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A How-To, a Gallery, a Controversy

September 24th, 2013 No Comments

Our weekly three-pack includes the usual tutorial and online gallery but the third component is a photography controversy which category is a weekly staple on our Pro blog.

The Einstein Monolight

We had featured this marvellously versatile piece of gear on our pro blog not too long ago.  Here it is on our retail blog as the subject of a nice tutorial by Rob Taylor on phototuts+ in which the focus is squarely on freezing action.

The amazing feature about this monolight is that this very professional piece of equipment’s “menu is as easy as operating, say, a phone or scientific calculator”!  You can learn how to use it easily, step by simple step.

In his tutorial, Taylor explains how you can set the Einstein to “1/10,000th sec at 1/16th power” and thus use it as a budget strobe to (nearly) freeze a sparrow’s flapping wings and flying water droplets.

Coast to Coast 

Ever thought of driving from New York to California?  That’s what Matt Borkowski did and he has posted some of his images on The Leica Blog.

 These are not ‘Art Photos’ but are snapshots by an unsettled wayfarer; as Borkowski tells it, they are just “some of my favorite images so far from our journey to California.”

He has managed to do quite an amazing job of portraying or expressing loneliness or solitariness.  We see man alone at the end of the land and woman alone at the literal ‘End’ of the road. 

Other images, notably a fine and appealing composition of a coastal town, various vessels, and an aircraft’s wing, impart that feeling of unsettled wanderlust that the photographer conveys in his short writeup.

“I am (HIV)-Positive” – Not

Getty Images sold a photo of a young female model to the New York State Division of Human Rights, which photo was then used for an HIV-Positive awareness campaign.  The problem was that the model is not HIV-Positive, nobody sought her consent, and she suffered a few awkward questions with family and friends as a result of the “I am Positive” admission improperly attributed to her.

Michael Zhang on PetaPixel has the story of this Brooklyn model who is now suing both Getty Images and the NYDHR for compensation.  

What Getty and NYDHR did is very controversial; what the model has done in response is not remotely so.


Awards, Prizes, and Neil Leifer’s Knockouts

September 23rd, 2013 No Comments

Today’s post is all about awards and prizes and who won what, such as—

Maja Daniels wins Getty Images’ Portrait Prize

Out of 721 photographers vying for the $10,000 prize plus a solo exhibition in Paris, Maja Daniels hit the jackpot, reports BJP.  She won Getty Images’ inaugural Contour Portrait Prize.

Daniels’s winning project ‘Mady and Monette’ is about twins who are Parisian peripatetic performers.  Visit her website for some of the images.

Tim Hetherington wins the 2013 McCrary Award for Excellence

Tim Hetherington was a brave and celebrated war photographer who died in a combat zone in Libya in 2011.  Yesterday, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society posthumously awarded him its McCrary Award for Excellence, reports BJP.

Hetherington was a Magnum Photos lensman and had distinguished himself in documentaries and photo books, besides on the front.  An exhibition of his work is being hosted by Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery.

Frank Gaylord wins $684,844 

This 600 Grand Award won by Frank Gaylord is not a prize for a photographer but a lawsuit’s ‘winnings’ for a sculptor!

However, a photographer and a photo is at the centre of it all.  Marine John Alli took a photograph of Gaylord’s Korean War Memorial sculpture which was used by the United States Postal Service on a stamp, reports Michael Zhang on PetaPixel.

This improper usage of a ‘war’ memorial photograph led to a lawsuit and after the initial ‘skirmishes’ Gaylord’s lawyer took out the ‘heavy artillery’ and won the 600K ‘spoils of war’ for his client.

Neil Leifer wins . . . by knockout!

Sports Photographer Neil Leifer has won an award or two so he belongs in this post.  The featured story is not about him winning another prize, though.  In a particularly fine edition of Darkroom, we get to see Leifer discussing his photos while the Sports Museum holds a retrospective of his work.

If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool sports fan, you know who Neil Leifer is but if the name doesn’t ring a bell for you, this photo will – guaranteed.  Leifer took it, as he did this work of art the night a big-talkin’ ‘Lip’ put a ‘Big Cat’ to sleep. 

Leifer’s photography is . . . a knockout!


Three-Pack Tuesday featuring Parkour

September 17th, 2013 No Comments

Our weekly three-pack takes in a specialist mini-gallery, a mirrorless compact, and a how-to.


This (very) specialized mini-gallery on the Nikon Blog is about an emergent urban ‘x-sport’ that originated in Palestine from whence it gradually spread to Europe: Parkour.

 Claudiu Voicu is “a former parkour athlete” and “professional street sports photographer” so he brings the sensitivity of the athlete to his photography.

This sport, generally associated with marginalized social classes on the fringes, somehow suggests a post-civilizational, even dystopic, view in its imagery.  After all, where is the sports field?  The competitor(s)?  The spectators?  All we see are massive monoliths of concrete and someone who looks like a ‘street tough.’

These facts combine to offer a photographer a very different, and much more artistic, challenge than traditional sports does.  Look at the images and see if you agree.

If they inspire you to try your hand at photographing Parkour, take in Voicu’s tips: compose for the “colourful clothing” in the settting of “the urban landscape.”


The new Fujifilm X-M1 has just been reviewed by Jeff Keller and Andy Westlake on DPReview.

This is a high performance camera that is low maintenance.  In other words, novices who have no desire to creep up to amateur status but do want to take the finest possible photographs may find that the X-M1 is tailor-made for them.

Consider what Keller and Westlake have to say about the sensor: “We’ve been impressed with this 16 megapixel X-Trans APS-C CMOS sensor in our reviews of cameras like the X-E1 and X100S, with JPEG quality so high that you rarely need to use Raw.”

Coupled with that, this camera has different AE modes, filters, and all the electronic and wireless features one could want.  It also stands out from the crowd on a few criteria, such as excellent fill-in flash.

In the tradition of its predecessors, the image quality is more than just a good value for money; it is “exceptional.”


Shutterbug’s fascinating how-to is low on words and high on the pictures.  They teach and explain by illustration as to just how and when to make use of Shallow Depth of Field.

The usages range from creating “painterly effects” to setting off pin-sharp silhouettes to leading and holding the eye on a particular subject.

This tutorial, if nothing else, is a treat on the eyes.

Where Facial Aspect Tends to Form: David English’s B&W Images

September 16th, 2013 No Comments

If ever there was a Photographic category for which colour is not only wholly superfluous, but, unwelcome, and for which black-and-white is ideal, it’s sculpture, particularly of the human form.  (And this from someone who is a proponent of the merits of colour and its general superiority over black-and-white!)

That’s the first impression one gets and the last conclusion one draws from David English’s gallery, Ethereal Shadows, on the Leica Blog.  It contains images of statutary in The Melaten-Friedhof (Melaten Cemetery) in Cologne.

These images are – obviously – studies in form.  But they also have to do with lighting, expression, and – even – emotion.  That emotion is where the ‘expression’ comes in, both intrinsic to the sculptural subject – the sculptor’s expression – as well as that assumed and projected by the photographer.  (Indeed, the photographer says, “For me, the familiar aspect of Melaten relates to my background in classic films. . . . They are often highly stylized with sharp contrasts between brightly and darkly lit areas. Echoing the public’s fascination with psychoanalysis, they tend to project a highly subjective point of view onto the outside world.”)

An image that (quite evidently) combines all these elements to the maximum is ‘L2030606.’  Compare that with ‘L2030340’, another image that also combines the same elements.   But what an immense difference in the emotion and also the expression thereof: the second sculpture’s facial aspect is sorrowful and grief-stricken whereas that of the first one reveals a state of blessed peace, and so the direct, frontal shot and the harsh, dramatic lighting dovetail with, and accentuate, the emotion and expression of the sculptor that are intrinsic to the sculpture itself.  Would switched treatments (in composition, angle and lighting) not have detracted (significantly detracted) from the expression intrinsic to each sculpture?

These inanimate subjects provide a situation where faces lend themselves to black-and-white treatment.  In many or most of these sculptures the facial aspect is a non-complex expression of a particular emotion or state of being, and there is no issue of eye/hair colouration, skin tones, or complexion; therefore, in this case, the facial aspect tends to form.  It is because of the, in this case, face-tends-to-form factor that black-and-white is the right choice for photographing faces.

A careful examination of these photographs will actually yield two lessons.  The first is to recognize when and where to use black-and-white.  This would be (among others) in situations where, to paraphrase Vince Lombardi, “Form isn’t everything, form is the only thing.”  From which we can draw the second lesson as a corollary: depending on what your artistic objectives and intentions are, black-and-white may actually be the better choice when photographing a human subject.

Most Photogenic Religion and Other Curiosities

September 10th, 2013 No Comments

Our semi-weekly tri-pack takes in a camera, a gallery, and an interesting news post.

Brand New from Olympus

Photography sites are abuzz today with Olympus’s new offering: a 16.1 MP Four-Thirds.  That’s the OM-D E-M1.  The big selling point is super-fast AF, named ‘Dual Fast AF.’  In addition, as long as you have a ‘Regular’ or Micro Four-Thirds lens mounted, the camera can focus on any one of 37 phase-detection focus points or focus by 81 contrast-detection target areas.

The camera has a few other upgrades from the previous model; these include an improved grip and improved EVF.  Philip Ryan has a comprehensive overview in Popular Photography which covers such improvements while Chris Cheesman’s summary in Amateur Photographer touches on the high points, coupled with an insight and a conjecture.

The OM-D E-M1 has a wonderful mix of necessary and customary pro functions plus enthusiast features, such as ‘Art Filters.’

World Photographic Cup

FIFA and ICC, watch out: football and cricket ain’t the only sports in town boasting a World Cup.  Another ‘Federation’ has announced another ‘World Cup’, this one for photogsZoltan Arva-Toth has the scoop on Photography Blog.

The sports model extends to the fact that competition will be by way of national teams!   (Coloured jerseys mandatory? Arva-Toth omits this key information.)  The call for entries has already been met by nineteen countries.  Oz is going to send a team.  (Our insider reports say that Shane Warne is arguing with the AIPP that he should be captain.)

We’ll know whether or not this is a real World Cup on finals day simply by observing the winning team’s behaviour: will they take victory laps and squirt champagne all over the place? 

Most Photogenic Religion

Some religious denominations are just more photogenic than others and the drama of Pentecostalism makes it a strong contender for ‘Most Photogenic Religion.’  Damaso Reyes’s photo-story on Pentecostalism on the Leica Blog is proof of this assertion.  Trances, shakes and wailing are in evidence.  

This gallery is brilliant photojournalism that brings a good few ‘decisive moments.’  Don’t neglect to notice some astute use of light (there’s a photo of a woman and a boy, each in religious fervour, but light is treated or employed very differently in these photographs such that each ‘light’ somehow suits the singular fervour of the subject).  

There’s a funny parallel at work in this photo-story: Reyes explains, “Pentecostals believe in the primacy of the direct relationship between god and the believer.”  Well, his photos get the viewer ‘inside the skin’ of his subjects, thus he creates something of a “primacy of the direct relationship” between his subjects and the viewer.


The Gorgeous Hues of Robert Caplin’s Photojournalism

September 9th, 2013 No Comments

It is enough to merely absorb the rich – even intense – and lustrous hues of Robert Caplin’s photographs and luxuriate in them.  How he does it is reflected in what he is principally drawn to: “First and foremost, I’m attracted to beautiful light both hard and soft,” explains Caplin in a just-published interview on the Leica Blog.

Caplin’s work is regularly featured in America’s premier periodicals including National Geographic – but you wouldn’t need to be informed of this fact if you but look at this classically NatGeo image.

To the question, “Was or is there a . . . type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?” Caplin unhesitatingly answers, “Absolutely – photojournalism.”  The article supplies gobs of pictorial proof demonstrating this fact.  However, inclination towards photojournalism hitched to a preference for colour results in a wonderful departure from conventional B&W photojournalism: witness the photo of a homeless man or panhandler and other pedestrians at night with a brightly-lit stall to one side.  A B&W image would not have put over the tonal contrasts and realism that Caplin’s colour version does.

Caplin clearly does not only capture a moment – decisive or otherwise – or a situation or an event; he sees and brings out the hues that are inherent in the moment, situation or event.  Indeed, you can partly infer this from one of his methods of working: “Sometimes I’ll find a pocket of light and simply wait for a person or a moment to pass through.”  The photo taken in the evening of a man repairing a window of a brick house is a prime example of this mode of operation that resulted in a photo with lovely hues and colour temperatures due to different light sources.

Sometimes “the person or moment” is no more than a small silhouette bringing the gentlest and deftest of human touches to what is primarily a sedate study in architecture, composition, light and textures.  On other occasions colour, composition and light serve to support and accentuate what is primarily a spontaneous portrayal of human emotions and, indeed, that “moment” depicting a memorable instant in a human life.

It is this unusual combination of factors and approach that make Robert Caplin truly an unique photographer.


Room Portraits and Street Shots

September 3rd, 2013 No Comments

Room Portraits

Photographers have been embarking upon some unusual projects of late.  We’ve seen families in different countries with their food and children of different nationalities with their toys on this blog. 

Now, Menno Aden joins the club with photographs of rooms with their . . . things!  The genesis of ‘Room Portraits’ was sheer chance, explains Lori Fredrickson on Popular Photography.  Nevertheless, the final concept was to “capture an overhead view of an entire room” to show the room for what it is: a space inhabited and designed to a person’s particular tastes and needs for that space.

Six of Aden’s varyingly vertiginous views are available online.  Perhaps the word ‘portrait’ is not as out-of-place as one might initially think it to be: doesn’t this functional and sterile operating room have a markedly different ‘personality’ than this colourful and chaotic lived-in living room?

Street Shots

The Leica Blog has posted an article about a classic street shooter; he who moves unobtrusively and in stealth.  As the photographer, Cyril Jayant puts it: “I always attempt to be discreet and not to show my presence . . . .”

Jayant captures moments in time, seeing what other persons may miss.  Take the photo of a dozen-plus legs surrounding one cute pooch (a seeing eye dog, probably).  If the crop had been tighter in the upper-right corner, the dog’s eyes would have been the only eyes in the frame.  As it is, he pops out of the picture, given the tones (near-white amid dark greys and blacks).

Or take the photo of a pair of legs.  Is he repairing something?  Or just sleeping off a few beers?  In any event, it’s funny!  That’s not coincidental; Jayant’s interviewer noticed it too and asked him about “[h]umor and whimsy [being] strong elements . . .” in his work.

Other elements in his photography are mood, ambiguity, and story, and all three are seen to a ‘T’ in ‘Cyesta;’ an image with several possible explanations and no ‘right’ one.

Also worth a look is the vision Jayant carries on his jaunts.  Would you believe that Paris’s Jardin de Luxembourg from the right angle and right time on a grey snowy evening turns into a still from the original Bela Lugosi Dracula?


Galleries: Stillness and Quietude; and Action and Movement

August 27th, 2013 No Comments
Leica compact cameras

Leica compact cameras (Photo credit: Nickolas Titkov)

Today we take a look at very ‘contrasty’ online galleries, two that are mostly action and movement; the other ‘composed’ of stillness and quietude – because it’s underwater!

Located in  in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cenote Angelita is an ‘underwater river.’  As oxymoronic and bizarre as that may sound, apparently there is such a thing.  DL Cade on PetaPixel has the explanation as to what an ‘underwater river’ is and how it comes about.  More pertinent to this blog, he also introduces the amazing photographs of Anatoly Beloshchin.

They’re among the weirdest yet coolest photos you’ll ever see because, though “You see banks, trees, mud and leaves strewn about in the same way you would at a normal river you might see flowing through the forest,” the photographs are clearly taken underwater – it’s a river beneath a river!

One or two of the photos are ‘positively’ unearthly – after all, you don’t expect to swim in scuba gear above what is clearly a river, do you?

Petapixel’s webpage also provides a short video of Beloshchin’s amazing excursion.

If your taste runs toward action and movement, head over to the Leica Blog and take your pick: Tobin Yelland’s photographs of skateboarders with an interview by Mark Whiteley or Robin Sinha’s photographs of Muay Thai Fighters accompanied by an interview.  Which do you like – the movement of a punch or the motion of a skateboarder?

Initial looks may deceive, however.  These two mini-galleries have something in common in that they capture and convey the essence of their subjects in private, personal moments: as carefree skateboarders and focussed practitioners.

 Both mini-galleries also take in what is part and parcel of their respective subjects’ surroundings and ways of life: would you believe that a skateboarder can get bloodied like a Muay Thai fighter?  And that in Thailand, the King is omnipresent and watches from everywhere, including from even above arena entrances?

As such, both mini-galleries are comprised of documentary images that would be of special interest to those who’re interested in skateboarding or martial arts.


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Amazing and Tweet-worthy Photo News!

August 20th, 2013 No Comments

Yesterday we had blogged about World Photography Day.  In our weekly roundup of Interesting and Unusual Photography News, we’ll see how a group of Visual Arts students from an Indian college marked this day.

First, though, how about an amazing gallery of Amazing Animals” brought to us by The Vancouver Sun.  The reason this is (really) ‘amazing’ is that all this wildlife has been shot in a city park!   

This 20-plus image gallery actually also has ‘amazing’ photographs: check out this tweet-worthy photograph of a bird apparently feeding its young.  Things get ‘amazing’ in another way too: what on earth is this?  

This gallery will bring inspiration to any citified photographer who can’t find any wildlife to shoot.

Only last week we had alerted you to a photograph of a rare natural phenomenon: a waterspout and rainbow together.  As strange as it may be, another photographer repeated the act.  Maciej Winiarczyk, shooting in Scotland, captured a photo of the Aurora Borealis together with noctilucent clouds which are “somewhere between 47 and 53 miles high in the mesosphere, they are composed entirely of ice crystals and can only be seen between certain latitudes during twilight.”

You can see – make that you must see – the gorgeous photograph with otherworldly hues on PetaPixel (via Astronomy Picture of the Day) alongwith a time-lapse of the seldom-seen sight.  Tweet-worthy encore!

Anyone who likes the British Royals and Baby Pictures is up for a double treat, for a few hours back The Daily Mail published a picture story by Rebecca English entitled How portraits of royal babies have changed through the generations.

This delightful feature takes us from Sir Cecil Beaton’s artistic portrait study of Queen Elizabeth with infant Prince Charles in 1948 to casual snapshots of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) with infant Prince George (and a lovely black spaniel) taken mere days back.  

In between 1948 and 2013, photos of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in their pomp and glory with baby Prince William are also on display.

This picture story brings to the fore changing social attitudes, as reflected in the baby photos, even in Great Britain’s royal family.

What, then, did those Indian college students get up to yesterday?  Well, even as they documented slum conditions for posterity, they brought smiles on the faces of the slum-dwellers.  

Amutha Kannan, writing in The Hindu, has the story.  About 40 students from Hindusthan College of Arts and Science decided to celebrate World Photography Day by giving slum-dwellers something to celebrate: the rare pleasure of having their picture taken – and given to them!  The students took a printer with them and handed out free 6x4s to their happy subjects.

The Talking Point about the Nikon Photography Contest

August 8th, 2013 No Comments
Nikon Ohi Factory

Nikon Ohi Factory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our two just-previous posts had to do with Nikon gear and a major contest.  Let’s close out the week by combining these two topics: The Nikon Contest!  This year’s contest results were announced two days back.  

Nikon is an innovator not only in photographic gear, but (and very obviously) in photography contests: witness the types of categories: Photo story (two to five images presenting a theme or idea), Photographic video (45 seconds in length), and a special new category, ‘Motion Snapshot’ made with the Nikon 1.  Get all the facts and figures from Zoltan Arva-Toth’s report in Photography Blog and the contest entry page.

Head on over to the somewhat curiously-designed winning entries page.  You’ll learn here that there a final judges meeting over two days during which a multi-session symposium was also conducted.

Click on each category (and not a particular image) to view the winners, such as Category C.  (Note, though, that if you want to view what Nikon calls “detail information about each work” you’ll have to visit the site again on or after 13th August.)

Category D’s winners are the most overtly humourous and most of Category B’s winners clearly lean towards Photojournalism.  Category A’s winners, however, make for a major talking point.

Category A was an open category for stills but this category’s winners circle is striking – astounding: for it almost seems as if this were one very narrowly-defined category: “Simple, Direct Compositions Involving Humans, and Telling a Little Story.”  Fully a dozen winners exactly fit this description with only one (‘The Sun Comes Out’) not fitting it at all!  How amazing that a big – B-I-G – judges panel ended up choosing winning photos with such a strongly-unifying common thread.

That interesting fact revealed, Category A’s strongly-typed winners include some beautiful images that are classically artistic, ‘Brassai-an’, and evocatively descriptive in their execution or style.


Too bad we have to wait another week for Nikon to publish these images in “detail information.”



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