Ektachrome returns from the dead!

That’s right, a very nice transparency film may be returned to us!  Or at least to those of us who still have film bodies and an interest in shooting film.

Petapixel announced back on January 5 that Ektachrome would be returning to shelves late in 2017 in 35mm format, no news if we’ll eventually see 120 or 4×5 formats.  One can hope.  The nice thing is that you may be able to do the E6 processing in your own home as the process is pretty simple.  Maintaining the temperature bath might be a little tricky, but it can be done.

The announcement was made at the CES trade show in Las Vegas by “Kodak Alaris, the separate company owned by the Kodak Pension Plan in the UK”.  According to comments in the Petapixel post, there are lots of labs around the world still doing E6 process, so perhaps the odds are good that you can get it done in your neighborhood.

Myself, I’m undecided.  I could buy an E6 chemistry pack, I know some people who have a machine that I might be able to buy, borrow, or use.  I have a nice Elan 7E that works fine, as far as I know.  But is it worth it?  I always found Ektachrome a bit blue for my taste, I was always more of a Kodachrome man myself, and we know that’s probably never going to return.


The Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk is THIS SATURDAY, October 1!

This is a really cool event for anyone interested in photography. It doesn’t matter how good your equipment is, I’ve seen lots of people with cell phone cameras and point and shoots, in addition to $3,000 Nikons and Canons. It’s an opportunity to walk around an area that you may not have been to before with people also interested in photography, it gives you an opportunity to expand how you view the world.

It is truly world-wide. Enter your city name, or where you want to go, and everything is pinned via Google Maps. And it’s free, though donations are appreciated and t-shirts are available that support the charity of the year.

This will be my third year doing it, and this year I’m going to Las Cruces instead of El Paso. I’m looking forward to it.


There’s one thing that I hate about Mac OS-X: the photo app auto-launching

Any time you stick in a memory card the app launches, and I NEVER use that app.  I need to use Bridge and Photoshop, and I hate that stupid Photo app always running.

There are solutions, but normally you have to set them on a card-by-card basis.  Which is not acceptable.  I found a better way, thanks to Thorin Klosowski at LifeHacker.  He published this tip in January 2016.  Open a Terminal window, and type (well, copy/paste) the following command:

defaults -currentHost write com.apple.ImageCapture disableHotPlug -bool true

That’s it. Run this command, and the program will never launch again. Well, it won’t until the next major OS update, which I guess will be the end of OS-X and the first release of Mac OS.

Current equipment while traveling, and new photos!

My wife and I are in Europe, enjoying an alleged river cruise from Prague to Berlin.  I say alleged cruise because the water level is so low that we might end up being bused from Dresden, our current stop, to further up the line.

I’ve added two new albums to my gallery, Europe! and Terezin.  Terezin was a Gestapo concentration camp in Northern (then) Czechoslovakia and has quite a storied history as it was a major component in the Nazi propaganda machine.  I don’t know that any more photos will go in the Terezin album, but I’m putting new images in the Europe! album almost daily and have some uploading right now.

The images are not as good as what I would normally post, I don’t have Photoshop with me so any corrective editing will take place after we return home in a week or so.  I’m using an Asus Chromebook, a great device for general surfing and downloading images from my cameras.  It’s crazy how light it is — it actually weighs less than my wife’s iPad! — and it’s only $200, so if it’s lost, stolen, or destroyed, I won’t cry too much compared to losing a $2,000 laptop.


Equipment!  About a year ago I acquired a Canon 6D full-frame DSLR.  Last year October I bought a used 17-40 EF.  And a month ago I bought a Panasonic Lumix LX-7.  This is my primary equipment.  I also have a EF 24-105, but it’s getting almost no use as the Lumix has a zoom that’s the equivalent of a 24-105.

There’s two great things about the Lumix.  First, Zeiss optics!  Even with the small sensor size, it still produces great images.  The sensor is the second great thing.  It’s oversize, covering a larger circle than the light circle produced by the lens.  The upshot is that you can change the aspect ratio of the images that it produces, it can make 1:1, 3:4, 2:3, and 16:9.  So you can shoot like a Haselblad, a TV, traditional 35mm, or HDTV!  I’ve been shooting 16:9 almost exclusively on this trip.

The Lumix has also been helpful as it will record video in HD and has stereo microphones.  I’ve used it to record two ship-board concerts, a Czech folk music performance and a performance by a string trio that performs for the Dresden Opera!  My intent is to strike the video and cut the audio in to MP3s for my future listening pleasure.

One important thing to note is that video takes A LOT of space on the Lumix!  I brought two 16 gig cards for the two cameras and have run out of space for the Lumix, so today I bought a 32 gig card today for it.

Well, I’ve got photos uploading that need to be tagged, so I’d better get back to it!

The Kentucky Derby is banning cameras with changeable lenses?!

Churchill Grounds says that the measures were developed after consulting with several law enforcement authorities following the Boston Marathon bombings last week.

The stupidity, it burns!  Now, I’m not likely to ever attend the Kentucky Derby, nor do I desire to do so, but, wow!  There are so many ways to smuggle in explosives and it’s so easy to check to see if a camera functions properly or not that this makes absolutely zero sense.


What makes a good photograph?

I frequently fall back on an old Ansel Adams line: Photography is knowing where to stand. I think there are three key components to taking a good photograph: composition, exposure, and timing. I’m not going to address post-processing in the darkroom or in Photoshop, I’m only concerned with capturing a better image.

One disclaimer: I am mostly a nature and industrial photographer. I don’t do much people shooting as primary subjects. I’ll occasionally get dragooned in to taking a group shot at a family reunion or something, those are definitely the exception for me. Some of what I will be talking about will have a bias because of the way that I shoot.

COMPOSITION. Composition is knowing where to stand. Just moving a few inches to one side can mean the difference between a good photograph and one with a serious flaw. We’ve all seen pictures of people with utility poles coming out of their heads. By the photographer moving slightly, or by re-positioning the people, the pole can be eliminated without having to spend time in Photoshop trying to remove the pole.

I will illustrate this later.

EXPOSURE. Exposure is a complicated issue that is greatly simplified with the advanced metering capability of today’s cameras. We rely on our camera to take the correct exposure, and that isn’t always the best thing to do. For example, taking a photo of a person against a bright sky. A lot of cameras will meter for the sky, leaving the person dark and underexposed. Some digital cameras have face detection capability which will improve your odds for a good exposure, but it’s not a guarantee. You need to be aware and to practice.

TIMING. The moment of when you press the shutter release and capture the moment is key. Even when your subjects don’t move, timing is influenced by light. Is it a cloudy day? Maybe you need to wait for your subject to be in full sunlight, or maybe in full clouded shadow. Are you prepared to make metering adjustments accordingly, if you need to? I’ve read that Ansel Adams would set up his view camera, compose his shot, and then just wait for the light to be exactly what he wanted it to be. THEN he would expose the film. But with every rule there’s exceptions, and in Ansel’s famous Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (1941) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonrise,_Hernandez,_New_Mexico) was taken in a hurry as the sun was setting and he had a very brief window of time to grab the exposure before the light was gone. According to Wikipedia, the light failed after the first exposure before he could flip the film holder and take a second negative. There are a few Ansel Adams photographs that lots of photographers try to recreate, this is definitely one of them.

For action photographers, timing is a specialization unto itself. You need to develop a sense for how the action flows to anticipate the peak of action that you want to capture. You also need to take in to account that there is a split second’s reaction time between your brain saying “Take the shot!”, your finger pressing the shutter release, and the camera actually firing. If your reactions are just slightly slow, your image is just after peak action and much weaker.

Pretty much all modern cameras have single and continuous settings for taking photographs. In the 1970’s and earlier, film winders and motor drives were rare. In the late 80’s, they started becoming a standard feature and built-in to the camera. Now they’re pretty much a universal standard feature. The difference between winders and drives was a mater of speed, as functionally they were pretty much the same thing. A winder would give you between one and three frames per second, the motor drives were typically five frames a second and faster. This allowed you to burn through a 36 exposure roll of film in 7 seconds flat. And that would be absolutely worthless if you were shooting something like a Formula 1 motor race. The easy solution would be to have a couple of extra camera bodies and an assistant to reload them when needed. But the cool way was to use a bulk film back, which would accept an actual roll of film from a film can, not a little 35mm canister, but an actual can that was around 5” in diameter, holding enough film to take 250 photographs.

Now with DSLRs, we have high-capacity memory cards that can hold a thousand or more images. And if that’s not enough, there are EyeFi cards (http://www.amazon.com/Eye-Fi-Wireless-Frustration-Packaging-EYE-FI-16PC-FF/dp/B0090XWU8S/) that have a built-in WiFi transmitter so that your images can be transmitted directly to your laptop or a web site or whatever. In fact, there was a woman who had her camera stolen who used an EyeFi card, and when more photos started appearing, she knew someone was using the camera. Eventually the thieves were stupid enough to take their own pictures along with other identifying information, the woman took the information to the police, the thieves were arrested, the camera was recovered.


Obviously no single piece of advice is applicable to all photographers. We all have different needs and different levels of skill, I just want to bring some important issues to light so that people who might be unaware of certain things might learn something and take better photographs.

Greetings and Salutations!

I’m Wayne West, my interest in photography began back in my high school days in Phoenix far too long ago.  I spent a summer mowing yards to earn money to buy my first camera, a Yashica Mat-124G.  I loved that camera, and it is still, in my opinion, one of the best possible cameras for a beginner who is seriously interested in studying photography.  Let’s look at the features, shall we?  Manual focus.  Manual exposure.  Fixed 80mm lens.  12 (or 24) exposures.  Glorious quality with a 2.5″ square negative.  It was a camera that forced you to pay attention to what you were doing, and it could produce fabulous results.  A 2.5″ Ektachrome slide is an amazing thing to see, exceeded only by 4×5 and larger transparencies.  I still have my first Yashica Mat, but it’s not in working order.  More’s the pity.

So why start a web site and show off my work and blather about photography in a blog?  I started the web site because I wanted to show some of my work, kind of self-evident.  The blog I’m starting because, although there are many good photography blogs out there (like Ken Rockwell’s), I do have observations of my own and some lessons to teach, and this is where I shall grab a soap box and do some pontificating.  A few years ago I was at the Valley of Fire near Carrizoza, New Mexico, and I saw a photographic opportunity that was a perfect example of a phrase of Ansel Adams: “Photography is knowing where to stand.”  So I shot examples of it.  But where to put it?  Where to talk about it?

Well, in the words of Lauri Anderson, this must be the place.

We’ll chat more later.