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Archive for February, 2013

Of Scanning Cameras and Martian Panoramas

February 27th, 2013 No Comments

It’s time for our weekly fix of odd and unusual photography news and today’s three-pack is surely one of the most eclectic yet connected ones we’ve had thus far.

The Mother of all Panoramas

Yesterday on our pro blog we brought you a tutorial that explains How to go Big, one method behind which is to Stitch a panorama.

Dan Havlik seems to have stumbled across the mother of all panoramas, created by Andrew Bodrov.  And this is no ordinary panorama, it is a 360-degree interactive panorama.  But here’s the kicker: it’s on . . . Mars!  Bodrov apparently stitched it together from NASA images.

Take a spin and check out the Red Planet.  As fascinating as the terrain is, what’s most interesting is to tilt upward and see what the ‘sky’ and the Sun look like on Mars.

‘Oh Snap!’ or ‘Oh Claptrap!’?

There’s another way to be ‘interactive’ – interact with the exhibits at an exhibition!  That’s what Oh Snap! Your Take on Our Photographs at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh attempts to do.  In this “collaborative photography project” that got underway one week back, visitors to the exhibition are invited to return with their own photographs that ‘respond’ to or have some connection with a work at the exhibition, and submit them.  If accepted, they’re set on the wall close to the ‘parent’ “inspiration.”

According to Nikita Mishra’s news story there was quite a ‘response’.

Hmm.  Is the intention to spot photographic talent?  Is it a new fad that panders to egos?  Is the goal to reel in those all-important admission fees?  Or is this a valid mode of exhibiting and artistic expression?

The ‘Scanning Camera’: John Neff’s ‘Camera-Scanner’

Confusing, isn’t it?  Whatever it is, there’s no ‘Oh Snap’ here, rather, there’s an ‘Um Whirrr’.  That’s because John Neff’s cameras are “made without shutters or viewfinders, [instead they] capture images using a slow-moving linear scanning array, rather than a full-field sensor,” explains Chicago Artist’s Resource.  

The idea is to allow time to elapse while the scanner scans the composition and creates a photograph with an antique look.  These cameras took a lot of time and trouble to construct for photographs that look like ones you can see in this slideshow.

Art or gimmick?  Knotty questions once again!  The Renaissance Society, however, likes Neff’s camera-scanner photos well enough to host a solo exhibition.  One thing’s for sure: they have an unusual tonal range and texture


Photography’s Eternal Rivalry: Canon v. Nikon

February 26th, 2013 No Comments

—Well, from the 1970s until now is an eternity in electromechanical equipment and gadgetry with so many major names having fallen by the wayside; even vanishing – anyone remember Akai and NCR?  And, oh, what about Minolta and . . . Kodak?

—And here are Canon and Nikon, still duking it out with the latest face-off being brought to us by ePHOTOzine.  A head-to-head of the kind ePHOTOzine have laid out is not exactly unusual but it is a little extreme to split the difference in the ‘Dimension’ category and award partial victories!  Here’s how they do it:

       Nikon D600                                    Canon EOS 6D

141 x 113 x 82mm (WHD)          144.5x 110.5 x 71.2mm  (WHD)

Right – so Nikon wins on width and Canon takes it on height and depth.  Okay, so this is one seriously thorough comparison job.  The comparison is – as seen in the heading above – between the enthusiast or semi-pro DSLRs of each maker, the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D.

Canon’s drift towards the Cloud and connectivity and Nikon staying closer and truer to photography’s fundamentals is ‘exposed’ by what each has chosen to include and omit.  Canon’s DSLR has built-in WiFi and GPS while Nikon provides optional adaptors; Nikon provides a built-in flash plus hotshoe but with Canon you get only hotshoe.  

That said, these cameras are packed to the rafters with go-go features like HDR, that go-go feature from yesteryear, multiple exposure, and much more.

For the most part, they are extremely well matched with little to choose between them on any factor.  For the rest of them, for every left hook landed by one, its adversary connects with a right cross.  The Nikon nicks it in Switch on Time to Taking a Photo but the Canon runs away with image quality at high ISO.  Canon edges it in white balance performance in different lighting while Nikon lumps its opponent in focus points.

In truth, the Nikon versus Canon face-off is not about quality or features and never was: it was and is about subjectivity and personal preferences, plus the somewhat different territory each had staked out: Nikon, with its original all-mechanical F3 flagship, was a relatively conservative brand for traditionalist pros; Canon, with its innovative electronic AE-1 hit, was a relatively forward-looking brand for with-the-times pros.  Though that distinction is not quite so pronounced today, it’s still a fair one to make.

Anyone interested in this eternal rivalry should check out ePHOTOzine’s blow-by-blow account.  Scroll down to the bottom for their detailed tale-of-the-tape.


The “Candid Moment [with] a Story Behind It” —Eric Kim

February 25th, 2013 No Comments
Logo for Leica Camera

Logo for Leica Camera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only a few days back we blogged about a photographer from South Korea who cut his teeth in America.  Today we bring to you a photographer from America who has a portfolio on South Korea.  The ‘contrasts’ continue: the South Korean photographer shoots in a derivative, personalized ‘fine art’ style while the American espouses a more documentary, hard-edged, ‘classic’ street shooting style.  As street shooters, though, both have one thing in common: a love of Leica.

Though this Leica interview is from May 2011, it’s worth checking out Eric Kim: Korean Street Photographer from Los Angeles as a sharp ‘contrast’ to The “Fine Art Street Photography” of K. Chae.

The phrase “candid moments of everyday life” defines Kim’s style well and the sentence “street photography . . . is less about the image but more about the story behind it” completes the definition as it distinguishes his style from Chae’s.  This photograph of two women sharing an umberella on a rainy night (somewhat reminiscent of Brassai?) is the exemplification of Kim’s street shooting philosophy.

Check out this somewhat Cartier-Bresson’ish image (a very high compliment, yes).  The static pose of the mime (or statue, whichever it is) is set off wonderfully by the moving woman, with the viewer’s eye enjoying a further distraction in the geometric lines and curves of the interior architecture.

Here’s something radically different: an overtly geometric, symmetrical and artistic photograph.  This image also projects a sense of direction: notice the narrow beams of light in the top half of the image and the broader ones at the bottom (both of which are laterally symmetrical and directed upwards), the movement of the bicyclist, and the arrow at the bottom.

Kim is also an active blogger who plugs other photographers, offers tips, and announces his workshops.  You may want to read a few tips or attend a workshop if you want to capture a “candid moment [with] a story behind it” as in this delightful image.

Going back to Kim’s definition of his style, perhaps he is more versatile than he thinks he is: doesn’t this sharply gradated, evocative, unusual silhouette count as . . . ‘Fine Art Street Photography’?


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The “Fine Art Street Photography” of K. Chae

February 20th, 2013 No Comments
Logo for Leica Camera

Logo for Leica Camera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Fine art street photography” – at first glance that sounds like a contradiction in terms and also seems a little pretentious.  But before coming to a final judgement, take a tour of South Korean photographer K. Chae’s imagery and you may reconsider.

“My attention to color is what sets my work apart from other street photographers,” Chae says, in an interview published on the Leica Camera Blog. “People often comment that they confuse my photographs with paintings. I never shoot B&W.”  

On that note, here’s Exhibit A: a luscious photograph of a kneeling, slender maiden writing out the names of bakery items on a display case.  The careful composition, the ‘moment in time’, the ‘story’, the details, the splashes of colour – this is really a new approach to street shooting.

In diametric contrast is this photograph with literally two hues but infinite tints, a truly artistic composition, and an oddly hypnotic sense of depth (partly attained by perspective and partly by the combination of focal length, f-stop, and focus-point).  It’s almost an abstract composition (and it would look really hypnotic on a large canvas).

This photo again is street shooting (frankly, at its finest) but here ones sees lines – including leading lines – galore, lots of texture, and a clear story – in fact, this one picture tells two human interest stories.

Want some more?  Just set aside ten minutes, visit Chae’s website, and admire the enthralling slideshow.  If actions speak louder than words, so do pictures, and Chae’s portfolio ‘loudly’ proves that his work is truly “Fine art street photography”. 

Despite how Chae sets himself apart (as do his distinctly unusual ‘street shooting’ photos), like most street shooters his “primary weapon of choice” is (surprise, surprise!) that well-beloved of street-shooters, a Leica.  He loves it “because it is difficult to use,” as he is averse to “current developments of cameras where it seems cameras make the picture for you.”  

In addition to further particulars about Chae’s affinity for Leicas, the interview plumbs his philosophy of photographic art and, indeed, everything surrounding photography, such as the importance of learning and experience, the “shades of the earth,” and the need to nurture fresh talent.

In closing, if you haven’t clicked on any of the links above, take this on trust: don’t leave without clicking this one: if the saying “the eyes have it” is true, these ‘have it’ in spades.


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A Walk with Polly Borland, the A-Bomb, and Vampires!

February 19th, 2013 No Comments
The "Baker" explosion, part of Opera...

The “Baker” explosion, part of Operation Crossroads, a nuclear weapon test by the United States military at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on july 25th 1946. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our once-a-week walk on the quirky and unusual Byways of Photography takes us today to the South Pacific, Vampire Country, and the Land of Oz.

The South Pacific

We often hear the term ‘Mushroom Cloud’; it is improperly applied to most any detonation.  In Photos from the World’s First Underwater Nuclear Explosion, PetaPixel has published a staggering image of a true blue Mushroom Cloud.  Make that several staggering images.

America’s Bikini Atoll tests of nuclear weapons are quite (in)famous and these photos are of an underwater nuclear explosion from those tests.  PetaPixel writes “Due to the unique properties of underwater explosions, the Baker test produced a number of unique photographs that the world had never seen before.”

They forgot to write, “or since!” 

Look at the enlargement to see a ship being blasted into the air, scroll down and take a gander at the initial fireball, and check out the image of seamen looking at the explosion from a distance in what looks like a still from a war movie.

Vampire Country

“In the Serbian mountains near the Bosnian border lays the village of Zarozje” that is classic Vampire Country.  Martin Von Krogh has proven it in his photo story on Agence VU.  It is chock-a-block with grey and gloomy, highly atmospheric photos of a time-frozen land.  The low-contrast B&W photos enhance the effects.

The imagery Von Krogh presents is just perfect for one of those Christopher Lee ‘Dracula’ movies from Hammer Films.

Click on the link and admire photos of mysterious woods, superstitious villagers, forbidding graveyards, and (haunted?) old churchyards.  Brrr!  Wait, hang on—before you click the link, grab a bulb of garlic and a hawthorn stake . . . you just never know . . .

The Land of Oz

Let’s close close to home with a photographer that may have flown under the radar.

Several hours back, The West Australian published a story about the documentary that ABC aired about Borland and her “arresting, unsettling, unforgettable” images.

Borland’s website is confirmation that her images are indeed “arresting, unsettling, unforgettable.”  Here’s arresting, here’s unsettling and you can pick your own ‘unforgettable’.  That said, Borland’s photos are also hip and cool.

The West Australian writes in its story, “the work of Australian photographer Polly Borland is relatively unknown in her home country”.  Not anymore!


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Spotlight on Competitions and Contests

February 18th, 2013 No Comments
English: Canon EOS 5D digital SLR camera with ...

English: Canon EOS 5D digital SLR camera with Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 lens Suomi: Canon EOS 5D -digitaalijärjestelmäkamera Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 -objektiivilla (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days back the winners of the 56th World Press Photo Contest were announced.  See them all on The Darkroom.

World Press Photo is one of the most prestigious photo contests and it is heavily contested by many of the best photographers around the world.  A novice’s chances of winning it aren’t exactly bright.  Not to be despondent though: today we’re ‘shining a spotlight’ on competitions and contests.

We list several below with a new twist: the heading identifies what you can walk away with should you win that contest!

Before entering any contest/competition, please carefully read its rules and conditions of entry to avoid disappointment.

Pro Camera equipment worth R185,000

That’s an EOS 5D Mark III, 24-105L lens kit with selected accessories, an EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 L IS USM lens, and a Pixma Pro 9500 Mark II pigment inkjet printer for the winner plus fabulous prizes for two runners-up!  The prizes are from Canon and the competition is hosted by Sunday Times.  This competition is “for South Africa’s best wildlife and nature photographers” and, though the subject can be “anything environmental,” “judges will be on a special lookout for authentic work of less common wildlife and fascinating landscapes.”  It is open until 10th December.

Extreme outdoor photography clothing and a two-man hide

The prize of a hide (besides jacket, trousers and gloves) suggests wildlife photography; however, the topic of this competition is broader: the ‘Great Outdoors’.  Though you can submit a photograph of a Siberian Tiger on the hunt, photos of “a day out at the seaside” are just as acceptable.  The prize is courtesy of Stealth Gear and their ‘Great Outdoors’ Competition is open until 28th February.

Sony NEX-5R compact system camera 

Not a bad prize on offer from Chromasia and Goodman Business Parks for their architectural photography competition.  Now do you think you’d have an advantage if you entered a photo of a building managed by Goodman?(!)  You can submit your photograph of an architectural marvel until 25th February.

Nothing . . . well, ‘Publicity'(!)

If “email marketing, 70+ press release announcements, 75+ event announcement posts, extensive social media marketing and distribution” plus backlinks to your website appeal to you, enter Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery art competition.  Photographers can compete with illustrators to depict “‘Nature’ [which] is considered to be anything that was not created by or has been substantially altered by man.”  Closing date: 24th February.


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Ideas from Two Pros . . . and Caveats about Going Pro

February 15th, 2013 No Comments

One month back we published an article about photographers drawing inspiration from works of art.  Coincidentally, earlier today, Gina Milicia wrote, “Some people will tell you that it’s wrong to copy but for centuries, every generation of artist has imitated the masters before them” in an article about ‘5 Fail Proof Portrait Poses’

It is more of a post than an article but Milicia gives a few sharp and unusual suggestions and illustrates each with a photo.  Her post is not so much about static poses as commonly understood but includes dynamic ‘poses’ as well.  The aim is to relax a self-conscious subject and get him/her ‘loose’.  One suggestion: ask your subject to jump for joy!

Richard Bram is similar to Milicia in that he photographs people but dissimilar in that he shoots candids, “the quirkier moments in the events I was covering [which became the] beginning of the edgier street photographs,” as quoted in this interview with Bram on the Leica Blog.

Bram’s experiences in PR and personal bent are such that street photography is only one area that appeals to him – travel and musicians are also of interest to Bram.

This lengthy interview is worth reading for the in-depth ideas it conveys about a particular photographic approach and style in which the background is of vital importance and whose ultimate goal is to capture “the significant gesture.”

Bram says, “One evening at a party, I told a friend who’d run a fine art photography school in Louisville that I was thinking of becoming a photographer.”  If you are harbouring the same intentions, then before taking the plunge, read 10 Myths About Being a Professional Photographer by Ron Longwell.

Many of Longwell’s ‘heads-ups’ are spot-on and to-be-expected, like “Professional photographers get to set their own schedule.”  Yet others are equally spot-on but are surprising eye-openers, such as “The market is oversaturated with photographers.”  Isn’t it good to know that that is a myth?!

One or two of Longwell’s ‘myths’ are a bit odd.  For instance, “I need professional camera gear to be a pro photographer.”  Hmm, methinks you do need pro gear if you’re going to be a pro . . . better not turn up at that ad agency shoot with a Coolpix or Cyber-shot – else that may be the first and last day of your pro career!


The Holistic Photography Approach of Ben Evans

February 13th, 2013 No Comments

Ben Evans presents, not a tutorial, but, an unusual analysis and a partly philosophical approach in what he calls Holistic Photography,’ published on DPSchool.

Evans’s philosophical bent is made evident by sentences such as “The world is apparently 4.54 billion years old” and “If we were content with what the world presented us with, we would still be living in caves.”

As you read Evans’s article, you may well conclude that he ‘overthinks’ it.  Bear in mind that his contribution is an analysis-cum-approach to give a photographer a fresh perspective on our art-cum-science . . . having said which one may as well state that the article opens with exploring the polarity between art and science that some photographers – according to Evans – are wont to fall prey to.

Several questions and position-points demonstrate how and why a strong leaning either toward science or art is taken by a photographer, and how and why it is worthwhile to fuse the two into, shall we say, a ‘holistic’ approach.

Evans says that this can be done “by providing a structure, the Quartet” which comprises of “the Idea, the Light, the Composition and the Timing.”

This structure is nothing if not thorough.  Even Composition is subdivided into two parts; ‘Command’ and ‘Significance’.  Command can be considered the ‘hard’ and scientific aspect of Composition whereas Significance is the term for the ‘soft’ and subliminal cues in the Composition.  When broken up like that, one is provoked into putting in more careful consideration into the act of composing – but one may also run the risk of over-analyzing or overthinking a simple, natural opportunity.

Consider this: over and above a division between art and science, which Evans identifies, many photographers are gravitated toward, and have a bias for, one or another component of Evans’s ‘Quartet’!  Indeed, some famous photographers are renowned for their magical lighting (did someone say Adams?) while others are celebrated for ‘capturing the moment’ (Timing) (did someone say Cartier-Bresson?)

Because of this fact – notwithstanding Evans’s advocacy of holism – each photographer may find something in the ‘Quartet’ to expand his/her understanding of his/her own particular liking or bias!


Gehry + Gaudi + Escher + Goldberg = the Land of Kazanjianstan

February 12th, 2013 No Comments

Jim Kazanjian is one of an extremely rare breed in the photographic world: he is a photographic artist without being a photographer, for he “creates eerie landscapes without use of camera,” according to Daily Mail.  One look at the images in question and you’ll know that the Mail’s story title hits the nail right on the head as it calls Kazanjian “a mad architect” who creates “surreal images” “from another world.”  

Our weekly roundup of unusual photography news is on our sister blog this time; however, perhaps today’s post here is just as unusual . . .

Kazanjian’s Brave New Worlds (plural) – the one he has created and his Brave New World of Photographic Art merit an examination not just for their novelty but for their genuine quality and artistry.

As for the range of works, it spans the gamut from Near-Realism to Bizarro-World.  Cannot this little islet be the remains of a vandalized Roman-Era ruin?  Anyhow, this indescribable thingie is surely Bizarro-World incarnate!  Yet both are as appealing to the eye in their artistic quality as is this composite castle-manor-mill which might – just perhaps – actually exist.  (And if it doesn’t someone should really build it.)  

In truth, Kazanjian’s range is even wider: it ranges from realism all the way to Sci-Fi.

Kazanjian’s explosions too are so finely rendered that they could be stills from a Hollywood movie – notice the plumes of smoke and how palpable they are.  Also observe how realistic the ruined and burned material is at the base of the structure – yet with a trace of a dreamlike otherworldliness.  All this probably both implies and reflects the fact that Kazanjian puts together each image from unknown numbers of actual photographs and he has been a commercial CGI artist and worked for the likes of Intel and Adidas.

Welcome, then, to the magical Land of Kazanjianstan:– This is where the architectural brilliance of Frank Gehry, the creative whimsicality of Antonio Gaudi, the surreal unbelievability of M.C. Escher, and the madcap impossibility Rube Goldberg – with a dash of your dreams – intersect!


Reaching Out: Remembering Larry Burrows on his Death Anniversary

February 9th, 2013 No Comments
Larry Burrows

Larry Burrows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On rare occasions photographs become so famous, so instantly-recognizable, so much a part of a culture, that they become known by a short, informal name.  The Vietnam War spawned three such photographs: ‘Execution of a VietCong’ by Eddie Adams, ‘Napalm Girl’ by Nick Ut, and ‘Reaching Out’ by Larry Burrows.  Tomorrow, 10th February, is Burrows’s death anniversary.  He was killed in a helicopter crash after he had returned to Indochina in 1971 to cover the war’s spreading into Laos.

Larry Burrows was a staff photographer for LIFE and he travelled extensively, specializing, so to speak, in areas that were wracked with tumult and conflict.  Burrows was a famously discreet Englishman with a modest nature and a brave heart whose photographs were regularly printed in LIFE – except for his touchstone image, which was photographed in 1966 but not published until 1971. 

In ‘Reaching Out’, one looks into a devastated, otherworldly landscape; it is the slate on which a human drama seems to be playing out, frozen by Burrows’s camera: a wounded and stricken soldier is seated propped up against a blasted stump while a comrade, also wounded and looking equally stricken, seems to be ‘reaching out’ to him.  The ‘co-star’ soldiers around the Michelangelo-esque twosome lend human interest to this tension-fraught photograph.

The fact that Burrows captured a special and unique moment is made evident in a subsequent frame which shows that all the tension and ‘fraught-ness’ that permeates the iconic image dissipated in perhaps a minute.  That frame alongwith a remembrance to Burrows and his immortal photograph is available on LIFE’s Behind the Picture series.

You can see more Burrows photographs here and here where you will find a harrowing work of a bereaved Vietnamese woman and an emotional and touching one of a wounded youth receiving first aid.


No less than another fantastic war photographer, AP’s Horst Faas, who shot perhaps the most astonishing and remarkable portfolio of images of the Vietnam War, wrote: “Larry Burrows was the most versatile press photographer I knew . . . . If there would have been a vote for the most respected and loved newsperson in Vietnam, Larry would have almost certainly come out tops . . .”




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