To ask a question to one of our photographers or editors, comment in this thread. Our photographers and editors will also answer comments elsewhere on Photo Desk, and in future online discussions. These questions and answers have been lightly edited.
Do professional photo-journalists generally use digital, film or both? If both, what purposes do they use each for?
Fred Lum, staff photojournalist:
Most photojournalists and newspaper photographers have been digital for years and I've been digital since the late 90s. It's hard to argue against the benefits of a digital workflow in the current information-hungry environment we have today. To be able to transmit photographs from any place in the world where there's Internet or mobile access is simply irreplaceable.
However, I still shoot film for personal work and also for select assignments for The Globe and Mail. When contemplating using film, I need to take into consideration deadline pressure but more importantly what the assignment is and what can film add to the mix. I primarily shoot medium format and large format (4x5 or 8x10) for these types of jobs but have worked with toy cameras, Holgas for example, and with large format pinhole cameras. As Dave mentioned, I love working with Polaroid Type 55, which unfortunately is no longer being made. It has a unique signature and look that will be missed by many photographers.
I only work in black and white when shooting film so the editors (Dave Lucas is one) and I need to be on the same page on what I'll bring back. Having said this, I still photograph the assignment with my digital gear as well which is only prudent.
As for the why, well, film really does have a unique look. Obviously one can convert a digital file to monochrome such that it will look almost identical to the film I use but there's more to it than that. When I work with film, I tend to work much slower and if it's portraiture, for example, then I'm usually lumbering along and fidgeting with holders, loading and unloading film etc. I find this creates a curiosity in the subject I'm photographing and we tend to have a different, albeit short, relationship which can lead to more interesting work.
Finally, to bring a long reply to an end, I have to say that the experience or journey as some will call it, of using film is simply rewarding and that means something to me.
We're going to travel to Antarctica and I need some help on two issues:
1. Cold: Can any precautions be taken to protect the camera against the cold?
2. Lots of white: Can I trust the camera's settings? I have a Canon 5D so I have lots of settings to play with.
Peter Power, staff photojournalist:
We are planning a much more complete answer to your questions in an upcoming Tip.
For now the best way to deal with the cold is to have a spare camera battery handy, and kept warm, inside your coat. Switching out your cold battery will help keep them both working longer.
Exposure in any bright situation tends to fool camera exposure meters. The camera will tend to underexpose your scene (because it sees so much brightness) so you will have to compensate for this.
It's not a simple answer, because while you will want to "overexpose" what your camera is telling you, you do not want to overexpose the highlights (snow/ice) in your photograph. With the 5D, adjust your exposure compensation to at least +1 and adjust from there. Luckily with the digital camera you should be able to then make refinements to your exposure depending on the specific lighting conditions.
When all else fails nothing beats a hand-held lightmeter.
How much post processing is acceptable for Globe publication?
I mean photojournalism, rather than fashion or art shots.
This question is a problem for me, as I come from the old film-school, and never post process more than Picasa will give me (cropping, saturation, contrast and sharpness bump.)
I know several good street photographers who won't release their shots on the net until they go through Lightroom or Photoshop. Am I missing something?
David Lucas, staff photo editor:
It sounds like we do about the same as you do in Picasa, only with Photoshop. We have a very high set of ethics here at the Globe as with most papers. This is an excerpt from our ethics policy: "News images are documentary images. They must never be manipulated, combined or distorted."
The photographer will crop the image and do some very minor burning and dodging before sending it into the photo desk. Before the image goes to print in the paper we fix the colour and may add some contrast, convert it to CMYK colour from RGB colour for our presses and add unsharp mask to make up for the ink bleed on the paper. That's about it. Some images require more work than others but that depends on the quality of the original.
Do you have a stable of lenses and bodies for the Globe photographers?
Is there crop, and full frame?
Fred Lum, staff photographer:
Each photographer here has their own set of gear. We get to choose what bodies and lenses we want to work with and I believe the majority of us (2 Nikon and 5 Canon) use full frame with one shooter using 7D's.
I use a range of lenses from 14mm through to the 200-400 zoom. My bread and butter lenses are the 24 1.4, 50 1.4, 85 1.4, 24-70 and the 70-200. I'm currently using a pair of Nikon D3 cameras and will probably upgrade next year if they release a D700 replacement in that time.
In the past we had pool telephoto lenses but that's given way to each photographer having, at the minimum, their own 300 2.8.
The Holga and pinhole cameras are not company issue unfortunately.Report Typo/Error