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09-02-2007, 07:23 PM   #1
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Need your thoughts on a photojournalism project

Well, fellow Pentaxians, I need some help! As part of two advanced photography classes, I am starting a semester-long photo journalism project on forgotten corners of America similiar to this:
David Plowden - Small Town

The differences between me and David Plowden are that he shoots a Hasselblad, was trained by Minor White (no relation, darn it!) and has a national reputation, plus HIS work was mostly done without commentary. MY vision is to actually do an art book and publish it through our university's press in late November of this year, but to add little vignettes with my photos that tell a bit about the shot and what's going on in it, the location where it was shot, the person if it's a portrait, etc. This will combine my major in English Literature and my minor (but first love) in photography.
Here's where I need YOUR help: I don't have a medium format camera, can't afford to buy one, even used, nor the film for it, etc. although I believe that would be the format most suited for this project (as evidenced by Plowden's photos), SO.. I will be using a K10D digital to do my project. NOW to the "crunch" question: within the limitations posed by shooting in a 35mm APS-C format what lenses do I need to consider for this project? I have the 12-24mm/f4, 16-45mm/f4, 31mm FA Limited, 43mm FA Limited, 77mm FA Limited, 50-200 DA and several third party older lenses (135mm/f3.5 Takumar and Kiron 80-200/f2.5 1:4 Macro). Most of the shots will be wide to ultra-wide daylight shots, similiar to Plowden's, of architectural objects. Then, there will be objects and people. I anticipate virtually ALL the shots will be PPed in Photoshop CS3 to B & W and I can't think of what else you all need to know! Obviously, this will challenge my skills in numerous areas from lighting to composition to processing techniques.
So, if anyone has suggestions, ideas and/or samples or techniques to share about shooting this broad-ranging project, I'd LOVE to hear them! If there is enough interest from the membership and Mo, I'd love to regularly post ongoing photos as this progresses for your suggestions and to satisfy your curiousity!
Thanks in advance for any and all SERIOUS suggestions, especially from anyone who currently shoots architecture, small towns, etc.
Rob W

09-02-2007, 08:24 PM   #2
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I looked at the Plowden link. You have all the lenses you need for this sort of work.

Bring your tripod and use it. If you want the maximum sharpness from your camera there is no substitute. You can stop way down for maximum depth of field and use ISO 100. You might consider some lightweight carbon fiber legs if your Bogen legs weigh a ton.

Bring your flash in case you need fill light, and consider bringing a reflector also to fill shadows in the portraits.
09-02-2007, 11:06 PM   #3
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Stop obsessing over equipment and think about the story you want to tell. If you decide to take more than three lenses with you - get ready to be in the middle of a lens change when "the moment" occurs. Take a look at the range in mm of your lens set and decide - do I really need to have three or four lenses in the range of xxx?

Go out and buy a small voice recorder - easier than a notebook - get people's names and leave the flash in the bag. Nothing is more invasive than having your eye's blown away by some smart-*ss photographer from the big city trying to do a story on us poor folks (believe me - I was one of those guys, I learned that blurring is not such a bad thing after all). Take a look at this blog. sacha phlog Now I admit up front that Bob is the guy that turned me back on to photography, just to let my prejudices out first. His use of sound and still images is a way to get your message out - along with books and articles - that just might change how jounalism is presented on the web.

I purchased a small digital sound recorder and I have been recording things along with my images - but there is no decent place to really show them off. This site does not accept such material so it is really hard to find an outlet. But if you add sounds of interviews onto your project - no one would care if you did not use a big film camera.

As for subjects (people) - stop into one of the small town cafes and just talk to people. That will be the hardest thing for you to do - breaking the ice. Practice your journalism skills first, get to know your subjects, ask about the price of corn (if you are in a farm community), ask about the weather, ask them about their kids, grandkids, ask if there are "goings on" - cake sales, church socials etc. Use the recorder to get their side of the story. Become one with the community - grasshopper.

Just do not obsess about the equipment - get the story - the images will follow.

Good Luck - PDL
09-02-2007, 11:47 PM   #4
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I have absolutely no wisdom to add. I would just like to point out that used medium format cameras can be had rather inexpensively. I shoot a couple of old TLRs that ran me between about $40 to $60 and a coupled rangefinder folder that was around $60. No, they're not Hasselblads or Rolleis, but they do a good job. And for some odd reason, people seem to not tense up when I point them at them, especially the TLRs. I guess they're so far out of date that people have trouble believing they're really cameras.

09-03-2007, 04:28 AM   #5
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Good luck with your project - it really does sound exciting! Don't wrestle with the technology issue. Use the digital SLR without guilt. David Plowden used a Hassie as that was the 'state of the art' in his day. Today you have 'state of the art' photographic equipment and developing technology with the K10D and current PP software on a good computer. I would suggest starting out with a couple good prime lenses - wide angle and a 'normal' - and maybe a decent telephoto zoom lens. If you haven't done so already you could start a blog to track your progress on this project.

Definitely keep us in the loop on this one!
09-03-2007, 04:18 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input! I'm actually in the process of designing a blog for all my photography (Now THAT will be a boring site!) 8o) and appreciate the ideas. You're ALL right about the equipment: I corresponded with a pro who doesn't post on this forum, but who uses a Pentax K10D and he said all the current equipment I have is more than sufficient for this project, so now it's on to the creative process! You will all be kept in the loop as it goes forward and I will certainly appreciate constant feedback as I move forward.
Thanks again for all the great feedback and/or creative ideas!
Rob W
09-04-2007, 04:53 AM   #7
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I agree with the comments so far about equipment. The K10D is more than capable of producing the quality required for any photograph destined for a book project. Even the K100D/K110D has the requisite resolution. Just because Pro X uses a Hassy or Pro Y an 8X10 View Camera that doesnt mean you can't shoot similar subjects with DSLRS. I shoot motorsports wtih my K10D and K110D (oh my gawd!!!) and get pretty good results, even though many (even here on this site) think these cameras are not suited to sports of any kind. Shoot with what you have and work within the limits of your equipment. Then stretch those limits from time to time. You might be surprised. Good luck with your class and with the book project.
09-04-2007, 06:29 AM   #8
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Just a little "by the way"...

This article was brought up in another thread and I though it fit well here...

Read "The Magic Bullet" by Michael C. Johnston of The Luminous Lanscape.

I'm sure that Minor White and David Plowdon were no exceptions to the premise put forth in the article...

09-04-2007, 07:03 AM   #9
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Yeah, I think I read Mike's article a few weeks back while surfing for some other topics! It's good and to the point. A friend pointed out that Irwin Puts, the inestimable Leica expert, said recently that HE feels with 10mp and current techology any DSLR like the the K10D is in every way the equal to a medium format camera in it's capabilities, etc., so I'm comfortable using it. BTW, NICE gallery over on photo.net! When I get THAT good with my system, I will have "arrived"!
Rob W
09-04-2007, 08:05 AM   #10
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<BLUSH> Thanks for the comment on my gallery at PN... As for having "arrived". I'm nowhere close to "arriving" and frankly if I ever do "arrive" I will get bored. There is always something new to try or some way to improve. Don't stop learning or improving until you die, and even then give em a fight.
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