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The Atlantic Photo blog is a gathering spot for our favourite customers, photographers, gear hounds, and suppliers.

Here's where we'll share enthusiasm, insider tips, and creative inspiration for everyone from the beginner to the seasoned pro - and we hope you'll share the same with us. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Marc MacArthur of Heckbert Studio & Gallery (Charlottetown PEI), Liam Hennessey of Applehead Studio Photography (Halifax NS), and Chris Lovegrove (Northern NB) for our banner images. We've got a diverse professional community in the Maritimes, and we're proud to be a part of it.

the APS photographer's circle

Q  |  "As a wedding photographer, what does creativity mean to you?"

A  |  "You know that ‘think outside the box’ saying? We like to get outside the box and then run as far away from anyone that seems to be gathered around outside it. We don't do the Public Gardens. Converse chucks are suitable wedding shoes for a bride, groom or photographer. Tattoos are awesome and love does not always need to look at the camera and smile."

~ Liam Hennessy, Applehead Studio, Halifax, NS

on the bookshelf

Portrait Photography by Mark Cleghorn

From choosing the right equipment to artful composition and making your subject comfortable, this book lays out the essentials of capturing moving and unique portraits.

The Photographer's Guide to Portraits by John Freeman

This inspiring, practical guide explores everything from composition and light to digital tweaks. Learn how to set subjects at ease, and how to photograph with all kinds of light, lenses, and tools.

Mastering Black and White Digital Photography by Michael Freeman

With this essential guide, discover how to create a stunning monotone image, and experiment with colors as gray tones, manipulating tonality for dramatic effect, and high contrast, infrared, and pseudo non-silver looks.

Mastering Digital Flash Photography by Chris George

Learn how to decrease contrast and shadows in outdoor portraits, control the light using bounce techniques, and employ high-speed and rear curtain synchronization to create impressive motion-blur images.

The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby

"This book is all about you and I out shooting where I share the secrets I’ve learned, just like I would with a friend—without all the technical explanations and techie photo speak." ~ Scott Kelby

Digital Photography by Steve Luck

Explore the digital explosion, the difference between film and digital, and how to choose a camera wisely. Get a grasp on ISO, megapixels, post-processing, slideshows, printing, and compositional theory.

Black & White Digital Photography by Les Meehan

From basic concepts to advanced techniques, learn how to create great monochrome prints via camera calibration, white balance, and scanning equipment to emulating traditional darkroom techniques.

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Tuesday
Aug052014

The Darkroom And Digital Darkness


In a recent visit to PEI, I dropped in to my old school Holland College. While I was there I checked out the darkrooms. Yes folks, Holland College still has film and printing as part of the curriculum. Many photography programs today have long since dropped film from their courses. Kudo's to Alex and Jean Sebastian for a great program that starts with the basics. I might also add that I love the smell of fixer, so they had to drag me out of the film room.
 
 I believe that the history of the latent image and the various process's associated with it are a important part of the educational process for today's photographic student. The students who get to see a photographic print slowly materialize under the orange safe light experience traditional printing. It forces them to work harder to get the acceptable print. It also makes them fully aware that detail spent to exposing the original film is paramount to the process. Bad exposures, Bad prints. Although they don't have the great range of developers and paper combinations like they did when I was there, they have enough to be creative. I do understand that in most cases there is no going back. The programs can't retrofit easily to Darkrooms. 

                                          DIGITAL DARKNESS

 I have always felt that the digital experience was missing something when it comes to training. If I were to teach a course tomorrow, everyone would learn to shoot in complete manual mode and preferably with something taped over their LCD screen. Too often in my opinion, people start a career as a photographer without the fundamentals, and it shows. Even to take the time at understand the different aspects of the process is a start. As for the real "keeners"  out there, they are off to Value Village to pick up a used film camera and take a walk into old school, and perhaps to shine a light on their own Digital Darkness. We still process and print film so, we won't let you down. 

Thursday
May222014

An Interview with Michel Duquenne

An Interview with Photographer Michel Duquenne of Artistic Photography from Campbellton, New Brunswick 

 

   What was it that lit your photography spark? Do you remember a particular camera, course, mentor, roll of film? 
   Mamiya RB7 and my teacher Dolores Breau.

   What's your photo philosophy? Does it reflect your life philosophy?
   I try to find beauty in every subject.

   What makes an image recognizable and uniquely yours?
   Impact and style.

   You can go anywhere in the world for an epic, weeklong photo excursion by yourself without any issues of money, time, family or travel. Where do you go and why?
   Australia with a bunch of models.

   Share with us another photographer whose creative eye you admire.
    Christopher Lovegrove

   What kind of shoot is your bread and butter -- and what's your passion?
    Grads are my biggest business but creative fashion is my passion

   You're shooting a portrait in natural light. You can choose one lens. Which one, and why?
    I don't care!

   What kind of photography do you wish you could do more often?

   Fashion.

   Tell us about a recent shoot that affirmed how you approach photography.
   Having fun doing it.

   What's the most indispensable thing in your camera bag?
   My camera.

    What do you do to 'warm up' when a shoot begins? To get to know your subject, and to put them at ease?

  •     Talk with them; try to know them better.

    Thank you Michel , your images speak for themselves, and you are too shy and modest, but we love you anyway. 

 

 

 

 

 To see more of Michel Duquenne's work, visit Artistic Photography

 

Thursday
May222014

This and That and Film Is Back for Now....

 Every once in a while I been just a tad vocal about the state of the world of Photography. Maybe even a bit more vocal then some of my peers. I've even been called the print Nazi! I suppose that when you butt heads with folks who see things in a different way you will get to wear the uniform so to speak. I have been pretty happy about all that as it does keep life interesting. You know, Banging your head against a brick wall ,day in day out. Thick skull, dumb as a post ,strong back ,weak mind etc...
   

                                      The Game Is Changing!

  I came across a great Blog by Kirk Tuck, "Has The Bubble Burst?". I found it to be a very interesting discussion on the direction of digital technology and where the future of our industry may heading.The best part I can quote from this is "No one ever intended for the latent image to die on someone's hard drive". I wonder where I heard that before?The Blog does give hope for the skilled Photographer describing him as a craftsman.  If indeed there is revolution or as some say a Tsunami on the retail landscape, I like how it's starting out. I think the best part of belonging to a company that has been kicking around since 1942, is that we get to steer the ship in the storm, knowing that if we keep doing what we do as well as listening to our customers we will always find smoother seas.

                                                          It's Back..... 

 Yes folks after what I would consider about 17 years since the first affordable digital cameras came onto the market things are changing again. They are changing and not in a way that I would have expected. The first thing we have noticed is a growing trend to yesteryear. That would be film ! Not just here in our little neck of the woods, but in other corners of the globe. Whether you are a lab like Fotofast in Brisbane Australia or Fromex in Long  Beach California,  film is resurfacing. Granted it most likely is a retro trend that may be short lived in the era of the We" cultural cycle. Granted we are almost the only ones still processing and printing C41 or color negative film in our region. On the other hand that gives us more feedback.
   I think it's great because the folks I see embracing it are the 20 to 30 something age group. Do the math. If you are 25 now you would have been 8 years old when film started it's decline. We see customers who have bought a Canon AE1 on EBay buying film with great enthusiasm striking out to experience the joy of film. One guy had several DSLR's but just wanted to be creative without the LCD screen and all the other beeps and whistles. Imagine that , the latent image stored on silver halide! It's not just film , we noticed that there had been a upswing on Fuji Instax cameras and Media. mostly the University students. last but not least is the Impossible Project, the resurrection of the once mighty Polaroid. I wonderful story about the employee's and scientists who believed enough in theire product to save it for all to enjoy the instant experience. A true tribute to the founder Edwin Land. All this may signal the Film is not dead and for the short term there is room for both the old and the new. Ansel Adams and George Eastman would be happy with that.
                                         Praise The Print God's
  The other thing that is happening is that the average consumer is printing again. We have seen it here in our Lab and others are seeing it as well. One owner described it as rejection of the trend of the last 10 years. The baby boomers want their prints back and the hipsters want what we had. Atlantic Photo has added a gifting lab called The Foto Boutique Everything we can possibly put your image on we will.Print on Metal, jewelry, licence plates and lawn flags.Add that to a far easier upload system and people get better access to our labs quality printing. Check out a get with our future. Thank you for all the support in the past.

                                      

Monday
Nov042013

Portraiture 101

I used to hate shooting people. NOW shooting people is what I love to do most! Ominous, eh?

Okay, okay… seriously. I hated taking pictures of people. Gooey kids, over-enthusiastic grandparents, and parents who needed a brown paper bag to make it through each day. So what changed? My knowledge and understanding about how to take basic portraits. Firstly, I had to realize that not everyone can pick up a camera and master a headshot within the first few attempts. Many factors come into play when taking portraits of people. Here are some basic things to keep in mind when you’re beginning the process of becoming a portrait photographer.

1. It's all about the lens.

I used to head out to a portrait shoot with an 18-55mm included in my lineup. This is a no-no for portraits (unless your clients are a family of 15 plus their zoo performer third cousin…). Wide angles tend to be unflattering, as they can distort and stretch facial features. We know Aunt Bertha has a large nose, and the last thing you want it to do is exaggerate it! Instead, choose a longer lens and stand at a farther distance. Ideally, I prefer to shoot headshot-type portraits using a focal length of 70mm or longer. Environmental portraits work best with 50mm or wider to include, well, the environment. And don’t forget that when a 50mm is placed on an APS-C format camera, it becomes equivalent to an approximate 75mm lens which can be an ideal focal length for portraits.

Ironically, the image I chose for this first point happens to have been taken with a wide angle! I think it works pretty well for the subject. Grain of salt, people...grain of salt.

 

2. Perspecive is everything.

Sometimes having too much distance between you and your subject can leave large areas of negative space that take away from the portrait as a whole. Sometimes this space works incredibly well if you’re standing at a beautiful beach or in a large field of flowers. But if your background is cluttered or unappealing, it’s best if you zoom in for a tighter composition. This is where depth of field comes into play, but that’s coming up. Ideally you want to shoot at eye-level or slightly above. By shooting from above, you make your subject appear slimmer and it also accentuates the eyes (which happen to be one of the key components in any standard portrait). Avoid shooting from below; as you can imagine, Aunt Bertha’s big nose comes with big nostrils…and if you’re shooting kids – get low. Hands and knees low. Just pack a few Advil and everything should be okay.

 

3. “How did you get the background to do that?”

Basically, the effect of "background softness" (professionally known as 'Depth of Field') is a combination of aperture and distance from your subject. Open up your aperture as far as your lens will allow and/or get closer to your subject. It works best when your subject is [mostly] filling the frame.  So, in order to get a shallow depth of field, choose a zoom lens and get close! With this longer focal length, you’re left with less depth of field at the same aperture, but you’ll have to step backwards to maintain the same composition. The main goal is to leave your subject tack sharp, while the background falls off softly around them. Aunt Bertha really loves "background fuzz"...

 

 

4. Pay attention and slow down, man.

Briefly examine the location prior to taking a photograph in order to eliminate any distracting background elements like telephone poles, wires, and even trees. Before pushing the shutter button, look closely at the background of your composition when you’re looking through your viewfinder. The last thing you want is for Aunt Bertha to have a tree growing out of her head. To quickly eliminate distraction, take a few steps  to either side, tilt up or down, focus, and recompose. Classic portraits should have their entire focus on the person; you don’t want the viewer’s eyes drifting away from the subject for any reason. Make sure the eyes are sharp, as this is the main focus and people’s eyes tend to go to the sharpest areas of a photograph. If you have time before moving on to the next frame, quickly zoom in to the image on the LCD screen as out of focus areas often look sharper when they’re compressed into a thumbnail size image and your eyes can be fooled.

This particular image had a large tree branch near the top of the frame. By getting to a higher perspective, I was able to eliminate the branch (...but lost head space - give and take!)

 

5. Here comes the sun…oh no!

Clouds sometimes act as a great diffuser, and can be a photographer’s best friend. If possible try to shoot in the shade, incorporating fill-flash if needed. In most cases, harsh shadows are distracting – especially if they’re falling on a person’s face. It is a personal rule of mine that portraits should not be taken at noon, as people usually look best with light coming from one side or the other, not from above. Having light coming from the sides creates depth, whereas midday light can be bright and flat. Aunt Bertha hates looking bright and flat. I realize it isn’t always possible, and I’ve done my fair share of shoots at noon, however try to schedule shoots for early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. Depth and having shadows in the right places are important.

 

6. The final product.

After you’ve got the shot, you’re probably going to enhance it in Photoshop or a similar photo editing program. For portraits, you want the emphasis to fall on the subject (and their eyes). Your goal while editing should be to enhance, not change, your subject. This may mean eliminating skin flaws like pimples, blemishes, and even wrinkles, etc. MAKE SURE you broach the subject of retouching with your client, as you can unintentionally offend someone by retouching too much. Pay attention to skin tones, and do not soften the skin too much. A little touch of softness is nice, and too much can cause the person to look like a porcelain doll. The in-between is up to you. Personally, I use the Portraiture plug-in in Photoshop, using a mask to paint the filter on at a lowered opacity. You can also sharpen the image before saving, being careful to selectively sharpen specific areas; most importantly the eyes and hair, and staying away from the skin.

 

 

And there you have it: my Basic Portrait Photography 101 lesson. As I've mentioned, please take everything I have said with a grain of salt and add your own twists – have fun! Sometimes in photography amazing things happen when you break the rules - we all know how objective it can be. Oh, and now that I grasp these little fundamentals, portrait shoots are fun again.

 

Yes. I love shooting people.

Wednesday
Aug282013

A Crash Course in Film: Part One

Film photography lives! Prices have gone up and the availability certainly isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still here. That may surprise a lot of people, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Just like vinyl never truly disappeared, film is sticking around. In my opinion, it has been re-born to a generation of youth that have never experienced anything other than digital photography.

       

Expired drugstore brand 200 ISO, 35mm 

 

This rebirth is happening on two levels. First, in a hand-me-down SLR, the second, in the popularity of cameras like the Holga, Diana or the Lomo. These cameras exaggerate the unpredictability of shooting with film that digital photography often lacks. Whether you're shooting with your K-1000 or your fisheye Lomo, there are a few things you might want to know, like what film speed is all about, or what type of film to use. 

 

Ilford XP2 Super 400 ISO B/W (color process) 120mm 

Film speed describes the sensitivity of the film, with 400 being more sensitive to light then 100. The film speed will determine what aperture and shutter speed you should use. It’s a good idea to consider what you’ll be shooting when you are deciding what film to buy. For instance, if you’ll be shooting indoors, in low light situations. 100 ISO film will force you to use a wide aperture and longer shutter speeds and therefore you might have trouble getting sharp images.  400-speed film is more flexible because the film is more sensitive to the light, therefore you’ll have more control over your aperture and shutter speed. 

 

Ilford HP5 400 ISO B/W, 35mm

Film comes in lots of different sizes that can fit into three categories, small format, medium format and large format. Sadly many formats have disappeared over the years, the two most popular are 35mm

and 120mm.

 

                     

Kodak Portra 400 ISO, 35mm 

In my next blog, I’ll show examples of some less commonly used film, such as 50 ISO film, great for long exposures, and 3200 ISO film, ideal for capturing high speed movement. My brother lent me his Holga
recently, so  I'll have a photo or two from that to share. 

Kodak Ektar 100, 35mm