The Right Tool

cheese slicer, Neopan 1600 waaay over-developed in Rodinal

Soonmin Bae is a Ph.D. student at MIT and this week she published a new Siggraph Paper: “Two-Scale Tone Management for Photographic Look.”

Analog purists may reel at the technical jargon, but in her paper Bae shows several interesting effects for B&W photographs (and some color ones) that she’s discovered simply by examining come well-known classical “fine printing” photographs of the Ansel Adams variety — and then reduces the general feeling of those effects to a set of functional algorithms.

The computer may not understand the “feeling” of a “fine arts” print, but Bae’s results, to this viewer, seem to work pretty darned well — associating texture and detail to contrast range corrections, in particular, seems perfectly sensible and maps perfectly to common darkroom techniques like dodging, burning, and split-contrast printing.

That, combined with Rob Fergus et al’s “Removing Camera Shake from a Single Photograph,” might raise the ire of plenty cheezy ULF shooters, used to dragging their heavy tripods up the sides of Yosemite like it was their own personal Golgotha. But for the rest of us, bon appetit.



When I was a teenager my mom bought me the standard-for-the-time poster of Farrah Fawcett, to pin up on the wall of my room. Maybe she just thought it was in fashion, or was worried I might not know what a girl was. Not for me to say. It seemed okay, but nothing about the Charlies Angels style really worked for me anyway.

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It’s been too hot all week to process anything. The tap water is still close to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Three rolls today in Foma F09 (“Ur-Rodinal”) 1::20 — two rolls of Neopan 1600 exposed @ISO 800 and overdeveloped (8 minutes instead of 5 for normal ISO1600 images), and one roll of Acros exposed @ISO 50 instead of 100 and processed for 11 minutes (instead of somewhere around 7). The aim was high contrast, and the Acros negs definitely show it, but the Neopan 1600 negs seem only a tad darker than usual. A surprise.

I’ll be heading to Boston for Siggraph over the weekend. Probable kit will be the same as my last trip, the LX1 and the RF645. Toting them along with my heavy (but still sweet) Dell laptop is quite a load….



…at least that’s what the kids would have you believe. This one’s digital of course and made quickly based on looking at a scan of a real (modern) dag (by Mike Robinson), trying to suss-out some appropriate curves and such entirely by eye. Not perfect, but learn by doing.

Memory Pool

W. Eugene Smith, Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath

Six rolls Tri-X, two rolls Acros, rolls Neopan 1600 in Fomadon F09 (Rodinal formula) 1+40, then two rolls of Neopan 1600 stand-developed in F09 1+80 for an hour.

Obviously this shot isn’t mine, but I’ve decided to start including some shots that I’ve felt strongly about, shots that I think have had a direct personal effect. Unlike Roland Barthes I don’t think first of family photos. Neither is it some list of “my favorites” or “greatest” shots. They’re just shots that changed the way I thought about pictures and picture-making.

1 min read