Spreading Your Wings

March 02, 2017

Scholars of CambridgeScholars of Cambridge

The halls of academia are lined with pictures of previous students and sometimes their greatness may be immortalized in statues. As photographers increase their skill levels; the thought often turns to turning professional and earning an income from their skills. Whilst a noble goal; many photographers fail to thoroughly analyze their prospects. Peer review and objective analysis are the key drivers to doing this. Things to consider are:

  1. Am I good enough. Don't rely on family and friends to review your photographic work. They will always tell you that your images are fantastic. This is not objective and what is required is a portfolio review by a photographer that has skills above yours.
  2. Have you invested in photographic education. Whether it be through the halls of academia or through the plethora of on-line learning courses.
  3. Do you have any business savvy or business background that will help you in running a business. Generating income from photography is 75% business and 25% photography skill. Your images may be good enough but unless you have business acumen you will not succeed. 

So far so good. You are ready to proceed in starting up your business. There are the necessary legal and regulatory requirements to address such as company registration, taxation numbers, vendor licenses, etc. The main thing that is required is to generate a business plan. There are numerous web references on how to develop a business plan. The big caveat is that males tend to over estimate their potential income and females tend to under estimate their potential income. You need to be conservative in your numbers. If the numbers don't add up you won't be putting food on the table.

As part of your business plan development you will have to decide what photographic services to provide. A lot of photographers tend to gravitate towards the wedding and portraits services. Is this a conservative choice or a foolish choice. This comes down an analysis of the local market you are in. It doesn't matter whether this is a photography business or if you are manufacturing widgets. You have to look carefully at the competitors in your local market. In business sense it means that the price of entry in an established market comes down to three factors: 1. Do you have a better product or service 2. Is your customer service better than your competition 3.  Is your price more attractive.

Looking objectively at the wedding and portrait market an aspiring photographic entrepreneur is unlikely to win in the first two categories. The third area to compete in is on the price. The danger with this is that you will not generate enough income to sustain your self. The other negative side effect is that you contribute towards the bottoming out of the photographic services market.

As a key part of your business plan development and analysis there should be serious consideration given to serving parts of the photographic services market which are non-traditional. These are often considered to be niche markets. It may take longer to develop a client base but you are likely to be sustainable in the long run. To look at potential niche markets you need to do your research as part of your business plan development. An excellent resource that showcases photography niches is the web site The Niche Notebook. Here you will find an excellent resource on photographers and their specialty niches. The web site provides a detailed breakdown of specialty photographers, the target market, link to the photographers web site and how long they have been in business.

So lets summarize this:

  1. Decide what it is you want!
  2. Write it down
  3. Make a plan
  4. Work on it every single day

Lessons from the trenches:

  1. Don't quit your day job just yet.
  2. Don't bet the farm on it.
  3. Always have a Plan B.

  Resources to get you on your way:

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.


Global Warming

February 24, 2017

 

As one gets older you experience the passing seasons and you recollect on whether this summer was hotter or this winter has been colder. The subject of global warming is periodically in the news as weather stories or as politically derived stories on policy. One does not have to live to be 100 to experience the effects of global warming. It is closer than you think.

The wintertime is when many photographers choose to park their cameras until warmer temperatures prevail. This past weekend I got to experience both winter conditions and record temperatures. An hours drive took me to a local snowmobile racing event. The event was actually re-scheduled from December to February due to a lack of snow. The temperature at the race track was a balmy 12 degrees Celsius. It makes for unusual conditions to photograph the races. Melting water in the spectator area and flying snow from the track. In the midst of this, the race announcer made sure to tell all of the fans that sunscreen was available at the concession stands. The race announcer was quick to followup and inform the crowd that next weekends race in London was to be relocated to the Barrie race track. I had my doubts as the weather forecast predicted record high temperatures. We shall see what the outcome is; but I have to reflect on the balmy temperatures by digging out my summer t-shirts.

As our weather patterns continue to change, our daily lives may have to change with it. Weddings may be re-scheduled for early morning to avoid the mid-day heat. Snowmobiles races may be pushed to ever further northern climates. Weather photographer may become a career path for some. The motorsports racing season may have to be shifted to the more temperate part of the year. 

There are many who discount the theory of global warming. I surmise that this in part is due to a large segment of the population does not travel out of their local region and if they do it is to familiar destinations. The more you travel, the more you see examples of global warming occurring. The example that was very clear and direct to me were the retreat of the glaciers in the icefields. Comparing photographs taken in the early 1980s to recent photographs; confirms that this is no longer a theory. My only suggestion for photographers is take advantage now of the events that you enjoy because they may not be around tomorrow.

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.


Love and Respect

January 24, 2017

 

In the deep! In the deep!Sting Ray!

As we move through our daily life we see technological advances that affect our everyday lives. For the older set out there we have seen major strides in technology including the transition from LP records, compact disc, MP3 and finally to streaming music. Telecommunication has also evolved from rudimentary telephones with crank handles, to rotary dial handsets and then the modern era ushered new choices such as in Voice Over IP phones and mobile telephones.

Cameras have also evolved from the early days where chemical processes were used to develop film. Modern cameras no longer capture an image on film but capture an image via a sensor and are stored on a memory card. What hasn’t changed in over 100 years is the popularity of the snapshot camera. In the early days of photography, the Kodak brownie camera was revered by the masses for its ability to take snapshots. A large part of our early social history is preserved due to the introduction of these mass market cameras.Today technology has merged the popular snapshot camera and a mobile phone technology into a portable format that most people carry around.

Attending a sporting event, family gathering or going to a tourist destination quickly illustrates how popular mobile camera phones are and the degree to which people use them. There are more pictures taken with these devices than all other types of cameras combined.

The best part of the mobile camera phones is that the camera technology integrated on these units is very good. The image quality can be quite astonishing. Mobile camera phones may be lacking some of the bells and whistles on modern and complex but DSLRs but there is one factor that surpasses the DSLR. This is the mobile factor. Most people will carry their mobile camera phone with them everywhere. The reverse is true for the DSLR or mirrorless camera which are taken out selectively.

It is time that mobile photography gets a little bit more love and respect. To encourage more respect for mobile photography here are some resources to get your mobile photography up to a higher level.

Let’s start by looking at Apple’s newest phone, the iPhone 7 plus. The camera on this phone features:

* Optical image stabilization

* A f1.8 aperture

* Quad LED tru-tone flash

* 12 megapixel sensor

* 7 megapixel front facing camera for selfies

* Two lenses for wide angle and telephoto use

* Portrait mode to enhance background blur

* 4K, 720 p and 1080p video formats

* Slow motion and time lapse video

If Apple is not your thing, here are a couple of good alternatives in the mobile camera phone space. Google offers the Pixel at a comparable price to the iPhone and has received good reviews. Another good choice is the Huawei P9 with its dual cameras.

Apple offers you a pretty good photographic tool to create some great pictures. To learn how to use your camera and improve your mobile photographic technique; here are some good web resources.

Education Sites for Iphone Photography

http://www.apple.com/ca/iphone-7/

http://iphonephotographyschool.com/iphoneography-websites/

http://www.iphoneographycentral.com/

http://www.lifeinlofi.com/

Apple Video Introduction to iPhone 7 camera

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8mR33cp_Fk

Full tutorial on using the iPhone 7 camera

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QxSmYZ6G7Q

Web Sites for Mobile Photography Inspiration

http://www.grryo.com/

http://pixelsatanexhibition.com/

https://iphoneogenic.wordpress.com/

https://www.eyeem.com/

http://www.iphoneart.com/

Great Camera Apps for your iPhone

Camera+

Cortex Camera

Camera Manual

Filmborn

Microsoft Pix

Camera Utilities and Editors

Prisma

Photo Pills

Photogene

Photosync

Image Publishing

Instagram

Zenfolio

YouPic

Adobe Lightroom

 

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.

 


Going All In! Part Two

September 03, 2016

PrincessPrincess Once again we have one of the biggest shows to hit the Toronto convention center in 2016. Throughout the year there are a number of conventions that come to Toronto, most of them pedantic and innocuous and the majority of the population is not aware of them. Most of these are technical trade shows or conventions that cater to a specific professional audience.

The biggest shows at the convention center tend to be oriented around consumer products; like the Auto show. One of the biggest events that a lot of the population isn't aware of is the annual Fan Expo show held in Toronto. In its 1995 inaugural year only 1,500 attendees showed up. In 2015, there over 127,000 attendees. The 2016 attendance numbers will likely surpass 150,000. This is a big event with partial road closures, traffic calming and crowd control in effect. Far bigger than you think. The attendees range in age from childhood all the way up to senior citizens. Attendees are not shy in emoting their fan favorites in gaming, television, movies and anime.

The attendees at the show may arrive in their street clothes or as their favorite characters costume. To me I think you have to go All In for this event. There is no in-between. If you arrive in street clothes you are the casual fan with a passion. A simple costume reveals that you are half geek and it shows. If you go All In with an elaborate costume and embrace it, you have transcended Geekdom into being totally cool. This is why I love the event.

Here are the gallery images from the coolest of the cool.

 

 

 

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.

  


Gaining Traction

September 02, 2016

This week will be a different kind of post. I have been on a photography hiatus most of the summer due to a detached retina. The medical procedures to treat this and the recovery time can be quite significant. A detached retina is a very serious condition that can lead to blindness if not treated right away. Thankfully in Canada we have a magnificent health care system and all the bills were covered. I can't imagine if I lived in another country where my medical care could be so costly that I would have to sell off all of my camera equipment an then tap into my life savings.

As you get older it is a good idea to be pro-active in managing your health. If you notice any kind of visual disturbances, blackness, floaters or partial vision get to your nearest opthalmologist or hospital right away. It could be the difference between leading a normal life and a white cane. If you would like to learn more about retinal detachments consult the information at WebMD.

In this weeks galleries we have two updates. A series of picture taken at the IMSA GT races just before my retinal detachment and some vintage motorcycle racing taken after medical treatment for my detached retina. So far so good. I can still take pictures and enjoy photography. My recovery is still on-going and time at the monitor has to be reduced. In general I am happy and will be continuing with photography. More updates to come.

Click on the gallery for more images.

 

IMSA GT Racing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Motor Cycle Racing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.

 


The Illusion

June 29, 2016

In the cover photo we see an old wooden boat past its prime; but certainly had its share of glory back in the day. On the bow section we see the name of the boat “Freedom 55”. People have asked me whether I photoshopped in the name of the boat. The answer is no, I did not.

It is likely that the boat was named after a dream failed to materialize. In advertising we often see a marketing term or product transcend the original intention and become a household word. There are many that come to mind; Xerox, Kleenex, Popsicle and Scotch tape.

In 2000, London Life created a subsidiary called Freedom 55. The goal was to sell financial products intended to help you retire at age 55. Thus Freedom 55 became synonymous with retirement and a household word. The boat was likely named as a pun or somebody’s broken retirement dream.

What does the naming of a boat have to do with photography? It actually has a lot to do with photography. If you are a professional photographer you must make plans for your own “Freedom 55” and succession planning for your business. If you are a serious amateur who has dreams of generating a retirement income there may be stormy waters ahead. Either scenario requires careful planning. Some people will be successful at this and some will end with a broken dream. Although in a photographic perspective, you might paint a famous moniker on your lens cap instead of a boat.

As we pass through the years and decades we experience pivotal moments in our lives. These will sometimes snap our heads back to attention and get ourselves back on the right path. These moments help us re-examine our lives; sort of like the annual year in review show on television. Recently I had one of these moments when an old friend of mine passed away at the young age of 52. It made me think long and hard and I realized that sometimes there is no “Freedom 55” and we have to live our life to the fullest as sometimes there is no tomorrow.

For photographers this means you have to carefully look at your future plans and at the same time come up with your plan B. Will I have to work longer? Can I actually generate any income in retirement? What if my health starts to fail me?

Moral of the story: Get out there and experience life! Create some meaningful images at the same time!

 

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.


Maritime Adventures

June 16, 2016

  The Maritime provinces in Canada are comprised of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Each province can trace their heritage back to fishing but have now transcended to their own identity. 

Everything you can imagine from diverse UNESCO biosphere reserves in Fundy National Park and Gros Morne National Park to the original fishing villages that dot the shorelines in Newfoundland. In some ways not much has changed over the decades.

I spent part of my childhood in the Maritimes and have gone back for several trips since then. When you return after many years it is always interesting to see what has changed, if any. Sometimes as the saying goes "You can't always go home!"

For many travelers, it is not about going home but a chance to have a unique vacation that can be combined with some photo tourism.

 

Each province offers unique photographic opportunities. Let's look at some of the possibilities.

  • Landscape photography in Fundy National Park
  • Travel photography in Nova Scotia
  • Food photography along the culinary trail in PEI
  • Wildlife photography in Newfoundland

There are many other opportunities for the avid photographer. The best thing to do before booking a trip to the Maritimes is to do some initial research. These days good travel books are available from Frommers, Fodors and the Lonely Planet. In addition there are a wealth of internet sites such as Trip Advisor, National Parks of Canada and the provincial government tourism sites. Readers of popular web photography web sites can also solicit information from other members.

Let's start out with some basic photo and travel advice to get you on your way.

  • Electricity is your standard 110 North American usage
  • Wireless data coverage is good to very good depending on how far off the beaten path you go. Expect 3G, 4G and LTE service in all of the provinces. Going off the beaten path you may encounter No Service or dead spots. This will happen when you are many kilometers from major towns and cities and this is most noticeable in Newfoundland.
  • Always check your Trip Advisor ratings for accommodations and restaurants. Experience has shown that if a lot of locals provide the ratings then the ratings will be skewed. Look more carefully at the ratings provided by out of town travelers instead of the locals.
  • Don't underestimate or overestimate driving times on your vacation. Your driving time may vary due to weather conditions, local traffic, road conditions, time of day, wildlife and the province you are travelling in. Tongue in cheek of course, everything in PEI is a 45 minute drive and in Newfoundland 4 hours between popular destinations is common.
  • Bump up your budget for driving expenses in the Maritimes. Fuel costs tend to be higher and in addition you may have to pay for increased costs for one way car rentals and trips by ferry.
  • From a humorous perspective it will take a full week to adapt to the Newfoundlander accent. Actually this is the same whether you travel to the southern U.S. or Australia. It takes a while, so be patient.
  • Take some basic precautions to protect your camera equipment from the sand and sea air.

So after two weeks there were some favorite food spots and photo locales from the trip. These are highly recommended.

Culinary Trail

  1. The Inn at Bay Fortune --> The Feast
  2. Doyle & Son Lobster Pool
  3. Alma Lobster Shop

Photo Experiences

  1. Gros Morne National Park (Bonne Bay Boat Tour)
  2. Iceberg Tour (St. Anthony and Twillingate)
  3. Hope Well Rocks

For a complete look at the images click here Maritime Gallery

 

 

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.

 

 


Tourists Behaving Badly

June 03, 2016

Tourists Behaving Badly.

The last couple of weeks there have been prime examples of tourists behaving badly at major tourist sites. It seems like the 2016 tourist season is off to a bad start. Is this year any different from previous years? A quick Google search on this topic will show you that there have been some stellar examples over the years. I have seen examples of this behavior dating back to my early days shooting film. This not a digital phenomena. 

 

The most notable examples to kick off 2016 have been:

1) A tourist destroying an ancient statue while attempting to get a selfie.

http://petapixel.com/2016/05/09/126-year-old-statue-smashed-tourist-selfie-stick/

2) A group of photographers damaging the Grand Prasmatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park.

http://petapixel.com/2016/05/17/filmmakers-caught-walking-grand-prismatic-spring-yellowstone/

3) A tourist capturing a bison calf at Yellowstone National park which resulted in the euthanasia of the calf.

http://www.tetongravity.com/story/news/yellowstone-tourists-put-bison-calf-in-car-thinking-it-too-cold-to-survive

The above examples are not isolated incidents. They happen year after year, but it seems like the sheer magnitude has increased.

I have witnessed first hand the terrible behavior of tourists within Yellowstone National Park. In the headline image we see several tourists getting very close to a mature adult bison. The photographer on the right is directing his subjects to get close to the bison to get them in the same image with the bison. I am standing a 100 feet away with my long zoom lens. I see the warning signs from the bison. Deep snorts and expelling of air and the movement of his head. I knew that this was a disaster waiting to happen. To the badly behaving tourists what happened next was unexpected. The bison quickly arose on all fours and did a quick five foot bluff charge. This resulted in the tourists running back to the their car. The tourists were not injured and the park ranger was not dispatched to euthanize the bison.

In the example above, the management of Yellowstone National Park do a wonderful job of educating people about the risks of wildlife, keeping a safe distance through educational materials, awareness sessions and signs. Alas, some people are just born stupid and every year there are major incidents. In 2015, there were five incidents of a tourist getting gored by a bison.

The moral of this story is to follow a photographers code of ethics when visiting a National Park or tourist attraction.

I as a photographer take the following oath:

1. I will keep a minimum safe distance from wildlife as instructed by parks management.

2. My new motto will be to set an example to other photographers and tourists on the correct behavior.

3. I will not desecrate or destroy any living being or inanimate object.

4. Re-evaluate my narcissistic behavior to take "Selfies"

5. I will respect all local laws and will not do anything to further embarrass my nationality.

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.

 

 


The Beauty of P

May 22, 2016

Grizzly Bear No doubt you have heard the snobbery in photographic circles when using anything but manual mode when capturing your images. The disdain towards Auto mode even more so. But is this justified or is this merely rhetoric to dissuade from valid uses of camera automation.

Much of the rhetoric comes from the inclusion of Auto mode on point and shoot cameras and the full automation provided on phone cameras. This is not the origination of camera automation. Camera automation started many years ago with the mass market adoption of the Kodak Brownie camera. This camera offered fixed focus and a choice of two to three shutter speeds depending on the model. Film sensitivity was also rated at ASA 80-125 depending on the year of manufacture.

The Kodak Brownie was used by millions of people over its product lifetime. Later camera designers adopted automation over the years to the current day. Today camera automation is more sophisticated and encompassing several additional elements; including auto ISO, shutter speed, f stop and automatic lighting adjustments. 

The DSLR and mirrorless cameras of today offer varying levels of automation. There are two primary options for the modern photographer. The first one is the full Auto mode where the camera takes full control of all settings and the photographer does nothing but press the option. The second automation feature offered is the P mode or flexible Program mode. This mode allows the camera to set an optimum setting for exposure but also allows the photographer to vary the settings in either direction via a command dial. This allows the photographer to quickly change f stop or shutter to match the situation but still have the correct exposure.

So why would a serious amateur or professional want to use the P mode on an expensive camera. The answer is simpler than you think. Often in life a fast moving situation presents itself that may interfere with photographic thinking or it is a quickly fleeting moment that must be captured quickly. In the example image you see a massive grizzly bear standing on its hind legs. This is an example of fear interfering with photographic thinking. This shot was possible because the flexible program mode was used to capture the image.

A good practice for a nature or street photographer is to leave your camera in Program mode so that a quick image capture is possible and when time permits then change over to manual or Aperture priority mode. When you are finished shooting simply return the camera to Program mode. This simple practice will let you capture those fleeting moments in life and still delve into more creative settings when using manual mode.

 

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.


Going All In!!!!

September 08, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The mainstream media has a tendency to only provide coverage of popular sports, hobbies and pastimes. There is more to life than mainstream interests. Television has created a world of spectators instead of participants. You know who they are; the armchair quarterback, the sofa hog or PC jockey. Typically full of criticism and self-loathing of any activity that is outside the norm or not televised on TV. Thankfully there are people that are outside the norm and do participate in their own hobbies and interests.

Some would call the people that attend FanExpo or Comicon as freaks and weirdos. Look at this from a different angle. They are actively participating in something that they love. This is a far cry from the bench warming activities of the armchair quarterback. In the Gallery you will see people that have a zest for life. We could all learn something from their passion.

Did you ever wonder how they went from a casual hobby or interest to the "All In" just like in Texas Hold Em' poker. In photographic terms they went went from being a snapshot photographer to full "Pro" mode. What they have is passion and commitment. Attendees of Comicon and FanExpo spend months creating their costumes and plan their travel activities around these events. Total commitment and passion. Imagine what would happen to your photography if you had this passion, this drive. Maybe you should attend the next FanExpo or Comicon event to rekindle your desire and drive for photography.

A hint for photographers, you might want to hire a FanExpo or Comicon attendee as your next model. They already know how to hit the poses.


Vintage Motorcycle Racing at Mosport

August 26, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Vintage MotorcycleVintage Motorcycle The vintage classic motorcycle racing event went off without a hitch on the weekend. Amazing sunshine and legendary vintage motorcycles to peruse in pit lane and to enjoy these fine machines on the track. For those that have not visited this fine festival here is an excerpt from the VRRA web site.

"The Vintage Road Racing Association (VRRA), Canada’s classic and vintage roadracing association, was founded in 1980 by a group of enthusiasts who just wanted to get their treasured machines back on the track. Their avowed purpose: to ensure the preservation of racing motorcycles and to maintain the traditions of racing vintage, and now classic motorcycles in Canada.

The Association has grown and flourished in the ensuing years and now actively promotes four racing events to encourage and expand participation in the sport. The VRRA is the only motorcycle association in Canada devoted solely to classic and vintage road racing – encompassing 1940s to 1980s machines – and is the oldest such organization in North America." http://www.vrra.ca

To fully enjoy the motorcycles and events that the VRRA has put together enjoy the galleries below. Or better yet; attend their next event, you won't be disappointed.

2015 VRRA Gallery

Updated pictures on Racing Life a behind the scenes look at racing.


2015 SuperBike Race

August 20, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The Super Bike race at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was a wildly successful event. Fantastic sunshine and exciting motorcycle racing rounded out the day. The weekend was solidified by the back to back wins by Jordan Szoke of Lynden, Ontario piloting the  BMW S1000RR.

Gallery Pics

As always additions to the Racing Life gallery.

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, travel, people and racing sports by the Toronto based photographer Peter Watson.

 


Photography and Ethics

July 29, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

This week we have seen some disturbing news coming out of Zimbabwe. Walter J. Palmer of Minnesota has been accused of hunting down and killing Cecil the Lion. Cecil was the much loved and lion patriarch of Hwange National Park. What becomes of Walter J. Palmer remains to be seen. Judging from the swift internet reaction to the event is not likely to be pretty. The internet is very reactionary to the event. In our modern age quite often 15 minutes of internet fame does not translate to long term recognition of the issue.

Other disturbing news has surfaced out of Kenya. Five endangered elephants have been slain so that poachers could cut off their tusks for sale in the illegal trade. This is another example where hunting is not done for food purposes but for purposes that many have labelled as "pyschotic" or "mental". 

Killing of Endangered Elephants

What can we do as photographers? The answer lies back in our image catalogs. As our photography skills increase we acquire images that are commercial and can be sold for various purposes. This is where the journey towards image sales becomes fragmented. In our photography perspective with rose colored glasses we tend to view an ideal world. We often think the sale of commercial images of wildlife will result in the publication of images in National Geographic, nature magazines, fine art prints or calendars.

This is far from the truth. Commercial images from stock agencies are quite often purchased by hunting magazines. The total revenue last year for books and magazines devoted to hunting  was $124,313,000. These magazines perpetuate the ruthless slaughter of defenseless animals. Whether they are in the wilderness, national parks or game preserves. These animals do not have a knife, crossbow or gun to defend themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** Google screen shot of typical hunting magazines. 

Photographers can make a stand and make an ethical and moral choice on the subject or they can go after commercial profit. The choice is up to them. You can enforce commercial sales contracts of your images and stipulate they are only for nature, environmental, fine art print, calendar or you can donate your images to animal preservation causes.

We all face ethical and moral decisions in our lives. The time is now to make a stand and refuse to sell our images to commercial hunting publications.

Ricky Gervais has summed it up the best.

"It's not for food. It's not the shooting, or tin cans would do. It must just be the thrill of killing. Mental. "

Not all photographers license their images for commercial purposes. There is still something that we can do to stop "trophy" hunting.

  1. Communicate with your local legislative or government representative and motivate them to draft legislation to deny the transport of trophy animals over international borders.
  2. Buy stock in major international airlines and become a shareholder activist. In the annual general meeting for stockholders submit a proposal to shareholders to prohibit the transport of of trophy animals.
  3. Step up to the plate and book a "photo" safari to Africa. You can do this by supporting organizations and outfits that actively support the conservation of wildlife. Don't believe anything the trophy hunting community tells you. Less than 3 % of trophy hunting fees went to conservation. 97% went to lines the pockets of corrupt guides and officials. Photo safarism is the way to go.

 

Update: A number of airlines including Air Canada, Delta, American and United Airlines announced they will no longer ship big-game animal carcasses, or 'trophies', for hunters who want to bring their kill home. Other airlines are expected to follow suit in the near future.

Image credit: CBS news

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, travel, people and racing sports by the Toronto based photographer Peter Watson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Preserving your Past, Present and Future

June 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The new generation of photographers has embraced digital imaging  but the use of digital cameras comes with a price. The price we pay for this incredible technology is the potential loss of images by retaining the images in a digital form. Before we jump on what this really means; let's have a look at some analogue technology. The film medium has been well understood for many generations of photographers. There are established archiving methods for long term storage. The only caveat here is that the preservation of film negatives is not straightforward under average conditions. We have to remember that the preservation of film negatives by the Smithsonian or by the National Archives is done through exacting methods. The average person does not have access to archival temperature controlled vaults.

The average analogue film photographer who has amassed a great number of negatives over the years would have taken some degree of care when storing the negatives. This would entail storing the negatives in special sleeves and storing them inside of a larger storage container. The environment would be temperature controlled through residential air conditioning; but not too archival standards. The storage conditions can affect the longevity of your negatives but there are other conditions in play here. Two factors that have a bigger impact are the quality of the original film stock and adherance to quality control standards during film processing.

As a general rule black and white negative films will survive the longest, professional color slide/film stock comes in second and last is consumer quality film. Film that was processed in a professional quality lab will last the longest and film that was processed in a 60 minute photo lab will noticeably deteriorate in 25 to 30 years. Let's look at some example images taken in the 1980's.

 

This image was taken at the Toronto Zoo at the elephant compound. The elephants at the zoo have now been moved to an elephant sanctuary.

This image was taken with Ilford HP5 black and white negative film. The negative has stood up very well over the years. This negative will likely survive longer than its creator.

The YearlingThe Yearling

This image was taken on Kodak Ektar 125. This film was oriented towards the professional market and was manufactured with higher quality materials and quality assurance standards.

This film was processed in a professional color lab and has stood up very well to the test of time. Little to no color fading or degradation of the negative.

In this example we have an image taken on Kodak 100 consumer film in the early 1980's. It was processed in a 60 minute color lab and the negative shows signs of age.

Color fading and physical degradation of the negative are clearly shown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The examples shown above clearly illustrate that the average film photographer may face challenges when storing negatives over decades. Physical prints are similar in nature. Black and white prints will last the longest. Color prints processed in a professional lab will last the longest with due care of the print. Prints that were created in a 60 minute photo lab or exposed to sunlight will exhibit color fading and physical deterioration over time.

Digital photographers reading this right now are rejoicing and reaffirming their beliefs that digital is the perfect medium. Not so fast. The storage of digital image files presents its own unique issues that need to be addressed. Digital photographers probably know the basics. Create a backup copy and store another copy off site. This should cover off most of the disaster recovery scenarios that the average person would encounter. If you are diligent you have included cloud storage for your most valuable images.

The issue with storing digital image files lies with the degradation of magnetic media over time. Every disk drive; whether they are consumer or enterprise level disk drives will experience read errors that increase with the lifetime of the disk drive. What this means that you may experience corruption issues on your image files the longer they are stored on the magnetic media. In the analogue film world your negatives may physically deteriorate and you may still have some ability to recover a usable images. With digital storage once corruption occurs there may be no recovery. This is why you see the emergence of storage management methods for consumers in the form of Windows storage pools and ZFS.

Bottom line is that digital photographers have to realize the limitations of digital storage and how to manage archival storage of digital files going forward for many years. The alternative is to print your images out on archival paper and hope for the best.

Some reading material to educate yourself on digital storage issues and archival management.

Long Term Statistics for Disk Drives

Looking at New Storage Technologies

The Myth of Digital Storage

Looking at Digital Archiving Issues

Digital Preservation Issues

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, travel, people and racing sports by the Toronto based photographer Peter Watson.

 

 

 

 


Speeding Up Lightroom Workflow

May 29, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

There are many raw processors on the market. The major players are Capture One, DxOptics and the industry goliath being led by Adobe with Lightroom/Photoshop combination. Those photographers that use Lightroom/Photoshop understand that Lightroom has a specific weakness in the time it takes to ingest and render images. High volume sports, events and wedding photographers have long endured the lengthy times before they are able to start their post-processing editing workflow on Lightroom.

Photographers who have upgraded Lightroom over successive versions have no doubt pursued the available performance and tuning options for their systems. The introduction of Lightroom 6 has sped up the workflow to some degree but a high volume of images can still take hours to ingest and render. Let’s look at some numbers in more details. A day of shooting at the race track can quickly lead to 2000+ images that need to be copied over to your system and cranked through Lightroom. In my case this will typically take two to three hours before Lightroom has ingested and rendered the images. This is on a highly optimized PC with dual SSD’s, current Intel processor, 16 gb of memory and USB 3 disk drives.

Lucky for us, some smart folks have come up with some solutions to help speed up this kind of workflow. In this article we will look at two products; PerfectBrowse and Fast Raw Viewer. Photo Mechanic has a similar functionality but its intended market is different. It is oriented towards professional shooters and photo journalists who may be working with in-house or external staff whose function is to cull and process at high speeds with specific deadlines for publication. PerfectBrowse and Fast Raw Viewer are predominantly suitable for the serious amateur and professional photographer who looks after their own workflow.

 

Pefect Browse from OnOne

Fast Raw Viewer

Both products have specific workflows to help speed up your overall imaging workflow and integration with Lightroom. These products work by being able to render a RAW image in under a ½ second. This will allow you to make your initial sorting selection and culling to go much faster. Once you have made your selections you can then start with your Lightroom workflow. Fast Raw viewer changes your workflow by letting you make selections and then copy the RAW image over to a target folder. In Lightroom you select this target folder to further ingest/render and edit your final selections. Perfect Browse works a little bit different by allowing you to make selections in the culling process and then apply filters based upon your selection criteria (Pick or Stars). The selected images can then be sent over to Lightroom to permit the final ingestion/render and edit of your final selections.

Let’s look at some hard numbers on the impact to workflow. The standard Lightroom workflow can take over 3 hours to ingest and render 2,000 images. (based upon Nikon D810 raw images approximately 32-40 mb in size) At this point you can start your selection and culling process. This part of the process can take me approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours to complete. Once my final selections have been made virtual copies are made and stored in a Lightroom collection. Eg. RacingEvent-EditSelections. Somewhere around the 4 hour mark I can start my actual Lightroom edits of my selections. This will be around 100 images from a race day.

Now let’s look at our modified workflow using Perfect Browse. The first part of the process is to copy the images from the memory cards via a USB3 card reader over to the USB3 disk drive. This will take approximately 30 minutes to perform. I then startup Perfect Browse and start my selection and culling process. This will take me 1 to 1 ½ hours to complete. At the end of this I have made 100 selections which I then send to Lightroom. Lightroom will then ingest and render the images which will take approximately 18-20 minutes. The net benefit of this workflow is that I can start my actual editing at somewhere around the 2 hour mark. The net benefit of using this workflow can easily save you hours which can make or break things if you have tight deadlines to honor. A side benefit of this workflow is that you can keep your Lightroom catalog down to a manageable size.

Now that we understand the time savings and adjustments to workflow we can now examine which product is right for you Fast Raw Viewer or Perfect Browse. Every photographer has specific genres they like to photograph and also a specific workflow that they are comfortable with. There is no one size fits all or perfect choice here. You need to pick something that best matches with your requirements. So let’s look at the pros and cons of each product in the comparison tables below:

 

Feature/Benefit

Perfect Browse

Fast Raw Viewer

Speed up workflow

ü

ü

External editor support/Lightroom integration

ü

X

Standardized culling/sorting/filtering

ü

ü

Reject tracking and management

X

ü

Colour accuracy checking

X

ü

Apply pre-edits prior to post-processing editors

X

ü

Raw vs. jpg comparison

X

ü

Windows/Apple support

ü

ü

Broad support for camera RAW formats

X

ü

Optional cloud integration

ü

X

Both products offer the photographer a faster workflow and are worthwhile if you have to deal with a high volume of images. The cost is modest or free depending upon your choice. My recommendation would be to use Perfect Browse if you have generalized requirements or you shoot sports. Fast Raw Viewer is the better choice if you shoot weddings or do critical studio work. Both products use the Open GL on your video card to speed up the image viewing process. Lightroom 6 uses the same methodology to speed up the Develop module. I would expect that the next update to Lightroom will use the same methodology to speed up this part of the workflow. In the interim this gives time for the developers of Perfect Browse and Fast Raw viewer to enhance their products further.

Fast Raw Viewer is available for $14.95 at http://www.fastrawviewer.com/

Perfect Browse 9.5 is currently free through this special link. http://www.on1.com/fstoppers/

Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, travel, people and racing sports by the Toronto based photographer Peter Watson.

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