One Picture-Three Ways To Look At It

When I shot film I was a traditionalist. Straight photography was something that I took pride in doing. My first business cards had my name and directly under my name, in big type, the name of my ‘studio’- Unretouched Photography. I stole the name from Edward Weston.

I  was never into multiple exposures, heavy use of filters or plastic cameras. My goal was to get the sharpest and best exposed image that I could get and creativity be damned. As I  got older I realized that this was a pretty limited (and limiting) way of working. Still, until I began using digital cameras and embracing imaging programs, it was what I had to work with and what I did.

When I began using Photoshop, Photoshop 3 as I recall, things began to loosen up for me. I saw things that could enhance an image or totally destroy it and sometimes it was one mouse click between those two points. It wasn’t at all unusual for me to work on an image for an hour and then discard everything that I had done.

Now my workflow is different. I shoot everything as a native, straight color file. I shoot raw and jpeg at the same time and work on the one that I need to  use. Usually I’ll use the raw file. If you got all that information you might as well use it.

Then the fun starts. I use Lightroom most of the time. When I find an image that I like I go to the Develop module and adjust according to what I’m looking for. Keeping in mind that the monitor I’m working on may not be anywhere near what the monitor that the next person who sees the picture will be using. So, minor tweaks and I’m done. That would be Picture Number One.

Picture Number One

But then what? Presets! I have a pile of presets. Let’s see what this picture would have looked like if I shot it on Kodachrome 64. I never shot much Kodachrome film so I’m not a fanboy of the film but here’s Picture Number Two.

Picture Number Two

That was okay but not what I was really looking for. So we get to Nik Silver EFX Pro. It works from Lightroom in this case though it will also work as a stand alone program. Open the file and start with the presets. This particular preset was called Wet Rocks. I don’t know why. The preset is then tweaked to make it reach the levels that I want and exported back into Lightroom where I’ll save it. Picture Number Three.

Picture Number Three


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Is a Picture a Photograph If It Isn’t a Print?

Or, is it just a series of pixels on a monitor?

I’m 65 years old. I started sniffing Dektol when I was 5 years old. There were years that I didn’t have access to a darkroom but, for the most part, the darkroom has been a place that I enjoyed.

My darkrooms have varied from the Community Darkroom at Antioch, to a garage in San Diego, to a laundry room in our little house in Yellow Springs, to the current darkroom which is quite large with an 8 foot sink and a film drying cabinet.

We printed a very high percentage of what we shot. We rarely printed black and white prints on RC paper. Fiber base double weight; Agfa or Ilford and, in the distant past, Dupont Varigam and Varilour. When color came to town with Cibachrome in the early 70’s I embraced it. I had been shooting slides for many years. When we traveled, we took 10 one gallon plastic bottles and and E4 (later E6) kit with us and processed film in motel bathrooms. When Agfa introduced the Agfachrome Speed process we used that,too. It sucked.

So we had negatives and we had transparencies and then we had prints. And we put the prints on our walls. We rotated them regularly and we were always re-living an experience by seeing the pictures.

Then digital imaging came to town. At first the quality of the cameras was so low that getting a decent 8X10 print was a struggle. As file sizes and sensors improved it became easier. It was still not easy to get a decent print at home. Printer and paper profiles were just coming along and I didn’t know anyone who had calibrated their monitor. There were quick fixes. Anyone remember Genuine Fractals? Take a small file and re-sample it to a big file. Right.

Then Epson made printers and ink began to flow. Actually, I think the first home printers of any quality were dye sub printers from some company that I can’t recall. Was it Primera Pro? You had to use their paper and ribbon and the quality wasn’t bad but the consistency wasn’t good. So, Epson basically gave away printers and hoped to sell ink by the gallon. And HP and Canon  saw that this was a great idea so they came in, too. So, we entered the New Millenium of home printing. We had wide format printers that allowed 13 inch widths. We had many paper choices and we had either dye based printers or pigment based printers. For a few years everyone was printing. And oddly enough, as the software became better and the files became MUCH better and the sensors surpassed the resolving ability of lenses, people stopped printing. It didn’t happen overnight but you could see the decline. Pictures were shared on Facebook or by  email or by websites like this one.

So now we have the conundrum. Serious photographers still argue at great length about ‘smearing’, ‘soft edges’ , ‘pixelation’ , ‘water color effect’ and which raw processor is best. And then they want to share an image that they’ve done on a poorly calibrated monitor and sent to someone who has NEVER calibrated their monitor. I know; this is a sweeping generalization, and maybe everyone reading this calibrates their monitor regularly. I’d be surprised, though, if that were the case.

So here’s what I suggest. Let’s print again. If you don’t want to make your own prints, and believe me, I understand if you don’t want to, go to Costco or Sam’s Club and have some prints made.

Personally, I just found a lab that makes analog prints from digital files. I’ve had three orders done by them and the quality is as good as anything that I could remotely hope to turn out and considerably less costly on a finished print basis. If anyone is interested, this is who I use

White House

I have no connection to them except as being a satisfied customer.

So, stepping back to the wall. I have prints that I like. I also have an old Logan Mat Cutter. And I have Nielsen frames that I get from American Frame Company. Cut some mats, put some frames together and now I have pictures that I can hang on the wall and re-live our trip as I walk by and see them.


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The Sheep’s Head and the Goat’s Path

Yesterday morning when we got up it was not a nice morning. Low cloud, rain, wind and a forecast that wasn’t encouraging. Despite all of these things we decided to go south to Sheeps Head Bay. South of Bantry and to Ballydehob to see an old arched stone railway bridge. Interesting but not in a good location for photography.

Then back north to the village of Kilcrohane on the Sheeps Head Way. In Kilcrohane is a roofless church that dates back to medieval times. It is dated as being in ruins as early as 1639. The old church is surrounded by a burial ground that overlooks the sea. It’s a peaceful and much visited spot and an essential part of the community.

I should explain about my relationship to burial grounds. I love them and respect them. Have since I was a child. I touch the stones and speak to the souls who are there. I love the history, the art, the quiet and the respect that is given to those who are there. I never, ever intrude or do anything that could be considered an imposition. I’ve met many wonderful people in these grounds and I have never been told that I shouldn’t be there. I love to take pictures of the graves, the flowers, the stones and the decorations. I only become sad at the graves of the young ones.

The pictures below are from the burial ground at Kilcrohane.

Running north from Kilcrohane is a road that leads back to Bantry. It’s signposted the Goat Path and that’s a good description. The road is vertical in spots and at the top is a shrine. It was too windy to stand when we arrived. We drove on, came around a bend and to our left and far below us was the sea in a panorama. We stopped, had some crackers and peanut butter and made some pictures. A few of the views were better to me as black and white. But you can decide.

On back to Bantry and home and the last picture is the view from our cottage in the evening.DP1M0140 DP1M0153 DP1M0158 DP1M0159 DP2M0353 DP3M0227 DP3M0231 DP3M0236 PRP13155 PRP13226-Edit PRP13226-Edit-Edit PRP13182-Edit

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The Clouds and the Mirrors of Ireland

As I write this post we’re sitting in a warm stone cottage looking out over the Kenmare River. The cottage is on top of a high hill and looks down on the Ring of Beara, It’s raining a fine, soft rain though the wind howls at times and the fine soft rain turns nasty.

It’s warm in here and we’ve just finished our Irish breakfast of bangers with scrambled eggs and soda bread toast with lemon lime marmalade. It looks like today is going to be a rainout though i may still go to the burial ground near our cottage and shoot. We’ve had two weeks of great weather so I can’t complain.

One of the things that we’ve really enjoyed doing on this trip is shooting the clouds in the mirror. On some mornings the water is so still and the sky and clouds so wonderful that it’s hard to know where one begins and the other ends.

On one of Kris’s pictures I commented that this was the place where the clouds leaked into the water. You could say that about many of them.

The first and last pictures are from Kris. The two that are the same is just me being undecided as to vertical or horizontal! I hope you enjoy one of them!

These were all shot in Counties Galway, Mayo, Kerry and Cork.

Hope you enjoy them.cloudsmirror (1 of 1)-2 cloudsmirror (1 of 1)-3 cloudsmirror (1 of 1)-4 cloudsmirror (1 of 1)-5 cloudsmirror (1 of 1)-6 cloudsmirror (1 of 1)-7 cloudsmirror (1 of 1)

Posted in Photo

A Camera At a Camera Show?

It’s a mystery to me how there can still be camera shows. Don’t get me wrong; I love camera shows, but with all of the smart phones, digital cameras and other options out there why would anyone want to go spend a few hours with musty old analog film equipment?

I don’t have an answer but it’s obvious that SOMEBODY, and their friends, want to do it. After I retired from the photo industry I began to collect cameras and other photo related items. I tried to limit it to the things I was most interested in; Leica and Nikon. This didn’t work very well and I wound up with a hodge podge of dusty old stuff. So I went to the camera show. My show of choice is held in Cincinnati and happens three times a year. It’s been held in venues ranging from an old Ohio National Guard Armory to a conference room at the Embassy Suites. The show opens to dealers at 8am. At 8am the feeding frenzy begins. In my particular case, I sell 90% of whatever I bring between 8 and 10am when the show opens to civilians. The dealers are a varied bunch and we all know each other very well. The Rodster, Igor, Big Al, Howard Dubin,Dan Hausman , Mike and Doug  the Happy Canadian all show up at every show. Personalities abound and much arguing about who saw something first.

Junk is in the eye of the beholder as someone should have said. You’ll see almost everything at these shows. Leicas worth thousands of dollars, Argus cameras worth two dollars. Used filters, tripods, gadget bags and that ONE piece you’ve been looking for for years to make your collection of Cable Releases complete. It’s a mess but a fun mess.

Many civilians come to the show to sell their old stuff as well as to shop for their own collection. You never know what’s going to be in the next bag that comes through the door. The dealers jockey for position to get their table nearest to the entrance in order to get the first shot at the stuff. I’ve seen it all. Nikon rangefinder cameras in paper bags. Leicas in diaper bags. Estate items worth thousands being brought in by owners who had no idea what they had. And I’ve never seen anyone cheated. Dealers always want to get the best price they can get but they are great believers in good kharma, too.

Saturday I went to the show and took nothing but a camera and two lenses. I had nothing to sell but a few things to deliver to other dealers. It was a good 90 minutes. I visited with the other dealers, saw some of my old customers from the camera store and took a few pictures for myself. And I didn’t buy a single thing.




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The Evolution Of a Picture

It’s been a long winter. The snow is still piled up. I had to buy more gas for the snow blower. The only signs of color are on the cardinals that come to the bird feeder and even they look a little drab.

The saving grace was Valentine’s Day. I found a dozen tulips that were, in theory, for Kris. She seemed to enjoy them but maybe not as much as I have. I have a very small area in the camera room that I use for shooting Ebay pictures. It’s really just a narrow table, a piece of black fabric tacked to the wall and two daylight balanced fluorescent flip lights. Very low wattage but handy for small objects.

Here were the ingredients  for some serious fooling around. Take a Fuji X Pro 1 camera, an 8mm fisheye lens, a dozen tulips and a really cold snowy day and add them all up.

Here’s where I started. The lights were pointing directly at the flowers and were only a few inches away on each side. ASA 400, F14 and about a 1/2 second exposure. On a tripod of course. One of the great things about the Fuji camera is that I can actually see what the exposure is going to be prior to taking the picture. The image on both the back LCD and in the EVF finder shows the lighten and darken effect you will get by under or over exposing. These were originally one raw file.


That was fun to do. The 8mm fisheye is very sharp and the focus was simple as the front flower was nearly touching the front element. But how to crop it? If you try to make a square the bases of the lights are in the image. A little simple cloning took care of that problem.


Never being known for leaving well enough alone I decided to see how it would look using the Nik Silver Efx Pro conversion. I had Nik software many years ago but never used it. Really, got a little irritated with the company when, after updating my computer software, the program ceased working and Nik wanted to sell me a complete new suite rather than give me an upgrade for a fee. Then Nik was bought by Google and changed the pricing structure of the suite and, after I asked, gave me the new suite for free. I’ve enjoyed it very much as it plugs into both Lightroom and Photoshop with no issues whatsoever. I rarely use any of the components except the Silver Efx Pro module. I find it to be extremely useful. The possibilities are nearly endless as far as corrections, presets, frames and outputs. I love it.

So here we went.


I love a winter’s Sunday afternoon.

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Cowgirl Cookies

It’s been a long and cold winter and it’s only Groundhog’s Day. The local hardware stores have stopped selling rope and the drug stores are all out of anti-depressants. Sounds like a perfect time for Cowgirl Cookies. You can’t eat these without smiling. Unless, of course, you have a nut allergy in which case you can’t eat these without becoming very, very ill.


1 cup unsalted butter softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 scan tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups old fashioned oats

6 oz chocolate chips

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cups chopped walnuts, pecans or both

cream butter and sugars. add eggs and vanilla. beat for 2 minutes, gradually add flour, soda and salt. mix well. stir in oats, chips, peanut butter, coconut and nuts.

i use a small 1 T scoop to put them on the baking sheets but you can make them as large as you like. bake 11 minutes at 350 degrees.

This recipe originally came from the Steamboat Springs Junior League Cookbook. It is highly modified from their original recipe so don’t write them a nasty note if they don’t turn out as you expect them to. I collected Junior League (and other) cookbooks until I ran out of room. Now I print recipes from the internet and then lose them.



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Three From One

Last spring we made a major shift in our photography. We’ve been married for 35 years and all of those years have involved Nikon cameras in one form or other. We also used Leicas, Mamiyas, Fuji medium formats as well as Hasselblads and Plaubel Makinas but our main shooters were always Nikon.Then we switched to the Fuji mirrorless cameras. There were a number of reasons  but the overwhelming cause was weight and bulk. With our increased travel it became too much of a burden to carry the Nikon cameras with the attendant lenses and batteries. By going tot he Fuji cameras we lightened our load as well as increased our top end resoulution.

I won’t say it’s been a painless experience. The learning curve has been steep. In may ways it’s like stepping back 30 years and shooting with a Nikon F2 or F3 camera. The thought and deliberation needs to precede the shutter button experience. Once we got past those issues the whole thing has been great fun.

But I digress. One of the little cameras that I picked up is the Fuji X100. Fixed lens 35mm f2.0. Viewfinder window with both optical and electronic finder. And a big LCD on the back.

The deck outside the dining room was a mess. The Autumn Glory maple had just dumped it’s last load and it was time to clear it off. Fortunately, the rains came before I got started. A few hours later I noticed that the light was very nice and the leaves were interesting. Grab the camera and shoot a few. We can clean up tomorrow.

ASA 400- 1/100th second at F8. Processed in Lightroom from a jpeg file.


I liked the image but wondered how it would look in black and white. Nik Silver Efx Pro using the Wet Rocks preset and then adjusted to suit my eye.


A friend saw the black and white image and wondered how it would look with a bit of color. Normally, I don’t do that because it was a popular thing to do back in the darkroom days when handtinting certain areas of a picture was the rage. I liked it but couldn’t do it due to an astounding lack of talent. But I thought I might as well learn something new. The solution is part of the Nik Silver Efx Pro software. 20 minutes later we have this one:


So I took one picture and had three pictures worth of fun with it. Hope you’ve enjoyed the process.

Posted in Photo

What’s This All About?

The older I get, the more I realize that there are great, gaping holes in what I know. Fortunately, I live with someone who DOES know everything so my lack of knowledge is not life-threatening.

Websites are a good example. We have a half dozen domain names and 3-4 somewhat active websites running. They’re all pretty much places where you go and park things and other people can come and look at the rubbish if they have an odd few minutes to spare.

This website is an attempt to tie everything together. It probably won’t replace any of the others but I hope to make it representative of the things that we enjoy in our lives. That would be photography, music, travel, food and our friends. So far, I’m just concentrating on getting the galleries loaded and figuring out exactly how this all works. I’ve used WordPress for many years but the Photocrati templates are a bit different and offer much more customization; something I’m still learning to use. So if you see something that looks especially nasty please tell me and I’ll see if I can learn how to make it all better for you.

Hope you enjoy anything that you see here!

kcprphoto by Jeanette Oren

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