Times—they are a changing. Digital has replaced film photography for most of our everyday needs. A few years ago there was a variety of film brands and types on the market. Slide film was even available at Wal-Mart. Today you’re fortunate if you find film available in a specialty photo store. Due to these developments, many of us have had to resort to mail order for purchasing and processing of our film. Gone are the days of quickly picking up a roll of slide transparency film, shooting your pastel paintings, getting them developed (often within one hour), and mailing them off to exhibitions in time to meet the deadlines. If you read the prospectuses for most exhibitions, they have switched, or are in the process of switching, over to digital entry. Even though a few organizations still require slides and a few accept slides along with digital, the writing is on the wall: Digital is the future.
The transition has not been problem free. There are still bugs to be worked out and with time the process will become more simplified. Organizing the entries, ease of storage, viewing options (TVs, digital monitors, digital projection), all add to its
convenience. The days of needing a darkened room and a slide projector are nearing an end. Who knows, maybe our old camera equipment will become props for future still-life paintings!
After spending years learning to photograph pastel paintings, struggling to obtain a sharp image that was properly exposed and color-balanced to the lighting, many of us now find ourselves having to adapt to new technology. Learning the functions of the digital camera and reading the owners manual can ease the transition. No two cameras are identical, making it easy to forget procedures and settings that are not often used. Even consumer-level cameras are offering many professional features. Most major camera manufacturers have a digital PDF file of the camera manual available online. I keep a copy of these digital manuals on my laptop computer. That way, when traveling, I have the information available without having to pack along a hard copy.
Another valuable item is the old tried and true photographic gray card. This card helps in the evaluation of exposure and the accurate adjustment of “white balance” temperature of light). Its uses will be examined in more depth in next week’s blog.
Invest in a good image-processing program for your computer. Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard, but is very expensive and has a lot of features most artists will never utilize. Photoshop Elements is the stripped-down version of the program. It provides everything most of us require at a fraction of the full versions cost. Familiarize yourself with the general operations of the program. Get advice from other artists as to how they process their digital images. User-friendly instructional books are available and free advice is abundant on the Internet.
In the next blog, I will continue this discussion with some useful tips for digitally photographing pastel paintings.