Monday 25 February 2013

The end of 'Photographic' discoveries in the attic?

I received a request the other day from a magazine who were interested in using a shot I took in 2005.

They were prepared to pay quite handsomely but they insisted it had to be 11" x 17" at 300dpi dimensions.

I hesitated before saying it was going to be big enough as the dimensions they were asking for were way beyond anything a DSLR's was capable of at that time.

Following that path does this mean that a digital photograph has diminished value as the quality is deemed insufficient?

It does seem a bit bonkers to me but if clients take this line then what is one to do?

Crafty upsizing and hope they do not notice?

Thankfully I did not have to do this as I shot it on a Phase One and they commented on the high quality, even though the back 'only ' had 22 megapixels.

But I fear that time is going to be pretty cruel to digital photography.

And not in commercial scenarios that I have just been talking about but the sheer survivability of images.

A friend of mine found some old photo's which dated back to the dawn of photography.

They were in an old album, and to access them all he had to do was open the album and there they were.

My first efforts at backing up my photo's in the early 1990's was onto floppy discs. I still have the discs but no machine to read them with, perhaps I will buy a drive when I get round to it and transfer the images or perhaps I will get hit by a number 53 bus before I do and they will be lost forever?

The situation is much the same with all the images I have recorded onto Zip drives (remember those?)

When CD recorders became affordable I switched to archiving all my work onto CD's.

I did this for a year or so with the burner hooked up to a computer which was expensive and state of the art but which of course became obsolete.

It was time for a new computer.

Gleaming, wonderful and new.

Horror of horrors it would not read a single CD I had burned.

Was it the CD's ? Had I recorded them in some silly incompatible format? I still don't know but fortunately I still had the negatives so I could rescan them.

When I started to shoot digitally I switched to backing up my work to external hard drives made by a reputable, and not so cheap, manufacturer.

All went well at first, then I had my first, and very predictable, hard drive failure. Fortunately I had all the important work double backed up onto DVD's.

Hard disc drive failure made me buy even more external HDD's, all seemed well and then the spectre of power supply failures started to raise its head. Simple I hear you say, buy another. The company no longer made them. I started to scour eBay for them and found them going for more than a price of a external HDD, it seemed I was not alone with my problem. I then investigated buying a housing to put the drive in and get the data off.
I bought the drive housing and opened up the power-supply-less drive only to discover that there was not one HDD in there but two. The manufacturer had, without announcing it, used two drives and the spread over two discs and I was well and truly stuffed.

Fast forward to 2012 and my backups are a myriad of servers (I use the excellent QNAP) cloud storage and good old DVD's.

I'm relatively confident that under my care that my work is safe.

But what happens when the work is no longer under my care.

When I die, will my children and grandchildren have the same interest as I do?

In 100 years time will my great grandchildren have any interest at all?

Will they go looking for DVD drives to read the discs which may well be unreadable by then? Or go searching online for power supplies for rotting pieces of junk that may no longer work ? Or try to get new bearings fitted to HDD's that have long since seized up?

Think back to my friend simply opening a neglected family album and discovering ancestral gold.

Without hard copies there is no way this will happen.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Back to square one with Rhubarb time-lapse.

Things were going well.

Too well.

Except for one thing.

On my first practice run I encountered a 'semi' corrupt San Disk CF card.

Which meant that some images could not be read, but others could.

Strange, very strange, but I put it down to a card which was not in its first flush of youth and it did have a ding in the casing.

So I used one of my loved and trusted Hoodman cards which have never let me down, and are lightning fast.

So test run two, downloaded the card.

Or I tried to.

I could not download all the images.

At 220 frames, the exact same image count as the San Disk which I thought had failed me.

A bit of scrabbling about on the net revealed the fault, which was all mine.

When the Canon 5D Mk1 was launched there was no provision for the monster CF cards that I was using in it, which led to all sorts of CF card problems.

I needed to update the firmware from 1.0.3 to 1.1.1 to make it work with them.

So here I am back to square one, a lesson learned.

If you are going to offer up the shutter of a Canon 5D mk1 to the photography gods in a multi week time-lapse with a fat CF card just make sure you have the right firmware.

Monday 18 February 2013

Multi day (or week!) time lapse of forced rhubarb growing

A while since I have much to talk about.

I have been shooting a new little short about forced grown Rhubarb in Yorkshire.

Forced growing is where is crop is grown in optimal conditions where it would not ordinarily grow.

In Rhubarb's case this is in sheds, illuminated only by candlelight.

This called for the Canon C300, shooting at 10,000ISO (I still can't get used to such seeing such big numbers with ISO....)

I shot lucky enough to shoot with Zeiss CP.2 lenses, which are really special.

They make a bigger difference than you may think but I will be talking about this when the short is finished....if it ever is fully finished.

I say that because I wanted to raise the bar a little by including a time lapse sequence of forced Rhubarb growing, which looks set to take some weeks at this rate.

The initial idea was to shoot in one of the Rhubarb sheds in the infamous Yorkshire rhubarb producing triangle.

There were challenges with this though.

It would have meant leaving a camera running on the mains in a shed for a few weeks, which is heavily watered, humid and has to be in total darkness.

So no lights, at all.

I considered flash but needed a way to power it in a wet environment.

Whats more it is a working environment and could have been knocked by an employee.

I could have pulled it off but it would have been a mission.

The deciding factor was that I would be in now hay be able to monitor the equipment or the results.

So I chose a different route.

To do it in my garage at home.

Firstly I needed a total dark environment.

So I bought a blacked out tent on Ebay for £25.00 and pitched it in the garage, covering it with a black background just to be sure.

By keeping full darkness the Rhubarb will have yellow leaves and vivid pink stalks.

Next up which camera to use?

I chose a sacrificial Canon 5D Mk1(still an excellent camera), with a Canon 'L' series 24- 105 F4.0 set to 58mm, as I have just forked out for a pair of shutters in my Mk2's, time lapse kills shutters.....

Now how to power it?

Years ago when the camera was new it came with a Canon ACK-E2 AC adaptor.

God's knows what I did with mine but I don't, so once more onto Ebay, where I got one for £20.00

I'm using a Canon TC80-N3 taking a shot every 20 minutes.

I mounted the camera on a Manfrotto 003 light stand with spigot as this is too low for a trip and works pretty well.

The set is lit with an Elinchrom 600RX head on minimum power, which is totally overkill but it is mains powered and I don't have to worry about batteries etc if I go away for a day or two, mounted on Manfrotto 5001b light stand

I am going for dramatic lighting so I'm lighting the Rhubarb from behind, reflecting the light back in from the front with a couple of Chimera Liteshapers.

So 3ish days and 200 frames in this is what I have to show for it. Not much in the way of growth from the shoots but note how the Rhubarb bulb appears to 'breathe'

Will this project work?

I really don't know.

This time lapse does not look like it will be ready for the BVE show where I will be talking about this project, but means the project will be subject to a 'recut' if it does work.

Someone pointed out this is quite a time investment  if it does not work out.


But the knowledge will be applied to other projects.