No more bright colours of summer

It seems true. Once Eastman Kodak runs out of its current stock of Kodachrome, the famed brand of iconic images there will be no more.

The transparency film was the daring of magazine photographers for decades will likely be no more sometime in 2009 (that’s the expiry date stamped on the last batch of Kodachrome selling in stores). Some professionals and advanced amateur photographers are buying up as much of the film as possible and freezing it. Freezing film will help prolong its shelf life and is a common practice at newspapers and magazines.

In a story from Associated Press, the film is lauded as the medium used to capture the 1936 destruction of the giant zeppelin Hindenburg and Hillary’s snapshot of his Sherpa climbing partner atop Everest in 1953. The Zapruder 8-millimeter reel of Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 was on Kodachrome as was the haunting image of an Afghan girl with the grey-green eyes that appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985.

Now as Kodak enters its 128th year, it is  moving rapidly to adapt to the brave new world of digital photography and film may well just fade away. It doesn’t seem likely that Kodak will fire up the Kodachrome production line just to make more film that most customers won’t want.


Canon colour accent mode

While I teach all the cameras for Henry’s School of Imaging I must admit I am a little better on the Nikons than the Canons. This is especially true with the point-and-shoots which I don’t normally use myself.

Anyway I got a question last weekend from a student I couldn’t answer. he asked me what was the colour accent mode on his Canon point and shoot. WELL I’m very impressed to say that it’s a way to accent one colour and turn the rest of the image black and white. Wow. Really neat. Here’s a link to a couple of web sites that talk about it and show some images.


BTW the photo adventure trip to Israel is really coming together. We’re taking registrations right now so get on over to for more information.

Sharpness Revisited

The easiest way to get sharper photos is to use a tripod. That will eliminate cameraDSC_5949 shake. And, don’t forget that if you’re using a camera that has a vibration reduction feature or a lens with this feature, turn it off when you’re using the camera on any steadying device. If the camera is on a tripod the anti-shake devices will keep looking to see why there isn’t any shaking for them to minimize and thus this behaviour creates more shaking.

But it’s no fun carrying a tripod around with you all day, especially when you’re on vacation, so what I do is carry a mini tripod. I’ve been meaning to buy one of the big “gorilla-type” three-legged devices which can stand like a regular tripod or be wrapped around a tree branch. Best of all, these supports will fit into a medium-size camera bag.

Another trick is to bring a tripod or, better yet, a mono pod (it’s a a one-legged tripod that helps steady the camera) only to a location where you’re certain you’ll need it. For example, if I’m going night shooting I bring some sort of support so I can take time exposures.

More On Sharpness

How do the pros get such sharp photos? It’s more than just shooting at a high enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake. Every lens, ever made, at any price will take sharper pictures at some aperture settings than others. So how do you know where your lens shoots at its sharpest? Generally speaking, your lens is the sharpest at two full stops smaller than wide open. So if you’re shooting with the lens that came with the camera and it’s aperture range is from f3.5/f5.6 to f16, then the best aperture for sharpness is going to be f8 or f11.fiddlehead

Now before we go any further let’s look at the funny way I indicated the wide-open f-stops. In the example above I said the range started at f3.5/f5.6. This dual f-stop number shows that the camera manufacturer saved money and weight by going to a variable f-stop when shooting wide open. In other words when the lens is zoomed out wide the aperture is going to be f3.5 but then it’s zoomed in and is at its longest setting it will be opening to only f5.6. For most amateurs, having a slight change in the f-stop reading while zooming in and out doesn’t matter. But in critical situations, like wedding photography, it’s best to be using a fixed f-stop lens to maintain the same exposure regardless of the zoom. That’s one of the reasons wedding photographers buy such fast, heavy and expensive lenses. A 17mm to 55mm f2.8 or a 70mm to 210mm f2.8 are heavy, fast, expensive and do not change their exposure settings (by changing the aperture) during zooming.

The second reason pros buy fast lenses with a fixed rather than a variable aperture, is a fast lens opened up wide (f2.8 or lower) yields a photo with very narrow depth of field.  Shooting like this isolates the subject from the out-of-focus background. Here’s a shot of a fiddlehead which is in focus and set against a background that’s out of focus. It’s too bad I don’t shoot weddings so we’ll have to settle for the fern but if you go to any great wedding photographer’s website you’ll see examples of the single-focus, narrow depth of field shot of the bride.

Shaking All Over

DSC_1777 Perhaps the number one issue that newcomers run into with their new digital single-lense reflex cameras is camera shake. Camrea shake shows up as images which are blurry. They’re not out of focus but appear soft especially when viewed at any magnification whether on the camera viewing screen or on a computer monitor.

The reason we get camera shake is we don’t notice that the shutter speed has fallen below a speed where we can safely handhold the camera. This is especially true with the more sophisticated cameras which can run in the semi-automatic modes of apeture priority, shutter priority, program and manual.

In apeture priority, you are selecting the apetture setting (in order to determine the amount of depth of field) while the camera is automatically adjusting the shutter speed in order to produce a correct exposure setting. It’s easy to be shooting at speeds too slow to ensure sharp images.

In manual, program and shutter priority, this issue doesn’t show up so long as you know what the slowest shutter speed is you can set and not get camera shake.

Thank goodness there’s a rule of thumb that comes from the days of film photography. To avoid camera shake, set the camera shutter speed (or ensure in apeture priority that the camera doesn’t go below) to match the milimeters of your lense. Huh? This is really pretty simple. If you’ve got a 50 mm lens on your camera (notice this isn’t a zoom), you need to set your shutter speed to at least 1/50 of a second. Since most cameras don’t have a setting of 1/50 but 1/60, set the camera to the higher setting.

But I’ve got a zoom lens that goes from 18 to 200 mm. That’s okay. Set the shutter speed to at least

Ethics Revisited

You can tell when I get a bug up my nose. This time it’s that ethics in photography issue.

Let’s look at this way. Where is the ethics in digging a latreen?  You dig a latreen so that you have somewhere to poop. It’s that simple. There’s no ethics in this activity. I put it to you it’s the same in photography. The act of recording an image has no ethics involved. You record images because…why? You enjoy it? It’s your job? You’ve got something to say (ah now we maybe heading into ethics territory)?

Now you can dig a great latreen or a crappy one (sorry about that). You can dig one that works or one where you fall in. That’s poor workmanship and has nothing to do with ethics.

Ethics are involved with what’s right and wrong and goes beyond that to include what’s considered for the good of the community and can include what’s good for all of humanity.

This is way too great a burden to place on the simple recording of an image.

Does the creation of art involve ethics?

Now, if you have another agenda that involves your own view of morality that’s a different issue.