The Latent Image

Fresh snow on fall aspens along Bishop Creek, Inyo National Forest, California
Fresh snow on fall aspens along Bishop Creek, Inyo National Forest, California

Just over twelve years ago I made the switch from film to digital and never looked back. The year was 2005 and it wasn’t without a great deal of hesitation, but I knew I wasn’t alone and that the time was right. Not long before National Geographic had finally started accepting digital files from the Nikon D100, and if the quality was worthy of their hallowed pages then it was good enough for me.

The biggest concern for most outdoor photographers at the time was preserving that classic “look” of film that the world had embraced from the early days of Kodachrome and later Fuji Velvia. We were told that if you shot RAW files, profiles and presets could be applied that would mimic any type of film. At the time it was all Greek, but in the years since it’s become standard practice in post production. The lightbox and loupe were traded for hi-resolution monitors and software, but the holy grail of image making was still dynamic range.

Cameras have advanced at lightning speed since then delivering better resolution, wider dynamic range, higher megapixels and price tags to match! But one thing hasn’t changed – the powerful RAW image file. This digital negative can never actually be touched or manipulated, but utilizing RAW processing programs like Lightroom can produce files that match any conceivable style or vision by applying those magical profiles and presets all while retaining the highest image quality.

One of the best features of shooting RAW is the fact that software manufacturers are constantly improving the programs to better utilize all of the image data captured by the sensor. I recently revisited a selection of images from my archive that were made just shortly after I switched to digital. They were made on one of those early bodies, but because I had used a high-quality lens and created RAW files I was now able to create much finer images from those files than the original software would allow.

In a side-by-side comparison I was amazed at the clarity and definition that had been hiding in those images just waiting for a future application to release them. So if you’re still shooting JPEGs you might want to consider switching to RAW. Though each camera manufacturer makes their own proprietary file, Adobe, the creators of TIFF and PDF, developed the DNG (or Digital Negative) – a great format that preserves your RAW file and a JPEG preview eliminating the concern of proprietary files and software going the way of the 8-Track stereo and Betamax.

One thing is certain, change is inevitable and technology will continue to evolve. It’s a wonderful time to be a photographer and reassuring to know that the images we make today can not only be enjoyed long into the future, but like a fine wine will likely improve with age.

 

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

End of Summer Fine Art Sale

Sunset over the Na Pali Coast from Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset over the Na Pali Coast from Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Our End of Summer Fine Art Print Sale is on now through midnight, September 19th!  Save 25% on your total order of paper prints with code SUMMERFINEART25 at checkout. This sale includes our Classic Edition Glossy and Exhibition Series SuperGloss fine art prints.

If you’re thinking about a gift for the nature lover in your life or looking to enhance your home or office, our fine art prints will add a lifetime of natural beauty to any room.  View all the details and print options here.

 

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

The Wilderness Act

Autumn hues and fresh powder, John Muir Wilderness, California
Autumn hues and fresh powder, John Muir Wilderness, California

Fifty-four years ago President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law preserving over 9 million acres of wilderness – a place where people could experience nature with minimal impact on the environment and wildlife. Since then Congress has added more than 100 million acres of wilderness area creating a natural legacy for future generations, and a sanctuary to recharge our creative and spiritual batteries apart from today’s fast-paced urban world.

The legislation established the National Wilderness Preservation System, which recognizes wilderness as “an area where the Earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Unlike the National Parks, there is no management plan for traffic flow, employee housing or curio shops because there is simply no need. It is truly wild – nature in all its unprocessed beauty.

In this sense the two compliment each other nicely. Where the National Parks serve to protect iconic landforms and historic sites that might otherwise be subject to erosion, vandalism or overuse, wilderness areas often lack the spectacular formations which draw the masses and are instantly recognizable, but provide instead a subtle beauty and remote quality that begs for exploration and contemplation.

Ansel Adams spent the better part of his life working to preserve wilderness through his photographs and tireless appeals to Congress, and his images continue to define the power that nature has in our lives. I feel fortunate to be able to share my own view of the natural world through photography, but more importantly I’m glad those who came before me had the foresight and courage to preserve these special places where we can find renewal and experience our planet in its original untouched form.

“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.”  – Charles A. Lindbergh

 

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved