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Happy Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day! Did you know that we offer and Eco Friendly Product? Well, we do. Let me take just a quick second to tell you about our Gallery Mount Collection and how you can be Earth friendly every day of the year, not just on Earth Day.

We use premium MDF with a Composite Panel Association (CPA) certification of 100% recycled/recovered fiber in compliance with their Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) specification CPA 3-08. These products are also certified for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody and controlled wood recognition. Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) has awarded certification to our supplier for producing products using recovered and recycled materials. UltraStock Select, Premium and Lite MDF are certified to contain pre-consumer recycled fiber on a dry fiber weight basis of 75% and 80% depending on manufacturing facility.

WOW! What does all of that mean? It means that we are doing our best as a company to help our clients be as eco friendly as possible and still create beautiful finished photographic pieces of art to put out into the world. Art is beauty and beauty does not have to hurt (our planet). We also reuse and recycle our shipping materials and no longer use incandescent light blubs, something we can ALL do everyday of the year to keep our planet green! *Image provided by NASA

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The Pinhole Camera: A Simple Revelation

“Who would believe that so small a space could contain the image of all the universe?”

Thus spoke Leonardo Da Vinci as he waxed poetic on the mysteries and wonders of the human eye. He could have just as easily, though, been describing the mysteries and wonders of the camera obscura and its successor, the Pinhole Camera.

The methodology of pinhole optics was first recorded back in the 5th century B.C. when the Chinese philosopher Mo Tsu noticed that images appeared inverted when projected through a small hole or ‘pinhole’ in a darkened room. He later referred to this as a “collecting plate” or “locked treasure room”.

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—Photo courtesy of Jody Akers

A century later, Aristotle noted that “sunlight traveling through small openings between the leaves of a tree, the holes of a sieve, the openings of wickerwork, and even interlaced fingers, will create circular patches of light on the ground.” (It is not known whether the great philosopher pursued the idea much beyond this observation.)

It was during Leonardo’s study of perspective in the 16th century, that the first technical description of pinhole projection appeared in his collection of notebooks, the Codex Atlanticus:

“When the images of illuminated objects pass through a small round hole into a very dark room…you will see on paper all those objects in their natural shapes and colors…Here the figures, here the colors, here all the images of every part of the universe are contracted to a point. O what a point is so marvelous!”

Translated from its original latin, camera for “room”, obscura for “dark”; the camera obscura can be any sealed, lightfast enclosure with a hole to admit ambient light, and an opposing inner surface to reflect and view the projected image. To a more or less degree, every illuminated object reflects light. The pinhole allows this reflected light to pass through the small opening (relative to the enclosure’s size) and project a perfectly linear, distortion free, albeit inverted, reflection of the subject.

—Photo courtesy of Jody Akers

—Photo courtesy of Jody Akers

Later refinements saw the addition of lenses and mirrors within the enclosure to ‘right’ the upside-down image—photographic principles that are still in use today.

A pinhole camera can be almost any size and constructed out of virtually anything in which you can place emulsion in and poke a [pin]hole. Egg shells, peanut shells, hollowed out peanuts, soup cans, spam cans, oatmeal boxes, old Macs, old cameras; the list goes on…

Justin Quinnell, a photographer in Great Britain, has devised a pinhole camera for your mouth. He’s dubbed it the “Smileycam”. And then there’s also the garbageman from Germany who’s turning dumpsters into pinhole cameras. What does he call it? The “Trashcam”, of course.

Photographer Jody Akers converted this old Speedgraphic into a Pinhole camera. Note the Grateful Dead patch "shutter".

Photographer Jody Akers converted this old Speed Graphic into a Pinhole camera. Note the Grateful Dead patch “shutter”. — Photo by Greg Osborne

A popular small-form pinhole is this 35mm film canister method.

The largest camera obscura in the world—the Camera Obscura in Aberystwyth, Wales, boasts a fourteen inch lens and reflects a 360 degree sweep of the surrounding sea and landscape. Yes, you can literally stand inside the camera/building!

Aside from the mere entertainment value of the camera obscura, some of the Renaissance and Dutch masters were reputed to have used this device in the creation of some of their most celebrated works, allowing them to achieve near photo-realistic, distortion-free perspective in the layout and composition of their paintings.

The transformation of the camera obscura from a viewing and drawing tool, to a true recording device, happened in 1850 when Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster took the first known pinhole photograph. He is also believed to have coined the term “pin-hole” in his 1856 book, The Stereoscope.

—Photo courtesy of John Harris

—Photo courtesy of John Harris

With the addition of the film component, the pinhole camera was born.

Today, pinhole art is considered a legitimate sub-genré of photography. In addition to its place in art, pinhole cameras have proven their value to the hard sciences through their use in space flight and for high energy photography in the nuclear industry’s laser plasma research.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of the pinhole is the absence of a “proper” lens. With only the atmosphere separating emulsion and subject, the camera’s depth of field is nearly infinite, wide angle images appear almost distortion-free.

Sounds simple enough, but the Pinhole is hardly without its quirks. Since the device operates without a viewfinder, framing ones subject can be a hit or miss proposition. Once, however, the photographer gains familiarity with his/her chosen camera, they will gain a feel for position and placement.

—Photo courtesy of John Harris

—Photo courtesy of John Harris

This placement, along with timing and exposure, relies heavily on the artist’s intuition and expertise. “Shutter” operation is a manual proposition, to say the least. Methods run the gamut, from electricians tape to, in the case of photographer Jody Aker’s modified Speed Graphic—a velcroed-on Grateful Dead patch.

Despite what some would call “limitations”, many accomplished fine art photographers revere this simplistic approach to their craft for the stripping away of technology that, may or may not, help in the creation of photographic art.

Twenty years ago, noted Colorado lensman, David Sharpe, felt “boxed in” by the sometimes tedious nature of traditional photography. He liked the way the Pinhole allowed for a more poetic interpretation of his subject matter—without the often cloying technology that had come to define modern photography. Hooked for good, Sharpe embraced the pinhole aesthetic and never looked back.

Although he agrees that the pinhole leaves a lot to chance, Sharpe actually likes not having to look through the viewfinder, relying instead on the intuitive feel that the pinhole requires of its adherents. “I love the alternative approach; the softer, not as ‘dead-on’ nature of this medium.”, David observes.

"Waterthread 24" by David Sharpe

“Waterthread 24” by David Sharpe

Sharpe’s platform of choice is the “small-form” film canister pinhole. Typically, he will bring 16 to 19 of these set-ups on photo excursions. Experimenting with different focal lengths and short exposure times, David has achieved amazing results with what he calls his “pinhole instamatics”.

Often, an artist will, at some point in their career, decide if they are photographing for the image or for the process. Many artists will agree that the process IS the art, or at least as important as the final image itself. The beauty of the pinhole camera, is that it lends itself so well to this creative process by almost forcing one to engage the subconscious creative power that technology often subverts.

The pinhole camera doesn’t overwhelm or try to ‘lead’ the artist with endless technology-driven choices. It is a collaborator that, by way of an almost misleading simplicity, works with the artist to reveal the art within.

"Waterthread 1" by David Sharpe

“Waterthread 1” by David Sharpe

Sound intriguing?

Get Pinholed!

You don’t have to be a professional artist-type to enjoy the existential rewards of Pinhole Photography

April 28th is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. To celebrate, we have made this week’s Facebook Photo Theme, drumroll please… “Pinhole” Drop by our Facebook Page and show us your stuff.

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Digital Image Archiving – The Lost Generation Part 2

So far, all the digital archiving solutions we discussed in part 1 have their pro’s and con’s. Mostly con’s. What’s left? How about a good old fashioned print! If you make a good quality print, note I said ‘quality’ print, not a cheapo inkjet that will fade faster than American Idol winners, you can be good to go with just a simple shoe box to hold all your precious memories. OK, so maybe not a real shoe box although I’m willing to bet my New Balance sneaker box full of prints will outlast any of the digital storage solutions currently available. Did you know you can buy, cheaply I might add, photo storage boxes in all variety of sizes? Most are made of archival acid free paper, have dividers and give you (or your decendants) access to actually see them whenever you want with no batteries required. How about an album? There’s nothing like a good photo album to thumb through. That tactile quality can never be replaced.

I was recently at a family reunion being held in a local park. One of the Aunt’s brought a stack of photo albums which consisted mainly of old photos of past family members and deceased pets. People were grabbing them left and right to look through the pages, laugh at their relatives and ask over and over “who this that with so and so”? It really draws a crowd and certainly helped those present feel much more connected to the family. Then I noticed a few digital cameras floating around, people taking snaps, a few videos and a lot of chimping. If you have not heard of chimping, it’s the process of looking at your photos on the camera typically right after shooting them. So called because if you really look at someone doing it they really do look like a chimpanzee all hunched over and staring with wonder at the tiny magic screen. Anyway, back to the family chimps. What I noticed is that the photo albums stopped right around when the digital age hit. There were a few awful ink jet prints made by Auntie so and so but not many. According to them, most of their recent photos were either on their computer somewhere or still in the camera. Hmmm.

Now I am not suggesting you print every shot you take, although from a lab’s perspective that would be pretty cool. Just print the important stuff. The photo’s you want to pass on to future generations, the photo’s you want to be remembered for. I also suggest you don’t hide them in the attic or basement. Leave one or two albums laying around, see what happens when family or friends come over. Bet someone picks one up and starts going through it. Makes for great conversation and reminiscing over those good times you all shared. Sure beats having everyone huddle (think chimp) around a laptop or I-pad, if that would even happen. Whatever you do, just print it, put it in an album, in a box, even in a pile but just print it. The only true way to archive your photographs and for the future all of mankind!

You will still want to keep your digital ‘originals’ somewhere but if you only share them on Facebook, flickr, e-mail’s and what-not, understand that these are all very short term options. The sooner you start thinking about a long term archiving solution the easier it’s gong to be.

Tell us what you think and what you are doing to preserve your memories. Here is a resource for archiving digital files, mostly for professionals but really it applies to anyone who shoots digital photographs and does not want to be part of the lost generation.
http://dpbestflow.org/data-storage-hardware/storage-hardware-overview

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Digital Image Archiving – The Lost Generation Part 1

Are your images a ticking time-bomb?

There has been a lot of chatter between the photo labs and digital imaging professionals the past few years. We all fully expect many digital photographers including pros, amateurs and even the family archivist who we affectionately call Digital Debbies, to completely loose a whole generation of images. Gone, Adiós, Sayonara, Bub bye! Why you ask? If not you should be. It used to be fairly simple to store and archive your film images whether you used archival pages, slide boxes or just printed them. Some people went as far as to store them off site or in fire proof safes and for the most important of images, you could have duplicates made. Either way, you could actually see them whenever you wanted. It’s easy to reproduce film, always will be. Now in the digital age we can shoot like crazy onto huge memory cards because it’s inexpensive, practically free in fact. Well, now what do you do with all of these shots? I hear of people who burn them off to CD/DVD’s, store them on external hard drives or even just use the memory cards as a storage device. Heck, many people of a certain age group don’t store or keep their photos at all, they just shoot for instant gratification and move on, but that’s another story we’ll investigate later. With the cost of storage so inexpensive all of these are viable solutions except for one detail. None of these are anywhere near as secure as film storage for several reasons. First, CD/DVD disks can and do fail, even the finest ‘gold’ disks. Hard drives fail all the time and with the mammoth size of current models you could be putting thousands of images at risk and all on one device. Now let’s assume for the moment that your CD/DVD or HD does not fail. So far so good. Imagine 10, 20 or even 50 years into the future. What’s the chance you or whoever has possession of your images will have access to a device to read any of these disks. I can promise you that CD/DVD readers will not be around that long and very possibly they will have no way to connect that external HD to a computer because USB is long gone. Will new cameras or card readers still be compatible with SD, CF and other current memory cards? There is a good chance all these images, possibly 100’s of thousands will not be accessible.

OK so maybe now you realize that you will become that Grandpa or Grandma with zillions of images in your attic and your relatives will climb up there to discover this treasure trove of personal and family history and possibly even your professional career’s cache of photos. Now what? Can’t see em, can’t read the disks, can’t reminisce over all the beautiful photos you took over your digital lifetime. Bummer, now there dumpster fodder! Maybe someone will take the time, effort and expense to find a guy who can recover these images, maybe not. So what’s a digital photographer to do? Well, you could keep copying all your images from device to device to keep them stored on current technology. Can you even imagine how exponentially labor intensive this will get, even in just a few years! No way!! No one is going to go through all that hassle. Option 2, store everything with a cloud based operation or with one of the off site storage companies that currently offer this service for a monthly fee. Some even have redundant storage for extra security. Not a bad idea, sounds easy anyway except for the horror stories we have heard when one of these guys goes out of business and with a flick of the switch your photos are gone. Yes, many people have been able to retrieve their images but your still back in the same boat as before.

We also are told many people actually use facebook, flickr and the like to store/archive all their images. How long do you really expect them to be around? They may be here for some time but free storage of all your photographs for life is not something anyone should count on. How many people realize that facebook automatically downsizes your files when uploaded? Forget any large files let alone Raw, PSD, etc. Any designer out there working in Illustrator, Quark, Corel, or CS whatever also needs to pay attention. All of your work both personal and professional is at risk. So what’s the solution? I am interested in hearing what anyone else thinks and what they are currently doing.

Next post look for part 2 of Digital Image Archiving: The Lost Generation