The Tripod

When lasting, quality images are made photographically, the use of the tripod is usually standard practice. Many brush artists and sculptors who must present slides for jurying purposes and who would like to do it themselves would benefit from the following suggestions.

Since 35mm slide film is still the state of the art in the jurying process, the following recommendations to me seem pertinent to the production of quality images that can be produced without an expensive and time consuming approach that would require a professional photographer.

The following modus operandi can save you time, money and frustration:

  • Use diffused, even daylight illumination that is most easily found outside (and it¹s free) where the main source of natural light (the sun) comes from a relatively large reflecting surface, such as a wall, sheet, etc. Avoid midday shooting. Early or late day light is warmer and usually gives slides an alluring patina. Direct sunlight may seem to be easier to use but it can cause problems with high contrast and augmented textures.
  • Employ a standard adjustable 35mm camera with a lens that is manually focused, to at least 12 to 18 inches. The single lens reflex cameras from the U. S., Japanese and German camera manufacturers work famously. Most visual artists own a quality 35mm camera as an adjunct tool to their process.
  • Put the camera of choice on a tripod. The stability of a tripod will insure sharp images and will help in the alignment of the image within the frame, although it will probably take a bit more time to get the rectilinears right. It¹s not difficult. Even the cheapest tripods offer horizontal and vertical adjustments.
  • Purchase a warm toned daylight slide film with a speed of 100 to 400.
  • Bracket exposures. Start with the exposure indicated by the camera¹s integrated exposure system. It helps to find a middle grey area to make the initial light reading before the camera is affixed to the tripod. Progressively open the aperture (i.e. f8 toward lower f numbers) by one ³stop² per exposure for at least 2 to three stops. Then, progressively close down the aperture from the initial exposure (f8 toward higher f numbers) for the same 2 to three exposures. Use the same shutter speed.
  • Use a professional photographic laboratory for the development of the slide film. Also, specify unmounted slides. It will be much easier and convenient to make final image choice looking at the bracketed exposures if the film is uncut and unmounted.

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