Posts tagged with Photography

Norway in 5 minutes

For one reason or another, something always crops up whenever I’ve planned to visit Norway. Long ago, a Norwegian girlfriend moved on before our summer trip, a business conference was cancelled at the last minute, and more recently a tour company had booked me to lead a tour to the fjords but seemed to go out of business and disappeared without trace. Norway remains one of the few European countries I’ve never seen.

I imagine it’s very beautiful and that it’s great for photography, so maybe one day, but I enjoyed watching this short set of timelapse movies by Morten Rustad who travelled the length of the country to capture spectacular scenes in all kinds of weather. I’d also recommend looking at his blog where he describes the project and includes pictures showing some of the gear he used. I always like comments like this:

As I was standing on top of the peak, I could get a more complete overview of the landscape, and found what I thought was a much easier and faster way down. I started the hike, and . . .

Faces in the crowd

Yesterday I met up with a friend at the Harp, an excellent recent discovery, before we went along to the big David Bailey show at the National Portrait Gallery. The show runs until early June, so if you find yourself in central London there’s plenty of time to nip in and see it.

Just be prepared for crowds. After all, has any other name been as synonymous with British photography as Bailey?

While you’ll have seen many of the portraits before and no probably not find too many many surprises, it’s rare to see quite so many of Bailey’s prints in one place. You can see the range of the show from how many rooms were dedicated to it, though I wasn’t sure I cared much for the four sets of reportage – Sudan, Naga tribes, Australian aboriginals, Delhi – or for the other non-studio projects. Usually I’d favour these, as for me photography is about hunting for a picture rather than constructing it in the studio, but I didn’t feel one’s appreciation of Bailey was improved by including them.

Of course, there are . . .

Re-enacting photography

Mark Elson is an LA-based photographer who was doing a series on American Civil War re-enactors and decided to use the contemporary wet plate collodion photography:

I learned the process, had equipment built, and found period lenses. I fell in love with this demanding and beautiful process, with its rich tones, great detail and timeless look.

Fascinating results and in a book Battlefields of Honor which appears to be available in the US and UK.

 

The Crummock Water problem

When something gets in the way of what I’m trying to photograph, I’m no Mother Teresa. For instance only last week my tripod was set up below Stockley Bridge, a stone bridge above Seathwaite at the top of Borrowdale. Most walkers only pause briefly on the bridge as it’s where the popular path to Great Gable or Scafell begins to climb upwards. Some do sit down on its low walls but they’ve noticed you were there first and don’t want to get in your way. In most cases people move on after a few moments and you can be patient. So I’d like to pretend I was happy to wait for the couple who said hello and then promptly sat down right in the middle of my picture. But once it became obvious they were staying for a while, I was looking in their direction and doing my best to make it obvious I was actually waiting for them. It was only after 10 minutes that I started looking at my watch, with a grand sweep of my arm, and . . .

Five go taking pictures

Picture Power: Portraits of Five Leading Press Photographers is a series of BBC Radio 4 programmes featuring famous press photographers and how they recorded one day.

Largely recorded in real time…. in the first programme James Hill of the New York Times gives up the chance to go to Libya in order to shoot the famous balcony kiss at this year’s royal wedding between Catherine Middleton and Prince William. “I don’t know if this was a reward, or a punishment. Perhaps it was both,”

Landscape Photographer of the Year

It’s that time of the year again when British photographers have a good moan about the winners in the “Take a View” Landscape Photographer of the Year. The biggest selection of the winners seems to be here on Sky, but there

I really liked last year’s winner, didn’t think the previous year’s was really “landscape”, while this year’s winner by Robert Fulton is OK – he derserves congratulations despite my lacking enthusiasm. I think I just don’t care for the foreground. the lines yes, but I guess I would have been wanting the sun to illuminate them, and I think he’s got better wintry pictures like this. As for the rest, I’m not sure there’s another I would pick out – certainly not the old armchair in ruined house “landscape”. Maybe Adrian Hall’s Raw Teeth (image 19) or Tim Harvey’s Winter Storm (image 4). And in Sky’s selection there are a lot of rolling farmland pictures from the South Downs, an awful lot from Scotland, amazingly none from the Lake District – but thankfully not too much train and railway photography . . .

Oxford Street

I suspect these guys were as bored with their Sunday as I was by my third visit (only) this year to Speakers Corner. I didn’t stay long and wandered off to nearby Oxford Street.

Do black and white workers need to deny colour?

In a fascinating piece Why Would a Digital Camera Have a B&W-Only Sensor, Mike Johnson makes a case for such a camera. As he acknowledges, analogies often end up in arguments about the analogy, but I think the core is here:

Taking a color picture and converting it to B&W is trivial. What’s not trivial is learning how to see in B&W. To name one trivial effect, you stop being attracted to, and taking pictures of, pretty colors. Why? Because your camera can’t capture them. It ignores them. So you have to do so as well. Working with a camera that can convert color to B&W is not the same as working with a camera that cannot record color. The latter affects the way you see things when you’re out photographing. When you know that B&W is all the camera will do, then you start to ignore colors and see luminances, tonal relationships, surface, and structure. It’s a different way of seeing.

An analogous example is what happens to blind peoples’ hearing. It becomes more acute. When you “can’t see” color, your . . .

Stephen Crowley

I hadn’t heard of Stephen Crowley before noticing this NY Times report on the East Coast earthquake and his accompanying series of pictures of the Washington Monument. According to this showcase page also on the NYT:

Stephen Crowley has spent most of his career masquerading as a newspaper photographer while producing idiosyncratic projects that push the boundaries of photojournalism and reveal unvarnished truths behind his most frequent subject: Washington politics.

Some of his pictures like this are wonderful observations. Others both clever and funny. Tell me if you don’t give you a laugh.

Photo Professional

August’s Photo Professional carries the third of my four-part series on aspects of workflow.

This time I’m looking at raw processing but not from the usual angle of how to squeeze out the best image quality. Instead I discuss how to respond to the problems caused by having large numbers of raw files to process. So the article looks at how one can automate Photoshop and the pros and cons of actions, scripts, droplets and Configurator.

Eventually though you have to recognise that you’re trying rather too hard to turn a program designed to work on one image into a batch processing tool worthy of Heath Robinson (Rube Goldberg). So the article then looks at the role the new workflow tools such as Lightroom and Aperture.

September’s article, a sceptic’s guide to colour management and soft proofing, is already submitted.

War photographers talk

See The shot that nearly killed me, a Guardian special report where war photographers talk about their profession (not sure that’s the word). There are some horrific pictures and lots of comments like “I’d just finished a master’s in photojournalism and thought I’d go to Pakistan to cover the elections.” or “This is the last picture I took before I got shot”, but probably the most shocking words were from João Silva who continued taking pictures after stepping on a mine:

I’ve spent enough time out there for my number to come up. I was one of the few who kept going back to Iraq. People think you do this to chase adrenaline. The reality is hard work and a lot of time alone. Firefights can be exciting, I’m not going to lie, but photographing the aftermath of a bomb, when there’s a dead child and the mother wailing over the corpse, isn’t fun. I’m intruding on the most intimate moments, but I force myself to do it because the world has to see those images. Politicians need to know what it looks . . .

Christian Tagliavini

A striking image jumped off the front of the latest Cam magazine yesterday. At first I thought it might be a restored painting, as Cam usually contains articles on historical and academic subjects, but as soon as I realised it was a photograph I lost no time in tracking down its creator. That was Christian Tagliavini and apparently he carefully constructs his mise-en-scenes:

Swiss-Italian, born in 1971, educated in Italy and Switzerland, where he lives and works as an graphic designer and a photographer. This provides him the perfect frame and background to invent, create and totally produce images that blend fine arts and craftsmanship.

No, not simply images, as Christian Tagliavini loves designing stories with open endings (requiring observer’s complicity) on unexplored themes or unusual concepts, featuring uncommon people with their lives and their thoughts made visible. This rich and exciting collision of circumstances results in photos as a final product.

I also liked his Dame di Cartone series where he created costumes from cardboard, . . .

Still feeling

Andrew Burton has some interesting thoughts Regarding Parachute Journalism:

Accusers of parachute journalists say, “they fly into hotspots around the globe, enter cultures they have no understanding of, work in places where they don’t speak the language, tell surface level stories of what has occurred and leave before the story has truly been completed.” Accusers say, “this style of watered-down news turns major stories that deserve in-depth, localized reporting into pop-trivia facts and catch phrases for the nightly news.”

Having just been to Egypt for their revolution, and now Japan, those comments hit me pretty hard. I find myself thinking, “jeez, I don’t want to be a part of that, those parachute journalists sound like terrible people.” And to an extent, their accusers are correct – to turn those accusations on myself: I don’t speak Arabic or Japanese, I don’t know a lot about Egyptian or Japanese culture, and I haven’t been able to stay in either country to tell the long term stories about what happens after the . . .

Max Lebanon

Just been listening to Max Milligan on Excess Baggage talking with Beirut hostage John McCarthy about his Lebanon project and discussing the artistic rather than a photo-journalistic motives behind his pictures. When you make pictures such as this, I’m wondering if there’s any conflict at all between the two.

Also see Robert Fisk’s article. “Max Milligan’s imperishable photographs of Lebanon – and I have to say that he has sought out things that I have either never seen or have forgotten in the 34 years I have lived here – do not avoid the war”

Your man in Yemen

From the opening paragraphs of Don Whitebread’s fascinating Yemen: A Leap Back in Time, and a Creative Transition it’s obvious it wouldn’t be the usual type of landscape photography porn  :

I love a good adventure, but that usually involves the Great American West, not some place with tribal kidnappings and Al Qaeda training camps. What finally turned the tide was reading the first chapters of the book Joshua was writing about his experiences in Yemen, and realizing that this was a place and culture unlike any I had imagined, and the opportunity of a lifetime. Risk was overwhelmed by curiosity, and the chance to photograph, guided by an insider’s knowledge, in an unknown place on the other side of the world.

There are more wonderful pictures of Yemen, and lots more excellent b&w landscapes, on his web site.

A quicky before lunch?

You’d think I was Chinese if you knew how often I seem to be killing time before a dim sum, but a damp Sunday morning is also good for getting to an exhibition so yesterday I nipped into the National Portrait Gallery for the Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize (I saw Jason Bell‘s An Englishman in New York show too).

What did I think? Well, it was OK, not too bad. Plenty of fine portraits such as this one of Charlie Waite or Felix Carpio’s Wafa, but nothing that really wowed me (Bell’s show had a few stunners). I suppose I wasn’t too taken with the predominance of not-quite-heroin-chic – undernourished bored-looking people stuck onto drab environments (for example). Nowhere near enough b&w either, though I liked Sylvain Deleu’s gymnast (better ones on his web site?) and far too many pictures claiming to be “explorations”.

The winner itself doesn’t do much for me. The subject matter, a teenage girl who has just killed her first wild animal for sport, is well-framed and provocative. I couldn’t help feeling the picture would have been . . .

SnakE Oil and image metadata

Take a look at two excellent articles by David Riecks – The Top 12 Myths about Embedded Photo Metadata and Why Embedded Photo Metadata Won’t Help Your SEO (at least without some help) :

There have been several recent articles, such as “The Definitive Guide to SEO for Images: 6 Steps to Image-Ranking Success” by Stephen Chapman, and “How To Add Embedded Meta Data To Your Images For Relevant Image Search” from NateBal, that recommend adding embedded information to the images on your website in order to enhance your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). While the idea certainly has merit, and I’m all for encouraging the practice of added embedded metadata to . . .

An innocent crop?

This is probably going to be the memorable image of Wednesday’s student demo in central London, but as Ciara Leeming writes, almost all picture desks have used the same, rather misleading crop:

It might just be me but the wider view poses some interesting questions about the media’s role in events like this demo. Without all the photographers egging on people like this student, or EDL meatheads on extreme right-wing marches, would this kind of drama happen to the extent it does?

….Maybe they [picture editors]  just think it’s the better photo, that it tells the story better. I happen to disagree. The wide shot tells me everything I need to know and more. As the print business continues to evaporate, there seems to be a collective will to collude, self-censor,  and avoid – at all costs – taking a critical stance on its own role and behaviour. Maybe it was always thus, I don’t know.

I think Ciara has a point, but I do wonder if it’s too much of an examination of . . .

Paranoid photographer

Though the spark may come from having enjoyed OK Computer in the car the same day as watching a Black Sabbath documentary on the BBC, a couple of recent posts seemed worth bundling into one gloom-filled diatribe. In one, Mark Wilson is having to bury one of his Lua progeny and writes an obituary “Death of a Lighroom plug-in”:

Earlier this week drop.io announced that it was acquired by Facebook and will be stopping its excellent file sharing and collaboration service.

This in turn has the effect of killing all the great products that were created based on the drop.io platform…including my Photo-drop Lr plug-in for Adobe Lightroom.

I’ve never used drop.io (and dislike Facebook with a growing intensity) but I heard about the acquisition earlier in the week and my alarming first thought was that it was something connected to Dropbox, which I do use. As far as I can tell, they are totally-unrelated services, so alarm over. Or not quite – cloud storage leaves you at the system owner’s mercy. And will that ever change?

"Sharing" sounds . . .

Cover girl

The Financial Times used to be almost daily reading material…. OK, that’s a lie, despite my murky past, but I came across this article on the market for fine art photography concentrating on Annie Liebowitz’s predicament. Given how much she has enjoyed access to subjects who would attract collectors:

Leibovitz thus has the potential to do what Avedon and Penn did – to become as highly valued as an artist as a commercial photographer. The fact that she has not achieved it, so far at least, is because of something more vital than access, maybe even talent. It is something that has bedevilled the photography world from the technology’s earliest days. She lacks rarity value.

While in a sense it’s a matter of her having created too many well-known images, I can’t help but feel that with a bit of marketing spin such as “limited edition printed by Buddhist monks on 1 kilo platinum-infused paper stock” you’d attract Russian oligarchs and money launderers or Abu Dhabi sheikhs who’ll pay big money for any old crap. But perhaps the moral is that to . . .