Monday, April 30, 2007

Maui Seascapes

I have been working on my images from a recent trip to Maui and have posted a few here in the gallery to the right on this blog page. I found that all my best images were taken at sunset during the magic hour. Many of these images feature a setting sun and various foregrounds along the shoreline. It is always a challenge to avoid the cliche shots, so I opted for a minimalist approach to composition and long exposure times to give the ocean a more calm appearance. I used a split ND filter on all the images to hold back the sky and get a good exposure on the foreground. I do not like white skies or overly dark foregrounds, I like to create images that have a large range of detail from shadows to highlights, which is closer to what the human eye sees. I see no advantage to continuing the tradition of the narrow exposure latitude established by the use of slide film and darkroom printing. Digital capture and printing makes it easier to create prints with a broad dynamic range, and the Shadow / Highlight tool in Photoshop is also an important tool for this purpose. The new Camera Raw processor in PS CS3 has the shadow/highlight tool in it, although there it is called Recovery (for highlights) and Fill Light (for shadows). These Maui images were all taken with the 39 MP H3D and need no upsizing to create a 30" wide print. I will have the large prints on display at our Gallery in Truckee. A more complete portfolio of Maui Images is now posted on my website at ElizabethCarmel.com .



Thursday, April 26, 2007

Developing a Portfolio

One of the questions I often receive is how to develop a portfolio. A portfolio should be a book or web presentation of your best prints that are a cohesive body of work with a unifying theme. The portfolio categories I have selected are on my website and cover such themes as Mountains and Wildflowers, Yosemite, Alaska, Ghost Town, Venice, etc.  A portfolio theme obviously does not need to be place-based, it can be a series of emotions, philosophies, etc. Developing your work into themed portfolios requires you to think of your images as more than individuals, but as a contributor to a larger body of work. I use large portfolio books to display my prints in addition to posting them on my web site - The Itoya Art Profolio Presentation Book in the 14x17" size. I also have a smaller 8x10 one that is more portable. I get them from DickBlick.com.



There are very good portfolio review events for people that have a developed body of work and want to show it to a larger audience: Review Santa FE and Photo Lucida. I made contacts at Photo Lucida that were important to my Brilliant Waters book project. In general I think these events are  geared to more avant garde work than my style of landscape photography, but it is a good education in the fine art / museum market. You will also get the chance to meet fellow photographers and look at their portfolios.



Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maui Photo Report

I returned from Maui and am adjusting to the transition from beachwear to a down jacket, since we had over a foot of snow last night in Truckee. Maui was amazing, as I am sure anyone who has traveled there will tell you. My favorite part of the trip was swimming with the sea turtles. We went snorkeling in the Molokini crater, and on the way back the boat stopped at a place they call "Turtle Town", which is off the shore in front of the Maui Prince hotel where we stayed for a few nights. The turtles congregate there to have their shells cleaned by these little black cleaner fish (sorry, I don't know their official name). The turtles don't seem to mind all the humans swimming aroung looking at them - they went about their business seemingly unconcerned about our presence. I used my Ewa Marine plastic bag housing on a Canon Digital Rebel SLR. This setup worked great for me, there was no sign of moisture on the camera after multiple snorkeling photo sessions. I also used a flash in the hotshoe mount but in hindsight may not have needed to do this since there was alot of light near the water surface where I was. Flash contributes to "backscatter" which is the illumination of particles in the water. I was able to swim back out to turtle town on morning when no one else was there and get the shots which are in the Album to the right titled "Maui Sea Turtles". They are so much fun to photograph since they move slowly and will come right up to you. It was an amazing experience swimming around with such wonderful creatures. My favorite shots are #4 and #5 in the album, since they show how graceful the turtles are when swimming underwater - the little yellow fish is an added bonus that I did not see until I looked at the image in Photoshop. I will post some of my landscape shots later in the week. I was able to photograph some great sunsets and found some interesing foreground areas along the shoreline.
Turtle4_copy



Monday, April 9, 2007

Photo Backpacks

I am a photo backpack aficionado. I currently have about 10 different backpacks, which my husband Olof enjoys pointing out whenever a new one arrives from the UPS man. I just recevied from LowePro 2 very cool backpacks, which they are giving me in exchange for getting some shots of the packs in various locations. The first is the Lowe Pro Dryzone Rover.
Dzrover_yl_left_n_5
It has a completely waterproof lower compartment that is very spacious and can hold my Hasselblad H3D with a zoom lens. It also has a hydration system so there is no need to carry an extra water bottle when using this pack. The upper compartment is not waterproof but is good for carrying clothing, lunch, etc. I plan to use this on an upcoming trip to Alaska where we will be doing some sea kayaking.



The other pack is a new one from Lowe Pro called the Vertex 200 AW.This pack is not waterproof but is water resistant and would be fine to wear in the rain. It is just the right size for me to carry the H3D with 3 large lenses. It is lighter in weight than my previous pack which was the burly Photo Trekker. It has a lighter waist band and shoulder straps and seems to have stiffer foam and exterior than the Photo Trekker. The accessory compartments are designed to hold digital cards and batteries. It will fit into an overhead bin on an airplane. I will be using this as my main bag for my upcoming trip to Maui.Vertex200_left_n_4
It also has a cool tripod holding system. I also found a great case for various accessories & chargers, extra lenses, and the laptop computer - the Pelican D'Exec Wheeled Camera Attache. This is small enough to also fit in the overhead, and has a zip on laptop case for the front so that you can add that and still have only 2 carry ons with the Lowe Vertex backpack and this wheeled case. Since it is wheeled the Vertex can be placed on top of this case for easy rolling through airports, etc.  This case seems very durable and it is deep enough to carry lots of gear without being to tall. I used to use a PorterCase hard sided case but felt that it did not have enough padding inside for rolling on pavement  with sensitive equipment and was too heavy when empty. The Lowe Photo Trekker is a great pack but I find it too bulky for airport travel - it is more suited to long day hikes with alot of heavy gear since it has such an ample waist belt.Pcs181



 

 



Friday, April 6, 2007

How I Print My Images

I am often asked what printer and paper I use to print images. I am currently using the Epson 9800 with Ultrachrome inks. Since I print exclusively on matte surfaces I use the matte black ink instead of the photo black ink. I print both on fine art paper and canvas. My current preference is the Epson Ultrasmooth Paper in the 500 gsm weight. This heavy paper provides great detail and does not require dry mounting prior to framing like the lighter weight papers would require. I use the 36x44" sheets that come in a box of 10. I have also used the 460 gsm Epson Somerset Velvet. This paper has more texture on the surface so finer details are not as visible, so I prefer the Epson Ultrasmooth Paper over this paper for prints with fine detail. I am currently also using the Epson Piezo Pro Matte Canvas for canvas prints. Printing on canvas is the best way to produce very large prints that can be stretched around a wooden stretcher bar, no glass or framing is needed if a gallery wrap is used and the canvas is stapled to the back of the stretcher bar. I regularly produce 40x60" prints this way. This canvas has a nice matte surface. I previously used the Epson Premier Art canvas, but I did not like its glossy  surface and was glad to switch to the Piezo Pro brand. I am looking forward to the day when Epson introduces a wider 60" printer. This will allow me to go larger than 40" in the smallest dimension of a print, which would be a good service to offer clients who may need really large prints. Canon has a 60" wide printer - the Prograf IPF 9000. I have heard good reports about the print quality of this printer but I also understand that it cannot handle really thick paper like the Epson 9800 can, so that is a concern for my work. They are also about $15,000, which makes them very pricey. Before making any decisions I will wait until later in the year when Epson may be introducing a larger printer.



I also use the Colorbyte ImagePrint RIP to send prints to the Epson 9800. I love the ease of use and the very high quality this RIP produces. You can download a demo version at their Website if you are in the market for a RIP.  I never use the Epson driver for the 9800, I find it difficult to use compared to the Imageprint RIP.



One last tip for anyone printing on canvas. I found a great product called "Tighten Up" from Dick Blick that can be sprayed on the back of a sagging canvas. Sagging can happen over time in the corners of a large stretched canvas and this spray seems to alleviate the problem.



Here is an image that I have made into a 72" wide canvas. It was taken in Yosemite and is titled "Morning Frost".
Frost



Thursday, April 5, 2007

Underwater Photography

We will be going to Hawaii next week and I wanted to try out some underwater photography while snorkeling in Maui. I purchased an Ewa Marine  plastic camera housing for our Canon 5D. This will also accommodate a flash unit. It claims that it can be used up to 60 feet deep. I have not done any underwater photography before so this will be an experiment. I do have the camera insured in case of damage, so the risk is not as great for the 5D as it would be if it was not insured. The Ewa Marine unit seems pretty well made based on my initial inspection, and is big enough to handle the 5D and a small zoom lens. I will post images here from the trip, hopefully I can capture a few sea turtles and colorful fish.
Ewa_2
 



Sunday, April 1, 2007

California Wildflowers

Spring in Northern California usually brings wonderful wildflower displays. I will be traveling for the next few days around Northern California doing a photo shoot for the Trust for Public Land in some oak woodland areas which should have some good wildlfowers. For those of you planning California wildflower photo shoots, you should check out Carol Leigh's Wildflower Hotsheet located at Cal Photo . People write in from all over the state to report wildflower sightings. My favorite displays are later in the summer in the high Sierra - the flowers in the high country bloom in July. One of the best areas is the Lake Winnemucca Trail from Carson Pass. It is accessible and has a great variety  of wildflowers. The shot below is from this area.



Carsonpass



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