Wingsuit Flyers

A Facebook friend just pointed me to this awesome ten-minute documentary about two crazy awesome (and possibly just plain crazy) people who strap on suits that let them fly like birds. They're base jumpers, people who jump off of buildings and cliffs and just about anything they can, but with wingsuits on that let them fly. Or, perhaps more directly, they fall to the ground over the course of a very long time. And thanks to technology—the tiny little GoPro HD video cameras that are so often implicated in the "animal steals camera" viral videos—we get to fly along with them. And it's beautiful. And scary. And that tension makes this an awesome video. My photographic takeaway is this: look at your tools and think about how you can use them in innovative and interesting ways. That's how people started creating time lapse videos with digital SLRs and how they started shooting at night and how they started sending cameras aloft attached to balloons, and how they started strapping these tiny little cameras onto their hats and jumping off of perfectly functional building. Check it out, and then go do something crazy awesome with your camera, even if it isn't this crazy. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhmzmOwkRuM


DPMag
A Facebook friend just pointed me to this awesome ten-minute documentary about two crazy awesome (and possibly just plain crazy) people who strap on suits that let them fly like birds. They're base jumpers, people who jump off of buildings and cliffs and just about anything they can, but with…

Steven Paul Jobs

I lost a hero today. He was a handsome man.

My first experience with an Apple computer was in 1984, when I was in the sixth grade. I remember using LOGO, a programming language that you might also remember, to direct a virtual turtle around the screen to draw things in its wake. I was just 11 years old, and yet here I was, "programming" a computer. One of Steve Jobs' great legacies will be his talent for making high technology easy and intuitive for everybody.

In the years since my first Macintosh, I've used dozens of computers, not all of them Apple — though I've owned an Apple computer of some kind throughout my electronic life. As a creative professional, I could quickly make myself tiresome extolling the virtues of the machines and software Steve Jobs built compared to those of his competition. On the subject of typography alone I would survey in soliloquy for an hour.

There's a refinement and polish in an Apple product that makes it a tool that's not only functional, it's a pleasure to use. Yes, a common wrench performs the same duty as a Snap-On, but excellence begets excellence. When the toolmaker elevates his work to the highest, most uncompromising art, the craftsman who selects those tools begins with an advantage.

That sounds lofty, especially when you consider that I'm talking about a man who regularly appeared on stage before an international audience in Levis and running shoes. Steve Jobs wasn't a pretentious man. But he pushed those around him to take science fiction and make it simple enough and beautiful enough to carry in your pocket. He had a vision for technology that was stunningly and inspirationally democratic. No single individual in my lifetime has compared to the man we lost today, Steven Paul Jobs, for the transformative influence he had on all of our lives, and in so many ways, whether customers of Apple or not.

I am proud to have been an Apple customer almost thirty years. As creative professional, I can't imagine my experience without the tools which Steve Jobs played an integral role in making possible.

I lost a hero today. He was a handsome man.
DPMag
I lost a hero today. He was a handsome man. My first experience with an Apple computer was in 1984, when I was in the sixth grade. I remember using LOGO, a programming language that you might also remember, to direct a virtual turtle around the screen to draw things…

More Awesomeness From Photojojo

Photojojo is one of those web sites that strikes a great balance for photo geeks: it sells stuff that's practical and stuff that's fun. And no matter what it is, it seems to always hit a sweet spot for me personally: I really need that! This time it's two new things I absolutely must have—one useful, both fun. First, the totally impractical wood iPhone case. It serves its protective purpose alright, but mostly it's neat and clever and just plain fun. And it makes me wish I had an iPhone just so I could get this case and turn it into a "real" camera. The other item at the other end of the spectrum is still plenty of fun, but it's way more practical too. It's the Digital Time-Lapse Camera. For $150 you get a little weather-resistant camera that churns out a completed HD video of a time-lapse scene—no video editing required. That alone is worth it, but the simple way it makes movies really makes it useful too.

http://photojojo.com/store/press/photos/wood-camera-iphone-case
http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/time-lapse-camera

DPMag
Photojojo is one of those web sites that strikes a great balance for photo geeks: it sells stuff that's practical and stuff that's fun. And no matter what it is, it seems to always hit a sweet spot for me personally: I really need that! This time it's two new…

Tiny Tripod, Big Use

Ever try to make a time exposure with your point-and-shoot pocket camera? It can be tricky. Mostly because you're almost never using a tripod; after all, if you're the kind of guy who carries a tripod you're probably also carrying something a little more deluxe than a pocket camera. But I know that I love to travel light, and that's why sometimes all I have handy is that pocket point-and-shoot. And so what do I do when I want to make a slow-shutter-speed-picture? I prop the camera on a bench or a hand railing or whatever happens to be handy, and then I hope that I can get the framing to work out. Thankfully JOBY has just introduced an ingenious little tripod that solves this problem. Sure, there have been tiny tripods as long as there have been cameras, but this one's different. It's tiny enough to remain permanently affixed to the bottom of your camera. It's the GorillaPod Micro 250, and it folds down to almost nothing as it sits out of the way on the bottom of your camera, waiting to be useful. When its time comes, boy is it useful. Check it out at the JOBY web site, where you can buy one for just $20.

http://joby.com/gorillapod/micro250

DPMag
Ever try to make a time exposure with your point-and-shoot pocket camera? It can be tricky. Mostly because you're almost never using a tripod; after all, if you're the kind of guy who carries a tripod you're probably also carrying something a little more deluxe than a pocket camera. But…

Focusing Assistance From The Kitchen

File this under, "I thought I was the only one." Turns out I'm not the only one who confuses the focusing ring with the zoom ring. I often accidentally twist the zoom ring on a long zoom instead of the focus ring. Sometimes it's vice versa, but either way it seems whenever I want to focus I accidentally zoom, and when I want to zoom I accidentally focus. So leave it to former Outdoor Photographer editor Rob Sheppard to come up with this beautifully simple solution, posted on his Nature and Photography blog. It's a silicone jar opener that he purchased in a kitchen supply store, and it's the perfect way to differentiate focus ring from zoom. Great idea, Rob!

http://www.natureandphotography.com/?p=555

DPMag
File this under, "I thought I was the only one." Turns out I'm not the only one who confuses the focusing ring with the zoom ring. I often accidentally twist the zoom ring on a long zoom instead of the focus ring. Sometimes it's vice versa, but either way it…

Your Top Ten Photographers

I was recently reading about one of my favorite photographers, Andre Kertesz, and it got me to thinking about all of my favorites. What photographers do I most admire, whom would I emulate, whose work would inspire me to make pictures if I didn't know anything else about photography? So I started compiling a list. That's part A of this exercise, and I recommend you do it now: make a list of your top ten photographers of all time. 

For me, that list goes like this (albeit in no particular order). I do have a fondness for Kertesz so I'll list him first. Andre Kertesz, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Steve McCurry. Those first four are easy. These would have to be my favorite photographers, hands down. I wouldn't have thought they'd have such a documentary slant, but they do. Look there, I'm learning something already. To continue with my list…
5. Mark Seliger. I sure love his portraits.
6. Dan Winters. Same goes for him. Inspiring and amazing. 
7. Alec Soth. Simplicity to the n'th degree.
8. Todd Hido. I'm in awe of so much of his work.
Time for another pause. Those four are on the list today, and probably will be for a good long time. These four are portraitists and fine artists with an interesting, sometimes theatrical, sometimes documentary flare. Again, I'm learning even more about my photographic tastes. 

The last two are tricky. I could consider Annie Leibovitz (yes, a superstar, but also an amazingly talented and prolific photographer) or Frank Ockenfels with an aesthetic that makes me weak in the knees with envy… And there are a ton of working photographers I admire as well. For the purposes of this exercise I'm going to go with Leibovitz and Ockenfels as my 9 and 10, simply because I know they consistently have impressed me for a long, long time. Again, portraits, creative, theatrical, yet somehow very real. I'm once again reinforcing an aesthetic photographic preference. That brings me to part B of this exercise: analyze your list to determine what you really live in the work of other photographers.

I'm clearly taken by photographers who don't create visions of fantasy or illusions or special effects, but rather photographers who have a simplicity about their work. Maybe that could be described as a purity of vision in a documentary sense. This even applies to the portraitists, and even their most theatrical works. Because on some level, those images are designed to provide the viewer very factual information about the subjects. I'm starting to become aware of my own strong affinity for graphical compositions as well, which I'd say I share with many of these photographers. Which brings me to part C, and ultimately my point.

If I want to make work that inspires me, on some level I should make work that is similar to these photographers. Why not simply start from scratch and identify what they do, and distill how I can do that too. That's the first step to making great work, I'd say. If I distill the things that these photographers have in common, things like authenticity, documentary, reality, graphic, people, quirky, interesting, unique, powerful… These words should be always on my mind when I'm creating my own work. If I'm doing something different than this, moving in perhaps the wrong direction, maybe I'm not serving my basest photographic instinct: to make work like that of my favorite photographers. 

So I'm advocating that you try this little exercise for yourself. List your favorite photographers, distill what it is you most like about their work and what they all share in common, and then put those things to use as targets in your own photography. I think this is just one simple way we can learn directly from our favorite photographers. 

DPMag
I was recently reading about one of my favorite photographers, Andre Kertesz, and it got me to thinking about all of my favorites. What photographers do I most admire, whom would I emulate, whose work would inspire me to make pictures if I didn't know anything else about photography? So…
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