Magazine Article


Kirkland & Canon

Some of the insights Douglas offers for getting the most out of the Canon 10D include:

"Don't totally judge exposure from what you see at the back of the screen unless you look at the histogram. You can make a mistake by looking at the image and thinking it's too bright or too dark, depending on where you are. Especially if you're indoors, your camera can get quite a bright image. You can go a half stop smaller, go to your computer and see the image is actually too dark. So, don't totally be led in terms of lightness or darkness by the image on the back."

Kirkland recommends using the Delkin 640 Memory Card (it's exactly the same size as a CD, so you can write the entire contents of one card onto one CD). "I believe in putting everything on that 640 onto a CD. I use JPEG myself, and I put it onto that card and I keep it. That's what I consider my virginal files. I'll later open them, use them and make them into TIFs of Photoshop files (PSDs). I always keep the original that comes from the camera on a disk and have that as my fallback. It's like your original negatives or transparencies. Keep one set untouched, and keep them on a CD. I'm a firm believer in that because it's not uncommon for people to go out and shoot, think they don't need certain shots, throw them away and then later say 'Gee, I had the perfect shot of this. I wish I hadn't destroyed it.' And CDs are so inexpensive, for 50 cents to a dollar, you can keep 100 or so images on one disk."

Douglas can't stress enough how critical it is to learn Photoshop. It opened new avenues of expression for him years ago, and therein lies the beauty of it. "I was drawn to it. I can't say I was clever and knew this is the way it was going to go, it just piqued my curiosity. I find new areas of photography that allow you new ways of doing things very exciting and stimulating."

"The D10 is, no doubt, fantastic," Kirkland notes, "But, anyone who's never used a digital camera before will get the fullest benefits of it if they become truly familiar with Photoshop, because that's the second half of the equation. The camera's great; then you add the power of what you can do with the computer - cropping, dodging, burning, altering color, contrast, everything. Photography has come to a whole new level at that point, and the camera is certainly, clearly, an important part of that. Anybody who hasn't gotten into Photoshop or learned about it is making a mistake if they intend to be around very long because this technology is here to stay, and it's very important."

Reminiscing, Douglas Kirkland feels he was very lucky, as a young photographer, to have had endless amounts of film and processing available to him. "I've concluded, over time, that the way a photographer becomes a better photographer is to shoot, shoot, shoot. Nothing else quite equals that. Once you shoot all day, every day, large volumes of material and evaluate that, you really improve because you're learning. There's no question of that. If you're buying film and paying for processing as an individual, it's exceedingly difficult to do. One of the beauties of this digital technology is that you have that capability. It's like you have a big brother paying for everything because it doesn't cost anything with a digital camera. Then you put your images into the computer, evaluate them, blow them up, and make prints if you want. In essence, now you can do the same thing I was able to do at Look, and later at Life, and that is shoot, shoot, shoot and...

So much of our creative voices have to come from within, and we, ourselves, are the only ones who can orchestrate them. But that is the art, and craft can be learned. Douglas suggests that it's a question of observing what's there and saying, 'What can I do with this?'

Whether you're shooting digitally or traditional film, the priority is the final image. The fact that digital allows you to shoot more images, more affordably than ever before, should in no way minimize the value of any one image.

"A weakness for some people," Kirkland echoes, "Is that they tend not to have the same respect for the image that we did when we had to pay for the film and processing. Today, you can shoot it like a video camera, shoot everything; we'll figure it out later. But it's better, in my opinion, if you really work, really think and don't just shoot wildly. You should have a purpose. The digital camera can seem so inexpensive that you don't care, but you should still care about your individual images because good photography will always remain the same. Just because it doesn't cost you much to take a picture doesn't mean the picture is worth less. Photography and the images will always be the ultimate goal. You have to get good images. If you got a good image using film, that's fine. And if you got a good image using digital, that's fine, also."

Digital can change all that. "The possibility of seeing has increased with digital," Kirkland contends. "If you take your time, take the picture and then stop for a minute, you can really look at the picture and ask yourself 'Is this the best it can be?' You're able to see it right on the spot, so you can really evaluate and improve it right on the spot. That's an enormous advantage of all-digital and it works especially well with the 10D because it's light. You can have it with you and it gives a greater flexibility, it makes the whole process more fluid. That's part of the beauty of it."

"The important point," he concludes, "Is that, ultimately, a camera is a device. It allows you to make a good image or a bad image if you don't use it properly. But good photography will always remain the same. The 10D just makes it easier to do good photography if you bring that reverence for each image to it."

Douglas Kirkland is a member of Canon's Explorers of Light program, a group of 65 elite photographers banding together in their love and passion for photographic excellence. The Explorers of Light give back to the industry with a willingness to share their vision with others through lectures and feedback on equipment. The program recognizes certain photographers and gives them access to the latest equipment and technical expertise. In turn, Canon asks them for constant evaluation (what works, what doesn't, why, or why not) which all feeds back into the product. This has likely contributed to the products being as good as they are. Douglas Kirkland, who started out using Canon back in the 50s, returned to the brand about ten years ago. "The quality of the camera has exceeded what we ever expected. It works for me, better than anything I've used in my entire career."