GEORGE LEPP ON DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Simply put, George Lepp (http://www.georgelepp.com/home.htm) has been a bedrock practitioner of the art of nature photography for several decades. "Sharing creativity" (and his incredible technical knowledge) is what he has done best throughout his career. I attended one of George's seminars in Tampa, FL during the winter of 1993 and was inspired by his lively, interesting style, his sincerity, his knowledge, and his willingness to share. His keynote PowerPoint presentation at last year's NANPA Summit (which dealt with his long-time obsession with/passion for the California poppy; see: http://www.goldenpoppies.com/) blew away all who attended. Most recently George founded the Lepp Institute for Digital Imaging, (http://www.georgelepp.com/LeppInstitute/index.htm), which offers digital photography workshops utilizing a state-of-the-art digital darkroom lab in a spectacular setting on the California coast.
George recently contributed an article for Currents, the NANPA newsletter. When I read it, I actually stood up and cheered. Wanting to share it with you, I contacted George who has graciously allowed me to reproduce below. George, thanks for everything!
Everything is Different…Yet Nothing Has Changed
By George D. Lepp
I keep hearing that everything has changed. Digital is killing traditional photography. Photography is on its way to hell in a hand basket. My question is what is “photography”, for that matter, what is “traditional photography”? The dictionary says that photography is producing pictures with a camera. Another definition is using light to make pictures. Yes, the mechanics have changed, but the end result is the same as it’s always been. Nothing has changed when it comes to the fact that capturing an image of light is what it’s all about. You still have to compose the image, wait for the right light, expose properly, and look for quality in every aspect of the process, no matter which process. Traditional photography is using film, giving your unexposed film to a stranger, getting prints that never match your expectations, and storing your results on plastic sheets in a file cabinet or little boxes to never be seen again. I don’t miss “traditional photography”.
There has been a steeper learning curve as the equipment and technology of photography has included digital capture. In the beginning, only a few years ago, the equipment and results were rudimentary at best. Those of us that embraced digital early on knew it wasn’t ready for prime time, but we stayed with it knowing that it would get better. The end result was that we got valuable early experience and developed our techniques as the technology developed. Many other photographers scoffed at the digital direction and the inevitable. Other photographers continue to discredit digital and swear that they’ll never participate. Even those that eschew digital are involved in some way in the digital process. All of our work that ends up on the printed page goes through a digital production at the printing stage. Someone scans the film, brings it into the computer, and tweaks the image for color and sharpness to optimize it for the printing process. Why not be the one to do the optimization when it’s your image?
Ansel Adams, the Westons, and many other early black and white photographers insisted on doing their own processing and printing. One of the basic tenets of “traditional photography” was that the photographer did the processing and printing. I could make the argument that digital photography more closely resembles early photography than the form it has taken where we shoot transparency film and have no hand in the final vision other than projecting it or laying it on a light box. So today we can have almost complete control from capture to editing, to optimizing, to the final product, be it print, projection, or web. The result is the product of the photographer’s vision from start to finish. He or she can take all the credit or be responsible for its failure. Maybe that’s too much for some photographers to bear.
Ansel Adams made the observation that the negative was the score and the print was the performance. We have that chance again. Digital gives us the opportunity to take control of our image and be involved with the process from capture to the finished print. If Ansel were alive today he’d definitely embrace the digital process to optimize his vision and his print. Note that I use the word “optimize”. I keep hearing the word “manipulate” and it is a negative term that conjures up visions of photographers sneaking around and putting things into the captured image that weren’t ever there and having unfair advantage through unscrupulous methods. Hey, we can put anything we want into any image as has been done since the first caveman added an extra saber tooth tiger to his wall painting to make him look braver. We just call it a photo illustration, and we have every right to do that as long as it isn’t misconstrued as fact.
I want to conclude with the comment that even though the image is digital in nature, captured with sophisticated electronic equipment, and optimized in a computer, it is still the basis of visual art. The final result must be evaluated by human beings considering aesthetic values based on human experience. All those sensors and hard drives are just tools…as were film and E-6 chemistry. Photography by the numbers will look just like painting by the numbers.
Digital photography can be new, different, and bewildering, but just remember that it’s all the same; the final picture needs to be a communicating piece of art that evokes an emotion or conveys information…and that hasn’t changed in more than 170 years.
Bird Photographers at Harry's Crane Pool, Bosque Del Apache, NWR, San Antonio, New Mexico
STILL MORE BIRDS AS ART KUDOS
Every so often I receive an e-mail that is so sweet and loving and complimentary that it just about brings tears to my eyes. From Swapnali Mathkar:
During starting of this week, I got your book Birds As Art. (sic: The Art of Bird Photography.) And I have not kept it down, until I read it completely. And now I think
I will keep on reading the book until I memorize the topic on exposures. I have never understood the exposures and light metering so clearly before. And the Photos on each page are the treat to eyes. Simply beautiful, there is no other word.
At some moment I was got such a complex and thought that I would never be able to make such photograph, so I shouldn't do photography. But then again feeling that I will sure be doing such a photography after may be some years. At least I will try to. I have not yet decided which type of photography I will be doing, May be it is immature thought but I like to shoot all the things. But someday I will surely find what is my true passion. And your book may be the path finder. Thanks and Lot for such a nice book. Note: I loved all the photos of birds, but the close up of the bird
with red head and fully white features, the beak in the features cleaning or making them, is really great. The grace and beauty reminds of a dancer.
From IPT veteran C.J. Hockett:
Thanks again for all the wonderful instruction, the great atmosphere on the IPT, the super food, and the chance to interact socially with all of the other photographers at Bosque del Apache. The IPT was my first real experience at flight shooting and although I have a long way to go to perfect my technique, I was amazed at how good some of my captures turned out. I am very excited about improving in this area. My hands and eyes were beginning to catch up with the birds by the end of the trip!
Fort DeSoto/Sarasota IPT: April 1-3 3-DAY: $869 (Sold Out)
Register early! You snooze, you lose!
August 2005 Fly/Drive Kenya Photo-Safari
August 15-31, 2005--16 days on the ground: $8,200/person.
(Single supplement: $1,700.) Airfare to and from Nairobi, Kenya not included.
14 full and two half days of photography
When comparing the cost of this safari with others please note that we do NOT include travel days to and from Africa...
Limit: five vans of three photographers including the leaders.
Luxury accommodations on a twin-share basis with private facilities.
Full American breakfast daily, 16 lunches and 15 dinners
Transport via 4WD vehicle with fully removable roof-hatch with English speaking driver-guide (maximum 3 passengers per vehicle).
All park entry fees and hotel taxes
Air Transport from Nairobi to Maasai Mara and from Maasai Mara back to Nairobi. (This eliminates a killer drive over horrific roads.)
Complimentary water (1/2 liter per person per day) on Days 2-16.
Price does Not Include:
Passport and visa fees and airport taxes.
Airfares to and from Kenya (usually via Amsterdam).
Beverages, laundry, telephone calls or any other items of a personal nature.
Gratuities to hotel porters, wait staff, room attendants and driver-guides.
(The suggested tip for driver guides is $15 US per person/day.)
To see some spectacular Kenya images click on any of the following links:
Galapagos Cruise, July 2005 (Sold Out)
Nome, Alaska IPT June 10-20, 2006: (Please note the year: 2006 is not a typo!) Sold Out, but please contact me if you are interested in joining us as part of a second group being led by Greg Downing. We will be sharing our talents on this trip and sharing nest sites and other info via GPS. In addition, we will be holding joint critiquing and Photoshop sessions. Long lenses are a necessity.
Antarctica/South Georgia/Falkland Islands Zegrahms Cruise with Arthur Morris and Greg Downing: January 2007. Please e-mail email@example.com for details.
For general IPT info, deposit and registration details, and cancellation policies, please visit: http://www.birdsasart.com/tours.html
If you would like your name placed on the waiting list for one or more trips, please e-mail, indicate the trip or trips that you are interested in, and be sure to include day, evening, and cell phone numbers. We often have late cancellations...
100 Main Street Melrose, MA 02176
Contact: Gary Farber Tel#800-221-1830 ext. 2332, Fax#781-662-6524
SPECIALS FOR BIRDS AS ART SUBSCRIBERS DECEMBER, 2004
Canon IDS MarkII (Taking orders) “Free Shipping” for Birds as Art subscribers
Canon 20D Body and 18-55, 17-85 in stock “Call” for Birds as Art subscribers price
Canon Mark II $4095.00 “Call” for further discount for Birds as Art Subscribers
Ask about Canon lenses: 100-400, 17-40, 24-70, 28-135, 500F4 L IS USM, 600F4 L IS USM,
3002 8L IS USM, 400 DO L IS USM, 300 F4 L IS USM, 400 2.8 L IS USM, 400 5.6L USM,
180 3.5 L Macro USM, 16-35 2.8L USM.
Gitzo 1325 $ 489.99
Gitzo 1548 $ 679.99
Delkin CD Burner $ 249.99
Epson P-2000 “Free Shipping” for Birds as Art subscribers $ 499.99
Epson 4000 Printer $ 1699.99
Epson 2200 Ink $ 8.99
Ask about great prices on Epson inks and paper for the 4000, 7600 and 9600. “Free Shipping” on all Pro Graphic Epson purchases over $250.00. Ask for “Free” Sample roll of Epson Pro Roll Paper .
Provia F400-36 USA dating 4/05 per roll $ 4.99
Provia F 100-36 USA in 20 packs per roll $ 3.99
Velvia 100-36 USA per roll $ 5.09
Sensia 100-36 USA dating 3/05 per roll $ 2.49
Call Gary for price quotes on lenses, bags, tripods, filters, digital protectors, Apple computers, color management software, etc.
Best and love and great picture-making to all,
Note: Arthur Morris has been a Canon contract photographer since 1994 and continues in that role today. Hunt's Photo of Boston, MA is a BIRDS AS ART sponsor, as is Delkin Devices. Do feel free to forward this Bulletin to one or more photographer-friends. Those wishing to subscribe click here: mailto:http://birdsasart.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=94ad23bd96f48a1de2ca612b3&id=bdb4a511a0?subject=subscribe To unsubscribe, click here: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=unsubscribe. Back issues of all BAA Bulletins and relevant BAA Notes are archived on the web site at: http://www.birdsasart.com/bn.html