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.)
The Photographer Who Photographs Photographers
Friday, August 17, 2012
Abe Frajndlich has been publishing stories about photographers lately over at the Feature Shoot blog. Mr. Frajndlich spent the better part of 30 years photographing famous photographers—the photographers' photographer, you might say. His book, Penelope's Hungry Eyes, is all about his experiences photographing the likes of William Eggleston, Gordon Parks, Cindy Sherman, and a wonderful story about a run-in with Ansel Adams and a feisty Imogen Cunningham. Start here, then be sure to check out the story of working with a sometimes difficult, sometimes charming Annie Leibovitz. The photographs are consistently wonderful, and the stories are priceless.
A Hacking Story Serves As A Reminder About Backing Up Important Files
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Last week a hacker made news outside of the blogosphere when Wired writer Mat Honan was the unfortunate victim of a cyber attack that exploited weaknesses in Amazon and Apple security systems in order to gain access to, and eventually eliminate, all of the data (including photographs) on Honan's iPhone, iPad and laptop. It's an interesting story for anyone who relies on technology to manage personal data, but even more interesting for those of us with tons of invaluable images in our care. Interestingly, it turns out this article includes mention of Peter Krogh's DPBestflow 3-2-1 backup strategy, advocating three backups comprised of two different formats and one off site. That's a strategy I've been espousing for years, one that most people think seems like it would be just too much trouble. I've long advocated for keeping a backup of everything not only off-site but in the cloud, and it's good to get a little bit of validation in this instance. Just a shame Honan had to lose irreplaceable photographs in the process. Read the story for its general interest appeal, or to give yourself a potentially necessary kick in the pants to get your backups in order. Either way it's quite worthwhile.
My Favorite Mars Rover Photography Links
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Olympics aren't the only out-of-this world visual spectacle going on these days. As promised, here are a few of my favorite links to the photographic story of NASA's Curiosity rover. The device began beaming back images of the red planet shortly after touchdown. For a look at the first color image of mars, as well as a great breakdown of the camera tech included on the rover, check out an interesting piece at DPreview. The best one-stop location for all sorts of interesting mission information and every awesome photograph sent back from the rover, check out Spaceflight101. It's a repository for space exploration information in general, and the mission updates from Mars is the perfect place to find every high-quality image that NASA has released. Lastly, if you're curious about Curiosity's camera technology, check out this interview with the camera project manager, Mike Ravine, who discusses how and why the camera was selected for the mission—and why it's only 2 megapixels. Being able to see these images almost immediately as they happen, and to dig into the technology with those who really are hands on with the project, serves as a reminder about just what an exciting time it is in the world of photographic technology.
My Favorite Olympic Photography Links
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
We've been treated to two major world events in recent weeks, each with a seemingly unending supply of great photographic stories. The first, the Olympics, is what I'm going to talk about today, and share a few links to stories I love. (Tune in tomorrow for the second, which I'll keep a surprise for the moment.) So here are some of my favorite stories from London 2012. First is the newspaper photographer for the Guardian who decided to cover his hometown games with nothing but an iPhone, a few add-on lenses and a pair of binoculars. And you know what? It worked! His photos look darn good. Second is the story of a world class athlete turned photographer--at least for a few moments. Usain Bolt won the 200mm sprint to become the first man to win back-to-back 100mm and 200mm races at the Olympics. As part of his celebration, he turned to a group of photographers, borrowed a DSLR from a Swedish journalist and snapped off about a dozen frames of fellow runners, the crowd and the media's intense gaze. Bolt did a pretty great job of composing and focusing his photos and, all things considered, he's might be pretty a good photographer. Lastly, check out the gallery of images that one professional photographer captured with a compact digital camera. Panasonic contracted with Getty photographer Dean Mouhtaropoulos to photograph the events of London 2012 with a Lumix DMC-G5. He made great images of everything from the opening ceremony to fast action in swimming, gymnastics, volleyball and more. All in all, the Olympics is always a photographer's dream, and it consistently presents interesting stories and wonderful photographs. This year was no exception.
Monday, August 13, 2012
The DPS blog has spawned an offshoot web site called Snapn Deals. Think of it kind of like Woot or Groupon or another "temporary discount" sales site, but this one is geared specifically to photographers. For instance, for the next 10 days you can purchase a bundle of Lightroom presets from Digital Photo Buzz for $42; that's almost half off the regular price for a package of presets that allow you to process RAW files with a variety of looks and special effects. The deal that really piqued my interest, though, is one that's only around for one more day. It's 15 eBooks about photography by David duChemin for only $39. That's just $2.60 per book! It would be a deal at twice the price, and it's almost too good to pass up if you're interested in improving not only the craft of making great photographs, but the art of finding your creative vision as well. Stay tuned to the site for what's sure to be an ongoing list of interesting deals and discounts.
Our Tools Are Pretty Great
Friday, August 10, 2012
Do you treat your memory cards, as I do, like they are nearly indestructible? My storage system does include a card wallet, but only for organizational purposes. I regularly store cards in my actual "wallet" wallet, as well as the jeans pocket of my pants adjacent to my car keys or my cell phone—depending on whether or not a card has been shot. I know, it's weird. But still, the point is that I don't exactly treat them with kid gloves. And that's okay. Turns out we all do this. It's one of the benefits of living in the digital era. Our "film" no longer has to be handled as carefully as it did back in the bad old days. Take, for instance, this tongue in cheek bit of satire from The Online Photographer. It's a list of do's and don'ts for the proper handling of memory cards that includes not changing cards in direct sunlight and storing unused cards in the freezer. Goodness, can you even remember the lengths to which we once had to go in order to make good pictures? If you're unfortunate enough to be too young to remember those days, you may not enjoy this bit of satire as much as the rest of us. But either way, trust me: it's good to be a digital photographer. We don't even have to put our hands in chemistry any more. You definitely won't find me complaining about that. Today's tools are pretty darn great.
More Camera Tools You Can Make From Paper
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Paper is an important part of my photography. I use cardboard sheets as fill cards, I use little bits of white paper to bounce my flash, and now I can use simple black paper to create a lens hood. While I've seen lens shades made from paper in the past, it's never really occurred to me to use the stuff in a simpler fashion—namely, just wrap it around the end of a lens and secure it with a rubber band to create an instant lens shade. Voila, it's just that simple. I'm never going to recommend this homemade solution in lieu of a factory spec lens hood, but in a pinch when you've lost or broken your lens shade, I'd rather see you using a cobbled together paper system to keep insidious lens flare out of your lens. It is, in fact, very much better than nothing. Check out John Neel's tip at the Pixiq blog for all the particulars of his system.