For Mr. Lonien, in Germany.

A gathering at the Vatican.

I like making my quick black and white conversions in SnapSeed.

It's quick and efficient and I can add in some grain as well as some "structure" to my files. I don't have a workflow. I just jump in and look at what I can get using the color filter presets and the three sliders. I love a crisp black and a higher value skin tone. Generally, it takes about a minute to get everything the way I want it. Quicker than opening up Photo Shop and doing it in there. The trade off is that PS has more controls and more fine-tune-ability.

SnapSeed is my favorite "cheap" app. It's playful.

The charming characteristics of color negative films.

I don't want anyone to think that I've abandoned digital photography just because I've been discussing Hasselblad cameras lately. As far as business goes film is just a small side issue. But it's interesting when you come across older work and you evaluate it next to a newer, different working technology. For instance, the image above was shot on color negative film. It is a scan from the negative. I originally shot this image with a medium format camera, a longer lens and Kodak film.

It seems quite different to me from the images I get from my digital cameras. One parameter that's obvious is the much lower color saturation in the skin tones. Another difference is the long roll up from the mid tones to the highlights in the image. But the think that struck me when I blew up the original, high res scan to 100% was the difference in the way film and digital render sharpness. It may just be that the defaults in the programs we use to "develop" raw files are set at much higher levels or it may be that film has so much more information that it doesn't have the same sort of high edge acutance that seems to come from digital sharpening algorithms.

While I'm reasonably sure that I could dial down the edge sharpness of digital and work in PhotoShop to match the look of film I am not convinced that I can change the highlight roll off of a digital camera file to match the almost endless range of highlight tones in negative films. It's an interesting subject.

It was fun to go back into the archives, judge images from color contact sheets and then slide strips of negatives onto a scanner.  With current scanner software there is a wide range of control for fine tuning scans. While it's a slower process working with negative film does give one a different look and feel than other methods.

The Best Book I've Ever Read On An iPad. (Food Photography).

Today I'm reviewing a book that knocked my socks off.  It's a book I stumbled across on Amazon.com while looking around for books about food photography. The book is written and illustrated by an immensely talented food photographer named, Nicole S. Young. This will sound crazy but the book is accessible on a number of levels, from almost rank beginner to, well, me.

Young writes in an engaging manner, is not too technical but not to "not technical."  She writes with an inclusive voice, welcoming both the casual photographer who is interested in making snapshots of his or her restaurant meals look more polished but she provides more than enough high quality information to keep pros thoroughly engaged. And as good as the writing is the ample illustrations are even better. She has a very modern, light and airy approach to food that works very well for a wide range of food subjects.  Everything she discusses is richly illustrated and most of the "beauty shots" are supplemented with good lighting diagrams.

I bought the book because I was impressed with her suggestions about food styling and lighting and wanted to keep the book around as a reference. I have the strange habit of buying books about subjects that I've just photographed.  I recently did a job food job for one of the world's largest hotel chains and I wanted to see how my approach stacked up.  I was impressed by Nicole's approach and I'll be incorporating a lot of her tricks and techniques going forward.

This is the first book on photography and lighting that taught me valuable new tricks in a long time.

But....the thing that compelled me to write this review is how damn good the book looks when I read the Kindle version on my iPad 2. Unlike many books that seem to lose their formatting and cohesion when converted to digital this one just flat out sings on an iPad.  I bought the Kindle version because it was only $9 and I wanted to see if I liked it before I committed to the print version.  Now I'm in a quandary.  I like the way the Kindle version works so well I'd probably just be happy with that but...it's such a good book I really want to see the illustrations in all their glory. Oh, the hell with it, I'll be back in a second...

I'm back.  I just had to hit the "One Click" for the paper back. It's too good a book NOT to own.

If you are at all interested in food photography this one is a must own.

One note: Don't be put off by the first third of the book. There are very beginner sections about Raw versus Jpegs, rudimentary equipment, etc. Just ignore it. The meat of the book is worth subsidizing the front sections for rank amateurs... the good stuff is in the second half.

Full disclosure:  If you buy the book from the links here I'll get a commission from Amazon. You won't pay more. Further disclosure:  I don't know Nicole S. Young, I don't work with her publisher and we have no "quid pro quo" in place.  Final disclosure:  This book is so ragingly good that I'm jealous as both a writer and photographer. 

Here's the link for the print version: