September 17th, 2014

The 50,000 Euro Controversy Over Artistic Freedom and the Carmignac Gestion Prize

carmignac-pageNewsha Tavakolian, the Tehran-based photojournalist who won the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award, announced last week that she will return the 50,000 Euro prize, due to “irreconcilable differences over the presentation of my work.” Tavakolian claims Edouard Carmignac, head of the Carmignac Gestion investment bank which funds the Carmignac Foundation and the photojournalism prize, edited her work and changed its title “in ways that were simply not acceptable to me.” In a statement sent to PDN, a spokesperson for the Carmignac Foundation claims the organization has “postponed” planned exhibitions and the publication of Tavakolian’s work to protect the photographer and her family from threats from the Iranian government.

Created in 2009, the Carmignac Gestion photojournalism award “aims to support photojournalists who find themselves working on the front line of different situations.” Selected by a jury of photographers, curators and editors, the prize winner receives 50,000 Euros to complete a project, exhibitions in Paris and elsewhere, and the publication of a book. Previous winners of the Carmignac Gestion prize have included Kai Wiedenhoefer and Davide Monteleone. Tavakolian is the first woman awarded the prize.

Though Tavakolian was selected the 2014 winner in November of last year, her identity was kept confidential due to security concerns while she worked on her project in Iran, according to the Carmignac Foundation. She delivered images to the Foundation in July; her win was announced that month at the Recontres D’Arles photo festival.

On September 11, Tavakolian posted on her Facebook page a statement saying that she was returning the money because of disagreements with Edouard Carmignac.

“Unfortunately…from the moment I delivered the work, Mr. Carmignac insisted on personally editing my photographs as well as altering the accompanying texts to the photographs. Mr. Carmignac’s interference in the project culminated in choosing an entirely unacceptable title for my work that would undermine my project irredeemably.” Tavakolian says she titled the project, which depicts everyday life in Iran, “Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album,” but in announcing the prize, the Carmignac Foundation called it “The Lost Generation,” a title Tavakolian calls “overused and loaded” and “unnecessarily controversial.” She said in her Facebook statement that in her emails to Carmignac, “I tried to convince him that as the creator of this project, I am entitled to my artistic freedom. Whilst I absolutely welcome other points of view, I cannot accept that anyone other than myself should have the final say about my work. But at no point would he accept this as my right.”

Tavakolian told PDN on she had contacted the Foundation to arrange the transfer of funds to their account.

A spokesperson sent PDN a statement from the Carmignac Foundation that says Tavakolian had changed the project she had originally proposed to the jury. According to the foundation, Tavakolian “notified the Foundation of specific and significant risks posed to her own safety, and that of her family, and expressed her intention to tone down and shift the focus of her proposed ‘Burnt Generation’ project that had been selected by the Jury.

“Under these circumstances, the Foundation made the difficult decision to postpone the project rather than accept such a change, which it felt would have distorted the Award’s mission without necessarily guaranteeing the safety of its winner.”

Tavakolian told PDN via email, “The reaction from the Carmignac Foundation is a clear manipulation of the truth.” She considers the mention of safety issues “a threat” from Carmignac, she says.

“The issue at hand here is my right for artistic freedom and Mr. Carmignac’s misplaced ambition to edit, alter, and change my project, including the title to his own liking. I do not need Mr. Carmignac’s ‘protection’ as he prefers to call this drama. I have been working in Iran for 15 years and have faced many problems, but solved them myself and managed to tell the story. What [I] need from him is simple: my artistic freedom and the right to have the final say over my own project.”

Though one of Tavokolian’s images remains on the Carmignac Foundation website, exhibitions of her work have been canceled, the Foundation statement says.

Davide Monteleone, last year’s winner, served on the jury that selected Tavakolian for the 2014 prize. He says when he turned in the project on Chechnya he shot with the Carmignac Gestion prize, he worked only with artistic director Nathalie Gallon. “I had no interference from Mr. Carmignac.” Monteleone says his book and exhibition “are exactly the way I wanted them to be. I think for such a prize, this is the only way it should be.”

The Carmignac Foundation is continuing with plans to offer the prize in 2015, this time supporting works on the theme of “lawless areas in France.”

September 17th, 2014

Sportsnet: Assigning Sports Photography, Canadian Style

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A multiple-expsoure composite of Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman for Sportsnet © KC Armstrong

If you’ve never heard of Sportsnet, you probably don’t live in Canada. The brand is a Toronto-based cable sports network that publishes an award-winning print magazine with a tablet edition and website. And although the bi-weekly publication relies heavily on photography from wire services—particularly Getty Images’ National Hockey League coverage—Sportsnet photo director Myles McCutcheon commissions photography in almost every issue.

“We certainly don’t have the resources of Sports Illustrated, [with] an army of photographers on our payroll,” McCutcheon admits. “A lot of the time it’s [about] getting creative with pickup, and when we do feature stories, we’re doing in-depth profiles, interviews, stuff that we want a little more punch to.”

One strategy McCutcheon uses to get photography that stands out from competitors (and wire service fare) is to hire photographers with specialties other than sports.

Last year, for instance, McCutcheon sent photographer Mark Peckmezian to shoot the Arnold Sports Festival, a bodybuilding show and convention in Columbus, Ohio. Peckmezian rarely shoots sports, but it was his outsider perspective that McCutcheon hired him for.

“I was encouraged to shoot it the way I saw it,” Peckmezian says. “I [viewed] the festival and the bodybuilding culture critically, and [found it] a bit funny.” He delivered a series of portraits that were bizarre—almost alien. “I was really happy, because I was given a lot of creative freedom,” he says. “That’s always very exciting.”

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Layout from a feature on the Arnold Sports Festival, a bodybuilding convention & competition in Columbus, Ohio. Shot on medium-format and 35mm film © Mark Peckmezian

Sportsnet’s editorial budget is lean, so assignment fees are modest. But McCutcheon argues that access to elite athletes can make up for the lower rates.

“If an up-and-coming photographer gets [Pittsburgh Penguins star] Sidney Crosby in his book, whipping down the ice, that could mean a Nike campaign in the future,” he says. “I’m lucky in that regard, because I can say, ‘Our budgets aren’t the biggest, but you’re shooting Sidney Crosby.”

McCutcheon does hire veteran sports shooters, especially when an idea for a particular story calls for it. For a cover story earlier this year on Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Marcus Stroman, the Sportsnet editors wanted a multiple-exposure composite of his pitching motion to illustrate his transition from the minors to the big leagues. McCutcheon hired photographer KC Armstrong, who had already demonstrated a mastery of the multi-exposure technique for clients such as ESPN.

Sportsnet’s take on SI’s Swimsuit and ESPN’s Body issues is its annual “Beauty of Sport” feature. This year’s iteration from Toronto-based commercial photographer Mark Zibert featured half-naked athletes posing with exotic animals, posing on sandy beaches and rocky shores.

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Evander Kane, left wing for the WInnipeg Jets, in Sportsnet’s Beauty of Sport feature © Mark Zibert

McCutcheon estimates that on average, he commissions about 40 percent of the photography published in Sportsnet. But there’s a catch. Because Sportsnet is subsidized by the Canada Periodical Fund—which helps Canadian publications survive tough competition from US publications—it is required to rely on Canadian citizens to produce at least 80 percent of the magazine’s content. So the best way to get an assignment is to be good, but also Canadian.

McCutcheon does still hire photographers from the US and other countries, and says he’s looking for the best voice to tell a story, regardless of nationality.

September 17th, 2014

Ricoh France: Full Frame Pentax Camera Coming in 2015

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.51.46 AMWe tend to pass on most of the camera rumors swirling endlessly around the web but this one comes straight from the horse’s mouth Facebook, so it must be true, right?

Well, not just any Facebook page. Specifically, Ricoh France posted the following in two separate comments on their Facebook page:

“Le full frame est en développement en ce moment même ! Nous vous tiendrons informés sur cette page !” Which translates to: “The full-frame is in development at this very moment! We will keep you informed on this page!”

A second Ricoh France comment said: “Grande nouvelle qui va ravir ceux qui attendaient un PENTAX full Frame: le développement du produit est lancé !” Translation: “Great news that will delight those who have been waiting for a Pentax full-frame : the product development is underway!”

We’re awaiting word from Ricoh’s U.S. HQ on this. In the meantime, feel free to speculate about what Ricoh is cooking up. Maybe a mirrorless full frame?

[Hat tip: Photography Blog]

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Flash Memory Gets Faster

lexar_2000x_sdxc-300x400Between 4K video recording and increasing camera resolutions, the demands on flash memory cards continue to grow. At Photokina, a pair of key flash memory vendors rolled out their highest performance products to date.

Lexar’s new 2000x UHS-II SDXC cards will be capable of 300MBps read transfer speeds and write speeds up to 260MBps. Lexar claims they’ll be the fastest such cards on the market to date.

The cards will be bundled with an SD UHS-II card reader (the SR2) to support fast transfers to PCs via USB 3.0. You’ll have a choice of 32 or 64GB capacities for  $106 and $185, respectively.

If you’re willing to trade off some speed for price, the 1000x series of UHS-II SD cards offer read speeds of 150MBs and write speeds up to 95MBps. Capacities will range from 16GB to 256GB with prices between $32 and $547. No card reader will be bundled with these cards but Lexar will sell the SR2 as a standalone product for $30.

All of Lexar’s new products will be available in the fourth quarter.

SanDisk notched its own speed record at Photokina with the launch of its 64GB Extreme Pro microSDXC UHS-I card. It boasts transfer speeds up to 95MB/s and is aimed at devices like Sony’s Xperia Z3 or Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 that are adding 4K video recording to their list of features.

The 64GB card is available now for $300.

 

 

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Ricoh Tips K-Mount Lens Plans

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Ricoh didn’t bring much in the way of product launches to Photokina 2014, but they did let it be known that some new K-mount lenses are in the works.

The most detailed of the bunch, set to launch later this year, is the Pentax DA 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6ED DC WR (pictured above). It will have a quiet AF driving motor, “high grade” HD coating and a weather resistant construction.

Two other lenses were tipped with scant details. Ricoh said it had a high magnification super telephoto zoom lens and a large diameter telephoto zoom lens in the works. Design mock ups for both are below, starting with the super telephoto.

Stay tuned.

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September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Zeiss Offers New Leica M Lens

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Fast on the heels of Leica’s slew of camera unveilings, Zeiss has introduced a new prime lens for Leica M rangefinder cameras at Photokina 2014.

The Distagon T* f1/.4 35 ZM offers a 35mm focal length promising to perfectly match the view from the M’s optical viewfinder. The lens uses Zeiss’ T* coating to reduce flare and features 10 aperture blades.

The aperture can be adjusted in 1/3 increments via a ring on the lens. There’s also a focus ring on the lens’ all-metal barrel.

Zeiss says the lens will be due out before the end of the year for $2,290.

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Hasselblad Adds Wi-Fi to H5D-50c

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Hasselblad will bring a Wi-Fi-equipped version of its H5D-50c medium format camera to market later this month, the company announced at Photokina.

Building off the existing 50c, the new  model uses Wi-Fi to enable remote control and viewfinding through iOS devices.

There will be a few more enhancements to the 50c beyond Wi-Fi including a live view mode when the camera is untethered, an increased capture rate of 50 images per minute and longer exposure times of up to 34 minutes.

The updated 50c will also now accept film magazines and features a spirit level which can be used in tethered mode. ISO and white balance will now be displayed in the viewfinder as well.

Current 50c owners will be gain access to all the new features except Wi-Fi via a firmware upgrade later this month.

The Wi-Fi version of the H5D-50c will command a $1,000 premium over the standard 50c ($27,500, body only) .

H5D-50c owners who want Wi-Fi will be able to upgrade their current camera for the Wi-Fi version for about $650 between January and March 2015, at least in Europe.

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Leica Reveals 4K-Recording Medium Format Camera

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The newest member of the Leica S-series of medium format cameras, introduced at Photokina 2014, has a fairly novel trick: it can record 4K video.

The Leica S 007 won’t arrive until the spring of 2015, but when it does it will carry a new 37.5-megapixel Leica CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor  capable of delivering 3.5 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting with a 2GB buffer, full HD video recording using the full sensor area and 4K video capture as well. HD video will be recorded at 30, 25 or 24fps while 4K video will use a Super 35mm crop of the lens and be delivered at 24fps. Uncompressed video can be output to an external recorder via HDMI with 4:2:2 color sampling.

The camera will also feature predictive autofocus, a 3-inch LCD, built-in GPS and Wi-Fi for using mobile devices as remote controls and viewfinders.

The 007 will offer shutter speeds as high as 1/4000 sec. with flash sync available up to 1/1000 sec. It will offer 13 stops of dynamic range, 16-bit color depth and an ISO range of 100 to 6400. Images and video are saved to either CF or SD cards.

Leica won’t deliver the 007 until 2015 and it’s expected to cost $25,400 for the camera body.

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There will also be an entry-level Leica medium format camera: the S-E 006. It will employ a 37.5-megapixel CCD sensor with microlenses to evenly distribute light across the entire surface area of the sensor for improved clarity.

The S-E won’t be as fast as the 007, its continuous shooting mode clocks in at 1.5fps with a 2GB buffer capable of collecting 32 RAW files (DNG) or unlimited JPEGs. It will offer 12 stops of dynamic range and an ISO range of 100 to 1600. You’ll find a 3-inch LCD display and an eye-level pentaprism viewfinder and dual card slots for CF and SD memory cards. It will retail for $16,900.

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Leica X

Switching to advanced compacts, Leica’s new X (Typ 113) sports a 16.2-megapixel APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor and a 23mm f/1.7 prime lens (35mm equivalent).

The X can record full HD video at 30fps and offers ISO sensitivities to 12500. It features a 3-inch (920k pixel) LCD display with 100 percent field of view and a hot shoe that will enable the use of optional viewfinders. It offers continuous shooting at 5fps for up to seven frames.

The X will be available this month for $2,295.

Also joining the Leica X family is the more budget-minded X-E. It will offer the same sensor as the X Typ 113 but a slightly slower 24mm f/2.8 prime lens. Also downsized is the LCD display: it’s 2.7-inches. The X-E will offer continuous shooting at 5fps and will arrive in stores this month for $1,795.

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Lux

Geared for sports and wildlife photographers, the new Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)  sports a 9.1-146mm f/2.8-4 ASPH lens (25-400mm equivalent) with optical image stabilization and a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor. It will offer 4K video recording, built-in Wi-Fi, a 2.4-megapixel OLED viewfinder and a 3-inch tiltable LCD.

The V-Lux will be speedy too, capable of continuous shooting at 12fps. Pricing and availability weren’t announced.

The other new member of the Lux family, the D-Lux (Typ 109), will also offer 4K video recording using a 12-megapixel Four Thirds-sized sensor. 4K video is recorded at 30 and 24fps and HD video recording is also available.

The D-Lux will feature a 10.9-34mm f/1.7-2.8 ASPH lens (24-75mm equivalent). ISO sensitivities will reach 25600 and it will offer both Wi-Fi and NFC for wireless remote and viewfinder functions on mobile devices.

It sports a metal housing, a high-resolution, 2.8-megapixel viewfinder and a 3-inch LCD. It won’t offer a pop-up flash but Leica will bundle one in the box. It ships in November for $1,195.

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Leica M-P (Typ 240)

Rangefinder fans rejoice. Leica has updated its rangefinder camera in the M-P (Typ 240). Similar to the Leica M, the M-P features a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor and an expanded buffer of 2GB for continuous shooting at 3fps.

The M-P will feature a native ISO range of 200 to 6400 with the option to decrease to 100. The camera supports HD video recording at 25 and 24fps.

Its 3-inch sapphire glass LCD display is “almost unbreakable” Leica claims. Designed to be discrete, Leica swapped out their iconic red dot logo in favor a small “Leica” engraving to denote brand.

Other new features include a frame selection lever which projects six different focal lengths into the viewfinder. Pricing and availability were not announced.

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60th Anniversary Edition Leica M

The Leica M rangefinder system turns 60 this year and to celebrate, Leica is releasing an anniversary edition of the camera that fuses their M-P digital camera with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Audi Design gets credit for the exterior styling and Leica said that the bare-bones specs will put the focus on the skill of the photographer (there is, for instance, no LCD display and all images are saved as RAW DNG files).

There will only be 600 of these Anniversary Edition models on the market (engraved, of course, so you know yours is special) and they’ll be available next month for about $20,000.

 

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New Rangefinder Camera: the M-A

The flashbacks continue. Leica also introduced a new 35mm film rangefinder camera at Photokina: the M-A. It’s compatible with M-mount lenses and features a completely mechanical operation that lets you make adjustments to shutter speed (up to 1/1000 sec.) aperture and film speed.

It will ship in October for $4,500.

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New Lenses 

Beyond the new cameras, Leica introduced several new lenses at the show. The Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, a silver edition version of the 50mm lens already on the market. It ships in October for $11,350. A silver version of the 35mm Summilux-M lens ($5,450) will also be available at the end of October.

There are two new lenses for the T-series: the APO Vario-Elmar 55-135mm f/3.5-4.5 ($1,950) and the Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH ($1,950).

Lenses in the company’s M-series have also gotten a facelift: they’ll be available in black or an anodized silver finish and will now offer maximum apertures of f/2.4. Focal lengths will remain the same at 35, 50, 75 and 90mm.

September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Sony Debuts New E-Mount Wide-Angle Lens

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Amidst new cameras from many of its competitors, Sony came to Photokina 2014 touting new glass and several new accessories for its full frame E-mount camera system.

On the lens front, the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 lens will arrive in October for $1,350. It features five aspherical elements and three ED glass elements to keep color aberrations at bay while retaining corner-to-corner sharpness. The lens will offer Zeiss’ T* coating on its surface along with optical image stabilization. It’s dust and water resistant too.

Sony also announced a new compact flash unit, the HVL-F32M. With a guide number of 32, it features a 5-second recycle time and draws power from a pair of AA batteries. It supports TTL or manual operation in 1/3 EV steps, high speed sync and is dust and moisture resistant. It will ship in December for $299.

To boost filmmaking with the A7 series, Sony is launching the XLR-K2M XLR box adapter kit. It clips onto a hot-shoe and features an onboard shotgun microphone. It can be used on the A7 series but also the A99, RX10 and NEX-VG900 camcorder.  The audio kit ships in October for $600.

Finally, Sony launched the RMT-VP1K wireless remote kit for any Sony camera with a multi-terminal. The $70 accessory has three channels and a 360 degree IR receiver. It can control shutter releases as well as start/stop movie recording. Look for the wireless receiver in Novemeber.

September 15th, 2014

New $10K Grant Will Send Newborn Babies Home From Hospital As Photo Collectors

A new $10,000 grant to support programs that engage new audiences with photography has been awarded to Pittsburgh photographer Matthew Conboy. The photographer won the grant, which was established by the non-profit Crusade for Art, for a proposal to send newborn babies at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh home with signed prints from local photographers.

Conboy took his inspiration for the project from a program created by a local hospital. There, they send each newborn home with a “Terrible Towel,” the yellow towel waved by fans at Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football games.

“While I am a proud Steelers Fan, I believe that babies could be sent home with something else that could change their lives and the lives of those around them: art,” Conboy wrote in his proposal.

The jury that awarded Conboy the grant included Museum of Contemporary Photography curator Karen Irvine, Colorado Photographic Arts Center executive director Rupert Jenkins, and New Yorker photo director Whitney Johnson.

Irvine and Crusade For Art executive director Jennifer Schwartz hailed the creativity of Conboy’s idea in a press release announcing the award. “We are excited to award this grant to someone whose idea feels completely original and unique,” Irvine said.

Conboy chose 12 local photographers—including himself—to participate in the program. Their work represents a broad spectrum of photographic interests. The program will run for one year, and Conboy estimates the group of artists will send 3500 newborn babies home with an original artwork. He also hopes to expand the project to include other hospitals in the region “and beyond,” he says.