Our Technology

Web Authoring

Web pages are written in plain vanilla HTML using a simple text processor - usually Notepad. I like having control and making conscious decisions. I've also had some bad experiences with Frontpage at work, so I'm distrustful of more automated tools. (Among other things, I write active server pages that implement database applications using server side scripts. Simply opening one of these files in Frontpage is enough to break it.)


All photographs are taken with 35mm film cameras. We usually carry three cameras, a compact "point and shoot" and two single lens reflexes with interchangeable lenses.


The "point and shoot" is an Olympus Stylus with a "clamshell" case and a zoom lens. It fits comfortably in my trouser pocket or my wife's purse. We're on our second one of these. The original had a zoom range of 35mm to 115mm. The current one goes out to 140mm.

The SLR's are both Nikon FM2's. The FM2 is a fully manual SLR for professional or serious amateur. It has shutter speeds from 1 second down to 1/4000 second. It accepts the full range of Nikon interchangeable lenses. I prefer a fully manual camera because it lets me consciously make all the decisions. I always have to keep what I am trying to achieve in mind.

Prior to getting the FM2's, I carried Nikkormat FTN's. After 25 years, they had made too many trips to the beach and had to be retired.


One FM2 usually carries a Nikon 28-105MM F3.5 zoom with a macro capability. This is the workhorse combination. I probably shoot 75% of my photos with this setup. The other FM2 most often carries a Nikon 70-300MM zoom. This is useful for close-ups of details on buildings, people's faces, or shots of things at a distance.

I also carry a couple of additional lenses, usually a 24MM wide angle and an 85MM telephoto. The 24MM is a little wider than the 28-105MM zoom, and a little faster as well at f2.8. The 85MM is a little sharper than the zoom, and a lot faster at f1.8. On a gray day or at twilight, the two-stop difference is significant. I also carry a lightweight tripod for times when hand-holding isn't practical.

The 28-105mm and 70-300mm are both new in 2001. Before, I carried a Vivitar 70-150mm zoom along with the 24mm and 85mm. I also have 35mm and 200mm fixed focal length Nikkors and a Tokina 500mm "cat" (mirror). These are all well-used and have been with me fifteen years or more.

Film and Processing

Film is usually Kodak Royal Gold in ASA 200. Some of the latest images were shot on Kodak MAX 400. (I once exclusively shot slides on Kodachrome 64. They were exquisite, but it is a big hassle to set up the projector.) I have learned to have my film processed at a high-end camera store - one that caters to professionals. The one-hour photo kiosks and drugstores just don't get the job done. Even "consumer" camera stores are pretty sloppy. Prints come out mushy and gray rather than crisp and vibrant.

Image Acquisition and Processing

When I first started the site, I would get 4" by 6" prints and scan them on an elderly (about 5 years old) Hewlett-Packard Scanjet 4p scanner. First I would scan them at 150 dpi, then adjust the brightness and color balance in Adobe PhotoShop LE. Images are stored as JPEG files with a moderate amount of compression.

I've recently started to use a Minolta Dimage Scan Elite II film scanner. It has the capability to scan 35mm negatives at 2820 DPI resulting in an eight megapixel image. (At 24 bit color, that's a 33 megabyte file before compression.) For the web site I usually scan at 705 dpi, since the finished image is limited to about 380 or 400 pixels high. Film scanning seems to have a lot more potential for publishing or printing applications, but takes a lot more time and work. I'm not sure it's worth it for a web site.

Even more recently I upgraded from Photoshop LE to a full Photoshop 7.0. It's a great tool and I love it, but it has a dark side. The tool is so capable, and I have learned so much, that I spending a lot of time "perfecting" the color balance, contrast and saturation in an image.

Why not go all digital?

I have and use a digital camera (actually, I'm on my second), but I'm not ready to go digital yet.

If I were only shooting for the web site, it would be a different story. Most of the images on the site are around 400 pixels high, limited by the frame design. That's only 200,000 pixels. But I have higher ambitions. Someday, I'd like to use the shots for other things.

A three megapixel digital camera is more than adequate for 4" by 6" prints - maybe even 8" by 10" - but I can take a 35mm negative to 20" by 24". The highest resolution "Prosumer" digital cameras are about six megapixels and cost around $1000. My film scanner gives an eight megapixel file (A 4" by 6" print scanned at 600 dpi on a $50 scanner also gives an eight megapixel file.)

On a trip, we usually burn a couple of 36 exposure rolls a day and come home with around 500 images. At 18 megabytes per six megapixel image (in TIFF format), that would require nine gigabytes of storage. I'd have to carry a laptop with 10 GB of free disk space or 20 of the 512 MB Compact Flash cards to have that much storage. With memory cards running $100 apiece, thats pretty expensive. I already have the laptop, but it adds significantly to the luggage burden and is subject to damage or theft on a trip.  


Copyright 2001, 2004 Harry B. Rowe