Photo Series Review by Lensculture

As an amateur photographer have you wondered about photo contest reviews and their value?  Here is a sample …  “You have some very strong work in your submission. There’s a luscious overall tonality in many of your pictures that I can only imagine illustrates the attentive and patient vision of the photographer. My eyes continually return to images one, two, four, six and nine. This is largely because the main subjects arguably appear on a relatively large scale, and there’s also mostly a rather clear distinction between the positive and negative shapes of the image. To put this another way, there’s a very careful demarcation between what the subject is and what the subject is not. This approach works particularly well for rather traditional landscape photographs. The remaining images are commendable, but there’s such a profusion of detail and texture across most of the frames that what might otherwise be more prominent focal points are minimized and less legible. My primary suggestion is to seek more strident and demonstrative subject matter for these kinds of photographs. …I hope you can tell that I found your work quite rewarding overall. Thank you for submitting your work to LensCulture.”


“Shades of Color” Magazine

Shades of Color is an online subscription magazine based in France and published 6 times a year.  Each issue has articles on:

  • review and test of new software and equipment;
  • photography tutorials; and
  • portfolios and interviews with photographers from around the world.

In its most recent edition (17) I was included as one of the featured artists.  See for details on how to subscribe…you won’t be disappointed. 


I was down with COVID for about 14 days, but I am now out of quarantine.  My wife and I had mild cases, luckily, and can assure you it is no fun.  One of the biggest problems is a general malaise which can border on being debilitating.  Thankfully, vaccines are on the way for all Americans. Cheers!

Preserve those old family photographs before they dissapear!

I just finished posting on Instagram a photography of my mother and her cousin Peter Vallortigara taken circa late-1912; the original photo was fading so I restored it.  My point is for you to ask your parents, grandparents or whomever is the keeper of the family photos if you can borrow them before they are lost to posterity.  They are an important part of your family history.

A wide range of software is available to facilitate preservation; that being said, your first step is to purchase a good scanner such as Epson V850 and digitize the old photos as TIFF files at a minimum of 300 dpi…800 dpi would be better.  Once this has been done, you should a suitable software package…I myself normally use Adobe’s Lightroom and/or Photoshop.  Although with this software there is a learning curve, the results are excellent.  The software will not only restore badly faded (yellowed) images but you then can move on to eliminating dust and scratches as was done in the following images.

If you have any questions, please contact me.


Awarded Honorable Mention in the Fine Arts Category – ND Awards

James Black was awarded an Honorable Mention by the 2020 ND Awards sponsored by ND Magazine in the Fine Arts category for a series of images titled “New Mexico Adobe.”   Adobe was used by Native Americans as a building material for centuries before the Spanish arrived.  The Spanish settlers adopted the tradition, and it continues today.  The images were taken between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico while following the High Road to Taos.   The mission architecture is outstanding for B&W photography because of the textures, lines and curves.   

Musings — OEM vs ColorCone Ink

Originally all of my printing was done on an Epson Stylus Pro 4880 a really great printer for paper 17×22 inches.  However, through my own fault it suffered a catastrophic failure and rather than pay the hefty price for a new own I bought the Epson 3880.  Prints are wonderful and the printer does not clog as much as the 4880 did. 

Recently I decided to order additional inks for my Epson Stylus Pro 3880 and, much to my horror, I saw a huge increase in ink prices…some 25-30%.  So, what is an older retiree to do if he wants to continue selling prints.  OEM is generally the only way but I am intrigued with the color inks by Joh Cone ( a pioneer in digital print making.  Most famously, Jon is known for his Piezograph brand of monochrome inks and software. 

Reviews seem to vary on his encapsulated inks.  Many say ConeColor inks are a great alternative to OEM inks because the color gamut is virtually the same.  However, when it comes to print longevity there is a great disparity….one review says it’s only 25% of OEM while others say print fading is almost the same as OEM.  Definitive testing needs to be conducted as ConeColor inks are much much cheaper.  The downside of course is it cancels Epson’s warranty.

One thing about ColorCone…they offer flushing fluids and cartridges if your Epson system is thoroughly clogged.  

Just some random thoughts…but, I might just go ahead and try the inks.