Interesting Stuff Last Month – November 2013

Far Out on A Limb — Nadav Kander
Portraits of people with their limbs made by Sophie de Oliveira Barata. These prosthetics are incredible and call attention to their amazing design. Perhaps the singularity is not far off. A different view of the photos is here.

Surreal Photo Manipulations by Caras Ionut
Another person doing wonderful photo-illustrations that detour into fantasy. Is there a resurgence of this happening? Or am I just noticing it more? The legacy of Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor continues to grow.

Just the Two of Us
Portraits of Cosplay Enthusiasts in their Homes by Klaus Pichler. I’m so glad that the digital photography and photo sharing has led to the explosion of cosplay. Everyone has leveled up. Everyone gets to share in the fun.

Guinevere Van Seenus by Erik Madigan Heck
More of the colorful formalism from this amazing photographer of fashion beauty.

Vanishing Tribes Before They Pass Away
Portraits from around the world that show the dignity and differences between various cultures. These color photos compliment and contrast those by Sebastiao Selagado shown in “Genesis”.

A Record Store Rises
As one of my mentors in New York, Stephen Mallon sparked my interest in time lapse photography. He continues to explore this technique for the New York Times magazine. Someday I’ll finish my NYC film and post it.

Act Naturally – The Photographs of Ringo Starr
He was the Beatle in “A Hard Days Night” that went off by himself to take photos. It turns out that he did that in real life, too. Here are a few of his photos.

7 Questions with Tony Corbell
“I was raised inside an apartment in the base of a drive-in movie theater from the time I was born until I was seven years old and somehow it influenced me to watch movies all the time. I see a lot of movies and study the work of great cinematographers and pay close attention, not to see how they did something, but how a scene makes me feel.”

Norman Reedus – Photographer
One of the stars of The Walking Dead is a photographer releasing a book soon. He has an eye for the macabre, but also just some of the strange situations he finds on the set and in real life.

Skate Photography Portfolio by Brian Fick
Skateboard photography captures the surfers of concrete and other textures of suburban life.

Behold the Face of Harassment
Photographer Hannah Price turns the tables of the men catcalling her as she walks down the streets of Philadelphia by asking to take their portraits. The results are surprising and insightful.

Why I Tried and Failed at Instagram
Fine art photographer Brook Shaden explains what happened when she tried to use Instagram. What is important is that she tried and evaluated and made a decision that was correct for her. Not all tools work for everyone.

Why Creative People Sometimes Make No Sense
“As someone paid to be creative, I sometimes feel kaleidoscopic in my views or opinions, and that “multitude” of expressions sometimes confuses those around me. Why does that happen? My thoughts make cohesive sense to me, yet others sometimes feel that I am contradicting myself or switching positions. What is wrong with me?”

The First Instagram Ad “Worked”, But What Do Brands Do Now?
“While brands have been on the social photo network almost since the beginning, until now their accounts were the same as yours. Take photo, filter photo, type caption, post for followers, repeat. Starting with that first Michael Kors sponsored post, brands are now able to pay for the luxury of having their posts pushed out to targeted users who may be interested”

The Great Compositions of Alfred Eisenstaedt
A technical exploration of composition using some famous photos. These provide a way to think about why some photos are more successful than others.

Joe McNally on Gregory Heisler New Book
One master looks up to another. These two are friends. Both have great lessons to teach us about being a working photographer and treating great portraits.

SVA Masters in Digital Photography App for iPad – Free
The photo book from the thesis show for the graduating class from the School of Visual Arts master’s degree program in digital photography.

The Photobook Format Is Up for Grabs
“There are 20 books in the Paris-Photo/Aperture First Book shortlist and 14 of them are self-published. Increasingly, these self-pub books are very sophisticated in their construction and the materials they use.”

The Reluctant Father by Phillip Toledano
Toledano explorers his fresh life as a father, echoing his earlier work of the last days of his father.

Hopper Meditations by Richard Tuschman
This photographer uses the famous painter’s work as a stepping stone to his own work, making for an interpretation that adds nuance to the bleakness and still retain the sadness.

The Challenge of Photography
“None of the non-photo-world people I have talked to over the past years has ever even entertained the idea that their photographs on Instagram, say, would be comparable to photographs produced by professionals. People know the difference between apples and oranges very well. Yet in the world of photography, we seem stuck worrying about how since they’re both round and fruits, they must be the same, right?”

November 22, 1963
A short Errol Morris film on the photo evidence of the Kennedy Assassination

Saul Leiter – Dec. 23, 1923 – Nov. 26, 2013
7 Lessons Saul Leiter Has Taught Me About Street Photography
Stella Kramer on Saul Leiter
Photographers Speak – Saul Leiter
“I didn’t try to communicate any kind of philosophy since I am not a philosopher. I am a photographer. That’s it.”

Interesting Stuff Last Month – October 2013

House of Turds – Cover of New York Daily News at the Start of the Government Shutdown
The one image that captured the most political act of the year. A sly reference to the Netflix TV series House of Cards, which was itself a reference to the famous photo of Vladmimir Putin by Platon. Iconic.

Hurricane Sandy-Damaged Photographs of Ground Zero
Hurricane Sandy – Self-Portraits by Communities in Distress
Rising Waters show in NYC
Hurricane Sandy hit the city where many of the world’s best photographers live. Here are a few things to show how they hit back a year later.

The Moment a Photographer Became a Historian – Bill Eppridge
“I just turned to my left and there was the senator lying there and at that point my profession changed. I became a historian.”

The Impact of the Eddie Adams Workshop – 20 Years Later
This incredible workshop has been helping train photo journalist for 20 years. Here’s a few personal stories looking back at the first class.

Passenger Seat
More from Passenger Seat
A few images from Julieanne Kost’s personal project.

Advertising and the End of Instagram’s Sincerity
An analysis of Instagram’s evolution into a platform for advertising. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out. The line to walk is fine and yet undefined.

One Hour, One Camera, One Setting, One Dollar per Person
How a change in plans can lead to a wonderful photo project.

Things I Have Learned About Nature Photography
A friend I met at the Platon workshop traveled to Africa with two other friends from that same workshop. Along the way, she started becoming a nature photographer.

Women on the Front Lines and Behind the Lens
Profiles of some fantastic, National Geographic photographers providing different perspectives and access to stories that make that magazine an institution.

An Open Letter from a Photographer’s Agent
“I write this letter in the hopes of starting a conversation between agents and photographers that will remind us that we are in this together; each of us trying to make the other a better photographer, agent, partner, therapist and friend.”

Traditional 40’s Pinup Photos with Models Wearing High Speed Milk
Yes, you can do amazing work by being very technical and geeky and willing to put in the time planning. The results can stun the world.

Bill Atkinson’s new mission: Save the Postcard
This living legend in the Macintosh world and an accomplished photographer has built a digital tool to help revive an old form of communication. “Nobody sends hate mail on a postcard.”

Moleskin and Paper Collaborate to Bring You Custom Books
I am a fan of good notebooks and Moleskin makes some of the best. That a classy app like Paper teamed up with them should not be a surprise, but is certainly a pleasant one. It has led me to get back to sketching on my iPad so I can buy one of these books.

The Drones of Burning Man
Drone photography fascinates me. There are so many things I’d love to photograph using an aerial camera. This articles talks about the wonder and the practicality and the possible future of how drone photography will become part of our everyday.

These Time-Lapses Fit Into a Single Photo
Photographs capture a slice of time. One artist found a telling way to use slices to capture more than a single instance in one image.

Incredible Self-Portraits by 14 Year Old
A fantastic series of adventure.

Young Photographer Discovered by Band Creates Album Cover – Rosie Hardy
Digital tools can be liberating and life changing. Personal expression sometimes leads to rewards beyond expectations.

Why Make Prints?
Return to the Same Well
Two articles by John Paul Caponigro that answer a few questions about theory and practice as an artist.

David Maisel Interview
“I’m looking at landscape from a conceptual point of view. Politics and environment enter into it, but I’m primarily a visual artist, and I’m not making these pictures in order to change policy. If I was, I’d need to make very different kinds of pictures, and I’d position them very differently than I do.”

Angelo Merendino Photographed Every Stage of His Wife’s Cancer
As my cousin wrote, “Heart check. I passed.”

Spectacle Within an Argentine Limousine
Important Things are Said Softley by Myriam Meloni
There can be the image we project to others, the image we project to ourself, and the image of ourself we usually don’t see. This project captures all of those. The follow up story goes deeper and more personal into one of the subjects.

Creepy and Disturbing Vintage Halloween Photos
Anything can be used to make a costume and any costume can be creepy. Halloween photography should become its own genre. Here are some examples from the past.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – August 2013

A fascinating peek into Dinner in New York
How people in New York eat dinner is as unique as each person. Here’s an interesting view into their meal time worlds.

Day-to-Night in the City with Stephen Wilkes
Fascinating cityscapes with night and day time scenes blended together.

Bigshot – The Camera for Education
Buy a build-it-yourself digital camera for $89. Perfect for teaching kids how to make tech.

108 Years of Herman Miller in 108 Seconds
A fun, iconographic look at this influential design firm.

Photography Phone Call – Are Snapshots Dead?
A phone call conversation with photo collector, giving insight into what he looks for and why.

Kathy Ryan’s Instagram Photos on Absurd Consciousness
The photo editor for the New York Times magazine regularly knocks my socks off on Instagram. Go follow @kathyryan1

20 Photographs of Abu Dhabi by Martin Sigal
I’m partial to the industrial photos of the freeways, but the landscapes and other photos are also excellent.

Strange, Disturbing Figure Work by Masha Ermak
Very curious article about how a thesis project developed and the stunning work it produced.

Photography Is the New Universal Language and It Changes Everything
“The dialogues you can have with neuroscientists about photographic images are as interesting and as provocative as the dialogues you can have with artists.”

Maggie Taylor (video 8 min)
Another short film about Maggie Taylor, her fabulous photo composites, and how she creates them.

4 Sisters Photographed Every Year for 36 Years (Nixon Sisters)
“Whilst the fashion, haircuts and indeed their lives & personalities continue to evolve and change over the years, one thing that is incredibly evident is just how much of a loving bond there is between the four of them.”

Ellen Wallenstein Interviewed by Elizabeth Avedon about “Respecting My Elders”
An interview with one of my SVA instructors about one of her long-term projects and the book she made of it.

A Photo Editor Interview with Erik Madigan Heck
“I saw photography as a medium that was actually doing something new when Callahan took photographs, because he had perfected this space where reduction and minimalism were not exclusive to humanity.”

Interesting People on Instagram – petesouza

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”
— Ansel Adams

Pete Souza is a photojournalist. He also happens to be the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama. He was the primary subject of the National Geographic special and book The President’s Photographer, which described all the photographers who have had that job. His photos from the White House have been uploaded to Flickr for some time and are very worth checking out. A month or so ago, he also started posting photos to Instagram. You can follow him as @petesouza.

Besides being a rare glimpse into the political world of the President of the United States, this Instagram feed also offers a view into the head of a great photographer. Using the same, limited tools as the rest of us on Instagram, Pete Souza is showing what those tools are capable of doing.

Years ago, someone on the Photoshop team looked at the metadata from one of the White House photos and discovered that the latest version of the product was not being used to process the images. So the team sent a copy. The photographer (or the White House) sent the software back. It was a high priced gift that they could not for legal reasons accept. Although software is now used to create all digital photos, I also imagine that as photojournalists, the White House photographers cannot appear to be “Photoshopping” their images. Looking at the Instagram feed, most of the photos are very unfiltered, but there must be times when filters and frames are added.

Pete Souza is not doing selfies with POTUS. He is documenting history and working like a professional photographer. His experience shows in all the photos he takes, whether using a mobile phone or a DSLR. He is another example of an idea that many great artists express – it is the mind wielding the tools which is most important in the act of creation, not the tools themselves.

“It’s the singer not the song/ that makes the music move along.”
— Pete Townshend

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.