naophoros Posts


I have really gone through a rebirth in my photography, especially in the last month or so. I have heard folks say, “Well, of course I cannot carry around the big, clunky SLR camera everywhere, so I just take the compact camera.” Once I had heard that enough times, I started believing that the SLR is not worth taking out for everyday shots.

Sometime earlier this month, I finally said “fooey!” to those thoughts and actually started carrying the camera around with me, pretty much everywhere I go. I have gotten some funny looks, but I have also gotten some great photographs. Here is a photograph that never would have happened had I not just had the camera on hand while waiting for my wife in the market.


Why is steam so interesting? That and fire just make we want to take photographs. I tried a shot of steam from a morning bowl of noodles the other day. It is not the best, but I keep shooting steam shots trying to find tricks to pulling it off a little better.


My budding photographer friend sent another photo my way for a bit of critique. Here are his original comments on the photo:

The school slaughtered a pig for us, and some of us roasted the meat over bonfires. Several kids set sticks on fire and began swinging them around, so the slower shutter speed was cool for the shot. For some reason it doesn’t look as sharp on the computer as it did on the camera’s LCD, but I still like it. I wish I could have got one of the kids in the picture clearer, but oh well.


The short answer: The GIMP & UFRaw

The long answer:
I am an unashamed Linux guy. You may ask, “Why not use Windows like everyone else?”, “Why not switch to Mac like the enlightened photographers out there?”. Well, because it would be silly of me to pay for those things which I can get for free.


I really could not say for sure why I decided to distort the whole QingMing photo collection. It really is a shift for me, for usually, I am a pretty standard issue, depict real life, photojournalistic type of photographer. Usually, I just want to document what is going on, telling the story that is already in front of me.

The first photo, if I remember correctly, that I distorted was “Say What”. Something about the colors and subject matter just jumped out at me when I shot it, and I wanted it to jump out at others, too. Really, though, all the original photos from that day had some strange coloring already. I still cannot quite figure out what was going on. I am guessing it was just the bright sunlight. One thing is for sure: mountainside graveyards at midday are not the best lighting situations.


I ran across a quote today that emphasizes something I value in my own photography. The late war photographer, Robert Capa, said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.

This small precept could completely renovate many of the non-inviting, dull photographs out there. A close and personal face shot is much more valuable than picking some speck out of the crowd. Not only that, but even if a telephoto lens is used to bring a far subject in close, the lack of depth in the photo still somehow communicates a lack of closeness.


A friend and fellow photo experimenter, just bought a Nikon D40, which is a serious upgrade from my loaner all-manal Vivitar. He and I were already sending e-mails back and forth with photos and comments on each other’s photos. So, since I was already writing far too much for an e-mail, we decided to just move that information here to benefit all.


Having somebody stare at you everywhere you go would really get old fast, would it not? I live in China, and certainly receive my fair share of “socket lock”, especially since my wife and I live in a rural town. I would imagine, though, anyone who travels enough endures the same treatment (depending completely on where you travel). So, I have a little homebrew photographic psychology to help prevent unnecessary mental anguish.


From truly frieghtening to innocent babes, from Don Knotts to Danny Glover, I found one of the most evocative collections of portraits that I have seen in a long time. Bruce Jackson found and printed photographs from the Arkansas State Prison between 1915 and 1937, calling the collection “Mirrors”. And indeed they are if you look through them. There is an incredible amount of character that flows through these faces. Save the prison ID number tagged on their chests, you might think some of these faces were average house wives. And some of the photos make you wonder how a photographer so able at capturing a person could get stuck in a job taking mug shots in the prison system. See: Mirrors. Photographs from the Arkansas State Prison 1915-1937.


Quick Answer: “Film Safe” is a lie!

film safe x-ray machine damaged photoHere is the perfect example to explain a photographic tip that will hopefully save many of you from the five years of torturous distortion I had to endure with my own photographs.

You will need to imagine the inside of your camera as you load your film for this. The particular section of film (Kodak 35mm EliteChrome 100) shown at left, was half way out of the metal film container after finishing a previous shoot, but itself was still an unexposed (no picture taken) section of film when I passed it through a “Film Safe” x-ray machine. In other words, it does not matter whether you have taken a photograph with your film yet or not: