January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
This Kodak camera from the turn of the last century produced negatives that measured five inches by seven inches. These negatives were placed in contact with pieces of photographic paper to produce prints. Since this was before enlarging equipment, pretty much all you could make with this camera was 5×7 prints. Later, cameras produced negatives that could be “blown up” in an enlarger to make prints of various sizes, up to several feet on a side. But no matter what camera or film you used, the size of the resulting print was always an important decision, one that was affected by where the photo was going to appear . . . family album, newspaper, magazine, art gallery, etc.
These are still important decisions, even though many photographers now make their images electronically. The ultimate use for photographs still dictates electronic file sizes. But since virtually all of my photographs appear on the Web, it recently occurred to me that I don’t know any more what “size” my pictures are. The decision about whether to make 4×5 or 8×10 or 11×14 or 16×20 inch prints used to be a constant juggle between end-use, cost, and aesthetics. Now, however, these pictures appear as roughly 3×5 on my small laptop screen, much smaller on my iPhone, bigger (possibly) on some of your desktop monitors, and in fact they could be huge if one of you chooses to view them on a big, wall-mounted plasma unit.
Having come of photographic age in the print era, it’s a little disorienting to suddenly have to set aside these considerations. But in the end, I’m much more interested in participating in this incredible electronic distribution system where my photographs can be seen all over the world, no matter how big they are.
November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Hmmm . . . my last post was on August 25, just three months ago. In the meantime, I have been teaching a seminar on photobooks to a class of first-year students, which has been great fun, but which has taken quite a bit of my attention. As the semester comes to an end, I hope to go back to posting pictures on a more regular basis. These pictures are from the harbor at New London, Connecticut. Thanks to the many people who continued to visit my blog, even when it was inactive. Stay tuned for more!
August 25, 2011 § 4 Comments
One of the best things about the summer that’s just coming to a close is all the times that Margaret and I have been able to kayak on various lakes and ponds in Maine. The kayak is a perfect platform for photography. You can get close to shore, and you can skim into shallow inlets where there are all kinds of things to photograph. Once you get away from the more heavily populated areas, with their motor boats and jet skis, a wholly different world opens up–the world of nature itself, with its own rhythms and beauties. It’s very easy in my world of meetings and schedules and deadlines and superhighways and my suburban lawn to forget the fact that nature goes on with rules all its own somewhere out there beyond the glow of my back porch light. In the course of our many expeditions, we have seen numerous loons, an eagle, a great blue heron, several large snapping turtles, a water snake (yikes!), and a moose (up very close–Margaret got good pictures). But the thing I kept coming back to was the richness of the plant life, both in the water and in the places where the forest came down to the shores. Here are just a few of the many pictures I assembled over the past two months. For all these photos I used a Panasonic TS1, a tiny,weatherproof camera that fits easily into the pocket of my life jacket. Reviewers always seem to praise its weatherproof qualities above its ability to take sharp, clear pictures, but I have actually found it to be somewhat extraordinary and have made some rather striking 20x24s and 11x17s with it.
July 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
We were visiting my home town in Maine a couple of weeks ago, and the local historical society was offering tours of some of the old houses. The top picture is from a resort hotel that was built in the early 1900s and is still in operation. The bottom one is from a community hall that was built in the late 19th century and that included a library, a very small collection of natural history specimens, and a little theater where plays and musicals were presented.