Our Movie of the week this week is a long one. I had the pleasure of chatting with my old friend Frederick Van a couple weeks ago. We talked about photography, workflow and my new book on scanning photo collections. The video podcast is embedded below.
After a very long wait, I can report that The DAM Book 3 is really taking shape and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve spent the last several months researching, writing new content, and reorganizing the book. I will have a publication date and table of contents to announce by the end of August.
Here’s some of the new stuff.
Connected Objects, Connected Collections – One of the greatest changes we’re seeing is the inherent connectedness of images – often from the moment of capture. Born-connected images have particular DAM challenges and opportunities. This is partly covered by the chapter on publishing and sharing, but the whole notion of connectedness will thread throughout the book, as it touches every part of DAM technology and workflow.
Publishing and Sharing – I have an entirely new chapter on the ways that you can share images out of your collection. I’ll define the difference between Exporting, Publishing, Integrating, and Embedding. Each of these methods of sharing requires different workflows and tools, and each has its own strengths.
Cloud Services – Cloud-based services are an essential part of storage and distribution for most photographers/collection managers. I’ll lay out the landscape of these, and how you should understand what each can do (and what each one cannot do). My work over the last couple of years designing Photoshelter Libris has been a tremendous opportunity to better understand how cloud fits in to your workflow.
Photography as Language – The most tectonic change in the world of photography is its transformation into a language that is now spoken by nearly everyone. This has some really important ramifications for everyone – but particularly for photographers and collection managers. DAM is now becoming an essential part of communication strategy that goes far beyond the marketing department. Photography-as-language increases the need for, and changes the nature of, DAM. I’ll lay out the case for this, and help you prepare for this increasingly important development.
Network Attached Storage – NAS was pretty immature technology when the last edition of the book was published, and since then it’s come of age. NAS devices have become quite capable for remote access to a collection, automatic offsite backup and as local media servers. I’ll help you understand if NAS addresses your needs.
Artificial Intelligence – Commercial AI is starting to become a commodity, and is showing up in enterprise DAM (such as Extensis linking with Clarifai). Of course, we’re also seeing this on the desktop with facial recognition software. I’ll help untangle what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, and how to spot important changes int he technology.
Less workflow, more ecosystem – When we started DAM Useful Publishing, our goal was to split publications into workflow and ecosystem. The DAM Book will help you understand how image and DAM technology work, and it describes some workflow theory. But the actual workflow demonstrations are now split into the DAM Book Workflow Guides. There are several reasons for this.
- It helps to keep the book to a manageable size
- It allows me to update on a more organic schedule – as technology changes, I can update a particular book
- It allows me to publish in the proper format. I believe that workflow should be taught with a combination of text and video, and the ecosystem stuff is better communicated with a traditional book format.
It will be a book, not a multimedia book. I love the multimedia ebook for workflow, but I think that this material is better presented as a traditional text-and-figures book. We’ll start with an electronic version, so that we can get it out as quickly as possible. We’ll follow that with a paper version as quickly as we can get one printed. Details to follow.
Special Offer still available – We still have our special offer in force for people who buy The DAM Book 2. If you buy it for $19.95, we’ll give you $15 off the purchase of DAM Book 3.
LED lighting is a fast-moving product landscape, with prices plummeting and quality increasing faster than anything I’ve ever seen in photography.I was over at B&H last week getting things all set up for my September 13 presentation at the Event Space. I took the opportunity to look at the LED lights on display. I found a nice little unit from Dracast that should be great for camera scanning transparencies on a rail system. At $68, it looked well made. Even better, it listed a CRI number of 95, which is a very high quality light for the price.
I was talking to Gary on the sales floor, and I wondered if this light was really 95 CRI. He smiled and said he’d be back in a minute. When he returned, he had a $2200 Sekonic C‑7000 SpectroMaster Color in hand. “Let’s find out” he said. We took readings of the light, and, sure enough, it showed a CRI over 97.
I’m going to buy one of these lights and take it for a spin. Note that because this light is designed to be used on-camera, it does not come with an AC adapter. I checked with the company and they tell me it takes a 12 volt 10 watt power supply. I have a bunch of old 12 volt power supplies lying around, so I’ll test with these when the light arrives.
Note, there are several variations of the Camlux light from Dracast. For camera scanning, I’m not interested in the bicolor, but they would be useful for shooting. These come in daylight or bicolor. Here they are linked.
I’m happy to be back in the ASMP fold, doing a webinar next week on digitizing photo collections. Of course this will be based on our new book, Digitizing Your Photos, but with a special emphasis on the relevance to professional photographers.
I’ll be demonstrating how camera scanning can allow for large-scale conversion of film and print originals to digital images, which is important for those of us who have large film archives. I’ve digitized more than 50,000 of my own images, and continue to add new images.
I’ll also be touching on business models that photographers can consider for new services for their clients. There are a lot of companies and institutions that have large collections of physical photos. I’ve been able to help some of my clients with the process, as part of my professional services. I’ll discuss some business models for adding these services.
Next Tuesday, July 25th, the National Digital Initiatives group at the Library of Congress will present the second Collections as Data symposium. This wide-ranging day looks at the way data can be extracted from – and made useful to – digital humanities collections. I went last year, and found the entire day fascinating.
The symposium is free but does require registration if you want to attend in person. It’s also available in an online stream for those who can’t attend in person. Copy from their website:
More relevant, more accessible, more visual, and more useful–these are some benefits of making digital collections available as data and ready for computational analysis. The Library of Congress is hosting a day-long event that will feature case-studies and impact stories of applying digital methods to analyzing and sharing collections. Presenters will share how using collections as data reactivates the holdings of libraries and other centers of history and art to make deeper connections to the communities they serve.
This video from Digitizing Your Photos outlines two related types of film copying equipment – rail systems and bellows systems. I’ve been using these systems for more than a decade to digitize large amounts of my own film. They are fast to use and relatively easy to set up for a photographer experienced with lighting.
At the moment, these systems are do-it-yourself, but we’re working on finding someone to produce them commercially. In the meantime, we’re about to start renting ones I personally own. Click here to find out more.
UPDATE: We’ve decided to offer a limited number of these units for sale. We’re rolling these out at a price of $300. We’re taking preorders now. Contact us at support@theDAMbook.com
A lot of readers are asking how to get a rail system for 35mm slide and negative copying. I’m working on some sourcing options for this. In the meantime, we’re going to offer the units that I personally own as rental items.
The rental is for a rail, a film stage, a generic camera plate if needed, and step down ring to allow your lens to connect to the shade if needed (These units have a 52mm lens connection.)
These units have had the rounded corners filed down to show the full frame of the image. You’ll get a natural black border on standard 35mm film.
Here’s an example of a negative scanned with a rail system and turned positive with the techniques outlined in my new book. The black border is created in-camera and shows the entire frame of the image. Note that each different unit will produce a slightly different black border.
Rail System Options
We have several styles of unit, all made from Nikon slide copy adapters. Some have the rear diffusion glass, and in some the glass has been removed.
• Without diffusion – this requires that you have a nice even light source such as a softbox or lightbox. Shooting without diffusion means there is no chance of dust particles sticking to the glass and appearing in every shot.
• With diffusion – This will make it easier for some people to make a smooth and even illumination across the frame.
I also have a Nikon Bellows unit for rent. To use this, you need a full frame small body Nikon camera (e.g. D750, D800, D810, D600, D610, D700) and a 55mm or a 60mm Nikon Macro lens.
D1, D2, D3, D4, And D5 cameras do not fit on these units.
What you need
You’ll need your own camera and macro lens, as well as a light source (strobe or LED recommended). YOUR CAMERA DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A NIKON.
Camera – Rail systems can be used with any brand or model of camera.
Lens – In order to connect the lens shade, you’ll need to use a “normal” length macro lens. This means a 50mm-60mm range for full frame DSLR and 35mm range for APS-C or micro 4/3 camera.
Digitizing Your Photos – It is strongly recommended to have a copy of my most recent book in order to get the most out of your rental. Shown below is a video from the book.
Rental is $50/week, or $150/month. You pay shipping both ways (we prefer if you can provide a Fedex or UPS account number.) When we send the unit out, we need to take a credit card deposit for $300.
If you are interested in rental, drop us a line at support@theDAMbook.com or make a Facebook comment below. Let us know whether you want a Rail or bellows system, whether you want the diffuser or not, and how soon you’re looking to get started.
When digitizing your photos, it’s important to capture any “nearby” information. Dates and notes on slide mounts, writing on the back of prints, notes on boxes and envelopes and other information can help you understand the content and ownership of the images. It can be time-consuming to stop and transfer these notes to your scans.
In Digitizing Your Photos, I show how I approach the capture of nearby information. The fastest, simplest and most complete way to record these notes is to shoot photos of it, and include those photos in the catalog. In the case of prints, it’s simple to flip the print upside down and shoot the backside. Boxes and folders can also be photographed as you shoot the contents of these containers.
When coping slides, I suggest that you shoot the slides as a group after copying individual slides. Use front light to show any writing, and make sure the light rakes in from one side so that blind embossed writing shows up. This video from Chapter 2 shows the hardware setup I recommend to shoot the slide mounts.
The easiest way to build a copy setup for film (slides, transparencies and negatives) is to lay a lightbox on the copy stand and then put a negative carrier on top of that. This video from Digitizing Your Photos shows you how set one of these up (including how to make sure that the camera and the film are parallel to each other.)
I cover several other setups for copying film in the book, but this one requires no special tools and can be made wth stuff that is commonly available at camera shops.
This post kicks off a series of tips and techniques from Digitizing Your Photos. These posts will focus on a particular technique from the multimedia eBook, and include one of the videos from the book.
It’s common for vintage prints to exhibit Silver Mirroring (or Silvering). The reflections caused by residual silver can obscure the shadow detail in the print. Fortunately, it’s easy to remove the mirroring in the copy photo through the use of simple cross-polarization. This video shows how to cross-polarize and what the effect looks like.
This video appears on page 48 of Digitizing Your Photos with Your Camera and Lightroom.