Wednesday, November 12, 2008



That is the only question I could ask. I'm at Dennys, on the way home, after shooting in Yosemite National Park for the day. I want to see what I've got, so I start downloading the JPeg images to my laptop to get some sort of idea. At least I could see some of the digital stuff prior to getting all my 6x17 and 4x5 images processed. So I get the above image processed and looking good and our waitress comes to the table and says, "Wow, that's so beautiful."

She then follows up with, "Where's that at?"

Why would you not want to travel a whole two and a half hours to see one of America's most prized natural beauties? Why would you not want to see something so visually stunning that it can just shut you up with one look. Throw in beautiful light and the awe you'll endure will be pricesless. Watching the sun set and the moon rise over Half Dome, El Capitan and, Bridal Veil Falls was just one of those experiences that I will likely never forget. Prolific just doesn't begin to describe it. The thing is, is it happens every day and night.

Anyway, I'm not trying to tear this poor girl down. It was obvious to me that she has lived a very sheltered small-town life. Some people just do not understand the whole traveling thing. What I cannot understand is why you wouldn't want to see something new. So, with that, I hope that you like my new offering to you all. It's a high dynamic range photograph developed with five seperate images.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Day...

Well, I am really excited about the things that are going on with me right now. With the publications and the trip that's coming up, my life has been very busy. Since the racing season has ended, I found a part time job to keep me busy for a few months. That will help my goal of getting a full studio lighting setup to complete the studio in my home.

While I've said time and time again that I have no interest in shooting people, I want to try doing some large format portrait work. I also want to be able to get professional looking images of my daughter as she grows up. My wife uses those freebee coupons that the various portrait studios send out to get the studio-looking photos of my daughter every couple of months. I'd rather do that in my house, where I can control it all and get images that are exponentially better.

Having a studio setup will also allow me to do some different type of stock photography - from product work to models. I have a feeling I'll take advantage of Craigslist's aspiring models who need headshots that are willing to give me their time to get them. We'll see.

Well, that's all for now. My inspiration level has been growing a lot as of recent. I'm going to get some more 4x5 film tomorrow. A little chrome film and some good 'ol black and white. I'm thinking about going and getting some sunrise shots out at this beautiful little church in the countryside of Virginia. We'll see how it comes out. I hope all of you out there are well and I challenge you to get out there and shoot! Wake up early and find something beautiful to make a photograph of! If you do manage to wake up early on your day off and get a great shot, send it to me. I want to see what you make! Have questions? Send them to me!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Well, it has definitely been a while since I have wrote here. Due to my schedule being extremely busy, my large format photography has been lacking. I did go out to Pennsylvania to Ricketts Glenn State Park and made these photographs with my 4x5 field camera and 6x17 back. I used various lenses from a 90mm-210mm Schneider and Nikon lenses. Lately, I have been working with various people to get them the shots they want from the speedway side of my business. Along with that, I've been spending time with family and friends. I hope to get some work done in October as the leaves snap to their beautiful fall colors and I will hopefully be visiting Yosemite Valley and the Bodie Ghost Town in California in November.

For those of you that don't know, I was published in "Panorama - The Journal of Panoramic Imaging." To get a copy of this, contact Richard Ricardo at the International Association of Panoramic Photographers. The article was on scanning your film. Also, in the final quarter of the year, I will be in a number of magazines with various articles. Late Model Racer will be using one or two of my photographs along with a couple of photography magazines playing host to a few of my articles along with photography. Once everything is in print, I will let you all know what magazines are publishing my articles and when they are on the newsstand but for now I'm keeping things quiet as to the titles of the publications.

With little news on my side of the country, I will leave it at this. Enjoy your month! Eat some brats and drink some good beer. I will update as I get more work done for everyone to see! Also, if you are interested in panoramic photography, check out which is the homepage of the International Association of Panoramic Photographers.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Wide Experience... Of 6x17 Proportions!

Yay! I got my new 6x17 back for my 4x5 camera. Boy this thing is fun. I enjoy it much more than about any camera I have ever used. It's neat to look through the ground glass and see the actual panoramic image you're about to make.

So, I used some old expired film to make some test shots to see if there were any light leaks. Of course, I did something stupid and only shot one scene, when I should have shot a couple. Keep in mind that one roll of 120 film only produces four exposures. In said scene, I found that there was either a light leak or some sort of lens flare from shooting into harsh light. That meant I needed to shoot another test roll and take it in the next day. I posted a note on the LF forum and got mixed - almost 50/50 - reviews on whether people thought it was flare or a light leak.

Note the flare in the upper left corner.

Well, I really wanted to know if my new film back was messed up or if it was good to go. My local "pro" lab has a policy of in by 10am out by 4pm. I made it in about 9:30am to make sure that it'd get done that day. I told them how important it was that I get the roll processed the same day and if they couldn't do it that I would take the film elsewhere. They assured me that they'd have it done by 4pm. About 1pm I got a call saying that they couldn't get it processed that day. I asked them if they were still open for business, because if they were they should be able to get it done. A "Pro" lab not being able to get one roll of C41 120 film processed? I don't care if you have to take it to another lab, such as Penn Camera (Here in the DC area - I would have taken it there originally, but it's a lot further away from me.), or hand process it to get it done - when you tell someone that their film is going to be ready at a certain time you make damn sure it's ready for your customer. No matter what. Well, needless to say, they've lost a customer for life. Thank God I have a place like Chrome Imaging at my disposal. A bit more of a drive, but they always do what they say their going to do. If they can't do it at said time, they tell me straight up. I respect that. I may not like it, but at least their honest with me.

So, I packed up the kid into the car and went to get my film. Once I got it, I headed down to Penn Camera in Springfield, VA. (One of the Penn Camera's that can process 120 in-store..) Being as I have worked at that store, I knew the lab tech, Stanley, who got the film processed for me in about 15 minutes. No flare! Woohoo! That made my day. I'm not going to have any huge problems!

No Flare!!

So, Brian is happy. This past weekend a few of us from the Large Format Photography Forum ( gathered at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens National Park in Washington, DC to do some LF photography. (I guess you could call 6x17 medium format, but I find that you can get two different answers on that from two different people..) My aunt also came to the Gardens with her Hasselblad and digital camera to have some fun. I always find that shooting in a group really helps inspire me. I do enjoy shooting on my own, too, but I love being out with other likeminded people. I really enjoyed meeting Bill and Scott from the forum. More people were supposed to show, but stuff happens.

I did learn some valuable lessons from this weekend's photo gathering.

1: Velvia is as contrasty, if not more, than what people say it is. Shoot it in relatively dull light and it will work wonders. Shoot it in contrasty light and you get a super contrasty image with super saturated colors. I do like this effect on certain things, but not most.

2: I need to pay more attention to bellows draw. I got my shots back and for a while actually thought that my shutter might be misfiring at different speeds. When I looked at the shots and really thought about what could be wrong - other than actual gear malfunctions - I realized I did not account for bellows draw. That ruined a few of my favorite shots. Oh well, that falls under the live and learn. At least I got a few shots I really like out of the deal. One is at the top and two more are here.

Thanks for tuning in! I'll keep you all up to date on my endavours with the new format.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Panoramic Back

Well, tomorrow I should be getting my new 6x17cm panoramic roll film back for my 4x5in camera. It extends out the back to give the film the extra coverage over the 5 inches of the main camera back. Anyways, I have some film I'm going to run through this bad boy to make sure there are no light leaks and once that is done, expect a flood of images. I love the panoramic format and one of the problems with shooting them digitally is the issue of changing light and movement of cars/people. (If you're in a city, for example.) Now, as far as moving objects go, one could spend a lot of time in Photoshop making things right, but I'm not into all of that. When it comes to Photoshop, I use it to make color corrections and that kind of stuff. I have better stuff to do, like be out shooting. This back limits my panoramics in the sense that I can't do 360 degree images with it. I still have the ability to shoot the digital side of it, but anymore my focus is on film photography as I like the detail and color I get from big film scanned in. Well, I hope to be showing you all new shots from this system soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scanning Film Positives and Negatives

I know that I'm part of a dying breed of large format photographers. That said, there are still plenty of us out there, just not like it used to be. I jumped on this train late, but it was only after seeing my 4x5 first transparency (Slide for you 35mm types...). I picked it up, carefully of course, and held it up to the light. Wow. The clarity and detail was, to say the least, insane. I took a class on it and haven't really looked back since. Is that to say that I don't shoot digital? No. I believe certain formats give me certain benifits. Plus 4x5 isn't particularly cheap to operate.

More to the point, once I started shooting 4x5 I thought to myself, crap, how am I going to work with this? I don't have a darkroom at home to make prints off of. I'm also not particularly great with color printing in the darkroom - I reserve that for the digital darkroom. Well, one of the problems with trying to obtain scans of your 4x5 (Or larger) images is the fact that only a select few scanners will scan that large - with thee quality I require.

I chose the Epson 750M Pro flatbed scanner. It affords me a lot of latitude with chosing to scan normally or fluid mounting the film for drum scan-like clarity. On part I didn't think too much about was the scanning software itself. Scanning, I've found, is just as challenging, if not more, than taking the photo itself. I started off just using the Epson software, but just found it wasn't giving me what I wanted. I then started playing with the version of LaserSoft's SilverFast 6.4 that came with the scanner and got a whole lot better results. I was seeing some issues, though, so I went online to figure out how to do better. I found that upgrading to version 6.6 of the software made a heck of a difference.

Wow. A new version of the software and the scanner was producing results that I just couldn't believe. That makes me happy: I've bought a scanner that it's abilities are still being caught up to by the software. Amazing. My point of this post? Don't just settle when it comes to the softwre that comes with your scanner.

Do yourself a favor and download the version of SilverFast for your scanner. They develop the software for each particular scanner and the price is dependent on the scanner you own. Make sure you upgrade to the latest version. I'm not one to sit here and get people to buy buy buy, but this is just one of those cases. With SilverFast vs your scanners software there are a ton of different options. One of the best things for scanning negative film with SF is NegaFix. You just input your film type and speed (Sometimes format) and it will automatically figure out the proper settings for your scan. That said, play with it. Don't always use your particular film's settings. Try different films to get different effects. Another wonderful feature of SF is the Multi-Exposure setting. Because, just like a digital camera, your scanner only has so much range. What this feature does is it takes two scans of the image, one for the highlights/mids and one for the mids/shadow detail and combines them in the final scan so you have the full detail of your image.

This stuff can be tedious and time consuming. Especially when you have to make a second scan because for whatever reason you're not satisfied with. Use the right software and play with the scanning settings and find that you can have a better scanned image than you could have imagined with the stock software!

Friday, July 4, 2008


Hello, I'd like to welcome everyone to my new photography blog. My name is Brian Akerson and I am both a fine art shooter and a sports photographer. I enjoy shooting in both film and digital formats. For digital, I shoot with Nikon gear. For film, I shoot with 4x5 gear, including a Horseman Woodman field camera and a Cambo SC rail camera for the studio. I will get into my gear, and gear in general, in a later blog entry.

I guess I'm jumping on the blog bandwagon a little late, but better late than never. In my blog I intend on posting my experiences, my opinions and information on how to shoot and/or edit photos. I hope you enjoy this and please visit my websites.