Don't Be An Intellectual Property Hypocrite
Thursday, May 26, 2011
We photographers are often hypocrites. Why? Because we scratch and claw and fight to get commercial users to respect our copyrights: if you're going to "steal" our images for your business use, we're going to get ticked off about it. We pool our resources to best learn how to protect our intellectual property, but then we become hypocrites when it comes time to use a song in a slideshow or web site—or even just on our own iPods. Those musicians are concerned about protecting their intellectual property rights, too, just as we are. They earn their livings off of their creative endeavors just as we do. Yet we shrug and ignore the connection between our infringing on their copyrights as we simultaneously trumpet the sacred nature of our own. So if you want others to value your intellectual property rights, value the rights of other creators. Read more about another photographer who feels the same way and check out a great copyright public service announcement via the Burns Auto Parts blog.
A Kinder, Gentler Approach To HDR
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Start talking about HDR image-making and you're bound to get some passionate responses. Those who love it really love it, for its bright colors and extreme detail. Those who hate it, hate it for its bright colors and extreme detail. One thing tends to hold true, though, and that's when you're talking about most HDR images you're talking about bright colors and extreme detail. But HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It's not an acronym that in itself means candy colors and hyperreal sharpness. HDR tools have simply been used in that way, and often overused, so that's what most everybody thinks of when they think of HDR. No more, though. HDR photography doesn't have to be quite so extreme. In fact, in this great tutorial from Digital Photography School, you can learn how to use HDR tools to produce decidedly atypical HDR images. It's a subtler HDR technique, and one that's invaluable for contrast control. That makes it one of the best ways to make a beautiful image in a tricky lighting situation.
Avedon On Portraiture
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I recently found this great quote from Richard Avedon at the photo blog American Suburb X. The site is dedicated to interviews and galleries of the works of some of the most prominent photographic artists of the last 50 years. The quote from Avedon is inspiring, and helpful for portrait photographers to remember when they're considering how to approach a shoot. "A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he's being photographed," Avedon said, "and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he's wearing or how he looks. He's implicated in what's happening, and he has a certain real power over the result. Lisette Model told me she felt these photographs of my father were 'performances', and I agree with her. We all perform. It's what we do for each other all the time, deliberately or unintentionally. It's a way of telling about ourselves in the hope of being recognized as what we'd like to be. I trust performances. Stripping them away doesn't necessarily get you closer to anything. The way someone who's being photographed presents himself to the camera and the effect of the photographer's response on that presence is what the making of a portrait is about." Read the full quote in the entire article at American Suburb X.
Photographs Of The Real Deadwood
Monday, May 23, 2011
I don't watch the TV show Deadwood, or I didn't when it was on HBO earlier in the decade. But it's on my list of things to check out (along with what seems like a million other shows and artists and musicians.) Anyway, this gallery of images from the real Deadwood, in South Dakota, should also be on that must-see list. It's filled with photographs by John C.H. Grabill from the late 1880s and it offers a wonderful historic record. According to Rachel Hulin's blog, "Between 1887 and 1892, John C.H. Grabill sent 188 photographs to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Grabill is known as a western photographer, documenting many aspects of frontier life — hunting, mining, western town landscapes and white settlers' relationships with Native Americans. Most of his work is centered on Deadwood in the late 1880s and 1890s." I can't say that these photos make me wish I lived in Deadwood in the 19th century, but I'm definitely glad the images exist to document a time that is so fascinating to see.
Gregory Crewdson's Black & White Historical Landscapes
Friday, May 20, 2011
The Hyperallergic blog does a wonderful job of pointing out great art online. Recently they turned me on to a body of work from a photographer I know and love, but with work that's so out of character (though still wonderful) that it was a great and pleasant surprise. The photographer is Gregory Crewdson, whom you may know as the creator of big budget, Hollywood-style productions of very cinematic and colorful still photographs. They're like big films in a single frame of 8x10 film. It turns out that's not all Crewdson is skilled at shooting. The New York Times did a feature on his black & white images of ancient Rome. In fact, the subject of these images is a retired film studio and its grand staged sets of structures from the ancient city. So I suppose it turns out that even when Crewdson isn't making his trademark cinematic images he's still making images that relate to the grand tradition of cinema. Either way they're beautiful and most definitely worth a look—even if you
Learn Lighting By Watching Television
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I'm always noticing interesting lighting and camera techniques wherever they might show up. In practice, that most often means in the movies and television shows I watch. Turns out I'm not the only one. As Luke Townsend recently wrote on the DPS blog, you can use popular television shows to boost your knowledge of classic portrait lighting patterns. Utilizing clips from current shows such as House and Mad Men, as well as classic sit-coms like Cheers, Mr. Townsend perfectly illustrates classic approaches to lighting faces. See for yourself how to use TV to learn short light, broad light and split light at the DPS blog, and then start paying attention to lighting techniques wherever you might find them—even if it's on TV.
Travel Vicariously To New Zealand
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
There are a handful of places in the world I've always wanted to visit. Along with Iceland, no other country piques my interest more than New Zealand. So this recent collection of images of New Zealand made by photographer Chris Gin, which I found at the Light Stalking web site, really got my traveling juices flowing. Since I can't imagine visiting the other side of the world any time soon, I'll have to live vicariously through these wonderful photos. After all, isn't that what great pictures do? They help us see things we otherwise would never be able to. After visiting this great gallery—and gleaning some good information about best times to travel and how to best photograph in this lush and beautiful country—you're sure to want to travel there too. Maybe we can share a hotel?
Custom Keyboard For Photographers
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
In case you're feeling like you don't have enough helpful computer- and photo-related gadgets in your life, I've got the perfect thing for you. It's a keyboard made specifically for photographers. The X-Keys Professional system provides a USB-compatible 58-key keyboard that you can customize to help speed up your digital workflow and make processes and tool selections faster and more efficient. It works whether you're using Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture or any number of other programs. Simply determine the shortcut keys you use most often, as well as the other tools and functions that dominate your post-production processes, and then program them into the X-Keys keyboard. You can even label the keys with the included customizable stickers. Read all about it, including a breakdown of how one photographer put it to work, at the PPA web site.