I need my goods on hand at all times. I can't be without a computer or phone for a day. Not just because I'm obsessed. My job depends on both. But even if it were just a garden variety obsession, it would still suck to lose one.Read More
“Find the Girls On The Negatives” reads a headline that pops off the screen of my interwebs to punch me square in the solar plexus. It's hard for any article or post to rise above the rest when we consume more information in one day that our ancestors did in a lifetime. We love and hate social media. Most days it's thousands of photos of thousands of people spinning across our devices on auto rotation that blend into one endless bowl of life-salad nobody wants to eat. Some days, however, I come across something that doesn't make me want to throw my laptop to the bottom of a nearby river. Today is one of those days.
Virginia based photographer, Meagan Abell, struck gold in a thrift store in Richmond this week. While thumbing through an old pile of photos, she uncovered several old, very interesting medium-format film slides. Slides or (slide film) is a type of film that captures a positive image - meaning the colors are normal rather than inverted like negatives. Color photography has been around for ages, but smooth, beautiful film of creative content is not the first thing that comes to mind when we hear "box in a thrift store." These slides were different. There was something special about them. "Now I've seen plenty of vintage prints, but never a set of negatives that was in such beautiful condition," Abell explained in her first Facebook post about the slides. "I just sent them in to be scanned," she continued. "And I'm flipping out because I'm so excited to see these images."
At first sight the images have a theatrical or cinematic quality. There seems to be some creative purpose behind this shoot. And that's just the thing; this is a photo shoot we're looking at! I mean that in the most modern sense of the term. A 2015 style environmental portraiture shoot. Obviously, environmental portraiture has been around for a while, but not prominently, and not like this. This style is unique. More specifically, it's unique to modern day photography trends. There is a certain flavor of environmental portraits trending hard right now. So hard that it's begun to define, in my opinion, a new genre of photography. It's an interesting blend of landscapes and people. It's hot right now, and the amazing timing of these antique film slides to show up on the scene in an age custom tailored to their style is enough to blow the minds of the most ridiculous of photo geeks - myself included. Even more than the coincidental style, there's clearly a story here. The quality alone suggests a professional photographer using excellent gear for his or her day. Who were these people? What were they doing? Why is the image quality so ridiculously good?! What is the story behind these beautiful images? Some say the location is Los Angeles. That begs an even deeper question: how in the world did they end up in a thrift store in Virginia? I mean, these aren't your typical Sunday evening snapshots on a Kodak Brownie in 1955. Whether we ever come to know the significance of these film images or not, it's clear they were intended for something very specific - something special. This is the mystery that inspired Abell to begin the search. She's made it her personal goal to trace these images back to the source and uncover the story behind "the girls on the negatives."
Meagan is on a mission and needs your help. If you recognize anyone or anything in these photos, speak up! The internet is trailing it all with the hast tag #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives. If you can help, do it! If you can’t, just enjoy feasting your eyes on some photographic awesomeness - a quality and beauty only found in the ways of film photography. I hear "film is not dead" repeated over and over by film photographers and enthusiasts. With people like Meagan Abell around - people who create, find and appreciate film photography, I say it will never die.
Original Post: www.facebook.com/alwaysabell/posts/10204229570090449?pnref=story
Meagan Abell: www.meaganabellphotography.com
The Girls on The Negatives:
I’ve always been driven by the things in life I have to look forward to. Spring is the great jumpstarter. It gets us jazzed about the entire year. We look forward to everything in the springtime. In summer I’m stoked about traveling. In late summer I look forward to Fall. During fall I start getting all jazzed up about the holidays. During the holidays it's a big boat load of friends, family, downtime, gifts, get-togethers, and greatness. Then BOOM! January. Cold, bleak, uneventful, nothing-to-look-forward-to January. :|
For me, the stretch from January to the end of February was always the low point of the year. Christmas was gone. Friends had all gone home. School was picking up. Weather was gloomy, and the worst of the cold was yet to come. The big comedown from a holiday high. On big no-bueno burrito.
That’s how it was before photography came along. Photography rewired my brain. It worked a total 180 on my perspective.
These days, the dreaded stretch from Janurary to spring isn't dreaded at all. It's all about gearing up for spring and summer shoots. These days I find myself imagining all the shoots of the year. Who will I meet? What new people will I shoot with? What new places will I work in? It’s a total mental free-for-all about the year to come. It feels a lot like the few minutes before you hit the field for kick-off or that few seconds before you walk out on stage to play a show in a new town. It’s a constant rush to think of all the great things a year could have in store. It was just a matter of doing more of what I enjoy and less of everything else. Incorporating photography into my life changed my entire perspective. I can’t wait to see what kinds of new shoots and great new photographs this year is going to bring.
For those of you who don’t like your job, don’t worry. Many people don’t. I do, but not all of it. It does have it's jobby aspects. There's a not-so-fun business side to it. I'm not talking about loving our jobs. I'm talking about incorporating something enjoyable into our lives. Whether it's a hobby, a side job, a project, a different career, or even a relationship - something new can change your perspective on everything. Before you know it, you'll enjoy getting out of bed every morning. I want to encourage anyone reading this to take a moment. Think “what is one thing I could start doing or one thing I could change that would make life more exciting?” If you don’t have an answer right away, start exploring what makes you tick. What keeps that boat floating? Then do it!
For me, it's photographing new people and new places. I love exploring new landscapes. I love being invited into someone’s life to capture a piece of the story and make new friends. There’s nothing else like it. I hope for a full year of it. Right now, I'm booking shoots for the year and getting a preview of things to come. Don’t want to jinx it, but it’s shaping up to be an exciting year so far. This two-month stretch is no longer the low point of the year. There is no low point anymore.
If you ask me, the end of January is the best time to talk about what kind of year its going to be. You just got a four-week preview of 2015. What kind of year is it so far? Is it time to kick back and relax, or is it time to gear up and get it done?! Either way, do what makes you happy. Hate your job? Look for a new one. Can't? That's crap. Yes you can. Dig your job but it's not enough? Stop climbing the ladder and build your own. Work life isn't your only life. Fill it with good and ditch the bad. You got this.
We’re one month down with eleven to go! This year could be the best one yet. Do what makes you happy. It's that simple. As I write this, I’m in a workshop surrounded by a pile of photos, negatives, cameras, new camera gear, a booking calendar, hot coffee, and two clueless dogs. They’re just stoked to be a part of the action. If you won’t take it from me, take if from a couple of happy dogs: surround yourself with good things. It's a good year for change.
Oh the dreaded 30th birthday! Fortunately, my hair didn't turn white over night. My bones didn't wither away, and my skin still had a remarkable amount of elasticity when I woke up this morning. Turns out, it's just a number after all.
This time last year, I thought of the best way to experience the last time I would ever turn 20-anything. I was already in Hawaii to show at a gallery in Lahaina, and I wasn't about to let my 20's go out on a low note. I spent the first day of 29 hiking the East Maui Mountains, making photos, and soaking up every ounce of awesomeness my favorite Hawaiian island had to offer.
This year, I decided to take a different route. Sure, I could've bounced up to the mountains and hiked it up. I could've hit the road on a customary Heath-style trip out west. I guess I could've done whatever I wanted. That's what birthdays are all about!
I wasn't feeling it this year. If there was ever a time for a humble birthday, 30 was it for me. I spent the last week working on the new studio, shooting the coolest, most unexpected shoot ever, and spending time with friends and family. It's been a great week. The transition to 30 was as smooth as a lizard on ice.
So next week I'll probably climb a mountain or jump out of an airplane. Laid-back is overrated.
Keep calm and turn 30, kids of '84.
It's only been three years since I first picked up a camera. It feels strange to say that. I’ve been playing with cameras since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I looked through a viewfinder with the intention to create something more than a snapshot.
Three years isn’t long, but I feel like I’ve lived a dozen lifetimes since then. I never imagined learning so much. It’s remarkable how much a person can learn when he or she actually wants to. For the first year & a half, it was all fun and games. I never imagined this as a career. It didn't seem possible. But I stuck with it. I was always told, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve heard it over and over, but I still credit that quote to my dad. He said it first, so he might as well have coined it. You’d think such momentum and change would naturally lend itself to an adventurous frame of mind in every aspect of a person’s life, right? Nope. In photography, I’ve been reserved. Always learning, but playing it safe. Camera + Sunlight = all I need. In many cases, that’s true.
For a long time, I considered myself a natural-light photographer. Meaning, I prefer sunlight over studio lights. Many photographers call that a cop out. Truth be told, it is - to a degree. I’m a firm believer in education. Not traditional education necessarily, but I do put a high price on knowing your stuff. It’s perfectly fine to call one’s self a natural-light photographer so long as he or she does so by choice and not based on a blatant lack of education. To be a photographer is to know light. To be uneducated in such is a hindrance. I faced that fact this summer. And I changed it.
I’ve used modifiers, bounced light, and even tossed in the occasional make-shift lamp to throw a little spark into a shot, but real studio lighting was a concept I didn't care to mess with. First came the cheap collapsible reflectors. I still live and breathe by those things. Second came rudimentary shop lights and department-store bulbs. Finally, I sucked it up and dove in head-first. Over the summer I challenged myself to learn studio lighting. Not to simply know the concepts, but to apply them. The idea always came with such a stigma. I’m happy to report, I’ve put that stigma to rest.
With a fair amount of YouTubery and a day of trial and error, the days of relying solely on the sun came to an end. I'll tell you one undeniable fact I’ve learned. It’s wonderful to know the ins and outs of natural light, but It’s a far more sophisticated method to create or add light as you see fit.
Somehow I imagined endless calibration, light adjustment, and hours of frustrating nonsense. Strobes (or speed lights in my case) were these elusive creatures rivaled only by leprechauns and white unicorns that couldn't be caught or controlled. Terrifying?! Not so much. With a little education and a few adjustments, I managed to nail my first 100% studio-lit session without skipping a beat.
In all honesty, naturally lit, candid moments are the best. But! Studio photography is a horse of an entirely different color. The possibilities are endless, and I encourage all my readers who have the same reservations to quit limiting yourself to the light that happens to be available and open the door to the possibilities of introducing and shaping light of your own. So far, I’ve found a combination of available light and artificial fill light to be the best of both worlds.
Normally, I would refrain from any topic that made me out to be a newbie of any kind. Not for pride, but for the sake of education. I don’t preach what I don’t know. I could talk all day long about the ins and outs of natural light photography, but studio light has always been a ghost to me. So many people find the idea of studio lighting daunting and avoid the topic altogether. In this case, however, it was literally an overnight change. I encourage you all to venture into new methods and cross your own boundaries. I’m sure, like me, you’ll find it was never that complicated to start with.
Gear I recommend: Click image for links
ANY CAMERA WITH A HOTSHOE: I shoot Nikon
THINK TANK CAMERA BAGS:
UMBRELLA DIFFUSERS: This kit comes with stands!
CACTUS RF60 SPEED LIGHTS: These things are so far superior to the name brand speed lights, it’s not even funny. And cheaper. CACTUS all the way!
CACTUS V6 TRANSMITTER:
The rest is gravy.
Have fun :)
Summary for the Speedy Gonzales readers:
It's a new camera.
It's called the Lytro Illum.
It's based on new technology.
You can refocus images after you take them.
The images have 3D parallax movement (Google it).
The technology rocks, but the camera has a long way to go.
Low resolution - equivalent to 4 megapixels
No RAW capability.
Will I buy one? No.
Will I buy one when it has higher resolution and RAW? Yes.
Will it change photography? Eventually.
About a year ago, my friend Skye mentioned a new camera she heard about. "I don't know what it's called," she said. "But you can change the focus after you take the picture. Isn't that crazy?!"
I'd never heard of it. It sounded impossible, so I didn't give it a lot of thought. I figured it was probably a new app. Either that or some bunk article about a camera that didn't really exist. Fake articles are everywhere. Just last week one had me thinking Walter White was still alive and Breaking Bad was back in action. Don't worry, I destroyed the phone I read it on. I burned it, smashed it, fixed it, smashed it again, covered it in molasses and mailed it to Iraq. Point is, I'm gun-shy. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. But this time I was wrong. Skye was onto something.
Butthurt Alert: this next statement is going to ruffle a few feathers. Suck it up and keep reading. Turns out, Skye was talking about the Lytro. Simply put, Lytro's technology is the most revolutionary advancement in digital imaging since the invention of digital sensors. Notice I said "digital imaging" and not "photography". Mind that difference. Technologically, it's a total game changer. There is some serious method behind this madness. But the camera itself... Meh.
Now, before you get all butthurt about it, inhale and exhale. I'm talking long-term here. Not what it is, but what it will be. I'm talking about what this technology means for the long-term future of digital imaging. Neigh sayers can talk trash until they're blue in the face, but it won't change anything. People love technology. They feed on it. The moment this juice gets poured into a smartphone, it'll be the new standard. The masses will devour it. I give it 10 years.
Artists and professional photographers are a different story. We're a hard team to please. Cameras are just now starting to meet our expectations. We're just now starting to see digital reach the resolution and dynamic range capabilities of film. Some commercial photographers might jump on the Lytro band wagon, but the purists won't. Not any time soon. This technology is a long way from replacing professional DSLR cameras.
In all honesty, the first Lytro was a deuce. Like the kind you drop. It wasn't practical. It looked more like a flashlight than a camera, and the final image was somewhere around 1 megapixel.
HOWEVER! Here's what all the hype is about:
Lytro technology can capture and alter images in a completely new way. For example, you can refocus images after they've been taken. You can change depth of field the same way. You can even have a continuous focus point. Meaning the camera can focus on every part of the image at once. And get this… it takes 3D pictures. Again, Google the word "parallax". Lytro calls these pictures "Living Images". The science geek in me thinks this thing is da bees knees, and I can't wait for my iPhone to pack it.
So how does it work? Basically it captures a crap ton of light information at once. Classy explanation, right? It captures every focus point and every out-of-focus point. Somehow, it even manages to capture different angles at once. That's where my brain shuts down.
Before I explain any further, let me be clear. I don't know how a camera could capture an entire light field any more than I know what rainbows taste like. I'm no physicist or camera engineer. I put my pants on the same way you do every day. Commando. It feels better. But, I'll do my best to explain what I know.
First, I'm almost positive they taste like Kool-Aid. Rainbows. Second, this camera is based on light field technology. Light field cameras capture a wide spectrum of light rays while keeping the information separated in a completely uncompressed, information-rich state. Regular cameras capture light and smash it all onto a single surface. In most cases, this would be a sheet of film or a digital sensor like the one in your phone or camera. The unique quality of a light field camera is it's ability to capture so many variables of information. There's never been anything like it.
Listen to this guy. He seems to know what he's talking about.
So, we established that the first Lytro was a deuce, right? They never admitted defeat, but the guys and gals at Lytro knew it was lame and went for Round 2.
•THE LYTRO ILLUM•
Is it everything the first Lytro was meant to be?!! No. But it's headed in the right direction.
The images are still ridiculously small, and the camera still doesn't shoot in RAW. On the plus side, though, the Illum actually looks like a camera and has a pretty awesome lens. A 30-250mm f/2 to be exact. That's drool worthy! The final image only amounts to about 4 megapixels, but that's better than the Nikon D1 in the early days. Either way, this camera won't suite the professional photographer any time soon. Maybe Ken Rockwell can use it. He's the only guy I know of who can take a few megapixels and call it gold. That guy. I can't help but like him though.
All quirks aside, the Illum is a huge step up from the first Lytro. So give it 10 years. It will evolve. Think of it like this: when the first useable DSLRs came around, they packed a whopping 2 megapixels. The Lytro Illum already packs 4. This thing is in it's infancy. I think Lytro will eventually be to traditional digital photography what digital currently is to film. People will always shoot traditional manual cameras whether film or digital, but I'm certain this technology will eventually be the gold standard of camera design. Again, I'm talking very long term. I'm sure the iPhone 20s is bound to have Lytro technology in it.
What's my personal opinion of the Lytro? It's a love/hate thing.
As a camera nerd, I love this technology! As a photographer, I'm not feeling it yet. I feel like the Nikon D800/D810 is addressing the more important issue. Nikon has almost closed the quality gap between film and digital. With tons of dynamic range and resolution, the images have overcome that obviously digital look. I've waited a long time for that. While I love the idea of Lytro technology, I'm way more interested in image quality. As I'm sure most photographers are. Bottom line: Lytro has to match the image quality of modern professional cameras in every way before serious photographers take it on. When that day comes, I'm all in.
Admit it though. We're all thinking it. This thing is going to make people LAZY! Lazy. Lazy. Lazy.
Ok, I'm done. If you buy and Illum, tell me what you think about it.
Nikon has spoken, and the world has listened. Kind of. Say hello to the Nikon D810: Everything the D800 was meant to be. And good luck selling that old D800. You'll need it.
In general, people aren't freaking out about the D810. It's a great camera, but I think most look at it with an "it's about time" mentality. It's basically the camera we expected the D800 to be.
I think the D810 deserves a little more recognition though. This is the first time we've had the chance to buy a D800 series camera without having to worry about sensor malfunctions, nauseating white balance, green tinted screens, etc. Sure, Nikon fixed the early problems, but not before releasing thousands of bad apples into the world. Some of those bad apples are still floating around out there (i.e. eBay). Don't do it!
I didn't buy a D800 or D800e. They're great cameras, but something was off. The technology was there, but it was weak. I decided to wait for Nikon to sweep up its mess and try again. No way I was taking a $3,000 chance on a jacked up camera. Even if I picked up a solid version, there's still that disappointment of knowing the camera was part of a shabby line released when Nikon was more concerned with winning the megapixel race than they were with quality control. Nikon D800: Bandaid Edition! Enticing? I'm all about some resolution, but not at the expense of quality. Kind of defeats the purpose.
At least these flaws were unintentional. I wish I could say the same for everything else wrong with the original D800. Ever heard of an OLP filter? Also known as anti-aliasing filters, the OLP filter is a barrier installed in many digital cameras to prevent or reduce moire. Moire, for those who aren't familiar with the term, is that annoying patch of wavy lines that often occur on highly detailed surfaces in photos.
The OLP filter essentially blurs your photograph. It's installed to lessen moire by blurring finite details before the image hits the sensor. Not all cameras have it, but the D800 does. So tell me, why would I purchase a 36mp camera that can't record 36mp worth of resolution? I wouldn't.
That's where the D800e comes in. I wouldn't say it's a bad camera, but it's definitely a brain fart. The D800e was released for those who didn't want an OLP filter. But! Instead of removing the it, they installed yet another filter. The second filter was introduced to counteract the effects of the original filter. Yes, you understand correctly. Yes, it is ridiculous. So, if you own a D800e, your camera has an anti-anti-aliasing filter. Your camera is a double negative.
"So what do I do if my camera is a double negative?!" Nothing. Nobody cares. It doesn't hurt anything. It's just pointless. Nikon installed a filter in a camera that does absolutely nothing. It's about as useful as this thing:
Lets face it, it was probably cheaper/easier to add a second layer to the D800's OLP filter than to build a whole new filter-free line of cameras. Not exactly a power move. It screams "poor decision making."
Keep in mind, I'm not comparing the D800 to other full-frame cameras. Most of them are inferior. I'm comparing it to what it could have been and what the D810 actually is. Even with the OLP filter and the quirky white balance, the D800 destroys the competition in both resolution and dynamic range. The latter of which I find to be most important. Megapixels are great, but dynamic range… thats where digital starts closing in on film.
The D800 series is one of the biggest steps in digital photography. It's basically medium format quality in a small camera for a fraction of the price. Below is a side-by-side image comparison between a D800 and a Hasselblad H4D. Even with the OLP filter, I'm seeing more detail in D800 shot. That's insane. The Hasselblad is a $14,000 camera. $11,000 more than the camera that just buried it. Now imagine what the D810 could do. No OLP filter. Lower ISO. Better processor. Higher in protein. The D810 would kill the H4D. Thank you, Nikon. You are a gentleman and a badass.
If you own a D800, is it time to upgrade? Yes. That OLP filter has got to go! It's a great camera, but that filter does kill the detail. Noticeably. Should D800e owners upgrade? Probably not. You're camera may be a double negative, but it's still a beast.
So, who is this camera for? Probably easier to first mention who it's not for. This camera is not for the sports photographer. It's not super fast. The files are huge. The battery life is average.
The Nikon D810 is the perfect landscape camera. It's also great for wedding photography, portraits, street photography and pretty much everything else. Will meet your needs? Yes. Will is blow your mind? Yes, and your and it'll blow your mind. See?
Is it better than the D600 and D610? Yes. Is it better than the Canon 5D Mark III? Yes. Is it better than Canon, the entire company? I'm kidding! But, yes it's better. Is it better than your dog? Yes. I sold mine to buy it. Thanks for reading and keep shooting!
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We are all born explorers. Not all remain so throughout life, but the instinct is always there. For me, happiness depends greatly on the idea of having something to look forward to. It can be something as simple as a new job or as monumental as a life changing trip around the world. Regardless, we all require some element of mystery and hope - to know there's still undiscovered country out there. I've always said "I want to know that, no matter how good or bad it gets, life has the potential to change." It sounds simple enough, but let's not underestimate the power of change. There is a Great Unknown. We're designed to seek it out. Not to question all things, but to actively answer the questions we have and questions we never thought to ask. To adventure and explore. To meet new people and experience new things. To find some balance between comfort, exhilaration, and fear.
There was much to do. What should take months took a year. Maybe two. It was trying, no doubt. To struggle for months and do without. But in the end, the juice was worth the squeeze. Because these days I do as I please.