Monday, 8 April 2013

Salgado's workflow and Possible GPS Usage in Future Projects

I have been reading the British Journal of Photography - March 2013 and there were two key articles, which I thought were potentially relevant to this course. I hoped (and was quite optimistic) that the points I picked up on would come in useful later on.

   Firstly, I read closely about S. Salgado's immense project: 'Genesis' (2004-2012). In particular I read about his workflow and how it was different to other photographers' workflows. This I felt was interesting because there were a couple of key factors briefly outlined in the article, which for me demonstrated a possible factor for why Salgado's work was so acclaimed. It was also quite a new, amended version as he had previously worked with film cameras so I found it useful to read about his 'new' workflow being implemented. This was because he was relatively 'new' to digital photography workflows - like me.

   The key factors were both were related to his workflow; the first being his approach to taking photographs before any editing or processing started. This included even the image-reviewing stage because I learnt he was committed to taking each photograph and so didn't review each photograph at all immediately afterwards. Instead he would be busy concentrating on the next shot; of which there were many - '10,000 or more images generated by each trip' - British Journal of Photography - March 2013. This was something I could learn from as I had what I considered to be quite a bad habit of 'chimping' at a lot of the photographs on the LCD screen before taking the next shot.

   The editing stage after the shots had been taken was apparently a lengthy one - 'because there are just so many great images to chose from' - British Journal of Photography - March 2013. He refines the selection more and more to arrive at 'a set of images with which he is at least temporarily satisfied with' - British Journal of Photography - March 2013. This I found was similar to how my workflow for the last assignment had progressed from earlier projects leading up to it but the processing stage was very different to mine. Here, Salgado effectively processed the finally selected images to produce film-like prints, with the intention of printing them as 'large format conventional silver prints' - British Journal of Photography - March 2013. In contrast my selected images for projects so far had been processed with intent of display for the Internet (for example this blog) and for prints of a much smaller size. So, learning how to process digital images with printing large in mind was insightful for me.

   Then I was attracted to another article in the magazine concerning GPS usage in modern cameras (or attached to modern cameras). I was drawn to this article because I had been thinking about incorporating this into my workflow if I were to commence upon a landscape-oriented project later on in the course.

    For example if I was to commence upon a long trip in a foreign country especially, I would be able to organise the photos on a virtual map efficiently, without having to estimate the locations. Simultaneously it would be possible to share the data on the map quickly with photo sharing websites that supported the geotagging feature.

   One of the only downsides I could foresee would be the battery drain of the camera. However, D. Kilpatrick - British Journal of Photography - March 2013 mentioned the availability of GPS applications on smartphones where 'you synchronise the camera time setting as accurately as possible with the independent device'. This would mean only the smartphone would need extra charging and so negate that problem.

My Initial Thoughts on 'Digital image qualities'

My immediate response when reading through the 'Digital image qualities' section in order to gain an overview of my forthcoming projects was that one single term: 'dynamic range', would be of importance. I considered how sensors on digital cameras contrast with film in terms of how they gather light. This made me wonder whether film was 'better' or more refined in quality than digital, with the human eye obviously being at the top of the list. I thought it would be interesting to see how dynamic range was coped with by digital cameras' sensors and how it would relate to other areas like 'noise' in digital images and 'highlight clipping'.

   I also recalled I had been reading about a few examples of methods concerning increasing the dynamic range of digitally produced images. For example there was an article I had read recently about the advantages of using the 'raw' camera format over jpeg. The article RAW vs JPEG (JPG) – The Ultimate Visual Guide stated: 'Dynamic Range detail in JPEG files is significantly reduced as compared to RAW' - Pye (2012). In my experience I have found this to be true but I was curious to see how to practically see the difference as well.

   Also I would possibly consider the use of 'high dynamic range' imaging. However I was quite sure if I was to use this technique it would be subtly employed. The sole intention would be to create higher dynamic range images and not for a certain aesthetic qualtiy quite frequently found to be desirable. More specifically, I would try to steer away from 'The ‘HDR look’ as it has come to be known', which 'is actually a by-product of the problems with tonemapping' - M. Freeman (2011). I would only try to use a 'subtle HDR' treatment it if I felt a photograph would benefit from it. The scenario I could see this occurring in was where the contrast in the scene exceeded what the sensor could capture.