About David Roddis

Photographer / artist; humanist / skeptic; citizen / socialist; dreamer / do-er. Life needs no mission statement; art is no boxing match. Competition demeans and divides; cooperation and compassion reveal profound connections. Do you need any greater incentive?

The best photography tip you’ll ever get…

I was surfing idly when I discovered a site called Slideshare.  Now, the idea of a site where you share presentations – yes, like Powerpoint – is, umm, to put it politely – quaint.

I mean, this is the era of online video and μTorrent and high-speed Internet and razzmatazz.

But hold on, maybe not so quaint because I picked up some fascinating information about topics I’d never heard of – Internet of Things, anyone? – and I also found a very interesting photography presentation by Sara Quinn, entitled “What Makes a Photo Worth Publishing?” 

A study was undertaken to gain insight into this mysterious process.  The team administering the study gave 200 photos to two different groups of people.  Half the images had been taken by professional  photojournalists, the others were user generated content on social media sites, newspapers, etc.

Those participating were asked to view the images and rate them on how effective they were and their likelihood of sharing them online.  They didn’t know which images were amateur and which were pro.

Results?  The professional images were chosen almost exclusively – only one image from the user-generated content was considered memorable, and it was, of course, a picture of a goofy dog.  Which proves something, I’m not sure what.

The pro images:

1. told a story, and/or
2. depicted relationships between people / showed emotion in the situations / showed faces.

I’m ever so validated in my firmly held belief that – just because we have cameras that have virtually eliminated technical difficulties doesn’t mean that everyone is suddenly a photographer.   Why?  For another article, but briefly:  intent.

But that’s not what I really want to share with you.  Here’s the one I want you to see.

Underneath the image is a quote from the participant in the study being interviewed.  Why did they rate this photo highly and why would they share it?

photo of green shoots growing through snowfall.  memorable because someone chose to see it.

It’s not that it’s rare.  It’s that someone has decided to see it.

I’d like you to meditate on that for a good, long time.

Check out the Slideshare presentation » here.    Happy shooting.

Valentine’s Day : Give flowers that last

Only a few hours left to take advantage of my Valentine’s Day print offer of three luscious images featuring red-to-the-power-of-red.

As a thank-you for your interest in my blog, use the coupon code flowers50 and receive 50% off the listed purchase price.  Simply add this code to your shopping cart at checkout (where it says ADD COUPON) and the total will update with your discount. Your coupon will expire at 11:59 PM on February 14th.

Order by noon today, Friday 13th, to ensure delivery for Valentine’s Day.  After the noon deadline – you’ll still receive your print, but next-day delivery isn’t guaranteed.

On the other hand, you’ll have a beautiful and unique artwork to enjoy. (I like to look on the bright side.)

Go to davidroddis.com and just… follow your heart.

PNG’s and JPG’s and GIF’s – oh my! (nerd alert)

Hands up those of you who know what a PNG is –

I thought so.

Years ago, when dinosaurs roamed and the ‘Net was young, we labored and labored to make our images as small in size (data) as possible while at the same time displaying as beautifully as possible.  It was a losing battle, sometimes.  What am I saying – Most of the time!  (I won’t even get into the tiresome battle between nerds and designers that raged when corporations suddenly realized the Internet was a goldmine…)

Somewhere in all of this, a new file format was created:  PNG or Portable Network Graphic (pronounced “ping”).  You are all familiar of course with GIF (used primarily for graphics with flat areas of color) and JPG (used for photographic images with millions of colors).  The problem with JPG was, and is:  it LOSES information every time you save it and it does not support transparency.  (“Lossy” compression).  You’ve experienced this if you save, and save, and save a JPG over and over.  Each time it degrades in quality.

PNG, on the other hand, compresses without any loss of data and supports much more subtle gradations of color and grayscale.  All this while maintaining a small data size.  Clearly better, you’ll certainly agree.

But despite this, PNG didn’t really catch on.

Flash forward, and I’m posting images of my work to the Web.  I have images with subtle gradations that print beautifully, but when saved as JPG, display like this:


Mommy, a JPG ate my file!


Depending on your system, the rendering of gradations from black to grey in the shadows of the fabric will range in quality from barely OK to “blocky” and terrible.

And this in an image that I saved as a highest-quality JPG, and only once.

Not the way I want my work to be seen.

(scroll down to continue…)

Now compare the same image, saved as a PNG: Look at the same areas of black and gray in the fabric:

David Roddis, “Nostalgic Deception #1: Retrospection”.  Archival pigment print, edition 1/20, various sizes from 22 x17". ©2015, David Roddis.

David Roddis, “Nostalgic Deception #1: Retrospection”. Archival pigment print, edition 1/20, various sizes from 22 x17″. ©2015, David Roddis.

There is simply no comparison.  The shadows and highlights display beautifully, with the subtle gradations that I want.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.

Any graphics program will enable you to save your RAW files as a PNG.  Consider this option if your JPG images are not displaying the way you like.

If your camera does not produce RAW files, try shooting TIFF images (the file sizes will be huge), then saving as PNG.

I hope this helps you get better results for your web-destined files.  If you have any questions about PNG, JPG or web images in general, I’d be happy to answer them here.

» See the full series “Nostalgic Deceptions” on my portfolio site, davidroddis.com «

Happy shooting.

– David

Red is the color…


David Roddis, “Nostalgic Deception:  Agon” (2015). Dimensions variable.  Archival pigment print, edition 1/100.  ©2015, David Roddis.

David Roddis, “Nostalgic Deception: Agon” (2015). Dimensions variable. Archival pigment print, edition 1/100. ©2015, David Roddis.

Notes on “Nostalgic Deception”

My nostalgic snapdragons, pre-shoot. August, 2014

My nostalgic snapdragons, pre-shoot. August, 2014. ©2014, David Roddis.

I’m usually reticent about discussing my own work, thinking it a rather grandiose attitude to strike.  Nonetheless, what emerges from my summer “shooting spree” often surprises me (which is what I intend), and I thought I would tell you a bit about how much attention I’ve paid to these particular images.

The folder of images of snapdragons became very compelling to me, although they were not immediately images which I looked to for my primary body of work. They were quite “traditional” images, by which I mean they seem straightforward still lifes mimicking the Dutch and Flemish flower paintings of a few centuries ago.  And I haven’t been so much about the traditional lately, what with jumping around with my camera and creating surprises for myself.

One thing which I work to achieve in these pieces is minimal light, which can be a tricky thing in digital.  If your brain is rewired by your camera, you start to over-illuminate and just aim for that digital clarity and detail, which can only take you so far.  But most of the data in the digital file is in the upper midtones and highlights, so if you under-light the actual shoot, you lose information and you get a lot of noise.  So it’s usually best to light a little brighter than you want, then bring it down in post.

As far as process goes, I take the original into Camera Raw (a Photoshop plug-in which is a kind of gateway to PS, allowing a first pass at “correcting” exposure, contrast, etc., in the digital negative.)  I usually take the image to a quite neutral place, actually lowering the contrast and evening out the image until it’s a little flat.  In PS itself, I work with layer modes “Multiply” and “Screen”, applying the layer modes, masking out the transformation, then “painting in” the shadows and highlights respectively.

The effect I am working for, in Nostalgic Deception and similar pieces, is a mysterious, out of time/out of place feeling in which the subject is barely emerging from darkness, as a memory might, and illuminated in a way that creates a subtle but definite modeling (emphasizing the three-dimensional quality).

There is a sense of disquiet and foreboding, of elegy, and disintegration in the blooms that have fallen away.  The deception is the tension between an exquisitely beautiful memory, which we allow ourselves to be seduced by, and the treachery of decay that must take place.  Our memory lives for a moment, but then is taken away again.  It’s the pain of imminent loss.

Nostalgic Deception


David Roddis, “Nostalgic Deception #2 (snapdragons)”, 2015.

David Roddis, “Nostalgic Deception #2 (snapdragons)”, 2015. Archival pigment print, Edition 1/100, sizes from 22×17″. ©2015, David Roddis.