Photography Info

To All,

June 26-27 the summer photo fair will take place at the San
Mateo Fair Grounds just south of San Francisco. This particular
event of course may only be of consequence to those in the Bay
area. If that’s not you, check out the Shutterbug Magazine web
site ( under the heading trade shows and find
a show near you. The reason I offer up this small kernel of info
is that everyone on this site must have an interest in
photography. In practical terms it is the most useful marketing
tool you have. Some of you enjoy doing your own commercial
photography and others, I’m sure, have side interests in
photography that make these events a shutterbugs shopping
paradise. The photo fairs that take place across the country are
a veritable smorgasbord of photo gear, from new and used to
vintage, from cameras, lenses and tripods to darkroom equipment,
projectors and light tables. The only thing I would lobby against
purchasing is film or developing chemistry. I have personally
spent thousands of dollars at these events and have no horror
stories to report and for that matter none that I’ve heard from
others in the trade. The beauty of the fairs is the variety of
equipment available to handle and consider. Most dealers are
great resources; equipment junkies that have more answers than
you have questions.

For artists at the competitive level-ACC, Smithsonian,
Philadelphia et al., a good slide projector and light table are a
must. Hand held viewers or the nearest window won’t do-1/3 to 1/2
of a stop in exposure can’t be seen out the backdoor and that
variation will make a tremendous difference when a slide is
projected or printed. A quality light table (with 5000K bulbs)
and carousel projector could easily be purchased at a photo fair
for a couple hundred dollars. These are tools you can’t live
without, regardless of who does your commercial photography.

Here I will make the disclaimer that I don’t know everything
there is to know about photography or anything else for that
matter. Trial and error has been the educational tool that has
provided the most conclusive proofs for me as a photographer. I
have been instructed and I have read but, photography is the
craft of problem solving and many problems have unique and not
always logical explanations. And to that end I can recommend that
you buy only professional products. No off the shelf, dated or
discount film and never have your film processed at the 1 hour
joint in the strip mall. Buy only professional film in the
refrigerator at a photo supply store or mail order from a dealer
and always have your film processed at a commercial lab, even if
you have to mail the film as well. The way film is handled
before, during and after it is shot can make all the difference
in the world.

I can only recommend products that I use on a daily basis. Kodak
and Fuji are the films of choice for most professional
photographers. I use an assortment of both depending on the
product. I use daylight balanced film,100 speed Kodak Plus (EPP
the trade code) for jewelry almost exclusively, occasionally
there are weird objects that fluoresce, flipping the color to
another portion of the spectrum in which case I use EPN, another
Kodak product, which has an extra layer of UV inhibitor built
into the emulsion. I choose Kodak for jewelry because it is less
contrasty than Fuji film and holds the highlight and shadow
details better in critical areas ( this is of course my opinion,
based on observation). I use Fuji film as well for many product
shots that can use a little extra punch and contrast and here I
prefer the Provia ( trade name RDP).

I imagine that most of you are not shooting larger format than
35 mm. Currently in the studio I have two Nikon 8008’s. These are
great durable auto focus cameras, with built-in motor drives and
a handful of program options that are great when I do event
photography. These cameras get an incredible workout and I have
had no problems with either. Unfortunately they are no longer in
production and a photo fair would be a great place to pick one
up, probably $350-$400 for mint or near mint. There are of course
many models to choose from ranging in price from $100 for a very
basic SLR to thousands for the top of the line. There are two
lenses that a jewelry photographer might want to have; the 105 mm
micro nikkor and current 60 mm micro or the older 55 mm micro
(which I use), both of which would be in the $250-$400 range
depending on quality.

Two other sources that I find invaluable are:
B&H Photo
420 9th Ave.
NYC, 10001

Calumet Photographic
890 Supreme Dr.
Bensenville, IL 60106

Hope this is useful info,

Hap Sakwa Photography

To Hap Sakwa,

Thank you for the that you provided, especially your
recommendations on film. I’m sure that many of us amateurs
struggle for a long time and never find the right answers. Your
generosity in sharing is appreciated and refreshing. Joel


Thanks for sharing your preferred camera/lens/film set up as
well as the resources. Very interesting and informative. How
about your lighting preferences? Care to describe that as well?

I admire the photography that you have done for friends of mine
and have shown your slides as examples of excellent lighting and
composition in classes (Jewelry and Photography for Jewelers) I
teach at the local community college.

Thanks again.

Carol Holaday

Hi Carol,

Glad to see that I’ve been helpful.

Lighting is a major portion of the craft of photography.
Capturing on film the reflection or transmission of light is what
its all about. Of course you need the proper tools at both the
receiving end (camera and film ) and distribution end ( light
source ). Most light sources that are available to all of us,
including the sun, provide specular light and it is the
manipulation of that material ( photons ) and I do think of it as
a material, that produces the resulting capture ( on film or
digitally ).

In the studio you have two basic choices strobe or tungsten.
Because I photograph everything from stud earrings ( requiring
only one light source ) to large sculpture and furniture (
requiring as many as eight light sources ), I often need lots of
light and lots of light produces lots of heat, so it’s strobes
for me. Speedotron is the name brand working day in and day out
in my studio, they have 250 watt modeling lights, and a 2400 watt
second discharge capability per unit and are fan cooled. There
are many other makers of strobe and tungsten equipment and
provided you balance the color of the light source (measured in
temperature ) and the film it doesn’t matter whether your choice
is tungsten or stobe. If tungsten is your choice be aware of all
light sources in the room, windows, overheads etc.; all that
light is bouncing around and ending up on the film. There are a
lot of options in lighting, unlike cameras and film; here it is
personal preference, convenience, accessories and budget - skies
the limit.

But, here’s a warning! Photography is a CRAFT and to do it well
requires a great deal of time and effort and a budget. Once you
get started, you find you always need just one more tool. It’s
not an addiction but, it is a perfectionists craft - kind of like
jewelry making. There’s always room to improve the next piece
and some space to store that next time saver, surface finisher,
torch, etcher and on and on.

And as far as technique goes, well…for the time being, I
think I need to play those cards close to the vest. I’m still
trying to improve the next image.

My very best,

Hap Sakwa Photography