Here's me with a souvenir from my playing days. Ah, whenever this time of year rolls around, I miss playing pro football.
I'm full of it and fooling no one, of course. The big bling—it's a gen-yoo-wine Super Bowl ring—belongs to my friend Jack, who got it because he's on the Board of Directors of the current World Champion Green Bay Packers. This ring, though, is from Super Bowl XXXI, in 1996. (If you look closely you can make out his name on the ring.)
The last time I played football was in seventh grade. I will say I was a very good cornerback in seventh grade—I was fast, so I could always catch up to the guy trying to catch the ball. Given my skills, my football-playing career might have extended as far as freshman year—ninth grade, I mean—but, alas, I lacked ambition.
And by the way, when I tried the ring on, I had trouble getting it off.
Me: It won't come off.
Jack: Yeah, right!
Me: No, seriously, I can't get it off.
Jack: Oh, it'll come off...
[I'm thinking: meat cleaver?]
...with dishwashing liquid.
I did eventually coax it back off, without either lubricants or more radical methods injurious to my digit.
Before we go on, here are a couple of examples of that small but honorable genre of portraiture I've talked about before, a genre that you probably have examples of yourself on your hard drive: the "photo-friend across the lunch-table" genre. This is Jack's portrait of me, taken with his point-and-shoot (the Leica S2, and it's a radical crop from the file):
...And this is my picture of him, complete with ring and Leica, taken with my point-and-shoot (the Panasonic GF1 and 20/1.7 lens):
He wore the ring just to show me. He says he doesn't wear the ring from last year very often, because it's even bigger:
2010 on the left, 1996 on the right.
...But enough fun sports stuff that European readers won't understand. On to photography:
Jack does very well in what's called the "corporate art" market, meaning, he sells pictures to professional decorators for the public spaces of things like hotels and office buildings. Here he is shown with two of his creations (in this case, hanging in a country club).
This makes it perfectly clear why Jack can use all the megapixels he can get, and why he was able to justify his S2 as a business expense. Sure, it's fun to use as a point-and-shoot at lunch, but with prints this size he actually needs the resolution. The picture on the right in the shot above was taken with a 1Ds, and in the case of that picture he had enough resolution to print on canvas; the picture doesn't depend on fine detail. Another scene of the same size on the far wall (you can't see it here), taken with the same equipment, had more detail in the scene, and the print didn't quite have enough resolution, to my eye, even on canvas.
Jack says that with the S2, he can print on paper at these sizes.
Here's a shot of Jack's we published here on TOP right after the Packers' Super Bowl win last year. A 9-foot by 5-foot print of this picture now hangs in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. It's a merge of three frames from the S2 with the 35mm lens (wide-angle on the large sensor).
As Jack says, "that's when you need medium-format digital files."
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured (partial) Comment by Anthony: "I don't know, calling the GF1 and S2 point-and-shoots is a big no-no. Just 'cause you were using them on autofocus doesn't mean they're not manually capable cameras."
Featured Comment by Bob Dales: "How do you print 9x5 feet? Asked from the environs of 1.6x1.1 feet."
Jack MacDonough replies: Regarding calling very capable cameras point-and-shoots: Just because they are super-capable doesn't mean you can't shoot them casually. And even when shooting casually, I am not on auto-focus. Had it been on auto-focus for the first shot of Mike I would not have captured the ring in focus.
I had not imagined I would want to use the S2 for everything, but I have. It's small enough, and water resistant. Here is a link to another S2 shooter who also uses it for serious as well as less-serious work.
Regarding how to print 9 feet by 5 feet: Thanks to huge digital printers it can be done. My business plan could not work without them. However, any error gets expensive.
Featured Comment by Ken Tanaka: "Q: How do you prevent someone from noticing that you're shooting with a Leica S2? A: Wear a Super Bowl ring on your shutter hand while shooting. Geez, Jack, nice bling! And nice photo work.
"@ Bob Dales: Printing at such large sizes is a whole different world. There are several technologies available for such sizes today, nearly all of which live mainly in the advertising display world. Of course I don't know how Jack's were produced (but would also be interested in learning). Here in Chicago Gamma Lab's Durst Lambda 130 can produce a single sheet (digital C-print) of up to 49.5″ x 240". As another example, back in 2006 Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario printed some of my work on vinyl film for backgrounds in an exhibition. This comes straight out of the billboard production world.