Big Is Better

When Shelly mentioned a while ago you should shoot in RAW on the largest format of your DSLR she was of course completely right, but she left a critical piece of information hidden from all of us.

You should not only shoot big, you should also print big on a regular basis.

Printing your pictures on a reasonable “big” size (so not the IG 620*620 size) is your own best and hardest judge.

It will tell you if your shoot really holds out and is ready to be put against your wall.
From your own bedroom over your local coffee shop to your spotlight in the MoMa.

Blowing up your pictures to a reasonable A4 or US letter (we all have a vivid HP printer somewhere to start with and then we can use local print stores as well) and have them printed out on paper not only for that art exhibition we all dream off but also for our own education and continuous improvement.

Prints will give you direct (harsh) feedback on the quality of your shoot you may not see directly on your digital media of choice (iPhone, iPad, iMonitor, …).

We have been doing some extended proof printing here over the weekend on our latest addition and even blow up some shoots beyond the A4 size, and what looks good on a 620*620 canvas on IG is not always that attractive on a full blown A2 printed size and will need rework.

So, if your only goal is to share pictures on a 72 dpi screen on the internet, printing big is maybe not for you, but if you secretly (or openly) want to fill some walls and conquer the real word you should not only shoot big but also print big on a regular base …

Me2

Footnotes to self:
Day 7 in my personal challenge.

Our Ski Trooper came along to check out the paper and ink we will be using for the limited edition Easter egg print we organized and saw everything was under control (the above image was just a working proof picture and not the final result)
Image shot with iPhone 5

As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice … 

A Case Study On Why You Should Use Your DSLR

For those of you out there with lovely DSLR cameras who are loth to use them because they are too large, too bulky, too cumbersome, too complicated, to whatever… I would like to relate a story that I hope will persuade you to get yours out and make friends with it.

Last spring I was getting tired of taking Lego mini figure photos with my iPhone. Yes, it has a great lens and yes it’s easy to use and the editing apps and the uploading ease to social media where unparalleled. But I was growing dissatisfied with the results and I was quickly realizing that almost all the really great photographers I admire on Instagram, were using full size cameras.

So I broke down and pulled out my full size DSLR camera. And yes its big and bulky with a complicated interface that sometimes makes my head swim. Luckily all that time I had spent volunteering at KEXP was coming in handy. The boys at the station had definitely been teaching me a thing or two about photography, so this time, the interface was manageable. I tried a few different lenses and settled on an inexpensive 50 mm macro and off I went. I loved the results! Sharp, clear, great depth of field; everything I had been lacking with my phone. I was in heaven!

But like most new photographers I was concerned about storage and file size. I shot my images on the small RAW setting which gave me a file size of 5.5M or 2880 x 1920. I figured this would be more than adequate for my needs and would allow me to blow my images up to a nice size like 8″ x 10″ (2.4m x 3m). I had a wonderful summer shooting with friends in unusual places and since I was trying lots of different things I was having a lot of success.

When the fall rolled around and I had a chance to show my work in a gallery I quickly realized the images I had created, like the one below, were too small to create the images I wanted to show. I tried in vane to recreate the shots, but like all good images, there was a certain serendipity that was not going to be replicated. So I had to admit defeat, quickly create a few new images and move on knowing I was leaving some of my favorite images on the so called cutting room floor.

So the lesson is shoot big, shoot for the future and know that as you are learning and enjoying the photographic process you will eventually capture great images. And wouldn’t it be a shame if that image was on your phone or a small compressed file that didn’t allow you to work with it as your other photographic skills grew?

So get out your full size DSLR’s, shoot on the largest RAW setting you have and invest in a good storage device (preferably with a back-up system). Because you are not only shooting for today, you are shooting for the future…and who knows what opportunities will come your way.

– xxsjc