Unintentional play…

2009, Photography

Unintentional playful moments. I never thought that a new firmware for a camera would give me some unintentional playful moments. Yes, the cross process and high contrast B&W modes for the Ricoh GR Digital 3 are actually scene modes. And yes, no RAW files can be saved. And I hear everyone saying that it is so permanent and that you loose all post processing flexibility, but so what. I like it to be intentional, even when I have unintentional playful moments, and I like it to be permanent.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Does it matter?

2010, Photography

Does it matter why you or I photograph? Does it matter why you or I developed (or are developing) a personal style, a vision? Does it matter how you or I compose and see? Does it matter what gear you or I use? Likely not.

For many it seems so, but even if they knew I wonder how much it really matters. It matters to me what I do and I maybe only like to know what matters you when I try to understand what you do.

It matters to me what techniques I use, how I compose and expose. And yes, it even matters to me what gear I use. Not because I get the best image quality and the perfect photograph, but because I know how it enables me to make the photographs I envision. You know, possibilities and limitations.

I think it all matters to the execution and not to the eventual photograph. Everything else is probably only a justification.

But I have to apologize for not posting so regularly. Today I was finally able to ingest, select, and edit some of my photographs from the last three weeks. And then some say all the fun about digital photography is all about immediacy.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Small and tiny

2010, Photography

Don’t think in terms of restrictions, be challenged by limitations. Do the unthinkable and don’t be a credit card photographer. More is not always better, less is often more. The best camera is the one that’s with you.

For instance, check the wonderful photography by my friend Mookio with her Ricoh GRD and her book about the GRD and the photography which will be on sale upcoming Thursday (including interviews and photographs by some GRD users from all over the world). Or Robert Kruyskamp with his LG cell phone.

The photographs above were taken with the Ricoh GR Digital III, the photograph below with a Nokia N95 cell phone.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Thinking black and white?

2010, Photography

Last night was very interesting at the photography club. We were introduced with “problematic” photographs or series from some of the members who had been dealing with it for some time and needed or wanted help. Our group also got the question from a new member. He is a longtime photographer, used mostly B&W film in the past, but went digital in recent years and started to get doubts about staying at B&W or giving color a chance. Since he had been shooting B&W for so long and he likely trained his eye to see visually strong impact forms, structures, textures, and contrast that work so well for B&W, we thought he sought confirmation to keep on doing B&W. Of course it is best to do what you want, but we were generally convinced that he wanted to remain a true B&W photographer.

And just that had me thinking last night after the club meeting. If you’re not shooting B&W film anymore, go for digital and get color photographs which you intend to convert to B&W in post processing, how much do you remain a B&W photographer? With film you had B&W film and there was never any color introduced in the process of developing and printing the film. Of course your eye is trained and you feel how your composition will look like in B&W, but with digital, somewhere in the stage of ingesting the photographs, selecting, and processing color is (likely) introduced. I try to ignore it, import the photographs with a B&W preset into Lightroom, but I still know that I have the RAW photograph besides the B&W jpeg.

Now I am for most of the times really pleased with my B&W jpegs, but do know that the RAW photographs could help in more difficult and challenging situations. But I personally don’t like it that the RAW doesn’t have a monochrome white balance by default. That is also why I don’t understand Sigma. The Sigma RAW software has a monochrome white balance setting that gives really good B&W photographs, but there is no chance to apply that white balance in-camera. If camera manufacturers are not willing to invest in a true B&W sensor than this could be the best other option for me.

I just like it that a decision is permanent. Using a B&W film meant you couldn’t get color (or you had to use a second camera with color film or slide). Nowadays we all seem so convinced that B&W conversion is best in post-processing and there are so many techniques for Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, Nik Silver Efex, or whatever. In the last few months (in particular since I got the Ricoh GR Digital I at the end of last year) I have gone for a total B&W workflow from in-camera B&W jpegs to my final processing for overall and local contrast enhancements (including the photographs in this post). But what about you? Keeping it true B&W, color to B&W conversion, or did you depart from B&W when you went digital? I really like to know.

And speaking of digital. One of my regular readers has a mint Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm f/1.7 lens for sale which he bought on 28 November last year. And the warranty covers until the end of November 2011. He thinks of selling it for 600€ and will pay for the shipping from Spain. In case you’re interested, you can contact him here and request more information.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma