Depth of Field

11099650_596909143782402_5625101672494726468_nLater this year I’ll be exhibiting two prints  in the show Depth of Field, in Arizona, that’s been curated by Rfotofolio in collaboration with Art Intersection. Besides the show, there will be talks and workshops and a roundtable.

The prints are gelatin-silver, 7″ x 7″ in size and were photographed in the Badlands of South Dakota. Looking at the names of the other photographers in the exhibition, I am not only honoured to have been included, but know this will be an amazing show.

Depth of Field is a celebration of photography. In our inaugural event, in collaboration with Art Intersection, Rfotofolio is pleased to have the opportunity to exhibit the work of the photographers that have been on our virtual pages. Their work spans the vast art form that is photography. From city streets, to oceans, to places that only exist in our imaginations, these photographers have acted as our guides.

 

Depth of Field is more than an exhibition. With workshops and a photographers forum (In Depth) Depth of Field is a gathering of photographers, and an opportunity to share their work, and knowledge with others. An event to engage and share with each other and anyone who is curious about the art of photography.

In Depth — a roundtable forum led by Becky Senf  — Friday, September 11th, 6.30 – 8.30pm.
Opening reception — Saturday, September 12th, 6 – 8pm.

The exhibition runs from September 8th to October 24th, 2015.

Art Intersection
207 N. Gilbert Rd # 201, Gilbert, AZ, 85234.
Phone (480) 361-1118.

Bit Rot — The Importance of Printing Your Images

This article from The Huffington Post makes it quite clear what’s going to happen to your digital-only files. Keeping your images safe by backing up regularly is only part of the battle.

Bit rot is a term that refers to the slow deterioration in the performance and integrity of data stored on various forms of storage media. It’s a serious problem for pretty much anything that is digital or online etc. For example, it poses a huge threat to the wealth of information we have on the internet. However, one group of people who are particularly at risk are photographers. We store much of our work on hard drives, flash drives and even on CDs. All of these storage options are ripe for bit rot. Although we use fairly stable image formats – jpeg, tiff, raw etc. (compared to say music on CD or films on DVD) there is still the problem of the actual files degrading. Worst of all, we don’t really know much about exactly how long these files will actually last before bit rot becomes a serious concern – we haven’t had the technology long enough yet. Want to hedge your bets? Print your photographs!

 

The photographic print (printed on quality papers with good inks) is capable of easily lasting 100 years and potentially a lot longer. Of course there are a lot of factors involved here, but we know about them – we know how to store paper and control humidity and so on. Furthermore, paper can be scanned and reprinted (at least once) causing no serious or easily perceptible loss, and this is with current technology never mind what we will have in 50 years!

 

Bit rot is not the only problem however, and perhaps not the biggest problem. I’ve been photographing seriously (with digital) for about six years. This is not a long time in the scheme of things, really. And yet, I have lost many, many photographs. Where did they go? Anyone’s guess. Somewhere on old computers I guess and, even though I made every effort to transfer them, many still got lost. Others were on old phones and on deleted Instagram accounts or gobbled up by Facebook.

 

Imagine the number of people who have much of their personal or family photo archives on Facebook servers! Now imagine Facebook servers experiencing some form of devastating structural damage (isn’t Facebook in California after all). Not a pretty picture indeed! People, millions of people, could lose their entire photo collections. This may sound trite until you consider that many people even have critical image like the birth of a child stored in the cloud. Not wise. Our entire photographic history from the past decade is literally at risk! And it won’t take an earthquake either… some 350 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook daily – making a technical meltdown more likely.

 

As I mentioned above, many of our digital photographs are getting lost quite simply because, well, they’re digital. In the era of analog photography and the photographic print we had a physical “thing” representing our images – namely negatives and prints. I’m quite sure I have every negative I’ve ever shot, even the ones I made as a kid. I’m not sure why that is, but I know that it is. There seems to be something more permanent about a negative by its very nature as a physical thing – never mind that it is also made from highly stable material. A digital or virtual thing is easier to lose I guess because it never really existed anyway.

 

So what’s my point in all this? That we should take more care to archive our work and not place quite so much trust in the cloud or other digital means of storage – like hard drives, for example. The fact is we simply don’t know the long-term stability of these means. If you want to continue risking your work, by all means carry on. If you want to truly “back up” your digital photography, then I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you print it!

 

Where to print? Anywhere, really. From the little Canon SELPHY to Milk Books, there are many, many options when it comes to making prints. Personally, I love Milk Books. They have a great “box set” of prints available that feature archival quality print and come in a nice storage box. It’s a very professional and classic option at a reasonable price. If you’re in the New York City area, or don’t mind working by post, Adorama also offers a pretty good printing service.

 

So, whether it’s just a handful of critical photographs, like your child’s birth or your college graduation, or your entire archive … get printing. When things melt down you’ll thank me.

Michael Ernest Sweet is a writer and photographer. The author of two full-length street photography books, The Human Fragment and Michael Sweet’s Coney Island, Michael lives in New York City. Follow on Facebook or through Michael Sweet Photography.
– via The Huffington Post.

Back to Blighty

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View from the house, Chapel Stile, Cumbria.

I’ve just returned from 16 days in the UK. First, a week in London and then up to The Lake District by car for the second week. Then it was back to London for another four days with my son and daughter and to see old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in 25 years!

The weather was perfect throughout and only started raining as we were taxiing to the runway to leave.

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