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Weekly News: Photography is for the Astute and the Imbeciles!

March 23rd, 2013 No Comments

sipa (Photo credit: isriya)

Today, our weekly three-pack of Photography News is not quirky or wacky but curious – and very interesting and equally diverse.  We look at news from the past 24 hours about an alternative energy-source camera, a resurrected photo agency, and a celebrated French portrait photographer.

Sun and Cloud Camera

If you’re going to be in the desert for a month consider taking Superheadz’s Sun and Cloud camera with you.  You don’t have to worry about running out of juice because this kit makes its own juice from the sun’s rays or from (your) elbow grease.  It has a solar-power panel and a crank which you turn to charge the camera.  Who needs batteries or electricity?!

Unfortunately the specs are distinctly underwhelming, as reported by ImagingResource.  ISO of 100 or 800.  640×480 video.  A resolution of 3 MP.  This is either a novelty camera for science labs or that precious fallback you want to keep in your bunker if you’re one of those who wants to be ready for Doomsday.  With no batteries and no electricity, you’ll be one of the few to take photos of Humankind’s last few days if you have the Sun and Cloud Camera (or a good old Nikon F3).

Sipa Resurrected

And then there were four: Black Star, Magnum, Gamma, and Sigma were the survivors after one of the ‘Big Five’ Photo Agencies, Sipa, bit the dust in November . . . but only until yesterday: for that’s when a court approved a buyout offer made by Rex Features for 50 percent of Sipa with Isopix of Belgium shelling out for a minority stake. 

Sipa will now be known as Société Nouvelle Sipa or ‘SNS’, reports the BJP.

Miguel Ferro, CEO of Rex, says that photo agencies for the most part need to be remodelled: “Selling images accounts for just five percent of [Rex’s] revenues. Today, an agency cannot simply sell photographs, it has to offer different services to its clients. . . . we’ll have to change people’s mindsets.”

Sipa or SNS still has to navigate some treacherous shoals: retrenchment, pending lawsuits, claims on archival material.  Still, it’s good to know that one of the original old ‘Big Five’ photo agencies is still alive and kicking, and may make it to its Golden Anniversary ten years hence.

The Photographer of French High Society

Balloonist, Political Cartoonist, Intellectual, Whatnot – if one examines all facts of the man Imaging Resource calls ‘The Incomparable Nadar’ we’d need a multi-part article!  Among many other things Nadar was a pioneering photographer who took advantage of then-new collodion plate negatives.

Like a painter, Nadar instinctively understood the importance of the play of light.  Like a portraitist, he tried to tease out and present the essential character of his subjects.  His intention was not to ‘bring out their best side’ let alone glamourize his subjects, as exemplified by the portraits that accompany Imaging Resource’s article.

He became the photographer for the rich and famous of his day, his clientele reading like a Who’s Who of Nineteenth Century French High Society.  He counted among his close friends Futurist Jules Verne.  In a way he can be said to have been the Gallic predecessor of, or the ‘model’ for, Cecil Beaton.

Last word to Nadar: “Photography is an art that excites the most astute minds – and one that can be practiced by any imbecile.”


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