The Ongoing Saga of Ansel and Uncle Earl

I started thinking about this blog post a week ago when I read about the fortunate soul who discovered a stash of antique glass plate negatives at a yard sale. For the princely sum of $45 this collector believed he’d found what his team of experts ultimately valued at $200 million worth of original Ansel Adams negatives. That would have been quite a story even if the story stopped there. The moral at this point? Perhaps simply to search hard when you’re looking for old photos at flea markets and yard sales.

The next day, however, photographer and blogger Marc Silber spoke with Ansel’s grandson who, in no uncertain terms, questioned the authenticity of the practically priceless pictures. The drama built, and again the story would have been interesting even if everything stopped there. But here’s where Uncle Earl enters. Or, more precisely, Uncle Earl’s niece Miriam, a vigilant senior citizen who saw news of the find and recognized one of the images as belonging to the oeuvre of her photographer uncle. The story surely won’t stop here either, but at this point I’m glad of that. (I wonder if Uncle Earl’s photos are actually old Ansel prints purchased long ago by the amateur in awe of the master?) Either way it’s a fun piece of photographic history unfolding before our eyes. Maybe Uncle Earl will earn a gallery show. Or perhaps the doubters will prove wrong and in fact the collector can get rich from his fortuitous find. Either way, it’s probably going to be fun to watch all this hubbub over just a few photographs.

ricknorsigian.com
silberstudios.tv/blog/
theonlinephotographer.com

I started thinking about this blog post a week ago when I read about the fortunate soul who discovered a stash of antique glass plate negatives at a yard sale. For the princely sum of $45 this collector believed he’d found what his team of experts ultimately valued at $200 million worth of original Ansel Adams negatives. That would have been quite... Read more

Thank you, Rich Clarkson

At the ripe old age of 20 I attended a Rich Clarkson photography workshop in 1994. Along with some of the most prominent sports shooters in the country, Mr. Clarkson brought his Sports Illustrated workshop to the U.S. Olympic Festival in St. Louis, just 20 miles from my hometown. This meant that my family could afford to send me to the workshop for a week, where I rubbed elbows and learned from Mr. Clarkson and many established professional photographers. I remember Dave Black explaining how to photograph gymnastics. Patrick Murphy-Racey taught me to shoot into the sun to create depth while we photographed field hockey. I stood next to Walter Iooss in a group photo and ate lunch with Bill Eppridge and John McDonough. It was an amazing experience working alongside these world-class photographers and working with 600 and 800mm lenses photographing unique sports I’d never shot before (and in some cases since). It was an opportunity I could not have had any other way, and for that I’m indebted to Rich Clarkson and his workshop. It turns out that countless other photographers—many more renowned than I—also owe Mr. Clarkson a debt of thanks. He’s had a tremendous influence over professional photojournalism for a few decades, and that’s quite a feat in itself. NPR recently put together a slideshow and story about him—The Man Behind The Men Behind The Cameras—and it shows just how influential Mr. Clarkson is. He continues to wield his cameras and his influence through a series of ongoing workshops not unlike the one I was fortunate to attend long ago. For information on how you too can learn from Mr. Clarkson and his talented photographic partners, check out the Rich Clarkson and Associates web site. And thanks again, Mr. Clarkson. I learned a lot about photography that I still put to use today.

npr.org/blogs/
richclarkson.com

At the ripe old age of 20 I attended a Rich Clarkson photography workshop in 1994. Along with some of the most prominent sports shooters in the country, Mr. Clarkson brought his Sports Illustrated workshop to the U.S. Olympic Festival in St. Louis, just 20 miles from my hometown. This meant that my family could afford to send me to the workshop for... Read more

It’s not about the camera

Photographer Peter Belanger usually uses a 60-megapixel medium format digital camera to shoot his magazine covers. For this month’s Macworld cover photo of the new iPhone 4, however, Belanger used… the new iPhone 4. He used the camera to shoot the camera, and now that cell phone photo is the cover of a major magazine. Yet more proof that it’s not about the camera—it’s about the photographer, the light, the composition, the talent, the processing… Actually, while all that is definitely true—the light and photographer are much more important than the gear—it must be at least a little about the camera. You’ll notice he didn’t do this with a first-generation iPhone camera, or an old cell phone camera capable only of VGA capture. The point, I think, is that once you reach a certain level of quality—in this case, a level that’s now being reached by the latest and greatest cell phone cameras (mine has 8 megapixels and a fairly decent flash even though it’s mostly a phone)—it stops being about the camera and becomes almost all about those more important aspects of concept, creativity and light. Anyway, forget all of my philosophizing and just check out the behind-the-scenes look at Belanger’s making of a magazine cover, which would be interesting even if it wasn’t shot with a phone.

peterbelanger.com

Photographer Peter Belanger usually uses a 60-megapixel medium format digital camera to shoot his magazine covers. For this month’s Macworld cover photo of the new iPhone 4, however, Belanger used… the new iPhone 4. He used the camera to shoot the camera, and now that cell phone photo is the cover of a major magazine. Yet more proof that it’s... Read more
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The Joe McNally Grip

Joe McNally can do it all. It sure seems like it anyway. He’s been a longtime photographer crafting great pictures for National Geographic, LIFE and Sports Illustrated, which would be impressive enough, but in recent years he’s actually become a bit of a minor (heck, in photo circles he’s major) celebrity for his work with small strobe lighting. He’s got books and blogs and sold out lectures… Like I said, the guy can do it all. But I just discovered something else he’s got: his own camera grip. I don’t mean a physical piece of gear that is used to hold a camera, I mean a unique way of handholding a camera to increase endurance and stability and be able to handhold while minimizing shake in low light, slow shutter speed situations. It’s a bit hard to explain, so I’ll let Joe do that via his blog. Suffice it to say it’s unlike any way of handholding a camera you’re probably familiar with. And if Joe says it works, it must. Read about it on his blog, or watch him demonstrate it via YouTube video. I’m looking forward to putting this grip into practice asap. And I’m wondering how come I don’t have my own patented camera grip?

http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/2008/03/10/da-grip/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDsx3-FWfwk

Joe McNally can do it all. It sure seems like it anyway. He’s been a longtime photographer crafting great pictures for National Geographic, LIFE and Sports Illustrated, which would be impressive enough, but in recent years he’s actually become a bit of a minor (heck, in photo circles he’s major) celebrity for his work with small strobe lighting.... Read more

The Copyright Corner

Michelle Bogre, former chair of the photography department at the renowned Parsons School for Design in New York, stepped down from her position in 2008 to focus on teaching and research. After receiving a grant from The Media Institute, Bogre (an artist with a passion for copyright) created The Copyright Corner, an online resource for artists and publishers of all types who are interested in learning about copyright and implementing it effectively. From both the artist and the end user perspectives, Copyright Corner aims to improve abilities of all parties to effectively license creative works—something all photographers should be keenly aware of. I’m no role model in terms of the effective implementation of copyright with my own work, but I’m trying to get better all the time. And that’s all anybody can ask; keep working to protect your work with every new shoot. That’s what I’m asking here, too: start to learn how to effectively work with copyright and licensing of your own photographs. In the end, no matter whether you’re a brand new amateur or an old-school pro, you’ll be glad you did.
 
thecopyrightcorner.org

Michelle Bogre, former chair of the photography department at the renowned Parsons School for Design in New York, stepped down from her position in 2008 to focus on teaching and research. After receiving a grant from The Media Institute, Bogre (an artist with a passion for copyright) created The Copyright Corner, an online resource for artists and... Read more

Nikons in Space

Eager to showcase the image quality and general cachet of the Nikon D-SLR system, Nikon recently released a series of NASA photographs from the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station. At web resolution, the images are interesting. But thankfully Nikon released many of the photos in their full 12-megapixel glory, so this glimpse inside the ISS and shuttle is truly awesome. I absolutely love these photographs—and just about every image NASA ever releases—because of the glimpse into another world that they offer. It’s unlike any other. It’s also a good lesson in the importance of perspective; show your viewers something they’ve never seen before, or something requiring special access or a unique vantage point, and you’re bound to impress.
 
robgalbraith.com

Eager to showcase the image quality and general cachet of the Nikon D-SLR system, Nikon recently released a series of NASA photographs from the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station. At web resolution, the images are interesting. But thankfully Nikon released many of the photos in their full 12-megapixel glory, so this glimpse... Read more

Fashionably Black and White

Last year I had the opportunity to interview fashion photographer Michael Creagh for a profile in Digital Photo Pro magazine. Not only was Michael a great photographer, he was a real pleasure to speak with. The hook for our story was about how he shoots fashion photographs in black and white—not something you see all the time. He relies on digital cameras and a digital workflow to create his black and white look, but the effect is as classic as any darkroom technique could be. For those unfamiliar with his work, not only do I recommend reading that article from DPP, I’d also suggest you check out some of Michael’s newer photographs. On his blog he’s recently published a series of absolutely stunning and innovative fashion photographs involving a "Penn corner," a whole lot of mirrors and his amazing eye. 

digitalphotopro.com
michaelcreagh.wordpress.com

Photograph © Michael Creagh

Last year I had the opportunity to interview fashion photographer Michael Creagh for a profile in Digital Photo Pro magazine. Not only was Michael a great photographer, he was a real pleasure to speak with. The hook for our story was about how he shoots fashion photographs in black and white—not something you see all the time. He relies on digital... Read more

Manfrotto School of Excellence

Looking to learn a thing or two about photography from some of the world’s premier professionals? Check out the Manfrotto School of Excellence where photographers like Joe McNally and David duChemin offer tips, techniques and real-world examples from their own photo shoots. Currently up on the site are behind the scenes glimpses of Teymur Madjderey’s street photography and Kristof Ramon photographing cyclocross—both of which offer insights into the photographers’ approaches that can be applied practically anywhere at any time. The Manfrotto School of Excellence is a great resource for those interested in learning a variety of techniques from a number of different resources, all in one place.

http://manfrottoschoolofxcellence.com

Looking to learn a thing or two about photography from some of the world’s premier professionals? Check out the Manfrotto School of Excellence where photographers like Joe McNally and David duChemin offer tips, techniques and real-world examples from their own photo shoots. Currently up on the site are behind the scenes glimpses of Teymur Madjderey’s... Read more

Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

I recently read a blog post in which a photographer advocated utilizing shortcut keys when editing photos in Photoshop. He was brief, but right: shortcuts really are important if you want to work with images efficiently in the computer.

For example, there are a few basic shortcuts (or speedkeys) that I use all the time in Photoshop. Better still, the basic key combinations tend to be universal across many programs. On my Mac, it’s CMD-O to open a file, CMD-A to select all, CMD-C to copy, CMD-X to cut, CMD-V to paste, CMD-W to close the window, CMD-Q to quit the program. (On Windows, simply replace the Command key with Control.) If you can start with just these basics, you’ll seriously improve your processing time.

After those basics are covered, consider learning some keystrokes specific to your most frequently used programs. In Photoshop, I frequently hit F to cycle to a full-page view of the image I’m working on. I use the O key to toggle to the dodge/burn tool, the V key to access the move tool, the S key for the stamp, the J key for spot healing brush, the T key for type, the E key to erase and the B key for the paintbrush. I guess I didn’t realize just how many of these basic speedkeys I actually use all the time. How did I learn them? I printed out a little cheat sheet and taped it to the side of my monitor, right next to where the toolbar is located. Not only did it help me to see which keys correlated to which tools, it still provides a quick reference for the random tools I don’t use on a regular basis.

There are speedkeys for almost every function you can imagine in Photoshop. To get started, check out Adobe’s Help guide with details on keyboard shortcuts arranged by function. And for printable shortcut cheat sheets for many versions of Photoshop, visit designer Trevor Morris’ web site to download, print out and start learning the keystrokes that will streamline your Photoshop workflow.

help.adobe.com
morris-photographics.com

I recently read a blog post in which a photographer advocated utilizing shortcut keys when editing photos in Photoshop. He was brief, but right: shortcuts really are important if you want to work with images efficiently in the computer. For example, there are a few basic shortcuts (or speedkeys) that I use all the time in Photoshop. Better still,... Read more

When Animals Find Cameras

I’m not sure what there is to learn about photography from watching an animal steal a camera and make great photos or videos, but I sure do love watching it happen. Case in point, this awesome video of undersea life made by an octopus who made off with an unsuspecting tourist’s running video camera. The music and video construction show the creator’s penchant for fine storytelling that’s sure to put a smile on your face. And I guess there is something to learn—how to make lemonade from lemons, and how creatively captioning and soundtracking almost any footage can tell an interesting story. Following that video, another personal favorite is the astounding story of the camera that washed up on the shores of Florida after a six-month, 1200-mile journey floating through the sea. About two months into that trip, somewhere in the vicinity of Honduras, a sea turtle tried eating the camera but only succeeded in starting it recording. Maybe the lesson is simply to keep a short leash on your camera lest a wild animal makes off with it. Or perhaps the opposite is true—figure out any way to get your camera in the hands of wildlife, because the perspectives are unlike anything man seems to be able to do on his own.

youtube.com
youtube.com

I’m not sure what there is to learn about photography from watching an animal steal a camera and make great photos or videos, but I sure do love watching it happen. Case in point, this awesome video of undersea life made by an octopus who made off with an unsuspecting tourist’s running video camera. The music and video construction show... Read more

Photo Based Reality TV

I may be a bit of a TV addict, but I’m also somewhat of a TV snob. I do not usually get caught up in celebrity-gone-wild style reality TV, but I may make an exception for a new Bravo show. Double Exposure follows the high-fashion photography duo of Markus Klinko and Indrani, formerly a romantic couple and currently the king and queen of the high-fashion photography world. Their talent is remarkable—but apparently so is their penchant for drama. In fairness, from the few clips I’ve seen, Indrani—the former model—seems to be fairly reasonable and, dare I say it, normal. Klinko, however, seems to be a walking caricature of a diva fashion photographer—the kind of man-child that reality show producers must dream about. Tune in for the drama or tune in for the comedy. Or you can just tune in because as a photographer it’s fascinating to get a behind the scenes glimpse of big budget fashion shoots. On one hand they work just like the rest of us. On the other, we couldn’t be working in more different worlds. For schedule and video clips look to the Bravo web site.

bravotv.com

I may be a bit of a TV addict, but I’m also somewhat of a TV snob. I do not usually get caught up in celebrity-gone-wild style reality TV, but I may make an exception for a new Bravo show. Double Exposure follows the high-fashion photography duo of Markus Klinko and Indrani, formerly a romantic couple and currently the king and queen of the... Read more

Edward Steichen in High Fashion

I was recently fortunate to visit Kansas City’s Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and its traveling exhibit, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion. The beautiful collection focuses on Steichen’s celebrity portraiture and fashion photography during the 1930s when he was chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair. What struck me was how timeless many of his images are, and how photographers today can still learn from Steichen’s work. It’s amazing what he achieved with relatively rudimentary equipment more than 80 years ago. The exhibit has been traveling for more than a year, and no additional stops are yet on the calendar. So if you can’t hurry to Kansas City before the end of the month, you’ll have to settle for learning about Steichen and his work online. The Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography has a nice writeup of the man and his work, as well as a fairly robust image gallery on its web site. The Art Gallery of Ontario has a very nice selection of audio podcasts with exhibit curators discussing specific selections from Steichen’s portfolio.

fep-paris.org
ago.net

I was recently fortunate to visit Kansas City’s Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and its traveling exhibit, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion. The beautiful collection focuses on Steichen’s celebrity portraiture and fashion photography during the 1930s when he was chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair. What struck me was how timeless... Read more
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