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Our Changing Face 
by Jim McGee

Now that we've got a few issues under our belt we decided to take a step back and look at what you, our readers, are telling us you like and don't like about the magazine.

While your letters have been overwhelmingly positive (thank you) you have pointed out some things that you'd like to see improved, changed, or added.

We've changed the layout of the front page to make it easier to find articles.  Some indicated that they thought the location of the monthly editorials wasn't obvious at first glance.  Hopefully you'll find the new layout easier to navigate and read.

Digital vs. Film
Some folks have written to express concern that we are biased towards film even though we are working in a digital medium.  Others have expressed concerns that we are biased towards digital, and point to our digital technique column as proof.

Frankly we've reached the point where the whole digital vs. film discussion is dumb.  The line between the two hasn't blurred, it's disappeared.  I can shoot film and scan it into my computer or I can shoot digital and have a lab produce a slide from the digital file.  No magazine can cover photography today without addressing both digital and film.  

Rather than railing against new technologies and how they might change the way I take pictures, I think its pretty cool that there are so many new tools coming on the market that can broaden the way we experiment with capturing images.

Choosing a digital camera or a film camera has become a system choice, in the same way that 35mm vs. medium format is a system choice.  The difference is that for the next several years features and capabilities of digital cameras will continue to change at a staggering pace.

Equipment Reviews
We've gotten some criticism that we've been too harsh in pointing out flaws in some of the equipment we've tested.  I realize that some photographers become very attached to their equipment.  Seeing positive reviews of that equipment validates their belief that they are somehow using the "right" equipment.

If all you want to read is how great everything is, there are magazines who will fill that need for you.  Today's equipment, by and large, is pretty damn good.  That doesn't mean that it doesn't have flaws.  When we find those flaws during testing we'll continue to point them out whether they be minor or major.  If that occasionally bruises an ego and triggers a nasty letter so be it.  By the way the manufacturers haven't complained about any of our criticisms.

Equipment Reviews - Part 2
Some of you have asked that we expand our equipment reviews beyond cameras and lenses into other things such as bags, tripods, scanners, and printer papers & inks.  Look for upcoming articles on all of these topics.

PDF Files
When I originally designed the prototype site I envisioned the ability to print out the magazine and take it with you as a convenience feature.  People who originally tested and reviewed the prototype though it was pretty amusing "It's an online magazine, why would anybody want to print it out and read it offline?"

I thought it would be a nice feature, but I never thought that so many people would use it.  Every month a significant number of folks are downloading articles and a surprising number are printing out the whole magazine!

Laying out PDF files from Web pages is a royal pain.  The person who did the first issue's PDF's is no longer with us, and I'm aware of their flaws.  To that end all of the PDF's to date have been updated and cleaned up so that they'll print on fewer pages using less ink.  We're also looking at adding estimated download times for each file. Another problem with PDF's that some have reported is that with some browsers they get a blank window with no moving bar indicator to show how far along the file is in loading.  We're looking at fixing that problem as well, and the whole process of downloading files should be simpler and easier shortly.

A lot of sites forget that the Web is an international community, and that not everyone in that community speaks English.  As a matter of fact one reader suggested that my English leaves a bit to be desired!

We've provided access to online translations on the front page.  The translator is a program that scans the Web page you're viewing and does an "on the fly" translation into the language of your choice.  We've received both positive and negative feedback on the translations.  Evidently the quality varies significantly from language to language.  An example that was sent to us was that in French there are different words for "shooting" as in photography and "shooting" as in hunting.  Evidently the translator put a whole new spin on the article "shooting your pets"!

It's been suggested that we hire human translators instead of using machine translations.  While I would like to do just that, we just don't have the budget for it yet.  I hope that in the future we'll be able to do exactly that.  For the time being we'll continue to provide machine translations, knowing that they are flawed, but also knowing that it's better than no translation.

Currently supported languages include: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Japanese, and Chinese.

Coverage of Lighting and Flash Technique
We've gotten a lot of email requesting more articles on lighting and flash technique as this is an area that a lot of you have questions about.  So look for more coverage of these areas coming up.

Nude Photography
Chuck's article on blacklight nudes was well received, and a lot of you have expressed a real interest in areas of nude photography including: finding and working with models, technique, composition, and lighting.  The most asked questions centered around getting the images developed and printed.

We'll definitely be doing more articles on this subject, as it is one of the most popular in photography.  Upcoming articles will focus on all of the above topics and will feature both male and female nudes.

As for developing and printing, most photo finishers have no problems with nude photography, but it's best to ask in advance.  Bulk photo finishers with drop boxes in chain stores are another matter and it's luck of the draw what they'll do with your images.  


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No magazine can cover photography today without addressing both digital and film.





We've gotten some criticism that we've been too harsh in pointing out flaws in equipment








Currently supported languages include: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Japanese, and Chinese










A lot of you have expressed a real interest in areas of nude photography


text and photography copyright 2001 Vivid Light Publishing