COBA, Digital Vision, Journal, Photography

COBA and DVF

Wednesday was a double dose of presentations. As is becoming customary, I went to the Digital Vision Fellowship Seminar series in the afternoon at Stanford’s Cordura Hall. The speaker this week was Iqbal Z. Quadir, fellow at the Harvard’s Center for Business and Government and at the Center for Business Innovation at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

Quadir spent most of 1990s founding and building GrameenPhone Ltd., which has now become Bangladesh’s largest telephone company, with revenues of $150 million in 2002. His childhood exposure to the conditions in rural Bangladesh combined with his later venture capital experience in New York led Quadir to recognize that the ensuing digital revolution could facilitate the introduction of telephony to 100 million people living in rural Bangladesh. In 1994, he formally launched this effort by convincing angel investors to establish a New York-based company, Gonofone (meaning “People’s Phone”) to help him organize what subsequently became known as GrameenPhone.

Because the DVF Program brings together people from different backgrounds — technology, business, finance, marketing, and journalism — a melting pot is created in which ideas and collaboration fosters. This environment is different from the one you would typically find in the corporate world. There, politics and egos often clash to the point where there’s nothing left in the pot after all the jostling!

Following the talk by Quadir, we had a spirited discussion over a catered dinner from Jing Jing, the self-described “hottest place in town.” Bringing technology to developing countries is not simply a matter of drop shipping tech to the local port. Government red tape, skepticism of foreign aid and the fear of new technology are hurdles that must be overcome. Creating the proper coalitions and working the right connections can go a long way to towards helping your project get off the ground and putting it in a position to succeed. If you don’t do those things, you’ll likely be spinning your wheels for a very long time.

COBA

I went from participant to organizer after I left the DVF Seminar to go to SLAC for the first Camera Owners of the Bay Area (COBA) meeting of 2003. The speakers for the evening were Uwe and Bettina Steinmueller. They run Digital Outback Photo, a popular web site for digital fine art photography (digital SLR reviews, tips, techniques, fine art printmaking and digital workflow).

Steinmueller gave a presentation on he and his wife’s journey towards and in digital photography. His background was in film photography, but in 1999, they were introduced to digital photography in the form of the Nikon CoolPix 950. The immediacy of feedback was a big turning point in their minds, though the quality wasn’t there until the release of the Nikon D1. It was at that point when they made the complete switch to digital, and they haven’t looked back.

Here are my unorganized notes from the COBA Meeting, taken using my Newton MessagePad 2100.

  • Uwe and Bettina Steinmueller
  • Fine Art Outdoor photography using Digital SLR’s
  • Photographing 30 years together
  • Exhibition at the Galleryhouse In Palo Alto
  • Share a joint copyright
  • The image counts, not who framed it
  • Colors By Nature & outbackphoto.com
  • 1.5 Million Visitors
  • Digital SLR’s & MF backs
  • Large Format Printing
  • Workflow booklets & techniques
  • Readers are more interested in technical issues.
  • Digital Outback Fine Art Photography Handbook
  • 100 pages of content, though 1/2 year old
  • Their journey to digital
  • Showed a photo from 1973-1981, scanned and prints on Epson 7500 better than ever.
  • Magic of Kodachrome
  • Film has character
  • not really truthful (matters less)
  • A love for B&W
  • requires a different thinking than for color.
  • 1981-1999: A long void
  • Darkroom issues
  • Nikon Coolpix 950
  • Showed them that digital is real.
  • Went to the digital darkroom
  • a friend had a 950 and they got one soon thereafter
  • Revitalize the F2
  • Scanning with an LS2000
  • lazy and older eyes
  • Got a F100
  • New lenses
  • Ne More Kodachrome
  • Fuji Provia F
  • Scanning not too much fun
  • 10-20 film rolls
  • The CoolPix Virus feedback feedback feedback
  • 3/2000: nikon D1, the brick
  • Got more than We expected
  • Wanted More than 2.7MP
  • We wanted to get the best out of digital
  • The Film is better discussion
  • RAW
  • Early RAW file adopters
  • Improvements to RAW Convertors over time
  • If they open their formats, that would be helpful
  • Dust, Dust, Dust
  • The dust shock
  • The cleaning shock
  • Minimize dust intrusion using zoom lenses
  • Getting good with Adobe Photoshop’s healing brush and clone tool
  • Birds
  • Birds adopted us
  • 400mm DO is his size limit
  • longer glass incentive
  • 1.5 multiplier, wide angle dilemma
  • Outback Photo
  • August 2000
  • They wanted to be there when the Market exploded
  • Came up with the name while talking to 2 Australians at the airport (or hotel?)
  • Digital Photography is Photography
  • The final image counts
  • Don’t just count the pixels
  • A lot to learn, photoshop, RAW Workflow, etc.
  • Canon D30
  • First CMOS digital slr under $3000
  • Good lenses/zooms
  • Nothing like a too good lens
  • Sharpness, colors/contrast
  • Zooms are better today, dust issues
  • Moved to the D1X
  • Funky sensor design
  • Better in reality than in theory
  • Need for better RAW Converters
  • Open Your Eyes (2001 & 2002)
  • Mono Lake grass shot
  • objective and subjective white balance
  • Printing on lightjet
  • Galen rowell story
  • Calypso
  • Epson 2000P
  • Archival prints
  • Print on watercolor
  • The print is the goal
  • Color management
  • Complicated, but necessary
  • Profile your monitor
  • Use good printer profiles
  • Villa Filoli
  • Canon 1D
  • RAW is all you need, works today with Capture One Software
  • Epson 7500
  • Printing larger, 20×30
  • Limits of digital slr resolution
  • digital slr’s are not 4×5
  • it’s not a 7600 though
  • Silicon Valley Open Studios 2002
  • Matting & framing make a difference
  • Their first show in Silicon Valley
  • Joined the Galleryhouse in June 2002
  • helps with marketing of their work
  • Main show coming in May, 2003
  • Canon D60, D1OO, s2
  • $2000 6MP
  • Like photographing in the Eastern Sierras
  • Met Galen Rowell in 2001
  • http://www.colors-by-nature.com
  • A motto for our color photography
  • 2 cameras, 2 tripods
  • B&W
  • 7600, 2200 black and white printing good, 9600
  • Imageprint RIP & Piezography
  • Photographers & Printmakers
  • Only if both match, you will get a god result
  • Canon 1DS
  • Main camera with Nikon
  • Beyond film resolution
  • A challenge for the lenses
  • Visible chromatic aberration
  • Photoshop filters can it.
  • buried in film noise in film
  • Phase One: Cupture One DSLR Software
  • RAW Conversion makes fun
  • digital workflow taken seriously
  • Adobe RAW plugin
  • earthframe.com
  • Abstract paintings by nature and earth, framed by them

Concluding Thoughts

I found it interesting to compare Steinmueller and Quadir’s decision to drop what they were doing (tech and banking) to follow their passions. Whenever we hear of someone who’s made such a decision, it’s hard not to ask, “Well, can they make a living out of it?” The answer that I’ve come to believe is that if you’re truly passionate about something, you don’t worry about the money — it will come (money being defined simply as the means to sustain one’s style of living, be it extravagant or frugal).

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