Editor's Notes

Editor's Notes

Process and technique are tied together. If you take the time to do something from beginning to end you often realize what it takes to do it right. Practice makes perfect. Those clichés apply as much to photography as any other art or craft, and describe what more and more photographers are engaged in these days. If you develop and print your own film you learn more about exposure than you can from any book, if only in the fact that messing up when you press the shutter means you have to do so much more work later to get a decent print. If you scan too flat or with too much contrast, and at too low a resolution, you will have a devil of a time making a print that resembles anything you would be proud of placing in a frame on the wall. In short, when you have to take all the aspects of your photography in hand you become a better photographer and get better results--all the way down the line.

Those who have studied the Zone System know about "previsualization." It's a fairly important aspect of the system in that you "pre-see" what the print will look like when you make exposure settings and develop your film. It's placing the tones and values on a scale that enhances your vision through the subject at hand. Those tackling digital imaging have yet to see a Zone System approach (though we hear rumors that Zakia, Brown, McCartney, and company are hard at work on such a tome) but digital requires it owns previsualization of sorts--making sure exposure settings, resolution, and image attributes are set before the exposure is made to ensure that what hits the memory card will be, if not a joy, at least not a struggle to get right later for a print or screen image.

All of this brings us to this issue of Shutterbug, where we tackle some of the process issues that make photography such an engaging endeavor. In her story on fine printing, for example, Frances Schultz gives us an insider's look at many of the aspects that go into getting great prints. As you'll see, it's not just about burning and dodging, but goes all the way back to how you read light and develop your film. And Cris Daniels and David Brooks weigh in on the digital side of the equation, with Cris looking at a system for calibration--the devil in the details side of digital--and David reporting on another route to getting it right with the new Epson scanner.

Another aspect of process is what some call alternative, or personal imaging--using less than high-tech approaches to making images. Our story on handcoloring by Frances Schultz shows that you can marry an old form of the craft with today's modern materials and techniques.

This seemingly odd mix of articles is just our way of saying that when it comes to the photographic processes there are many, many ways to get from previsualization to a final image. Today, with the addition of digital, we have yet another option on our creative paths.

Speaking of digital, we recently attended the Olympus press meeting about their new digital SLR camera. See our First Look in this issue. And we're getting ready to hear more about the Pentax entry into this field. We're eager to get our hands on this new gear if only to see how that aspect of photography will change--once again--and how it will affect how we can further our involvement with the photographic process. We'll be working on complete reports on this new gear as soon as we can get our hands around the new cameras.

On a final note, as we go to press for this issue we are putting the final touches on our annual Shutterbug Buyer's Guide. This comprehensive report is a complete issue that covers the range of products today, and includes everything from lighting to medium format to digital SLRs. Look for a copy on your newsstand soon.