Category Archives: Photography

Plate Collodion Photography

I’ll be the first to say that creating a great photograph is tough work.

But, boy, do we have it easy these days compared to the photographers of yesteryear…

I mean, I can get discouraged when shooting with my Nikon D810, but really, what do I have to complain about?

In fact, compared to the process that photographers had to use in the Civil War era, you and I have it easy.

To document the war, photographers used a wet plate collodion process.

Essentially, it involved chemically-coated panes of glass which were used as negatives.

As you might imagine, lugging these huge panes of glass around was both hard work and required great care to ensure they didn’t break.

But believe it or not, the wet plate method was actually a simpler process to create a photographic negative than what came before it.

In 1841, William Henry Fox Talbot (pictured above) introduced the calotype method, which involved using silver chloride-coated paper to create images.

The silver chloride darkened when exposed to light to create the image, just like the digital sensors in our cameras today must be exposed to light to create an image.

Prior to Talbot’s calotype, photographers often needed an hour or so to expose the paper to get a quality negative.

However, the calotype process slimmed that down to just a couple of minutes, mostly because the paper could be removed under the cover of darkness and chemically processed to further develop the image.

The problem, of course, is that photographers needed to have a mobile darkroom with them in order to create prints.

The other issue is that this process produced images that weren’t as clear or sharp (as seen above) as those created with the daguerreotype method.

So, on the one hand, the daguerreotype method produced sharp results but required exposures of an hour or more.

On the other hand, the calotype process required little time, but a laborious workflow to create images.

That’s where the collodion process came in.

Best Tripods of the Year

When it comes to photography accessories, there’s nothing as valuable as a tripod.

Sure, filters are great, but at the end of the day, you can emulate most of their effects in post-processing.

Camera remotes are nice too, but by and large, you can get away with your camera’s self-timers.

Speedlights and reflectors can be beneficial as well, but if you shoot in the morning and evening hours, you can capitalize on beautiful Golden Hour lighting.

What’s difficult to do, though, is find a good substitute for a tripod.

You can set your camera on the hood of your car, but that might risk your camera falling off or scratching the paint.

You can rest your camera on a bean bag as well, but that’s not as versatile a solution as a tripod.

With that in mind, here’s my picks for the best tripods of the year.


Best Tripod Alternative – HandlePod


Though HandlePod isn’t technically a tripod, it still serves the same purpose.

In fact, it might be even more versatile than a tripod given that you can use it in a myriad of ways.

For starters, you can set it up as a tabletop quadpod, with its four rubber feet serving to give it a sturdy, stable base for your camera to take tack-sharp photos.

You can also fold the handle down 90-degrees, press its four feet against something strong like a wall, and you’ve got another means of steadying your camera.

Fold the handle down to 180-degrees, and you’ve got an ideal setup for taking photos and videos with a stabilizing handle that helps you get cleaner shots.


Removes a Few Billion Images Backlash Ensues

When you think of websites that were big during the dot-com heyday of the early 2000s, Photobucket is probably one that comes to mind.

The Denver-based company came on the scene around 2003 to offer essentially a photo-hosting service. Users could upload images to Photobucket and embed them on third-party sites like Amazon, eBay, blogs, and so forth.

And up until June of this year, that service was free and supported by advertising revenue.

The problem for Photobucket is that the service was being used to host billions of images online – a service they say isn’t sustainable without fees.

In fact, as reported in the Denver Post, the cost to offer free hosting accounted for about 75 percent of the company’s costs. What’s more, all that usage of their service resulted in no revenue.

From a business standpoint, you might understand why Photobucket elected to change their terms of service and begin charging people to host their images on their servers.

But the way the company handled the change seems to be a much bigger issue than the price hike.

The service, which sports about 100 million users, quietly increased their prices from free to up to $400 per month for image hosting services.

And as if the huge price increase wasn’t enough, users were informed via email just 30 days before the new pricing policy took effect. Many users report receiving no such email in the first place.

What’s more, the details of the price hike were buried in the fine print, approximately 500 words into the terms of service document.

The company posted a short note online to let its users know there was a change to the terms of service, but, again, how many users actually frequent the terms of service page of any service or product they use?

Consider When Buying a Camera Bag

When it comes to buying photography gear, cameras and lenses get all the attention – and rightfully so.

After all, you can’t exactly take pictures without those two elements!

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other important pieces of kit, too.

From tripods to filters, camera remotes to camera bags, filling out your photography kit involves a lot of decision making.

In this article, I’d like to offer up a few pointers for buying the right camera bag for you.

To illustrate each point, I’ll be using Holdfast bags as examples. As you’ll see, these bags are impeccably made, beautifully designed, and have tons of user-friendly features, too.

This can be a tricky question, because there is often the inclination to buy a giant bag, thinking that at some point you’ll have enough gear to fill it up.

And though it’s important to think ahead and consider what your kit will look like in a couple of years, at the same time, you might not want to carry a big camera bag around if all you have is a mirrorless camera and a lens or two.

That’s why the Holdfast Roamographer is a great choice because there are two different size options.

Shown above is the Roamographer small, an ideal bag for rangefinder or mirrorless camera systems.

The vintage aesthetics of the bag give it a fantastic look, and with modern-day features, it helps you keep your gear safe and organized as well.

The Roamographer large (shown above) is perfect for carrying DSLR gear, and like its smaller brother, the large bag offers features like a padded camera insert to protect your gear, a shearling-lined shoulder strap for a comfortable carrying experience, and the ability to secure a small camera on the outside of the bag for easy access for quick shots.

The camera insert in both bags is removable as well, meaning you can convert them into traditional bags for carrying clothes and other items.

That means that not only do you get a bag that carries your gear safely and securely, but you also get the versatility of having a bag that can pull double duty too.

On top of that, you get a bag that is flexibly designed to meet your changing gear-carrying needs.

Questions You Must Ask First

As if you don’t have enough to think about as a self-employed photographer, you need to give some serious thought to how and when you provide a price to a potential client.

For starters, giving a client a price off the cuff could put you in a bad spot if the scope of work they need ends up being more than what you initially thought.

Secondly, without asking a potential client any questions, how will you know if the job is even worth the time or effort?

Beyond that, any informed consumer will be checking out prices from several photographers, and if you’re the only one that doesn’t ask any questions and dig deeper into who this person is and what they need from you, you’ll look like a total amateur.

So, with that in mind, here’s a few questions you should ask your clients before ever giving them a price.

If you’re a wedding and portrait photographer and the client needs a photographer for a motorcycle race, you might have a problem on your hands…

Similarly, it’s prudent to inquire about the style of the shoot.

For example, if your style leans toward the bright and airy side, you’ll need to know if that works with the client’s vision for their photos.

Again, if they want something dark and moody, you might not be the best fit, so it’s best to find that out at the outset.

Naturally, the number of images the client needs will factor heavily into your price quote.

A small gig of a few dozen shots is obviously going to warrant a smaller price tag than a weekend-long job that involves hundreds of photos.

You need to inquire about a ballpark total number of shots as well as a more precise final tally of images, too.

That helps you clearly define what the end product is so you can give the potential client a more precise price estimate.