to changing market conditions. As the Wall Street Journal recently wrote: “This company failed long ago.”
Kodak Patent

The problem was that Kodak failed to see the potential of digital photography early enough. The first digital cameras were bulky and slow and took really poor quality images compared to film. The company failed to recognise the public’s hunger for digital imaging technology or the lightning speed with which technology is now developed to meet customer demand.

A true gentleman, George Eastman was a major philanthropist, establishing schools of music and dentistry and even contributing towards the construction of a second campus for MIT. His generosity didn’t stop there, however, he even provided funds for several clinics in European cities to serve those with low-incomes. He donated $625,000 to the Mechanics Institute in 1901 (that converts to a value of $16.5 million today!), now the Rochester Institute of Technology which was a huge sum of money back in 1901.

Towards the end of his life Eastman was in intense pain, he had developed a degenerative disorder affecting his spine. Having watched his mother spend the last two years of her life in a wheelchair suffering from the same condition, in addition to his own pain, he became depressed. Finally on March 14, 1932, George Eastman took his own life with a single gunshot to the heart. He left a suicide note reading: “To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?”

It is an urban myth that his body, buried in Kodak Park in Rochester, New York, is still preserved due to the amount of Kodak chemicals in the ground!

Street Photography – Eric Kim Workshop

I attended an Eric Kim workshop last Saturday. I attend a lot of workshops even when I cover some of the same ground there is always something new to learn and great people to meet. I had intended to write some philosophical street photography musings based on the workshop, but when I looked at my notes, all just keywords and short sentences, I thought that’s it.

Street Photography workshop – 50 tips from Eric Kim

1. Smile

Happy Lady

SMILE – LOOK HAPPY – (click image to buy)

2. Look Happy

3. Capture the essence of people

4. Opportunities are all around

5. Jump in

6. Work fast

7. Have courage

8.  Take risks

9. Tell stories

 

tell stories

 

10. Pick the moment

11. Take candid photographs

12. Interact with Environment

13. Forget about Kit

14. Get Passionate

15. Capture the human condition

16. Open your Eyes

17. Look up

Look Up - Brighton Pride

Look Up – Brighton Pride – (click image to buy)

18. Look Down

brighton naked bike ride - looking down - (click image to buy)

brighton naked bike ride – looking down – (click image to buy)


19. Use your Lunchtime

20. Notice the unnoticed

21. Be bold

22. People love having their picture taken!

23. The doubts are in your Mind

24. Forget what others think

25. The more you do it, the less awkward it will be

26. Creepiness is proportionate to focal length…

27. Get close

Pug Brighton Pride Dog Show - GET CLOSE - (click image to buy)

 

28. Shoot wide

Crawford Market, vegetable market, Mumbai, India

SHOOT WIDE – Crawford Market- Mumbai – (click image to buy)


29. Be invisible

30. Try P mode

31. Use a small camera

32. See beauty in the mundane

shoreditch london street

 

33. Relax

34. See things form different angles

35. Small aperture – Fast Shutter

36. Faster or equal to 250th sec

37. Turn off Image Stabilization

38. Experiment

39. Always have a camera with you

40. Look for Juxtaposition…

41. Capture relationships between people or things

42. You only need a handful of good photos…

43. Be easy on yourself

44. Look for signs and objects that interact

45. Get your timing right

46. Practise

47. Wait for the moment…

48. Grab the shot

49. Look for texture and shadow

50. Have Fun

If you liked this you’ll love Eric’s 100 things I have learned about photography.

Silicon Beach Training offer workshops in Lightroom,  Photoshop, Advanced Photoshop and have recently added Premiere Elements Training for all of you budding video fanatics who want to edit video for your blog.

Lomo Kev and Using Flickr for Photographers

Great night at the camera club last night. Kevin Meredith AKA Lomo Kev talked us through his impressive photography achievements from the early days of flickr to the publication of his books.  52 Photographic Projects and Hot Shots: How to Refresh Your Photos and of his upcoming publication Toy Cameras which I’m looking forward to.

Lomo Kev at Brighton Camera Club

Lomo Kev at Brighton Camera Club

Using Flickr as a platform to publicise your work is a must in the array of Social Media options for Photographers. Kevin is a shining example of someone who used Flickr to show his images, and gain world wide recognition for his unique and quirky style. Over time, people started to hire him for commissions; He has worked for Dr Martins and The Times newspaper – all because of his evident passion for photography displayed in his account on Flickr. One thing he mentioned in in talk is that it is good to create themes and sets of subjects. His interesting collection of shoe images and of course the reputation that he had built up, were key to  his Dr Martins commission for which he was sent to LA – not a bad gig. His wellie collection lead to the Times Newspaper feature, and his portrait montages have lead to fashion commissions.

Flickr’s big strength is in its communities. There are Flickr groups consisting of photo libraries and discussion forums for nearly any topic imaginable. Whether it’s a type of camera, a technique, a theme, a location, or even a color, there’s a Flickr group of fellow enthusiasts devoted to that topic.

I myself have sold work through flickr, got commissions etc. I have had enquiries from magazines, newspapers, sportswear suppliers, families the list goes on. People have found me by searching for location or subject matter, for example when I cover an event I often get enquires as my images are well tagged and will come up prominently in searches for the event name. Flickr supports a wide range of metadata. Keywords are the most obvious (Flickr calls them tags). I have been asked to exhibit through Flickr and requests often come in to use my images on the web with credits or links to my site, that’s all great for SEO (search engine optimisation).

My flickr account: Heather Buckley on Flickr

Lomo Kev’s Flickr account: Kevin Meredith on Flickr

Here are a few reasons why, as a photographer you should be maintaining a Flickr account:

  1. It is the #2 rated photography website in the U.S., UK, it holds a near 40 percent market share in the U.S. Photobucket is still the leader, – Flickr’s global presence could still be greater.
  2. Yahoo! acquired Flickr in 2005 – so it has been optimized with the Yahoo! Image Search tool.
  3. Flickr’s photos are listed in the Google, Tag your images properly and it is not too difficult to appear in on the front page of Google’s image search.
  4. Technorati, personalised and start pages, as well as various other portals, websites and blogs will pull in and display Flickr pictures through RSS feeds.
  5. All of these direct sources can be funnelled back to your website, and at least make others aware of your brand and/or product.

It’s not just photographers that can use Flickr for SEO and Publicity gains, although you need to use it creatively as it’s not supposed to be used for commercial advertising.

So if you are not already using Flickr as a photographer time to get started and if you already have an account time to seriously start tagging your work.

Silicon Beach Training run a great set of Social Media Training, SEO Training, WordPress Training and Blogging training courses.

You can see Kevin talking about photography and Social Media at Google headquarters;

Using Photoshop with Exposure bracketing

With the new trend for High Dynamic Range (HDR) images, it is becoming quite popular to bracket your exposures. In my experience though not everything looks great with exposure spread evenly throughout the image making it look highly unnatural and often quite fussy.

tattooed man in shiney american airstream

tattooed man in shiny American airstream – Brighton – click to buy this image

Unnatural I can cope with but I sometimes long for some moody areas of blackness, or even the occasional burnt out mass of white. When I used film, I would use the grainiest film and the hardest papers and I miss all that drama. So I am going to show you how you can use bracketed exposures to get even more drama rather than less. This is especially effective for images with difficult light/exposure conditions as it allows you to get the details back where you want it or to loose it – you stay in control.

Exposure bracketing means that you take one correctly exposed image and two more pictures: one slightly under-exposed (usually by dialing in a negative exposure compensation, say -1/3EV), and the second one slightly over-exposed (usually by dialing in a positive exposure compensation, say +1/3EV), again according to your camera’s light meter. But if you have an image that has various parts of the image under or over exposed you can export three images using Camera RAW or Adobe Lightroom and import them into Photoshop. You could use the vomitty Merge to HDR technique (I know it can sometimes look good and I have used it myself!) or you can use masks to get back the detail in the highlights and put some depth in the shadows.

The image above started out like this:

original exposure

original exposure

Now I’ve gone to quite a lot of trouble here – first I asked if I could take his picture in his hoodie reflected in the bus, than I said “Yes Please”, and kept a serious face on when he offered to strip. I like the picture but it has no drama, there’s detail in the sky but you can’t see it, his face is too dark and the background is too fussy, some of the detail has been lost in the strong highlight on his back. So I have used Lightroom here to underexpose the image (you could use Camera Raw) until I see what I want in the sky. I then opened the image up in Photoshop.

expose for the sky

expose for the sky

I then exposed the original image for his back and opened up the image in a new layer in the Photoshop document.

expose for the back

expose for the back

Then I exposed the original image for his face and opened that up in Photoshop too so that I have three layers all exposed differently.

expose for the face

expose for the face

  1. I put the over exposed one at the bottom of the layers and left that one alone
  2. Then I added masks to the top two layers by clicking on the quick mask icon when I have the layer selected
  3. Turn off the top layer by clicking on the eye icon next to that layer.
  4. Select the middle layer and make sure you have the mask and not the layer selected and brush black where you want the underlying image to show through and white where you don’t want it
  5. You can use the selection tools for sharper lines and fill with black but you may need to soften the selection using refine selection or by painting the edge afterward with a soft brush
  6. You can also play with the opacity of the brush strokes so you can have some of the underlying image showing through
  7. Do the same with the top layer
  8. Play around until you have the effect you want and save your image.
  9. I have done my final overall effects in Lightroom as I find it the most versatile. I have increased the clarity using the “Punch” effect and converted to Black and White.

If you need Lightroom Training or a Photoshop Course you can book with Silicon Beach Training. We also offer Email Marketing Training, Access Training and SEO training.

Using Fill Flash for Portraits and Events

There are many tutorials on this subject, I know, I have read most of them! Still I have always found it tricky fiddling with the camera and flash settings at events like the Brighton Zombie Walk, when all I’m interested in is capturing all of those split second moments or getting people to pose for a second and not wait while I fiddle!

f-Beach-of-the-Dead.jpg_backup

Brighton Zombie Walk 2010

For all the expert  advice I have received I seem to have a virtually fool proof way of getting results like this:

white-night-zombie-walk-brighton-6

 

and this:

 zombie walk Brighton 2010

Holy Smoke – zombie walk Brighton 2010 – click to buy this image

  1. I just keep the flash in automatic “E-TTL” setting. You see the beauty of fill-in flash with a modern SLR is that the camera adjusts background exposure and flash exposure automatically, with little input required from the user. That’s how I like it. I know we should be in control blah blah blah and well done anyone who can do all of this in a flash while running around like a maniac like I do at these events.
  2. I set my camera to capture RAW images – important for making sure your highlights don’t blow so much you can’t get them back
  3. I also put set my ISO to 400 when it’s not really bright and sunny, I know another rule break! that way I find the flash is less obvious. I also underexpose my images in camera by 1/2 stop and sometimes 2/3 of a stop as I find it really brings out the sky (I’m holding my breath here waiting for the onslaught of comments telling me why I shouldn’t do this but it really works for me!).
  4. …..And… wait for it…. I leave my camera on P mode.

That’s it, people ask me all the time how I get such great colours in the sky when using my flash and there you have it, breaking all the rules. If you know the real and proper “how to do it” then feel free to let everyone know what I’m doing wrong in my comments section. There is a minimal amount of Photoshoppery to learn more about Photoshop come down to Brighton for a Photoshop  Training Course. We also offer Business Training and Prince2 Training as well as SEO Training and Social Media

Is Photoshop Good or Bad for Photography?

Some people claim that Photoshop is destroying the art of photography.

There is so much information out there on improving your shots with Photoshop that we do seem to be encouraged not to worry about learning good camera techniques but simply learn how to ‘fix it’ in Photoshop.

london market

This was more or less finished in the camera. I have selected the correct exposure, decided on the focus, waited for a good position of the lady in the background and click. I have, however, added a vignette and boosted clarity in Lightroom – no Photoshop here! (Click this image to buy )

In a way Photoshop allows you to skip some of the key techniques that can improve your camera skills in favour of trying to quick fix it on the computer.

Though I use Photoshop extensively in my work, I do think it’s really important to learn how to use, aperture, focal length, ISO, Shutter Speed etc, and understand camera settings and the effects they have on your images in order to get it right at the time of taking the shot. This can save you hours messing about with Adobe Photoshop afterwards, after all, who would prefer an hour of fixing a problem in front of a computer screen to messing about outside in the landscape or street having fun experimenting with your camera? More time out in the field rather than spending hours at a PC also gives you more opportunity to see and capture a moment and to enjoy the natural world and it’s inhabitants. Photography should be fun, exciting and free, it should not be about being glued to a computer screen all day, what’s the fun of that?

Photoshop is still amazing, and it is great to be able to recover a missed opportunity, but maybe we are becoming too reliant on it and wonder if the tendency these days to use it instead of learning the correct technique is makes us poorer photographers.

You can, on the other hand, use Photoshop (or Camera Raw or Lightroom for that matter) as a leaning tool by noting the adjustment you need to make each time and trying to get those right first time in camera next time. It can be good when you have limited time in on location and don’t have time to take different images on different settings, because it’s all about the moment, like at an event when everything is moving fast. So it’s useful if you have made a mistake on a great image or change your mind after the event, or for doing really funky things that are impossible in camera.

skateboarding brighton

This has been in Photoshop! Whilst the shutter speed, apperture and ISO have been carefully selected to freeze the action. I have moved one of the lamposts on the promanade so that it doesn’t go up his bottom! The Black and White conversion, the square crop, and the burning in of the edges especially the left corner has been done in Lightroom. (Click this image to buy )

However – ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear” – Photoshop cannot correct a badly focused image or a badly composed one. It can correct things the camera got wrong, like white balance, and you can go to any extremes in processing to create a particular effect if that is what you want.
If you want to visually transform an image then that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. You can combine images, change skies, get rid of blemishes, clone out things, get rid of noise, desaturate parts of an image, selectively darken or lighten parts of a image- these are the things that Photoshop excel in.

Things you should definitely learn to do in camera:

1. Select the right depth of field / lens aperture
2. Decide where you want your Focus
3. Choose a great composition
4. Choose the right shutter speed to avoid camera shake, or enhance movement.
5. Choose a filter when necessary for example a polarising filter

Things you can learn to do either the camera or Photoshop

1. Colour balance
2. Sharpening (jpegs only)
3. Using filters (on camera) or filter effects (PS)

Things you can only do in PS

1. Cropping and straightening
2. Dodging and burning
3. Adjusting low and high levels independently
4. Adjusting levels brightness / contrast, hue / saturation etc
5. Lots of strange filter effects.
6. Cutting and pasting part of on photo to another.

If you get it really wrong in camera delete – don’t waste your precious time. Learn as much about your camera settings as you can and start to experiment and practise with your settings. If you get it nearly right you can recover in PS, even though cameras are really sophisticated they don’t alway get it right on Auto.
I know photographers have very different opinions about this, what do you think?

If you need help with learning Photoshop I can recommend the beginners Photoshop Training course and the Advanced Photoshop Training courses at Silicon Beach Training

Using Back Lighting Creatively in Photography

Back lighting can be tricky to master, but when you think about it logically and decide what you want to use it for and what the possibilities are you can get some beautiful or moody effects using back lighting.

backlit-portrait

back-lit portrait – click to buy this image

Well when all the light is behind and therefore around the image (this is usually a very large area of the image) the camera will decide on the exposure taking all of this very bright light from the background into consideration. It will do its best to get everything exposed perfectly, but the chances are that this will be impossible for your camera. So what happens? We’ve all seen them – the background has some detail or is exposed reasonably well, but your subject in-front of the light is dark.

This can work really well for silhouettes.

However if you want detail in your subject you are going to have to:

Blow out the background (let it overexpose) some photographer love this effect.
try and overexpose your shot so that you get some detail in the face
try it with or without a lens hood as without will give you more flare (light fog) this is sometimes a lovely effect

or

Use flash – using flash set on ETTL (evaluative through the lens metering) will give you a good exposure on both background and subject – underexposing a touch can give you depth of colour in a background here.

So what can you achieve with back lighting?

Back lighting can enhance the finer details of an object (such as the tiny hairs on a stem or a bug) or a scenes more delicate features such as the dust particles or drops of rain.

As usual try out lots of thing and experiment, remember they don’t have to all turn out great just have a good time and enjoy the ones that do.

Renaissance Photography Competition

This image was one of four images chosen as a winner and finalists in the people category for the Renaissance Photography Prize 2010.

brighton pride

Fish chips and Mushy Peas – Please click to buy this image

It’s called Fish Chips and Mushy Peas.  I had to move Manula nearer to the fish and chips sign to get this image. She is just giving me a telling off for my cheekiness!

Although it didn’t win first prize in the category, it was used on all the publicity posters and flyers, was in the times newspaper and it was fun to go to the celebrity gala and see my image in the exhibition. the image did sell on the night raising even more for the charity.

The Renaissance Photography competition raised  over £40,000 for The Lavender Trust at Breast Cancer Care. Incidentally this image is of Barry Love AKA Manula Bang Bang, who was sponsored by Marks and Spencers to wear this dress for Brighton Pride 2008, she told me this on flickr when she first saw the image, so that’s twice this dress managed to help breast cancer causes, a lovely coincidence,