Three Quick Takes
A great deal of hardware, software and print material crosses my desk each month. I don't have the time or inclination to review it all, but sometimes there are certain items that are deserving of mention, if not a full review.
Here are three items which I appreciate, and which I think you might as well.
Phot' Art International & LensWork
The world's magazine stands are filled with no end of photography magazines. 90% of them though are about equipment and technique, with very few quality publications featuring photography itself.
Two that I can recommend if you want to look at high quality portfolios and read interesting articles and interviews by and with photographers are;
A bimonthly, and now on Issue #65, Lenswork is in a class by itself. Sometimes portfolios are by well known photographers, but most often they are by relative unknowns. Regardless, the quality of work displayed is uniformly superb, and of varying styles and disciplines. The magazine is small format, and beautifully printed (B&W only). There is also an extended edition available on CD that offers additional material that doesn't fit within the limitations of the printed page, including audio interviews and colour work.
Unlike the magazine Aperture, which has sadly become a parody of itself most issues (why do they keep publishing out-of-focus photographs of parking lots?) the photography seen in Lenswork almost always has esthetic appeal, technical excellence, and something to say about the world around us.
With Lenswork, publishers Brooks Jensen and Maureen Gallagher have turned what is obviously a labour of love into possibly the most appealing fine-art photography journal. Lenswork is available on most major newsstands in the US and Canada, as well as by subscription worldwide.
– Phot' Art International
There's a new photographic magazine available, this time by subscription only. Phot' Art International is currently on its second issue and is showing a lot of promise. It features work by European photographers, and for anyone in the US or Canada, will be quite an eye opener.
Unlike in North America where there is very little in the way of organizations of fine art photographers, Europe is abuzz with clubs, associations, and competitions. Phot' Art International plugs right into that scene, and provides a stimulating insight into the type of photography currently being done across Europe. The magazine is in both French and English, colour and B&W. A worthy new entrant in the world of fine art photography, and quite unlike anything else currently on the market.
A couple of years ago I published a review of the Upstrap by Sean Reid. The Upstrap is simply a camera strap, so what's the big deal? The big deal is that it's the best damn camera strap in the world. Period. End of story.
The reason for this unequivocal praise is that it's the only camera strap that I know of that won't slip off your shoulder, whether the camera weighs 6 oz or 4 lbs. There are versions available for carrying large and heavy lenses, with quick releases and without. All of the materials used are the finest available, and the thought and engineering that goes into every aspect of their design and manufacture means that they do their simply job simply, and unobtrusively.
I don't really remember when I started using the ExpoDisc – probably about 30 years ago. While its use has somewhat changed with the advent of digital, the product itself hasn't very much, and it's still one of the handiest accessories that you can have in your bag.
Originally the ExpoDisc was intended to allow cameras with TTL meters to do incident light readings. Put the honeycomb-faced disk over the lens, hold the camera in the same light as the subject to be photographed, and take a reading.
Today, the ExpoDisc can still serve that purpose, but can also be used for white balancing a digital camera. Again, hold the camera with the ExpoDisc covering the lens and in the same light as the subject. Take a custom white balance. Ta Da! The ExpoDisc not only integrates the light hitting it for exposure purposes, but also is neutral in colouration, and therefore equivalent to shooting a gray card.
Available in many different sizes, my recommendation is to buy one that is as large as the front element of your largest lens. This way you can hold it in front of any of your lenses and achieve a custom white balance in seconds.