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John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.

ScanCafe negative scanning progress

ScanCafe logo Following up on my previous post about scanning some old negatives with ScanCafe. I dragged my feet and didn’t send them in until this past Monday. I was able to snag a 20% discount though so my total estimate for scanning 200 medium format negs came to $204.20 ($0.99 ea + $0.19 ea for TIFF format + shipping, etc.).

Before I sent my scans to ScanCafe, I also sent several of them to Brian Auer at Epic Edits. Brian, film scanning expert extraordinaire, scanned them using his CanoScan so that we could compare ScanCafe vs doing it yourself.

ScanCafe charges you half  up front, ships your negatives to their overseas scanning facility, lets you pick the ones you want online, then sends it all back to you. Just got an email today saying they’ve received my negatives—the process has begun. They estimate they’ll have my scans ready to view by December 27th (yes, it takes a while).

ScanCafe Order Status

I didn’t tell them I was a writer for a photography blog and I’m getting my own negatives scanned at my expense so that I can provide you with a realistic and objective view of how their service works. Stay tuned!


Get a free lens rental from BorrowLenses.com

BorrowLenses screenshot Our friends at BorrowLenses.com have offered to give away another free lens rental to a lucky Photodoto reader. It’s been a little over a year since we did our last lens rental giveaway. Last year’s winner rented an 85mm f/1.8 and loved it.

Lens rentals are a great way to try out lenses before you buy or just to get great glass for the occasional need. BorrowLenses prices and service are top notch. If you’d like to try it out for free, here’s all you have to do:

  • Leave a comment describing which lens you would like to rent and why you want to rent it. Leave a valid email address so that we can contact you if you win (your email address will remain private and is used for no other purpose).

That’s it! (Except for a few conditions, below.) The comments will remain open until Tuesday November 17 at midnight. After that, BorrowLenses.com will choose a winner and we’ll announce it here. Good luck! And a big thank you to BorrowLenses.com for sponsoring this giveaway.

Conditions of entry:

  • You must be in the U.S. to enter.
  • The winner will need to place an order online with a valid credit card number to receive the rental. The card will not be charged but is required to ensure that the lens is returned. BorrowLenses.com is a reputable business but if you don’t feel comfortable with this condition please don’t enter.
  • The offer excludes super telephoto lenses and camera bodies.

VIDEO: LA Sheriffs Unlawfully Detain Photographer

On October 31, 2009 while on my way home from the Hollywood and Highland area, I was unlawfully detained for 25 minutes by LASD Officers Richard Gylfie #2955 and Bayes #456 for taking two photographs of the turnstiles located at the Hollywood and Western Metro Station — an act that is completely legal and occurred in public space.discarted

Sheriff: Why are you taking pictures?
Photographer: Because I want to.

Apparently that answer isn’t good enough for the LA sheriffs. I respect that the sheriffs have a tough job but they do not have the right to harass people who are not doing anything illegal. Tell everyone you know. This is important.

Click here to get more information about the incident and to get contact information for agencies that should be able to do something about this.

Click here for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s online complaint form.

Is film photography for you?

A Gift From a Friend - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

A Gift From a Friend - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

Back in the long ago time, there was film. Sheets of chemicals and magic that transformed when they were struck by rays of light. And it was good.

But it was also kind of a pain in the ass because you could only shoot 24 or 36 frames at a time before you had to change the film. And you had to carry around lots of film in bulky little cans. And you couldn’t preview or delete your shots. And sometimes you’d find that you shot an entire roll with the wrong exposure but you didn’t find out until you got the film back from the developer a week later. Good times.

But some say there is also a certain quality to film photography that hasn’t been replicated by digital. A special and ineffable charm, difficult to express but instantly recognizable. And, contrary to what you might expect, there are quite a few new-to-film photographers out there, drawn to film by the novelty or the look or the antiques or the desire to practice arcane arts on the verge of becoming extinct. Film is Not Dead, a group on Flickr, has over 12,000 members.

Whatever your motivation, if you are interested in film photography, I can heartily recommend following Brian Auer over at Epic Edits. Brian has jumped into film photography with gusto (possibly to the detriment of his marriage) and seems to boast about a new camera or darkroom acquisition on a weekly basis.

The Darkroom - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

The Darkroom - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

Brian has written many articles about his adventures in film photography including several guides to getting into film photography and getting your first camera. Here are some to get you started:

Free photo editors for Linux, Mac, and Windows

Can’t afford Photoshop? Can’t justify the expense? What do you need in a good photo editor anyway? To me, the absolute essential features necessary for any photo editing app are:

  • Layers and layer masks (alpha editing). These features let you selectively apply edits and filters to portions of the image that you control.
  • Painting tools. Brushes in varying sizes and hardness. For painting masks, mostly.
  • Curves. Essential. A curves adjustment tool lets you control color, color saturation, contrast, brightness, and black white points. Curves is often the only tool I use.
  • Color adjustment. Hue and saturation adjustments.
  • Channel mixer/B&W converter. Some way to make black and white photos.
  • Filters. Blur and sharpen. You don’t need page curl or lens flare.

Without further ado, and in alphabetical order, some free apps that fit the bill:

Aviary Phoenix (Web app–All platforms)

The only web/online app in the list that supports layers and masks. “From basic image retouching to complex effects, Phoenix delivers the key features of a desktop image editor with the simplicity and accessibility of a web-based application.”


Chocoflop (Mac)

Non-destructive image editor for Mac. Possibly the only editor on this list with a worse name than GIMP. “ChocoFlop allows you to edit your photos or design stuff using Apple’s CoreImage technology. Because of this it can show real-time previews of filters and keep modifications live for as long as you want.”


Gimp (Linux/Mac/Windows)

The king of open source image editors. Available for all platforms.


Krita (Linux)

Image editor that is part of the KOffice suite for Linux.


Paint.NET (Windows)

Started life as an undergraduate design project mentored by Microsoft. “Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help,  tutorials, and plugins.”


Seashore (Mac)

“Seashore is an open source image editor for Mac OS X’s Cocoa framework. It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing.”


Do you have a favorite free/open source photo editor? Share in the comments.

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