Sunday, December 27, 2009

Camera Bags

I have only had a few camera bags, but have always found them to be an essential piece of equipment. My favorite camera bag is a Tamrac backpack. It looks like a conventional backpack to some extent. This bag is no longer made. It is similar to Tamrac's model 750 and 752 Photographer's Daypack.

For days where I need to carry equipment for a long time I use a Pacsafe TrekSafe 100
that I originally bought for another purpose. I was planning a trip to London and read several reports on the Internet stating that London was filled with pickpockets and camera thieves. I did not want my trip ruined by a stolen camera, or actually a stolen memory card. (Cameras are easy to insure and replace. Photographs stored on memory cards cannot be replaced.) London is either not filled with pickpockets or the sight of this bag kept them away. The Pacsafe TrekSafe 100
is not a camera bag and should not be used by itself as a camera bag. The padding in the straps and the padding where the bag rests against my lower back is so comfortable I can’t see any good reason to replace it with a more expensive camera backpack. I put a smaller camera bag inside that can carry an SLR with a lens attached. This is where the camera is actually stored. It is a fully padded bag intended to protect a camera. This bag is no longer made. It is similar to Tamrac's 3536 Express 6 Camera Bag. The larger inner pockets in the Pacsafe bag are more than adequate for my camera accessories.

For trips where I want a computer and a camera in the same bag I carry a LoweproCompuTrekker Plus AW. I doubt it is as theft proof but is nicely designed to deal with the extra weight of a laptop computer.

For rain I carry a Lowepro Nova 2 AW Camera Bag. This has an all weather cover that makes it possible to carry in heavy rain. This bag can be uncomfortable to carry for long periods of time.

As you can see I like Tamrac and Lowepro bags. I find Lowepro to be the better of the two. When I bought my Tamrac backpack 10 years ago I thought it was the best pack of its type for the price. Over the past 10 years I feel that Lowepro has become the best camera bag designer.

© 2009 Paul Light all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Why Edit?

Editing seems like something to be avoided by everyone new to photography. A successful photograph is one that is shot with such accuracy that nothing need to be done to it other than transfer it to the computer. This has never been true and is still not true. Cameras only approximate one’s vision. Ansel Adams was probably the first photographer to fully grasp this concept.

He used the best cameras available, high quality film (digital cameras did not exist in his lifetime), and the highest quality darkroom materials available.

Trained as a classical pianist, perfection as a photographer came easily to him. His photographs are highly edited. They are not edited because he made mistakes while shooting or his film was flawed in any way. He edited because he realized what we see and what the materials produce are different. He made a point to keep detailed field records of what it was he was seeing. He used a mathematical notation system where each significant contrast change was assigned a number. As he developed film and made prints he continued to track the contrast changes and readjust them to reflect his personal vision. The finished print does not look edited. His photographs have a sense of drama that he added thru edits rather than settling for the unedited image. And extension of this same type of editing can be seen today in Jeff Wall’s photography

This is, at least two photographs carefully edited to produce a scene that did not exist. The empty hole was shot in a studio. The photograph was edited in Photoshop using a process called photocompositing.

In this photograph the edit is more subtle. Two photographs were put together shot from the exact same position. One exposure was exposed to bring out the room. The second exposure was exposed for the elements outside the windows. Before Photoshop, it would not have been possible to make a photograph like this due to the extreme differences in the interior and exterior light. The room would have to be shown very dark to capture the exterior or the exterior would have to be shown very light to capture the interior.

Editing is time consuming – even in Photoshop. Adams and Wall demonstrate why editing is important.

© 2009 Paul Light all rights reserved