North Fork Photography Blog

 

Bob in Carpi, Italy  

Bob McInnis

When buying photography on the Web, it can be difficult to know the quality of the prints you're getting. This page will help.

While I'm not showing my work in a gallery right now, Century 21/Agawam Albertson Realty in Greenport owns and displays the largest collection of my images--11 large-format prints--and they welcome visitors.

Here are some of the things I do to ensure you receive an exceptional print that will hold up at larger sizes and remain interesting for years to come.

Any of the variables below will significantly improve the print quality. Combined, you get a stunning image that you can walk right up to and see incredible detail throughout the print--even with the larger sizes.

Film
The key here is low ISO (ASA). That is, the slower the film, the less grain there will be in the print. I shoot with the finest-grain film availalbe, with an ISO of 50.

Format
All my images are shot with a 6 cm x 7 cm film size, which is four times larger than a traditional 35 mm negative, even larger than what a Hasselblad provides. This means a dramatically higher resolution and crystal clear enlargements.

Camera
I shoot with a Pentax 67, which is a pro-level medium-format camera. It has extraordinary lenses which records the scene with incredible clarity.

Tripod
Any camera movement will decrease the clarity of the image as well, so all my shots are taken with a heavy-duty tripod that keeps the camera rock-solid, even in heavy winds.

Shutter cable release
Of course, even pressing the shutter release will shake the camera, so I use a cable release so I don't actually touch the camera during the exposure.

Technique
I shoot with the len's apeture closed almost all the way down. The lower the f-stop, the greater the depth of field. Every part of my images are in focus.

Composition
I subscribe to the philosophy that something should be either completely in or out of my images, which is why people often mistake my photographs for paintings. This is a painstaking process, often involving hours spent at the location finding the right composition. Sure, this can also be accomplished in Photoshop, but don't use it. What you see is exactly what's on the original film I shot. The only exceptions are my images of the sunflowers at Peconic Vineyards, where I eliminated many of the flowers that were only part of the way in the shot and the carousel shot, which is a composite of three images taken an hour apart due to the highly reflective glass.

Skies
I also believe that a good landscape should contain a dramatic sky. This also takes an incredible amount of time and patience, often visiting a scene multiple times (sunrises are the roughest) until the sky cooperates.

Color
Whle black and white prints have their place, I enjoy the challenge of also finding beautiful colors in an image. Getting amazing color isn't about using a saturated film. It's about going where the colors are and shooting at the exact moment of the day when colors are at their best, almost always right around sunrise and sunset.

Shadow detail
If you shoot at times other than when the sun first comes up or as its going down, the light is too bright compared to things in shadow for any camera to be able to capture both. That's why I don't shoot outside those times, and why you'll always see detail in the shadows of my images.

Exposure
All monitors display images differently. Windows machines, in particular, can display my work much dariker and with more contrast than the prints actually are. Each of these images are perfectly exposed, but if you're in doubt, try viewing my images on a Mac.

Printing
While all my images are still shot on film, printing them is another story. New digital printing techniques solves a couple of big issues photographers used to struggle with. In the old days, we'd project film onto photosensitive paper, which meant the light had to pass through the air between the projector and the paper. This would reduce clarity and color saturation somewhat. Scanning a transaprency and then printing it using a pro-lab's photographic printer, you don't have those issues anymore.

I hope this helps give you a better idea of the quality of my prints. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to call me at (631) 477-2505.

Bob McInnis