Interesting Stuff Last Month – March 2014

Amy Powell’s Family Album
“As a teenager, I photographed my parents discussing their divorce, the dirty kitchen, and my mom waving away the car as it was being taken by the repo man. To me, that’s what my real life was. I long to see things, taken by insiders, that are unabashed. Beautifully unabashed.”

Lauren Greenfield Commercial About Skier Heidi Kloser
Photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield made this short commercial from green light to broadcast in just a few days. It is the human story of an athlete injured just before the start of the Olympic games in which she was to compete. Greenfield continues to show she can tell meaningful stories in different formats, even commercial ones.

A Kiss Is Just a Kiss, Unless It’s an Ad for a Clothing Company
A clear look at the video that went viral and the backlash that followed it. Irregardless of it all, the video was fascinating to watch and well-crafted. This wired, social world longs for connection even if it is fleeting, even if we are pushed just over the edge of our regular lives.

Room with a View
Joe McNally selfies are the best. Ahead of the cultural trend, he took his in October 2001 from the very top of the Empire State Building. Beat that.

National Geographic’s Women of Vision Exhibit
A spotlight on several of the women who have contributed exceptional photography to the pages of National Geographic. No doubt you’ll recognize several of the images on display. I certainly did.

14 Female Photographers You Should Know Now
A starting point for looking at some of the best photographers working today. The range of styles and subject matter are linked by the quality of their craft.

Jo Ann Callis’ Color Work
A part of the movement that forced color photography to be taken seriously, this photographer was inspired by Paul Outerbridge and shows the same instinct for personal expression.

Ruven Afandor Photographs Paul Taylor’s “Cloven Kingdom”
Dance photography in black & white that becomes almost abstract yet remains figurative. And there is a wonderful sense of confrontation that must come from the choreography and performance of the piece.

Dreaming of the Pacific, part 2
Steve Lippmann shows light through the ocean waves. The power and rhythm and repetition and variety and constancy of the ocean creates a life long fascination with it.

Instagram Knows More About Photography Than You
“The emergence of data mining in photography is certainly going to change a lot of what we held as golden rules for maybe too long. It will not replace genuine talent, obviously, but certainly help some create better- as in more effective – images. What social media photography is teaching us is to start breaking down the walls of convention and accepted wisdom.”

How SVA Lectures in iTunes U Inspired a Photographer in Kenya
The graduate program in Digital Photography at the School of Visual Arts, regularly invites professionals in the field to give a guest lecture to the students. These lectures are filmed and shared for the rest of us to enjoy and learn from, too. The breadth and depth of the guests involved is staggering and addictive, even for those far from New York.

Spectacular Celebrity Portraits by Victoria Will
It’s nice to see Victoria’s photography getting showcased more and more. Her body of work has been building for years. She is a star finding her voice in a tough field.

Mark Seliger’s Portrait Studio at the Oscars
Even behind the scenes, those celebrities involved seemed to be having fun. Seliger’s simple portrait studio provided a canvas for them to express a range of emotions for his camera and us.

Creating the Photograph: Jenna Martin’s “Purple Cabbage Dress”
Another making of video from photo-illustrator Jenna Martin. This time she is building a dress made of leaves from a purple cabbage. Her results and these short videos continue to impress.

Tim Berners-Lee by Nadav Kander
The creator of the World Wide Web is photographed for Wired by one of the best portrait artists working. The stuff of vision.

Interview with Fashion Retoucher Nick Leadlay
An interview with a photographer that fell into retouching as a profession. Career paths are rarely straightforward in creative fields. Often one thing leads to another.

Fascinating Video Explore’s Wes Anderson’s Masterful Use of Symmetry
By the same guy that did the video of Stanley Kubrick and 1-point perspective. This and other videos like it are really teaching about the effectiveness of composition. There is more to life than the Rule of Thirds.

American Public Libraries Great and Small
The great institution of the American public library has a bumpy relationship with communities that fund and benefit from it. But the libraries are everywhere, expressing the variety of the American character with these familiar buildings.

A Unique Look at New York Architecture
“I’m drawn to the majestic details and materials of classical historical buildings, many of which are hidden from view, tucked behind new architecture. In these instances, a mere sliver of old, of history, is there to be photographed, leaving me to recreate the rest of the building to make it whole again.”

Interesting Stuff Last Month – September 2013

Steve McCurry Looks Back on His Stories Career
“Certainly when you have the time to really dig deep into a story, it is a great opportunity to explore every aspect of a topic and potentially find some interesting angles to include in the story. The same can be said for continuing to return to the same places over the span of many years.”

Military Rape, Enemy Within the Ranks
Photo-journalistic investigation into an odious problem. A good example of how one story can lead to another.

Sam Abell Interview
“It’s shifted in a good way, away from what you might call the singular successful image, to the sustained body of work. Yes, there are billions more photographers, and billions more photographs every day, but who’s building up a point of view? Who’s photographing with intention, and whose body of work will sustain itself and survive?”

RIP Gotham – Rands in Repose
A lament and attempt at recreating the discarded Instagram Filter.

Top 12 Photos by Paul Caponigro – Selected by John Paul Caponigro
The photographer and educator picks the top 12 photos created by his equally famous father. The result offers insights into both artists.

How Three Famous Photographs Were Edited Before Photoshop
The exhibit for Richard Avedon’s “Portraits of Power” included a photo of Jackie Kennedy done for Life magazine with marks similar to those shown in this article. It is naive to think that photos were pristine before the digital age.

The Economic Collapse Seen Through Aerial Photos of Abandoned Mansions
A fascinating way to visualize the economic fall out of the Great Recession.

Witness to a Massacre in a Nairobi Mall by Taylor Hicks
The photojournalist goes into an active terrorist attack as the police try to get bystanders to safety and contain the attackers. Truly news as it was happening.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About James Porto
A short interview with a wildly creative photographer. I had been clipping Porto’s early covers for Wired, before I was fortunate to meet him. Wish I had been able to take the Photo-Illustration class with him at SVA.

Francis Cisafio: Filter Photo Festival Blow Up Winner
I see faces everywhere and in many inanimate objects. So it’s always fun to see people mess around to create new faces.

Marty Knapp – Portrait of a Photographer
A short film about a photographer in northern California, who has been photographing Point Reyes for a long time.

Laurie Rubin Interviews Brook Shaden for Women in Photography
A good friend interviews a fascinating photo artist who is starting to gain recognition for her work. A future blog post will review her book, which comes out soon.

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling
Very good advice for those telling stories in any medium – visual or otherwise.

Road trip begins for world’s largest film camera
Although cameras like this are a novelty, the prints must be amazing to see in person.

Interesting People on Instagram – f8kym

Since the release of PicTapGo, I’ve been looking at a lot of the photos from people using the app. The easiest way to do this is by searching for the #PicTapGo or #PicTapGo_App hash tags in Instagram. Our social media maven, Jeremiah, regularly reposts photos and writes up blog articles about some of these interesting photographers. Someone who caught my eye very quickly is f8kym.

I really enjoy her play with structure. I’m a big fan of freeway photography. But I also enjoy her playing with time. It is obvious to me that not only is the photographer exploring what she can do and wants to do with the techniques, but that she is also having fun. Her photos please me to no end for all these reasons.

I’ve been on Instagram for a long time. My involvement slowed during the dark times, but I seem to have been assimilated and am back to enjoying the community. There are a lot of good photographers on Instagram. There are some great ones, too. I hope to spread the word, um pixels, a bit about those inspiring me.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – June 2013

Steven Lippman “No Bad Days” for Malibu magazine
A wonderful portfolio of pale blue images of nudes in the surf.

A haunting, wordless retelling of the myth of Artemis and Actaeon
Short Film (3.5 minutes) made for the National Gallery in London with Anna Friel, reminding me very much of Bryan Fuller’s style for Hannibal.

Tell No One – Experimental Short Film Makers
They made the film above with Anna Friel. Be sure to check out the film “Seaweed”.

Annie Leibovitz on Getting the Shot and the Future of Photography
“I think photography is stronger and better than ever before. Those of us who are photographers, the difference between us and everyone else is that we take what we do very seriously.” Ms. Leibovitz is still one of my favorite photographers.

Julieanne Kost on Unavoidable Relationships Between Photos
Julieanne’s work is always interesting. Her combinations are intriguing and the individual photos themselves somehow help reveal her personality.

An Interview with Mona Kuhn in Musee
“The nude to me is always clothed—clothed with art history references all around, almost in a way that it cannot escape it. The nude I am interested in presents an inner strength and confidence that keeps them from feeling ‘naked.'”

Digital Black & White Printing Tutorials and Expert Interviews
John Sexton and Kim Weston, masters of black & white photography, talk about their craft. My friend Tony Corbell and Epson print guru Dan Steinmetz show techniques for digital printing.

Robert DeRosa (a classmate from SVA) Interviewed on
“I’ve always been fascinated by landscapes. At 10-years-old, I would show my mother the pictures I took when I was out and about and she would say, ‘That’s nice, dear, but where are the people?'”

Lightroom 5 – Using Upright to Straighten Photos

Today I took the plunge into the world of Adobe Creative Cloud. This post is the first of many over the next few weeks as I explore the new versions of Lightroom, Photoshop, InDesign, and probably a few other tools. Each will be short to focus on just a single new thing that catches my eye as noteworthy. A few things already have my attention, so it won’t be hard to come up with topics.

Although Lightroom 5 has been out for a few weeks and is not exclusive to Creative Cloud, I waited to get it, knowing that it was included in Creative Cloud. Lightroom is my main digital photography tool, so it is also the first one I installed.

Lightroom 5 Upright Controls

Lightroom had previously introduced features involved with lens correction that could manually help fix issues of perspective and distortion. Although the corrections were very good and useful, there was still a lot of time needed to really “correct” such issues. Lightroom 5 has a new feature called Upright which makes these corrections as simple as pressing a button.

In the Develop module, near the bottom of the right drawer is the Lens Corrections panel. The Basics tab now has a series of buttons for the Upright feature. Each changes the photograph you are editing in different ways to adjust the perspective.

NYC Building - OriginalNYC Building - Auto
NYC Building – Original
NYC Building – Auto

The original image definitely shows the perspective of the building from the street. The vertical lines of the windows eventually converge off-frame to the left. Pressing the Auto button produced the right photo. This looks better. There are still perspective lines but they seem to converge above and centered, instead of to the left. Notice that some details from the edge of the frame got cropped out. The cropping improves this photo, but is something to watch for.

NYC Building - LevelNYC Building - Vertical
NYC Building – Level
NYC Building – Vertical

The next two options are Level and Vertical. Level seems to be the option that Auto chose. The perspective lines still converge centered above the image. However there is some vertical stretching that Auto did not do. That’s a guess at what the feature is trying to do. This option seems to be best if there is an obvious tilt that needs correcting. The Vertical option goes further. This option makes all those vertical perspective lines parallel. To do that, it must skew the image, making the bottom part smaller than the top part. This is why there are empty areas. These can easily be cropped away.

NYC Building - Full
NYC Building – Full

The Full option goes further than Vertical by also making the horizontal lines parallel to one another and perpendicular to the vertical lines. This building’s windows turn into a nice grid. This is pretty amazing considering that the angles needed to be detected from the content and the heavy duty math to correct it all. A lot of this image does get cropped away. Only the one plane of perspective is kept. It does look like the grid of windows is normalized like a piece of graph paper. So the reflected building no longer seems correct. The Full option must squish the sides and the top to achieve its results. This can be corrected somewhat using the Aspect slider over in the Manual tab of the Lens Correction panel. Or you can bring it into Photoshop to stretch it further.

LR5 Manual Controls

I like architecture, so while I was in New York, I photographed a lot of buildings. Because I am just a small person in the land of tall skyscrapers, the photos contain distortions of perspective. Looking up causes the lines of a building to skew. Many professional architecture photographers use a tilt-shift lens to correct this, making the building look more objective. This new feature is not a substitute for a tilt-shift lens in good hands, but can be easily used to adjust the perspective of a photo for the rest of us.