Saturday, December 31, 2011

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Posted in Arrangement, Art, Business

A Year In Review...

To begin this blog post, I just want to take the opportunity to thank you, my readers who have been part of what started out as part of an exercise for my Marketing class that I teach. I started this blog just less than a year ago, and have had over 37,000 views with a daily average of 170 visitors a day. I have as many visitors on a daily basis as some of the websites I've managed, maintained and marketed.

Although it was never meant to be a permanent effort in my mind, it has grown to be popular site with my insights and reviews on things related mostly to photography. I appreciate all those that have come to visit my site, ask questions, and comment on my posts or directly to me by email.

From a marketing point of view, building a blog that generates a nice modest amount of daily traffic did require real work. Ironically I've heard SEO/Social Media and other so called 'Gurus' of the internet tell acquaintances and clients of mine that it takes little effort to create a successful online campaign.

When I started this back in January, I launched a new portfolio pageFacebook page, personal website and twitter feed mostly at the same time, but a couple of them throughout this calendar year. All of these efforts took time to build, but also time to maintain. As a result, I gained several clients and paid jobs from my efforts, but again, my objective wasn't so much to make money off of this, but as an exercise to my students on how to build and maintain an online strategy.

What successes I'm more proud of, isn't related to this blog or my other online presences, but what my students did early this year to get themselves marketing online. Being picked up and republished by several major online publications was some of the bigger rewards of their viral marketing efforts, but also some of them getting awarded for their efforts and coming out with accolades related to their work.

As I move into teaching the next year's class, I can't say for certain if they will repeat the same kind of success as the previous. Their last semester was a very successful class for them in terms of presentation and understanding how marketing relates to design, so I look forward to seeing how this group will handle their online marketing strategies.


A good social media strategy begins with being interesting. I'm not saying I'm the most interesting person on the internet, but by having information that people are engaged by, creates traffic and viral interest in what I've written or published. Creating this kind of content takes anywhere from an hour to several hours to do. Frequency of this is also important. Those that follow my twitter feed will certainly see that I populate it with a lot of micro-blog tidbits related to photography. Although I don't have a massive follower amount, my metrics are very good (as per Klout.com, my score of 48 puts me at a specialist category that has strong network presence). In February of this year, I had one of my tweet posts hit one million+ impressions (something I've not been able to repeat however interesting to note).

Next year poses to be an interesting year I'm certain. I have personal objectives that I'd like to meet by mid year, and will be working hard at doing that. Whether or not I'll be spending as much time on this blog as I did this year is going to be a play it by ear kind of thing, but with even 60 published articles on here, that's a lot of writing I've done in the past year.

I will be focusing more on my new portfolio page in the coming months, and as I prepare for a gallery show next year, I'll be also looking at other shows as options to market myself. Those efforts will certainly be bolstered by my efforts on here.

In the meantime I'm finishing off this last post of the year with a few street images, and I just want to wish all my readers and visitors a Happy New Year.


This series of images were taken on 6X6 Medium format black and white film:

Enter  Associates The Carrier Light and Shadow Recessed

Sunday, December 18, 2011

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Medium Format Film vs Micro Four Thirds Digital

Medium Format Film vs Micro Four Thirds Digital
Yashica Mat -245 Twin Lens Reflex, 6x6 camera,
80mm F/3.5 lens on Kodak New Portra 400
I've been meaning to blog about this specific comparison for a while. While I had taken the photos months ago, I finally found myself making the time to write about it. Now to be fair, this is again another odd ball comparison, but I did this more to satisfy my own curiosity. To basically see where digital sits today compared to film on medium format.

First off, the images have been touched up to match the white balance. With film, you generally buy the type of film that suits the lighting conditions or use filters to adjust for colour temperatures. Digital camera certainly have the advantage of adjusting for that, or to match a custom colour just by dialing it in.  Certainly advantage goes to digital for this alone.

Next, my subject (my son) was shot looking slightly different. To be expected from my 3 year old son who has a hard time keeping still. I tried to shoot similar settings, but I forgot to change the Pen to ISO 400 when I shot with that.

Medium Format Film vs Micro Four Thirds Digital
Olympus Pen E-P3, Leica 25mm F/1.4 lens
Lastly, I used a lens that in theory should have captured a similar field of view as the larger format. However with perspective compressions and other factors, there was bound to be some differences.

Too keep this simple, I'm just going to put into point form the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Medium Format

Advantages:

  • Easier to isolate subject from background
  • More resolution and detail
  • Superior dynamic range (more shadow and highlight details)
  • Larger potential for larger prints
  • Inexpensive bodies
  • Forgiving for exposure errors (at least with the film type I used)
  • Bright and easy to use viewfinder
Disadvantage:

  • Slow to focus and requires a good amount of skill to use
  • Expensive to process and slow to get results
  • Heavy and not so compact (although the TLR is very compact in this regards
  • Limited metering options (on the older equipment)
  • Tricky to scan negatives (however Portra is one of the easiest and best films I've used to scan)
  • Limited amount of frames to shoot (in my case 12)
  • Limited shutter speeds (at least with the older cameras)
  • Very expensive bodies if you want to have basic features found in modern SLR cameras

Micro Four Thirds

Advantages:
  • Compact and very lightweight design - almost pocketable - no so much with the lens I was using in this comparison
  • Being digital, allows for lots of shots (and instant delete if needed)
  • Instant review
  • Low Noise performance
  • Faster Shutter Speeds
  • Built in flash
  • Flexible dynamic range (being able to control where you want emphasis on the dynamic range to compensate for shadow or highlight details)
  • Autofocus
  • Multiple metering modes

Disadvantages:
  • Resolution is limited to 12x13 prints for maximum quality
  • Expensive lenses to get maximum depth of field control
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Price bodies
At the end of the day, both were fun to use and both are great to use. I love both formats, and it comes down to why and when to use them. Medium format in my case is limited by the equipment I have and more modern version improve upon the experience. However, of all the medium format systems I'm using, the TLR is the most compact of all of them (however the most antiquated - certainly wished there was an affordable digital version). Modern medium format is very large and bulky, even my Mamiya SLR 645 is rather heavy and the popular 647 systems are even heavier. What I really like doing is bringing these two together, but to be honest, it's all about what your'e hoping to achieve. Right smack in the middle of all of this is my 5DMark2 which as a 35mm full frame and sits right in the middle of the road of both of these formats. To me it still is the best between the two and frankly the ultimate in quality.

I've spent a lot of time in the past couple of months shooting film, which is a lovely return to where I started, but at the end of the day, I appreciate my 5Dmk2 even more because I get very similar quality and resolution that I get off my medium format equipment. I will continue to rediscover and love medium format, but at the end of the day, the tools I use, will always dictate the client's needs and desires. I would love to be shooting medium format every day, but it's just not feasible for me at this stage, but looking forward to the days when it will make more sense.

One last thing. Kodak Portra 400 which is what I used to take this image is a fantastic medium to work with. It's extremely forgiving in exposure, and very easy to scan. I can certainly add that in my experiences between the half dozen film types I've tried, is the least frustrating to scan. Which brings to light another thing. Unless you want to spend a lot of time scanning (with a chance of never getting great scans) or having them scanned professionally at an enormous cost, it's something that you need to really consider if you're going to shoot this format and put it into a digital format later. Currently it's my favourite film, and although I can't get my hands on them yet, looking forward to the New Portra 160 to use for landscape photography.

Friday, December 2, 2011

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A brief impression of the Fuji X-10


Fuji X-10Was down at my local hangout and had the chance to try out the new Fuji X-10. Impressive little camera.

It's expensive ($599), but I think those that aren't convinced of a micro four thirds, don't want to pay the price of a Fuji X100 and like to have a zoom lens, then this might be the right model.

It's very light, well built and one of my critera for a decent camera, should be easy to use straight out of the box. If I want to make adjustments and manual controls, it's easy enough to do that. I was able to use the camera without reading the manual. Excellent interface, and simple to work with. I LOVE the feature to turn it on by turning the barrel of the lens which extends out an amazing fujinon lens. Shutting it off is the reverse, and very positive feeling positions so you wouldn't turn it off accidently.

Wish I had more time to test it but I give it a good thumbs up. Image quality is very nice. After my experiences with the Nikon 1 series, which I think is an absolute joke, even though is not a system camera is 10 times the camera the 1 series will ever be. Only thing I found a little awkward with it is the size (a touch small in my hands).

I was skeptical about it when Fuji announced it, but now that I handled it, I was very impressed by it. If you're looking for a quality compact camera, this just might be the one to get.

Fuji X-10