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Friday, June 15, 2007

Bob O'Connor - Echoes

A young professional who was raised in the digital age prefers film and available light when he's behind a camera and goes high-tech in post

The Digital Connection

“Images are retouched to some extent,” O'Connor says, “but I make an effort to represent what was there rather than to totally re-create something in Photoshop. It's all based off of one sheet of film and then selectively saturating, desaturating, burning, dodging—kind of taking what I could do in the darkroom one step further with contrast and color corrections. I like to get it roughly correct in-camera because it saves a lot of time on the other end. To do a little bit of work up front saves me a lot of time color-correcting in the end. Stuff that you could obviously never do in the darkroom, especially selectively color-correcting certain parts, I can't live without anymore.

“I've had some work in shows this year,” continues O'Connor. “It's all been inkjet prints. I'm totally fine with inkjet prints; I think they look great. They can look just as good as a C-print. I have nothing bad to say about inkjet prints. I'm totally fine with them in a gallery way, and my portfolios are inkjet prints.”

With no pressure from clients to capture digitally and no dissatisfaction with the quality of his scans, O'Connor would be content to grow old shooting film. The problem is that most other professionals don't feel the same way, so the necessary resources are becoming scarce.

“I've never thought that I won't be able to get film,” he says. “I do feel like I won't be able to get Polaroid at some point in the future, but I don't think film will ever go away. That said, I do feel that my days shooting 4x5 film are numbered. Boston is a small town and the photo labs are closing here, so just getting the film processed in a timely manner is a problem. I never thought the reason I shoot digital could be that I can't get the film processed. It's looking more and more like some of the commercial work is going to have to be shot digital because of the lab end of things, not necessarily because I want to shoot digital.”

Adds O'Connor, “I really do need to spend some time this year shooting digital and figuring out how my work can translate into that—at least get used to how I get my work to look the same way when shooting with a different camera. Because it's going to happen eventually.”

Bob's Equipment

Cameras, Lenses, Strobes & Film
Toyo Field 45AX camera
Pentax 67II camera
Dyna-Lite strobes (“When I have to.”)
Kodak Portra 400NC film

Lenses range from wide to normal for both cameras. (“I'm probably shooting with something slightly wide most of the time. I never use long lenses.”)

To see more of Bob O'Connor's photography, visit www.boboconnor.net.



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