Author Archives: Wayne West

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 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.

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) (,_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 ( 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.