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the aps blog

from the east coast hip

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.


The Magic Of The Photo Lab

 Everyday, people upload their digital images or bring film to our lab and few understand what it takes to produce a quality print product. The process is not so much magic, but the practice of due diligence.Photo by Buffie Boily Phoographic Arts. The first thing I would like to point out is that as some of our equipment is state of the art, the procedures or fundamentals behind maintaining proper workflow or best procedures go back to 19th century photographic theory and the study of sensitometry. So just like the concepts in capturing the the perfect moment and having the best exposure with your camera, film or digital, the same backbone in theory resides in the modern photo lab. I would like to tell you about the basic steps and procedures that make your prints look as good as they can be; a story of magic of printing in a modern digital lab.
                                               OUR "WET LAB"
 The term "wet lab" is a recent label for a photo lab that uses traditional silver halide process that involves chemistry that has a developer and a bleach and a fixer as well as a wash system. The paper is light sensitive and must be exposed in absolute darkness. We have 4 processors that we have to maintain on a daily basis. One of them is a film processor that develops colour negative film. The other 3 are printers that expose and develop RA4 colour paper. Two of the machines are lasers and one - the Chromira - exposes with LED technology.
   The first step to the quality control process is to balance the chemistry itself. I like to compare the chemical process to that of a human body, and specifically to that of a person with diabetes. The developer is an alkaline and is the key to optimizing the exposure made by the printer. It is kept in balance by being replenished by fresh developer (food) from separate replenisher tanks. When the paper or film goes into the developer, an oxidation process begins.  Similar to how water and air make a nail rust, the developer reacts with the silver creating the beginning of the latent image. A developer that is too weak will result in flat, muddy images and too strong will result in darker contrast ones. We use a tool called a control strip that process before the start of everyday. It is read by a densitometer that shines a light through the strip and reads the red green and blue layers. The industry is standardized thanks to Ansel Adams and the Zone System. We have a standard process control strip to compare to and the difference between the two is plotted and graphed to allow our technicians to take action where and when required. If the developer is too active then the machine requires starter, like insulin to a diabetic, to bring the process in control. In a nutshell, it's the balance of acid and bases, and if you're a good wine maker you would catch on fast.
 The next step is to balance the printer to the chemistry status. That involves yet again a standard print with grey patches (again the zone system) that are read on the densitometer. In the case of our chromira 20 zones or shades from complete black to pure white including 18% grey are read and graphed. The process can take a hour or more to meet the target before a single print is made. 
 Once we have a perfectly balanced machine, we when then can create custom profiles for every paper we use. This involves a similar process to balancing, except we use different software and read 1800 patches to define the profile, allowing you to have the widest colour space and best print quality from your images. Photo By Buffie Boiley Photographic ArtsImportant point - if we are not balanced to true Black and White then your colour or B&W photos won't look as good as they should.
       The "Dry Lab" 
The dry lab is another term coined by the industry that is basically any process not wet. Our Dry lab consists of Epson 11880's and Rioch printers that are Giclee or Ink jet. Since no chemistry is involved the procedures are strictly on product specific custom profiles. Our Dry Lab in many ways sets standards for our quality control. Although it is a collaborative effort, Geraldine has a true touch when it comes to tweaking the profiles for canvas, watercolour and any other print product we wish to use. This, in a nutshell, is what we believe separates us from the rest. We adhere to procedures and set our own standards. Box stores and many Pro labs don't drill this deep as it takes experience and resolve to stick to what can be a time consuming, but ultimately rewarding process. Would you want us to trade off quality for speed?  


Pic Of The Day Calendar

 One of the perks of working in a facility that sees so many incredible and unique photographs is the opportunity to single one out for "Pic Of The Day." It's not always that jaw dropping image that makes the cut, but more often the one that tells a story. It may be a happy dog on a beach, a grandfather and son walking on a beach, or a flower. They opportunity for staff to make a connection with our clients and allow them to tell their story is extremely rewarding. It also celebrates the print, and what we do; it allows us to tell our story using social media. Many of the folks who get their picture chosen are excited and want to share that with friends and family.
  Last year we had the opportunity to give back in another way. We decided to produce a Calendar with the images that were chosen. We had our Facebook friends choose the ones they liked the most, and then we printed the calendar. The proceeds of the calendar went to our main charity, The Children's Wish Foundation Of Nova Scotia.  It created a bit of a photo festival and many of our clients ordered some for Christmas. So in a nut shell the whole process was fun and contributed to a great cause, granting a wish to a sick child. 
  This year we are starting earlier and have decided to give a prize to the "Pic of the Day" with the most Facebook likes during the run of the contest. A DJI Phanthom 2 drone is on the block to give away. 
    Here is how it will work. All "Pic of the Days" that were selected this year will be put in a Facebook Album on the Atlantic Photo Facebook page on October 16th. From there it will be up to the folks on Facebook to vote for their favorite images with their 'likes.' The voting will end on October 22 and the top 13 images will be picked for the Calendar. The one with the most 'likes' wins the Drone. We will then produce the Calendar and start selling them as soon as they are ready. We estimate November 12th for the launch. They will be available in both the Brownlow and Dresden locations as well as for order online.   


Ellis Gallery Is Changing It Up! 

  We are pleased to see that Lynn Ellis is giving back by hosting a great opportunity to engage in the learning of Photography. Here is her announcement. 

Ellis Gallery has the honour and privilege of presenting Photography Workshops by the award winning and renowned Christopher Porter. A graduate of Dalhousie and Ryerson, Porter is a still photographer with many international exhibitions to his credit. His lighting and cinematographic work is legendary with movies such as ‘The Disappeared’, ‘Down By Law’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Shipping News’ among his accomplishments.

Porter will be offering three workshops in Lunenburg this fall and winter at Ellis Gallery. He will be personally involved in working with you to create your best work and develop photographic skills that are uniquely you.

Each workshop will be three intensive days of discovery. Every level of photographer is encouraged to attend, you must bring your camera, manual and laptop as well as an open attitude to learn, stretch and grow as a photographic image maker. You will be shooting daily and examination and critiques of your images will make for interesting and open discussions.

Workshop one: Point of View

Will take a critical view of your image making skills, reflect on your knowledge of technique and personal point of view when making images. Time, space, density and memory are what each image contains. There will be much discussion as your images improve both in technique and content to meet your own individual goals as a photographer. 
November 13 - 15, 2015
Space is limited to 10 participants.

Workshop two: Progressive Lighting

Learn lighting from a true artistic lighting master. You will learn lighting from studio to natural light sources. Shooting will be indoors and outside. Creating lighting to meet your image goals is what it’s all about. 
December 4 - 6, 2015
Space is limited to 12 participants.

Workshop three: Beyond the Basics

This is a more advanced class for those who really want to move into advanced image making. It’s a great followup on the previous classes. The focus will be on preparing a concept, critical discussions, developing a personal look and expanding your opportunities as a photographer. 
January 8 -10, 2016
Space is limited to 10 participants.

Be it a professional career or a family album these workshops will vastly improve the quality of your images and understanding of photography from the basics to advanced skills. Workshop fees are $600 each or all three for $1500.

Here is your chance to work at this level, with a professional of Porter’s standing.

For more information or to register please call or email Ellis Gallery at: 



The are so many way to print your pictures today and so many levels of quality and price to chose from. Trying decide the best option for your project has to be broken down sometimes into what the final intent or experience you wish to create. For your walls of course there are prints, canvas and fine art prints that we can help you discover. For gifts there all those just mentioned then a whole list of other gift products from mugs to slate to puzzles. I can't speak to price other then we believe in giving the best quality product for a fair price.
                                              Your Legacy
 For what I like to call a legacy project that may involve the timeline of a family there are photo books. We make two different products. The least expensive is our 81/2X11 Linen books. The are printed on our press and have great colour quality. Our best product is the 12X12 flush mounted lay flat leather textured book printed on real premium luster or metallic photographic paper. You can make a 12X24 Panoramic spread or individual 12X12 pages. In ether book you can put as many pictures on a page and chose background and foreground colours as well as add text.
So its not hard to imagine that you could get a few hundred pictures laid out in a 12X12 book.
                                         The Final Experience
 At the end of the day it's all about the final experience and what sort of legacy you may wish to pass on to others. Just as my parents and grand parents saved pictures into albums, I too can create a more permanent and tangible timeline that you can pick up and hold in your hands. Remember that digital files being held in your hands are nothing but a recipe for disaster when it comes to the archiving of your families pictures.  As Apple founder Steve Jobs once said, "I never intended for digital images to die on someone's hard drive".


Custom Framing with Christine

When the idea of re-introducing custom framing to our product line was presented, I was enthused, some might say overly enthused.  I had only been with the company for a few months and at the time, Maritime Frame-It was closing and we were all getting a little bit desperate for framing options in the downtown core. So when the option to bring custom framing to the Dresden location was offered, I was on board, 100%! Then someone started talking about math. And I got worried; very worried.

Before you continue reading, you should know something important about me: I am bad at math. Very bad at math. Many people wonder how, given exactly how bad at math I am, I can work in the photography industry. The truth is that I wing it. A lot. So you can understand why a person such as I may have been feeling a bit... trepidatious. Not to mention that standard unit of measure for custom framing is inches, bringing fractions into the mix. But this framing thing was happening and I was going to embrace it.

The day arrived. Our mouldings, mats, and software arrived from our framing partners Valley Frame Décor, with a representative to walk us through the software. We got it loaded, and the first thing he said to me was the most comforting words I would hear all day: “Don’t worry. We’ve made this as easy as possible. No math.” And with that, I was hooked. Four different types of mat in a rainbow of colours, three types of glass, mouldings of every style; every framing job was different – every job was personal.

Every piece is a passion project for someone; that’s what I love about the custom framing. It’s the old photo you want to preserve and remember; it’s the graduation certificate that shows how far you’ve come and how much you learned; it’s the wedding photo, baby portrait, or family photo that celebrates those closest to you; or it’s a favorite photo or painting from a trip to remember how happy you were to be there. Call me sentimental, I don’t mind. You see, this is why I work in the photo biz (despite being very bad at math). I love the stories behind photos, and why those moments are important. Having custom framing available through our store gives me another opportunity to help you manifest your creative vision, and that’s the best part of my day.

So go ahead, ask me which mat colour I think will work best, or why you want anti-reflective glass. Just please don’t ask me to add 1/16” and ½”.