Photographing Stars Of The Non-Celebrity Kind
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Here's a great guide that's sure to be a godsend for many photographers who like to work after dark. It's Phil Hart's eBook called "Shooting Stars," which isn't about paparazzi photography but rather about photographing the night sky. Filled with information on equipment, technique and artistic vision, Hart's guide is 140 pages covering everything you need to know about photographing stars, from the necessary equipment (like tripods, bubble levels, filters and flashlights) to the best techniques for making beautiful motion blur shots of star trails or tack sharp images that allow you to explore the milky way. The digital download can be had for the low price of only $25. Check out this detailed review at the Pixiq site, then head over to Hart's site to purchase your own copy.
A Filmless Kodak
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
It's hard to imagine a time when film and paper icon Kodak will stop making photographic film and paper altogether. While I think many of us assumed it would slow to a trickle years before the official "end" of such production (well, at least I assumed that), it turns out it's going to be a lot more like the flipping of a switch that stops the flow of film and paper out of Rochester. Last week Kodak announced plans to sell off its film and photo paper businesses, which would mean the company will focus primarily on its industrial businesses (i.e. government contracts) and consumer inkjet technologies. A bigger question, perhaps, is who on earth might buy this type of business? Sure there's still demand, but it's clearly a shrinking proposition. How could a competitor purchase a business for what it's valued at today if it's clearly understood that it will be worth significantly less with every passing day? It will be interesting to see if Kodak can find a buyer, and who that buyer might be. A former competitor in the film and paper markets, perhaps? Or maybe a digital imaging company looking for an entree into this particular (shrinking) photographic niche? Either way, as long as some one picks up the torch to carry on, I'll be happy. Though it's still tough to see Kodak transformed into a shell of its once dominant self.
An Android-Powered Camera
Monday, August 27, 2012
Normally I don't blog about new product announcements, but this one is notable in an pretty unique way. It's another story of the convergence of cell phone technology and digital cameras. But in this case, it's not another smart phone that's designed to take great pictures. In fact it's a point-and-shoot camera that's got a smartphone's Android operating system built in. It's the new Nikon Coolpix S800c, a compact camera that captures 16-megapixel stills and full HD video, and allows you to easily share them via wi-fi to upload them straight to the web. This makes sharing online with this camera just as easy as it is with a smartphone. Even more, it includes typical smartphone capabilities like email, gps positioning and more thanks to apps downloaded from the Google Play store. It's the first of something pretty unique, and I'm guessing this won't be the last of its breed.
Shooting Day For Night
Friday, August 24, 2012
I love old westerns from the 1970s. Those movies are a guilty pleasure for an afternoon on the couch or a late night "work" session. One of my favorite techniques from many of those westerns is the "day for night" shooting trick. By photographing a scene in the middle of the day, but dramatically underexposing and shifting the tones to blue (presumably via the use of a filter or a processing adjustment) suddenly the good guys are outrunning the bad guys under the light of a full moon—not under a harsh midday sun. So this video by Jay P. Morgan of the Slanted Lens, about turning daylight into moonlight with a few simple tricks, really strikes a chord with me. Maybe I'll make my own westerns now? Or maybe I'll just put it to use as a way to understand illuminating subject and background separately by controlling ambient and flash exposures independently in the same scene. It's powerful stuff if you really want to be the kind of photographer who takes control of lighting, rather than the kind who just takes what he can get.
An Immersive Martian Panorama Photograph
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Last week I mentioned a few of my favorite Mars rover links. If only this one had been available at the time! It's an interactive 360-degree panorama of the Curiosity rover's Martian landing site. And it's so unbelievably great! It provides a different way of experiencing the red planet, heightening that feeling of "you're really there" in a way that no amount of still photos can quite accomplish. I can only imagine that once we start seeing actual video from the planet that the feeling will be even more heightened. It's yet another reminder of what an amazing technological age in which we're living.
Photography Is Not A Crime
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I've been reading a lot lately about the increasing criminalization of photography. It seems that more and more photographers are stopped by police officers all over the country for doing nothing more than photographing on public property. And many photographers, it seems, do not understand their rights: we have the right to photograph things that happen in public if we are on public property. That doesn't mean we can obstruct traffic or prevent police from doing their jobs, but public property is public whether you're a guy walking his dog or a guy taking a picture—no matter whether that picture is a personal snapshot or a professional assignment. If you're feeling at all unsure about your rights to photograph in public, I recommend you check out the story "Criminalizing Photography," by James Estrin of the New York Times. He interviews the chief General Counsel for the National Press Photographers' Association, Mickey H. Osterreicher, who explains just how much photography has come under attack in recent years. And then, if you've got the stomach for it, take a look at Carlos Miller's Photography Is Not A Crime blog, which showcases daily incidents of photographers being detained, harassed and just plain criminalized for doing nothing more than exercising their first amendment rights. Thanks to Mike Johnston, the Online Photographer, for inspiring me to speak out about this issue. His brief editorial does a wonderful job of succinctly explaining the issue facing photographers—and all members of our society—when it comes to protecting our freedoms.
The Philosophy Of Portraiture
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I mentioned a great video yesterday about an early landscape master. So how about another phenomenal video today, this time featuring a current portrait master? Nadav Kandar is as accomplished and talented a portraitist as has ever walked the earth, I'd say. Produced as a tie-in to this summer's London Olympics, this 13-minute video features not only examples of Kandar's work, and the photographer at work, but mostly it features him discussing his philosophy of portraiture and photography. It's an intellectual study of a way of making portraits, and it's fascinating. If you're into portraits, this is probably equivalent to a whole semester's worth of a college class on portraiture—all in just a few minutes of YouTube video. Thanks to The Strobist for sharing it.
Ansel On Video
Monday, August 20, 2012
Regular readers know how much I love a good photographic documentary. Getting a glimpse behind the scenes to watch a world-class photographer at work is about as good as it gets. Thankfully because of the age in which we're living, this sort of special glimpse into a photographer's workflow can happen fairly regularly as so many wonderful documentaries have been uploaded to YouTube. One of the earliest photo documentaries I've ever seen is this 1957 film by Beaumont and Nancy Newhall—the 20th century's first couple of photography—about iconic nature photographer Ansel Adams. Take a look at John Paul Caponigro's blog to get a glimpse into the master's working approach, a breakdown of his equipment, and even a few minutes of the man himself performing on piano. A worthwhile video for fans of Ansel and fans of good documentaries alike. It's full of wonderful little quirks about Adams. For instance, you may have heard that his preferred vehicle had a large platform strapped to the roof. But did you know that it was also an old eight-passenger limousine? The sight of the man himself loading his car full of gear to head out for work is simply wonderful. (After you finish this video, root around Mr. Caponigro's blog to find a few other videos of Ansel at work.)