Saturday, May 23, 2020

Early (for me) Digital Capture

Burlington, West Virginia

We all need to find things to do during this period of restricted activity and travel. This past week I decided to revisit the first personal work I did using color digital capture. It was 2004-2006 and I was really excited about what I was seeing on screen and from my first photo quality digital printer. I decided to make a set of intimate (almost exactly the size of classic whole plate) prints that are what you get from native Olympus E1 files at 300 ppi. I liked the results and decided to put up a web gallery on my site, with this introductory note on the Web Galleries page:

In 2004 I acquired my first digital SLR camera, for a large assignment that the publisher required be shot digitally. I quickly found that I loved many aspects of working this way. I’d always worked in color as well as black and white for both personal projects and assignments, but was never really happy with darkroom color prints. Over the next couple of years I made a lot of pictures with this Olympus E1 outfit on shooting trips that centered on my Drive-in Theater and White Churches large format b&w projects. Recently I decided to revisit the archive of this work and select thirty or so pictures for printing. Hardware (the printer) materials (baryta style photo paper) and software (the current version of Adobe Camera Raw) have vastly improved since 2005, so I found I could make  better prints than 15 years ago. Since the E1 files are so small, they still look best as modest size prints, around 6.5x8.5 inches. Next I assembled this web gallery to make the work available here on my site.

The "early" needs a couple qualifiers. The projects on my site go back to 1969, so pictures made mostly in 2005 aren't exactly early in that context. Also, digital capture in 2005 isn't necessarily "early" for anyone but me. I'm really pleased with this new edit, in two ways. First, I'm very fond of a lot of these pictures because they exploded in a burst of enthusiasm for a new aspect of my medium, offering all sorts of new possibilities.

Second, to go techy-doo for a moment, I have to hand it to Adobe. Back fifteen years ago, I ended up shooting RAW+JPEG because while the advantages of raw capture are obvious, many of the personal project pictures had higher resolution and better color in the Olympus jpg files than in the ACR interpretation. I was fascinated to find that this is no longer true. I had to update ACR's understanding of the raw files to it's current state. Each time, the file improved enormously. I found the jpg files and made comparisons. Current ACR digs out more resolution than the original jpg files that had more than ACR could find back then, and the color in the ACR interpretation has all the "magic" that Olympus fanboys rave about (with good reason).

If you'd like to look, the direct link is:


David said...

Some really fine pictures in this collection. I notice that some of them illustrate your intimate acquaintance with roadside motels.

I too have found that old files look better with modern software. That’s what “they” said would happen, and I guess it did.

I think you should put a link on your blog so this group is always available.

Carl Weese said...

Thanks David. That's a good idea to add a link. In recent years I've noticed that the interesting little independent motels that show up in this set have been getting more and more scarce. I expect the pandemic and shutdown situation can only make that situation worse.