Awesome Amateur Autochromes
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Check out these gorgeous autochromes by photographer John B. Trevor. If you've never heard of him, it's no surprise: he was practicing photography in the 19-teens and, of course, he was also an amateur. But goodness, are his photographs beautiful. The awesome Retronaut blog linked to a collection of Trevor's autochromes and they're so beautifully surreal—there's something quite disorienting about color photographs of long gone eras. But the color in this case also serves as a huge draw on its own, offering a glimpse into a world we normally only see shades of gray. It's a priceless experience. And if you're unfamiliar with autochromes, fear not. These are the original color photographic medium, a glass plate negative that was eventually replaced when the modern era of color photography was ushered in after The Great Depression. Looking at these images might make you long for a bygone era… or at least for a chance to use these unique photographic tools.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Several months back I wrote about Pinterest. I found it to be a wonderful new way to organize, note and catalog inspiring images found around the internet. Clearly I'm not alone, as millions of users have made it the fastest growing social media site in history. But what I didn't take the time to consider is something that's now causing quite a pushback from many photographers. Pinterest is, essentially, a giant collection of copyright infringements. My initial uses of Pinterest taught me a seemingly acceptable etiquette in which every image was linked back to the source. So at first glance it seemed like a fairly innocuous, even helpful service for photographers. Another way for people to share your work, but this time within the context of a framework that always maintains the attribution of where that image came from. Or so I thought.
The problem is that lately when I've clicked on interesting images I find on Pinterest, I've been taken to a blank Google Image Search page. So I've essentially found an orphaned image, with no credit to the creator, and no direct link to where that image came from. And it can spread like wildfire throughout the Pinterest universe. That's clearly a problem. When I pin an image I like I am also actively trying to promote a photographer whose work I appreciate. But I'm clearly in the minority here, as many users don't bother linking to the work of the creator, or even mentioning the artist by name. And often times, because of the homemaking bent of the site, the pictures simply link directly to a recipe or an editorial about a product for which a commercial photographer was likely hired, but for whom no additional compensation has been provided for creating a viral image—one that doesn't even link to any sort of attribution for the photographer. And heck, even if it does, you can't eat an attribution.
So I'm not saying you shouldn't use Pinterest. But I am saying you should be aware of the consequences, and consider how you use the site. Maybe you'll determine that you're not comfortable with such a tacit agreement. If nothing else, do some reading and see what various creators and organizations are saying about the service, and why there protests might have real merit. Start with this interesting video and article on TechCrunch about suggested changes to Pinterest's Terms of Service and how proposed changes, as well as changes to conventional "pin etiquette," have been inspired by photographers and how the service might change to accommodate us. Then read the updated Terms of Service that Pinterest literally just released.
Cloud Connected Cameras
Monday, March 26, 2012
As someone who currently uses the cloud—and loves it—I'm particularly interested in the future of cloud connectedness to cameras. This article by Barney Britton of DPreview raises some interesting questions—and frankly ups our expectations—for the future of digital cameras that are connected directly to the cloud. In his interview with Samsung's VP of sales and marketing, Britton delves into exactly what the future of connected cameras might hold, and just how soon it will become a reality. (It appears that this will happen sooner rather than later, and the idea that "non-connected devices will be meaningless" really signals how at least one camera maker is looking to the future of photography, and just what it means to be connected.) Read all about it at http://www.dpreview.com/articles/6388646200/samsung-looking-ahead-to-carrier-subsidized-connected-cameras.
The Rise And Fall Of Kodak
Friday, March 23, 2012
If, like so many photographers around the world, you're interested in knowing a little bit more about how Kodak found itself in the predicament it's currently in—bankrupt and in need of new life to navigate the increasingly digital 21st century—then I suggest you read this article in the international online edition of the German news magazine, Der Spiegel. It's a long piece, but also an easy read with a human touch as it includes stories of then and now at the former giant of the industry. It touches on how the city of Rochester and Kodak's remaining employees are faring through the crisis, and ultimately what will happen—or perhaps, "could" or even "should" happen depending on the choices the company's board of directors makes from here on out—in the next phase of life for Kodak. But one thing is for sure, and this article does a good job of pointing out this poignant fact: the thought of a bankrupt Kodak was probably as foreign to the public in 1990 as the thought of a bankrupt Google or Facebook would be to us today. But maybe the very nature of the companies in that analogy is particularly telling. Though Kodak may survive, it won't be the giant it once was—the one that shaped our very memories for an entire century.
Build Your Own Light-Modifying Softbox Grid
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I work side by side with video crews on a relatively frequent basis, and one of my favorite tools that they regularly rely on—one which I don't often employ nearly as much as I should—is the softbox grid. This honeycomb-shaped black fabric modifier attaches to the front of a softbox to help focus it slightly and keep it from spreading quite so far and wide. It allows the light to remain soft but focused. And I know I can run down to the camera store and pick up a new one of them on a whim, but I just never have. And now, thanks to the fun folks at DIYPhotography.net, I probably never will. You see, they've just explained to me—and everyone else on the internet—how to make one of these honeycomb grids using nothing but gaffer's tape. That's right, simple black gaff tape now officially has one million and one uses. Flickr user cUKi uploaded the tutorial, and this person should be roundly hailed as a bit of a genius. Also a bit nutty, but definitely somewhat genius. So check it out, even if you'd rather buy your grids than make them out of tape.
Behind The Scenes With Caleb Charland
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
So at this point I'm pretty much a Caleb Charland groupie. I interviewed the photographer a few months back and fell in love with his whimsical, wonderful, awe-inspiring style. His photographs practically drop your jaw every time; they really are something special. So I've followed Caleb and new developments in his career ever since. He emailed me a photograph he was particularly proud of, in which he used the minor amount of electricity generated by the apples in an orchard to power a light bulb, which he then photographed. The result is quite literally wonderful. So when he just emailed me to tell me a little behind the scenes video of the making of that image was recently aired on the Discovery Channel, I had to check it out. It's a quick, simple, fun video that I highly recommend to Caleb's fans, and those who haven't yet heard of him but are surely about to count themselves among his fans. See for yourself at http://watch.discoverychannel.ca/daily-planet/january-2012/daily-planet---january-23-2012/#clip605968
Double-Decker Portraits, Then And Now
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A good friend alerted me to this gallery a couple of weeks ago, but I'm just now getting around to sharing it with you. (Sorry to make you wait!) It's a collection of "double-decker portraits" made by photographer Daniel Meadows over the course of, oh, just a few decades. You see, back in 1973 Daniel spent a year touring England on a double-decker bus. He made almost 1000 portraits (free of charge) during his trip, and that alone would make for an interesting enough story. But then 25 years later, Daniel decided to go back and revisit some of his subjects, rephotographing them as well. The results were delivered to me via the CNN photoblog, and they're a tremendous collection. What a great way to visualize the passage of time, and all the things that have changed—in England, in the world, and with the people in these pictures—over the course of just a few years. Check out the collection at http://cnnphotos.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/01/double-decker-portraits/?hpt=hp_c2
Online Lighting Diagram Creator
Monday, March 19, 2012
Photography is all about repeatability. I've believed this for years. Anybody can luck into a good picture every now and then, but it takes genuine skills to repeat your success. And that skill is what makes a good photographer. I think one of the best ways to develop the skill of repeatability is to take good notes. From exposures to post-processing, notes about how you approached a shot are important. And that's nowhere more true than when it comes to lighting. So many photographers sketch out lighting diagrams to help remember, and next time build upon, a given lighting setup. But drawing good lighting diagrams can actually be a bit of a challenge. So when I stumbled across this web site I was pretty stoked. It makes lighting diagrams easily via a free and intuitive online tool. Now you can make nice, appealing, even downright elaborate lighting diagrams with just a few mouse clicks. And that is sure to help you keep track of your setups so you can recreate your successes and improve on the setups that aren't quite right. Check it out at http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator