A little bit of nostalgia
and how the latest technology is resurrecting the past
Larry Berman surrounded by some of his photographs of Dr J
In the mid 1970ís I had a brief career as a professional sports
photographer. During a four-year period, I was staff photographer for the
New York Nets of the ABA (American Basketball Association), did
assignments for Converse and Spalding, and did work to various magazines
including Newsweek, Sport, Black Sports and Hoop Ė the NBA programs.
Almost a memory in my lifeís photographic odyssey, I happened to add a
few black and white photos of Dr J (Julius Erving) to my
BermanGraphics.com web site..
Inspired by the response, I dug through some boxes in the basement and
started scanning my old basketball film.
|Cameras and Lenses Used
The photographs were originally taken with two motorized Nikon F2 camera
bodies and assorted Nikon lenses. My main basketball lens was the 85mm
f1.8 and the 50mm f1.4 for a slightly wider view. Over a three-year period
I photographed each Nets home game practicing and practicing. It reached a
point that I could follow focus with the 85mm lens, wide open at f1.8,
with the subject filling the frame. I picked up a used Bessler Topcon
180mm f2.8 lens and replaced it with the Nikon when it became available.
That was my lens for the opposite end of the court. The film I used was
High Speed Ektachrome Daylight pushed 1ľ stops for Nassau Coliseum and
High Speed Ektachrome Tungsten pushed 1Ĺ stops for Madison Square Garden.
All indoor color photos were taken at 1/250 second. Tri-X was used for black and white and was pushed 1 stop to ASA 800. I
developed all my own black and white as soon as arriving home after each
game. The transparency film was dropped off at a custom lab I used and picked up the next day by noon.
|The New Technology
At the time I was making the photographs, and for years later, printing
the photos never entered my mind, as there was no inexpensive way to print
them, and no way to effectively market them. Photoshop and the Internet
have opened the doors that were previously closed to me.
A few years ago I had purchased a Polaroid Sprintscan 4000 dedicated
film scanner to scan clientís slides for their web sites. Now putting it
to use, I started scanning my old slides at full 4000 pixels per inch
resolution and began working on the digital files with the intention of
making prints to sell from a web site I designed expressly for the sports
nostalgia at www.BermanSports.com. This is now the new home for those
classic images that have been hidden away for the past 25 years.
My full resolution scans create files that are approximately 62
megabytes in size. Since the slides are 25 years or older, there is a fair
amount of embedded dust. Not willing to risk having them handled by a
service bureau, Iím depending on Photoshop 7ís new Healing Brush to clone
out the offending spots. Though Iíve spent an average of an hour preparing
each full size file, thatís a fraction of the time I would have had to
spend doing it any other way.
For my print process, Iíve come to depend on the Fuji Frontier Printer
for sizes 10x15 or smaller. The direct from digital modified type C
process uses conventional Fuji Crystal Archive paper and is a true
photographic process. The Crystal Archive paper has a 60-year life
expectancy. For larger sizes, I depend on a local custom lab that makes
Lambda prints. Those are also direct from digital prints using the same
Crystal Archive paper. With all the controversy of the ink jet printing
process, and the failure of some photographers to pay attention to the
archival qualities of their choices of paper and ink set combinations, I
feel totally comfortable with my choice of output and confident that my
photographs will outlive me. I also include a certificate of authenticity
with each order to help others understand what my process is.
Even if the technology for scanning and printing had existed 25 years
ago, there still would have been a problem of actually getting people to
see my photographs. The key is understanding the Internet and itís
promotional capabilities. Every photo I put on the Internet has either my
name, or my web site URL as a copyright added in Photoshop as a text
layer. That way if someone wants to find me, itís as easy as going to
Google and typing my name in.
With all the boxes of slides and prints sitting in closets or basements,
Iíve shown one way to resurrect the past. Besides scanning your own slides
there are two options I recommend. If you donít own a film scanner,
consider Kodak Photo CDís, which are reasonably priced ways to get up to
100 slides on a CD. But you do need an image-editing program that can open
and work with the PCD files. Another option is the Fuji Frontier (model
370) printer, which has the capability of scanning at 3000 pixels per
inch, if you ask for a scan for a 10x15 inch print. Scanning prints is an
option if you own a flatbed scanner. I recommend scanning at a minimum of
300 pixels per inch for maximum detail in the print, though you really
shouldnít try to print a larger size than the print you scan.
For me, this has been a very rewarding project as itís brought me back
to a time in my past when I had fewer worries and daily life was a lot of
fun and a creative challenge.