Choose your own aper­ture

Pasatiempo - - Art In Review - Paul Wei­de­man The New Mex­i­can

can do, es­pe­cially the climbers and the surfers,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “Last De­cem­ber, I was trav­el­ing the whole month, but I had a shoot set up in Hawaii, and it just so hap­pened that the biggest wave in 40 years came while I was there. It was a con­test that’s held ev­ery four or five years, when­ever the waves are big enough. I’m not a surf pho­tog­ra­pher per se — ob­vi­ously, since I live in New Mex­ico — but that was the biggest big-wave surf­ing comp in the his­tory of the world, and I was there.”

A Santa Fe res­i­dent since 1996, Clark grew up in Madi­son, Wis­con­sin. His par­ents pointed him to­ward art school when they no­ticed that, as a very young child, he could “draw things pho­to­graph­i­cally. Pho­tog­ra­phy was just an­other thing I took. We didn’t even have pho­tog­ra­phy at my high school, but I asked one teacher who hap­pened to be a pho­tog­ra­pher, and he set up a dark­room for us.”

His first cam­era was the clas­sic Olym­pus OM-1 SLR, which he used to shoot foot­ball and bas­ket­ball games. His uni­ver­sity stud­ies and sub­se­quent em­ploy­ment in physics took him away from pho­tog­ra­phy — but only tem­po­rar­ily, un­til he got sick of physics.

His work in tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy ended seven years ago, when he made the switch to dig­i­tal. He now only rarely chooses to use a film cam­era. “I still do shoot with the Has­sel­blad once in a while,” he said. “There are some por­traits I do where I want a su­per-shal­low depth of field, and you can only do that with the big­ger-for­mat cam­era.”

Be­sides that, he doesn’t miss the film-ori­ented equip­ment and pro­cesses in the least — “ex­cept for the per­ma­nence of the film,” he said, “be­cause I have lost al­most an en­tire shoot through mul­ti­ple hard-drive fail­ures. Two hard drives failed, and one was cor­rupted within a 24-hour pe­riod. I don’t know what the chance of that is, but that [per­ma­nence] was film’s beauty.”

An­other big is­sue is the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of im­ages stored on com­pact discs. Clark keeps all of his photo files on four sep­a­rate hard drives. “I work closely with Adobe on their soft­ware,” he said. “I used to be a physi­cist, so that’s why I’m into the gear and the dig­i­tal work­flow. The trick is to keep it all backed up and use soft­ware to check your files.”

Clark has a new book called Ad­ven­ture Pho­tog­ra­phy: Cap­tur­ing the World of Out­door Sports. He also teaches work­shops around North Amer­ica on the Adobe Pho­to­shop Light­room 3.0 soft­ware.

“I’m a real stick­ler for qual­ity,” he said. “I did a lot of test­ing be­fore I switched over to dig­i­tal. The 12-megapixel cam­eras I shoot with give you the equiv­a­lent of medium-for­mat film. There are tech­ni­cal ad­van­tages in dig­i­tal. Nikon’s new D3S can shoot at an ISO of 102,400. Just amaz­ing!”

That com­pares to the one-time top film speed of 400, which af­forded the pho­tog­ra­pher a lit­tle more lee­way in low-light sit­u­a­tions. The higher the ISO num­ber, the bet­ter your abil­ity to make a pic­ture in darker con­di­tions.

“There’s one shot on my web­site that shows a heli­copter shin­ing a spot­light on the ocean, and that was shot at 6,400 ISO,” Clark said. “You could never take that shot with film. That was way af­ter twi­light, like at the last ves­tige of light.

“That was shoot­ing a search-and-res­cue team for Men’s Fit­ness. They were su­per-elite search-and-res­cue guys. I was hang­ing off the bot­tom of the heli­copter. We did all kinds of crazy stuff.”

Michael Clark: Colin Shadill freerid­ing the ridges at a se­cret area near Nambé, New Mex­ico

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.