Monday, February 26, 2007

The Photographs of Jeff Wall

For many years the Museum of Modern Art has chosen a single photographer to give a large exhibit to exclusively of this photographer’s work. The current choice is Jeff Wall.

He is the photographer most responsible for the contemporary trend of making photographs the same size as painting as well extending the concept of being engaged in the image at multiple stages. Regrettably making large scale photographs is beyond the economic means of many people who are excited about making photographs. However extending observation to directing, recreating and rethinking is free to anyone who wants to engage in this process.

Wall entered photography with a background in painting and filmmaking. Many painters and filmmakers work in a style where everything is recreated rather than going from direct observation and recording that moment. Much of photography’s history is made up of photographers who relied on direct observation. Some of them never even saw printing as part of the process. Ansel Adams was one of the first to make a detailed argument as to why photographers should print with his theory of Previsualization.
Jerry Uelsmann took this a step further with his theory of Postvisualization. The photographers Clarence John Laughlin, Jerry Uelsmann,Gene Meatyard,Duane Michaels and Sandy Skoglund have produced brilliant bodies of photographs working in a style where the final image starts as an observation but finishes as a directed image.

By exploring scale as well as extending the process beyond observation, Wall has expanded photography’s boundaries for all photographers.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Adobe Lightroom 1.0

Adobe Lightroom 1.0 is the newest non-destructive image editing program. Until recently most image editing programs including Photoshop edited the image by moving pixels around. Too many edits, which was easy to do, would degrade the image quality.

I have been using Adobe Camera Raw, the first non-destructive image editing program, which has been part of Photoshop for awhile. With Camera Raw the program writes a set of processing instructions for the file without moving pixels around. The user never actually writes instructions, but instead makes a series of straightforward visual adjustments. This appears to be a very similar process in the Develop module of Lightroom. There appear to be more editing options than with Camera Raw and a better interface. The best part of all is the Develop module can be used with JPEG and TIFF files. Camera Raw was only usable with RAW files, a format primarily available on high end cameras – most DSLRs and few older cameras like the Nikon Coolpix 5000 cameras and the Canon S70. So now anyone serious about high quality editing has an exciting new option available.

This is Adobe’s first image editing program aimed at just photographers. This is a big step forward in making image editing easier. As usual Adobe’s manual is tedious. A good alternative manual might be The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers by Martin Evening. The first chapter is online for free and I found it to be a better option to getting started than Adobe’s help.pdf. There is enough in Evening’s chapter to use the program at it’s most basic level. Lightroom also does lots of other things besides non-destructive editing, such as image allocation management or in simpler terms – keeping digital photographs organized in an easy way. This is an exciting new product that makes digital image editing much easier.

All text unless otherwise noted is ©2007 Paul Light. All rights are reserved.