12.17.2017

I've been going through my archives and I found this image of Ben destroying a fruit danish in the studio. Black and white still looks better from film.


This was taken 18 years ago with a film camera. You can see the edge print along the top of the frame. I shot the photo with a Pentax 645n and a 150mm lens. The distribution of tones seems just right to me. So much better than I am usually able to get no matter which software program I use to try to squeeze pretty black and white images out of any number of digital cameras, across a wide range of digital formats.

I have a stack of about 100 11x14 inch prints sitting on my desk that need to be scanned. Just thinking about preserving the tonal ranges.

Having a short re-romance with black and white film tonight as I try to find the box filled with old negatives from St. Petersburg, Russia.

As we get closer to the end of the year I keep talking myself out of driving up to Precision Camera to see just what they have in the way of medium format film cameras. I hope someone talks me out of it before I stick my foot back into the tar patch of film...

Medium Format Digital from the Middle Ages of the Industry. A Portrait of Amy.


Amy. ©Kirk Tuck 2010.

In 2010 I tested the three most popular medium format digital camera systems for a magazine called, "Studio Photography." Of the three I tested I was most pleased with the handling of the Phase One camera and back. It boasted a 40 megapixel, CCD sensored back and was built around a Mamiya 645D body. It also took Mamiya 645 lenses. While the bigger file was more detailed when used for big enlargements, and clearly had more dynamic range than the 35mm frame sized digital cameras the system with a complement of three lenses tipped the scales at about $50,000 at the time. And you might remember that we were just starting to come off a vicious recession.  

Had some of these cameras been launched in the middle of a boom period I wonder if they would have been accepted and employed by a much, much bigger segment of the market. We'll never know now that they've been largely replaced by the newest generations of Nikon and Sony full frame cameras...




The Camera Store (you know, Chris and Jordan...) got robbed over the weekend.

One of our readers just sent me this posting:

It would help our local camera store a lot if you could pass this on.

The Camera Store had a break and enter early in the morning on December 16th, 2017. A selection of high-end specialty cameras and lenses were stolen including: 
Hasselblad X1D camera body silver #UQ27014288
Hasselblad XC 30mm F3.5 lens #2WV10784
Hasselblad XC 45mm F3.5 lens #2UVT10447
Hasselblad XC 90mm F3.5 lens #2VVT10265

Leica MP Safari Edition #09008593
This theft seems very targeted since specific items were taken. We hope that someone in the local photo community will hear something about this.

We are offering a $5000 TCS shopping spree for any information that leads to a conviction.

Please call police at 403-266-1234 or if you wish to remain anonymous call crime stoppers at 1-800-222-8477

Police case #17539052
The store is located (I think) in Calgary, Canada. 
If someone offers you some mint in box used Hasselblad or Leica gear you might want to ask for the serial numbers before before you crack open your vault and drag out your credit card...
See their really, really good videos here:

A different sort of Christmas Tree from the Stage Set of "A Tuna Christmas." A play set in the small Texas town of Tuna. By Jaston Williams.

The Christmas Tree at Didi's Used Weapons Store.
Part of the stage set for "A Tuna Christmas" at ZACH Theatre.
Camera: Panasonic GH5
Lens: Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro

Marketing Still from "A Tuna Christmas."

Marketing Still from "A Tuna Christmas."

12.16.2017

Saturday Afternoon Field Notes. Boy Arrival Imminent. Computer Replacements. Video Package.



I'll start with the fun stuff first. The kid is heading home from College for the Holiday Break. I just got a text from my friend, Fred, in Saratoga Springs a few minute ago. He successfully deposited young Mr. Tuck at the Albany airport for the first leg of his trip back to Austin. If I have been slow to post things on the blog lately it's largely because Ben's mom has me washing Studio Dog, cleaning the "boy's" bathroom, shopping for his favorite foods and other errands. She clearly doesn't get the priority hierarchy of my schedule...

We'll both be incredibly happy to see the boy again for all the reasons that most parents would list. On a more pragmatic level I will be happy to see him around the house for the next month because he is a much better cinematography director and editor than I am and has more experience doing it than me. We've got a Zach Theatre project that I just know he'll be delighted to help me with before Christmas..
In computer news I've finally heard about a machine that may meet all my parameters for replacing my current, high performance laptop (see above).

12.14.2017

Sometimes we know what a job will entail. Sometimes we just wing it. But if you are going to "wing it" you might as well come prepared.

A view looking straight up. A ceiling detail from the 
Alexander Palace in Pushkin, Russia.
Camera: Hasselblad Superwide.

I didn't think I needed the Hasselblad SWC/M (the Superwide camera with the fixed 38mm Zeiss Biogon lens) for my assignment in Russia many years ago but my friend, Paul, insisted I take one along, so I did. It turns out that the fixed lens camera was useful for just about every situation. Many times, just like a cinematographer, I'd want a wide, establishing shot to go along with all the detail documentations I was doing for the Worlds Monument Fund. During the course of a couple weeks on the ground there I probably put 40 or 50 rolls of film through that camera. (zone focus only, frames hand cranked, twelve on a roll. No automatic modes, no built in meter, no raw file butt saving in raw).

Before I left on this particular mid-winter trip I did a bunch of research. I researched the weather and eventually bought the U.S. Army Ranger's book on cold weather survival; along with lots of layers of Polartec and down. I took to heart the three main pieces of advice: 1. You can't do your job if you are physically compromised. 2. If you keep your feet warm everything will follow from there. 3. Don't get wet, and if you do get wet get dry ASAP! I still have the insulated, Vasque hiking boots and a box full of wool socks.

The other bit of research I did was about

12.13.2017

Living in the present. Just getting the job done. Moving toward the holidays and thinking about what worked this year and what didn't.



It's 5:05 in the afternoon and I'm sitting at my desk, sometimes glancing out the window at the end of a gray and chilly day. I've got a bag of grocery store popcorn propped up in my left hand desk drawer for easy access and, when I look across the office, strewn with bits and pieces of photo gear arranged in a chaotic collage on the floor, I see three little green lights telling me that the lithium batteries for the three Vision 4 monolights I used in this morning's portrait shoots have recycled and are ready and waiting for the two shoots we have booked for tomorrow afternoon. 

Over by the equipment case there are four more little green light arrays telling me we've almost topped up the lithium batteries for the Godox flashes that will illuminate the white background that's on the assignment schedule.

I've spent the last few hours editing down the take from this morning. After a night of mostly illusive sleep (thanks to a big possum and a territorial Studio Dog) I was up this morning before the rest of the creative population brewing coffee and making a breakfast taco with scrambled eggs, sausage and cheese. At 7:15 I pulled on a jacket and walked into the studio to grab the gear I packed last night and load it into the car. Once again I cursed the bane of working on

12.09.2017

Which camera have I enjoyed using the most in 2017? That's easy...

 Panasonic's cute, cuddly and capable G85.

There are some cameras that are extremely capable but aren't much fun to shoot and then there are cameras that just beg you to keep their strap over your shoulder and take them everywhere. They are like a perfect traveling companion; unassuming, quiet (especially the shutter), compliant, collaborative and easy to get along with. Over the many years in which I have plied my trade as a professional photographer, and have satisfied my yearnings as a devout and committed hobbyist, I've owned plenty of both kinds of camera. 

I put up with five pounds of the Kodak DCS 760, and it's voracious appetite for batteries, only because it was capable (within a tight operational window) of producing some of the absolute best images of its day. I put up with all the foibles of the Nikon D2x for much the same reason.

Over the years digital cameras have become operationally better but there is still some combination of handling characteristics, design decisions on the part of their creators, and their innate affability that makes certain cameras gloriously fun and effortless to enjoy. The Leica M3 is one. The Nikon FM is another. What Nikon user didn't like the F100? How about the Canon 7D? Or the Olympus OMD EM-1? All cameras that bring a smile to the face of most users. All cameras that make the pursuit of photographs a bit more fun.

And then there are all the cameras whose files were technically perfect but