Image Making is a Health Hazard

Image making, whether digital or analog, can be a health hazard. Take some steps to protect yourself.
“I note the passing recently of Yousuf Karsh in a Boston hospital,
which only goes to reinforce a theory I have held for some years now,
that  photography is injurious to your health….. nay not only
injurious, but in fact it will kill you. Examine the facts. 
Ansell Adams – dead. Horst P Horst – dead. Robert Mappelthorpe – dead.
Diane Arbus – no longer with us. Julia Margaret Cameron –
deceased.  … the list just goes on and on. It used to worry me,
but now I just go with the flow. We’ve all gotta go somehow, so why not
with a camera to your eye or a hand in a tray of fixer?
Incidentally….Karsh was only 93 when the dark spectre of photography
caught up with him.”. So says Jeff Moorfoot, in a recent Free Radical
newsletter.

Whilst the above quote is meant in a humorous light, it does raise the
interesting question, is photography, and digital image making,  a
health hazard for us and/or the environment? In this article, we’ll
look at this and discover that it is becoming a far more complex
question to answer than it once was.

Issues

There are basically two key areas we need to examine:

*    Personal health and safety aspects of being a photographer or related professional, and;

*    Effects on the environment of our activities.

Both these questions are greatly complicated by the fact that
photography is rapidly evolving from a chemical-based industry at the
point of use (film, processing, printing) to an electronic one
(cameras, computers, digital printing) that is chemical based only at
the point of manufacture. So to cover the topic fully we need to
examine both the personal and environmental issues for both traditional
photographic processes and digital ones.

The general perception is that, as we all know, traditional
photographic processes have many issues due to the chemicals used in
processing, but that digital is clean. As we shall see, this is far
from true.

Health & Safety

With conventional photographic processes almost all of the health and
safety issues relate only to those involved in the production and
processing of film and paper. Therefore, professionals who get all this
work done at a pro lab are safe.

For people running a processing facility, whether of commercial scale
or a small creative facility within a studio, the issues boil down to
three things:

*    Maintaining air purity

*    Avoiding physical contact with chemical

*    Appropriate disposal of waste chemicals

Because chemical photographic processes have been around for so long,
and the possible health effects of them and the related photographic
procedures are well know, there is excellent documentation and
management of just what should be done. PURE (Photographic Uniform
Regulations for the Environment) is a division of The Photographic and
Imaging Council of Australia (PICA). Their code of practice for liquid
waste management, for example, spells out the basic requirements:

*    Keep a site log book

*    Get a trade waste agreement/approval/permit or exemption

*    Use the PURE data sheets

*    Operate film or paper processors according to specifications

*    Operate a silver recovery unit

*    Test silver recover at least quarterly

The major chemicals that a photographer could meet in a processing environment that are of concern are:

*    Ammonia (respiratory irritation)

*    Thiosulfate (allergic reactions)

*    Hydroquinone (skin dermatitis and eye problems)

*    Formaldehyde (respiratory irritation, allergic reactions, cancer)

Photographers are far less likely today than previously to run any
in-house film or paper processing. Those that intend to should contact
PURE or go to the PICA website at http://www.photoimaging.com.au/. One
area of possible significant concern is the rise among fine art
photographers in the resurgence of traditional, pre-silver halide,
photographic processes, like cyanotypes and gum bi-chromates. These can
often involve significant amounts of heavy metals and other relatively
poisonous substances. All the books that I have used for such processes
seem to do a good job of spelling out the dangers in these processes.
The advice in the books should be followed carefully. Indeed, fine art
photographic work is most likely to put a photographer in direct
contact with chemicals these days due to the use of tray processing.
Sensible precautions, like rubber gloves, using print tongs and
extremely good ventilation will usually do the trick.

Digital photographic techniques create an environment in which the
photographer is far less likely to come into contact with harmful
chemicals. So is digital completely safe and benign? The answer is
definitely no. Apart from the environmental issues to be discussed
later, there are health and safety issues for photographers.

Computer equipment uses a lot of plastic. Many plastics are
manufactured using formaldehyde, a major respiratory irritant. These
continue to outgas for some time after manufacture. We have probably
all noticed strong smells associated with plastic items soon after they
are removed from their packaging. Since it is not uncommon for
photographers to surround themselves with such equipment, often in
small and poorly ventilated spaces due to covered windows for better
color judgment, we may be exposing ourselves to higher levels than
necessary. Sure, the individual effect on your health from that new PC
may be small, but we are concerned with cumulative exposure over your
working life. Indeed, the new car smell you get when you buy your new
Porsche or Range Rover (don’t all professional photographers have
those) is also caused by this out gassing. Hence the recommendations in
some new car manuals that you drive with windows down for several weeks
after purchase.

Ergonomics is probably the largest widely accepted health risk
associated with computer technology. The key issues here are posture
while using a computer and the repetitive nature and limited movement
range of most of our activities while at a computer. Broadly, the key
things to get right are:

*    Get a really good, ergonomic chair that has arm rests

*    Adjust the height of the chair so that the
circulation to the back of your legs is not being limited by pressure
from the edge of the seat

*    Adjust the seat back to give good lumbar support

*    Adjust the keyboard and mouse height so that there
is a greater than 90 degree angle between your upper and lower arms. In
other words your wrists and hands should be lower than your elbow

*    Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the
screen is at or slightly below eye level. This puts the centre of the
screen at a natural slightly downward look

*    Take lots of breaks

*    Do some stretching and use a stress release ball to work the finger muscles.

If you need them, get glasses. Many people find it useful to have their
optometrist make up a pair of glasses specifically for computer use.
Contact lens users need to remember to blink more, as there is a
tendency to blink less when staring at a computer screen. This dries
out the eyes and can cause increased irritation. I would also be
cautious of the extreme tendency to put computers in very dark, grey or
black painted rooms, in the quest for better color accuracy. Sure,subdued lighting helps, as does neutral surroundings, but don’t overdo
it. I have found that too extreme contrast between a bright screen and
very dark surroundings causes eye stress.

Less definite health and safety concerns around computer equipment
exist regarding radio frequency radiation emitted by the equipment. I
would presume that most of you have been following the debate about
mobile or cell phone safety. Whilst still in the early days, there
appears to be enough new solid and independent research coming out
suggesting the possibility of health issues as to advocate the use of
hands free devices where possible. What is almost never discussed is
that wireless networking products, that allow you to connect computers
over some distance within a studio without wires, could have similar
effects, and possibly worse because of the continuous exposure over
long periods of time, even if the actual power levels may be lower. The
other radiation concern involves computer monitors. All now on sale in
most countries have good shielding in place for the user. However, be
wary of situations where a person is located behind or to the side of
someone else’s monitor.

Remember that we are all facing a lifetime of use of, and exposure to,
digital technology. Even very small effects can accumulate over a whole
lifetime. Sure we have all learned, after asbestos, cigarette smoking
and Mad Cow Disease, among a whole list of others, that there can be a
significant difference between what scientists and public health
officials say, and reality. A process of sensible limitation of how
much we expose ourselves to new technologies could be in our long-term
health interests. I am not advocating a Luddite approach, but rather a
sensible caution to things that we will be exposed to all our working
(at least) lives and for which long-term experience is not yet
available.

Environmental Effects

The environmental effects of conventional photographic processing
appear to be well understood. Small quantities of photographic
chemicals, such as produced by home tray processing, seem to be well
handled by the sewerage system. Thus, permits are usually not required
at that level. For commercial scale operations there are a number of
requirements which vary depending on the local government concerned.
Most require permits, silver recovery to reduce the amount of
discharged silver to minute quantities and appropriately operated and
maintained processing equipment whose output is either collected and
disposed of or flushed into the sewerage through any necessary
balancing tanks (to correct Ph levels). The PURE group of PICA can
advise any photographers wanting  to install new processing
facilities in-house, as can the AIPP and ACMP, or ask a photographer
with an existing installation similar to the one you want to install. I
suspect few photographers will be installing new processing labs in
studios.

The photographic industry as a whole has been making significant
efforts to reduce any use of problematic chemicals, and to also reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and water usage at its manufacturing
facilities, at least in the first world. Of course, one does need to be
careful that manufacturing environmental issues are not just
transferred to the second and third world.

That brings us to the mass of computer equipment, printers, batteries
and such that we use. There are two issues here: manufacture and
disposal. The computer industry is hardly clean at the manufacturing
stage. Semiconductor chip manufacturing uses large amounts of water and
significant amounts of highly dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals,
like organic solvents. Various problems with contaminated ground water
and high cancer rates may be a consequence of chip making activities.
Even the assembly of computers and peripherals is not very clean, with
plastics being manufactured and the use of wave soldering systems using
lead-based solders. None of these things directly affects our
environment here in Australia because of the lack of any real
semiconductor industry here and the fact that most computer assembly
uses major components manufactured elsewhere.

The big, burning topics at the moment are end of life cycle and
recycling, and removing hazardous chemicals from their construction.

As usual, Europe is way ahead of everyone with regard to this. Spurred
on by pending legislation in several member countries that could affect
the Single Market, the EU has developed a policy on waste from
electrical and electronic equipment (WEE). This directive comes into
force on 1st of January 2007 and requires the substitution of mercury,
lead, hexavalent chromium, cadmium and polybrominated biphenyls and
polybrominated diphenyl ethers brominated flame retarders. As a
consequence of this WEE Directive individual member countries have been
examining this issue and producing their own directives, such as the
ROHS Directive from the British Dept. of Trade and Industry. It is
likely that the impact of the EU adoption of this WEE Directive will
result in the effective elimination of these chemicals in new computer
equipment in Australia, since very little is manufactured purely for
the Australian market. Internationally manufacturers are moving to
modify their production processes to meet the EU requirements. The
major one for computers is the removal of lead, which is used in the
solder that connects components on circuit boards together.

Where most countries will have to legislate to gain any benefit is in
the area of computer recycling and end of lifecycle destruction. In the
just released Fourth Annual Computer Report Card, prepared by Silicon
Valley Toxics Coalition, they report companies of double standards,
being good corporate citizens in Europe where they are forced to by
legislation and doing little where there are no laws to force them. In
Japan and Europe, most computer and related companies have product
return policies, where an item is returned to the manufacturer at the
end of its useful life. The new WEE Directive prohibits the companies
from dumping in landfills and from exporting the waste computers to
third world countries. Yet in the U.S., where there is no such
restriction, between 50 and 80% of electronic waste meant for recycling
is exported to the third world. There, disposal and recycling methods
are causing massive environmental and health damage. Australia
currently has a Computer & Peripherals Material Project pilot
program underway but at this stage, there is no compulsion by
legislation. Amanda Myers, Policy Officer in the Industry Partnership
Branch of Environment Australia (EA) said that the response from
computer companies in Australia has been “very, very slow”. At the end
of 1999 the computer industry was to provide details to EA on take
back, recycling, etc. Three industry bodies were to respond. Two failed
to and the other submission was rejected. Ms. Myers commented that
legislation is being looked at as one option. She commented that while
some computer companies are making efforts, most seem guilty of double
standards, in that in their home countries, due to tough legislation
they behave well, but have failed to show any initiative where not
compelled to.

Conclusions

Despite the gloomy prognostications that opened this article,
photography does appear to be becoming a safer profession. Its
environmental impact however, can be just as serious, if
not more so,
as we transition from a chemical-based to an electronic-based industry.
As always, personal responsibility and demanding corporate
responsibility from our suppliers, will keep us all safer.

Note: whilst every effort has been made in the preparation
of this
article, the author and publishers can not be held accountable for the
advice given. Please seek appropriate advice about your own work
environment.

 Item  Chemicals Present  Disposal Method
 Batteries  Heavy metals esp. Cadmium in Rechargeable Ni-Cd’s and Lead in lead-acid  Collect for industrial waste disposal
 Computers and electronic equipment  Lead (in solder), other heavy and trace metals, plastics  Recycle by return to manufacturer or special recycling

 Plastics  Formaldehyde (may be out gassed) Recycle
 Digital papers  No major known issues  Paper recycle
 Digital inks for inkjets  No known issues Rubbish collection
 Toner for laser printers  No known issues  Recycle (toner refillers)
 Film  No known issues  Rubbish collection
 Photographic chemicals  Formaldehyde, thiosulphates, ammonia, hydroquinone, silver and others Industrial waste agreement, collection or sewer (with treatment), Silver recycling 

Issues in Digital Camera Design

In this interview we talk to several people with a deep knowledge of digital camera design. While the interview is now two years old, the information in it is still highly relevant.
As professional photography moves from being predominantly film based
to predominantly digital, many of us are struggling to come to terms
with the key issues of digital sensors. For those of us raised on film
densitometry curves and Ansel Adams’ ‘The Negative’ there is a whole
new world out there and many of the parameters we took for granted have
changed radically.

When you move from an emulsion to a silicon chip sensor, whether CCD or
CMOS, things change. Major issues with film, like reciprocity failure,
do not exist with digital.

CCD sensors come in two major design types, Full frame and Interline.
Full frame CCDs attempt to use as much of the chip surface as possible
for the pixels (more correctly called pels, or picture elements).
Interline CCDs don’t use as much area for sensing because they use some
of the surface area to rapidly transport the picture data from the
CCDs. Thus, Interline CCDs are great for speed imaging situations, like
video or high frame rate sports photography, whilst Full frame CCDs
have greater sensitivity. Full frame CCDs, as used in most professional
digitals, offer the largest inherent imaging area as a proportion of
the chip size, thus they have the best sensitivity and lowest noise.
Certain CCD designs use a process technology called ITO, or Indium Tin
Oxide, which adds about a stop and a half of extra light sensitivity,
but around two stops in the blue channel, where CCDs are least
sensitive. ITO is used on the Kodak CCDs in their pro backs. The
general lower sensitivity of silicon sensors in the blue usually
manifests as greater noise in that channel, because the signal (and its
noise), have to be boosted more to maintain colour balance. This is the
reason many digital camera images benefit from having a Gaussian Blur
applied to the Blue channel only.

CMOS sensors, as used in the Canon D60 and the Foveon design, has less
of the chip area devoted to the light sensitive components, hence their
sensitivity is inherently lower. Because of this, CMOS pixels have a
lens built into the chip surface. This lens can cause reduced light
intensity around the edge of the chip with normal lens designs. It
manifests as greater noise around the outer edge of the chip. However,
CMOS offers other major advantages, like lower power consumption, lower
cost and greater ease of integrating other camera functionality onto
the chip.

Digital image sensors, whether CCD or CMOS, are prone to what is called
thermal noise. As the temperature of the chip increases the pixels see
more ‘spurious’ light which shows up as noise. For the technically
inclined, when light hits the sensor it releases electrons, which are
collected in the pixel well. Heat also releases electrons into the
pixel well. Since one electron is the same as another, there is no way
to tell the difference between these ‘thermal’ electrons and ‘light’
ones. This noise is swamped in short exposures with plenty of light. As
I proved for myself in tests, digital cameras can produce more visible
noise the longer they have been switched on, and thus the hotter the
circuitry is. Also the hotter the ambient temperature is the more noise
too. So, if you are shooting longish exposures in the outback in
summer, keep your camera in a cooler between shots. Whilst I don’t
believe any 35mm-based digitals do it, some medium format digital
backs, like the Kodak ones, also capture a dark frame in exposures
longer than 1/4 second. A dark frame is a shot of the same length as
the imaging exposure but with the CCD covered, so that the only ‘light’
it sees is the spurious ‘dark current’ noise. On other cameras you can
naturally do this yourself using a lens cap and Photoshop. Some digital
backs for medium and large format cameras use active cooling to keep
the CCD cool, and thus reduce noise. This adds bulk and significantly
increases power drain, but works excellently. CCD cooling was developed
by the astrophotography guys to remove noise from their very long, i.e.
one hour, exposures. We used to do this with film too, but there to
improve the reciprocity characteristics.

One thing that is starting to become an issue with digital capture is
inherent sharpness. Some of the higher resolution sensors have pixel
sizes around that of the circle of confusion of common lenses. Those of
you who remember your optics (you all do don’t you?) will recall that
the circle of confusion defines the resolving power of the lens. Many
photographers working with cameras at this leading edge, such as David
Meldrum, report that they get much sharper images with certain lenses
than others. This will be an increasing issue as more cameras use such
sensors and as the resolution of sensors continue to rise. Then just as
with the finest resolution films, you will need to be very choosy about
which lenses you use to get the sharpest result.

So maybe film and digital are not so different after all.

To get an additional perspective, we interviewed Kenneth Boydston,
President of MegaVision, and Mike Collette, founder and president of
Better Light, Inc.

 

Wayne: CCD vs. CMOS – Are there any fundamental issues between these
that make you see one as superior to the other? Why? Now or in terms of
future development potential?

Ken: As an image sensor, nearly everything about CMOS is better than
CCD except one very big thing: Signal-to-noise ratio.  For an
equivalent signal, CMOS has always been noisier, which has limited its
use to lower end applications.    Because of the
numerous advantages of CMOS, silicon designers are motivated to drive
down the noise, and over the last few years have done so.  At the
same time, improvements have been made in CCD, though not as
much.  We are, therefore, seeing CMOS sensors increase their
market share, and begin to appear in increasingly high end
applications.  My guess is that this trend will continue.

Mike: There is no intrinsic advantage to either CCD or CMOS technology
in terms of image quality — equivalent light-sensing elements can be
made with either technology.  It is my understanding that CMOS
sensors are easier to fabricate, because they are made on the same
high-volume fab lines as most other integrated circuits.  CMOS
technology also facilitates the inclusion of additional circuitry on
the sensor silicon, which can reduce overall component count in a
digital camera.  Both of these advantages are important for
lower-cost, more compact digital cameras.  However, there is no
PERFORMANCE advantage for an image sensor fabricated with CMOS vs. an
image sensor fabricated with “CCD” (usually NMOS) technology; in fact,
many “CCD” image sensors produce notably better image quality than CMOS
image sensors, for several reasons.  Also, nearly all CMOS fab
lines have significant limitations on the size of each integrated
circuit that can be produced, which will in turn limit the size and
performance of any CMOS image sensors, too.  For the highest image
quality, “CCD” image sensors will continue to be superior to CMOS image
sensors, especially for larger-format and scanning digital cameras.

Wayne: Sensitivity vs feature size – as resolutions increase, pel size
drops, unless the sensor gets larger. This has an impact on ‘ISO’
sensitivity. Are there any developments pending that are likely to
impact on this?

Ken: If a large pixel and a small pix
el are alike in every other way,
the large pixel will have more signal, because it collects more photons
and has a larger well in which to store the photon generated electrons.
Since both the large pixel and the small pixel have the same amount of
noise (we said they were the same in eve
ry other way), the large pixel
has better signal to noise, and therefore wins the ISO prize. 
This, in general, is the case. But if the small pixel can be made with
lower noise, then the small pixel may win the ISO prize even though is
has less signal, because it is signal-to-noise ratio that controls
ISO.  Because a small hunk of silicon is much cheaper than a big
hunk of silicon, and because a small hunk of silicon means smaller,
cheaper cameras, silicon designers are motivated to drive down the
noise.  Small pixels today are better than big pixels were a few
years ago.  Making lower noise little pixels is similar to making
lower noise big pixels, so it is likely that large pixels will continue
to have better ISO than little pixels, but little pixels will get good
enough for an increasing number of applications.

Mike: Not likely.  Present-day image sensors can achieve a quantum
efficiency (QE) of over 60%, which means that these sensors are already
converting over 60% of the photons that strike them into electrical
signals.  The maximum possible  QE is 100%, which would
represent less than one f-stop of improvement in sensitivity over
today’s sensors.  Shot noise, which is a fundamental component of
the signals from these image sensors, cannot be mitigated or avoided by
any technology — it’s one of the “laws of physics” — only larger,
more light-sensitive pixels can truly improve the sensitivity of a
digital camera.  There is a sensor technology that could
dramatically increase the sensitivity of scanning digital cameras (by
more than three f-stops), but it’s not clear whether there is enough
market interest in these large-format devices to merit the development
cost of such a sensor.

Wayne: How does digital sensor design impact on the optical design of a
camera’s lenses? Are ‘digital’ lenses really any better in practice
than ‘film’ ones when used in a digital camera?

Ken: Of course, sensor size affects the size of the lens, and pixel
size affects the resolution required of the lens. The resolution
limitations of a typical 35 mm lens can be clearly seen as the pixel
size falls from, say, 12 microns to 6 microns. For single shot Bayer
pattern color sensors, the resolution limitation is not all bad, as
some optical resolution limitation is desirable to reduce color
aliasing (Wayne – this is the same effect as incorporating an
anti-aliasing filter, which really just introduces a small degree of
blur).

 

There is another consideration as well.  The surface of a sensor
is not uniformly sensitive to light.  In between pixels, there is
often area that is not sensitive at all.  Within the sensitive
area of the pixel, there are sometime areas that are not as sensitive
as other areas.  While full frame CCD sensors (such as are used in
some high-end backs and cameras) are nearly 100% sensitive and
uniformly so, all CMOS sensors are not and most CCD sensors are
not.  Because of this, a tiny micro-lens is often stuck on top of
each pixel to focus the light falling on the insensitive area
into  the sensitive area, which is usually near the middle of the
pixel. These little micro-lenses work best if the light is coming at
them perpendicular to the focal plane.  So light coming parallel
to the optical axis (telecentric) is best.  This is why wide angle
lenses don’t work so well with many digital cameras.  

Lens designers are therefore designing telecentric lenses.  Since
telecentric lenses require more elements, they use more glass and are
therefore more expensive.  This again motivates sensor designers
to make smaller sensors so that the lenses can be smaller, use less
glass,  and thus be cheaper.

Mike: Some smaller digital image sensors use micro-lenses over each
pixel to direct more of the incoming light into the active area of each
pixel (which, in these cases, is smaller than the spacing between
pixels, so there is some “dead area” around each pixel).  These
sensors may benefit from a telecentric lens design, where the light
rays striking the image sensor are more-or-less parallel to each other
(and therefore perpendicular to the image sensor surface over its
entire area).  Professional digital cameras typically use image
sensors that do not have micro-lenses, and therefore do not require
telecentric optics.  Most commercially-available “digital lenses”
are designed for larger-format cameras (with interchangeable lenses),
and these “digital” lenses may deliver improved performance under
certain test conditions.  However, in most real-world 
applications, there is little or no difference between the so-called
“digital” large-format lenses, and their “non-digital” (film?)
counterparts.  Our large-format scan backs make excellent lens
testing devices, and we have evaluated a number of (large-format)
“digital” and “non-digital” lenses this way.  In our testing to
date, we have obtained the best overall results with a “non-digital”
lens.

Wayne: What do you see as the likely developments in camera sensor design over the next 1, 2 and 5 years?

Ken: More of the same: better, faster, cheaper. Smaller pixels getting
better, so more pixels can be crammed onto the same hunk of silicon.
One thing not likely to change soon is the spectral sensitivity of
humans, so I don’t think pixels that image visible light will get a
whole lot smaller than 3 microns (Wayne – most current sensor designs
go down to around 8 or 9 microns, so there is still room to get
smaller).

Mike: Perhaps Foveon will get their interesting new color technology
working reliably.  Many smaller image sensors are already at the
practical limit of (small) pixel size, so it is unlikely that even
smaller pixels will be developed.  CMOS sensors may cram more
electronics onto the same silicon, but this probably won’t improve the
sensor performance (image quality) significantly, if at all.

Wayne: Will the Foveon development take over the world?

Ken: That depends on how well it works.  My experience with 100%
sampled color images vs. Bayer pattern color images is that it takes
about two Bayer pixels to equal one 100% sampled pixel.  Thus, all
else being equal, silicon hunkage could be halved.  But I don’t
know yet how close all else is to being equal. I imagine there are
significant challenges, not the least of which might be
signal-to-noise.  The property of silicon that Foveon is
exploiting to separate color has been well known for nearly as long as
silicon sensors have been around.  If it was easy to do, it would
have been done before. If they pull it off, it will be a laudable
achievement.

Mike: That may depend upon your definition of “the world”… 
Foveon currently has no intention of producing a sensor large enough to
be of interest to most professional photographers, so this small but
important segment of “the world” probably won’t be affected. 
Foveon is making a lot of noise about “true color at every pixel”, but
scanning digital cameras have enjoyed this advantage since their
introduction in 1994, delivering better image quality than Foveon could
hope to produce.  Even when Foveon gets their technology working
reliably, there are many aspects of the consumer digital camera
marketplace that do not involve technology, a
nd these “market forces”
may have more influence on Foveon’s eventual success than their patent
portfolio or PR efforts.

Special quote of Ken’s: ‘Of one thing I am pretty certain: An
micro-acre of silicon takes a better picture than an micro-acre of
silver, and the silicon k
eeps getting better.’

We would like to thank Ken Boydston, President of MegaVision, Mike
Collette, President of Better Light, Inc. and Jay Kelbley, Worldwide
Product Manager of Digital Capture for Kodak for providing information
for this article.

David Ho

David Ho is a digital artist who creates very painterly images using Poser.
I became aware of David Ho’s art work preparing our coverage of the
2001 International Digital Art Awards. Again, while judging the 2002
IDAA this time, his work jumped out at me and screamed for attention.
Dealing with the inner, esoteric and personal aspects of life, David’s
work lives up to his motto: “the duty of an artist lies in making the
metaphysical physical”.

David is an American, born in New Jersey. At a young age he moved to
Taipei, Taiwan and awas there before moving back to the US during his
early teens to Northern California, where he lives to this day. Doing a
sociology degree at Berkeley, after graduation he decided to become an
artist so did another undergraduate degree in Art History and Fine Arts
at San Jose State University. So the sociology degree, and probably the
psychology studies that were part of it, plus the fine art degree has
provided the melting pot from which David creates his art. He works as
a freelance illustrator and graphic designer.

David Ho has been creating these digital fantasies for the past 8 years
now. He creates them for one reason only – to quiet his demons. Making
art is a form of self-therapy for him. He works on the Power Mac
utilizing software like Photoshop, Poser and Bryce. Many of the
textures you see in his works are traditionally created and later
scanned into the computer from his flatbed scanner. His works have
appeared in numerous publications including the Society of Illustrators
annuals, Spectrum Annuals, Design Graphics Portfolio issue, Chicago
Tribune, MacWorld Expo digital gallery, Step-by-Step illustration
annual, Applied Arts illustration annuals and more.

David’s way of working is most interesting. David uses Curious Lab’s
Poser and Corel’s Bryce to create his scenes in 3D. The rendered images
are then taken into Photoshop. Here David drops all the colour out of
his images, by converting to monochrome and then back to colour. Here
he adds textures, which he often paints conventionally and scans on a
flatbed scanner. By working in monochrome at this stage it allows him
to concentrate on composition, texture and lighting without the
distraction of colour. Once David is happy with the result he then hand
paints in colour (so easy to do digitally by painting colour on a
separate layer and setting the blending mode appropriately), taking
care to only enhance the message of the image by the subtle use of
colour.


Learning More

For those interested in learning more about his work you can visit his web site at http://www.davidho.com/

David also has a book out of his work, Shadow Maker – the digital art of david ho.

This book is a MUST READ. In 192 pages there are over 100 full colour
illustrations that do a wonderful job of showing his work. Unusually
for a book by a digital artist, David provides a five page step-by-step
guide to how he creates his images. I say unusually because most
artists are pretentious and secretive about how they do their work.
David is a truly nice guy and it comes over in his book. You can learn
a lot from this book.

I would call this one of the must have books of the year. You can buy
it direct from David via his web site www.davidho.com and I notice it
can also be bought from amazon.com. Help an artist who does great work
and buy a copy.

Viewfinder Australia Photo Library

Viewfinder Australia offer Australian images in CD collections.
Viewfinder Australia is a dinky-die Aussie group of photographers up in
Queensland. They currently have about eight CD collections available.
Each has 104 images, both as high resolution JPEG and medium resolution
CMYK TIFF. Viewfinder’s images are large – 30MB+ in RGB and are priced
at a level significantly lower than other CD ROMs of royalty free
photos.

They have announced the release of their latest collection of
royalty-free Australian Images “AUSTRALIAN FAUNA” on CD ROM. Featuring
the work of leading wildlife photographers, this CD ROM
contains 104 high-resolution images of selected Australian animals and
birds, many of which are now endangered. As with all of Viewfinders CD
ROMs, this is an industry product, aimed squarely at publishers and
graphic designers who want to have “ready to publish” at the highest
level of quality. All pictures are drum scanned on Viewfinder’s own
drum scanners at their Gold Coast studios. Viewfinder’s Greg Crow says
that “although this CD is somewhat specialised in its content, we know
that many designers are always looking for typical Australian pictures
such as those of frogs, birds, koalas and kangaroos  and this CD
contains all of these as well as more obscure and lesser known
creatures.”


Australian Fauna (Vol 4 of “The Australian Collection”) is available
from Viewfinder Australia Photo Library’s website www.viewfinder.com.au
at a cost of A$380.

New filter system

New filter system from French maker Cokin suits both still and video, film and digital photography
French camera
filter specialist Cokin, has announced the release of the
new Cokin Z-PRO Filter Holder, suitable for both film and digital
cameras, in particular D-SLRs and video/broadcast cameras (including
the new HD format).

It is modular, it can be easily dismantled, and it’s set-up to be able
to accept filters of 1.6mm thickness (which most photographers use),
and 4.0mm thickness, used in the Broadcast segment in dimensions such
as 100x100mm (4″x4″) and 100x150mm (4″x6″).

The Z-PRO Filter Holder will fit a large variety of lenses thanks to a
range of adaptor rings covering the common lens diameters of 49mm up to
96mm. Additional rings designed for Hasselblad® B60/B70 and Rollei® are
also available.

The entire Z-PRO system is ideal for the latest generation of Digital SLR and Video cameras (HDV).

The Z-PRO range of filters is made of organic glass with a very high
optical transmission rating. It includes over 90 different filters
designed to satisfy the needs of professional photographers and
videographers. The range includes Correction/Conversion filters,
Graduated filters, filters for Black & White, Soft filters, Neutral
Density filters, etc.


Totally reversible Holder

To prevent the risk of vignetting (dark edges around the picture), the
Z-PRO series Filter Holder is fully reversible, which means that a
filter can fit in the adaptor ring’s slot and the adaptor ring can be
fit in the first filter slot. Therefore the filter can be positioned
very close to the lens and the edges of the holder are clear of the
field of view.


Eliminates vignetting over 20mm focal lengths

The Z-PRO filter-holder was tested (in the standard 3-slot version) and
created no vignetting on focal lengths down to 20mm (based on 35mm
format). This can be extended further in the wide-angle configurations.

 

The Z-PRO range also includes a storage wallet for 5 filters, and a
choice of two filter kits including widely-used graduating
filters. 

Australian pricing:

Z-PRO KITS

Pro Grad Kit: Filter holder, wallet, Z121L, Z123L and Z125L filters: RRP $225.00

Pro Grad ND Kit: Filter holder, wallet, Z121L, Z121M, Z121S, Z306  (ND2) (ND4) (ND8): RRP $275.00

For other countries please check your local distributor.

The Z-PRO COKIN System is totally compatible with following brand SYSTEMS:

LEE FILTERS®, TIFFEN® and SHNEIDER®.

Cokin Z

http://www.cokin.com/

Leica Digital-Modul-R Back to ship June 15th

Leica has announced the shipping date for the Digital-Modul-R back
Deliveries of the LEICA DIGITAL-MODUL-R will start on June 15th 2005.

The digital addition to the Leica R SLR range, developed in cooperation with Denmark’s Imacon A/S and Kodak’s sensor business Kodak ISS has now met the testing and acceptance conditions of Leica Camera AG and is now ready to market. ?The quality of the digital photographs taken with the LEICA DIGITAL-MODUL-R is even better than they expected, by reports. “Our customers had to wait longer than planned for the unique digital solution from Leica, but are now rewarded with an outstanding product”,? says Mario Thurnherr, Manager of Leica Camera’s Photo Division.

The back is the first and only (so far) digital back that is designed to fit on a 35mm format camera exclusively. Other manufacturers have taken the line that, since the sensor is usually the most expensive part of a digital camera, it is more cost effective to just have two camera bodies if you need to shoot both film and digital. Leica is marching to a different drum.

AgfaPhoto goes insolvent

The insolvency of AgfaPhoto has been announced.
AgfaPhoto has filed in Germany for insolvency. It is unclear at this time how it will affect operations worldwide.

Effective November 2, 2004, Agfa-Gevaert sold its consumer imaging business to a group of investors in a management buy out/in. Since then the consumer imaging business has been operated through a group of companies under the name of AgfaPhoto. The AgfaPhoto group is a private group of companies owned by management, NannO Beteiligungsholding and a small number of financial investors.

This sale followed on a fall of 18% of film in 2004 that tended to suggest ongoing cost problems for Agfa-Gevaert if they held onto this division. The sale has allowed Agfa-Gevaert to concentrate on its profitable operations, in areas like prepress.

Agfa-Gevaert provides AgfaPhoto group companies with distribution, order fulfillment, after sales and other services until the end of 2005.

In addition, at the time of the management buy out/in on November 2, 2004, Agfa-Gevaert granted a secured vendor loan for the full purchase price. Based on Agfa Gevaert’s audited financial statement, the purchase price was set at 112 million Euros, which is still subject to an audit of the closing financials by the purchaser. The vendor loan is fully secured by a lease portfolio held by AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH, the parent company of the AgfaPhoto group. AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH is not implicated in the insolvency filing of AgfaPhoto GmbH. Agfa-Gevaert therefore does not expect the insolvency filing by AgfaPhoto to have a material effect on Agfa-Gevaert.