Henri Cartier-Bresson Retrospective
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Let's all go to Paris this summer and see the Henri Cartier-Bresson retrospective at the Pompidou Centre. What do you say? The Centre Pompidou is an amazing museum, and the ability to get in depth, up close and personal with the work of Cartier-Bresson makes a trip to Paris seem like a really good idea. The thing about Cartier-Bresson is, he just might have been the greatest photographer ever. He not only popularized a film format that would dominate for a century (the revolutionarily compact 35mm film format) and made the Leica rangefinder seem like the ultimate camera, but he also developed the concept of "the decisive moment." It became an iconic symbol of the essence of photography that's still as pertinent as ever. If you're not well versed in what makes Cartier-Bresson so special, I recommend you find a way to get to Paris and spend some time at the Pompidou retrospective. Failing that, there's a very robust body of Cartier Bresson's images at the Magnum web site. Cartier-Bresson was a founder of the iconic photographers' agency, so it's fitting that Magnum photographers today still carry the mantle of the best photojournalists on the planet. For more on Magnum, Cartier-Bresson and the French retrospective, follow the link below to the excellent article at Aperture.
The Faded Photo App
Monday, July 28, 2014
If, like me, you're intrigued by the prospect of turning your smartphone into an increasingly capable camera, you might consider investing a dollar and downloading Faded, a feature-rich photography app for the iPhone. Much like the uber-popular apps Instagram and VSCO, Faded allows you to employ one-touch filters for stylish and funky film effects. But Faded also includes some pretty unique, "real-photography-like" capabilities—things like manual exposure controls and the ability to go back and retrieve earlier edited versions of pictures—sort of like Photoshop's history snapshots. One of the features that I think is most intriguing is the simple ability to point at an area of the scene to set a focus point, and point at another area to set the reference point for the exposure. This isn't exactly groundbreaking, but the way this simple interface is designed inspired me to hope for this feature on my DSLR. If we're getting to the point where smartphone photography apps could actually drive camera innovation, rather than the other way around, that seems like a pretty revolutionary place to be. Learn more and download in the iTunes App Store via the link below.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Have you heard about the new film called Everybody Street? It's in in-depth documentary about the iconic photographers who have been documenting the streets of New York for decades. The film explores not only the interesting personalities involved in street photography, but also the genre's artistic merit and cultural (or more often counter-cultural) ramifications. As one subject of the film says, "rangefinders are magnificent weapons." Through interviews, discussions of specific photographs and even watching some of the photographers at work on the street, the film is an in-depth exploration of one of the most unique genres of visual art. The film interviews many street photographers, from little known artists to icons of 20th century photography such as Joel Meyerowitz, Elliott Erwitt and Mary Ellen Mark. Watch the trailer and check for tour dates and show times at everybodystreet.com. If it's not playing on the streets of your town, you can also rent or purchase the film via Vimeo.
Ken Hermann’s Flower Men
Thursday, July 24, 2014
"Oh man!" That's the subject I put on the email I just sent to a friend about this series of portraits from photographer Ken Hermann. Based in Denmark, Hermann has completed a portrait series titled "Flower Man," which showcases the interesting flower sellers of the Mallick Ghat flower market in Calcutta, India. The photographer used subtle but crucial lighting and post-processing techniques to balance with the bright midday sun and to allow the backgrounds to fade slightly, receding in prominence and perfectly framing the centerpiece of each image. This is the kind of portrait work that I really find inspirational. I hope you do too. Read more about the series courtesy of The Fox Is Black, then head over to Mr. Hermann's web site to see the full series and order limited edition prints direct from the artist.
MIT Puts Photo Classes Online
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Did you ever consider attending a world class university like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology? Well now you can—for free. The professors of MIT have utilized the university's Open Course Ware program to make available reference materials, syllabi and lesson plans for a dozen undergraduate and graduate level photography classes. The materials are free to download, and they include classes such as "Introduction to Photography," "Photography and Truth" and "Documentary Photography and Photojournalism." Additional courses are expected to go online soon, and MIT has published material from more than 2200 courses since 2002 under a Creative Commons license—meaning that you're free to utilize the lesson plans as you see fit as long as you don't mind not receiving course credit or a degree at the end. Read more at DP Review, then visit MIT's OCW page for a list of the photography classes currently available.
Enough Whining About Creative Cloud Licensing
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I'm surprised by how much backlash Adobe has received, and continues to receive, since converting from a one-time purchase system to a subscription model for Photoshop, Lightroom and many other powerful programs. I was just reading a discussion at the Adobe blog, linked below, about what happens to Lightroom itself after a membership plan ends. It got me thinking—probably because so many people, here and elsewhere, are so vocal in their dismay over what they perceive to be an awful move by Adobe—that they're really missing the point. First, many photographers depend on the ability to license image files in order to make a living. We should be used to the licensing-based-on-usage approach. The fact that Adobe has managed to take a huge chunk out of the market for infringers is huge. I applaud them, frankly. But that's still not the point. Simple math shows that the new licensing model is a much better deal for almost everyone. Back when Photoshop CS6 came out it retailed for more than $600. (If you were a student or teacher, your version cost half of that.) The high startup cost served as a massive barrier to entry, one that I think encouraged a lot of folks to decide that it was better to pirate than to pay. (I'm not excusing it, I'm just explaining it.) So now with the Creative Cloud, Adobe offers a "photography only" package that includes Photoshop CC and Lightroom—software that retails on its own for $75—and the combo is just $10 a month. That's $120 a year for a subscription, meaning it takes five years (!) before you finally equal the one-time cost for CS6. Staying current during those five years would mean upgrades that raise the price further, but even without upgrades the Creative Cloud pricing is a much better deal financially for everyone but the "buy one copy and keep it for a decade" crowd. Add to that the fact that the startup cost for a photographer is now just $10 to get into a full version of Photoshop and it's unbelievable deal. But wait, there's more. Not only does the new approach make Photoshop more affordable, but when you factor in that your software will always be up to date, and that you can access a variety of different pieces of software under the same Creative Cloud license ($50/month for everything for laymen, just $20/month for everything for students and teachers) it becomes an unprecedented deal in terms of easy access to world class software. As a Creative Cloud user, on a whim you can now download class leading programs like Premiere for video editing, Audition for audio editing and Dreamweaver for web development. For the life of me I can't imagine how a photographer who previously purchased Photoshop every couple of generations could find a way to complain about the Creative Cloud as it exists today. We're getting so much more for a lot less. And just to be clear, though this may sound like a commercial it's just my unsolicited opinion. I'm just a photographer who believes Adobe has made this great software even better, and more accessible, than ever. Complaining about it just doesn't make sense.
Photographs From Le Tour
Monday, July 21, 2014
Every year in the heat of summer, my eyes turn toward France. Specifically, this is the few weeks every year when I become a huge fan of cycling and the Tour de France. I won't bore you with the same treatise I use to impress my wife and kids about how amazing the Tour is, and instead I'll just get right to the photographic evidence. Part of the reason I enjoy the Tour so much is that it's such a visually stunning event. Not only is it a mind-boggling physical and mental challenge, but the whole thing is pretty darn beautiful to watch. So here's a gallery of amazing Tour photos from this year's race, which has already been one of the most grueling in the event's century-long history. Courtesy of the Oregonian newspaper link below, the gallery shows the requisite shots of the peloton peddling past a field of sunflowers, as well as more unique shots of the environment, the spectators and the overall grit and drama of the Tour. Make sure you enlarge the gallery to full screen so you can really get into the details provided by the talented photographers of the Associated Press. You've still got a week of Tour watching left, so if you're interested in watching beautiful landscape photography come to life as the world's greatest cyclists pedal through it, here's your chance.
Learn Photography Online
Friday, July 18, 2014
If you or someone you know is fairly new to photography, you might be well served by an introductory photography class. I often recommend that folks look into these classes at their local community colleges and continuing education centers, but there's another nice option available online. It's the Intro to Photography Class created by photographer Alex Buisse. It stemmed from the group Reddit, an online community where users post content on a practically infinite set of topics, and discuss them in depth and at length. It's a site that can be a big time-waster (in the best way possible) or a very practical way to learn something new. Well, in the Photography "sub-Reddit" (a section of the site dedicated to photographic discussions) Buisse organized his Intro to Photography class and presented it via Reddit to more than 7,000 users in 2010. The course was a huge success, and I can tell you that in its new home on a dedicated site run by Buisse, it is really sharply done and looks to be a wonderful way for new photographers to learn a lot about the medium. Buisse is clearly a very talented adventure photographer and a great teacher, and this class might be just the ticket for beginner photographers to get a solid footing in a very practical way. Read all about it—and take the class—at http://www.r-photoclass.com/.