Leaning Houses Tromp L’oeil
Friday, March 1, 2013
When I first saw this gallery of photographs of leaning houses in Minnesota, I wondered what on earth could cause a house to lean so much, but I didn't bother to look closer. That was my first mistake. When a few days later I saw the collection referenced again, I did think about the concept long enough to wish that the photographer had done more—tilting the camera, perhaps, to mess with our perceptions of these tilting houses. Still, I skipped past and didn't look closer. This was my second mistake. Then I saw the gallery again, and rather than making a third mistake of ignorance I decided to look closer. It turns out what photographer Cameron Wittig did was even better than I could have expected. I'm glad I looked closer, as these photographs are not at all as they first appear. And that makes them simply spectacular. The photographer has twisted reality in a playful way, and the result is a wonderful use of our deceptive medium. Rather than tell you what's going on here, I'll let you avoid the mistakes I made and tell you to go now, and look a little closer.
James Balog's Chasing Ice
Thursday, February 28, 2013
James Balog is a phenomenal photographer. In 2005 National Geographic sent him to the Arctic on assignment to document earth's changing climate. Balog was somewhat skeptical, but after a single visit to the Arctic he says his eyes were opened to the severity of climate change. Eight years later he's become the focus of the documentary Chasing Ice, which chronicles Balog and his crew as they scramble to record glaciers as they disappear forever. The film's synopsis spells it out: "It's the story of one man's mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet." The film looks gorgeous and riveting, and can still be found in some theaters throughout the country. If it's not playing in your area, though, you can log on to the web site to help bring the film to a theater near you—which you might have to do, as there's no DVD available yet.
Interesting Aerial Lens Arrays
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Have you ever used one of those old-school camera calibration charts to test the resolution of your lenses? Did you know they're called Tri-bar Arrays? For years they were the standard test of a lens' ability to resolve fine details. The standard was created by the American military back in the 1950s, and the Tri-bar Array remained the de facto standard until the digital era brought it to an end in the mid 2000s. Because of the pattern's military origins, there are still some intriguing large-scale remnants of the pattern in use today. You see, various air bases and military installations around the country painted giant versions of the Tri-Bar Array adjacent to runways for use as a calibration and testing tool for aerial and satellite cameras and lenses. It's a pretty neat holdover from the cold war days, and thanks to Google earth we can see these interesting artifacts for ourselves. Thanks to Michael Johnston of The Online Photographer for pointing us to this interesting article at the Center for Land Use Interpretation.
The Vivian Maier Movie
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
If you've read this blog with any regularity, chances are good that you've picked up on my affinity for the story of Vivian Maier. Well now I'm rejoicing again because Ms. Maier's silver screen debut is almost here! The Chicago nanny who spent decades creating some of the most amazing street photography ever seen—even though it was never seen outside of her own files prior to her 2009 death—has become one of the most prominent names in 20th century street photography. It turns out that her photographs are only part of the story; the lady herself was quite a mystery too. She's a mystery that is explored in greater depth via this upcoming documentary about her life and work. I, for one, can't wait.
Winners Of The World Press Photo Contest
Monday, February 25, 2013
Last week the winners of the largest news photography contest in the world were announced. The 2013 installment of the World Press Photo Contest saw Paul Hansen, a Swedish photographer, taking home the top prize for his heartbreaking photograph of the aftermath of a bombing strike in Gaza City. That photograph has caused a little bit of backlash and discussion elsewhere in the photoblogosphere, because of its polished post-production refinement that some deem to be excessively manipulative. Wherever you may stand on the issue, I recommend the article at Michael Shaw's Bag News blog for more discussion and links related to the controversy. Regardless, the gallery of World Press winners is amazing and well worth a visit. As with any gallery of world-class photojournalism, you must be prepared for some intense, challenging imagery, but if you can stomach the occasional graphic content, the work as a whole is sublime. View the gallery at the Baltimore Sun's darkroom blog.
A Look Inside A Lighting Kit
Friday, February 22, 2013
You can learn a lot about still photography by studying filmmaking. (The reverse is probably true too, right?) With the ever-increasing convergence between photography and video production, I find that I'm paying increasingly more attention to what's happening in the video world. Case in point: The Frugal Film Maker, Scott Eggleston, is a DIY video guy, and in a recent episode (highlighted on the DIY Photography blog) he breaks down all the great gear he carries in his lighting kit. It's great stuff, very helpful if you're trying to outfit your own location lighting kit—whether that's for stills or video, and it's especially perfect if you're doing a little of both.
Get Valuable Feedback On Your Photographs
Thursday, February 21, 2013
I find that it can be awfully easy to crawl into a whole from which I never emerge, forgetting that in order to improve as a photographer it's important to continue showing other people my photographs in order to get useful feedback. Without valuable feedback from other photographers, you're missing a fundamental part of the foundation of photographic skill. It's not only good to learn what the consensus believes to be "wrong" with your photographs, but it's also useful to develop a thick skin to withstand tough criticism. Here's a list, courtesy of Lightstalking, of five valuable places online where genuine photographic feedback is not only appreciated but encouraged.
Zen And The Art Of Coiling Cables
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Can you imagine that there's a blog post about coiling cables? Yes, but more importantly, it's a blog post that I'm going out of my way to direct you to. It must be tremendous. Fear not, because it is. Not only because it gives me an opportunity to get on my high horse about never ever coiling cables around your elbow (yes, I know it's the way our dads taught us way back when, but it's so wrong!) and also to indulge an aspect of photography that I like—the meditative aspect. Chris Chrisman's studio manager Robert Luessen uses cable coiling as a chance to reflect on the completed shoot, as well as a way to gauge the progress of new assistants.